26 February 2014


Nothing to write about now but the coming and going in the morning, or the bike ride up to the University of Birmingham, the red brick clock tower a kind of guide through the streets of terrace houses. There is an International grocer on Harborne Park Road with sunflower seeds and all things Polish. Then you come up on a bike lane, past the hospital, past the station, and you are on campus.

The other way, you ride down to through the valley and then up the hill to Bartley Green and the university there is on a hill. Even in the early morning, when I am out running past it, the lights of the library are on and the whole place is glowing. The days are starting to stretch out bit by bit and when I go home at night, it's not as dark as it was in January.

The talk inside of buildings here doesn't want to be written about: it's all the silence of the day in between my coming and going that I want to tell you about. How I rode my bike in my jeans and new desert boots across town. Or the silence of the University of Birmingham library, where you pull a string to make the lights come on in book stacks. Sitting, reading about narrative, I look out and watch the rain start and then stop and then start again. I should go home for dinner: the clock tower chimes like Big Ben.

If Malaysia, if last year was about confrontation, of waving cars off while crossing the road, this year is about none of that. There are no cars in the road ahead of me — I run down the middle of the lane. Naomi and I hold hands, walking to have coffee together in an old church turned cafe. She sits across from me, looking away at the cupcakes, and I ask her if she is having a good time. She is still only six: I haven't wasted my time with her yet. She still loves me, still wants to be held sometimes and carried. Fathers think about this when we look at our kids. We wonder when they will grow out of us and their need for us.

I stop typing and hear nothing. No one is in Oxford Hall with me. There is a rejection letter telling me things that I need to do to be a better writer and scholar, but there's no reason to hurry towards that. I am alone and the sun is going down. I can walk or run home, it doesn't matter. I will come back tomorrow and the day after that. And next week and next year: nothing is obstructing me.