Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow on the Edge

Inspired by Cuspie, some photos of where I be, in deepest Sussex. Cheating, because they are taken by my neighbour-over-the-road who has a talent for this sort of thing.

The last photo is of Signs Cottage, the lit up window our living room.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Life Goes On - Bra

I recently went to a shopping mall - I had to, the bra situation wouldn't wait any longer. I went to the M & S lingerie department for a "fitting". A nice woman, softly-spoken with a look in her eyes that suggested she had seen it all before (the state of my underwear, my soul, me) took my measurements and brought me a selection. I tried them on for size, decided they would do and bought the lot because, as I told the nice woman, I didn't want to be coming back for another three years or so. There was a depth of understanding in her nod. You have to be in the right frame of mind for a bra-fitting, she said. Which I never am. Nor in the right frame of body, and I am not talking about the size of my Bristols. If I had spilled the beans right there in the cubicle, about the sheer cliffs of fatigue and how the mere notion of shopping mall finds me perpendicular in Babylon as I remember Zion (may the words of my mouth, O Lord, be acceptable in Thy sight), she would have sat with me and wept. At such times one depends and projects mightily on the kindness of strangers. But anyway, the story does not end there, for when I got home I found that two of the bras did not fit and had nasty hard plastic things that dug into my armpits, so back I go today for refund, for swap. Business concluded I return to the car and find myself trapped on level five for forty five minutes, it is a quarter to five, everyone wants out and there is gridlock. I telephone Mr. Signs who telephones the shopping mall who promise to alert Security. The situation resolves eventually, as things do.
Brighton tomorrow, taking mother shopping the day after, meal out with writerfriends on Thursday, curry night with neighbours on Friday, carol concert Saturday - life really does go on. And my story too, bursting to be written and asking for my undivided attention.

Monday, December 7, 2009


We were given early Christmas presents last night by son, who has today left for India, where he will be for five months or so. Then this morning he said, oh I nearly forgot, and gave us each one of those round chocolate orange things, the dark one for me. I baked gingerbread biscuit shapes for his journey, but he only took a few as they wouldn't have allowed it through the check points. I was dithering about whether to go to the airport. Didn't in the end, muscles hurting, I said goodbye in the kitchen, he left with his dad. All grown up, the lovely boy, he was four years old our first Christmas here, we gave him a dark doll and he named it Reuben.

I am eating gingerbread stars, hearts, little men that look like the figures on exit signs, and wedges of chocolate orange. The cat howls and does not know why, but I do, and I tell her that he will be back in May.

All day it has been so dark. I went out and bought more candles.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Own Brand

Perhaps it is not a surprise that I didn't manage 50,000 words in November. I should say, though, that I was "on track" half way through the month, just before going down with flu proper. My revised target was then to reach 30,000 by the end of the month, that representing a respectable 1,000 a day, and I am exactly 399 words short of this - a bit annoying, but still. I did what I could, and it has been worth the doing, for I now feel that 1,000 a day is manageable - just - and I have, in spite of everything, produced something I want to carry on working with.
I am post-viral, very, and this is the real bastard, not the actual flu which conducted itself in a predictable and proper fashion - one feels ill, yes, but it is a normal, healthy kind of ill with stages and resolutions. This too will pass. I had a scary bout of asthma, not too bad, but reminding me of the time I was hospitalised with it and each out breath felt as though it might be the last. I have the toothache - nothing (apparently) wrong, but something has agitated the nerve, which hammers most insistently to be acknowledged. Hello nerve, hello tooth. Talking of which: hello heart, hello psyche. Yes, I know, but would you ever just pipe down and let me get on with, you know, things.

So here we are again in advent which, for the whole of the civilised world - in my neck of the woods at any rate - means shopping. Though not for me because, as you know, shopping never was or will be my thing. I was standing in a post office queue the other day gawping at the quantity of cut-price sweets and biscuits on the shelves (post office is in a Co-op store).
Doesn't that look disgusting, said the woman next to me, and for moment I was thankful that the shelf display was there, having its (unintended) effect. For I love chocolate as much as the next person, but there is nothing like a heap of Celebrations and Cadbury's Roses to make you sicken at the excess. The same woman (a village acquaintance) said, I think that everyone who did all their Christmas shopping in June should be shot. And though I might feel that to be a step too far, I cannot but applaud the spirit. I will achieve grumpy old womanhood yet. Ok, I have bought advent calendars and beeswax candles. There will be a feast at Christmas, as is right and proper. The Signs children will get some money because that's what is needed, and little gifties to open, because they are good for the soul, and Mr. Signs will get - well I don't yet know what, as The Wire is all finished, but something. Actually, he has made a list this year and although this may appear to contradict everything I have just grumped about, I do like a man who knows what he wants. And everyone else will get a jar of home-made (but not by me) chutney or jam.

Me, I might have put silk underwear on my list, but actually I need them now because of the cold so I have ordered some from Patra - silken long johns and vests. The creative unconscious is a strange beast. I recently wrote my first ever proper sex scene (bear with me, this is relevant) - proper in the sense that it describes two people who are actually Doing It, whereas usually I tend to come at these things (shut up) more obliquely. By this I do not mean euphemistically, you will find no "she felt the length and breadth of his desire" in my works - forsooth. Focussing on apparently unrelated particulars can sometimes be more potent than zooming in on the act itself, but this time the story asked for it, so I obliged. And blow me down with a feather if silk underwear (thermals, actually), didn't find their way into the scene, yes, and on the male character too, not the female. There he stood in his white undergarments, very fine he looked too, and it did occur to me that if only I could bring myself to get the brand name in I might be onto something lucrative. She felt the depth and quality of his Patra thermal long johns. No, I couldn't possibly.

Happy advent, peeps. The light shineth despite the Celebrations. And that's quite enough brand names for one post.