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Sunday, 26 December 2010

And a very merry midwinter festival of your choice!

Just popping by, my cheeky little ones, to wish you all the very best in this merry season of goodwill and merriment.  Thank you for patronising me thus far, and I look forward to the New Year, when I will return the favour.

Do keep dropping by, for there will be announcements in the weeks to come!  Yey, verily shall I say unto you that you may win copies of my very latest, Please Don't Stop the Music in the competition with which I shall gladden your hearts in the very near future.

But for now - I think I'm entitled to a little holidayette, don't you?  Normal service shall be resumed just as soon as I am normal again.

I leave you with this picture of an exploding Christmas Tree.  Because I can.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

..coming to a toilet near you!

Those of you who follow me (yes, I know you're there, even when you dodge behind those bushes) will know that, as part of my Releasing  a Book into the Wild campaign (Please Don't Stop the Music, coming from Choc Lit on 01 February), I shall be undertaking a bog tour.

Many of my friends and acquaintances have volunteered their amenities for this tour, about which I must admit to being slightly baffled.  Who wants a writer who comes around, uses their facilities and then leaves again?  But dear Luke at Choc Lit, a man with a mission and probably an Armitage and Shanks full flush number with low level cistern and mahogany seat (you see, I'm picking up the lingo already), maintains that a bog tour is the best way to raise my profile and announce the book to the world.

So, in preparation, I have loaded myself down with Andrex Super Strong, some wet wipes, a number of large books, and a number of tins of curried pea and ham soup (well, it always has that effect on me).  I have been working on my glutes, practicing my crouching, have installed myself in several pairs of elasticated waisted trousers, and now I am ready for the off!

It won't look like this when I've finished...

Already committed (as they should be) are The Nut Press -1st January, Strictly Writing- 8th January

 LoveRomancePassion 16th Jan, Coffee Time Romance 24th Jan.  And others are arriving all the time, for example the lovely Lucie Wheeler has also volunteered, as long as while I'm in there I don't dance or sing.  In fact, the calls for me not to sing are almost outnumbering those requesting various numbers!  I know!  I don't understand it either!  

Anyway, I'm now off to buy myself a special brush for those..err..awkward moments, and a little step to put my feet up on, also to double as a stage should I feel like regailing those there present with my own particular take on Biffy Clyro.  So, if anyone else feels like hosting my bog tour, just make sure that your porcelain number is buffed to perfection and I'll put you on the list.  

Hold on a minute.  My publicity man is on the other line...



Apparently it's a BLOG tour.  

Anyone want to buy forty-five rolls of mostly unused Andrex?

I'll even throw in the puppy...No, not like that!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The impact of a wind-assisted Christmas Tree.

Now, I don't want to panic anyone, but there are only 50 DAYS LEFT TO PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC!  50!  That's like, no time at all if, like me, you can spend a fortnight looking for a sock.  And you know those 50 days will be gone in a flash, by the time you've had Christmas, and then New Year, and you're still thinking 'oh, I'll get round to it soon', and then before you know it it's February the First and the book is out and you have LOST YOUR CHANCE TO BE THE FIRST TO READ IT!

Consider yourselves told. 

Now.  In more sober news, I have yet to buy a Christmas tree.  But this is because I have yet to shovel clear an area of floor suitable for placement of said Yule greenery.  I live in the official House of Doors, you see.  It's a bit like living in a giant corridor when it comes to Christmas Trees and televisions - where do you put it so that it doesn't have to be wheeled out of the way every time someone lets the cat in?

Aha, I hear you cry, then why not get a small tree?  Something convenient and plastic with an inbuilt crumple zone and umbrella-fold decorations?  Why insist on one of those new-fangled 'real' things?  Well, my dearios, it isn't like I haven't experimented, you know.  Oh yes, once I too was possessed of a plastic tree; two and a half feet of shine and glitter with a little stand and ... Or was that Tony Robinson?  No, no, I'm fairly sure that was the tree.

Like this, but less classy.  If you can imagine.

And I did mention that I live in a corridor, didn't I?  My living room has...(hang on, I might need fingers here).. four doors (one of them a cupboard), a fireplace, a staircase and the recent cast of Strictly Come Dancing in it.  To accommodate these features, the tree could only be placed in one position - directly opposite the patio doors.  Which, in keeping with tradition, opened on to the garden.

Now I can see some of you have got ahead of me here.  I can tell by the way you are sniggering and smirking.  For, yes, the tree was duly placed opposite the patio doors.  In a house with two dogs and four cats, all of which treat the door as though it has been placed there for their own personal use.

And Lo!  came Christmas Eve!  And with Christmas Eve came gales!  And with the Christmas Eve gales came a run of animal incontinence the like of which has ne'er been seen!

Now, if you've ever opened a patio door to a gale you may have some glimmering as to the result.  Cat wanted out.  Door was casually opened, in came a wind as winds do, wandering around the place, running its finger along the mantelpiece and muttering about dust, caught the plastic Christmas tree somewhere around midsection and suddenly the air was full of balls and tinsel.

The tree itself did three circuits of the living room before we caught it, some of the baubles have never been recaptured and the dog now hides under the table at the sight of a fairy.

Hence, thereafter we have always had a real tree.  Six foot of solid pine which, to be on the safe side, we then nail to the floor.  It ain't pretty but I'm not having those vet bills again.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

364 days warning and it STILL catches us by surprise!

Now, I don't want to alarm anyone (actually I do, you should see how funny you look when your hair stands on end and you shout "Ahhhhh!  What the hell was that?!"), but it's only three weeks to Christmas.

Three weeks.  That's, say fifteen shopping days if you don't go at weekends, which are always too busy.  But, if you don't go on Wednesdays (because the shops close early) or Mondays (because who wants to shop on a Monday when you're all hungover and cross), then it's only about seven days.  Ish.  More or less.  So.  You've got seven days to find the perfect present for everyone in the entire world, you don't get paid until a week on Tuesday, your Amazon account is broken, your credit card accidentally snapped in half when you were trying to break into the cupboard at work that everyone refers to as THE CUPBOARD OF DOOM, when funny noises were coming out of it and you suspected that a hedgehog might have got in - all right, it's up five flights of stairs, but hedgehogs can climb stairs, can't they? - and M&S keep sending you e-mails telling you that everyone you know really REALLY wants a purple jumper with sequins on.

Ready?  GO!

Yes, the annual panic is upon us.  Well, it's upon me anyway.  I start in September, carefully hand-selecting items of extreme personal interest to those closest to me, and yet, by the first of December I too have resorted to buying anything labelled '3 for 2' in Superdrug in a kind of ritualistic frenzy, fuelled by egg-nog and Cranberry Surprise. 

I start with those on the outer fringes of my circle, the work colleagues, the cousins, the neighbours.  These all get unfrenzied, thoughtful, hand-picked presents of personal interest and appeal. 

This kind of thing.  Tasteful, and attractive.  Like me.

Next we come to siblings, close friends and parents.  These receive gifts slightly less personally chosen, because by now it's November, the shops are busy and I'm stressed.  But still, nice things.  You know.  Not rubbish or anything.  Useful presents.

 Everyone needs somewhere to put the wheelie bin, right?

Then the kids.  Oh, yes, the kids.  And when you have five of the little....things, this involves quite a lot of shopping.  But, oddly, not that much thought.

Any and all of the above.  Usually all.  Walk into the first shop bearing any of these logos, fill basket, pay, walk out.

But by now it's the middle of December.  Work is busy, there is writing to be done, I haven't yet written a single Christmas card, there's all the food to sort out and the dog was just sick on the carpet.  And I haven't bought a thing for my husband.

Oh, I've looked.  You cannot fault my research skills.  I have surfed the net until my fingers went all wrinkly, I have made lists (which I then lost, but at least I made them) of super, innovative, fun, thrilling and wacky ideas.  And then, suddenly - because 364 days is NOT ENOUGH WARNING, it's Christmas Eve.  And we all know what that means, don't we?

Yep.  He's getting it in purple.  With sequins.  M&S, you win again.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Doctor Who is NOT biscuits, I repeat, NOT biscuits!

Today 'tis my my birthday.  I have reached an age which has got an 0 at the end and is therefore a major cause of celebration.  Possibly because I have managed to reach this age without dying which, you have to admit, given my propensity for throwing myself if not in the way of trouble then certainly only slightly to trouble's left, is something of an achievement.

To mark this continued lack of affilitation with the Grim Reaper, people have generously pressed gifts upon me.  In some cases quite literally, since I was repeatedly struck with a large bunch of lilies and a box of M&S Belgian Chocolate biscuits was squeezed upon my loveliness beneath my large fluffy jacket, it being meterologically of the chilly persuasion today. And I did get to go to the very lovely Appleton Spa, courtesy of my lovely children (having lots of children stands me in very good stead when it comes to 'Have a Whip Round for Mother').  And then I got rubbed with stuff, had stuff painted on me, and then had a Head Massage (which did not kick start my brain, sadly).  It is a very nice place, and I got to lie in the Hot Tub in the snow.   In fact, this has been my first White Birthday!

So, in combination with people giving me lovely things and the white stuff continuously falling from the sky, it has been a most memorable day.  I intend to spend most of the remainder of it sponging squashed biscuits from my body and snuggling in front of an open fire watching Dr Who DVD's.  I may lick the biscuits off the  sponge if I really feel like pushing the boat out, although given my propensity for memory lapses I may find myself licking Dr Who and staring at a small yellow sponge bobbing about in greasy water.  Worse still, I may well find this entertaining.

                                              Gripping, I think you'll all agree.

I know how to live!  The secret is to keep breathing In and let the whole Out thing take care of itself.  Disclaimer - Embarassing noises caused by the Out procedure are not the responsibility of Yours Truly, you are on your own with the whole 'parp' thing.

I may well be licking this man off my body later.  But only because I forgot he isn't M&S Belgian Chocolate biscuits, you understand.  And I probably won't enjoy it.  Well, one of us won't.  And it may, or may not, be me.

So.  Happy Birthday To Me.  I shan't sing, because I know how it distresses you, so I shall just hum quietly while you all muse on your lacklustre performance in the Sending Me Presents department, and then I shall leave you to your guilt.

Darlings, you shouldn't have!  Can I eat them now?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In which I discover I am not quite perfect. Oh, the shame!

I have come to the conclusion (reluctantly, of course) that I might not be perfect.

Silence your gasps of amazement and disbelief, I don’t mean that I’m not perfect in any practical way.  My mane of tousled blonde hair remains the envy of all and my perfect thighs mean that we need not buy a nutcracker this Christmas (seriously, where do they all go?  Every Christmas a new nutcracker – it can’t be natural).And yet, I find myself falling short of my own, amazingly high standards.   

                                                           By about this much usually.

Mostly this happens when writing.  It has come to my attention that I have a tendency for my characters (let’s call them ‘Molly’ and ‘Phinn’ for such are their names) to call one another by their given names all the damn time.  Now I know that people use names to attract someone’s attention, to direct a comment etc, but these two just keep on and on Mollying and Phinning until I’m tired of the pair of them.

Now, bearing in mind that my dear husband and I rarely use one another’s names, preferring to refer to one another as ‘husband’ and ‘stenchblob’, I find this constant waving about of personal names quite offensive.  She’s called Molly, shut up about it, already!  Actually, now I come to think about it, I’m not sure my husband actually knows my name.  We were both very drunk when we were introduced and I’m sure the minister mumbled over that bit during our wedding ceremony.  He probably thinks I’m called ‘Fnrfrt’, which is eyecatching but not that great on a book jacket.
Anyway.  My imperfections, slight as they are.  I am finding that I am writing dialogue exactly as it is spoken.  Which gives rise know, that thing...umm...ooh, did you see Merlin last night?  Wasn’t that the bloke from...thingie, oh, you know the one with the owls in?...ow, bit my tongue there... umm....thingie.  Digressions, that’s the thing.  For dialogue shouldn’t be true to life, but more ‘true to how life would be if it was all shiny and no-one ever farted or coughed inappropriately or suddenly had to go to the toilet in the middle of....
Ah, there you are.  Sorry, I just had, answer the phone.  So.  Yes.  I hate to disillusion you all, but I am not perfect.  Well, I am, mostly, but, you know.  Still ‘down with the people’ as you young folks say.  


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Snow patrol - not odd, damn it!

My late father (in both senses of the word - that's the word 'late' obviously, not 'father'.  He was definitely my father, I have his chin. It's around here somewhere, just can't put my hands on it right now, and he wasn't all that father away.  Quite close, in fact.  Bugger.  Where was I?  Better get out of these brackets) (he was often late.  In fact, the hearse arrived somewhat tardily for his funeral, thereby fulfilling a family prophecy put forward by my mother on many an occasion - damn these brackets!) was a Man Who Sang.  And along with his chin, a slightly chewed biro and some strange metal things that no-one really knows the use of, I have inherited his Singing.

But what I haven't told you is, that he Never Knew the Words.  And, I too, have inherited this tendency.  Hell, I grew up thinking the song went "Bye bye Miss American Pie, drovel shevvie anna levvie budle levvie's drah'.

So now I must put to you a Question.  WHY DOES NO-ONE EVER CORRECT ME?  There I am, singing at the top of my voice, 'boodle doo' ing like mad, and no-one takes me gently to one side and points out carefully, and in words of one syllable that the Arctic Monkeys are not doo-wop singers and that their songs have real words in?  No-one. Not Ever.   Kings of Leon, apparently, do not sing 'Nyar nyar, these legs is on fah' either.  Bet you never knew that.

And then there's the words that I swear I have heard and reproduced correctly, and yet have people rolling about and wiping their eyes when I sing them, again at the top of my voice because my volume control knob is broken and I'm sick of trying to find the pliers to turn it down.

For example.  The other day, there I am, singing along to Snow Patrol's 'Throw the Shutters Open Wide', merrily bellowing 'I could sit for hours finding new ways to be odd each minute', and when my audience finally regained the ability to speak, and mopped up the puddles of resultant merriment, they told me that what he is actually singing is 'finding new ways to be AWED each minute.'

Well!  All I can say is, he should learn to ENUNCIATE.  And, speaking as someone who can, clearly and demonstrably, find new ways to be odd each minute, I have no idea what the song means now.  I had been feeling a certain amount of closeness and empathy with him up until then.  No one realises how hard life can be when one lives under the umbrella of Odd, and I thought I had finally found someone who appreciated it.  And then it goes and turns out that he's just smitten with some tart or another, and all that fellow-feeling just flew out of the window.

Don't be fooled.  These men are not Odd.  Even though they apparently chained themselves to a single radiator, they are not Odd.  Hmph.  Although, if you look closely, you can just see my fellow-feeling vanishing out of the window.  It looks a bit like a bush.

So, I am giving up my career in the world of singing.  No, plead ye not, I shall not be diverted.  I am going to dedicate my time to this writing nonsense, in which the words all mean what I think they mean, and a homogenous confabulation is simply a piece of furniture covered in embroidery.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Learning to play Cat Chess and why dogs are like Robbie Williams

Every time I think I've got this one figured out, those damn cats come up with a new rule!  Okay, so the small black cat can only move in a straight line, the ginger one can go sideways, and the tabby is allowed to jump over all other cats, but only if there isn't a dog in the room?  Is that right?  And, if so, where does the big black one go?

                                    All right, clever clogs, YOU tell me which one of these is winning?!

I have given up trying to figure out cats. Dogs are easier.  Dog have ball = dog happy.  Dog have dinner = dog happy.  Dog left alone while owner goes to work = dog not quite so happy but prepared to be forgiving and ecstatic on owner's return.  Leave a cat for more than half an hour and, upon your return, it will pretend to have forgotten your name, if you're lucky, and if you're not, it will have forgotten your existence and be opening a jar of caviar and sitting in your chair to watch the latest QI episode.

                                                    Dog - ball - happy

                                             "Your face is vaguely familiar, do I know you?"

What you acquire as a cute, fluffy little kitten that plays with your toes and sleeps on your shoulder, grows up to make remarks about your ability to handle the staff, your general culinary prowess and your manners, viz your way of cutting your toenails in front of Strictly Come Dancing.  It's a bit like rearing a baby Princess.  Whereas dogs are bundles of enthusiasm and acceptance of your nastier habits (because they have plenty of their own), which, I like to think, is more like rearing a tiny Robbie Williams.

And there I leave you.  I have to, the cat wants the chair.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

More exciting than Aberystwyth and a stuffed donkey. With added M.E.N.

Last week, as I may have mentioned, I went to see Doctor Who Live.  That's Live as in A-Live, not as in Living.  Doctor Who Live is very different from Doctor Who Live, obviously.  Anyway, since this week contained only elements of me doing lots of writing and also going to a funeral, I have decided to blog further upon my activities during my Doctor Who visit.  You don't want to sit around and read about me writing, do you, because that would mean me writing about writing and you reading about me writing and that might cause a sort of recursive explosion where we'd all wake up next Wednesday with our hair on backwards and absolutely no idea why we were clutching a stuffed donkey and a picture of Aberystwyth.

Yes, it's a lovely place.  But wouldn't you always wonder?

Anyway.  Where was I?  Ah yes, Manchester.  Manchester Evening News Arena to be precise.  Where I, and hundreds of other youngsters, hyperventilated our way through the appearance of Cybermen, Scarecrows, Clockwork Men, Judoon and, with the hair standing up all over my body and giving me the look of a Bigfoot that's been through the wash, Daleks.

And while every faculty of reason within my brain is telling me that these are plastic things with a person inside them, pedalling like crazy, and the voice of a bald man with a ring modulator - the rest of me is screaming behind a metaphorical sofa. Cut me some slack here, you can't overcome 40 years of social conditioning by lying back and thinking of Nick Briggs with a throat mike...those buggers are scary. Okay, so the new ones do have something of the look of an old-fashioned Dalek wearing a backpack, and the primary colour choices of a five year old, but they are still scary.

And.  Matt Smith!  Embiggened!  Leering down at us from a screen about fifty feet high and doing that gormless grinning thing!

Am slightly alarmed by this, because I assumed that we were seeing him and that he couldn't see us.  Because if he could, I am going to have a lot of explaining to do regarding hand gestures...

And when we came out I was all overexcited and had to be taken to a hotel and calmed down for a bit.  And I hadn't even eaten any Smarties or anything!

So, therein lies my discovery of the week. On the outside I'm..

while on the inside, I'm...

Only less cute, of course.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Daleks v Cherry Liqueurs. Daleks 0 - Cherry Liqueurs 2.

Today I stood up in front of some people and talked about my books.  No, it's all right, they wanted me to, or at least, no-one cried or ran away or tried to hold me down while big men came with pointy needles.  Not like last time.  Or the time before, come to that.

No, this time I was reading New Material.  That's what my underpants are made out of now, it's a miracle that holds everything in, or at least pokes it round the back where no-one can see it until you sit down and they ask if you brought your own cushion.

These are mine.  Double as a tent when you get caught out in the rain.  Also hold luggage, but buttock-lift is somewhat lacking.

Anyway.  My new material is the first few chapters of Please Don't Stop the Music, also available at Choc Lit's wonderous and near-magical page.  So I whipped it out and revealed it in front of these lovely and discerning people, whilst they ate a chocolate cream tea (which held them in place for long enough for me to get through my usual pre-reading talk - showing the emergency exits, procedures in case of a word-crash, two minutes of mumbling and one obscene hiaku) and cherry liqueurs (also supplied by Choc Lit, who know that the way to an audience's heart is through their rampant alcoholic-chocolate addiction).

This is me, doing it.  There were other people there too.  Honestly.  They are in the corner, cowering because I'd just hit them on the head with a well-placed cherry liqueur.  That is why everyone else is smiling, they are too terrified to stop.  I'm afraid I can offer no explanation why I appear to have light coming out of my nose and my grandmother's bed-jacket on, there was probably a good reason which I have forgotten on account of the chocolate liqueurs.

And it was all jolly good fun and I got to meet some lovely new people (who only ran away moderately fast when I knuckled my way over to them and introduced myself), and some of them offered to let my join their writing group as long as I gave enough notice for them to get away first.  Wasn't that nice?

And I also went to see Doctor Who Live in Manchester.  There were lots of small children there, and much bursting into tears, wetting of seats and hiding of eyes, but it was all right because my husband was there to mop up after me.  Daleks are scary.  Still, I bet I could take one out with a well-aimed cherry liqueur.

Right in the kisser with a chocolate one.  Hah.  I'm not afraid of you, I've got a box of walnut whips!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Don't look at my thighs. No, I mean it!

I have come to realise that this blog lacks a certain 'class'.  "No, Jane!"  I hear you cry.  "Surely, yours is the classiest blog on the net!"

Alas no, my friends. So, this week I had a brainwave, and decided that this week's blog is going to be classy and elite and refined, and will therefore be coming to you through the medium of ballet.

I realise this is going to come as a shock to you all, but I've been practicing 'en pointe' and I think I can carry it off.  So. First - the dance floor.  Rural Yorkshire villages aren't known for their sprung-wooden dance floors, or indeed much other than sheep and incest, so I had to obtain a floor in order to be able to bring you this Festival of Footwork, so I decided on a barn door propped up on bricks.  The Royal Ballet would be proud of me!

I don't have a barn.  But I did find a shed.  Some nifty screwdriver work, four breeze blocks and we're good to go!  They'll never miss it - they had gnomes!  Honestly.  Shed doors are too good for people like that.

Now, I don't really have the thighs for ballet, so you're going to have to avert your eyes from any action which takes place from the knees up, all right?  I shan't be wearing a tu-tu, because they don't fit and anyway would show my thighs so I shall be performing for you in a seven-seven, which is a lot larger.  Neither do I have ballet shoes, reckoning that anything that involves winding ribbons round the ankles and yet has nothing to do with bondage is just a waste of money, so I cut a couple of inches off the tops of my wellies and they fit perfectly.  As long as you ignore the kind of 'flop flop' noise.

Right, so, just to recap.  You're not looking above the knee and you're ignoring the noise, all right?  Okay.  Here we go.

Hneeryeerr! Jump jump, left leg bend, veloute...chassseur...

Oh, whoops, sorry, I'd forgotten about the hinges.  Ah well, never mind you can grow some new teeth can't you? And, honestly, your nose looks better like that.  There's far too much fuss made about noses being straight and not being able to breathe round corners, I think it's an improvement.

Right.  Here I go again. 

                                                          Like this, but in wellies. 

Canape, canape, bouillon...twist, wiggle.   And rest.

There.  I hope you all feel culturally enabled and that you all enjoyed that little thing I did with my elbows.  I know some of you think the music lacked a certain 'something' for ballet but I prefer to think that performing ballet to the output of Mister Wagstaff's Amazing Flatulence Orchestra shows a dedication to my craft, don't you?

Now if someone could find my wellies and bring them back, that would be marvellous.  And stop looking at my thighs.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Snot, Bill Oddie, and the Squeaky Nose mystery.

Here's a thought.

Here's another one.  Let's wait until they bump into each other and form an idea, shall we?  You might want to supply your own 'tumbleweed' noises, we could be in for quite a wait.

You see, I've had a cold.  And when I have a cold, all my thought processes cease to function,  I think it's something to do with my having to produce my own bodyweight in snot every 24 hours.  Honestly, where does it all come from?  And then there's the dread of being caught without a tissue - one really good projectile sneeze and me and everyone around me is festooned with something like Hell's answer to christmas tinsel.  Which is then followed by the 'furtive blow', when you have to use your sleeve or T shirt hem or hood to clear up after yourself without anyone having occasion to ask 'are you wiping your nose on your shirt?'  The good old "Is that Bill Oddie?" technique works well here, misdirecting attention (or at the very least making everyone climb underneath the table) for long enough for sinus clearance to take place.  Of course, this only works once, more than that and everyone gets a bit suspicious. After all, just what would Bill Oddie be doing half way down my hallway at nine o clock on a Friday night?

He might look innocent, but you don't want it peering through the bannisters at you, do you?

And, let me tell you, a cold has side-effects, including the dreaded 'Squeaky Nose'.  I was awoken by same, one night last week.  Lay there for a while, listening to the 'ooooowEEEEEEE' sound of my own breathing until it reached irritation point.  Got up.  Blew nose.  Lay down again.  Peace reigned for several seconds, and then the 'oooooooowEEEEEE' returned, now with added echo-effect.

Turned over.  Noise now became heavier on the 'OOOOOOOOO' with the 'eeeeee' happening in the minor register.

Sat up and poked nose vigorously with tissue.  Half brain fell out on bed.  There was momentary silence during which I lay down again and closed eyes, only to be hit with 'Squeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo'.

Got up.  Used nose drops until back of head felt like I'd been inhaling sherbet.  Wandered around house until sure noise was gone, then returned to bed.  Lay down.  'OOooooooEEEEeeeeee'.

Timing now different.  Held breath to check.  'OOoooooEEEEEEooooooo'.

Got up and shut window. Bloody owls.

This is the face they make while they're doing it.  So they can pretend to be surprised that you've caught them.

So now I'm several nights' sleep adrift, my brain has turned to mushy peas, and I have to think of an entertaining and informative subject on which to blog.

Look.  Over there!  Isn't that Bill Oddie? 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Dating Shakespearian characters and learning The Handshake.

I live in a hamlet in North Yorkshire.  There's probably about seventy other people in here with me, which is quite a lot to fit inside even a major Shakespearian character, particularly with all the madness and the murder and stuff.  I suppose it could be worse, some of my friends live in an othello just down the road, and are sick of finding hankies all over the place.  And waking up to find that you've moved into a juliet is only going to invite lewd jokes and hand gestures, and you'll NEVER be able to invite the in laws round.

Which brings me to my point of the day.  If you had to date a Shakespearian character, which one would you want to go out with?  I'd probably plump for Banquo's Ghost, who sounds like he might be up for a jolly time, and at least you'd only have to pay for one of you to get into clubs and concerts.  Plus he wouldn't eat much, so he'd be a really cheap date as long as you could put up with all the insubstantial stuff and the moaning and everything.  Either him or one of the minor ones.  I mean, going back to Hamlet again, what about Osric?  A Courtier?  He's going to be really grateful for any attention, isn't he?  Which, in turn, is going to mean lots of flowers and chocolates and pathetic gratitude whenever you take him out, like a dog which has been allowed into Hotel Chocolat.

Any takers for Macbeth?  Anyone?  Look, he's quite handsome if you ignore the blood and the knife and... okay, yes, I see your point.  You're probably better off with the witches.

Yes, I know it's unfashionable to be seen out with anyone from Shakespeare's oevre (no, not his egg, that's an oeuf.  Anyway, what the hell would I mean about you being seen out with anyone from Shakespeare's egg?  That doesn't mean anything).  Most of them are doomed to being overly 'amusing' ...yes, Falstaff, I'm looking at you, you and your drunken 'jokes', or just plain doomed.  Getting friendly with some boozed up overweight guy who cracks semi-witticisms would be just like hanging round the nightclubs in Sheffield or Hull, and going out with some of the doomier ones would be like dating a Sixth Former, all that angst and woe and bad poetry.

Angst and woe but at least his poetry rhymes.  And he isn't in Sixth form.  At least, not the one I work at. Sigh.

Oh.  And in Other News.... Kate Johnson (who is a friend of mine, well, I say 'friend', she hasn't bitten me yet or had me committed, so that's a positive sign isn't it?) has just been offered a contract with those wonderful people at Choc Lit!  So she'll be One of Us!  We'll have to teach her the Handshake, obviously, and the Walk, but after she's got those down, her Untied Kingdom novel will be one to watch for.  And so will she, if she's doing the Handshake and the Walk at the same time...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Cheesy remembrances - or how I demolished my friends.

Yesterday I was perched on the edge of my cheeseboard, contemplating the fromage-related events of the day, when I was contacted by an old friend.

Now, when I say old, I don't mean old, obviously, because I want to live and not lose all my fingers to a tragic 'accident'.  Whereas I have aged in a cheesy way by becoming more veiny and dimpled and possibly gaining a smell which has a character all its own, my friend (or, as we shall call her 'Lin', because it's her name), has aged like wine, becoming more full-bodied and luscious.  And expensive, but that's another story for another time and another website, one with 'GirlsGirlsGirls' in the title.

And this made me think. Which is quite a feat in itself, because it normally needs quite a large thunderstorm and the application of some greased electrodes to achieve this result. 
This was me trying to remember where I left the car keys.  Cheeseboard not shown.

How many of my old friends (still using the term to mean 'long time' and not 'aged', Lin, if you're reading this) am I still in touch with?  And by 'in touch' I mean, you know, Christmas cards and phone calls and things and absolutely NOT standing around outside their houses with a long-lens trying to get a picture of them climbing out of the bath - apparently friendship and restraining orders are two seperate things!  Who'd have guessed!

And then I answered my own question, which caused quite a few raised eyebrows and funny looks.  Note to self - when answering own questions, probably best not to do it aloud whilst standing in queue at the bank -  not many.  There are a few who look me up on 'Cheesebook' now and again, (tagline 'come for the chat, stay for the crackers') and I occasionally catch fleeting glimpses of familiar-looking hairstyles dashing down the road away from me whenI turn around suddenly.  But, apart from that, and the aforementioned full-bodied luscious one, most of my friends are new.

And then I worked out why.

And I'm really sorry.

I have to say at this point, I really didn't know what would happen if I pushed that giant button with the words 'School Demolition device - Do Not Press (unless you're the Head and it's been a really trying Friday)'.  To me it was just a big red button. 

I tripped, all right?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A midweek uncovering

Aha!  For all those of you who thought I only blogged at weekends (on account of only being allowed out of my cheeseboard then), here I am midweek!  And I have a special little treat for you - my new cover!  It's just been released, or perhaps I should say, unleashed and I hope that you agree with me in thinking that it's very pretty!  D'you know, I don't even care if you don't agree with me, I think it's a damn fine cover, featuring a girl who looks very much like my heroine Jemimia, beads which look very like the kind of thing that she works with in the story and a guitar, which looks very much like...errr..a guitar!  And, yes, there is a guitar in the book!
See?  See?

Oooh, now I'm all over-excited and attracting flies again.  I'd better go and lie back on some crackers until I feel more myself.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Men's pants and erroneous leopards

Hello my dearies.  And also my cheapies.

Now, the other day I was sitting (well, no, actually I was squatting and hovering, in the approved 'using a foreign toilet' way which, now I come to think of it was rude because she's a friend and her sofa was quite clean), when I had a realisation.  This blog has been going for numpty-numpty weeks now, and yet you know so little about me!  Other than that I write books and can talk about nothing for ages.  So I have decided to rectify that, with this week's post, where I shall edify you!  Yes, this week's post takes the form of that thing that is so popular on Ye Olde Face-e-booke, the '10 things you didn't know about me'.  Hold on to your hats and prepare the line to the Daily Mail, some of these things may shock you....

1.  I collect men's underpants.  Well, no, collect is probably the wrong word... what is the word I'm thinking of?  Ah yes, perve over.  But only those nice tight ones, not the baggy things that look like some kind of cross between a loin cloth and a skin condition.  And they must be tight because they're designed that way, not because the wearer bought them when he was fifteen and has worn them ever since, forty intervening years and nine accumulated stone notwithstanding.

2.  I am made of cheese.
3.  I knew the Lord of the Rings when he was still known as the Prince of Diamante Brooches. Nice lad,  big fan of the Sound of Music.
4.Um.  I must be able to think of more than three fascinating facts about myself.  Did I mention the cheese thing?  Oh.
5.  All right, stop it now.  Oh, no, hang on, I've just thought of another one. I can call buzzards.  No, really.  I make this kind of squeaky-whistling noise with my tongue, and ....look, it's like a whistle, sort of 'thweeep thweep', all right?  I can't explain it any better than that.  Anyway.  Buzzards seem to like it.

This is a buzzard.  Just in case you thought they were, like, leopards or something.  Look, I'm making no judgements here about your general state of intelligence - honestly, the number of times I've been talking to someone about, ooh, I don't know, Vichyssoise or something, and they'll have this intelligent face on and apparently be really interested in what I'm telling them only to turn round at the end and say 'vichyssoise?  Those are those little insects, aren't they?'  So.  I'm just saying.  Buzzards look like this.

                                                                This is a leopard.

6.  I can tell the difference between a buzzard and a leopard.  So few can.  Honestly, it's a tragedy.
Now, let's gloss over the fact that Interesting Facts 7 through to 9 are really boring, and go straight for number 10.
10.  I am incredibly irresistible to the opposite sex. And you, you can stop sniggering, some men really like women who are made of cheese and can make conversation with buzzards.

And with those interesting facts, I shall leave you for now.  It's time to walk the leopard.

Monday, 13 September 2010

We never put a healthy @#*$ down.

As any of you who have paid even the scantest attention to me recently will know, I am in the process of editing my new book (Please Don't Stop the Music- published 01 February by Choc Lit publishing, available from Amazon and all good book retailers shortly). 

And it may astonish you to know - for I am a clean living and well spoken individual - that a major portion of my editing is taking out swear words.

Aw, come on, can you imagine this face swearing at you?  This is a face that likes kittens!

So now I must put out an appeal.  Let us find homes for these now-unwanted swear words!  Yes, a bugger is for life, not just for Christmas!  And besides, I'm up to my knees in them, I mean seriously, and these things are expensive to maintain.  So, if you feel you can take a homeless swear-word to your heart, then make a donation today, or even offer a home to a lonely bloody.  These words were someone's vocabulary once; they were loved, appreciated, given a place in a sentence and now they find themselves excised from a manuscript with no sense of remorse! Cast out into the lonely cold world!  Doesn't it bring a tear to your eye?

Give what you can now and maybe you can save a sodding hell from a miserable end.

Imagine their little faces when they open the box and a bastard and two pillocks jump out to greet them!

And now, with your guilt well and truly invoked, I must leave you to return to my rehoming of all those dubious words... and I'll put you down for a buggery, shall I?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Magazines called Bum stop you being a vampire, apparently.

Although I have ridden horses for many, many years, not one single photo of me on a horse exists.  There are many pictures of me standing next to horses, however.  I think this is odd.  Does it indicate that every time I get onto a horse I become a vampire?  Is horse-riding a major cause of temporary vampirism?  Because, you know, I don't remember any of this in 'Buffy'...

I'm riding the one in the middle.  Edward Cullen is on the bay and Spike is at the front.  Mitchell fell off.  And, if you look carefully, you can see my medieval siege weapon in the foreground.

This is just one of the major discoveries I've made during the past week.  I am a part time vampire.  It's amazing the things you find out, going through your holiday photos.

Other discoveries include:

Slovenian's have a ....well, odd taste in reading matter.  Oh, and that I'm apparently not a vampire when standing in the middle of a supermarket holding a magazine called 'Bum'.

Two of my children are secretly book-ends.  Never realised this.  Call me Missus Unobservant if you want.  Also, map-reading - not vampiric.

I am scared of heights.  Look closely at my face in this picture.  (Whoa, not too closely, you might want to try alternating eyes to avoid major sight-damage).  If that face does not have 'terror' written all over it then it's only because my pen ran out, what with writing 'help' messages and lowering them down the stairs.

That I have been brainwashed by Lord of the Rings, into believing that woodland elves are beautiful.  Sigh.  Not a mistake I shall be making again.

There. I hope you've all enjoyed a quick canter through my holiday snaps.  If you wish to see any more then do pop over, I shall be pleased to regale you with all two thousand pictures, wine and cheese, and possibly a slap around the face when you start to drift off at around picture one thousand four hundred and nine.

And now I have to go and find a cure for horse-borne vampirism.  I suspect it involves secret herbs, incantations at midnight and a hefty application of a rolled-up copy of the Radio Times.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Slovenia, ice-cream legs and non-bouncy pork.

Ah, there you are, my chucklebunnies, I was beginning to wonder where you had got to.  You have been remarkably patient in my absence and hardly torn any of the wallpaper off, for which I commend you.  Now, gather close, for I wish to tell you tales of my travels - for I have wandered, my dears!  Oh yes.  And now I am returned once more to your bosoms.. although I can tell from here that some of those bosoms are a little artificially augmented, are they not? Anyway, clasp me to your lumpy bits, for I have such wonders to impart...

Slovenia.  A country with a language which sounds like the pronunciation of a really bad hand in Scrabble, and place names which seem to have been taken from minor characters in a Doctor Who episode.  After a few days in Lublijana  we moved out into the country to stay on a farm called Tilnik, just outside the village of Stopnik - which, I think you will agree sound like they should be evil twins, bested by the Doctor with nothing but a cutting phrase and some quick-thinking.  We ate many, many ice creams whilst sweltering in the 30 degree heat, swam in rivers as clear as swimming pools (and a lot cleaner), visited lakes, castles, goats (although we didn't have to pay to visit the goat, she was just kind of ... there).

Us in Lublijana.  The man on the end is my husband, not Mafioso, and he's not ambitiously over-iced, he's holding mine while I take the picture. It was so hot that my ice creams kept melting before I could eat them and I had trails of vanilla and chocolate all down both my legs for most of the day.  No one else seemed to have the same problem.  Hmmm.

Lake Bled.  My family sit, unaware that on the castle behind them lurks a dragon, shortly to swoop down and carry them off to.. oh, hang on.  That was my day dream.  I am, once more, behind the camera, in a kindness to you all, because by now my hair had acquired a life of its own and was going out in the evening to clubs and things without me, and both my legs were covered in various flavours.  Also my clothes.  Later in the day, when everyone else ate another ice cream, I just sucked my T shirt.

The Wild Lake.  By the time we left it was positively livid.

So.  Slovenia. Beautiful, incomprehensible, architecturally bonkers, extremely friendly and untouristy.  Not unlike me, in fact.  Go, visit.  Stay at Tilnik (not Stopnik, he's the  more evil twin), where Kate will feed your children food that makes them realise that lasagne isn't supposed to hang on to the edges of the plate, and pork doesn't bounce or make a 'ping' sound when you try to cut it.

This is how I eventually dealt with the Ice Cream Problem.  Someone with a hammer is standing just out of shot.