Windows have different functions. They let light into a room so we can see around us without having to switch on a lamp and use expensive electricity. Windows also allow us to see outside: blue sky, grey sky, a chunky little Scots terrier, swaggering like it owns the street. Maybe it does. And windows do the same thing as the walls around them: they keep us cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Well, maybe not very warm, this is Scotland, and there’s a limit to the power of even the best double glazing.

I have a habit of staring into other things, which are a bit like windows: my phone and computer screens. They’ve got a lot more functions than a window, but I’ll not go into all of that here. I just want to say that, in a way, we look right through our electronic devices to the lives beyond. A sad man in torn clothes who is walking with a confident Scotty dog. A music video: the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto playing sad notes on a piano, appropriate sounds for a news item on his death. Friends sharing pictures of dogs running on a beach, grandchildren chuckling, or a book someone is about to read or has just read.

Words are also like windows, or they can be. It’s not an original thought, but I find it useful sometimes to think of that comparison. In the world’s best written stories, poems, and other pieces of writing, we read and see beyond the words, and it is like witnessing directly the lives they tell us about. I love books where I feel I am looking right through the words on the page. In some writers, I’ve no idea how they do this marvellous window-like trick: you forget there’s anything between you and the world ‘out there’. Two Japanese writers used that skill so perfectly it is like looking through a window without the tiniest of smudges or marks. They are Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murakami.

Maybe it’s because I was thinking of the Japanese composers death that I thought of two Japanese writers to illustrate my point. In any case, they are good examples, but other writers also use window-like magic in their words. Ernest Hemingway and his pebbles in a clear stream and pine needle forest floors; Virginia Woolf and a lighthouse in the distance; and George Orwell and a dusty bookshop. And Dickens. And A.A.Milne. Only in the most magical of clear window prose could a reader look through words and see a bear and his friends, always alive in Hundred Acres Wood.

I’ve gathered a few books over the years. (I can hear a certain bookshop manager chuckling.) The books I’ve kept fill several bookcases. When it’s sunny outside, the light in the room spreads out in different colours from stain glass film on the windows. It’s calming, and that’s intensified by the frequent purring of a cat. So, I can’t look out directly through those windows, but I don’t need to. I know what’s out there. I go outside a lot, it’s not like I hide from the world. Okay, I do sometimes. But mostly, I just need some quietness to think in, to look through book shaped windows, and sometimes I write.

I knew before I started this piece of writing that it would be short. That’s because all I’m really doing is signing off from this blog for a while. It might be for a few months. I’ve become too busy to keep a monthly blog going. I’m doing a lot of other writing: three essays on mental health, with a further two planned; a short story; and I’m working on other things too. If you could look through windows into all the rooms in my life, you’d understand. I’ll maybe write about it all one day. Thank you for looking out of and through windows with me.

Harvey Duke

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