Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Some confessions...

When I thought up Moonwalking, as I've said before, it wasn't a book about the full moon. So it certainly wasn't called Moonwalking, Discovering Britain by Full Moon. I'd planned to write a nice little travel book about the gardens of Cornwall (yep, the Great ones). What I'd do, I thought, was speak to the gardeners, see if they'd let me have a wander when the tourists had gone home, then take the stroll and...

And that's where I hoped the great hook would kick. I mean, think of all the dramatic possibilities, the dangerous twists in deserted gardens. There's...oh and then I might...and of course there's...and...

Yesterday morning the living body of professed moon freak, Robert Self-Pierson, was found sitting on a bench in Trevarno Estate Gardens, after he had spent a dull night sitting on a bench in one of Cornwall's Great Gardens.

Exactly. Rubbish idea. And it didn't take long for colleagues to kindly point this out. Unless a rogue peacock took a disliking to me, the chances of that crisis, that peril, those events that make a reader read on, would be minimal and make the book as dull as a night in a Great Garden of Cornwall with no purpose.

So Moonwalking was born - to a sort of gangly, spotty teen father: not at all prepared for the full moon and its charms.

So I think it's time to let out some secrets about me, my book and my new-found fascination with travelling avec moon.
I'd never thought about moonwalking before I discussed the subject as a theme for the book - though I had taken quite a few nightwalks and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom, quiet and calm of noctambulating (walking at night, rather than sleep-walking)

At school, science bored me - especially all that planet/space stuff (impossible to understand)

Although I've travelled quite a bit, and lived in some random places, and met some odd (yet usually terrifyingly interesting) people, I'm not a natural traveller

I plan late and badly
I forget vital equipment
I'm possibly the worst person in the universe at navigating

Secret #4
Yes, I'm writing a book about walking untrodden moonlit routes with strangers or alone; but no, I'm not very keen on the dark, and, as a consequence, yes, I get spooked quite easily ('The Blair Witch Project' was a scary film)

I've become a bit of a moon geek in the last few months and now am the proud owner of two The Sky at Night magazines, which take pride of place hidden in my cupboard
But all this means the following:

1. When I do things like going In Search of Dracula by full moon, like I will be this time next week, it shreds my nerves for the following few years

2. When I moonwalk strange towns, or canal loops (don't ask), I get lost and spend most of the night trying to explain to locals that I'm walking their town by moonlight "because I'm writing a book about the full moon because a witch in a cellar told me I should, though I might lose a leg and an eye she warned"

3. If the book gets published, readers will want to know how this disorganised buffoon could survive a year of living by the phases of the moon

So I'm offering a small caveat. Not an apology - a warning. I've hurled myself into this year of travel. Prepared? Ha, no. Excited? Ha, indeed. When I'm not doing my 9-5, I'm writing a book; when I'm not writing the book, I'm creeping around Britain and dragging myself from a warm house into a winter storm or across a moor in search of dead Romans; when I'm not chasing Caesar, I'm explaining to people I'm honestly not a lunatic.

I don't profess to be a moon freak (just geek), or Bill Bryson or Charlie Connelly - but I'm having a great time chasing their coattails, at night*.

*Bill/Charlie - that's not me stalking you, and, Bill, that certainly wasn't me who shouted "You're my hero" across the street at you last Tuesday when you were tying your shoe lace


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