I spend my days immersed in news, reading about the latest unsubstantiated deregulatory measures, another chip hacked out of the welfare state, the latest infringements on civil liberties. It's very difficult not to become weary and angry.
But I'm about a third of the way through my collection of Chasing Spring tapes and it's proving a balm to my cynicism. I'm rediscovering all the wonderful people we met, people who were universally kind and polite to us, happily offering their time, stories and hospitality.
There were the kind florists who we blundered into after they'd had an exhausting Mothers' Day. There were the slightly odd old ladies who insisted on introducing us to their friends. And there was the unpretentious wonder that is Todmorden, an ordinary Northern town that has become an extraordinary template for the future of food and business.
At a time when so many great things about this country are being systematically dismantled, it's heartening to feel that the people who really matter are still great.
It’s been more than two years since Matt and I began Chasing Spring and a lot has happened since then: the seasons turned, the planet continued to warm, the world emphatically didn’t end, a bunch of people fought each other for freedom while another bunch of people fought each other for shiny bits of metal. The world heard Gangnam Style.
But the most important thing is that I haven’t made a Chasing Spring film yet.
There are many reasons for this, many excuses that I’ve made to myself and others who periodically asked me what was happening – first out of genuine interest, then by teasing me with it, now with the sad assumption that it will never happen.
At first I was completely burned out by the experience itself and couldn’t face working on it; the thought of looking at those videos made me feel physically sick. Then I found a million other excuses: I was too busy looking for work, then freelancing, then in a permanent job; I was too lonely to do it, then made a great bunch of friends and didn’t have the time.
At some point last year I tried again. I thought the winter would be a perfect time to crack on with it – the long nights and dismal weather would draw me inside and I could squirrel away at it. But I couldn’t find the first few tapes, I couldn’t make the video editing software work on my computer and I couldn’t bring myself to sit in front of a screen all evening. I lapsed again.
I never wanted to leave it like this, as another great idea that I began but never finished. Chasing Spring has been a millstone around my neck for the past two years, dragged down with the weight of my own expectations but mainly the thought of all the generous people who supported us and donated to the project.
So this year, with a long and dismal winter followed at last by a splash of spring, along with a little sunshine in my own life at last, I finally got my spring on. I found the rogue tapes, got the editing software working and learned how to use it. And I’m back to it – cringing at footage of myself, alternately amused and embarrassed by Matt, amazed that we ever did such a crazy, reckless thing with such little preparation – and trying to make something of nearly 50 hours of footage.