'All right, all right, Trouble,' said Frog the other morning to the cat clawing his calves. 'I'll get you some food in a moment.'
'Strange isn't it,' he remarked to me later, 'how all our animals end up being called Trouble.'
I had a bad day yesterday. I discovered that one of my books was available for free download. That book took a year and a half to write and half a year of negotiations with publishers - two years out of my life - not to mention all the experience that led up to it, and I've barely earned enough from it to pay for a holiday. How dare someone think they can get it for free. I was MAD.
Then a builder who was supposed to turn up at 5pm didn't. I had gone to yoga but Frog had left work an hour and a half early to be at home to meet him.
So this morning, when Trouble the cat was fussing for food and Trouble the puppy was lying at the bottom of the stairs chewing the safety gate and whining, I decided it was time for an artist's date.
Artists' dates were invented by Julia Cameron and described in her book The Artist's Way. Unfortunately I lent the book to a friend seven years ago and haven't seen it since (grrr) so what I'm telling you is from memory only. They involve (I think) taking yourself off by yourself for a couple of hours and doing something different and nice. The idea (I think) is that you replenish your imagination that way or at least clear your mind of all the c**p that comes between you and it. (By 'artist' she means anyone doing something creative, not just painters.)
So, after having walked the dog (yes, I know but she would have been unbearable otherwise and I do have a heart), I hopped in my ancient Mini, drove to our local National Trust house and had a bowl of yellow-split-pea soup in the cafe.
I was only away for an hour and the soup wasn't particularly good but when I got home I didn't go to my workroom and switch on the computer, I didn't Google myself to see who was pirating my books, I didn't check how many people had been reading my blog. I sat by the window in the bedroom with my notebook and worked on The Novel and then I went outside and did some gardening while the dog played with a rawhide chew and the cat perched on top of the pergola.
Life's very simple really but it's so easy to forget that. And it's not just artists who need dates with themselves. We all do.