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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Oh good Lord, she's going on about that bloody Midsommer Murders again...

Last night I watched Silent Witness.  I've never seen an episode before, but following Kate Johnson's Wednesday Hottie post over at Choc Lit I thought I'd give it a shot, purely in the interests of research and not at all to do with men in HazMat suits and those rather dinky plastic overshoes, which surely I cannot be the only woman in the world to find the last word in sexually attractive... 

Come on, admit it... You're feeling just a touch warm, aren't you?

Ahem.  Silent Witness. Well, imagine my surprise when I tuned in, not to find the arched eyebrows and dramatic makeup that I was expecting, not one caption board, and absolutely NO tinkly piano music! I was horrified!  There wasn't even a small, cute dog!  And then it dawned, slowly and painfully, somewhere around the third corpse.  It was the witnesses who were silent, not the entire programme!

But, on the positive side, there were lots and lots of plastic overshoes, so that was all right.  Unlike Midsommer Murders, which rarely features plastic overshoes but, as previously mentioned on this blog, does have quite a lot of foxes and owls.  I live in the middle of the, not Birmingham, the middle of the countryside.  And, yes, we do hear the odd owl (it's very odd, actually, name of Terrence, wears a cravat), and sometimes a fox will yip, but not every bloody time it gets dark. Midsommer must be crammed to the gunnels with wildlife (no, I don't know what a 'gunnel' is either. Something you can be crammed to though.  I once got crammed to the stairs during an exciting party when a game of Sardines got out of hand and the police were called.  We haven't found them either yet, even though we've gone right through the house shouting 'game's over, you can come out now!'  But I don't think gunnels are stairs.).   And what is it with all the 'Midsommers'?  Every week there's another one, Inspector Barnaby (there, I'm bandying names about like a regular fan!) has been to Midsommer Fishbucket, Midsommer Nappy, Midsommer Arrrgh, West Midsommer-in-the-Eyeball.... and not one of them has a tea-shop!  Whereas here in North Yorkshire, where we have sensible names like Wetwang and Wharram Percy, there are tea shops every hundred yards.

Sorry.  I'm sorry. It's just that I'm a writer and I don't get out much ('send help, they won't let me leave... they've locked all the doors and chained me to this laptop with the wonky keys and they're making me write books...').  But I do get to look at lots of pictures of plastic shoes, so that's all right, isn't it?

Just...phwooooarrrr.  Off for a little lie down, now...

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Another shortlisting! Am beginning to believe that I might be a Real Writer....

I used to think shortlists were those things that I took when I went shopping.  Those tiny pieces of paper ripped from old envelopes that bore unintelligible squiggles like 'rice and purple'.  Well, that's what it looked like.  Or, if I couldn't remember the actual word I might draw a picture which would, when faced with an entire supermarket full of possibilities, prove to be completely illegible.  My drawing abilities are excellent should you want a horse's head (years of practice as a young girl) or a box, but lacking in all other departments, and my shopping trips rarely require me to bring home a box of horse-heads.  Suffice it to say, my cupboards are stuffed with random artifacts (why is it that I always buy cans of beans?  Why?   No-one even likes beans) and our meals are more trials of endurance than pleasant family activities.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, shortlists.  Anyway.  Following on my recent triumph at the RoNA's, where my shortlisting for Romantic Comedy turned into an actual award (did I mention that I won an award?  Well, I did, I won an AWARD...) I can now reveal that I have also been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance!  

Yes!  This award was set up by Melissa Nathan's husband following her death from cancer at the tragically (and surely illegally early) age of 37 in 2006.  Melissa wrote books such as 'The Nanny', romantic comedy at its best, and the award was set up to recognise this genre (because not many people do recognise it.  A lot of people mistake it for next door's cat, or just plain old romance, or, in my case, tins of beans) and it is an absolutely HUGE honour to be shortlisted.  If you don't believe me, take a look at the other people listed with me!

AN AUTUMN CRUSH, Milly Johnson (Simon and Schuster)
GIRL ON THE RUN, Jane Costello (Simon and Schuster)
MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE, Jenny Colgan (Little Brown)
SUMMER LOVING, Allie Spencer (Arrow/Random)
YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME, Sarra Manning (Transworld)
PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC, Jane Lovering (Choc Lit)  (THAT'S ME!)

So I am doing the happy dance, and shall be until June 12th, which is when the ceremony is. Yes, there's a ceremony and everything!  And Jo Brand is there, and other lovely people like Joanna Trollope and Morwenna Banks and Sophie Kinsella, plus me and the other people on the shortlist!  Although I cannot guarantee that I don't miss the point entirely and send a box of horse-heads.  I have a special face prepared for the entire event, one that shows my shock and awe at being in such company, and probably one that has some kind of food-stains around the mouth, but I am sure that everyone will be far too polite to comment on this.

I am off to practice it RIGHT NOW. And also eat beans.  We can't get into the kitchen any more, and I think there might be someone in there underneath the tins, vague cries of 'help' have been heard.  Although, that might have been the yoghurt...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Yoghurt - what more can happen?

I am indebted to my eldest daughter for today's blog.  We were standing before an open fridge (it's all right, it was our fridge, we don't make a habit of breaking in to unsuspecting people's houses and opening their fridges.  We don't even make a habit of breaking in to suspecting people's houses.  This, I reason, would only make their paranoia worse) and contemplating clearing out some of the more...errr...lively contents. There was actually a fist-fight going on between two sausages and a lump of something green, which had been there so long that they had achieved, not just sentience, but a form of civilisation.  I think they worshipped chorizo, or something.
I suppose they sing 'Oh Come, All Ye Fatful'...

Anyway.  There we were, cheering on the green stuff (we always root for the underdog.  And under my dog there is quite a lot of green stuff.  He's either been swimming in the pond again or he's going mouldy) and thinking about what to throw away, when it occurred to me - cheese is basically milk that's gone off.  As is yoghurt. Everything that can happen to yoghurt has already happened.  The strange black blobs floating on the surface are merely a courtesy detail.  Similarly mushrooms.  Mushrooms are what happens to other things.  And since ninety per cent of the contents of my fridge are cheese, yoghurt and mushrooms - there was no need to clear them out.  They'd gone as far as they were going!

I mean, what happens to mushrooms when they go mouldy?  Hmmmm?  Some sort of recursive process, whereby they grow mushrooms on them?
Mushrooms don't go mouldy, they just give each other piggybacks.

And, upon this earth-shattering realisation, I closed the fridge door and went off to do something more interesting.  Now all I have to do is train the limescale in the shower into the shape of a soapdish and I need never do housework again, ever!

And, yes, 'Yoghurt - what more can happen?' is an excellent t-shirt slogan...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Wet socks with a view, snow, and absolutely no mention of David Mitchell whatsoever. I promise. See - sometimes an injunction DOES work!

And a very Happy Easter to all my reader.  Do pop round later, I've got a Cadbury's Creme Egg with your name on and a...oh.  Well, you can lick the foil. And, if you're very good, I might let you sniff the tin where the chocolate used to be.  Now.  Since it is officially Spring, I thought I'd tell you about the lovely walk I went on on Good Friday. It went up Ingleby Incline and around the top, for those of you swots who want to look it up on a map.  Sit up straight, there are illustrations and I might be asking questions later....

We set off far too early for my liking, but then any time between breakfast and bed is too early for physical activity as far as I'm concerned.  Myself, my other half and I were accompanied by a mad dog and a packet of banana sandwiches which, quite frankly, weren't a lot of help when it came to a vertical ascent of a slope that made Ben Nevis look like Ben Kingsley.  Look.
This doesn't give a true picture of the stepth of the slope.  But I'm actually lying on the ground panting, that's how steep it is.

Yes, people, there was SNOW.  And, let me tell you, the 'one step forward - slide back two feet' is not a good look for someone wearing a ridiculous hat.  I looked like a really, really unsuccessful cross-country skier.  But I consoled myself with the fact that the view from the top would be spectacular.  All right, it wasn't so much consolation as a fervently muttered prayer, but the thought was there.  Luckily there was a very nice view...

This was it.  Or, at least, part of it.  Another part shows me kneeling down and kissing the flat bit.  

So, you know, that was all right then.  But, at the top there was more snow.  I mean serious stuff.  Not a couple of inches of potential snowballs and tree decoration, no, this was snow that meant it.  And, let me tell you now, I do not have the legs for snow.  Watching me attempt to walk nonchalantly through a snowfield is like watching Doctor Frankenstein's monster out for a bit of a stroll with his legs on backwards and not enough knees.  There was lurching, people!  I half expected some kind of mob with pitchforks to come after me!

I put my left leg in and then neglected to put my left leg out again.  It was the worst hokey cokey ever seen...
So we hitched up the insane dog, who unfortunately isn't a sledge-dog and therefore either pulled us face-down into the snow or ran backwards, and headed along the top towards the increasingly distant downhill stretch.  Like this -

Steve and Dog entrudgulating their way across the snowfields of Yorkshire. Rescue helicopter not shown...
And then we ate the sandwiches.  They tasted a bit funny and had made the bread go all soggy but, hell, there wasn't a MacDonalds for miles, although I do think that the ice-cream van could have at least attempted the slope, because, you know, a Mr Whippy never offends.  And my boots were making a 'wop wop' noise as I walked and my socks had gone stiff.  And I had a wet bottom where Dog had done this...

Only faster.

And that is the tale of my Good Friday excursion. Luckily for you I shall be spending Easter Day mostly at home, consuming my own bodyweight in chocolate and waddling a short distance to the toilet and back.  I won't show you the pictures of that, if you don't mind.

Now, off you go, and enjoy yourself.  Don't mind me, I'm still wringing snow out of my socks and trying to treat frostbite of the buttock.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

In which I am all British and talk about the weather and don't mention David Mitchell or my Award at all...

This is now...

That was last week...  

Now, I don't know about your part of the world (because, despite persistent rumour and my most avid attempts, I am not omnicognisant, even if I do give that impression due to my almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Doctor Who and Babylon Five), it has been quite warm here in Yorkshire.  Surprisingly, even given that we are further North than some parts of Iceland (no, all right, that's not quite true, but it certainly feels it, especially on a February morning at six o' clock when the wind is whistling through my nightie and there's a small snowfall on the sofa), that warmth has meant that even yours truly has taken off a layer!

A layer of what, I hear you cry, for am I not more layered than a layer cake made of onions?

Well, a layer of dirt for a start, for Spring sees the return of my annual bath. But mostly a layer of clothing, for I divested myself of a fleece and a cardigan only this past Wednesday. And then came the worry of the Summer Wardrobe...

I know people (and do not recoil in surprise, because although I might not get out much I have a wide social circle.  All right, it's not a very long circle, but it is wide.  Sort of, more of an ellipsis, I suppose.  More a thick line really, now I come to think of it.  But it's there...) who have completely separate wardrobes for Summer and Winter.  Completely!  Like, different cupboards and everything!  Whereas my summer wardrobe is simply my winter wardrobe minus a couple of layers of wool.  Every June I hang up my long-johns, whereupon they drag upon the floor because, due to a sizing mishap, I got long-johns that are more long than john and have to wear a cushion strapped to my middle to avoid walking out of my own underwear, discard at least one layer of fleece like a sheep caught in a particularly thorny bush, and leave my woolly hat and earmuffs at home.
Sexy, huh?  Just picture me wearing them...all right, you can stop picturing now.  I said STOP IT!  It's not healthy...

And every June this turns out to be a terrible mistake.  But because I live in Yorkshire (motto 'It Might Be Cold But We Will Not Weaken') I carry on wearing my Summer Wardrobe.  It's Summer, after all!

And now the weather is cold again, and, apparently, it's going to snow tomorrow.  But it took effort to get those long-johns stuffed into that cupboard, and if I open the door I worry that they might burst forth , propelled by all that potential energy (and six months' worth of dirt) and that I will be trapped underneath them until rescued.  And they're in the same cupboard as my fleece, my cardigan, my extra-thick jumper and my vest.. 

Besides, now I've got the 'garden furniture' out and it took hours to drag the sofa and table out through the window, so it can stay out there.  And the only things I have left to wear that won't kill me are a floaty top and a skirt that looks like a tablecloth. 

I'm going to be cold, aren't I?