An in-between Summer…

I haven’t blogged for ooh, ages. I know. I’ve been meaning to, but, you know how it is. And I absolutely have to make a conscious decision to be better organised. Although, in my defence, I had three weeks of rather nasty back pain that stopped me in my tracks. It’s frightening how something so simple can utterly derail everything: there is no getting away from back pain, it colours everything in jagged spines that slice right through the core of you. And then it just becomes so fucking boring, too. But never mind, it’s done with now. Hurrah.

So I’m in that in-between phase, in the no-man’s land between having been a bit useless, and gearing up to Do All The Things. And it’s the school holidays too: my daughter has finished primary school, and is doing the developmental groundwork before full rehearsals for the teenage years begin. And of course, getting ready for secondary school. We have begun buying the uniform etc. And I have remembered how to tie a tie, a thing I haven’t had to wear since 1988. So there’s that little tidbit of knowledge to impart. And once the new routine begins in September, and the new stationery has been bought, and the new pencils sharpened, perhaps new words will be transmitted from brain to paper, and screen.

So in the meantime, we play. We go to the cinema, (we’ve seen Ant-Man, and LOVED IT, and Inside Out, which we enjoyed), we go swimming, we’ll be going to London, and there’ll be other things to do too. In the meantime, I have to negotiate access to my desk, while my daughter constructs worlds in MineCraft.

In the meantime, there is the small matter of rehearsing some readings. I have been asked to participate in the Spoken Word event at this year’s Stroud Fringe Festival. I have been described, by someone whose professional opinion I value a great deal, as ‘an up and coming writer’. Oh, GULP. Someone has faith in me, and has publicly declared it. And I find that I am feeling a little daunted. I mustn’t disappoint. I mustn’t let them down. I absolutely HAVE to be better at what I do. Cue, getting organised. Etc.

In the meantime, here is something I’ve been listening to for ages, because I love it. I’m listening to it now, in fact. So plug in your headphones, close your eyes/ turn out the lights, and let it wash through you. It’s beautiful.

NB: As of yet, the Fringe website does not have performance details. But it will, soon.

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Tonight, the stars shine for me.

Today, for the first time in a long time, the year has felt like it is at last where it should be. Today has been one of those idyllic July days; infinite blue sky, heat without humidity, the scent of cut grass, good coffee, lingering honeysuckle. All that was missing was the old fashioned tang of creosote – it was a good day for weatherproofing your exterior woodwork – the thock of leather on willow, and the low hum of a light aircraft crossing from there to elsewhere. And neither unfeasibly wet, nor unseasonably hot. Really, that’s how good it felt, like one of those perfect days that seemed to last forever when I was a child.

And the night has been a good one too. I went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my friend Nina. We loved it. I’m not going to bore you with any attempt at a review – there are enough both glowing and detracting out in the wilds of the net if you want to judge by other people’s opinions. All I will say is that it hit square on all the plot points it needed to hit with the character ensemble, and it did it loudly, and stylishly. It made me – and a large number of the other audience members – jump in our seats. It pulled no punches. But some of the little details… the minor things that niggle, or distract you from the full suspension of disbelief… come on Hollywood; you don’t have to get such simple things wrong. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter. That, and that I REALLY want to go and see it again. Now, preferably.

I enjoyed it so much in fact, that I danced all the way home along Slad Road. It helped that my iPod shuffle threw me Hallogallo; vintage krautrock doesn’t come much better than this. And walking away from the orange streetlamp glare, into the tall shadows cast by dark houses, high hedges, framing the night sky away from urban light-spill, the stars shone clear in all their millions, strung across the sky. The night breeze and the stars, and the music and me. The kind of night where it would be so simple just to keep on walking, into the darkness until the sky turns light again. And I stopped, mid-step, and gazed and gazed. And I saluted the sky. I did. And then I carried on dancing. And yes, there was a lone cyclist who doubtless thought me completely mental, but I really don’t care. Because all during that homeward dance, I was perfectly happy. And the stars shone, for me.

London, Summer 2012

I went to London for the weekend. I felt very nearly like a person I remembered being, before. I stayed with my brother, and we watched Absolutely Fabulous, and laughed a stupid amount. We also did a lot of singing along to the Eurythmics, loudly, in the car, because that’s what we’re like. And we went to see the new Spiderman flick, which I rather liked – it was FUN. And loud.

But mostly the weekend was about Picasso. On Saturday afternoon I went to the British Museum to see the Vollard Suite. This was one of my favourites,

a strong yet ambiguous image; what is the Minotaur doing? Will he wake her or kill her?

Sunday was the last day of the Picasso And Modern British Art exhibition at Tate Britain. It was interesting, but did not quite grip me as much as the Vollard Suite had, although the Hockneys did amuse me.  It was also very crowded, which afforded a wonderful opportunity for people watching. In fact when it’s so crowded that you can’t get to the paintings, people watching is all there is. One woman I overheard was unsure whether or not she’d already seen a particular painting; she was explaining to her male companion that she was almost certain that she hadn’t, because she didn’t recognise the frame. She gave me rather a strange look as I tried to smother my giggles in my sleeve…

Last night…

The benefits of standing barefoot in the garden in the rain are not to be underestimated. The decking, rain-slicked yet still holding some of the day’s warmth, and flecked with fallen rose petals; the pergola, smothered with hundreds of tiny, dark pink roses; lemon balm and thyme spill over from their respective pot and bed, a warmly medicinal scent, clean against the deeper sweetness of honeysuckle and philadelphus. All these things offer a simple restorative to a turbulent mind – and especially if one manages to avoid treading on a slug – when night thoughts grow too dark to bear.

But there is something better. To stand in the garden, skin bare to the night rain’s cold caresses, roused to a state of almost wanton wakefulness, is both stimulating and soothing, as I discovered last night. And if it rains again tonight, do not doubt but that I will be doing it again.

Some Kind Of Fairy Tale

Last night I did a thing that I have not done for a a very long time. Last night I was impelled to stay awake in order to finish the book I’d begun reading earlier in the day. The book? Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Buy it. Read it. Love it. (And when you buy it, why not go to your nearest independent bookseller – it’s Independent Booksellers’ Week. Keep books on the High Street, help prop up the pitiful excuse for our economy, and keep people like me in our jobs.)

And now that June is almost ended, the philadelphus joins with the honeysuckle in scenting the briefer hours of darkness. And I’m galumphing through another book… and will soon be galumphing back to the Second Draft. I’ve been re-inspired.

Blog Award

     I’m a bit thrilled and flattered to have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, and by two such very lovely and erudite bloggers too, Martha Williams, who blogs from a wet rock, and Claudia Cruttwell, who once took a hot water bottle to St Lucia.

So having been nominated, it’s my turn to pass on the blog love, display the award thing, and tell you seven things that you didn’t know – and probably really don’t need to know – about me. I promise to keep it clean…

1. I used to be better more useful around the house. Then writing found me in 2008. Now I don’t care so much.

2. When I was small, I wanted to have pointed ears and blue skin. I did NOT want to be a Smurf.

3. I once ate an entire (small) jar of Marmite, with a teaspoon.

4. I dreamed once that I couldn’t get married because I didn’t have the right knickers on.

5. If I could walk away from my life for a year, I’d spend that year in Sweden.

6. It is very easy to make me cry. (Please don’t.)

7. I once pretended to be a coat hook.

So there you are.

And I nominate…

Claire King, (@ckingwriterKirsty Logan (@kirstylogan), Sally Quilford (@Quillers), Emma Darwin (@emma_darwin), Diane Becker (@DotSeven), Katie Anderson (@KTAndersonBlogs), Adam Horovitz (@adamhorovitz), Jane Prinsep (@janeprinsep), Nan Bovington (@wildhyperbole), M J Wright (@MJWrightNZ), Sara Crowley (@sara_crowley), Alison Bacon (@AliBacon), Gareth L Powell (@garethlpowell), Nik Perring (@nikperring), and Jenny Maltby (@SpiralSkies). In my opinion they all inspire, amuse, and are fearless provokers of thought.

Now back to writing…

(I meant it about the Smurf.)

Updated to add that I know some of the people I’ve nominated will be too busy to pick up the blogging baton, but that’s ok.