The phrase 'tour d'horizon' is one I heard on the 4th February, when I was on my walk, listening to one of my favourite podcasts. It's called The Rest is History and every episode is a conversation between Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland, both of them wonderful talkers and excellent historians and writers of accessible and fascinating books. For this episode, on China, they had Michael Wood as their guest and the hour -long discussion of China's history was described as only touching the surface....glancing across the whole horizon...of an enormous subject.
So I decided to call my post by the same name because that's what it is: a glance across the last six months of the Pandemic, which has changed our lives in all kinds of ways and done very strange things to the ordinary unrolling of each day. In many ways, I'm leading exactly the same life I always do: in my house, by myself, getting on with my stuff. There was a time, as recently as September 16th, which is when the photograph above was taken, when it was possible for me to get on a bus and go and meet my friend Caroline Wilson in the garden of Emmanuel College. She showed me this magnificent tree, the oldest in Cambridge and we sat there on a bench in the sunshine having coffee from a flask and wondering what the autumn would bring. I'd just read a book by Richard Powers called The Overstory and so trees were on my mind and this one had a history of many hundreds of years.
On another walk, on January 6th, I came across the little star labelled HOPE. I regarded this as an omen for my new book, which is being published on March 4th under my pseudonym HOPE ADAMS. It's a novel called Dangerous Women, and my publishers, Michael Joseph in the UK and Berkley in the USA (where it came out ten days ago) have done wonders online to publicise it and ensure that the world is aware of it. Still, it's odd not being able to visit bookshops and I'm looking forward to the world of books returning to normal by the time the paperback appears.