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Showing posts from October, 2010

West to East: Every Picture

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I don’t spend very much time looking back; the past is foreign country. Yet on the rare occasions I return to UEA, my impressions, initially, are always clouded by my teen-aged self and the shock of the new. Raw concrete under a leaden sky. Ladsun’s ziggurats slicing into sloping green. It all looks much softer today; climbers and tall trees blur the cutting edges, but the architectural puritan in me disapproves.

We’re visiting the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, taking the opportunity to catch up with some favourite pieces in the Sainsbury Collection whilst we’re in this part of the world. The best paintings, for me, are the ones that evoke an almost visceral response; a resonance like the hum of a tuning fork. Francis Bacon does it for me every time and there are some truly stunning examples here. Henry Moore’s touching images of sleeping shelterers move me too. Antonio Saura’s, Hiroshima, Mon Amour. It’s wonderful to see them again.

From Norwich it’s off to Cromer in searc…

West to East: Girls' Night In at Waterstone's

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After a seven hour car journey and a near-death experience in the Cambrian mountains where an oncoming driver is trying to create a dual carriageway in the narrow pass, we arrive at our hotel in Bury St Edmunds.
‘You’re in the chalet with the four poster,’ the receptionist tells us cheerfully. I’m less thrilled, ‘chalet’ being something I associate with Butlins not the lovely old building on the hotel’s website. Making our way across the courtyard I hear what sounds like an orchestra warming up from the other chalets; that’s because an orchestra is warming up in the other chalets. Once inside though the chalet is quiet, clean and cosy - if a little reminiscent of eighties suburbia. Still we’re not here to admire the decor, it’s a quick wash and brush up before heading into town for the Choc Lit authors (well, four of us) ‘Girls’ Night In’ at Waterstone’s Bury St Edmunds.
Stand by your Books! Sue, Christina, me and Margaret
It’s not true that all my nerves evaporate when Jen, the manag…

Reflections on the Cardiff Half Marathon 2010

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Sunday morning dawned with near perfect running conditions for my third Cardiff half marathon; dry, cold and still. And if the glorious sunshine was a little blinding at times, it was a price worth paying to see the city bathed in light.

Over eleven thousand runners took part this year, but I struck very lucky when the start was moved to just outside my daughter’s flat meaning I could avoid those loo queues! In theory this should also have made me calm and rested, but I was my usual gibbering heap before the race and still had a pre-race cry.

The new course was extremely congested in places, making it very difficult to get past walkers and groups of three and four running together, and I was glad to get to mile six when we were through the parks and had space to take off. However, the atmosphere was brilliant with lots of people encouraging each other along the way and great support from a fantastic Cardiff crowd.

What I really noticed this year was how many of us carry our loved o…

Summer's Lease

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We’ve been gleaning this late sunshine, taking some time out after work to sit down by the estuary to soak up some summer warmth before the winter. This week has been something of an interlude for me. I was invited to write a short story for a monthly magazine and found it really refreshing to take a break from the work in progress to write something different. I’m pleased to say the editor liked what I sent her, giving me a boost to return to my current novel with renewed enthusiasm.

With the Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday, this has been the week when the training tapers off with a few days rest before race day. I don’t run for a particular charity as I’m too afraid of not finishing or letting them down, but if anyone feels like dropping a pound in the nearest collection box afterwards, that would be brilliant. As always, I’ll be thinking of my dad on Sunday and organisations like The Royal Marsden,The Princess Alice Hospice, Cancer Research UK and Pancreatic Cancer UK, who help…

My First Book Signing!

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It’s a fine, dry day and there’s an Italian market in the square outside Waterstone’s. Good for a book signing? ‘Bad,’ says Tim. The stalls are blocking the view of the shop and the fine weather’s keeping everyone outdoors. Hmm, that must be why they’ve only put one small poster up for my event, I mean why waste the Blu Tack?
Tim demonstrates handing off the marauding hordes

After much refolding of a black tablecloth and a rummage around for some books, I’m invited to take up my position at the author table somewhere between ‘fantasy and horror’, children’s books and a poster of the next author, Bobby ‘Iron Duke’ Windsor who’s signing on Monday. Once Tom, Lily, my lovely daughter, and her partner, Russ, are all sure I’m not going to run away, they leave me to it, taking it in turns to make sure I’m all right and bring me tea.

Very soon, I notice a small boy watching me. When he returns with his family I learn that he would like to be a writer. His method, he tells me, is to rewrite…