Oh, chiller, let’s go down. No, up. Let’s go up.

Me and the universe, we’re like that. *crosses fingers* This morning it woke me up. “Chiller, hey. Hey, chiller,” it said. “Come on.”

So all sleepy-happy I got up and straightened myself out, and then I did what it was banging on about. I went up The Hill. It looks down on the whole of London – Canary Wharf, the City, St Paul’s and the Shard are all visible from it – and is one of those hills they only have in South-East London. So up we went.

I want to convey to you how steep this hill is, and I think this is the only photograph that gives any indication:

I want to give you some idea of how steep this hill is 2

It hurt. Really hurt everything I’ve got. It was hard and brilliant, and I immediately wanted to do it again.

But I didn’t. I came down to the Balfa Brothers (Alison Krauss on the way up, as she’s great for making you breathe calmly), then I was so excited by the fact that I’d done The Hill, that I didn’t want to stop walking. I walked around a bit, then I walked to the shop and bought a pile of dead animals to eat, because I was starting to think about Anton’s tiny, bone-china scapulas in a way suggestive of extreme hunger. And I bought myself some flowers, because – well, because I always buy myself flowers. I was marching home with them, a surprising spring in my step, a sense of achievement under my belt, a slight smirk on my phiz, and the anticipation of getting in and faceplanting the first piece of meat I encountered, when something in the hedge on the moraine[1] caught my eye. Some bright flash that shouldn’t be there, red and white. Was it a Christmas garland, discarded and entwined in the hawthorn? I drew closer, and it wasn’t a Christmas garland. It was four enormous spikes of silk flowers, two red, two white, their bare bottom ends stuffed into the wet mud of the bank so they sprouted there incongruously. The flowers were about the size of my hand. They were in good condition. I looked around. There wasn’t anyone. And nobody owns that land. So I took them! Each stem is nearly as tall as I am.

And that was that, really. After that there was no subduing me. It was as if the universe had given me a little kiss on the forehead (and those, really, are the best ones), and a squeeze, and then on it went to do whatever it has to do next.

I am very happy.

I’ve said my New Year’s resolution is to run again, and it is, that’s true, as far as it goes. But the full truth is, I intend to run up that hill this year. It’s an unimaginable achievement at this point, after three years of muscle loss and occasional cataplexy. It’s like saying “I’m going to grow wings and fly.” Well, I am.


The first time I run up it without stopping, I had better do it in the dark, because I’m going to cry my tits off at the top.

[1] This is an unmade road near my house, more accurately called “rape alley” by virtually everyone else, but as far as I am concerned, it is the moraine, where spiders scuttle across, foxes are almost always hunting, you have to clamber over the terrain and around crevasses, and there is a great oak tree in the middle of it, and flocks of sparrows nest in the hedges there. Ok, and also people get raped sometimes. That happens.

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