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Sunday, 28 October 2012

The secret of time. It's very simple, and delicious with mint sauce.

Let me start this blog by saying - last night the clocks went back an hour.  We all knew that, right?  I mean, none of you have been sitting there drumming your fingers and looking at your watches, muttering 'where is she?' and 'late again, Lovering?', and such purjorative remarks, have you?  Well, good, I'm glad we've established that, because today I am going to break to you some news that may take some digesting.

Are you ready?

Yesterday I was doing a book signing in York. Where I sat, in Waterstones, for two hours.  And, yes, I got to sign books and talk to people, and lots of lovely things happened, but, essentially, I was sitting down for two hours.  Well, apart from the few minutes when I had to get up and have a wee.  And those two hours were loooooooong hours, let me tell you.  I suppose I could have enlivened my time a touch by eating a big bun, but there's something inherently unattractive about an author, well, I suppose about me, specifically, sitting in front of a pile of books and shoving a sticky pastry into my mouth, so I didn't.  I forebore.

But!  Later, I was at home, doing 'authorly things' (contrary to the opinion of many, those authorly things don't involve lying on a sofa being fed grapes by a shirtless Johnny Depp.  Although, both lying on a couch with Johnny and the activities I actually partook in, involved flushing and plunging, one involves bleach and the other doesn't.)

Just take a rough guess as to which was involved.  Go on...

And, within mere seconds of the final, successful flush, it was time to go to bed.  And so, I formulated my theory, which goes thusly - time in the city moves much more slowly than time in the countryside.  And there is only one possible conclusion to be drawn from this.  What do we have much, much more of in the countryside than in towns?

Sheep suck time.  The denser the concentration of sheep, the faster the time goes, in some valleys in Wales it is already 2013, and New Zealand celebrated the year 2020 several decades ago. And so, I have solved this little 'why does time move faster sometimes than at others' conundrum!  When one wants time to slow down, ie, when on holiday or performing a pleasurable task, or when a deadline is permeating your life with the slow dread of a sprout-fart in a church hall, simply ensure that your life is as free from sheep as you can make it.  Time will instantly slow to a crawl. Alternatively, when looking forward to an event and therefore wishing for time to rattle past, try sitting in a field with a bucket of whatever sheep eat, and let the little woolly time-suckers do the work for you!

I don't know why it's taken everyone so long to figure this out, actually.  Go and ask the average farmer if he ever has time for a manicure, or for a fortnight's cruise around the Canary Isles.  You may wish to wear a protective helmet, because the answer may well be propelled with some force.

Physics, huh, there are few problems that cannot be solved by an author who hasn't got a sticky bun. Or Johnny Depp.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Inside out, grab and roll, a beginner's guide to Duvets... with gratuitous Johnny Depp, and added Strictly.

Why don't duvet covers have zips?  I've always thought it was so that you didn't have that horrible sensation in the middle of the night, when you've tugged the duvet up under your chin as far as it will go, only to then have the ghastly press of icy metal over your toes, a bit like Edward Scissorhands trying to get into bed with you.  Although, as ES was played by the gorgeously lovely Mr Depp, I'm not sure that comparison quite works, since, even if he'd just come straight from the Arctic I can't quite see myself not allowing him to sneak under my duvet.  Oh well.

You would, wouldn't you?

Back to my original question. Why don't duvets have zips?  They either have those inadequate plastic press-stud things, which, given an active night with much twisting and turning, give way with sounds like tiny party-poppers being let off (which, if you are undergoing a night of that kind of activity, can be immensely cheering, like having a crowd encouraging you.  A bit of applause is always welcome too,) or those buttons, which inevitably fall off and leave you with a duvet which bulges out of the bottom of its cover like a large lady wearing a too-tight crop top.

I ask this question, rather idly, because it is a Sunday morning and I have just watched the inevitable spectacle of a man trying to re-cover a duvet.  I thoroughly recommend this as a hobby, by the way, the watching, obviously, not the doing.  It would make a great TV show, get a series of celebrities to put new covers onto duvets, against the clock and to music... (hurries off to sell idea). 

Imagine this, without the woman but with a duvet... See what I mean?  And this picture is from the Daily Mirror, who have also clearly seen the possibilities....

I have tried to explain that it's quite simple.  You turn the cover inside out, grab the corners of the duvet itself and then sort of roll the cover onto the duvet.  It's like putting a coat onto a small child.  I have even demonstrated on numerous occasions.  Inside out, grab and roll...  And then I stand back and watch a man turn it into a cross between



I don't really think that zips would help, of course.  Unless the covers unzipped all the way round, like a sleeping bag...and, yes, I know, for every man that can't stuff a duvet cover there are seventeen women who can't either, and he can do things that I can't, well, I'm still not entirely sure what brake calipers are and I'm rubbish at paying bills on time. But, still - TV show in the making?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cat Limbo, The 'corset, stockings and suspenders' trap for the unwary Googler, and where you can come and see me, in Real Life

If it weren't for my calendar, I'd be lost.  Literally, lost.  Temporally, I mean, I'd have trouble getting geographically lost in my own house, although I suppose that thing where you go into a room and then wonder what you went in for is the Home equivalent of driving to Cromer and then wondering why you bothered.  Not, I hasten to add, that I have anything against Cromer. Anyway.  Calendar.

I write all my appointments on my calendar, as soon as I make them, which is all lovely and nice and means that I have a record of where I'm meant to be at any given time.  Unfortunately, the calendar on which I write everything IS NOT the calendar I actually work from, because the calendar on which I write appointments is in my bedroom, tacked up to my bookcase.  I make a lot of appointments via my computer, all right?

Like this.  Only without the marshmallows.  You saw NOTHING....
  But the calendar that I actually LOOK AT is stuck to the back of the front door (well, it's not the actual front door, it's the door that leads to Cat Limbo, which is our name for the cold, damp, spider infested porch between the real front door and the house proper.  It's full of wellingtons and outgrown coats and recycling bins and advertising circulars and often several cats, who have come in from outdoors and not yet gained ingress to the house proper, and are therefore in Cat Limbo.  Not, you know, dead and waiting for entrance to Cat Heaven, because I think Cat Heaven is a given for any cat which has passed on.  I like to think it's a place full of pilchards and lazy mice.) and I check it for instructions before I leave for work every morning.  It's a kind of ritual, 'am I wearing my slippers? Do I have underwear on? Do I have any appointments for today?'

I think you can see where I am going with this....

Yes.  Today I happened to glance at my calendar, that's the upstairs calendar, the calendar that has all my actual things written on it, and will hereafter be known as Calendar One, and find that I have actual appointments this month that never became transferred to Calendar Two and therefore did not exist in my conscious mind!  Yes, proper writing appointments!  So, in the event of you being at a loose end on any of these dates, or having relatives you must visit in any of these places, or being a mad fan of me and wanting to press your actual eyes upon my living personage (don't get your hopes up, it's not that exciting), here are a few of them.

On Saturday 27th of October, I shall be at Waterstones in York, 1-3pm where I may (or may not) be dressed as a vampire.  I tell you this so that you don't turn up and ask why I came as a dribbling streetwalker.  That's my vampire costume, and I have false fangs in.  Probably.

On Wednesday 31 October (your actual Halloween), I shall be in Leeds, 1-3 again, similarly attired, although, since I have to go in on the train, I might not bother with the fangs, since asking for a ticket to Leeds whilst wearing enormous vampire fangs and talking through one of those speaky-gaps that makes you sound like R2D2 (no, not C3PO, and, yes, I do know the difference) may result in the purchase of a one-way ticket to Ae (which is near Dumfries.  A long way from Leeds).

On Saturday 03 November I shall be in Whitby Bookshop, again from 1-3, and yet again attired as a vampire.  It is Goth weekend, so I may well blend in, although blending in is difficult when you are wearing a corset.  My last blog post about book signings mentioned the words PVC Underwear, and has been one of the posts with the highest rate of hits..although I feel there have been some very disappointed readers, so I am hoping that mentioning the words Corset and Stockings and Suspenders will lead to an equally high number of visitors to this esteemed blog.  If you have come here as a result of googling such items of apparel - welcome!  I hope you....oh, they've gone.  Oh well, never mind.  But, yes, corset.  I should be easy to spot, I will be the one gasping asthmatically, and periodically vanishing behind my own boobs (if I duck, I can actually hide behind them for quite some time).

I will be as darkly alluring as this. Only probably less photogenic.  And less architectural, although that corset is built in a shipyard...
 Do come and see me, even if you only wish to point and laugh.  If you want to throw things, marshmallows are nice.  And also soft.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

I become a little over-dramatic about being a bit chilly.

Well, it's October again, and the armoured men are no longer sketching outdoors.

In other words, the knights are drawing in again.

Sorry.  It's been a long week and you really can't expect top-notch comedy from someone who has to get up before six every morning. In fact, you should consider yourselves lucky to get any comedy at all, because, due to the fast-dropping temperatures, I am numb from the collarbone down, and I stopped feeling my ears last week.  They may actually have fallen off, but since I don't wear glasses and rarely look in a mirror, this remains unsubstantiated.

So.  How are we all?  Enjoying the dazzling brilliance that is Autumn?  The chilly, longer nights punctuated by just a puff of woodsmoke; the array of colour as the trees change into their dowdy winter nightwear, the glisten of the occasional frost that bejewels the grasses in the early mornings?  Yes?  Then you are clearly people with efficient central heating, because for me, Autumn is the time when I don so many clothes that I am unable to bend my arms from late September through to April, wear socks so thick that I have to have my shoes specially made in a shipyard and develop an unnatural affinity for my electric blanket.

You like this?  Do you? Try imagining you're naked, standing in it....still liking it?  Perv.

Whilst I can fully appreciate the beauties of autumnal colours, I prefer to be appreciating them whilst toasty-warm, preferably from the steps of an aircraft bound for somewhere really hot, whilst sipping a glass of Pimms and wearing something floaty and appropriate only for the warmer climes for which I am bound.  Like snow.  You can only really appreciate snow when you don't have to slog four miles through it, up to your knees, just to get a pint of milk and a paper.  Snow is a bit like a tiger.  Beautiful, wild and untamed, and best seen through very thick glass, rather than at a distance of a few inches whilst fighting for your life.  Or a pint of red-top and the latest edition of Top Gear magazine, which, I freely admit, is not the same as death, even if Jeremy Clarkson is being really sarcastic about something.

It's my own fault.  I live in a house in which, when it is windy, all the curtains wiggle about even when the windows are closed and even the slugs grow a winter coat; it's a bit like being Victorian, only without the consumption and the aspidistra.  It's lovely in the summer, very airy and cool, except that we have to be careful about leaving the doors and windows open, because the chickens get in and put beakmarks in the butter, but apart from that and the bluebottles the size of Spitfires, it's fine.  Winter, however, is another matter...

So, I hear you asking, rather croakily, for my tale of chilly woe has caused tears to flood your dear little eyes, why don't you move?  Pack your meagre belongings which, we are led to believe, would barely fill a donkey-cart, and head elsewhere, where the temperatures are less knuckle-bitingly low, and the water is actually liquid between October the fifth and April the twenty-seventh?  Somewhere you can truly appreciate the wonders of nature as the seasons change and you roll about naked in temperatures exceeding thirty degrees centigrade behind triple-glazing?

EXACTLY like this.

Put it down to my being British.  Sturdy, with an upper-lip so stiff that you can use it to open bottles, I owe my rugged good looks to the bracing effects of the Yorkshire winter, which have so tightened my skin that I look twenty five, and when I frown it sounds like a tarpaulin flapping in a gale.  Besides, we British like to complain about the weather.  It gives us something to talk about, once we've exhausted the fascinating subject of Doctor Who!

I have to stop now. The frostbite in my fingers is such that I can no longer type and the wind is getting up.  I need to venture outside to chisel the washing off the line before dark, and before the sheets snap off.

I may be some time....