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Showing posts from September, 2007

New South Wales to Old North Wales

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I had an unexpected visitor last Friday evening. It was my Uncle Bill fresh from Australia via West Wittering. Armed with a mental map consisting of two dots representing Auntie Vera’s house in Sussex and mine in Wales joined by a wiggly line, he’d found his way after seven hours on the road, asking everyone after the Severn Bridge if they knew where I lived and having been piloted the final stretch of the journey by a good Samaritan from Cardigan.

‘I’m not stopping,’ he insisted weakly, ‘I’ve got to get to Porthmadog tonight.’ As Tom said afterwards, what else was there to be done? Imagine if I’d driven for miles to his home in Australia, exhausted and with only the most tenuous grip on where I was going, only to be told, ‘Yeah, good luck with that, pal. Best you get off now, nice to see you!’

Uncle Bill is eighty-one. His quest, we discovered, once we’d fed him and given him a fortifying tot of rum, was to find the naval training base where he had started a journey that had changed th…

Proceed With Care

The Blogosphere is heaving with writers many of whom are aching to be novelists. A few days ago, over at Purple Coo, I was asked a couple of questions about making submissions. This may possibly have raised a few eyebrows as I’m not exactly bursting with novels but I have plenty of writing experience and a few cautionary tales which may help anyone about to embark on this path.

1. It helps if you can write.
I’ve spent most of my working life as a professional writer. That hasn’t always been my job title, of course, which has been Research Officer or Local Government Officer (of various descriptions) but writing has always been essential to the job description. I’ve written research papers, policy notes, briefing papers and press releases and if you want someone to turn your hesitant speech or venomous rows into concise elegant prose, well, it ain’t me, babe, because I don’t do that anymore.

In addition I’ve been placed in national essay and poetry competitions, I’ve been published in mag…

Picture This

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8 September: 7.30am
Popping into Jeremy and Tracy next door to watch the opening game of the rugby world cup was possibly not the best idea in the world before today’s Welsh ‘Rustbuster’ day. Especially since large amounts of curry and wine were involved. Fortunately my sensible head prevailed so I’m not feeling too fuzzy but ‘Dw i’n nerfus yn iawn!’. In view of the fact I’ve completed two intensive weeks of Welsh learning I’ve decided to go up a level from September and today’s one day course is a chance for me to see if I can talk the talk.

10am
Okay. Here I am in Grwp 3 and I can already see from the pages they’re looking at in their course notes that they are way ahead of me. Even worse a couple of the students should be in the group above but have come down to this one for a spot of revision. Great.

I’m trying to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I’m the class dunce when The One walks in. Yep, there’s always one person I dread working with. In this case, he’s like Oliver R…

If the Lights Grow Dim

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Little Brown Dog (and, by the way, if you haven’t read her blogs you are missing a treat) has asked me to reveal the twelve scents and sounds which would still reach me when everything else has failed. They are:

1. Freshly sawn wood. Forever associated with my dad who was a carpenter. If this doesn’t revive me than at least I’ll know Dad’s waiting to show me the way.

2. Talisker. Peat, wood smoke, phenols and memories of a golden October holiday with Tom, Lily and Rose. A few drops of this wee dram wafted under my nose and I’d be a happy woman.

3. Rose and Lily making each other laugh.

4. The warm, clean smell of my husband when he gives me a hug.

5. My mum saying the prayer she used to recite to us before we went to sleep. Not for religious reasons but as a talisman against fear.

6. Crushed basil leaves. We always have a pot by the kitchen window.

7. The smell of autumn mornings – the dying of the year and new terms and new beginnings.

8. John Martyn singing ‘One World’.

9. Putty. That linsee…

Application, Talent or Luck?

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Friday 31 August: The Right Place
Back at her Dad’s in the south east the heat’s been on for Rose to find a job ASAP. After an interview and near miss at Penguin, Rose needed something in the pipeline fast. She tried three local employment agencies hoping to do some temping. The first agency entered her for a bulk recruitment day for short term work at an insurance company, the second agency refused to register her (‘Just’ a graduate) and the third, ‘Reed’ asked her what she was hoping to do in the long run.
‘Well, I’d like to go into publishing,’ said Rose, ‘but I know that’s a tall order round here.’
As it happened that particular branch of Reed recruit for an international company which has a publishing arm. Looking at Rose’s details, the recruitment agent thought she be just the kind of person the organisation liked. He emailed Rose’s CV straight to the company; she had a phone interview the same day and was invited for a second interview yesterday. This morning she rang to say …