Last week, the country ground to a halt. The world's media stopped with it - and hundreds, perhaps thousands of cameras were focused on one average-sized door of a private hospital in London.
Early on Monday 22nd July, the news had broken that the Duchess of Cambridge had arrived at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in early labour, and that the birth of the third in line to the throne was at last imminent. Headline writers sat poised at keypads. Twitter fizzed with excited silliness and smart remarks. The aforestation of cameras advanced like the trees outside the castle after Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger with on a needle and slept for a hundred years.
It felt like a hundred years of news coverage. As the commentary and the endless, pointless interviews grew ever more banal, I began to hope for a live feed to the Royal Nursery, where the paint might still be drying on the walls. My favourite instant came courtesy of Sky News, where the presenter, exhausted from sleepless nights, the oppressive heat, and over 12 hours of making infant-related small talk live on screen, introduced yet another interview: 'And now we have with us a midwife, who has given birth to hundreds of babies...' As the error spawned millions of extraordinary images and the poor midwife looked appalled but was too polite to remonstrate, the presenter hastily corrected herself, '... or rather, has assisted at hundreds, indeed perhaps thousands of births...'
The announcement finally came. It was a boy. The excitement spread like ripples on a standing pond... yet next day, the waiting and the focus on the Lindo Wing door began again. Kate's hairdresser had gone in - the word went round. The Middletons had visited. Prince Charles had said they'd be out 'in a minute'. Day 2 of Princeling Watch was rewarded by a short appearance by the exhausted Royal couple, beaming, and their tiny son, attempting his very first Royal wave.
What may have been the news event of the year has punctuated the summer of hot sunshine, storms and sleeplessness. Even the waiting became news. At home, in millions of hushed rooms, we all thrilled to the suspenseful fairytale of the happy ending for the handsome Prince and the perfect-haired Duchess. If we had to wait for a hundred years - we would.
And yet it's an impatient time. This morning, walking behind a large group of slow-moving elderly American tourists in the holiday town where I live, I was being tailgated impatiently by some children on their bikes. Later on my walk, I encountered a mother and her small daughter having 'words'. No, the mother was explaining, half-past-ten was much too early for ice cream and the daughter needed to stop going on about it and 'drop her attitude'. 'You need to drop yours,' the four-year-old replied in fearsome tones, and stalked ahead.
We're not always patient about waiting, any more. The small child who wants ice cream. The cyclists who want to pass. The Sale advertisements which scream at us to HURRY! - their urgent imperatives warning us that these prices will not last. Our world is based on the instantaneous: the quickly posted and read tweet, the gratifying validation of an online endorsement, the quick fix solution or the pre-packed meal or 'grazing box'. These days, we get so impatient about things being instantaneous that the signal that a message has been read can feel like a small betrayal, if a response has not yet come.
And this summer, I'm impatient too. I'm impatient because I'm finding it hard to write. Sometimes it's hard to find that perfect idea to base some writing on - that observation or that thing that happens which sets some words in motion, creating its own narrative. Perhaps I'm like that four-year-old I saw this morning: she wanted ice cream straight after breakfast; I want writing ideas to stun the blogosphere when I'm tired and drained from work. Just like the journalists seemed to force the change of tactic in the announcement of the baby Prince's birth, so that that evening's deadlines could be met.
Writing this, perhaps I'm like the news staff tasked to stand outside St Mary's, Paddington, filling in the waiting time with hours of inconsequentialities until the good news broke. Perhaps I'm filling in the time before something more worthwhile will happen with the white noise of simply writing. The five-finger exercise of matching words to thought - slipping across the surfaces of untold depths like a lone paddle-boarder, barely breaking the surface of the silken water on an early summer morning.
So: is this blogger's block? Maybe I'm just holding up a mirror to the nature of a summer grown tranquil in the unaccustomed heat. Has life drifted into quiet? Is there nothing left to say?