Thursday, 23 August 2007

This Week I Will Be Mainly...

See you early September!

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Beautiful Collision

I was checking out my blog-stats on Google Analytics. The pie charts and percentages have trouble penetrating my thick skull but it amuses me for three or four seconds at a time to see how many people have accidentally stumbled upon my little blog while searching for something a whole lot more sustaining. It tickled me to learn that the top stumble is caused by people Googling my very talented writer friend (writer, friend, and writer-friend), Sarah Stovell, whose novel Mothernight I am itching to read (March 2008, Snowbooks), OR people trying to find out where they can buy Viakal.

The literary and the domestic collide once more.

(I still don't know what the Viakal is for, but the lovely Polish cleaner has been away for three weeks and I'm beginning to suspect it might have something to do with making things shiny...)

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

You Know You're In The Middle Of A Big Rewrite When...

1. Your partner asks what's for dinner and you reply: "Err, there's a baguette somewhere, and some shortbread."
2. You use the shortbread to bribe your 3-year-old to sit down quietly for 10 minutes while you "just fix this paragraph".
3. The laundry basket is buried in a pile of clothes that won't fit inside it.
4. The children can now hum the entire theme tune to the Baby Einstein dvd.
5. You succumb to buying one of those herbal sleepy drinks for your wakeful baby. Now you want your money back.
6. Your blog is woefully neglected, so you redirect people to your Very Funny Friend's blog:

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Friday, 17 August 2007

My Life Is A House . . .

The edging towards Oz continues, and The (Highly Excited) Australian has been sending me links to houses we might one day live in. None of them seem real to me - I like the look of them but it's a bit like sending me a picture of a moon crater and telling me we'll holiday there next year. He obviously thinks I have a sense of humour about it all, as he also sent a link to a fake windmill for sale just outside Melbourne - a fake windmill packed with some of the most hideous furniture and carpet I have ever seen. It actually hurt my eyes to look at it.

Meanwhile, I'm being really helpful by producing a drawing of my ideal house. And you can too, here:

Mine says: You are sensitive and indecisive at times. You are a freedom lover and a strong person. You are shy and reserved. You always want to live alone. (OOPS!) Your life is always full of changes. You love excitement and create it wherever you go. You see the world as it is, not as you believe it should be. You added a flower into your drawing. The flower signifies that you long for love. It also safe to say that others don't see you as a flirt. You don't think much about yourself.

I think what mine really says is: You suck at drawing. Don't draw. Leave the drawing to those who are less cack-handed. Haven't you got a novel to be rewriting?

What does yours say?

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Tuesday, 14 August 2007

It's Still a Small World (After All) And Now There Are Weird Noises In It

The Girl has drawn me a picture of 'The Whole Wide World'. It consists of: our street (a.k.a. "England"), DisneyLand Paris, and the two bakeries down the road (one does good bagels, the other does good croissants).

In a rare quiet moment earlier (I think she was gouging out my lipsticks with her fingers under the kitchen table at the time) I heard some very strange noises coming from somewhere in our building. It sounds like:

(a) A very brief Gregorian Chant
(b) Faulty pipes
(c) An old man calling for help

But I am reluctant to think it might be (c), owing to a previous attempt to save the life of someone whose life did not need saving. For more on 'Rescuing' please see the Mock Duck.

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Sunday, 12 August 2007

Suspicious Minds

Keris Stainton’s Smug Married column about couples not listening to each other rang a few bells (not wedding ones, Mother). While chuckling away I vaguely wondered what important thing The Australian has been trying to make me hear this week (I studiously ignore anything about finances, organising stuff, DIY, and Steve Jobs), and today I found out what it was.

Me: Why are you still on that laptop?
Him: What do you mean? I’m trying to find us somewhere to stay on the way down to the campsite – all the hotels in France are booked, I’ve been telling you this FOR WEEKS.
Me: No you haven’t.
Him: Are you kidding? What do you think I’ve been doing every single night for the last fortnight?
Me: Erm, picking your nose and reading tedious articles on
Him: *withering look*

To stop him blathering on, I told him I’d sort it. I regretted the promise immediately but managed to hide my fear by packing him off to the Farmers’ Market to purchase very hard bread, mud-encrusted vegetables and extortionate butter. And then I set to work…

Approximately six and a half minutes later, I’d booked a room. Considering the fact that he has been Googling auberges for about a fortnight and had no luck at all, I think we can assume that one of the following has occurred:

1. I’ve booked it for 2008
2. The hotel is an utter dump
3. It was a bogus booking form and I’ve just handed over my credit card details to a bunch of scammers
4. I’m a genius

I so badly want it to be 4 but with my track record it’s unlikely. Once, we nearly made an emergency phonecall to the building manager because of a ‘strange buzzing noise’ in our flat – turned out I’d left my ‘revolutionary’ Gillette Venus Vibrance on the glass shelf in the bathroom, ‘on’. And earlier today I poured an entire glass of water into the bin: I do these idiotic things with alarming frequency so I can’t have booked us a nice place on the right date for a decent price in under ten minutes . . . can I??

Also, I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of things that happen too easily. For example, it was very easy for me to secure my first agent. I didn’t even have to write a whole book to do it. And where did that get me? Wailing over a Dear John letter and back to Square One.

On the other hand, take birth – the one thing I can say I’ve done really well in recent years (though my mother is still complaining about ‘All the muck’ that apparently shot out of me and onto her nice new top during the most recent delivery). When I was pregnant with The Girl I went to a birthing class where I was told that Pain Is Positive. Bollocks, I thought, but now I know the midwife had a point. You just can't beat the elation of 14-hours of excruciating pain finally coming to an end- the knowledge that you did it, even though it seemed impossible along the way. And there's a baby too, which is nice.

This weekend, I managed to push out a small but healthy picture book (we’ll call him Finley), and I’m pleased to say that there was pain involved, and that the only medication I used was Earl Grey tea brought regularly by The (Very Obliging) Australian. My new policy is that if it’s not difficult, it’s going to bite me on the arse eventually. And with that in mind I've got a rewrite to be getting on with . . .

Meanwhile, The Australian showed the utmost faith in my hotel booking abilities upon returning from the market. He said 'I trust you, of course I trust you!' and looked me in the eyes while his fingers madly Googled the booking details. And to think that touch-typing was one of the first things that attracted me to him.

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Monday, 6 August 2007

Jam and Bread

I've never been cool, but I think I've hit a new low - I'm addicted to jam. I didn't even like jam until I had children, but apparently I needed to replace the gin and fags and this is it: Tesco Finest Williamette-somethingorother Raspberry Conserve (I'm strictly Class B with jam). This morning I took The Girl's leftover toast crusts and dipped them straight into the jar - I'm like an animal! No one else in the house likes it (or rather, The Australian is having a Vegemite Revival because he's scared of turning British, and I've told The Girl she won't like it until she's "about seven" so my only rival is The Boy - but he can't reach the jar). With summer here, I'm dismayed to find that jam is probably not going to get me bikini-fit. Why can't I just be satisfied with bread and butter?

This got me thinking about my writing life. The bread-and-butter stuff is going really well (with one glitch that I'll blog about shortly), but it's the jam I want and for a couple of years now it's as if someone's been holding an open jar right under my nose and letting me have a good sniff but then whipping it away before I can dip the knife in. And sometimes I wonder whether I should just wean myself off the jam and learn to be happy without it.

I asked The Girl recently what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said 'Really big,' and stretched her arms as wide as they'd go. 'Me too,' I said, snuggling up to her and longing for that kind of simple yearning and optimism. 'But you are really big, Mum,' she assured me.

You see! It's the bloody jam!

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