Life Is Like A Song

Lately that song is Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner.

Real life is happening all around – and let’s be frank, the reported news, in any medium, is universally grisly – and I am only a spectator, waiting at the counter for my coffee, too inconsequential to be given the full cup, and making the best of it. And it’s okay, because people watching is what people who are writers do (assuming I can still call myself such). I watch life happen to other people, until it’s time to catch the train, only I don’t know from which platform, or my destination. Out there, somewhere. Single, not return.


If it sounds like I’m moaning, I’m really not. Maybe a bit, but, don’t we all? I never was a Polly-Anna type. Having stepped back from social media, it’s become harder to fully participate again. So I lurk, non-malignantly. Leaving Facebook helped save my sense of self, although paradoxically means that I have fallen off the edge of the planet/am dead to some people. Oh well. Twitter is the stream I dangle a few toes in, and sometimes a hand. I just can’t seem to get into the swim though. Instagram is for pretty things. I like pretty things. They’re restful.


I can’t stop thinking. I can’t stop thinking long enough to do, to make, to write. And I must. I keep promising myself that I will. But, WHEN?


Oh, help.


Heart On My Sleeve

Last weekend I was in Portugal, to celebrate my youngest brother’s wedding. It was a joyfully beautiful occasion, in a beautiful location, with beautiful people. I wore purple shoes, and red lipstick, and I danced the night away with the new friends I made. The sunset was amazing.



My brother has always worn his heart on sleeve, despite the risks. His closest, dearest friends admire him for this bravery. And now at last he is truly happy. And I am so happy for him. And I admire my little brother, because wearing my heart on my sleeve is a thing I have been unable to do for a very long time. I doubt I ever will again. I fear to give myself away. And I think, perhaps, that this is partly why I write. I might give myself away in fiction, but fiction gives me some distance from the things I cannot otherwise say. I know that I cannot be the only one who does this, among the writers I know. And who, among those who read what I write – and who knows, even like what I write – can say with any degree of certainty which detail is personal, and which is not. To borrow from Margaret Atwood, only I can say how large – or small – is the blood transfusion given to the Ginger Bread Man, in order that he may live, and run.

Changes, and Ideas – and a New Story!

And so, the Summer is almost done, for which I am grateful. Autumn is beginning to pick leaves off the trees, odd ones here and there, to get us used to the idea that soon they will be drifting down with a sound like falling rain. So change must come.

In the meantime, I only went and had two stories accepted (At last! At last! And there has been bouncing and squeaking and even a celebratory glass of prosecco or three), the first of which can be read over here at Ink, Sweat And Tears as of today.

Anyway, thoughts have been thought, and ideas come up with, and sometimes retained, but mostly discarded. And the ones that stick I will discuss another time, because it is getting late and I have to run away for the school run. Literally, in fact.




Voyage and Return

You may have noticed – or you may not, and indeed, why should you? – that it’s been a while since I posted anything here. And there have been good reasons for that. Perhaps too many. But the summer was hot, and I was quiet. Books were read, stories drafted, thoughts were thought, and mostly not acted upon. Autumn was harder, but with more of the same. And I got older. And I cut my hair. That last thing is a thing I am incredibly happy about. I know it’s only hair, but still… it’s been more than a decade since I last had such short hair, and it makes me feel sassy, and sophisticated, and possibly other things beginning with s (stylish? silly? saucy? serene?).

Around the same time I discovered a little snippet in the wilds of the internet – oh all right, it was Facebook – a quotation from Carl Gustav Jung:

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

It isn’t a cure, it isn’t even a complete answer – to a question that is both unaskable and unanswerable – but it HELPS. So I’m choosing. I don’t pretend to have reached any particular destination on my personal voyage in order to begin the return journey. This is just a way station.

In the meantime, there is Christmas to prepare for, and satsumas to eat (the one I’m eating right now is a bit of a disappointment; too watery and not sharp enough. Perhaps the next one will be better), and words to write and edit, and I still haven’t written the Christmas cards. But my hair looks fabulous.

An incident with limes.

So, yes, it has been quite a while since last I blogged. I will rectify this now.

The summer has been long, and quiet, and not terribly summery. And I’m glad it’s over.  The autumn is proving considerably more invigorating. I have been devouring books (although you wouldn’t think so, to look at the piles of books still waiting to be read), I have been thinking – perhaps too much – and I have been to London for another dose of culture and escapism. All of which is food for further thought, naturally, and hopefully, will feed the writing that is yet to come.

London was a particularly full-on experience this month; I went to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain – despite having seen all the paintings featured in previous exhibitions – it was good to see them brought together in the context of their development and function within their own movement. There was a Millais landscape in particular that I was delighted to see again (although the linked image does not do justice to the colours and detail of the original). I also went to view the Tim Walker exhibition at Somerset House (a lot of the pictures can be viewed here); a lot of quite beautiful and arresting images. I’m hoping that if I drop enough hints, the accompanying book might turn up as a Christmas – or indeed, a birthday – present…

As well as gallery hopping, and shopping, I was out for three nights out of four. Dinner with my brother and his boyfriend was an absolute blast. Dinner and cocktails with an old school friend whom I’d not seen for sixteen years, was just wonderful. We picked up the conversation as if we’d last seen each other the previous week. And my last night in town was special in many ways, not least for going to the Soho Theatre to see a friend perform in Pandvani 108, high energy storytelling, and bumping into other friends in the bar whom I’d also not seen in ages. So all in all, it has been a pretty enjoyable week.

(That last sentence was an understatement.)

Oh yes, and there was, on the Sunday afternoon, a strange little moment outside my brother’s flat. I had decided to walk up to Clapham High Street to grab a decent cup of coffee (my brother Neal is not a coffee drinker), and it was raining. Neal had loaned me an enormous umbrella,  and as I was wrestling it to open (with my iPod headphones in), a middle aged man of indeterminate ethnic origin shuffled towards me from the cafe front where he likes to sit and watch the world go by. I had just become aware of him when he started to mumble something at me, whilst showing me, very proudly, the two  bright and shinily green limes he had in his hands. I think he was going to juggle them for me. They were very green, and very shiny, and he did seem so very proud, and eager. But then the umbrella decided to co-operate, and I was perplexed as to how I might extricate myself from the moment. And I was damp, and desperate for coffee. So I said, with my politest smile, ‘Yes, well done,’ and left him there, with only his limes for company. It was… odd.

(That last sentence was also an understatement.)

Random Wednesday

It’s Wednesday. Not only is it Wednesday, but it is the second day of November (All Souls’) which means that NaNoWriMo is once more under way. Yes, I am in its caffeine-kicked, sleep depriving thrall. And loving it, as always.

The other significance of this particular Wednesday, is that it means there are only sixteen days to go until I go to Paris. Having never been before, I must confess to being beyond excited. I’ve been planning what to do, where to go, what to see. I’ve been trying to remember the little French still left in my brain – which considering I haven’t had to speak the language since I was 16, isn’t very much. At all. (Don’t worry, I have a cd and book to remind me.) I have a fabulously dramatic pair of new shoes, new clothes, and a new haircut. The new haircut feels particularly good, because I hadn’t got around to having it done for 2 years. In fact the last time I felt so sleekly chic was for a wedding (my husband’s cousin’s) at Bovey Castle. It was an entirely splendid affair, where the champagne did not stop flowing. Every time I turned around, there was an attentive sommelier refilling my glass. Consequently I have no idea how much I drank. Then of course, there was a fine Barolo with dinner, then more champagne for the toasts. And then, during the lull between dinner and the dancing, I made my way to the bar and asked for a Cosmopolitan, and a cigar. The Cosmo was delicious, the cigar was decadent fun, and I loved every minute of it.The next morning I had acquired a vicious bitch of a hangover (vodka cocktails are very heaven; vodka hangovers are vile) and a series of bruises at mid-thigh level – at occasional table height. Clearly, I had been caroming into furniture. Suffice to say, I shall (mostly) be behaving myself in Paris …