Mourning Circle of Misse

 IMG_8146A room overlooking furrowed fields, a swollen river

IMG_8821aand poplars bearing cluster bombs of mistletoe.

IMG_8742Writers above me; writers beside me overlooking the garden and the abbey beyond. I cannot see Wayne, our writing mentor, and Catherine, a writer taking a break from the text. But I know where they are. IMG_8813They’re in the garden planting window boxes with delicious violets and lonely petunias under the watchful eyes of Echalote. It is her territory after all.IMG_8147Who would call a cocker spaniel, with silky ears and aristocratic airs,  after a small onion? IMG_8819Aaron, our host and chef extraordinare, no doubt. I can’t see him either but he’ll be in the kitchen preparing our dinner – turkey escalope, pasta with lemon and orange peel; strawberries with crushed black pepper or some such delight. Always accompanied with a crisp sauvignon, a lively vouvray.

At different times of the day, when the Muse has left us, we writers spill out of our rooms and into the landscape. We walk past the pheasant farm and the sign that warns us against the hunt; along the river bank and past the trees throttled by bare bracken;

IMG_8756into the forest and through the gateposts overcome with withering ivy.

IMG_8306And the chateau sometimes, satisfying our lust for the Loire. Searching for the Muse.

We gather at six or seven, partake of ‘un petit pernod’, admire the progress in the garden.

IMG_8817We say little of what happens in the silent hours spent in our rooms. We do not tempt fate. The Muse is fickle. The last evening we dare to share our work. Disturbing dystopian sex scenes;  insect life in the sand dunes of the Gower coast; séance scenes from down under and my contribution – a short film about Henry, a child refugee from El Salvador who, when he returns to his homeland, people mistook for a ghost. They thought he’d been killed during the civil war.

The House That Is Not There

There is a message in my inbox. There has been a murder of a young black boy in my street in East London. A stabbing. I return home to flowers in the street. Collections for the family. People are in mourning. My own mourning for Circle of Misse pales in comparison.


That night I dream my house in Hackney is full of teenagers. Hundreds of them cowering from the danger outside. Until the music starts up and the carnival passes by. Like writers in search of La Muse we spill out into the street, into joy and into safety.

 For more information about writing courses and retreats see Circle of Misse

For more information and films about child migration see



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