Friday, 23 December 2011

You can't have everything...

I've been a terrible blogger, and an even worse writer lately, but I'm sure you'll all be thrilled to know that this Christmas there has been no last-minute present panic (yet) or waking up in a cold sweat at 3am with the desperate realisation that tomorrow is daughter #3's Christmas play and I haven't yet started assembling bits of costume. This year, beds are already made up - with actual clean sheets - in preparation for the arrival of my brother and his adorable family and not only are presents bought, but also wrapped, hopefully meaning I'll be able to go to bed before the sky starts to lighten on Christmas morning. This year the fridge has been calmly stocked by a timely Sainsbury's delivery rather than a last-minute raid on the Spar shop in the late-night garage, and the chocolate-and-pizza-encrusted sofa covers have been washed. In other words, this year I am In Control of Christmas.

It's all something of a displacement activity, of course. It's the season of angels and lighting candles and counting blessings and I am doing both of the latter, for reasons that will become clear in time. In the meantime I'm wishing you all the happiest and most peaceful of Christmases and the best and brightest of New Years. xxxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

And the winners are...

The Oscars may have gold envelopes and perma-tanned celebrities dripping with diamonds, but on this blog we have to make do with an empty Rice Krispies packet and me in my pyjamas for the purposes of winner-selection. It's not pretty, so at this point you might like to imagine James Franco standing onstage holding my Rice Krispie box and reading out the following list of people who'll soon* be receiving copies of In Bed with a Stranger. Ok, so... The winners are...

(suspenseful silence)

Jacqueline, Jo, Carol, Amanda, Jane and Amit.

(thunderous applause. Kisses to the winners from JF.)

Thank you hugely to everyone who emailed an entry - the cereal box was fuller than ever this time and I'm so sorry I don't have enough books to send one to everyone whose name was in there. I really need to get my study tidied up so it can revert to its alternative incarnation as a spare room when my brother's family come at Christmas, so if there are extra books looking for homes I'll post them to the next names out of the box. (It's an indication of just how chaotic this place is that I don't have a clue how many books I have under the landslide of Christmas shopping, roll-wrap and miles of brown paper Amazon stuff into their boxes.) (Why do they even do that? It's not like books can get broken.)

On the upside, the absence of a pressing deadline this year has meant that for the first time ever I'm all over the Christmas thing. Oh yes. Only December 6th and I've actually bought more than four presents, though I must confess I haven't quite got round to handcrafting individual place-card holders from pomegranates, making my own Christmas Morning Clementine Marmalade or witty freeze-ahead canapés, proving that it's not lack of time that prevents me from being a domestic goddess à la Kirstie or Nigella, but congenital slovenliness. Gosh - who knew? Anyway, my seasonal enthusiasm has been given a boost by sneakily deleting 'Now That's What I Call Xmas Volume 487' and all similar festive-pop-trash from every ipod in the house and replacing it with my new top Christmas album by Emmy The Great. Sadly my favourite track isn't on youtube for convenient sharing (apart from sort-of here) so you'll just have to take my word for how fab it is and download it, but this one's also excellent. Poor Mrs Christmas - like the Military Wives she does deserve some sisterly sympathy.

In the midst of all this Organisation I'm not writing much, but I am thinking. A lot. And mentally girding myself to get this book written in a great big reclusive rush once Christmas is out of the way. (Because that always goes well, doesn't it?)

*'Soon' being a relative concept, given the December postal service. Sooner, say, than it would take to travel to that new planet whose name I can't remember but which is 9 millionty light years away. Or something.