Free

Money’s always tight, but there are plenty of free things that help me to stay resilient.

Here’s a selection.

Nobody ever got bored of fresh air

I’m not a great walker, for obvious reasons, but at 5pm every day, I head for the door. I turn left outside my house, left again, then I follow a long straight path down to the ring road. I’m in the moment, in the fresh air, taking in the weather, checking out the sky. Listening to birdsong. I’m in daylight, I feel the breeze, I’m moving slowly, but my heart’s beating fast. Then I just walk for half an hour, looking all around as I go, saying hello to passers-by. I’m breathing. I’m alive.

And I go down to the beach, every day

Digitally. By which I mean, I go online every evening to the Porthmeor beach webcam to watch the sunset. St Ives, Cornwall is an important place for me. There are pictures of me as an infant playing on the beach in the 1960’s, and we’ve been holidaying there as a family for more or less all my life. I love watching the webcam, especially out of season when the beach is empty. The broad sweep of the golden sand and the blue grey ocean moving slowly appeases the soul. If I could, I’d walk the beach every day, but the webcam connects me to some precious moments.

Music is powerfully soothing

It grounds me. It’s a link to great writing. I had a handful of vinyl records when I was growing up, I used to put them on my sister’s record player and the songs released dreams inside of me. Then, as a teenager, it was Frank Sinatra, John Denver and Supertramp that I was listening to. Later, it was Suede, Kate Bush, David Bowie, Tom Waits. These people were my creative friends and filled important spaces in my imagination. They helped me grow. Now, I watch videos on YouTube, Mark Knopfler and Sting, great songwriters, great performers. They repair holes that appear in me.

I go to sleep listening to the radio

The radio has been such a good companion to me for so many years, and again, it’s free. When I was at university, it was the BBC World Service I’d listen to, then there were those glorious John Peel years, and now Radio 4 is my go-to destination. Nic & I love the comedy panel shows and the edgy, subtle comedies. In And Out Of The Kitchen and The News Quiz. Voices on the radio have been of great comfort to me over the years. When you’re alone or in a difficult place in your life, there’s nothing better than hearing a familiar and reassuring voice. I’m listening to BBC 6 Music as I write this, it’s Morrissey. Can you hear him?

Telling Someone You Love Them

It costs nothing to do this, and yet it’s somehow the hardest thing to do. I wish I could do it more. I’d like to be a more demonstrative person, but it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a bit too English. I admire people who can give easy, generous hugs and spread their love easily. We should all try harder to do this, especially with our children. They deserve to see the very best side of us and to receive our love and confidence on a daily basis. The love we leave behind is our only legacy. You’re free to give your love – so who’s waiting in line?