I’m there to take part in neighbouring Melbourn’s celebration of Bloomsday. On the first day, eight short stories are read outside different houses in the village – Dorothy Parker's 'Arrangement in Black and White', Virginia Woolf’s ‘Kew Gardens’, Joyce’s ‘Eveline’. My turn coincides with a deluge. I read a P.G. Wodehouse story under a chestnut tree, shouting out the wonderful lines (“The kemerer’s ’idden in the keb”) against the din of the rain. The following day I take part in a panel of four working writers discussing who we are, what we do, how we do it and why. It’s a compulsion, we agree.
And then Bloomsday itself, 16 June, a reprise of Leopold Bloom’s 1904 day out in Dublin. We follow him, in the tireless person of local Bloomsday organiser and enthusiast Hugh Pollock, wandering from martello tower to butchers to post office to pharmacy. Many have dressed in period costume. Like Bloom we eat sausages for breakfast and a gorgonzola lunch in the pub as we listen to music of the time from the very talented Brind family. I have the last reading of the day, in the cemetery for Paddy Dignam’s funeral. The sun is almost out, the band plays Abide with Me. It’s both funny and moving. The entire event raises money for the charity Water Aid.