June 3

I WON’T make this the insomnia diaries, for risk of sending the reader to sleep and achieving what so often eludes me. Let’s just say that last night wasn’t tender: asleep from around 11pm to 1.30am, pretty much awake from then until four, then asleep until 5.30am. The sleeplessness isn’t connected to my situation or at least I don’t think so. This pattern has been going on for years, on and off. Perhaps the night will soften again soon. The only trouble is that the reported side effects of insomnia include dementia and heart attacks, to call to mind two. It’s enough to keep you awake at night.

It is also not my intention to look backwards too often. Still, it is hard not to transpose this week onto last week, and all the others leading up to it. Wednesday was always the toughest day, working flat out from 7.45am to around 6pm, with a quick walk down the road for a coffee from the Polish restaurant and ten minutes or so sandwich time. The rest of the day was given over to editing the letters, checking my column, seeing off the property pages, and then putting together the What’s On supplement for the next day. Wednesday was a day full of rigour and routine, but now I have to make my own structure, with coffee being served in the kitchen at around eleven. After a few more words here, I shall return to the novel. But stay around, for there are some good words coming up.

Thanks to Blake Morrison, poet, writer and the man who once got me a part-time job on The Observer, for the following. Last weekend The Guardian literary supplement had the clever idea of asking writers to choose the words they love. Morrison, a man of the Dales, dredged up some lovely Yorkshire words, the best being dialect words for fools and scoundrels. And here, to close today, are some of them: bizzumhead, dunderknowle, hauvey-gauvey, ragabash and fustilugs. Say them out loud, it’s really worth it.

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