Friday, 27 November 2009

Reading Out Loud and Runny Noses

I sometimes read my stories out loud to myself and if you can get a rhythm going so much the better. Anything wrong jars and it’s easier to spot typos. I amuse myself by doing it in different accents and I have no idea where they come from because I certainly don’t write them with any accent in mind.

It’s been a strange, unhealthy and rather unhappy week what with one thing and another, but things could be a lot worse.

On the up side, it looks as if I’ll be able to see Lachlan in his Christmas play in two weeks time which I’m looking forward to so much. He’s got lines to learn and he’s a bit nervous.

And it’s got me thinking about the Carol services we used to have.

The first one I can remember was at infant school. I had to read a piece out. It included a line something like, “And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger.”

When I was reading it out to the headmistress beforehand she tapped the page and asked what was wrong with that line. I said I didn’t know. I was five and scared (she was a very scary woman).

After a lot of exasperated huffing and puffing and with eyes a-bulging she said it read as if they’d found the whole family in the manger. It was probably my first real English lesson and I have never forgotten it.

Nor can I ever think of the nativity without imagining the whole family stuffed in a straw filled feeding trough with silly grins on their faces.

Later, at primary school, we’d troop down to the church for our Carol service. One year I was in a pageant – I can’t remember what my costume was, but I think we had to dress up as people from different countries.

My mum made my outfit and at the church we were put into pairs and we were to walk down the aisle holding hands with our partners.

The boy I had been partnered with – I can’t even remember who it was – had a runny nose.

All I can say in my defence is that I was very young, seven at the most.

I said I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t do it and I absolutely refused to hold his hand – I was terrified that dangly drip would fall and land on me. Everyone was very understanding about my apparent stage fright, but most understanding of all was the boy with the runny nose.

He was so sweet. I do remember his kindness and the concern in his eyes as much as his runny nose. He asked me why I didn’t want to do it. I have never forgotten how I felt when he asked me that question.

I just knew I couldn’t tell him the real reason and hurt his feelings, so I said I was scared. And so that year I didn’t take part in the pageant and just after I’d been sent to sit in a pew, the teacher asked him if he’d got a hanky and she got him to blow his nose.

Without the drip I saw him for what he was, a nice, kind boy and now he was holding someone else’s hand.

I could only watch miserably as the colourful parade went down the aisle without me.

And the moral of this story is . . . well there isn’t one. I was just waffling as usual.

The worst part about this week is that one of my daughter’s cats has gone missing. He hasn’t been home for three days and it’s not like him. He likes his home comforts and usually sleeps on her bed at night. All we can do is wait and hope.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Fun With Indiana Jones

Isn’t it always the way, you take leave from your computer for a while and when you come back there are about a million blog posts to catch up on and another million emails in the inbox.

Isn’t it great news that Woman’s Weekly are going to be publishing ten fiction specials next year instead of eight?

What have I been doing to keep me away from my beloved? (My computer that is, I took the other beloved with me) I have been mostly playing Lego Indiana Jones on the X Box - great game (well for a 4 year old and his granny anyway), lots of fun. I love it that the little Lego Indiana guy occasionally takes time out to throw the woman over his knee and give her a snog. It tickles Lachlan to bits.

And the five in a bed squish brought back such happy memories of when my own kids were small and used to jump in bed with us in the middle of the night or “Time for breakfast” as they used to put it.

Plus I have got my hands on an unputdownable book. I bought ten Jeffrey Deaver books for £9.99 from the Book People. I’d never read any of his, but his reviews on Amazon are good so I thought I’d take a chance. I’m so glad I did. A quid a book – what a bargain.

At the moment I’m reading A Maiden’s Grave and forcing myself to stay awake at night so I can read a little bit longer. Great book. Loads of tension and terrific characters. It’s one of those books you end up desperate to finish, but know you’ll feel sorry when you do because it was such a great read.

When my daughter and her husband went to London, they were going to go by train, but what with replacement buses the journey would have taken four hours. We live seventy miles from London and usually without delays the journey takes about ninety minutes by train – then you have to add on however long it takes you to get where you’re going within London.

So they drove in, got to their hotel in the centre of London within ninety minutes and even counting the cost of petrol, parking etc. they saved £30.

They had such a great time, enjoyed seeing Julian Clary again and he brought his lovely dogs on stage at the end. But I think I had just as much fun back home with Indiana Jones.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Oh Nothing Really

Sorry about this – just let me brush away the tumbleweeds and move some of these cobwebs. Ah, there you are.

I don’t know what’s happened to this blog of late, but you may have noticed the wind whistling through the gaps and the occasional creak of footsteps outside.

So many people are working hard on NaNo and I don’t even have that excuse, but I have been very busy doing other things not even remotely related to writing.

And then there’s Christmas. I’ve just about got my head round it. Christmas never used to be this stressful. I blame the blokes.

What do you want you ask. Oh, nothing really they say. What about slippers? Nah, I’ve got slippers coming out of my ears. After shave? The other half’s got that covered (that’s son/son in law speak for “I know you, you’ll get me something that smells like a cross between moth balls and Werther’s Originals”).

Clothes? The look of horror is enough to kill that idea. Then there’s the Beloved. What do you want? Oh, nothing really.

What about the girls? The grown up ones that is. They’re a bit easier. Plenty of stuff out there that smells nice, looks pretty and sparkles.

Anyway, I have bitten the bullet and got a few bits and pieces of Oh Nothing Really and now you can be sure they’ll be beating a path to my door, “You know you asked what I wanted for Christmas, well I’d really like . . .”

So when you hear that I’ve been done for grievous bodily damage with a 10 metre roll of red shiny penguin wrapping paper you’ll know the reason why. (Note I have the heftiest roll of paper put to one side in premeditated readiness).

This weekend I am staying over at my daughter’s to baby/dog/cat/snail sit while she goes off to London to see the lovely Julian again (Jealous – me? Of course I am) with her newly moustachioed husband.

As well as being NaNo, this month is also Movember – supporting prostate cancer research. My son in law is doing his bit, growing his Mo to help a Bro.

There you have it, a lot of Oh Nothing Really.

What would I like? I'd like this day back - ooh a long time ago - my youngest and our lovely Sweep having fun in the snow.

It seems like only yesterday. I wish it was - I've gone all teary thinking about it. So yes, that's what I'd like - the turning back of the clock just for a day or two.

I suppose a time machine would be out of the question . . .

Friday, 13 November 2009

Darcy Update

A while ago I posted about search and rescue dog, Darcy who was in quarantine after working in Indonesia following the earthquake - despite having had all her necessary inoculations.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has agreed to let her out of quarantine for the remaining five months of her sentence on condition that she is kept penned. She’ll be back at her base in Colchester with the Essex Fire Service and will be allowed to work with her handler, John Ball.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Young Fiction Writer of the Year

I’ve been reading some of the winning entries of this competition in December's Fiction Feast and – wow, I’ve had my socks knocked off.

I haven’t read them all yet, mainly because the last one I read was so powerful and moving that I wanted to savour it and let it sink in before I read more, but all those I have read have been stunning.

What a lot of talent there is out there.

Congratulations to all the winners and I am sure Anthony Horowitz is absolutely right when he says we could be hearing a lot more from some of these names in the future.

I certainly hope so.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Back to Work

I have often tinkered with the idea of joining in with NaNoWriMo because it sounds such a lot of fun – and a great idea to just let yourself go with the flow, but once again I’ve chickened out.

Considering I only managed to cough up 6 extra words on one of my Big Projects in all of October and actually lost over 1000 from another I don’t think I would have done very well anyway.

All those of you who are going for it - good luck and keep those fingers flying over the keyboards.

I’ve had my granddaughter from away to stay again since Thursday, hence the absence from the computer. There is nothing to compare with sitting up in bed on a Sunday morning having a cuddle and watching Spongebob on the telly after sending down to room service (Grandad) for a cuppa.

It’s been a lovely week – we took both two year olds to the park and to feed the ducks on Friday. One of the ducks flew over the fence and joined us, then jumped back in the pond for a bath which the girls thought was great.

On Saturday we went to my daughter’s for a Halloween party – she’d made up a bowl of treats for the Trick or Treaters with dyed black cooked spaghetti in amongst the bags of sweets so the kids had to delve in – it felt horrible, but they loved it.

There seems to be an unwritten rule around here that if you have a pumpkin outside your house you welcome Trick or Treaters and they don’t tend to bother people who don’t.

Last Tuesday we got up to find Tilly couldn’t open her right eye. So off we went to the vet’s. We were in there for twenty minutes while her eye was examined. First he looked in her eye with a light very close up like the optician does.

She was so good for all this. She is such a nervous dog and she was shaking like a leaf, but she put up with it all. Then he put drops in to numb her eye before he checked all round under her lids for foreign objects – thankfully finding none. This was followed by drops of dye. We looked at her eye with the light and he showed me where she’d poked a hole in her cornea – again!

This isn’t the first time she’s done it and she also suffered an eye injury from a cat scratch when she was a pup (before she came to us). But spaniels being spaniels like to get their noses into bushes and undergrowth. Her pupil had gone into spasm and she must have been in considerable pain so he put drops in to relax the pupil and we came home with painkillers, antibiotic drops and drops to keep her eye moist.

Richard asked if his work experience lass could come in and observe and I said of course she could - she was a lovely girl and made a big fuss of Tilly.

Reminded me of the time when I was in hospital, supposed to be in isolation when a woman came in with about a dozen students. She told me that I wouldn’t mind them all having a look and when I looked a bit uncertain she told me this was a teaching hospital after all and proceeded to undo my bandages. She had them all gawping at me – without another word to me. Then she put the bandages back on – I ended up looking like something out of a Mummy movie with bandages dripping down round my neck – and left without so much as a goodbye.

The sister came in minutes later having seen the woman and her entourage leaving the unit and was furious. She said the woman had no right to come in with her students, hadn’t asked her permission (because she wouldn’t have given it) and wanted to know if she’d asked mine. “Er, not really,” I admitted. She re-did my bandages and went off to raise hell.

Next time I need medical treatment, I’m going to see the vet!

On Saturday Tilly had her follow up and the eye is healing and looking much better. At least now her pupil is back to normal she doesn’t look like a canine version of Mad Eye Moody any more. A couple more days and should be all done with the drops.

I did start to panic about the fact that I cancelled my pet insurance but the fees this time didn’t even come up to the excess on my former policy so – so far so good.

And large bags of Maltesers have instructions on how to reseal the bag . . . am I missing something here? I mean who in the world opens a bag of Maltesers and needs to reseal it?

The Lovely Blog Award

I’ve been away for a few days – well not away away, but away from the computer and I came back to a wonderful surprise – I’ve won The Lovely Blog Award.

Thank you Sue – I’ve never been awarded anything in my life before and I am so chuffed and made up I’m sat here with tears in me eyes!

Now I can award the Lovely Blog Award to someone and it has been so hard deciding who is should be because there are so many lovely blogs out there.

The rules are
1) Accept the award and post a link back to the awarding person – in this case
2) Pass the award on
3) Notify the award winner

After thinking long and hard I have decided to give it to Olivia Ryan (Sheila Norton) for her lovely blog Olivia’s Oracle here at which was one of the first blogs I followed. Sheila writes lovely books and smashing stories and her blog is always a joy to read.