Even admitting to being unsure about what you can say and what you cannot, what you should say and what you should not, is probably a bit of a risk. The doubt itself is an admission of opposition, and therein lies the great conundrum – in fact, it’s a trap – for me (and maybe, any writer). If I were a fiction writer, and God knows, I fantasise about it, this task would be so much easier. At least I think it would. First of all you could make things up. Secondly, and most appealingly, things that are true could be written about as if they were made up. Writing fact is altogether more complicated because there is nothing to hide behind, other than that which is omitted. Omission is a dangerous space to enter. It plays tricks with your mind and soon you don’t know whether you omitted what was just a dream or what was true. You don’t know whether you are frightened of the truth or your imagination. I’ve imagined some very odd things this year.
In early January, I was staying with friends in Muswell Hill. One night, I was in the house with one other person. But during the evening, I seemed to lose that other. So, after about an hour of worrying, I searched the house. He was nowhere to be found. A while later I noticed that one of the doors to one of the main rooms was locked, and immediately concluded that this other had locked himself in there for the evening to have some peace and quiet. But I started imagining all sorts of awful things. The following day, I told J this story and he encouraged me to go take a look at the locked door again, a door, he insisted, had no lock. So I went and looked very closely and, well, it was true. There was no lock. This made me think about all those ‘witnesses’ who had seen the ‘terrorist’ running into Stockwell tube with a heavy jacket on and a rucksack… Well I won’t go there now. We all know what happened. But it’s unnerving as a journalist. I wonder how much I see and how much I think I see.
Fatal, probably, to admit this to any public, but I do wonder.