To Dorset, a morning in the Dorchester Museum, an afternoon in Weymouth. The museum is crammed with Hardy, and all that Hardy loved, from Roman remains to the history of rural life. It's a wonderful mix of brisk, modern exhibitions on local writers and old glass showcases filled with bits and bobs from the past. I hope it doesn't get any more up to the minute or whizzy. I hope it never loses all its dusty corners. There's much of Hardy's cobwebby spirit about.
Hardy has haunted my writing for years. His own writing is haunted by his own preoccupations and I am both admiring of, and made slightly queasy by his intensity. His tortured, enquiring, love-lorn, guilt-stricken soul is in his poetry so that to read it is to feel in touch with the man himself. It's that thing with writers from the past and their work - how they have this reach into the present, and into our minds. But Hardy especially. He's not hidden, like Shakespeare, he's there, with his fine nib, detailing the agonies and quirks of his own life. He's one of the reasons I'm a writer. To be that thin-skinned is at once dangerous and beautiful.