Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Current Fantasy

The day begins with an invigorating half-hour run to rinse the brain cells and wake me up. Run like a gazelle and feel mighty and all-conquering.

Walk through the Valet-o-Meter and emerge ten minutes later, washed, clothed, bright of eye and dewy of complexion, glossy locks shining in the light.

Climb the winding stone steps to my fortified, sound-proofed study. Inform the bouncers that I am not to be disturbed except for lavish amounts of tea and essential nutrients, to include interesting biscuits (i.e. no dog biscuits aka bourbons) and a few squares of dark chocolate to help the creative juices along.

Approach my desk with its state of the art, everlasting, indestructible, never-known-to-throw-a-hissy-fit, never-jamming computer and printer.

Deal with internet correspondence in a crisp and efficient 20 mins, never once wandering over to the Daily Mail site to see what C list celebs up are to.

Work on current OU assignment and plan blinding ECA. Reward myself with a blast of Yeah, Yeah Yeahs or maybe a quick burst of something from my Spotify ‘guilty pleasures’ playlist (Three of a Kind’s ‘Babycakes’ being a hot fave).

After light lunch with Tom, return to study. Write 1000 words of WIP then throw myself on deep, comfy sofa for a good long read. Ah! Lovely!

Enjoy delicious meal prepared by Tom (that bit’s true, good old Tom). Compare notes on our productive days, sales figures etc. Switch on TV. Enjoy a couple of hours of stimulating, engaging and original drama, secure in the knowledge that the People Who Displease Me button is activated so there will be no disturbing appearances by Dawn French, Stephen Fry or Gordon Ramsey.

Walk through Valet-o-Meter which does all the boring stuff and tucks me up in freshly-laundered sheets. Fall into deep sleep beside gently-snoring Tom.

... Or maybe not. Here, in the Bedlam that Hotel H has become, another guest-filled day begins and the clock is ticking on the time I’ve snatched for a bit of study. Better make the most of it. Sigh.

Image is 'Sea, Sky, Early Heather' by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Shaken, But Stirring

Ma’s eyes lock with the butcher’s. It’s a match made in Hell, the meeting of two naughty minds. Ma’s obviously feeling chirpy again, after our accident, and is ready for some serious flirting. Our butcher, a fine figure of a man with a wicked glint in his eye, is more than up to the challenge. Neither of them wants to be the first to look away. As the conversation grows ever more risqué, I’m the only one blushing. They’re still at it as I grab our purchases and drag Ma out the door.

Whilst Ma’s on the mend, Tom and I are still feeling pretty shaken. Tom’s been a tad on the snappy side (you know it’s true!) whilst I seem to have lost a few layers of skin and see danger lurking round every corner. The stupidest thing reduces me to tears. Whilst hacking away at some overgrown clematis at the end of the garden (must be feeling unlike myself to be gardening) I uncover a tiny nest, beautifully lined with moss and downy feathers. Inside are four perfect, dazzling blue eggs and I am horrified to have exposed them to the elements. Even when I gently touch them and find them long cold, I can’t shake off the feeling that it’s my fault that they’ll never hatch.

So, instead of floating about being swept around by the currents, I try to regain control of my life. Running helps, a constant, mesmeric rhythm that lifts me to a place beyond worry. Writing, because I’m a much happier person when I’m putting words together. And, hey, I’ve even got round to sending stuff out, including entering the Mslexia poetry competition (but with no foetus, scrotum, penis or slaughtered pig in my entire 22 lines, I’m not hopeful).

And finally, some lighter news...
Last Friday, I visited the lovely Helena Earnshaw at Honno to collect my prize for the Coming of Age One Sentence Competition. Helena made me feel very welcome, said lovely things about me, and put me at ease so that I could be photographed collecting my prize without frightening everyone. I now have a year’s supply of Honno’s very fine books (they always look so beautiful, apart from anything else) which is a real treat. Thanks, Helena, for providing an oasis of calm in a rather fraught week.

And, last night, I had a phone call from my darling Rose. She has just received her invitation to the formal ceremony at St James’s Palace to collect her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and she has asked me to be her guest. Aw! Since I am Mrs Boo-baby at the moment this called for a few more tears. Guess who’s going to be bursting with pridiosity at the beginning of June? My only slight worry is that I now have to find something to wear so as not to let the side down. I currently own one Funeral Frock and a lot of jeans and tee shirts. I’d say, someone call Gok, but I don’t think this is an occasion to bring out the ‘bangers’ (perish the thought). Ah well, at least it seems to have taken my mind off motorway accidents.

Painting is 'Winter Seascape, Dusk' by Tom Tomos

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Lucky Stars

Well, today’s been the first day of the rest of my life. And Tom’s. And Ma’s. Returning to Wales after collecting Ma from Surrey yesterday afternoon, we were having a great journey. The M4 was busy, lots of lorries, but the weather was good and we were ticking along just under 70 (the speed cameras are abundant) happily planning what we were going to do for a few days.

Then a huge noise, like metal screaming. And what? I don’t know, really. Time stood still and then moved infinitely slowly as we meandered across the lanes and on to the hard shoulder. Then the full horror really kicked in. A shredded tyre, snapped suspension, no steering. How Tom got us to safety I really don’t know. The car’s a mess but it must be some kind of miracle that the three of us walked away from it without a scratch and that no other cars were involved. My profound thanks to the Highways Agency Traffic Officers who were so efficient and reassuring, to the AA who got us home and to whichever lucky stars were shining.

Normal posts will resume when I’m feeling normal again! (Hmmm!)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Pick 'n' Mix

Look! Here I am patting myself on the back, and not just because the new physio has told me to (actually, he’s told me to do a kind of patting on the back backwards and it doesn’t half hurt. He’s also got me pumping 3kg weights which feel pretty berludy heavy to my no-muscle-tone arm). Anyway, I’m also patting myself on the back because I have finished FTT ‘Dark ‘n’ Sleek’, my third rewrite of ‘Fighting the Tide’ which takes into account the advice I’ve had from the one agent and one editor who have read the complete t/s. Hopefully this Goldilocks version will be neither too short and light nor too long and dark. I’ve retained my cast of characters because that’s the way I enjoy working, but clipped a sub-plot, to leave the focus more on my heroine. A vigorous horizontal romp (sorry, kids,) between the hero and his on-off girl friend, has also been cut, not because I had a fit of the vapours, but because it struck me that for a couple who were supposed to be on the way out, they were doing a little too much ‘on’ and not enough ‘off’. So, there we are, ‘Fighting the Tide’, one woman’s fight to save her sleepy, seedy, seaside town from the threat of redevelopment, ready to face the world again.

The winds on the west Wales coast have been strong again overnight and this morning’s run reminded me of the hell that was the last three miles of the Llanelli half marathon. Still, I’ve got to put that behind me because I’ve just entered the Cardiff half. I know it’s a bit keen, it’s not ‘til October, but I like to have a running goal to focus on and I’d really like to get a good time for this one. Mind you, I wouldn’t stand a chance if I’d let the assistant in the ‘sports’ shop where I bought my new running shoes tell me what I needed. Like most people, I guess, I find a pair of shoes I like and buy them for the cheapest price off the internet, but Asics have just upgraded the model I’m comfortable with plus there seemed to be a world shortage of 1140s in 5.5.

Anyway, I wandered into one of those horrible ‘sports’ warehouse places which is as good as it gets round here, and was stunned to see the shoes I was looking for at the right price so I asked to try them on.
‘I don’t know if we do half sizes,’ says the assistant, giving me a crushing look. ‘Will a six do? They come up small you know.’
Me: thinks, yes, I do know actually, that’s why I buy a half size bigger than I normally wear. ‘Er, no, thank you. I really need a 5.5.’
Assistant, ‘How about a five?’
Me, ‘No, I really need a 5.5. It’s 5.5 or nothing, thank you.’
Assistant clearly thinks I am a right chimp not worthy of service so he directs another assistant to search for the shoes, and, hurray, there they are, the only Asics Gel 1140s 5.5 left on the planet. Then I go to the till.
‘Ooh,’ says the girl on the till, rolling her eyes. ‘They’re a lot of money aren’t they?’
Me: thinks, yes, I bloody know. ‘Hmm. Yes, I suppose so.’
Girl, ‘I’m sure we do cheaper pairs that look similar.’
Me, ‘Uhuh, but I do want to run in them.’
Girl, with look of huge disbelief at me, ‘Oh!’

We have a very hectic couple of weeks at Hotel H, both home and away but I must find time to get my hair cut. It’s grown like billy-o and I seem to be rocking the Iggy Pop look at the moment! It’s fine on Iggy, but not so hot on me. Honestly, life’s been so busy since we moved here; we escaped to the country, but everyone else came with us. Still, it’ll be fun catching up with everyone.

Image is 'Miners'Week, Barry Island' by Tom Tomos

Friday, 3 April 2009

Four In the Morning

I’m lying awake thinking of all the things that seem so frightening in the dark. Nothing honourable, alas, it’s nearly all self-preservation rather than world preservation. And it’s not as if fretting is going to make anything better; as I used to tell Lily and Rose, ‘Get it right, do it by light’ which is a rather crap way of trying to make them see that most of those night fears don’t look so big and scary during the day.

Anyway, I have an eye test coming up, and even though I have the best optometrist in the world, my dear friend Jill (who is also Optometrist To The Stars, since her practice is in a rather swanky part of Surrey – no don’t ask, my lips are sealed. All right, she did once arrange for me to be hanging around at the same time as a Famous Rock Star I’d had a huge crush on at school only Lily and Rose were with me and even though they were quite small, Rose said she would never talk to me again if I made an exhibition of myself.) I am still rather nervous. I’m very short-sighted with a wonky ‘blind’ spot, so Jill and I are always quite relieved when it’s over.

Once I’d had a good worry about bits of my body falling apart, I started on those of my nearest and dearest. Then I realised I couldn’t hear Tom breathing and had a fret that he might have died while I was worrying about myself. Fortunately, once I’d bounced around to wake him up, he did some huffing and puffing so I knew he was fine. Then I started on the children, wishing them all health, happiness and the means to pay a mortgage. Of course, that led to me thinking about all the worries I’d caused the girls. After Natasha Richardson’s tragic death, Rose was on the phone the next day telling me to, ‘NEVER, EVER go skiing again. And don’t let Tom, either!’. Then Lily sent me a text which read, ‘I’m worried that sailing couple who got kidnapped in Thailand will be you and Tom! As well as not skiing could you not go there if u ever do ur world sail x’

My final worry, as the dawn chorus got into full gear, was for Michelle Obama’s shoulders. Now I am a tough cookie, but I had a tear in my eye seeing her hug all the girls at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School yesterday (so refreshing after Ms Bruni in her butter-wouldn’t-melt Christian Dior. Hmm, ‘nuff said). But, Michelle, please, if you are going to hug the world, mind your shoulders, believe me, you don’t want either of them to freeze!

And finally...
My urgent referral to a physio came through yesterday. No, they hadn’t forgotten me, but they’ve only just got on to the urgent referrals from December, so there was a bit of juggling to see me, a January referral! Unlike the consultants who can apparently see through clothing, the wonderful physio told me to take my jumper off and spotted the problem straight away. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘Good muscle tone this side. No muscle tone the other side.’ (Haven’t I been telling everyone I have one kimono arm?). Even better news is that he thinks he can sort it out for me and I don’t need surgery. Hurray. Well, at least my arm should be one thing that doesn’t keep me awake at night for much longer.

Image is 'Night Thoughts' by Tom Tomos
Stop press! Tom is working on a new 'affordable art' project. Further details to follow.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Whiskers on Prawns

Yes, I know if we’re talking about our favourite things it should be ‘whiskers on kittens’, but bear with me. So, round the dinner table, the other night, with one of Tom’s Fat Boy chums (actually, now both Fat Boys Slimmed) and a fellow WAG (except we have our own hair, teeth, boobs and nails – ‘though, I wouldn’t rule out swapping any of mine for a better set) we got on to the subject of our favourite things. FBS has a huge collection of music, so I asked him if he could only pick one album what it would be.

After moments of um-ing and ah-ing, he decided on Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’, FWAG picked, Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’, Tom, classical music expert, went for ‘Anything by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Or the Kinks.’ (What is it about the Kinks? Is it a boy thing? Still, I have eaten in the India Garden in Epsom with Ray Davies on two occasions, ‘though not at the same table so he probably won’t remember.) Torn between Nick Cave and John Martyn, I made do with Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ (are you sensing a certain vintage here?) which immediately drew, ‘sooo miserable’ comments.

It was the same with films which raised ‘Zulu’, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’/ ‘Love Actually’, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (Yes, Tom again. Sigh.) and ‘Blade Runner’ (the original version with voice over - which is pretty cheerful by my standards). Anyway, by the time we’d done this a couple of times the upshot of our discussion was I was left wondering why wallowing in a good old miseryfest really cheers me up. Is it just me, who doesn’t get Huge Grunt? Or Emma Thompson? (Although I could probably put up with her for the sake of seeing ‘Tutti Frutti’ again, just to see if it was as good as I remembered.) My daughter, Rose, is feeling very torn at the moment too, because she really wants to see the film of Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’, but one of her flashpoints is Keira Knightley and she doesn’t know if she can sit there without wanting to get up and kick a hole in the screen.

Ah well, our friends’ visit concludes without any tantrums over taste and Tom and I head off to do another of our favourite things which is visiting galleries. We especially like going to see Margaret and John at Art Matters in Tenby. It’s the opening of their new premises, at the White Lion Street Gallery (they’ll be running courses and workshops at the old gallery from May to October 2009) and it’s good to see lots of people enjoying the paintings. Just a Tom Tomos or two and it would be perfect. Anyway, it’s all looking good, so if you’re in Tenby, do take the time to pop in a look round a very friendly gallery.

While thinking about a few of my favourite things I hear the doorbell. When I go to answer it I find a prawn waving its whiskers at me through the small glass panel. Actually, Mrs Across-the-Road is making it wave, but the good news is she has brought all its friends along, ready-cooked, as a thank you for some trivial favour we have done. (We are not that neighbourly - we just insist on doing favours for Mr & Mrs Across-the-Road, so they’ll keep bringing us lots of fresh sea food.) If you never had Cardigan Bay prawns you are missing a treat; fresh, fat, sweet and juicy they go down a treat with a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc from Mrs Across-the-Road’s home country, New Zealand. Perfect!

Image is 'Trees at the Seaside' by Tom Tomos