Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Duchess Strikes Back

Kathleen Turner should so play Golden Kate in this last story! So I cracked the big block on Three Katherines of Allingdale, right? Once I knew about the bit where Golden Kate's Duke slaps her face in front of all their peers, I knew also what she would do and what her first love would do, twenty years after in the disenchanted woods. I only had to go back to that soaring moment when, out of the depths of despair, they saw the lark playing against the ice-blue winter's sky. After all this time, I knew what happened next and it made sense.

So of course I went back to it.


I should have known better than to offend my Duchess. All three Katherines have always had a way of pulling something that totally blindsides me when pushed into a corner - and if anyone's motto ever ought to have been Touch Not the Cat Bot A Glove, then it should have been Golden Kate Alland's. I should have known she would get me!

I went back to it.

There were no skylarks over the Featherhowe. There was no morning of beauty and doom, no song of Sweet Alyson and no discovery that she and her first love knew different words to it, nor why. They were back in the depths, in the slough, burrowing under the leaves and dregs of a collapsed goblin-warren that seemed to have dried up and died for no better reason than that they were old now, and all enchantment long drained out of their lives. I remembered writing the piece that dragged them out and onwards, and how exalted I was myself when I realized that it could and should really lead them to that glimpse of the skylark.

Where had I put it? I ransacked all my files on all my computers. I even checked the one at work, though I knew I hadn't written it there. Nothing, nowt, the big zip.

And then (with Golden Kate's vengeful laughter ringing in my ears, and Kit Fox's witchily delighted whoop, and even a crooked half-smile from kind wise Katy over the edge of the maps) I understood the fearful truth about how I wrote that most excellent passage, and what had become of it. And now I must commit those words that every writer worth their salt hopes will never pollute their keyboard, for somehow my old Duch. has arranged that I am to meet my doom in turn.

He woke up. It had all been a dream...


  1. My heart goes out to you, for I've been in that morass, remembering the most excellent work I've ever done, effort worthy of laurels and acclocades (at least from myself), certainly worthy of inclusion in the Gran Epic and perhaps setting the tone for and increasing the quality of the entire piece of literature.... saying to myself, "I know I got it down on paper, or a file, but which one?"

    I use grep. And I still sometimes - make that usually - cannot find it.

    May you find it in time, and that it is out there, somewhere.

  2. Thanks, James. I'm afraid your comment also vanished off into my private limbo for a while - I was sure I'd responded already. Now I can't remember what it was I thought I'd said!

    Removing briefly from this self-referential hole, I have also noticed that search applications and shovels alike are generally powerless to find thing wanted, even when it actually exists. The tradition, as I understand it, is for it to comically fall on your head from atop a wardrobe at the least opportune moment - or for the files to finally come to light when you no longer have any program that knows how to open them.

    I've got a few of that there T-shirt.


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