Monday, 17 May 2010

Down the glen

Photo by Douglas Blane. Killearn Glen
Killearn Glen May 2010

According to recent research, just five minutes a day of moderate exercise in green spaces has a measurable effect on human beings - of which I am one. So I decided to include a walk in the village glen in my early morning routine - which is how I like to think of my daily, aimless shambling around and bumping into furniture.

The sun-dappled leaves, the blackbird's song, the bluebell banks were all wonderful, but I now have a problem. Morning before breakfast is precisely the time when my brain works best and the words come easily.

I first noticed this when laid up after spinal surgery and memorised huge swathes of poetry, from Morte d'Arthur and the Lady of Shalott to Tam o' Shanter and The Cremation of Sam McGee.

It was very easy until I'd eaten, when lines I'd just memorised suddenly had big holes in them, and I'd have to start all over again. I'm guessing it's the difference between the brain getting all the blood and oxygen it needs and having to compete with other parts of the body. It was a repeatable effect and one I've confirmed many times since.

So here's the problem - walk in the glen in the morning sun, which makes me feel great, or write, which I also enjoy, pays the mortgage and puts food on the table?

It's not easy being a writer.

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