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And how rapidly it's going! Suddenly it's more than half way through August, and getting very close to our trip to Ireland and Germany. We do seem to be totally unprepared for departure, but then I usually feel like this at this stage. So maybe all will be well.

So much of this last month has gone on double-barrelled work: lots more book promotion of Passion Play - more guest speaking, which is always fun, and audiences have been so receptive that it's worth the psyching up ahead. But at the same time I've been getting organised for next year's book. Once the contract with Wakefield Press was signed, a great flood of relief swept over me, especially as all the readers ahead had given it such a positive reception and written great letters of endorsement for it. Also relieved that Wakefield want to publish it next year instead of 2014 - this suits me admirably and leaves me free to go away with a clear conscience and time to do the needed revisions and fine-tuning when I get back. 

So Bystanders (another book that's been simmering in my mind for many decades) will see the light of day in the second half of 2015.

Meanwhile I've had the fun of getting back the copies of A Poem a Day, based on the 33 poems I wrote, one a day, as we travelled round Spain last year. David put it together using Photoclub, a business that's worth a strong recommendation, and each day has a double page, a colour photo on the left and the poem for that day on the right hand side. I'm delighted with the way it's turned out, and we've produced a few copies for family members. I'm now thinking I might try to record our time travelling in Ireland in the same way. Journals and photo books are a great reminder, and we'll always do these, but the 'poem a day' book captures memories in such a special way. The power of verse, perhaps?

Yet another month has disappeared ...  all very well for T.S.Eliot to talk about measuring out life with coffee spoons - I measure mine out the occasional web page entries! And this one is such good news. Yesterday Wakefield Press confirmed that they will publish my new book, Bystanders, next year - a great relief to have this established, as it's a book I really want to see finally in print. Someone asked me how long it had taken to write. I answered, honestly, all my life. True, because the genesis of this book is some writing I did back in 1958, and that's over fifty years ago. A VERY long gestation period. So middle of next year, once again my life comes full circle.

Meanwhile, other things this month have been surprising. Like the sudden unexpected decision to travel overseas later this year. That started with a trip David was very keen to do - a tour of Ireland, which he loves and where I've never been, to be followed by four weeks in Germany, travelling north to south, east to west, by a series of train trips - to see all the friends and relatives we have who are scattered all over this beautiful country. So, having said this 2014 was a stay-at-home year, we've decided to listen to the niggling sense of memento mori and go. But it's been a monumental jigsaw puzzle effort, working out an itinerary that, at this late stage of planning, fits in with everyone else's travel plans so that we can can catch up with all the old friends we want to see. Worth the work, and we'll be covering a lot of territory.

Last few weeks have been, thankfully, a bit more focused, and there's been a bit more writing done than I've managed for many months. A few poems, but the main effort has been to finish the new book, Bystanders. It's out for reading by a few people at this stage, and will be going to a publisher at the end of the week. I'm in that awful stage of huge self-doubt. Should never have written this. It's prose. Should have stuck to poetry. Maybe should stop writing altogether. Time to stop and smell the roses. Can't do that. The rose season is over, and it's almost time for the winter pruning. Perhaps a message in that too?