Beginning, End, Middle.

On Monday evening I did a quick check of my email and saw the message I’d been waiting for sitting in my inbox. I immediately went all butterfingered and almost sent it winging into space instead of opening it. Keep calm, Chris, don’t get your hopes up, it’s probably bad news… but it wasn’t. Tom was outside in the studio, putting the final touches to a frame.
‘The publishers want to see the rest of the book!’
Much hugging, jumping around, another look at the email just to make sure I hadn’t been seeing things and a glass of wine. Then the phone rang.

It’s strange how hearing my cousin’s voice didn’t ring any alarm bells. But then Auntie Joanie had been doing so well and most of the recent news had been positive. I suppose I’d started to think that she would just go on despite being so terribly ill. And it was such a shock to hear that she wasn’t there any more. The end had come quite suddenly and had happened just at the moment Tom and I had been celebrating. Life gives, life takes away, an ever-spinning wheel.

Yesterday there was work to do reading my typescript for the umpteenth time before emailing it to the publishers. I’d also been asked to say something about myself and it was so hard trying to make myself sound vaguely marketable with an aching heart and hurt that was almost physical. Still, it was probably good to have to concentrate on something other than grief. I’ve done the best I can and now all I have to do is wait.

November is my birthday month and some folks, ie my sister – look away now, Kid – think I make far too much fuss of my birthday. A big fat fuss, in fact. But, hey, I’ll never be this young again! On Friday I’m going to see John Martyn in Cardiff which I’m really, really looking forwards to. I love John Martyn; if I was ever stuck on a desert island I could easily take at least eight of his records… except that wouldn’t leave any room for Nick Cave and I could just as easily take eight of his… but what about Nick Drake and Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’? Oh, well, hopefully I won’t ever be stuck on a desert island in which case I can just listen to what I like at home. On Saturday we’re going to see Wales v All Blacks which will be an experience too. A couple of celebrations before the funeral next week and then my lovely daughters and their boyfriends are coming to stay. Life goes on.

And finally…
Thank you to everyone for your very kind messages. And thank you, Edith Mary Joan, my lovely Auntie Joanie for everything you gave me.

The painting is 'Oily Dawn' by Tom Tomos


Lane said…
Chris I'm so sorry.
I'm certain she would have wanted to you to be celebrating your (very!!) good news.
Pat Posner said…
Sorry to hear about your Auntie Joanie, Chris (((hugs))).

Great news on your novel. I'll keep everything crossed.
JJ said…
Oh Chris, what an incredibly mixed post. So sorry to hear about your Auntie, and yet so excited about the book news. Much love, JJx
pinkfairygran said…
Congratulations on the good news from the publishers. That is so exciting isn't it? I thought it exciting enough to have success with stories and articles, so I can only imagine the mild hysteria inside you when it's a book that's involved. I hope to have it myself, one day.

And then on the other end of the scale, sad news, my sympathies to you. My aunt Joan died suddenly a few years ago, just when we had found each other again, and were exchanging long letters about gardens and books - she lived on Anglesey for the last forty-odd years of her life. I have discovered that life, as you get older, seems filled with these little pockets of sadness, and then out of the blue, bowls of sunshine and happiness to be enjoyed.
Frances said…
Hello Chris,

It must be very difficult to have these two very different emotions swirling round your head. I know you will be able to give each of them honored space, and will be able to visit them many times.

It's my feeling that it's the accumulation of such thoughts and memories that make us who we turn out to be.

Debs said…
So sorry to hear about your Auntie Joan.

Congratulations for your novel, shall hold thumbs and cross fingers for you.
Flowerpot said…
Oh Chris I am so sorry, but I'm sure she knows your good news and is cheering for you. fingers crossed on the publisher - go for it!
Milla said…
oh Chris how sad, and how bloody typical that the news should segue like that. It's made me realise that my aunt is nearly 84 (17 years older than my Surprise of a mother). People you think will be there forever, and then they aren't. Kisses!
elizabethm said…
such an extreme mixture of emotions! I am so glad about the book and so sorry to hear about your aunt.
Isn't life a b*****.
As lane says though, I am sure she would be delighted for you.
LittleBrownDog said…
Oh, Chris - what a week you've had! So sorry to hear about Auntie Joanie - I know how much she meant to you.

Very very excited about your book, though. Keeping everything treble crossed for you.

Hope your birthday is as happy as it can be under the circs. Will be thinking of you at the rugby on Saturday - H's best man will be coming here afterwards on his way back home, several sheets to the wind, no doubt. Look out for a tall tubby man who's going a bit bald (and try and knock his drink out of his hand if you can).

Lots of love

J xxx
lampworkbeader said…
Sorry to hear about your loss Chris and happy to hear of your hard won good fortune.
Anonymous said…
Very sad news about your Auntie Joannie. It must have been difficult to concentrate on your work after that. But I send my biggest congratulations on the book - fingers very tightly crossed and here's hoping that this book will be a huge success.

CJ xx
sheepish said…
So pleased to hear about your book news and very sad for you losing your Aunt who obviously meant a lot to you. She would have been so pleased about the book news too so hold on to that. And enjoy all your birtday treats.
Pipany said…
Oh Chris, what ups and downs. I'm so sorry to her about your Auntie, especially at a time when she would have been celebrating with you. Let the tears flow and time do its work.
On another front, I can't tell you how excited and thrilled I am about the book. Yes, I know there's further to go and that it may/may not happen, but this is still surely a step in the right direction. It WILL happen for you, I just know it. Just brilliant! xx
Pipany said…
Oops, meant to say Happy Birthday too and Dave makes an ENORMOUS fuss of his too! x
Tattie Weasle said…
So sorry to hear about your Auntie Joanie - she would I am sure have been so proud. What a swirl of emotions to go through all in one day.
Really exciting news about the novel and many belated congratulations on your half marathon!
And yes if you don't make a fuss about your birthday who will?
Cait O'Connor said…
Sorry to hear about your aunt Chris.
I have just been catching up on all your recent blogs as I am way behind in my reading.
Good luck with the novel!
Fennie said…
So sad about your Auntie - but such good news about the novel. I am sure she would have wanted you to be happy and celebrate.
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
Blimey, what a roller-coaster. I hope you find lots of joy among the sorrow.

John Martyn, Nick Drake... Chris, are you a closet hippie?
Edward said…
Congratulcommiserations. Life gives, life takes away. But mainly I feel congratulations, and want to wish you good luck. And lucky, lucky you going to see JM - one of my all-time favourites.
Expat mum said…
Your auntie would be very, very pleased for you. Commiserations on her loss, but way to go girl on the book. Fingers crossed!!!!!

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