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Saturday, 27 December 2014

I suffer from a terrible lack of dates, and stamina jelly. Which isn't a thing, but should be.

When I was young..ahem, I mean younger obviously, I used to think that the days between Boxing Day and New Year didn't have any dates attached to them.  Not dates like
despite this being the period when these things are all that stand between us and scurvy, or some kind of turkey-induced coma, but the kind of dates that give the year a nice rounded shape.  I thought that we sort of stopped counting at December 26 and there was a blank on the calendar until we resumed with January 01 of the next year.  But then, I also thought that 'stamina' was the jelly stuff in dogfood (not my fault, in my defence, the adverts said Pedigree Chum was 'packed full of stamina' and I just made the slightly dodgy deductive leap - hey, I was about four and I had no idea what 'stamina' was...).  So this period between the overeating of Christmas Day and kicking off the New Year always became known as the Dead Days. 

The time when there's usually no work to go to (if, like me, you work in a school, I know that shop workers have it harder, and loads of service industries are beavering away), there's still far too much chocolate loitering around and usually an undiscovered tub of Cheesy Footballs rolling around under the bed, and a kind of heavy stupor about the days.  Every inch of me knows that I should be using this time productively (hey, I've got a book to finish) but my brain refuses to co-operate because it knows that there's another box of Orange Matchmakers behind the sofa and it will not work until every last calorie has been hoovered up.  By which time, of course, my stomach has come to the party and insists that it can't possibly do anything further until it's had a nice lie down and, possibly, a cup of tea.  Whereupon my eyes agree that they are shutting up shop for the day.  So, quite frankly, getting my outlying regions to work together for long enough to produce this blog post, is a bit of a triumph.
Roughly how my body feels right now. Except the willy. Ignore the willy.
So I think I might just give in to the whole 'lie down and eat' thing. Just for a few more days... I mean, there aren't even any real days yet, are there? Once I can start counting down 2015, I promise I'll do some things, but until then...pass me the Matchmakers and put the kettle on, would you?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Very Merry Christmas to my follower - I celebrate the season by watching thumping to music...

You may remember that some time ago I was persuaded to go to the ballet.  Yes, yes, I know you know that I only went because there was chocolate and nothing on the TV..  Anyway.  I was fairly traumatised by the experience of sitting watching men's groins going up and down (I know that, for some of you, this is verging on being a hobby, but I am a person of taste and decency...well, taste. Well, all right, neither of these, but men's groins are for life, not just for Christmas) and vowed never to return.

I was never a ballet kind of girl, you see. I've always had the kind of shape that makes a house brick look aerodynamic, and all the natural grace of a pebble in a pond.  I went for the horse-riding side of girlhood, where being five feet six inches tall meant that I should have ridden horses but having legs that make up a little less than one-eighth of my height meant that I had to ride little tiny ponies, otherwise I looked like a pea on a drum, with the result that, in fact, I looked like I was into equine oppression. 

Well today I made the return trip, somewhat against my better judgement. This time it was to see a performance by the Bolshoi ballet, relayed live to our local Arts Centre - yes, all right you cheeky bugger, we have Art here in Yorkshire!
Art. This is us, having it.
And, do you know, it was rather lovely?  Made me feel all Christmassy, bordering on jolly and, right at this minute, that is a pretty tough thing to do.  What with the house needing cleaning from rafters to floorboards, the tree having only been purchased this morning, presents still needing to be wrapped and all that. Plus, this is the Winter Solstice and I should be out there lighting a fire and feasting and celebrating the return of the sun, but I've barely got the energy to turn on the electric blanket, dunk a biscuit in my tea and wonder whether it's going to rain again or not.

So.  From my electrically heated bed, I raise a HobNob to you all and wish you a very Happy Festive Season - may you get everything you ever wanted, and if you don't, I hope they kept the receipt...

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Go easy on the gin. x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A little pre-Christmas panic

Okay, okay,  No, I can do this... Just breathe.....ahhhhhh. No, not like that, that makes me look as though I'm blowing out candles whilst massively constipated...


That's better.  Yes, as if my self-imposed calmness hadn't already alerted you, I have just realised that we have slipped, as if on a buttered banana skin, into the festive season - ie, sideways, arms flailing and shouting 'whhaaaaahhhhh!' It is that time of year again when we become inexplicably obsessed with getting that strange 'thing' off the back of the cooker that has been there since The Great Baking Incident of last May, steam cleaning the carpets and baffling the dog by attempting to dust down the back of his bed.  Never mind the buying, wrapping and dispersal of gifts, decorating the tree and sending the cards, Christmas, for me, is mostly associated with stain removal, dusting and other elements of housework which I am sure have names but with which I am insufficiently familiar to be able to identify.

Nope, no idea.  Anyway, yesterday was the day of our RNA Chapter Christmas meal, which took place at the home of the lovely Lynda Stacey. And her house is beautiful! It smelled of Christmas and had a trifle in it... I mean, the trifle was on the table, not like it was standing in the porch greeting allcomers, because that would be odd...but anyway TRIFLE, people!  I feel towards trifle much as I do towards HobNobs and Tony Robinson, although I mostly have my 'trifle feelings' around Christmas, whereas Tone and the HobNobs are pretty perennial.

So, anyway, there was trifle.  And crackers and hats.  And then I remember that, not only do I not have any trifle around for Christmas, I don't have any crackers. Or food. And I haven't dusted down the back of the dog's bed, and there's only ELEVEN DAYS TO GO - ten, if, like me, you stop counting on Christmas Eve and take to your bed with a sherry bottle and a family-sized pack of mince pies. The Day Job (hereafter known as TDJ. not to be confused with RDJ...

..because there are absolutely no points of symmetry AT ALL, sadly) ends on Friday, which gives me a total of five (or four, if you discount the 'day in bed with sherry') days to get everything done! And now I'm making that noise again, so, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and bake something random, whilst polishing the mop bucket, to give myself an air of control over the whole thing...


Sunday, 7 December 2014

An Interview with Liam Livings, who is a most pleasant young man, even if he doesn't like big dogs...

This week, to give you all a bit of a break from my constant whittering, which you bear manfully, I am giving you a treat! No, it's not chocolate. No, it's not kittens either - it's an interview with the truly fabulous Liam Livings.
So, once I'd got him strapped into the Questioning Chair...what?  Doesn't everyone have a Questioning Chair?  If not, why not, they are most valuable for exercises such as this.. I asked Liam some questions about his latest novel 'And then that happened'.

Firstly, introduce yourself...

I’m Liam Livings, I write gay romantic fiction, with British humour and lots of sparkle.
I’m a cat lover, an amateur baker, a classic car enthusiast. I love camp trashy films and dramas that
make me cry (Brothers and Sisters, Six Feet Under, Broadchurch, Walk Away And I
Stumble) I love to read *widely* from escapist glitz, some gritty(ish) crime, celebrity
autobiographies and popular romantic fiction. I live in the Essex Golden Triangle
– made popular by TOWIE. And I embrace all of its highlights, fake tan, handbags
on one arm, designer hairstyles (that’s just the men) whole heartedly. I have family
connections there so when we moved here from central London it was a bit like
moving home. Mum worked as a trainee hairdresser in the salon five minutes walk
from where we live now.
You can connect with Liam:
Twitter @LiamLivings

I have no idea why Liam's bit is so..well...paragraphular.  It's not like he talks, you know, all those spaces... anyway, onwards and upwards.

Now give us the 'elevator pitch' for your book...

It’s 1999 and 28-year-old Dominic’s carefully planned suburban life with his boyfriend
Luke is perfect. His job as a nurse, his best friend Matt, his relationship with his
parents, everything is just right. He and Luke have been together ten years, seen
each other through friends’ deaths and their parents’ ups and downs, and even had
a commitment ceremony.
Gabe isn’t happy with his boyfriend, but he stays with him, because, well it’s
Fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life. And then that happened. Gabe’s open
relationship, impulsive nature, enthusiasm for life and straight talking advice are
fascinating to Dominic. They’re friends, they click over a shared love of Goldie Hawn
and Gabe shows Dominic there can be more to life than planned and safe. So why
can't he take his own advice?
And Then That Happened is about finding a new kind of happiness, even when what
you have is already perfect. And how sometimes perfect isn’t quite what it seems.
It's available from and

So I want all of you to rush over there directly and purchase said book, right?

Dog or Cat?

Cat. I love dogs, but only small dogs (see my answer later). But there’s something
about cats, their only wanting to be affectionate on their terms, and on special
occasions that I admire. When a cat sits on your lap after it’s been fed, that’s a really
magical moment, I think.

Huh.  Liam has, I think you can tell, never met my dogs. Or my cats, either - nothing magical about Zach sitting on your lap, just a faint, indefinable smell.

Favourite T shirt slogan?

Hello Sailor! (in pale blue on a grey T shirt I bought at Brighton Pride many years
ago. It always got looks whenever I wore it.) I’d like one that said ‘I’m Liam, fly me’
but I think that would have worked better when I was single, and in the first flushes of

What would you spend a million pounds on?

I’d buy a slightly larger house (making sure it was mortgage free) a bit further into the
Essex countryside with a barn and ‘carriage’ driveway (yellow crunchy gravel and my
initials in the gates – it’s Essex obvs) and I’d buy some classic cars – a Citroen DS, Citroen SM
wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_SM (I like my cars, weird, seventies and French). I’d give my
brother and sister in law enough to buy them a house without a mortgage. I’d take
me, Mum and my brother on holiday with our partners. And I’d put the rest in the
bank (if I were in charge of spending, rest assured there would be some left for the

Dairy produce, absolute necessity or food of the devil?

Let me put it to you this way – I don’t smoke, I hardly drink, but I have a chocolate
crate in the under stairs cupboard. It is *always* stocked with various chocolate
goodies, biscuits, Crunchies, Fry’s orange creams, Dairy Milk Tray, etc. So without
dairy products I’d not be able to have all that. So an absolute necessity. I always
have organic full fat milk – I like to live a bit dangerously you see ;-)

Look, here is a man who has a SPECIAL CHOCOLATE CRATE!! Never mind buying his book, we should have him framed...

When expecting short-notice visitors, where do you hide the mess?

I very rarely have short-notice visitors – I think it’s a London thing. People in London
never ‘just pop in’ on people, it’s always planned. The only person who’d drop in
short notice-ish is Mum, who’s 2hrs drive away, and I’d leave any mess around
because 1) she’s family 2) her house is hardly a show home from the Ideal Homes

Acres of wilderness or busy city?

Halfway between the two – suburbia. Mum lives in the New Forest in a tiny village,
but it’s only 20mins from Southampton or Salisbury. I’m an hour from central London,
or a short drive to open countryside of Essex. Compromise is my watchword, I feel.

Would you prefer to meet an emu or a moose?

An emu – I’d want to see how small its head was and how long and powerful its legs

If you were a dog, what breed would you be?

A Papillon – a toy spaniel. Fancy
looking, playful, lots of running about.

Cocktails or straight up vodka?

Neither – I make a terrible drunk. I usually end up in tears or doing a multicoloured
yawn onto the floor, or both. So I seldom drink, and rarely drink to get drunk. I may
have a snowball with a glace cherry or a frangelico at Christmas, but apart from that
a half of bitter and I’m done.

Why write romance?

Because those are the stories that come to me. I enjoy writing about human
relationships, love, loss and that’s what *I think* romance is about.

Here is the cover of Liam's Latest...

..which I trust you are rushing out to buy right at this moment, in fact..oh.  They've gone.  Let's hope they've gone to Amazon and are not, right at this moment, attempting to gain access to the chocolate crate...