To a fiction writer, memory is an essential tool. It is the pathway to the imagination. Above all I require memory to feed my soul and fast-track me to my emotional back-list.
This morning I was icing a birthday cake for my dad who is 97 years old tomorrow. There was sunshine in the little garden outside; baking is my default comfort zone, it's where I go when I'm sad or happy or stressed, or want to show my love for someone - and then Mozart's Clarinet Concerto was played on the radio and I was rocketed back through the years to when I was about fifteen, a schoolgirl, sitting on a desk in my form room before lessons began. My friend Phlip (Philippa) had her clarinet case with her and for some reason (request, to practise, for fun?), took out her clarinet and played the opening bars of the slow movement. Ever since the piece has reminded me of her, and of school, of being lifted a notch by a perfect juxtaposition of notes.
The emotional soup created by that moment in the kitchen - love, nostalgia, joy, concern (for my dad), anxiety (too much to do), a sense of self - of being a woman in a kitchen, listening to that music, is the life-blood of fiction.