Monday, 31 December 2007
Today I’m cooking for a party, and preparing for a final extravaganza of overindulgence before a return to sobriety, ryvita and resolutions tomorrow. Wishing everyone a great New Year’s Eve—but more importantly—an inspired, positive and happy 2008. Maybe it’s too much to ask that all your dreams will come true—but just one or two would be nice. (Which one would you choose?)
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Now I’m going to go and weep quietly into the sink while preparing the sprouts. Just as well The Railway Children isn’t on until tomorrow or I’d be a puddle.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
This morning, staring despondently down at a Things To Do List that extended to several pages (in fact, might possibly have exceeded the word count of my current ms) as I simultaneously tried to ice fairy cakes for daughter #3’s class party, the irony of this struck me afresh.
Monday, 17 December 2007
The tree in question is one got last year from a farm where you go and wander round a conifer forest the size of Scotland, choose the tree you want and dig it up. In theory this sounded wonderfully wholesome and festive, but the cracks soon began to show: five people tramping around a forest in the freezing cold, trying to agree on one tree out of thousands was not a recipe for family harmony. If anyone reading this ever finds themselves embarking upon a similar epic quest, please take this advice: Just don't.
Anyway, several hours, three cases of hypothermia, one broken spade and a pending divorce later we finally got The Beast home and realised that a tree that looks small in a forest full of towering pines is actually GINORMOUS once placed in an average sized, low-ceilinged sitting room. (Every year I slip into complete and happy denial about the modest proportions of our house, and confidently select a tree clearly only suitable for the drawing room at Sandringham) However, after a bit of strategic pruning (and a glass or two of sherry) it didn't look too bad.
So, after Christmas-- with the trauma still fresh in our minds-- we carefully planted the tree at the far end of the garden, where Muffin the rabbit made it his Campaign Headquarters and Centre of Operations for launching vicious ambushes on Ruby the airhead cat. We hardly expected it to survive, but amazingly it did, and this year I approached the whole Tree Issue in the smug knowledge that ours was ready to pluck from the soil right on the doorstep in a simple and trauma-free operation taking probably five minutes tops.
It soon became apparent that tree had not only survived, but positively thrived, establishing a vast and vigorous root system that spread beneath half the garden. Venturing out about two hours after my husband had just 'nipped out' to get it, I found him knee deep in a huge crater that used to be the lawn, the tree listing at a drunken angle as he hacked through the last roots with a giant and sinister looking axe. It took two of us another hour to manhandle it into the house, where we discovered that the previously Sandringham-sized Christmas tree is now of Trafalgar Square proportions.
This morning have returned from the school run to find Muffin the rabbit exposed and shivering in the bottom of the crater, an expression of extreme indignation on his face. Can't help but sympathise. I think it would have been better left where it was, too.
Friday, 14 December 2007
competition to win help with the washing up from Daniel Craig. There were LOADS of entries, as I discovered last night at half past twelve when I printed them out and started tearing them up into little individual bits for my daughters to pick out of a hat/empty cereal box this morning.
Next time I must a) buy more tea towels and b) start tearing earlier.
The answer,of course, was that the inspiration for Angelo in The Italian's Captive Virgin, was kindly provided By Alex Pettyfer, and the winner, picked by Daughter #2 (who got up first) is HANNAH. Congratulations!
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
(**falls off chair laughing**)
Reached something of a low point last night when my husband rather annoyingly announced that the last posting dates are looming, and I realised that not only are all the presents that need posting still unwrapped and languishing in drawers and cupboards, but a good many of them are also still unbought and languishing in Marks and Spencers. Oh dear. However, still in positive frame of mind I went to unearth the pitiful few that I do have, only to discover that I’d left the wrapping paper I bought yesterday (in a brave attempt to get on top of things) in the shop.
I think I now know why hedgehogs hibernate.
But just when a downwards spiral into misery and recrimination seemed inevitable, salvation came in the form of an email from the lovely Amanda Ashby, in which (amongst other things) she posed the interesting question 'if David Boreanaz and James D'Acry were in a naked mud wrestling competition who would win?' Definitely something to ponder as I sit through Carol Service Number Two later on. Early research suggests that David has the weight advantage, but that James has height and gorgeous hands on his side... (And of course the gorgeous hands matter. To me, anyway.)
Thursday, 6 December 2007
(Ooh... hold that thought. But forget the washing up...)
*sigh*. Maybe I shouldn't have started reading it until all the shopping was done...
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
While the children spent the day rehearsing at the arena, us mums hit the shops. The plan was to make a full-scale tactical assault on Christmas shopping (which, thanks to Olivier I've barely started) but unfortunately by 2.30 we found ourselves in the champagne bar at Harvey Nichols. Oops. Basic error.
Anyway, must rally my strength to announce the second of this week's exciting competitions. This one is a group celebration with four other lovely writers, and the answers are available on our websites (better just go and check that mine, in fact, is...) Here goes!
Sunday, 2 December 2007
My brain has been so scrambled with recent deadline issues that I haven’t been taking full and proper notice of the world beyond my keyboard. Apparently, while I’ve been putting my poor, tormented hero (we’ll call him Olivier, as that’s his name, though for some random reason I’ve been keeping that quiet) on the rack, life has been continuing around me, in all sorts of exciting ways. Like this one, for example...
But the other thing that I really like about this competition is the timing. Oh yes. It might not seem like it at the moment, when if you’re anything like me the only thing you can think of writing is lists beginning ‘buy sellotape,’ and ending 'world peace', but once all that Christmas business is over we’ll hit the best time of the whole year for making things happen. New Year.
The deadline for entries is Valentine’s day, so in case anyone reading this is thinking of entering I’m starting a sort of coaching programme right here-- kind of like sporty-type people would do ahead of a big race, but without involving trainers or unflattering tracksuits (not in public anyway... I absolutely swear by pyjamas for writing, but it’s quite important that you remember not to venture out in them.)
Here’s phase one. Enroll now.
1. The first thing to do is put Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance on your Christmas list. Preferably near the top (the only thing that’s allowed to take preference is diamond earrings... but in my experience it’s not even worth trying). If you think there’s still a margin for error and by some horrible chance it might not appear in your stocking on the big day, slip one into your Amazon basket while doing the buying for everyone else.
2. On Christmas day, the moment the last sprout has been scraped into the bin (and you’ve finished asking yourself whether it was worth spending 2 hours cutting crosses into 97 of them) recruits will be expected to settle down with the above book, and a glass of wine, and think... Romance. Conflict. Passion. Just think, mind... no writing yet.
3. In that lovely dead time between Christmas and New Year you'll be expected to slope off for plenty of long baths, with a box of Belgian truffles and an armful of Mills&Boon Moderns or Modern Extras. You'll read, lots, and this is when you'll need to decide, if you haven’t already, which line you’re targeting.
4. New Year’s Eve... is when the Big Girls get serious. As midnight strikes you have to kiss the nearest person to you and think this is the year I’m going to give my dreams a chance. (The kissing bit is probably optional, depending on who the nearest person is. If it’s James d’Arcy you have a solemn duty to act on my behalf.)
5. New Year’s Day. Those who've stayed the course so far will be allowed the morning off to recover from their hangovers, (and make any necessary phonecalls to apologise for the kissing) but by the evening will have to have prepared themselves for the task that lies ahead. After all, there's just 6 weeks to go until the closing date, and the first job is to write that synopsis...
And, in the New Year we’ll pick up the training from there! If you're at all thinking of entering....DO it!!