Today, I’ve been thinking about stopping and sitting and having two minutes of peace. I have two children, aged four and six, and I’ve almost finished writing my second novel. It doesn’t happen very often. But, actually what happens when we sit and do nothing? Our brain relaxes and everything takes a slight shift in perspective. It has to be a good thing. I managed it today, even though I was at the British Library, by sitting on the loo. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes, and became more aware of the surrounding sounds: someone pees in the cubicle next door, a tap is left running, a door bangs, the echo of a long expressive fart. But it was surprisingly nice, and recuperative. And my subconscious gave me a small gift: it reminded me of when I was in my 20s and working at Time Out magazine when the toilet was my friend. I often sat in one of the cubicles, trying to see a logical repetition in the tiling – just taking a break, no rush, nothing taxing. I thought about the days when it was cool to be a procrastinator: being a teenager and lolling about on cushions with friends, smoking and talking, listening to Joni Mitchell.
The only time I stop these days is when me or my kids are ill, and it’s always a challenge to give in: to notice the sun shine through the dirty windows, catching the glitter of dust that inevitably hangs in the air in our house; to hear the heating ticking as the radiators warm; to appreciate the safety of our world. My memories of childhood are full of these moments: daylight quiet in our family home – no radio, no music, no TV – the beauty of time suspended, light and sound, and slow minutes, hours that roll on and on.