Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Final Cracker!

And who else could it be? International man of mystery; world famous yet perenially elusive philanthropist and distributor of gifts across the globe (ergo probably a billionaire?) Father Christmas has more Presents hero qualities than you might think. And the best thing about him is that-- unlike Sting and Rodrigo and Colin and all the rest, he's coming to your house tomorrow night! As long as you've been good all year....

So what shall we ask him for, ladies? To cover all bases I'm asking for three things that are pretty affordable, three things that are optimistically and wickedly expensive, and-- because he's magic-- three things that are absolutely priceless. Here's my list...

  1. Cheap.
    A red bounty. Hard to track down dark chocolate version of the coconut and chocolate bar, and a few bites of heaven for 55p

  2. 2. Vaseline hand cream.
    3. Any of the January release M&B's. There are some fab titles coming up, from Kate Hewitt, Lynne Graham, Sara Craven, Miranda Lee... Essential festive bathtime escapism

  1. Perfume. I love this stuff... No 1 most of the year, but X at Christmas for its dark, spicy pine and cedar scent.
  2. This scarf. (sigh) I love the colour and it's cashmere from Himalayan goats, you know... (it's also 109 of your finest English pounds and well out of my league...)

3. This chair. In my office. In pink.


  1. Huge investment in the NHS and massive pay increases for nurses
  2. For daughter #1 to believe me when I tell her she's beautiful
  3. Clean drinking water for everyone, everywhere, because our inadequate Christmas donation to Wateraid just isn't going to solve the problem.
    (Oh, and 4. James D'Arcy and some mistletoe...)

Aside from that I really am blessed in that I have everything I could reasonably want, so now seems like a good time to say thank you all so much for another year of support and sharing-- of your thoughts and your time and your kindness. (Sniff.) You're all gorgeous. Happy Christmas to everyone and a peaceful and perfect new year.

Monday, 22 December 2008

I have winners! (And another Christmas Cracker...)

So we finally got the Christmas tree into the house on Friday evening and all of us girlies waited around interminably while He manhandled it into place and performed some drastic tree surgery to make it fit into our very low ceilinged sitting room. (When Christmas tree buying time comes around I always slip into a state of blissful optimism and temporarily delude myself that we live in a house called The Old Rectory.) The good new is we'll have plenty of pine logs to last us through the festive period. The bad news is the Christmas tree now looks like the victim of a savage attack by a homicidal maniac, and there's only so much damage you can conceal with baubles and tinsel.

Further bad news was to follow, involving fairy lights. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that once we'd found candles and torches, located the fuse box, got the lights back on in the house and re-started the computer it seemed like a good idea to open a bottle of calming fizz, all of which is all a long, complicated and improbable excuse for why I didn't draw competition winners on Friday night as promised. However, I did get the daughters to do it yesterday, putting the names into daughter #1's Christmas stocking which had been newly unearthed from the Christmas box along with all the decorations. The first name picked out was Brigitte, who wins the necklace I want to keep for myself and a signed copy of Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure. Katie S and Karen were picked out next, so I'll be sending books to them too.

Today I'm going to be braving the supermarket for the first time in ages, having discovered yesterday that all the online shopping delivery slots were booked up. This is a shock to the system, because it involves getting dressed properly (ie in something other than pyjama trousers and my favourite grey polo necked jumper, stolen from Him circa 1998...) and probably even putting on mascara. Actually, this perfectly encapsulates my whole Christmas holiday clothes dilemma: I secretly feel that over Christmas I should be wearing posh clothes-- perferably grown-up dresses teamed with high heels and sparkly jewellery, but what tends to happen here is that once we return from church on Christmas eve we don't actually leave the house again for days and I never seem to get very far from the pyjama and favourite jumper look. It's all a far cry from the M&S advert fantasy (which even features formal evening wear. Saints preserve us!)

Anyway, here's another Christmas cracker. I love this clip, but why in the name of mince pies does she take so long to get down the stairs and kiss him??? This is Colin Firth for pity's sake. I'd have thrown myself over the railing.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas Cracker number Seven!!

Haved just waved the children off to school with Him in charge, (laden down with badly wrapped presents for teachers, long overdue dinner money and reply slips for 47 letters from the last half term) and have now retreated back into the warm to drink tea and watch trashy TV, with the totally legitimate excuse that I'm awaiting a call from a journalist for a telephone interview. Definitely feel that I have the better deal here, which has provoked a guilty awareness that, for all my moaning about the shortcomings of the domestic male in general and my own specimen in particular, this is actually quite often the case.

I'm not just thinking about his services as spider exterminator and putter-up of shelves, but about the bigger stuff too, like the fact that he kept the faith (and-- more to the point-- kept me) during the long years when I was writing lots and earning nothing. He brings me cups of tea and glasses of wine (according to time of day/level of desperation) while I wrestle with deadlines and listens endlessly (or at least makes and effort to look like he's listening) as I try to work out plot twists and character motivation. He graciously puts up with my enthusiasm for searching out new hero material, and my unrestrained and voiciferous appreciation of certain character prototypes (James D'Arcy/Orlando) So, in view of all that, and since today is our sixteenth Wedding Anniversary I thought that today's Christmas Cracker really ought to be Him.

Us on our wedding day-- December 19th 1854 (or does it just seem that long ago?)

(...and here we are later, in a spooky foreshadowing of Things To Come, doing our very own version of a Mills & Boon cover shot...)
In other news, tonight-- right after we heft the giant Christmas tree in from the garden and watch the children decorate the bottom left hand corner of it-- I'm going to draw a winner for my half of the competition Kate Hewitt and I have been running, so if you haven't done so yet, leave a comment to be included! (If I don't do it soon I'm going to give into the temptation to keep the sweet little Hultquist necklace I bought the other day, which would be very Wrong of me.)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas Cracker number six

Those clementines look unappealing in the extreme but just listen to the voice and watch the hands...

I particularly like the drizzly caramel bit for some reason. And I'd dearly love to have Jean Christophe Novelli in my kitchen on Christmas day.

Monday, 15 December 2008

More Christmas Totty (aka Christmas Cracker number Five)

Today He has taken the day off work and we’re going to nail Christmas once and for all. At least that’s what He thinks, because he has no conception of the enormity of the job nor how short the school day actually is. Shall no doubt return home later with repetitive strain injury from handing the credit card over so often and the threat of acrimonious divorce hanging over us.

However, in the midst of all that I’m also planning to buy something suitably sparkly and Christmassy as a prize for the contest Kate Hewitt and I are running together. Anyone who leaves a comment this week will automatically be entered—keep your random thoughts about what makes a man irresistible coming! (I'd much rather be applying my mind to that issue than to whether the turkey I've ordered will fit in my oven.)
In the meantime here's today's Christmas Cracker for your attention, ladies...

(PS-- sincere apologies to anyone who's awaiting an email from me. I've got horribly behind on everything but will catch up soon, I hope.) (Cue the sound of hollow laughter...)

Friday, 12 December 2008

Christmas Cracker number Four

Or, more accurately, Four Christmas Crackers. (Or three and a half, depending on how much you fancy the slightly shorter one with the best voice.) Which member of Il Divo would you like to find in your stocking this Christmas? (There's a question for you to mull over while you queue in the post office today...)

Last night we went to the final performance of daughters 2 and 3's Christmas play. Sitting in the dark, crammed onto a chair at least three sizes too small for my bottom, wedged to one side by the width of my husband's shoulders in the seat pressed up against mine (the closest physical contact we've had time to enjoy for weeks) I watched the angels blinking and glittering in the stage lights while Mary nursed the baby and Joseph picked his nose and decided that, when daughter #3 goes up to high school in 4 years time I shall have to find some pretext to come back each year. Christmas is simply unthinkable without it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Christmas Cracker number Three

Feeling utterly rubbish today, having been poleaxed by some vile winter bug whose main symptom seems to be the feeling that you've been dropped from the top of a very tall building. So, Christmas Cracker #3 is someone gentle and comforting, who you could just imagine bringing you hot chocolate in bed. Because occasionally, isn't that all you want?

I'm loving hearing all about the kind of men you want to read about, although oddly enough so far no-one's mentioned anything about hot-chocolate bearing jazz pianists. Let's see if Harry Connick jr and his Astonishing Blue Eyes can persuade you. Click on the picture to watch him in festive action...

(And keep those men coming!)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Christmas Cracker Number Two, and a competition!

After a busy few days of family and friends and endless hours spent on sleet-lashed motorways I’m struggling to catch up on ordinary life. Whoever thought it was a good idea to go away the weekend before the busiest week of the school year? Oh yes, that would be Him then.

Kate Hewitt is way ahead of me in bringing you news of the joint competition we’re holding. Both of us are at the point of embarking on new books, so we’re asking you to tell us about the kind of settings and heroes you like best. This follows neatly on from the ‘hot hero’ discussion we had here a couple of weeks ago, so leave your top tips for melting men here (ooh—check me out—I’ve gone all alliterative) and your favourite fantasy settings on Kate’s blog and we’ll each draw a winner next week. (And who knows—the combination may just end up being a book waiting to be written, in which case Kate and I will have an undignified wrangle over who gets to do it...) You don’t necessarily have to supply names of specific individuals for the hero (unless you want to) but now’s your chance to throw in any physical attributes, personality traits, mannerisms, values, nationalities, family circumstances even particular professions that you love reading about and which help to create a man who turns your knees to water.

Talking of which, here’s Christmas Cracker number two. (BIG sigh.)

The only clip I could find of this on youtube is dubbed in Spanish, but I watched it about 3 times before I noticed because unsurprisingly, I wasn’t listening to the words. I want to go to an office Christmas party and I want a dress like that and I want Rodrigo Santoro to be there. And I want to leave my mobile phone in the taxi on the way home.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas starts here!

Of course, in an ideal world it would all be just how it is on the Marks & Spencers advert, with everyone in perfectly coordinating clothes, several feet of pristine snow and members of Take That popping round, brandishing expensive presents (all bought from M&S, so you can take them back easily.) However, the reality is that most of us are stressed, skint and slightly depressed that the children get twice as many party invitations as we do (and scrub up a lot better as well.)

Generally, this time of year is not a good time for turkeys or women, so here is my own personal countdown to Christmas; an antidote to the pressure of shopping, cooking, wrapping, icing and showing yourself up by crying at the school nativity play. I wanted to call it The Twelve Lays of Christmas, but my husband gave me one of Those Looks and walked away shaking his head disapprovingly. Spoilsport. Anyway, I opted instead for the slightly more decorous title India’s Christmas Crackers.

Here’s Number One. Forget the tantric sex, (or not...) ignore the plastic snow and just enjoy the gorgeous song and the fleeting glimpse of Sting at the height of The Hotness Years...

(You might want to pause this at 2 minutes 15 seconds...)

Gosh. Don't you just feel more full of peace and goodwill already? More next week!


Why is it that throughout November I am always in total denial about Christmas, telling myself (and the children—at least 700 times a day) that it is far too early to start making cards/mince pies and listening to daughter #1s illegal download of Now That’s What I Call Xmas Volume 294 on the way to school.

Someone please remind me next year (perhaps around late August) that this is a grave tactical error.

However, am fending off feelings of unfestive despair at my complete organisational incompetence by planning some blog treats to keep us all going in the run up to Christmas. Come back tomorrow for the first of my timely reminders of the joys of the season!

Monday, 1 December 2008


My life is usually so dull that events such as cleaning the bathroom and buying a new freezer appear on here as high points of glittering excitement. So how frustrating is it that when something genuinely cool happens I'm sworn to secrecy?

Knickers indeed.

Today I am starting the new book. Honestly. But first I have to tidy my desk and empty the bin in my office, which contains 382 chocolate bar wrappers-- legacy of the last one. Shudder to think how many calories lie between here and the next happy ever after...