I shouldn't be writing this blog, I should be somewhere even colder than this office. I should be in the High Arctic, standing on a football-pitched size island with a group of people I've only just met.
I had an email from Alex Hartley a few months ago: would I like to come to the High Arctic and be part of an expedition to do something very exciting...to visit an island that climate change has exposed from the retreating ice, dig up a bagful of it and sail it out into the sea. As the bagful of material arrives into international waters it will, like Prince, become the Artist Formerly Known as Bagful of Material and be declared Nowhereisland...and that we, you, anyone who signs up to the idea of this new island nation will be declared a citizen of Nowhereisland.
This island will be the world's newest state and it's citizens will all have an influence in what that island stands for, the politics, the direction it takes, its identity. It's a chance to do the equivalent of having your life/our lives over again, if you knew what you know now.
This autumn's expedition is only the first part...next year the island will visit ports along the south west coast of England, as part of the Cultural Olympiad 2012 that ties in with the Olympics.
I was, apparently, one of the 'bright minds' chosen to be a founder member of a notional new society on this bagful of uncovered island. I thought Alex might have mistaken me for someone interesting but I am shamefully weak in the face of flattery so I replied. I suspect, in reality, that Alex has a weakness for cakes and had seen my blueberry muffin recipe (which, frankly, may be the summit of anything I do in this life) and wanted reasonable midmorning refreshments on the trip.
I may not be explaining this very well, so watch this and let Alex tell you.
Nowhereisland - Alex Hartley from Claire Doherty on Vimeo.
By coincidence we met a couple of weeks after he sent the email, over a very large piece of beef and many dozen excellent roast potatoes*. I had been trying to extricate myself from existing commitments to make the trip but it wasn't possible. It knew it would've been an amazing to go and finding that he wasn't a tedious arse made not going considerably worse.
So instead I'm here, sketching garden plans, trying to get on with the new book, eating a cake at 9.49am.
A lot of me wishes I was there.
However, I will be a citizen of Nowhereisland. And I will be one of the Resident Thinkers, writing something to contribute to how the island takes shape. With current sign ups the state will be twice the size of the Vatican state and is on it's way to becoming the same citizenship as the Falkland Islands.
I invite you to become a citizen too - you can sign up here.
It's a chance to do something a little different, to be a part of something starting again, to see if knowing what we know now we'd make a better go at it. That doesn't happen everyday.
Follow the expedition and beyond on Facebook, Twitter and with updates on their (your?) website.
* I think if you get on with someone over a Sunday roast, it's a fair indication you'll get on with them at anytime...given that at least a small portion of your brain is seeing each roastie that hits their plate as robbery, begrudging them every mouthful.