How do I get back into this space, where my words take on meaning outside of my own head?
Let me begin by telling you about my morning.
I wake at 4.30am, as usual. Rather than risk losing that moment of wide-awake clarity, I switch on the light and hug my knees to my chest for a lovely long lower-back stretch. That is perhaps my favourite moment of the entire day, right there: that stretch. Feeling my spine elongate, ready for the moment of release as my arms go up and my feet power down, toes flex and point, wrists crack, fingers spread wide to greet the day.
I might lie there for half an hour, ordering my thoughts and making plans. Time seems to stretch with my limbs: five minutes at 5am lasts much much longer than it does at 6 or 7.
By 5.30, my porridge is bubbling and my herbal tea steaming.
Shower, moisturise, struggle into gym-wear in a battle of racer-backed elastic underpinnings.
Stop to inhale the essential oils that linger after the soap, the rinse, the cream.
Breathe more deeply.
Gather myself together.
Backpack - check
Water bottle - check
Workbag - check
Car keys - check
Phone - check
ID - check
And somehow by now it is pushing 6.20, 6.30, and I can't understand where the time has gone.
I aim to be in the gym by 7am - it's as good a time as any.
My drive into the city is punctuated by Radio 1, Radio 2, the soundtrack of Hamilton - whichever of these suits my mood.
Sometimes I can drive for miles before I meet another car.
Other days there are deer, badgers, pheasants, tractors, aggressive men in sports cars overtaking me at corners on single track roads.
There is always a moment of pause as the sea appears on the horizon, just before the traffic lights.
Today the sky was pink, it was lilac, it was golden and everything was calm in the sharp frosty air.
And then I am into the bustle of traffic. Buses, lorries, countless 4 x 4s with their personalised number plates, the occasional jogger, a cyclist or two.
A hazard perception test every morning.
Here I am, at the sports centre.
A few other cars, but not many.
A quick scan for familiar number plates so I can psych myself up for the first words of the day.
Because I have been awake for two and a half hours without any call for speech.
Ten minutes on the cross trainer.
A smile and a nod.
2k on the rowing machine, punctuated by swigs of water, a great physical trembling as I feel myself properly awake now, the blood singing in my ears.
A cheery grin from a face that moments ago was contorted with effort, hair plastered to its brow.
This is where we are in the morning, the regulars.
An amiable exchange with another colleague.
They are all men, these people I know at the gym. I guess the women have their children to deal with, their washing to hang out, packed lunches to prepare.
The few females avoid looking at each other.
I acknowledge the irony.
A series of routines on resistance machines, with kettlebells and plates and TRX harnesses - so much equipment just to make my muscles ache!
A glance at the clock: 7.45. Time to go.
8am - back in my car.
In a couple of minutes I am unlocking my office door, switching on my desk-lamp, powering up my PC.
Through the double doors to the kitchen to brew a giant bowl of tea and assess the lie of the land.
Onwards with the business of the day.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thank you, dear readers, for welcoming me back to the blog.
It's good to be back.