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[personal profile] chrisamies
Writing about Hammersmith is odd. Because I'm not so much writing about a place as about a time. When I did the first version of this (1998-2000), it was set when, and where, I was living - and although I've moved, it hasn't. Nowadays I feel as much 'from' Kingston as I do 'from' Hammersmith and indeed some of the things I think I remember nostalgically from Hammersmith are, I realise when I think about it, actually Kingston. Hammersmith was also about living in inner London in my 20s and 30s. Kingston gave me a bit of a restart but when my local closed down in '08 I just started going on about how far out of town it was, rather than finding a new local (the Lamb in Surbiton is the happening place at the moment. I am sure Surbiton is going to be on the up in coming years as a new generation arrive who don't associate the name of the place with The Good Life). Then '09 was even worse and in '10 I got made redundant, but all these events centred on Kingston rather than Hammersmith which was receding further and further into nostalgia while still being at the other end of an 85 bus ride (to get to the borough) then change to a 220 (to get to Hammersmith proper although my area was never the Broadway so much as the top end of North End Road).

I cannot however imagine setting the work in progress in Kingston instead though. It feels too suburban, not enough complexity, not enough history (the story is really about how the past entwines with the present). Setting it here, in South Birmingham, is another matter and I am quite prepared to find out that it would be a possible - certainly the river Bournbrook that is in and out of daylight in this area could be significant, and why shouldn't the Bristol Road stand in for the A4? Then there's the canal. Much that is mysterious could happen along a canal like that (of course much that is unpleasant already does but that is not a reason not to write about it). I'm just not qualified to write it as I haven't lived here that long nor investigated its past.

However the rewrite / remake makes more sense than the previous version because I've been able to work out the relations between the characters better. For example there was one meeting between two of the characters which was forced in the original version and I don't think it was likely - but there is a very good reason in-context why they would meet, so why not use it?

I spent yesterday working on the allotment, then selling cupcakes, then at an author reading in Waterstone's. A good day. And that was after writing in the morning. But I still want to go home. I shouldn't move house, it doesn't do me any good with my sense of place.
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