We know the children's rhyme - Ring-a-ring-a-roses, and at the end a pile of children collapse on the floor giggling, and then bounce up again.
I believe it's derived from the time of The Plague, when one sneeze was enough for sufferers to begin digging their own graves. Not much giggling there.
Well, in all the wind and rain, my fence fell down taking a shrub with it, and the tree from next door fell on the other fence. The result - debris scattered all over the garden, broken shrubs and roses and general muddy miserableness.
But nobody was hurt. No houses were damaged. We were warm and dry and had enough to eat. This is not a post about those who still find themselves under water - but let's pause for a minute to think how that must be, weeks down the line, and your carpets still stinking of mud (and worse).
No, the point is that, bit by bit, the mayhem in my garden is receding. The tree has gone from my lawn. One fence is back up. One little tree - an ornamental hazel - has somehow escaped damage and stands bravely in a rather bald flower bed. My neighbour and I have promised ourselves a trip to a Garden Centre once the other fence is up, to buy plants to replace those that were buried under the mud. The garden is getting used to its new shape. Before long it will be hard to recall the shadows of that lovely apple tree; only the birds will miss the red berries on the pyracantha. We'll sit in it next summer, with wine, and savour the surprises of new plants and flowers.
What has all this got to do with anything? Well, I think my writing-head feels like that garden muddle at times. All bits and twigs and muddiness. What begins as a good idea somehow collapses and become misshapen, trampled, its core buried under the wreckage.
It takes time, dragging each titbit into the daylight and wondering if it is any use or to dump it in the 'delete file'. Sometimes there's a temptation to dump the lot, to begin again, to find a new idea. But that core - the one that fired me in the first place - is generally still there. It takes time to find it. And it might need new narrative contexts in which to flourish. But ideas are precious, and should be cherished. They'll come out to play eventually, if we can give them space to breathe. And clear the rubbish that threatens to overwhelm them.