Rain, wind, cold and doppelgängers

Is this best time of year for reading and writing? Out there is uninviting; even my visit to the exhibition of Rembrandt’s Late Works was hampered by rain, the dismal thought of battling through a downpour, arriving with wet clothes. An excuse for a treat of coffee and praline Danish at Le Pain Quotidien and to sit down below, under the railway arches reading, writing and observing. The three young people, one closely resembling my son when young, animated talking and eating, arms gesturing wildly to support their discussion; all smiles, all laughter. What were they saying, what were they eating? A late breakfast at 11o’clock in the morning. Will they, he, insinuate themselves into my writing?

Rembrandt’s sitters look out at us with his own self portraits, people with whom I wish to have a conversation. In particular, ‘An Old Woman reading, 1655’, engrossed in her book, who will at any moment look up and say; ‘Is there something?’, in Dutch, of course. Clear eyes, quite severe for I have disturbed her. I will need a reason. And who was the girl in Vermeer’s painting with a pearl earring, someone else’s inspiration twice over; his and Tracey Chevalier?

Doppelgängers; are my characters ghosts of people I know or have seen? A trace, of course, a starting point, and then they’re off on their own, people in their own right. Who they might have been originally is of no consequence; they will be unrecognisable to themselves. To me they have their own life; the novel, their story may have come to a conclusion but they are still people out there carrying on from when I left them. I hope they are as real for my readers.





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