Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sold to the Lady with the Lime-Green Laptop ...

... is launched today and is a big milestone for Goldenford (who, by the way, produce the best and most readable books in the south) as this is our very first non-fiction production. And has one of the biggest-bosomed ladies you'll ever see on the front cover. At least with that expression. It's astonishing indeed what turns up on eBay! Well done indeed, Irene!

Anyway, the launch is where I'll be this evening. And here's hoping the upcoming Christmas browsers - especially those who use, or would like to use, eBay - pop a few copies in their shopping bags. It's a fun read and gives a whole new perspective on the profit to be made in the online shopping world, so be sure not to miss out! It's also an ideal way to support the absolutely vital independent publishing industry - God preserve us indeed from the tosh frequently given to us by the Big Boys ...!

The rest of the day, I've basically been playing catch-up. Have caught up on the videos made during the week - and was much moved by poor Carol Vorderman's search for her father's family on "Who Do You Think You Are?" Have also caught up on my essential napping quota - a blissful two hours this afternoon, thank you! Well, I have to be awake for tonight, you know.

I've also planned my next round of poetry submissions - Paul Sutherland of Dream Catcher magazine didn't take what I offered him last year, but asked me to submit again this year, so I'll send a few pieces to him accordingly. I seem to be having a little more luck with the poetry at the moment, so you never know. In terms of people actually asking for stuff - or even taking stuff - the poetry side of my writing has always been more successful than the fiction side (though less obvious) over the last twenty years - but of course both my collections remain self-published. Can't even get poetry publishers to answer me on those! I reckon I'll simply stick to the self-publishing route for the poetry in the future - it saves so much angst even though my actual sales only manage to scrape into double figures. Still, I've made £54 from A Stranger's Table, so it's a better actual moneyspinner than A Dangerous Man!

This week's haiku:

You hang in the air
while the earth beneath moves on.
Your wings pause time's beat.

Today's nice things:

1. The Goldenford launch
2. TV
3. Napping.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Groans and Bones

Was seriously pissed off when I was flicking through this week's copy of the "Church Times" yesterday. And I strongly suspect that they were pretty pissed off too - or at least that's the impression I got from the tone of the reporting, the editorial and one or two of the columnists. Not that they can come out (sorry - in advance ...) with anything very open, but the feeling was certainly there. For those 99% of you not in the know, yes we're all very pissed off about the US bishops back-tracking over whether priests can be gay or not. Or gay and active or not. Or gay and over 5 foot 7 inches tall or not. Or whatever the current U-turn is focused on. God knows, but we've all actually forgotten the so-called "arguments" as we're all really bored with them by now.

Listen to us, US Bishops: We really don't care who priests sleep with (though sticking to one, of whatever sex, would be preferable, I fear, for the soul - if I dare say such a thing in today's buy-one-get-six-free climate ...) as long as they have a hotline to God, a heart for the people and some kind of understanding of spirituality. Which latter three demands are surely far, far more onerous than where the hell you put your prick. So grow up, please, and stop backtracking on what you've previously decided. You have gay clergy already - which you know about and have accepted - so you shouldn't be allowed to go back on that acceptance now. For God's sake, which century do you think you're effing living in??!! It's the 21st century. Gay is normal. Straight is fine too. As is anything else on the scale along from each. So get over it already. There are other far more important issues to tackle. Please begin tackling them.

So that was Pissed-Off Moment Number One. Pissed-Off Moment Number Two came when I was reading the very good article about listening to people (such as ourselves) who've left church. The article was great - I have no bones to pick with the writer at all, and may indeed pick up one of his books at some stage, but I had every sympathy with his annoyance at those who categorise those who've left church as having "lost their faith". Along with him, I can quite agree that that's bollocks. Leaving church is nothing to do with losing faith. Honestly, it's so bloody patronising to hear people say it - and yes it has happened to me. And it pisses me off - I always hate being categorised in any case, and hearing smug churchgoers simper their "solution to the problem of me" between pursed lips and move on is enough to drive me to violence. Really, it's astonishing that there are any churchgoers left in Godalming at all, what with me roaming the streets snapping at their ankles ...

And speaking of which, why are churches so smug that they think only they have a single-track lane to God anyway? I never even thought that when I was a churchgoer - and I would certainly never accuse anyone of "losing their faith". Actually, I was always rather envious of the ones who had the courage to say "no" to socialised religion, and instead wondered what treasures they'd found elsewhere. Really, the further away I move from April (when I left church) and in spite of our intermittent and very non-committed churchgoing since, the more I wonder if in some ways the church has been left behind while God has moved on?

Ah, but if so, then where has the bugger gone?? As Lord H would say: ah, that's God for you. You just can't trust him.

Meanwhile, away with religious speculation and on to today! Lord H has taken himself off to Titchfield Haven to see if he can spot any spoonbills, but I've decided to stay at home and attempt a full recovery. Much as though I'd love to see a spoonbill (the unruly hair, the large beak - oh, dahhlings, they're so me!), I think staying in is best. Though I must also say I do feel better - and have so far only had one Lemsip today, so I'm doing well!

And whilst at home I've managed to scribble down another 1,500 words of The Bones of Summer - and ye gods but I've gone in a direction I never expected to take. A bloody surprise to me, but it makes sense, and is making my blood fizz - usually a good sign, so don't panic ... I'll run with it and see how the hell it pans out. Lord, but this writing game throws a good few shots distinctly left-field sometimes, but that's how I like it and how I get the most fun out of writing, so there are no complaints from me. That Craig though - ruddy dark horse. Characters, eh - you just can't trust them. Much like God really.

Tonight, I really have to do some cleaning (groan!) and then it appears to be Stephen Fry night on TV. Can't imagine more pleasant company however, so I'm up for it. You can't go far wrong with Fry.

Today's nice things:

1. Staying in
2. Writing
3. Getting cross enough about church to at least know something of where I might stand. Ho ho.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day of Delights

Steady, people, steady ... Lord H took the day off today and we've spent it doing a "Day of Delights" at Pulborough Brooks. It was great. We did the tour of the part of the reserve where most of the birds are in the morning, and I managed to catch sight of a chiffchaff (which I only realised as the expert told me so - I wouldn't have recognised the darn thing otherwise, believe me ...), a kestrel, six zillion Canada geese and a swan in flight. Amongst other excitements.

The kestrel was particularly good as we were so high up that we were actually above it as it was doing its hovering trick - it's astonishing how they manage to stay so still and yet the wings are moving so fast. I also managed to maintain my record of never being in the right place at the right time to see a green woodpecker. Everyone else in the group saw one, but not me. Sadly. So it's good to see that the ancient Curse of the Woodpecker Witch still holds its ancient power. My current working theory is that I do actually see them, but they are disguised as rabbits. There were a lot of rabbits.

The additional joy of Pulborough Brooks is that their food is utterly amazing. We were expecting a quick snack lunch of soup or maybe a sandwich. What they actually provided was quiche, beef, ham, curried chicken, potato salad, green salad and coleslaw. And in case that wasn't enough, they added melt-in-the-mouth apple pie, custard and cream. Oh, and I mustn't forget the homemade cake for tea. It's a miracle we managed the afternoon walk at all. Though I do have to say the afternoon session didn't quite grab me as much as the morning one - partly due to the rain and non-appearance of anything remotely resembling wildlife. Winged or otherwise. And partly due to the fact that they were walking us round a part of the reserve they're still working on, so we were getting a lot more information on what it would be like eventually and what we might expect to see. Which isn't as nice as seeing it.

Oh, and the bizarre coincidence was that one of the girls showing us round was the same one who gave us the boat safari at Arundel Wetlands Centre so obviously the World of Sad Bird People is a small one. Which is possibly not that surprising. I was also incredibly brave today (pause for short round of applause. Thank you! Thank you! Yes, that's probably enough now ...) as we had a quick look at moths caught in the moth trap from the night before. And one of these was actually a hornet, which was the first one Moth Man handed me. In a glass cube, but even so ... I think Lord H was pretty impressed that I didn't smash it on the floor and jump up and down on the evil beast. But even I know that wouldn't go down well in nature circles.

Tonight, we're planning pizza & garlic bread, plus there's wine in the fridge cooling nicely, hurrah! And enough TV on to keep my brain from being too active. So that suits me nicely, sir.

Today's nice things:

1. Seeing a chiffchaff. Ooh and a kestrel.
2. Homemade cake
3. Pizza and wine.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More minuting and the Big City

That Sudafed Vapour Plug was quite good last night, I thought – I certainly breathed more easily, though I didn’t sleep that much (too much Lucozade, I imagine …). I’m definitely using that again. An early rise this morning, as Lord H kindly gave me a lift to work as I’m up in London this evening and it’s easier to walk to the station, rather than have to worry about the car.

Still, it’s weird to be at work on a Thursday though – I’m such a creature of routine. I think it’s confused the rest of the office too. The fun news about today though is that the boss brought in chocolate to cheer us up post-post-Freshers’ Week. Hurrah! Apparently it’s the new process in dealing with negative feedback – anyone who gets anything bad said about them gets chocolate. Almost worthwhile being irritating to get that feedback then!

This lunchtime, I minuted the first of the new Student Induction Group meetings, which is always scary until you know who the heck people are. And what we’re supposed to be talking about. Still, neither of those have ever stopped me producing something before, no matter how off-the-wall. Maybe it’s time for more chocolate indeed. Funny though how once I’d established my position round the table and got my scarf wrapped round my neck and my tissues in place, everyone gravitated away to a healthier position to avoid catching anything ...

Tonight, I’m up to London seeing Jane W for drinks and maybe a curry. If I can take it – haven’t been eating that much recently really. I hope I’m not too late back, as I could really do with an attempt at some sleep. And in the meantime no writing is getting done, but I’ll aim to try for a few sluggish sentences over the weekend. I hope.

Today’s nice things:

1. The vapour plug
2. Chocolate
3. Seeing Jane W.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lunch at Wisley and Goldenford books

Goodness, how "Surrey" I sound today - in spite of having what seems like pins and needles lodged inside my nose and throat. I have lunched at Wisley with Jane H, Ang, Michelle and assorted children (well, there were two of them, so that's an assortment to me). This is what Ladies Who Lunch do here in the Shires when we're avoiding Foot & Mouth and the dreaded Bluetongue - we all go to Wisley and wander around the gardens and admire the new Greenhouse, and all very relaxing it was too. And I must say how brave the Gals were in actually walking along the same paths as me when I was wrapped up in a fleece, scarf, fingerless gloves and a woolly hat. Never say that I am not the epitome of Surrey style. (Brief pause here to check "epitome", but yes it is right ...). Not to mention the snorting. Did I mention the snorting? However, Jane H has very sweetly bought me a Sudafed breatheasy plug which will help me sleep at night apparently - thank you, Jane! I never even knew such things existed, but then again I don't get out very much. I don't want the Police knowing where I am ...

I have also typed up the Goldenford minutes from last night, and what a good meeting that was. Thanks to the stalwart work and bravery of Irene and Jackie, we are actually beginning to persuade more local bookshops to take Goldenford books. Hurrah! Now all we have to do is get them to sell some and we'll be laughing. And we're also getting into last-minute planning for the launch of Sold to the Lady with the Lime-Green Laptop this coming Sunday, so we're hoping that will do well for us for Christmas. Ideal and very amusing stocking-filler/loo book, people, and a light-hearted look at essential eBay sales - so buy early, buy often!

And talking of books, I've just given up on Ian Rankin's Fleshmarket Close. I have to admit that I don't think I've read a Rankin before, or not for a while anyway and certainly not that I can remember, though I know he produces a book every three minutes, so it's hard to be sure ... And, yes, I also know he's a bestseller (horror! that word again - what does it all mean??) but the book seemed to be stuffed with huge amounts of conversation to not much effect. And I wasn't very taken by the characters either. Sorry. So I gave up. Maybe it's one of those where if you like Rebus, then you may as well read it - but don't bother if you don't. Ho hum. Never mind, it will still make Rankin a nice little packet for his Christmas gift-buying - a fact which would seriously piss me off if I had the energy today for Writers' Envy, but on the plus side I suppose that at least it means you don't have to be good to be sold. Hope for us all then ...!

Tonight, I'm going to be a sofa slut in front of the TV and watch the double bill (joy!) of "Heroes". Must remember to video "Will & Grace" as well - and that's a double bill too. Happiness indeed!

Today's nice things:

1. Wisley with the Gals
2. Planning the Goldenford book launch
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writing City and the ghostly hand

Today I am still going for the Olympic medal for Snorting like an Old Horse – well, we have to win something at the Great Games, don’t we? And I am also minuting for Britain, so what the heck, maybe I’ll go for that one too. You never know your luck.

Still, at least after last week’s fiasco, I’ve managed to fit in a calming morale-boosting chat with the boss, who is always so good at this kind of stuff. So am now feeling more like a normal human being. Don’t know how long that will last then … To the end of the day might be good!

Had the first meeting of this term's University Writers’ Group at lunchtime – a small but very high-quality cohort of three turned up. And that included me. Must be my native charm, I suppose … Still, we had a good session, with lots of writing plans chatted through, and one writing game done, which showed voice and strengths. Heck, I have the vocab after all. Anyone might think I even knew what I was talking about. I’m hoping we can increase numbers throughout this term, so the group can be more viable again, but we’ll have to see.

This afternoon, I’m still struggling with those minutes. I think it’s when someone uses the word “strategy” that my brain slips into the graveyard slot. I really need to get them done or mostly done by tonight as next time I’m in (Thursday this week), I have another meeting to perform at.

Meanwhile, our kitchen disaster continues (at work) – last week, the kitchen light went entirely, so we’ve spent several days trying to get Estates & Facilities to come and fix it. Ho hum. Don’t wait up. Our photocopying machine is also there, so producing copies of anything is now rife with mystery. I was so desperate yesterday that I rang up the E&F secretary and left a message on her voicemail begging for help and telling her that I thought the kitchen might be haunted by a ghostly hand and we were afraid. Very afraid. Well, it had been a long day. I was very tired. Doesn’t seem to have worked though, as she hasn’t rung back. And I suspect that the hand might have been mine. However, as Ruth says, it does mean we don’t have to worry about how dirty the kitchen is any more as we can’t see it. So there’s always a plus side. The Dean of Students meanwhile is itching to change the lightbulb himself, using only a screwdriver, some stickyback plastic and the Blue Peter cat, but I fear that can only end in tears …

Tonight, I’m out minuting the Goldenford meeting. And with the launch of Irene Black’s eBay book, Sold to the Lady with the Lime-Green Laptop, coming up this Sunday, I suspect it’s going to be a pretty busy evening! And I must remember to give Jennifer the cheque for two copies of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice which I managed to sell last month, hurrah!

Today’s nice things:

1. Calming talks with the boss
2. University Writers
3. Laughing at kitchen scenarios.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ways to keep breathing x2

Hey, I’ve discovered a way to keep breathing when attempting to sleep whilst ill – if I get a bundle of spare pillows and pile them all up underneath, I don’t feel sick when I lie down as I’m so propped up that I might as well be sitting up anyway. Result! Which gives me one fairly good night’s sleep, better breathing and – sadly – a cricked neck. Ah well, there’s always a downside, eh … But never mind – it did the trick, so I don’t care. And I’m definitely doing that again the next time one of these nasty bouts rears its ugly head.

Scary moment on the way to work today – a couple of cars on the A3 had obviously bumped each other so were parked in the slow lane and exchanging details. Insults too – as I passed, the man standing up slammed his hands against the window of the other driver (still in his vehicle) and swore virulently at him. Lord but I hate these road rage moments – they’re soooo frightening. Yes, I know I should maybe have stopped but I’m way too much of a coward – and I was at least reassured by the fact that Angry Man was walking back to his own vehicle when I looked in my rear-view mirror. So at least he hadn’t murdered anyone. Yet. Ways to keep breathing for us all then …

I’ve also managed to contact the doctor’s today and have made an appointment for next Thursday, which was the earliest they could do. The new doctor to replace the weird religious one seems to be called Dr Pigeon. Which really can’t be true, can it? Maybe they’re making it up?? Lord knows. Anyway – it’s a woman, so I shall reserve judgement – sorry if that sounds sexist (it probably is) but the doctors who’ve always been super-nasty to me have been women, so I am cautious. We’ll see …

Anyway, today, I do feel better, so have gone into work loaded down with Lucozades and doing a lot of sad coughing. Well, it’s always worthwhile going for the sympathy vote. And this lunchtime I had to minute the care services steering group, so by heck I needed that vote. Though thank goodness the colleague who was so “disappointed” with me last week wasn't there. The bugger. Lucky for him, indeed.

Straight after that, I had a meeting with the Marketing guys (always a scary prospect) about producing a mini-guide to student care services. As ever, I don’t have any real idea what I’m talking about, but that’s never stopped us producing something, so let’s hope that whatever we come up with works.

Tonight, I’m planning to crack on with more sudokus – Lord but I’m starting to be obsessed with the little devils now – and I’ve videoed “The Sarah Jane Adventures” – the Doctor Who spin-off – as for some reason they’ve put it on at 5pm on a weekday. Don’t they know that adults want to watch it too?? Anyone over the age of 40 – male or female – is of course in love with Sarah Jane. Who wouldn’t be?!

Oh and good news on the writing front. In spite of my weekend, I’ve made it to 30,000 words on The Bones of Summer. Huzzah! I might even know something about what happens next. Now that would be a miracle.

Today’s nice things:

1. Feeling better
2. Getting a doctor’s appointment before 2008
3. Reliving my youth with Sarah Jane.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Crawling through the day ...

Ho hum, it's back to the doctor's for me, I think. Had something of a rough night last night - though thankfully not as rough as it's been in the past. And, hey, I did get a lot of sudokus done, so it's not all bad news. But I still think I need something stronger from the medical powers that be to kick my ear/nose/throat problems into touch. Or at least more into touch than they are currently! Also, looking back in my diary, I can see I had the selfsame thing exactly one month ago - so nobody can accuse me of not being regular. On such stalwart reliability was the Empire won ... And lost indeed.

Anyway, even Lord H thinks a quick trip to the doctor might be a good idea, so I'll ring tomorrow to see if I can get an appointment this side of the next Millennium. Hmm, don't hold your breath then. However, the good news on the doctor front is the mad doctor who'd taken to asking me to pray with him at the end of each session (and it's so bloody difficult to say no to such requests, especially if you're feeling ill, dammit) has retired at last so I don't have to run the gauntlet of inappropriate religious requests. Thank God. I just have to make sure I avoid the bitchy female doctor and the overbearing male plonker one, and I should be okay. Famous last words.

Talking of which, in the shades of last night (is it just me or is 1.30am always the start of the most depressing time of the night?), I suddenly came over all weepy thinking, oh God, I've probably got some ghastly disease and I'm going to die horribly and go to hell because I'm such a wicked person, and Lord H won't be there. Honestly! Am I a wuss or what??! In the cold light of day, such musings seem terribly childish of course, but there you go. That's what an Anglican upbringing and ex-Evangelical guilt can do for you. And this morning Lord H reassures me that, yes, of course he'll be in hell with me, so I won't be entirely alone - accountants never get to heaven apparently. It's a known theological fact. Ah well, at least it won't be cold ...

All this nonsense means that I've had to cancel golf and lunch out today, and I am simply staying indoors and not eating very much. Though, as usual, I'm drinking a hell of a lot of Lucozade. So, as well as being ill, I'm now completely hyper and have bright orange teeth. Lovely. It's astonishing Lord H doesn't run screaming to the hills, demanding his money back. If anyone deserves an NVQ Level 5 in Marital Loyalty, it's him.

Tonight, I'm doing sod all, and hoping to get some sleep. It's a busy week ahead. I really don't have time to be the Lydia Languish of Godalming. Still, I wish I had half her style.

This week's haiku:

Novels are shy birds
coaxed out only with breadcrumbs
and endless patience.

Today's nice things:

1. Lord H
2. Lucozade
3. Being too ill to worry about work tomorrow!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yacoubian Yawn and the four-figure advance ...

Sigh. Deep deep sigh. I know I'm probably going to get throttled (virtually only, I hope) for this, but I've just finished Alaa Al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building, and I'm still attempting to raise myself from the slough of utter boredom it cast me into. (Pause to make a mental note never ever to be seduced by the phrase, "International Bestseller", again, and never at any cost to believe anyone who tells me they know I'd love it. No matter how close the person doing the telling ...). In the words of the great Catherine Tate: what a load of s**t!!! Mind you, it did have a good first two pages. No, a grand and classy first two pages. But really and truly I should have stopped there. By the time I was on page 22, I knew it was a no-hoper and I just didn't care enough about anyone. Way way too much telling and info dumping, and not enough showing. Or maybe that's just the Egyptian way of writing? I don't know and, frankly, I can't be arsed to find out either. I skimmed lightly through the rest of it, knowing that noble Lord H had bought it for me as I'd asked him to - and the relief when I came to the words, "The End", was indescribable.

I then turned to the front and my eye was caught by a puff (writerly word for a nice quote given by another writer) from Patrick Gale (hmm, can I even put those words in that sentence without being sued??), which said: "An Egyptian Tales of the City ... I was furious when it ended. Sequels, please!" Oh Lord, no. I should have known. I utterly hated ruddy Tales of the City too - load of tripe. Maupin's only good book is The Night Listener. Trust me on that one! I would rewrite Gale's quote to be: "An Egyptian Tales of the City - which surely says it all ... I was delighted when it ended. No sequels, please!"

Anyway, today I have received my four-figure advance for Maloney's Law, hurrah! I'd love to write it was £7850, but then my essential decimal point would be missing. Which makes it a more realistic £78.50, and ah that 50p makes all the difference, you know. I'm going to spend it on a nice piece of jewellery. Either that or the 2.30 at Kempton Park. But, hey, I'm not complaining as it still nets me more money than I've earned for A Dangerous Man, tee hee. And gives me my first ever advance cheque: so thank you for that, PD! A writer's life, eh - I'll try not to let success change me!

For the rest of today I've been working away on The Bones of Summer, and now have that key conversation scene nailed, thank the Lord. First draft style anyway. And I think my next scene will be more of an action piece, as I don't want the reader (should there be one) to drift off into wondering what's for dinner. Perish the thought indeed!

I've decided to stay in today and (whilst not writing) sprawl on the sofa groaning, as I still don't feel that good. And I do want to be well enough to do golf tomorrow, or what's a Sunday for? Lord H has been out shopping though and has brought back the Saturday papers and (bliss!) the Guildford Book Festival brochure. I've decided not to do too much this year, so am only going to four things. I couldn't resist Julian Clary (who can?) or Gyles Brandreth doing Oscar Wilde, so those two are a must. And there are a couple of poetry events which look quite good, though sadly none of them are me. Ah well. I've also booked a fantasy fiction evening, as it could be useful for the edits to The Gifting. And maybe the sequel to it as well, if anyone likes the look of the first part, that is.

Tonight, I'm intending to droop like an overripe banana whilst staring blankly at the TV and (not) doing sudokus. So no change there then for a Saturday evening ...

Today's nice things:

1. Finishing The Yacoubian Yawn (sorry, Building)
2. Holding that four-figure advance in my hand (where be me decimal?...)
3. Flicking through the book festival brochure.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, September 21, 2007

Golf and the struggling writer

A bit of a non-day really. Is it just me who gets these sometimes?? Nothing much of any great excitement has happened, and I haven't had any great moments of inspiration. Neither is there any chocolate in the house to console myself with, dammit. Well, not that I can actually eat it anyway - we're saving the last of the anniversary Thornton's chocolate champers bottle till tonight. Well, it's Friday, innit?

However, the good news is that I do feel slightly better. Well enough anyway to go shopping in Godalming this morning and find out that they seem to have discontinued not one but two shampoos I regularly use. Two! I ask you! Deep, deep sigh ... I begin to suspect that it's a government plot to slowly take away every product I have ever found that I actually like so that eventually I won't exist at all as there'll be nothing for me to buy. (Cue: I'm not paranoid; it's just that everyone's against me ...). Anyway, I didn't have the psychic energy to make a fuss or chain myself to the shampoo factory railings, so I just bought another version and will hope for the best.

I've also been golfing. Or rather: almost golfing. It took me a while to get going this morning, I have to say. Though I did make a reasonable finish and honour was satisfied in the approach to the clubhouse again. Marian and I were also much amused by the single gent who began heading off to the first tee at about the same time as us, and asked us if we were happy for him to start first as he didn't want to hold us up. Well, slap my thighs and call me a mongoose, but we were still floundering about in the rough on the first as he was about to sink his putt on the third - so no holding up problems there, guv'nor! These men - they're always going to be quicker than a woman (steady, people, steady ...) up the fairway. Hmm, I'm not so sure the end of that sentence makes things any better really ...! Ah well.

This afternoon, I have been dragging out words for The Bones of Summer with the aid of a pair of tweezers and a fragment of wire. Lordy, but sometimes those damn words are so shy it's like trying to find a wren in a forest. A very small wren. In a very large forest. At night too. And even when you do find it, the damn thing isn't a wren at all but a cockroach. Hell, I must stop this analogy, as it's exhausting me, dahlings, but it's simply how it's been today. Sigh.

Tonight, I plan to do some more snorting (the Lemsip takes a while to work, and it's good to have a hobby), drink lots of wine and watch TV until the aerial takes root in my own head. Well, it's where I get all my ideas from, and I certainly need some now for the ruddy novel!

Oh, and there is some nice news: John is posting me my advance cheque for Maloney's Law which, after bank fees and agency cut etc etc, will be £78. Or thereabouts. So I will spend it wildly and with conviction. Whilst keeping the day job, eh! Oh, and John is also starting the edit of The Gifting, and says he's enjoying it, so that's a relief. And yes I know it's his job to say he's enjoying it but, being a writer, I still need the positive stroking for my insecure artistic soul (ho ho). And yes, I do keep reading the email in which he tells me so - I know I am sad.

And Jools from Mighty Erudite Publishers has now received my comments on Mark Wagstaff's novel. Phew! And she's planning to take me out to lunch after my holiday in October to discuss the next things on the agenda. Hell, that makes me feel almost important. Perhaps I shall buy a new frock (or part of a new frock) with my advance cheque for the occasion?... It's a plan for sure.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf (eventually)
2. Writing (after I'd stopped it!)
3. Wine (when I've opened the bottle ...)

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Submissions and Loose Women

Woke up to a rather annoying cold this morning - bummer, eh - so am dowsing myself with Lemsip and Nurofen Plus. The perfect combination. Consequently, I have been drooping round the flat this morning and doing writing work in my dressing gown. Something I normally never like doing. Still seem to have got the stuff done I was planning to though, which is at least cheering me up after this week's various disasters. Such stuff included preparing for next week's University Writers' Group meeting and the Goldenford meeting, both being on Tuesday. The launch of Irene Black's eBay book, Sold to the Lady with the Lime-Green Laptop is fast appraching, so there's loads to do. And it's well worth buying - it's a fun read with lots of wild pictures - so get your orders in now!

Not only that but I've submitted some poems to various competitions - and yes I knew I was going to ease down on this activity due to general cynicism about the whole literary world thang, but I felt strong enough to face it today so have taken the iron by the horns and heated it. Or some such twaddle. And at least it makes my spreadsheets look slightly more used. Hurrah.

Fuelled by that achievement, I have eaten my lunch in front of "Loose Women" on TV. Which is a pretty scary phrase by itself. But it's such a great programme and always makes me laugh - really, I should watch it more often. It makes everything - even me - seem relatively normal. For the remainder of this afternoon, I've written another 1,000 words to The Bones of Summer, and am about to draft a major turning-point scene - so I'd better let it fester for a while in my blood before attempting to tap that one out. Anyway, isn't it time for my smelling salts?

Later on, I've got counselling with Kunu - and I'm sure the air of her counselling room will be turning blue today as I rehash the traumas of the week. Poor Kunu. And I'm not looking forward much to next week at work either, I have to say. Oh God, but the world of work is just too bloody overwhelming at times. It really ought to get back in its pram and bloody well stay there. It interferes so with real life - or at least the real life being played constantly in my head - dammit.

Tonight, I've got another episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" to look forward to, and I really must video "Mock the Week". Can't do without that essential guide to survival ... And I'm hoping for another pint or so of Lemsip and an early night.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting some submissions done
2. Watching "Loose Women"
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Freshers’ Fayre, traffic cones and the vampire whale

Spent a lot of yesterday evening feeling shattered and napping before … um … going to bed, so decided to stop the rot today by taking a De-Stress pill first thing. So far, it’s working, aha! Still think I should have brought the darn things into work with me though. Once again, I have been running round the campus replacing arrows so that students don’t get lost in the bushes on their way to various registrations. Or not too many times anyway. M’dears, it’s utterly exhausting … Pause for smelling salts and an elegant sinking onto the sofa …

Not only that but the boss deposited a full box of chocolates on my desk last night – sadly not for me (arrgghh!!), but for the students while they register. So I was forced to hand the choccies over to the Registration people for them to distribute this morning, sigh … But all was not lost, as I did nick one last night …

Oh, and I was dealing with an issue posted in our Student Care inbox today and sent a reply back to the parent, adding that I hoped their child was settling in anyway in spite of the problems. The parent’s reply was that yes they must be, as they’d just received a photo of their child with a traffic cone on their head. Wonderful! Difficult to know how to reply to that one really – at least not without incurring the wrath of Security!... Ho hum.

This afternoon, I’ve been helping to staff the Student Care Services stall at the Freshers’ Fayre. Only two hours, but still more exhausting really. Though the students seemed to enjoy it, so that's something anyway. Mind you, back in the office, we had a fun time reminiscing about hot-looking builders we have known. Sigh … Though I do think that Carol was wondering why she’d decided to work in an office with three women in their forties – ah, you have all that to come, Carol!...

And I was doing so well too, on the attempts to be calm front when yet another punter from a geographically distant fellow service (not the same as the last one, thank God) sent an email to my boss (who isn't in today) telling him how disappointed he was with the wording for his particular service on the new campus map. Which was the map I've spent the last two weeks running around like the proverbial trying to produce for Freshers' Week. Well, if the bugger had actually told me he wanted a wording change, that might have been nice ... I sent a rather stiff email back adding that as we currently have the only map of the University with the correct information on (bearing in mind the recent restructuring etc etc), then at least the students stand more of a chance of getting to places they want to go. Wording or no wording. I then spent five minutes spitting and swearing like a trooper in the office and deciding that the best way forward to deal with the bugger is to remove his head, laminate it and stuff it up his own bottom. Without anaesthetic. A secretarial procedure that only a few of us know ... Ah, if only, if only.

As a result the rest of the office has decided that we are all going to send as many emails as possible expressing disappointment in mealy-mouthed tones to anyone that crosses us. Ha! That'll show the b******s. Oh, and Ruth bought Dolly Mixtures sweets to cheer us all up, and Carol sent me a wonderful email telling me how impressed she was with the map and how much she loved the colours. Thanks, guys ... Hugely. Onward and upward, eh. Ho hum.

And I’ve endeavoured to respond to this week’s Writewords Flash Fiction II challenge, which is: write something about a vampire whale, a giant extra-strong red chilly ice-lolly falling from the sky (which happens to be as a result of global warming and global cooling all at the same time), and a hero or heroine. Heck! No pressure then … I came up with:

A cautionary tale

Albert was once again searching for ice-lollies. He’d been doing this for a while as the supply of dolphins, squid and the odd swimmer had grown a little scarce since the onset of global warming. It was a hard time to be a vampire whale; all his victims had swum north for the winter. Making do with sea-horses and aphids just didn’t cut it with him, and only ice-lollies helped staunch his natural blood-lust.

He sighed and just then a loud plop told him that lunch had arrived – at last! Snatching it, he realised it was one of the lollies made from stomach flesh – his favourites. He waggled his huge whale body with delight as he sunk his whale-teeth into the icy treat. Mmm. Someone up there must be killing people on the nearby mountain and throwing them into the sea in small chunks. Except this one was wonderfully large and – oh goody – extra-strong flavour too. Shame they weren’t hot and tender of course, but it couldn’t be helped; the localised global cooling resulting from the mountains had a lot to answer for. Albert smiled, master of all he surveyed once more.

Meanwhile, far far above, Jacintha the were-guinea pig chuckled to herself as she watched Albert chew the poisoned flesh she’d found for him. She’d get rid of that darn whale if it was the last thing she did. One day, global warming or no global warming, were-guinea pigs would inherit the world.

Tonight, I have a sherry in my sights – maybe two – and an evening of chilling. Mind you, after that bit of flash fiction, I probably deserve it! Not convinced that any more writing will get done either. And as for Freshers’ Week – well, thank the Lord I’m not full-time is what I say ...

And I've just finished the Heavyglow Flash Fiction collection - very enjoyable indeed. I particularly enjoyed offerings from John Ritchie, Brian Cabrera and Oren Shafir. Great stuff!

Today’s nice things:

1. The traffic cone lady
2. Carol's email and Ruth's sweets
3. Writing a piece of flash fiction.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The heat is turned up ...

Ye gods, but it’s been a hellish morning. I ran around replacing arrows directing Freshers to places for the second day of multiple registration, discovered that the big chocolate tin in the office was empty when I came back (oh God, empty – how can such things happen???), panicked because we seem to have missed a talk and left students waiting for someone who never turned up, and was given a hugely patronising bollocking (in an irritatingly smarmy way which of course made it ten thousand times worse) by one of my (thank God) more geographically distant colleagues who then decided he hadn’t browbeaten me enough and rang back to make more criticisms. Plus a request to go and get him something from the Health Centre. Which is next door to where he works, and I am near neither of them. Harrumph. I ended up simply putting the phone down on the smarmy bugger and felt a lot better for having done so. Last time I do something nice for him then … And thank the Lord I don't have to speak to the mealy-mouthed b*****d very often.

I then found out that the reason we’d missed the talk is that the department in question had changed all their induction programme plus all their staff and hadn’t told us – which means I’ve been frantically reorganising the talks still to come this week whilst maintaining a plastic professional smile on my face (and mentally stabbing aforementioned so-called "colleague" in places he probably didn’t even know he had …). Oh, and we’re equally frantically trying to find out if we have a stall at tomorrow’s Freshers’ Fayre or not. Anyone we can ask appears to be unobtainable and the porter is supposed to be collecting our stuff this afternoon, but can’t if there’s nowhere to deliver it to. Arrrggghhh!!!

On top of all that, the really lovely man who cleans the computers and phones has turned up so we’re all having to jump around between computers to ensure he gets the chance to clean it all. Poor chap though – he probably hasn’t heard this much swearing and cursing for a long time. The joys of Freshers’ Week, eh … Ooh, update on this: I officially have the cleanest computer & phone equipment in the office. Hurrah! I’ve never had the cleanest anything before – so this is a definite first. And just proves that my obsessive weekly cleaning of my phone & keyboard which everyone laughs at has finally paid off …

And I’ve also found out that Jools from Mighty Erudite hasn’t ever received my mini-edit of Mark Wagstaff’s novel, so I’ll have to try to resend that tonight sometime. I’m also supposed to be going to Guildford Writers tonight, but Lord alone knows whether I’ll have the energy or not. Not is the current feeling on that really. I don’t think I can face any more people, however pleasant. It's just way too demanding.

Still, I did manage to get out for a walk at lunchtime, thank God, and rang Lord H from the bench by the lake to sob for a while. Poor chap – he should be used to that by now.

Oh Lordy, when oh when can I go home???

Today’s nice things:

1. Um. Surviving the day? Possibly.
2. Having the cleanest computer, aha!
3. Ringing Lord H.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, September 17, 2007

Freshers, poems and Hollywood stars

Well, they’re here. The campus is full of confused-looking students clutching maps and frowning. Lordy, but how it takes me back. I absolutely and utterly hated my own Freshers’ Week up in Durham about 120 years ago now – I seem to remember I spent most of it sobbing and wondering how I could escape. Well, really, can you imagine it? – I was forced to meet people, go out in the evenings and look as if I was having fun whilst doing it. Three of my Worst Nightmare Scenarios – at the same time. The relief when my Freshers’ Week was over and I could actually get down to doing some study (bliss!) was indescribable. I can only hope that now our new first years have a better time.

Anyway, first thing this morning, Ruth and I were out treading the campus and placing stickers on walls and floors and pavements to try to explain how to get to Registration. Then from Registration to Health Registration. Then from Health Registration to Library Registration. And if they manage to do all that, then they definitely deserve a beer or two at the bar tonight. But – alas – we have no stickers for that route, so they’ll just have to find their own way there. And back.

I have to say though that there are certainly some rather good-looking young gentlemen in this year’s intake – which lightens the load somewhat. Though I suspect that this is definitely showing my age … Anyone for a pre-menopausal flush?!?...

Mind you, the first Freshers’ Week mini-crisis has already occurred – we’ve decided against using the DVD at our presentations as nobody seems to like it much. Sigh. I’m hoping the Faculties will forgive me for hassling them for huge amounts of DVD equipment over the last two months, but I think I won’t mention it till the week is over. I’d like to survive to the weekend at least. On the plus side, it does mean that I won’t have to do so much running around trying to make the DVDs work, as they won’t be using them, aha!

As a result, I managed to fit in my lunchtime session of Reflexology, which was wonderful. Sadly, I can’t go again for another four weeks, due to meetings, holidays, general lack of time etc etc. Lordy, but I’m going to miss it.

Had to do the shopping after work as well, so my Monday of Freshers’ Week Pimm's will be that much more appreciated when I finally get to it. And on the publication front, PD Publishing have already contacted me to discuss the cover for Maloney’s Law. So I’ve sent them some ideas for it, as approved by Lord H (he’s very good at pictures), and here’s hoping we can, between us, come up with something that’ll help sell the book. I’ve always had quite a vivid picture of Paul Maloney in my head and the closest to it in the world of Hollywood stars just has to be Jake Gyllenhaal. Heck, no wonder I enjoyed writing the novel – wouldn’t you?!?… I’m actually rather excited about the whole thing now, and am – so far – enjoying the process more than last time. Let’s hope it lasts!

Oh and here’s a poem:


You draw a triangle
on empty paper,
pen forming
deep confident strokes

which make me feel
innocent again.
It's almost a tree,
the lowest points easing out

into what could be a pot
or the earth itself
if you drew it.
‘That is what I see,’

you say, ‘when I touch you.
That is what I see.’

Today’s nice things:

1. Surviving Monday of Freshers’ Week
2. Thinking about the Maloney’s Law cover
3. Poetry.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A curious death and beating the Monday blues

I forgot to say (and I really ought to have remembered!) that, after Friday's debacle with my attempt to get Godalming Pharmacy to sell me a bottle of Carex, I was having a much-needed nap when Lord H came home from work. Well, I do like to look like a hard-working author, you know ... Anyway, I told him my Friday disaster in great and gory detail and he listened with all due sympathy. When I finally shut up grumbling (not something that happens often, really), he produced not one - not two - but three bottles of the said Carex from his briefcase, saying he'd found me a happy Friday present, as Lightwater is still living in the '50s and the news of a product's discontinuation has not yet got through to them. Hurrah! No, triple hurrahs! And Lord H is now officially a SuperSaint Husband with extra Holiness points. And very smug about it, he is too, ho ho ... The Pope is due to ratify the sanctification any day now, I'm told.

Anyway, today we have gone to church in Peper Harow and all very jolly it was. The organist played some of the tunes I love - including Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze" and Purcell's "Come Ye Sons of Art" - so what could be nicer? The hymns were okay too. At least they were low enough set for me to sing. How I hate the high notes. To cap it all, we managed to escape before having to talk to anyone, which is always a plus point in my book. At least these days. I do have to say though that I was much taken with the commemmorative plaque carving on the floor up to the communion rail, which I took the time to read whilst I was queueing for the whisky and biscuit (sorry, wine and wafer ...): it told me in great detail about Bridget, wife of someone-or-other, who'd died in 1728 (or thereabouts) from a punishing attack of The Stone, and had passed a two ounce specimen of said stone before dying in huge pain. Well, you would, wouldn't you! All hugely interesting, but I wasn't sure whether I really wanted to read about it before taking communion. It does rather take your mind off what you're supposed to be there for ...

Some good news on Maloney's Law today! PD Publishing now have it on their homepage as a forthcoming novel, and you can read a brief blurb here, and (scarily!) you can even read about me here. And if you've done all that, people, well, you deserve a lie-down and a stiff gin. Or two.

In addition (and still on the same theme), PD Publishing have also asked me for my first thoughts on cover art, so I've tried to give them something useful to work with. I must say how nice it is to be asked to do stuff - and indeed contacted so often - by my publisher. At this stage in the game, they've been so much easier to deal with than Flame ever were. Hush my mouth.

This afternoon, I've been reading an article on how to beat the Monday Blues. Something which I do suffer from, 99% of my working Mondays. I was much taken by the idea of a "Bodyclock" which is supposed to wake you gently over a period of thirty minutes by simulating the dawn so that the room gradually gets lighter. However the cost of said item is £60 and when I complained to Lord H about the price, he suggested that it would be cheaper if he simply got up earlier than me and opened the curtains very, very slowly. This would certainly be the least expensive option, but might mean that Lord H would be forced to call WifeLine to complain of maltreatment. Again ... Still, the good news is that his Sainthood continues apace!

In the book world, I have just finished reading Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night - a dark Victorian mystery. Anyone who can start a novel with the sentence: "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." gets my vote. But it did rather lose its way in the middle, and the love affair (supposedly ...) was simply overblown melodrama and utterly unrealistic. By the end he'd got his act together again though (thank God) and the last few pages were ace. It's a shame, as it's so nearly a classic - but it's defeated by its own weight and pretensions. I'd say read it to see how you can indeed have the perfect idea for a novel but how easily it can fall apart in the execution. ('Tis ever thus ...). It needed a bloody good editor who knew what they were about and some serious trimming in the middle.

I've also just finished A Collection of Short Stories and Poems by Bollington Library Writing Group (edited by Nik Perring of Writewords) - I'm not normally a great fan of collections from different people, but this was a very pleasant read indeed, with some rather good dark stories. I particularly liked the offerings by Sandy Milsom and Karen Crook, and would certainly read more from them.

Later, I've planned to do more to The Bones of Summer, but I feel I'll be struggling with the bones of Sunday, so I may just give it a miss. We'll see. I also have to catch up on John Hurt in "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Mock the Week" on the video - both unmissable, I'm sure.

This week's haiku is:

We wait for a boat.
A swan glides down the river,
charting our voyage.

Today's nice things:

1. Church
2. Maloney's Law being on the PD website - hurrah!
3. Contemplating Lord H's sainthood.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Birds galore and a good review

Had something of a disturbed night last night (women's troubles, so move on quickly if you're a man!) and was up for an hour or so at 3am before I felt able to go back to bed again. I read my copy of the Writers' News competition supplement and was much surprised to see (whilst groaning and clutching a hot-water bottle to my stomach) that I'd been shortlisted in the Betjeman poetry competition. I hadn't even been aware I'd entered it actually. Maybe they just recognise talent when they see it and these days I don't even have to enter in order to get an award?? I ruddy wish, eh!! Anyway, I've queried it with them, so let's see what they say. In the meantime, roll on the menopause ...

Lord H and I have spent most of the day at Arundel Wetlands Centre and a lovely time we had too. We managed to see two kestrels, two nuthatches, a zillion and one greylag geese and a peculiar thing that was halfway between a grouse and a ptarmigan. So Lord alone knows what that was. I was also very brave and took the boat safari, which Lord H was very keen to do. How I hate boats! Mind you, the initial terror was worth it as we saw a kingfisher perched on a branch and - for once - it stayed there for ages so we had an A++ view. Fabulous. Plus there were Little Grebes, so that was definitely worth it too. The woman steering the boat did terrify me at the end though when she admitted that she'd run out of power (and therefore the ability to steer) and would have to rely on the landing stage to stop the darn thing. Okay, it wasn't going very fast, but I at least noticed the jolt ... And squeaked. Dammit.

On the way home, we popped into Pulborough Brooks, and we think we saw a wheatear, but again it was just too far away to be sure. Even with binoculars. I also managed to nearly swear in a bird hide (not the done thing, you know, Carruthers ...) when I accidentally slammed the door. As one of the people already there admitted (with a twinkle in his eye), at least there wasn't anything worth watching that could have been scared away ... So much for the professional birdwatcher!

Getting home, I found a lovely review of A Dangerous Man from L Adlem on the Rainbow Reviews website. It can be read in full below:

“Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we witness the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. This is a dark and powerful tale. I was drawn into Michael’s life and the all-consuming passion to express his vision in black and white drawings. Ms Brooke has a fluent style and her depiction of both lower and upper class London life is totally convincing. The tension builds and builds until it is impossible to put down the book. Not an easy story, but I heartily recommend this book for a meaty read, thought provoking, disturbing, very well written. Four stars!”

Many thanks, L Adlem - I'm glad you liked it!

This evening, I'm way too exhausted to do anything remotely interesting and am hoping for an early - and pain-free - night. Now that would be nice.

Today's nice things:

1. The review of A Dangerous Man
2. Bird-watching
3. An early night (I hope!)

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tankas, tantrums and the Undead

Managed to get through last night okay. I have to say it was fine, but I did feel really uncomfortable a couple of times and utterly exhausted when it was over. Seeing the old University gals is in some ways like revisiting a section of my past that is long since over. I'm not convinced I'm that person any more. At all. They did talk about meeting up later in the year, but I kept my mouth shut (now, there's a novelty ...) as I honestly don't want to. It makes me feel I'm wearing a coat that no longer fits. Hell, I've just said the same thing twice, but I rather like the coat image, so I'm keeping it in. Anyway, it was just soooooo good to be home! And Lord H had done some cleaning while I was out too, so now has way too many SuperHusband Points. I just can't keep up, sigh ...

This morning, I opened my copy of Writing Magazine to discover I've been shortlisted in the Tanka competition. Yattah! As Hiro would say. That's certainly given me a boost. If only I could ruddy well remember what a tanka actually is (or even be bothered to look it up), I would write more of them. Bugger, eh.

The rest of the morning has been spent playing golf with Marian - we didn't do too badly, and it was bliss to play while nobody else was around (how we love the school terms ...). And I even got a par on the last hole - double yattah! Afterwards, I popped into Godalming to stock up on essentials such as De-stress oil and a 2008 diary - which I now have, you'll be glad to hear, so next year will definitely happen. Hurrah. I also spent five or ten minutes having a tantrum in the Godalming Pharmacy as I've spent three weeks trying to order some Carex Bodywash from them (as nowhere else in Godalming sells it) and they've never bothered to ring me up and tell me it's been discontinued. Even though I've been in twice since ordering and given them my phone number each time. Naturally, I was not amused. I like to think my rather long but impressive speech to the no-brain slapper girl behind the counter was firm, assertive and calm. I would really have liked to have leaped, snarling, over the counter, torn her ridiculous and irritating smile from her face and stuffed it up her arse, but I thought Kunu wouldn't approve, so refrained from so doing. Ye gods, they should give me a medal. At the very least, I hope it improves their standards of customer care.

Fresh from this battle, I delivered my dry-cleaning to Mucky Pup (yes, that is the name) and found a member of the church I left in April standing in front of me in the queue. Frankly, I couldn't be bothered to attract her attention, so I simply waited to see if she'd see me and acknowledge me or not. When she did, it was fairly obvious she was desperate to go - so somewhere between then and now I must have indeed become one of the Unclean, or possibly the Undead - as she half ran out of the door telling me she was parked illegally and couldn't stay and chat. It was on the tip of my tongue to say, with a bright smile of course, that that suited me fine as I had no intention of chatting and, besides, she'd been so meaningless to me even during the time I was at church that I couldn't even remember her name. Damn it, I wish I had said it now - but I do want to be allowed back into at least some shops in Godalming one day.

Talking of which, there's a new posh clothes shop in town, so I entered the door, looked at a jumper which in M&S would probably cost about £25, and found their price tag was £249!!! Ye gods, you'd be better off buying a sheep and making your own. Badly done, Cotton Blue, badly done. And I can't say I'm that keen on your name either. I won't be paying you a second visit. Needless to say.

After all this excitement, I dropped in to see Gladys on my way back - who was in the middle of a Meals on Wheels meal. She was quite perky but agreed with me that it was very hard to tell the difference between the fish section and the mashed potato section of the pot. Though we could both identify the carrots. I'm sure that when Mother and I used to deliver them to the Executively-Aged Gentlefolk back in sunny Essex, the meals were definitely larger. Perhaps cut-backs have affected them too?? Honestly, no wonder the elderly tend to be frail.

This afternoon, I've written another 1,000 words of The Bones of Summer, but am getting muddled by my own dialogue now, so will give it a miss for the rest of the day. I need to introduce a new character in the next scene, so that'll stir up the waters, aha! Tonight, I'm chilling in front of the TV, though I really must do the rest of the cleaning. Can't have Lord H garnering all the marital points after all.

Today's nice things:

1. The tanka shortlisting
2. Golf
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Counselling, sex writing and a night out

Well, it's good to pack in as much as you can in a day, you know. Besides, I had to get up early as my hairdresser was arriving at 8.30am to attempt to make me look like a normal human being. And when Lynda says 8.30am, she actually means 8.10 but she'll have been waiting outside the flat since 7.30. For very early morning appointments, it's probably not worth going to bed at all. And you may as well invite her in for supper.

Anyway, she's been and done her thing and gone, with the result that I look unexpectedly stylish as long as I don't move fast in high winds. 'Twas ever thus ... And of course it'll all be ruined (ruined, dahlings, ruined!) when I wash it myself tomorrow. I never really know what to do with a hairdryer and a brush (careful, people, careful ...) - it's like tackling Mount Everest with a pair of sandals and a screwdriver, and hoping to get to the peak by noon.

This morning, I have taken myself (carefully) to my counselling appointment in Guildford and chatted through the week with Kunu. Which was all rather jolly, and we also planned some "coping with people" strategies for tonight (for which see later), which involved not rushing in to fill those terrible gaps in conversations and sitting back now and then to take a broader perspective. I'll have to see if it works. If not, I shall be in the ladies' loos crying and calling Kunu on my mobile. Not her idea of a pleasant evening in, I imagine ...

I was also very proud of myself in Smith's, as I attempted to buy a card and the Radio Times by approaching the only woman at the tills on the upper floor (who studiously ignored me) and asking if she was actually able to sell me something. She said she was but then rushed away, saying she'd be back soon. Instead of my usual response which would be to wait humbly and patiently until the staff deigned to meet my buying needs, I stomped off, muttering about poor service and that I wasn't prepared to wait whilst being rudely blanked. I then went downstairs and found a more amenable employee who even went so far as to take my cash and give me the goods. Harrumph! we cry. Grumpy Old Women 'R' Us. Bloody hell, though, I'm in my forties now and I'm really not taking this crap any more. So if you hear on the news that a mad woman has chained herself to the front door of Guildford Smith's and is chanting about Consumer Rights, it'll be me.

Was much cheered on my way back to the car park though when I bumped into a fellow member of Guildford Writers and spent the next five or ten minutes discussing writing problems and how to do sex scenes. We both agreed that the Golden Rules were to (a) use the words/do the stuff that your characters would genuinely say/do and (b) that if it turned you on, it would probably turn someone else on too. One hopes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have managed to do another 1000 words to The Bones of Summer, and I even have a moment or two of excitement and plot turn at the end. Well I never! It took a while to get there though, but - once again - 'tis ever thus.

I'm hoping to watch my video of "Will & Grace" later on - oh, and I must video John Hurt in "Who Do You Think You Are" - and then this evening I'm out in Guildford, having dinner with the old University girls. Am feeling hugely twitchy about this, as we don't have a lot in common now and it's the first time I've actually met up with them since letting them know about the depression/counselling stuff I've been going through. And they're not the easiest people to have a conversation with about personal stuff. Which, in itself, is a terribly revealing statement to make after twenty years of knowing somebody, but there you go ... That's simply how it is. The added problem is the one acquaintance I feel more at ease with cried off at the last minute, so there'll just be me. And the two of them. Hell, maybe I'll book my place in the loos now ... Sigh!

Oh, and I've started what I think might be a comic anti-novel, about characters in search of a plot. Or an author. With special thanks to Erastes for the idea - though I promise not to use your line, Erastes!! That deserves its own novel, and you simply have to write it!

Today's nice things:

1. A haircut
2. Writing
3. Talking about writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DVDs and poetry mags

Was much amazed yesterday when I came home to find an acceptance for two of my poems by “Seventh Quarry” magazine. Joy indeed! And huge thanks to editor, Peter Thabit Jones, for being kind enough to say yes. Twice. I’m always astonished when anyone takes any of my stuff really – it’s just so unusual an occurrence! But – heck – always welcome. I have to read the email or letter at least three times before I can even begin to believe it. Anyway, it was a lovely extra surprise for our anniversary day.

This morning, I have run around campus collecting copies of our Freshers’ talks DVD and distributing it to the needy. I was hugely excited as I found a completely new route from Student Advice to the Counselling Centre that I’d never trodden before. Spooky really … it was certainly very shadowy and narrow. Hmm, perhaps I was in the twilight zone. It’s possible. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever find it again so I don’t think there’s any cause for concern. Yet.

I also met two people in the Library who greeted me with enthusiasm and familiarity even though I couldn’t remember at all who they might be. Didn’t stop me having a halfway decent conversation with them though – I only hope my cover wasn’t blown. Anyway, all this rushing around and planning for DVD disasters has made me feel very important – a feeling which will no doubt rapidly disintegrate once Freshers’ Week starts next week. Arrggghhh!!

In the midst of all this, I’ve also managed to do the first draft of my review form. Well, the second draft. The first just said: I’m marvellous, please keep me and please keep paying me because I don’t get any money as a writer. At all. But I scrapped that one, thinking it was way too desperate and rather too succinct. I’ll have to think of some more managerial phrases to fill the boxes out with.

Oh, and one of the Estates & Facilities men has just rushed into the office begging to use my phone for an urgent message to his boss. Naturally, I rushed to help. The message was apparently: Have you made the tea yet, John? I’m on my way back. Good to know we in the University know what a priority is and how to handle it, eh. Still, at least I got a nice thank you! But, sadly, no tea.

Tonight, I’m hoping to do some writing (ho ho) and there’s “Heroes” and “Will & Grace” on the TV. Thank goodness. Might also try sorting out my new record collection – I feel the need to have things in alphabetical order. In a terrifyingly sad way, but there you go. Heck, anything that stops me running riot through the streets of Godalming has to be a good thing.

Talking of “Heroes”, my boss must be pleased with me as, after all the to-ing and fro-ing I’ve been doing with the DVDs, he’s now started addressing me in emails as “Hiro”. Yattah! Perhaps it bodes well for my review after all …

And Mother is finally having her appointment with the Chemotherapy expert today (that’s not the official title, but you know what I mean), so we’ll see what, if any, treatment she might need. Poor Mother. I hope it’s not too onerous. UPDATE!! And some good news, hurrah!! – no further treatment needed for the old bird. They just want to see her in December for the standard check-up and they’re all very happy. Phew, what a relief – and at least she can think about booking that holiday again.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting acceptances for two poems
2. Finding a new route somewhere on campus – albeit briefly
3. Mother’s good news.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Anniversary and a writing struggle

Happy anniversary to us! Lord H and I have today been married for 14 years and he hasn’t sent me back to the Wife Shop yet – hurrah! So it was Lindor chocolates for breakfast (though I did have cereals too, so the Government can’t complain …) and it’s champagne tonight. And lasagne and icecream. Hmm, maybe the Government will complain after all – I’ll add salad, honest! I don’t want the Food Police round again.

Presents were nice too (yes, sadly, we do still do presents) – I bought him a CD of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” which he’d asked for, plus a book and chocolates etc. And in return, I unwrapped a couple of books I’d wanted, plus the DVD of “Becoming Jane” and Germaine Greer’s Shakespeare’s Wife. Yes, I know that’s a book too, but I thought I’d give it a special mention – I’ve been longing to read it as soon as I saw it was out. Greer and Mrs Shakespeare – you can’t really go wrong.

The joy of our anniversary was slightly marred however by the necessity of going to work and – horrors! – having to minute the Nursery Management Group this afternoon. But in the event I had to cancel it, as everyone was sick. Must be the proximity to all those children … But Lord H has had flowers delivered and I had to run the gauntlet of bemused students in order to collect them from Senate House, aha! He now has huge numbers of Husband Points. Naturally. Added to which the boss bought bars of chocolate for us – for added strength in the run-up to Freshers’ Week, I assume! So it’s definitely a celebration day.

We’ve also finally taken delivery of an almost perfect version of our Freshers’ Week presentation DVD, so if we can get copies done by next Monday it will save our speakers having to entertain the students with (a) less than perfect copies, or (b) their tap-dancing skills. And – groan – it’s time to fill in our annual review forms. Best make sure I’ve done all last year’s targets by next month then …

Oh, and I managed to do another 500 words of The Bones of Summer last night – Lordy but it was a real effort. I had to chip it out with a small toothpick. Whilst having bandages round my eyes. But at least I think I’ve got a plot idea for the next section. Now there’s a novelty. And I also watched – for the first time ever – “Silent Witness” while I was doing the ironing. As I’m certainly not doing the ruddy ironing tonight, and I do like to get ahead … Actually and sadly, I think I might be hooked. Tom Ward certainly has an NVQ Level 5 in Cuteness, and I’m always a sucker for Emilia Fox. I think I’ll be watching it again sometime for sure.

Today’s nice things:

1. Our 14th wedding anniversary
2. Our 14th wedding anniversary
3. Our 14th wedding anniversary (did I mention that?...)

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, September 10, 2007

Advance cheque arrives for the Z-list author - almost!...

Felt surprisingly calm today – unusual for a Monday and in the run-up to Freshers’ Week too. Which is next week – yikes! We had the first of our Student Care presentations today, and no-one rioted, so that bodes well for the next 25 or so talks. One hopes … Not that I actually give any talks of course – that would be too terrifying for words, but I’m in charge of the admin, the room, the speakers and making sure the DVD works. It did, by the way. We even had it delivered on time. This morning … hell but we like to cut it fine here at the coal-face.

However, the usual quiet office environment (quiet = contained panic of course) has been shattered with the decision of the builders to start drilling into the concrete just outside the window. I think they’re building a tunnel. Not that I can blame them – the campus is a logistical muddle at the best of times, so they probably can’t find their way home.

In the midst of all this, I managed to slip away for my lunchtime reflexology session, which was bliss. And I’m sure I nodded off twice. It’s just soooo soothing that I wish I could afford one every day.

Tonight, Lord H is at the shops to buy us something nice for our anniversary tomorrow (14 years of joy!) – I’m hoping for lasagne, ice cream and champagne. I do love a balanced diet. Talking of which, I won the office booby prize in Ruth’s recent quiz by having the most ridiculous answers – said prize was chocolate cookies, so I opened them at 10.30 today and they were gone by 10.32. Honestly, people here are gannets!

Am hoping to do a little writing this evening, depending on how energised I feel. Or not. We’ll see. Mind you, I had to have a chat with the downstairs neighbour when I got home as he wants us to check our deeds out as he fears that the middle neighbour has purloined a cupboard that should be ours. Hmm. The Cupboard Wars start here ... Hope the Godalming Police are up for the excitement! (Not that I can really get that excited about a cupboard - even if we were to live in a 10 bedroom mansion, we would still be untidy and not have enough space ...).

Oh, and deep joy - John tells me that he finally has the fully signed contract plus advance cheque from PD Publishing for Maloney's Law! Hurrah! He's promising to bank it and send it to me soon. Double hurrah! Almost like being a real Z-list author then ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Nearly having an advance cheque
2. Reflexology
3. Chocolate cookies.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Birds and prize-winning poems

Had a really lovely time at Liz's Last Night of the Proms' party last night - it was great. And memorably lovely too as I happened to mention that I now have all my old record collection (as rediscovered in a cupboard by Mother), but no record player to play them on - and Liz then said that she had two and was planning to get rid of one of them, so I might as well have it. Goodness me, but people can be soooo nice sometimes!! Thanks, Liz - I really appreciate it - and it works too, as we tried it out as soon as we got home. Hurrah! The only problem is that I'm not sure Lord H is all that keen on The Tom Robinson Band, Abba, Fleetwood Mac or Steve Forbert. Bloody hell but that dates me!...

Today, we have spent the day at Titchfield Nature Reserve in Hampshire - and managed to see a green sandpiper, two wheatears, a kestrel, a jay, a shoveler (wonderful beaks!) and a million and one geese, coots, ducks, moorhens etc etc. It was all jolly nice - except that it did take the cafe 40 minutes (40!!! What were they doing? Growing the ruddy vegetables??) to serve us cauliflower cheese & leeks. Sigh ...

Getting home, I discover that I've won third prize in the Writers' News Space Travel poetry competition with my poem, Beyond the Stars. Hurrah! But obviously my warp drive wasn't quite up to gaining first or second prize then. Hmm, must send Scottie down into the engine room again ...

Tonight, Lord H and I are planning to catch up on our video of this week's "Mock the Week", and also maybe a "Lewis" DVD. We'll see.

And thank goodness the McCanns are back home once more. Where they should be really, rather than stretching hope to way way beyond its snapping point in foreign climes. Here's hoping they can now grieve in private, get on with the rest of their lives, and ... um ... in a way that we don't have to read about it. God preserve us from next year's book, Me and Madeleine by Kate McCann - please!!!!! Though if that does happen, remember you heard it here first ... Dammit, if anyone actually buys it, we will have to shoot them. And the ruddy publishers too. For the sake of civilisation and decent folk. Harrumph indeed.

This week's haiku:

This month's "Birding" mag:
spoonbill with a bad hair day.
I know how it feels.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting a record player as a gift
2. Birds
3. Winning third prize in a poetry competition.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bones and Proms

Lord H and I did a slow dash round Waitrose today to get supplies in for tonight's Last Night of the Proms' party at Liz's. There was a queue getting into the carpark as we all waited to get our parking tickets, which we duly had signed off by the check-out girl. Only to discover that someone had nicked the barrier on the way out, so everyone was just driving straight through. There being no staffed barrier on a weekend of course. Goodness me, but how criminal Godalming is becoming ...

Lord H has spent the day in Pulborough Brooks, so I hope he'll come back shortly to regale me with tales of all sorts of wild and wonderful birds he's spotted. In the meantime, I've squeezed out another 1,000 words to The Bones of Summer, thus taking me to the grand total of 22,000. Or thereabouts. And it was a squeeze at the start, I can tell you - took me ages to get going, and I had to play three online Solitaire games (as you do) before I could even write a word. But things got easier as I warmed up. Thank God. It's a funny old game.

I've then caught up on my video viewing - with "Heroes", the last episode of "Outnumbered" and "Who Do You Think You Are?" (with Natasha Kaplinski) all on my personal afternoon programme. And all rivetting stuff. In very different ways. I do so love these social/personal history programmes - it really brings the past alive, even if you're not part of that particular family.

And talking of families (and if I even dare to say this ...), is anyone but me slightly jaded with the whole McCann Media Circus, as it rolls on? And on. And ... um ... on. (Pause for hate mail, I fear, but hey at least I'm being honest). And is it just me or is it getting more like a Jodi Picoult novel by the second?? Lord H's and my working theory (for what it's worth) is that the twins did it, as they're the only ones left at whom the finger of suspicion has not yet been pointed. Mind you, Picoult will probably have them being the ones that did it and the parents covering up. Well, you would, wouldn't you. I also object to everyone saying that Mrs M couldn't possibly have done it as she's so very nice and caring. Well, excuse me, but people who kill don't have to be nasty, you know (and please note at this point that I'm not - repeat not - accusing anyone; I'm simply making a general statement!), and violent crime doesn't have to be carried out by people with narrow eyes and a creepy laugh. Equality for all, you know. Nice people kill too. In fact, as I'm sure I've said on here before, everyone's capable of violence, sometimes extreme violence, and I would view with suspicion anyone who claims they aren't. We're all human.

Anyway, tonight Lord H and I are off to Liz's for her Last Night of the Proms party, and I will endeavour to ensure that, even in my current PMT (now that's scary!) zone, everyone leaves the premises alive. And if in some strange coincidence you later hear of the Godalming Bloodbath, well it wasn't me, guv'nor. I was blogging.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing
2. TV.
3. The Proms' Party (cue wild and scary laughter and a narrow-eyed look ...)

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, September 07, 2007

The ecstasy and agony of book shops

Forgot to mention yesterday that when I went into Waterstone's in Guildford, I was thrilled to see five copies (five!!!) of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice on the shelf. At eye level too, good grief. (Normally any of my books are placed on the bottom level, no matter if that is alphabetically correct or not, or in a box behind the counter as the bookshop is so traumatised by actually having them in at all ...) Not only that but they were actually facing outwards. A miracle has occurred indeed. I was utterly ecstatic! However, my joy was dashed a couple of hours later (if you remember, I'd been writing, m'dears ...) when I came back downstairs to discover that they'd been reshelved so it was strictly spines only. Bugger. Oh the agony.

I then spent a few seconds searching my conscience, found it was out to lunch, so took one copy of Champers and placed it face outward on top of Graham Hurley's latest. Well, bloody hell, he's a bestseller - the bugger doesn't need the sales. I most certainly do!

Fuelled by that deceit, I have done the same today in Godalming Waterstone's with A Bottle of Plonk, though I'm sorry to say I couldn't do it for The Moon's Complexion as the darn thing was too tightly shelved, and groaning and pulling the whole shelf out might have caused too much of a kerfuffle. Even for me. Still, at least I'm doing my bit for The Golden Gals. In my fashion.

Talking of which, I suspect this may be just me, but bookshops are a nightmare rollercoaster of agony and ecstasy for me at the moment, and have been for some time really. I love them of course - all those lovely little treasures to get my hands on and read - what could be nicer? But at the same time, I am frothing at the mouth, weeping and green with sick envy, thinking why oh why can't some of these be mine, and centrally sourced because the bookshop wants them, rather than being forced to order them in because of our begging?. God, but it's a nightmare. Honestly, entering a bookshop these days is like eating too much cheese - I love it but it just brings me out in hives. Deep, deep sigh ...

Oh, and here's yesterday's poem about bats:

The bat detector

Bats swoop and swirl
across twilight skies.

We watch and wonder as
the man with the detector

points the oblong box upward,
catches the pulse of their

calling, each beat a myriad
unheard notes as wild and lilting

as the flight which forms
them. See how they swing

faster as they track their helpless
prey, blink the sound

into silence when the chase
is done. May our flight

too be as full and free
as the bats which dazzle us

once, before being lost
in the trees tonight.

Anyway, to cheer me up, I've played another ace game of golf this morning - hurrah! - and I think I've gained my best score ever. Double hurrah! I even parred the last one. My, how I love a big finish.

I've also popped into see Gladys, who's cheery but tired. Much like me last week, really. I didn't stay long as she obviously wanted to rest, but it was nice to catch up, as I've missed her over the last couple of weeks. Whenever I've called round, she's been hiding - but I fooled her this time by calling when she was in the kitchen so she couldn't escape in time. Aha! I am indeed the Evil Pastoral Visitor. Cue manic laughter ...

This afternoon, I've typed up yesterday section to The Bones of Summer - and Craig and Paul have at last left Devon and are back in London, hurrah! They seem to have been down there for weeks, though they've only had an overnight stay, and it's great to be back on more familiar territory. For all of us. Phew. What the bloody hell happens now though? Lord knows - but I'll think of something. I hope.

Tonight, it's pizza, garlic bread, ice cream and wine - bliss. And I'm going to watch TV till my brain explodes. It's good to have a plan.

And I've (finally!) finished reading Jill McNish's Transforming Shame: a Pastoral Response. Lord, but it was very technical - more for the theologian or psychiatrist than for us bods on the street, really. Though it did have one or two high points - I particularly liked her reinterpretation of the parables of the loaves & fishes. In which the basketfuls of crumbs etc gathered up afterwards aren't a meaningless addition to an already complex visual & narrative symbol, but the parts of our personalities that we want to get rid of or hide, but God wants to keep and cherish. I liked that. A bloody lot. It means something. Which may in fact be the first religious revelatory moment I've had for months of course ...

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. Writing
3. Dinner.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An invisible client and the inspiration of birds

It must be my forties (oh Lord, what then will the fifties be like?...) but I do seem to be finding nature rather more interesting than I found it in my twenties, or even my thirties, though I had softened towards the concept of flowers by then. Anyway, yesterday, I was much amused by a moorhen (should I get out more?) and here is the result:

Protection remembered

A moorhen
plucks its cautious way
across grass,

red beak
carving a slow path
through air,

claws, larger
than its head,
strutting a surprised

and elegant dance
towards denuded bushes.
Yes, my friend,

sometimes I too wonder
where my cover
has gone.

Which somehow brings me nicely into today's counselling appointment, which was all very jolly and we talked a lot about the University, the bliss of people-free days over the weekend and the desirability of enjoyment. However, it must indeed be my week of being invisible - after yesterday's lunch date cancellation, I was running late to my appointment due to Guildford's appalling car park system and a machine that kept spitting my change back at me (so much so that I gave up entirely in the end and drove off to find another car park instead ...) so dashed to the loo when I got to the clinic, whilst giving my name to the receptionist. Anyway, by the time I came back and sat in reception, I think she must have forgotten I was there (I always sit where no-one can see me - which must in itself be revealing), so after ten minutes, I did this soft sheep-cough sort of thing, which is English Women speak for "I'm here and you've forgotten me, haven't you? but I'm too polite to actually say anything so I'm coughing like a sheep to let you know I'm still here." The next moment, there's a slight gasp and she's on the phone to Kunu telling her I've arrived. Hurrah!

But even then, all wasn't plain sailing, as once in the counselling room, I noticed my usual glass of water wasn't on my side-table, but Kunu had no less than four (four! are we expecting a drought?...) glasses of water lined up on hers. I thought she might remember, but after fifteen minutes she hadn't, so I had to be bold and ask for it. We then spent the next few minutes collapsed in uncounsellingy laughter as we agreed that this must be the third occasion I've been forgotten so perhaps Kunu has broken the "where's Anne? I can't see her" run. Here's hoping, eh. Mind you, as long as Lord H remembers I'm here and who I am, I'll be happy.

Post-Kunu, I sat in Waterstone's for a while (what bliss! I do love it there) and wrote a couple of pages to The Bones of Summer, which I shall type up later and two poems. One of which is below (goodness, yesterday's night creatures walk was sooo great!):

The Moth Trap

The warden smoothes his hand
across the blue tarpaulin,

catches a September Thorn
drawn by the piercing glow

of the moth lamp. Other insects
hover near the trap: midges;
smaller moths; three hornets

more confused than angry. ‘Look,’
he says. ‘Look at the wings,
the angle they make against my hand.’

And I do look, though for years,
before the beginnings
of my memory, I have been afraid.

I look and see the grey-brown
body, smaller than half my thumb,
the cornered wings, raised

a little, as if ready at any moment
to launch into the woods’
consuming darkness,

the small dark eyes
almost fearless. And I think

I have never seen anything
more beautiful,

the Thorn not the only creature
caught by the moth trap


Talking of last night, we saw deer, bats, moths (as you can see!), and heard a tawny owl and a barn owl. Might have been nice to see a fox or two as well, but hell you can't have everything. And the sight of the geese flying into the lake to roost was utterly fantastic. Wouldn't have missed that for the world.

This afternoon, I've also had my regular Clarins facial with the oh-so-relaxing Sarah. She's so incredibly soothing that I keep falling asleep. It's great. And I look all glowy and chilled right now. A state of being which I suspect won't last long, but hell it's good while it does.

Tonight, Lord H & I are off to see "Whipping it Up" in Woking (or should that be "Whipping it Up in Woking"?) - never say we don't do culture, missus. And it should be a laugh - a farce about the government with Richard Wilson. You can't really go wrong. One hopes.

Oh, and I've just finished Henry Shukman's poetry collection, In Doctor No's Garden. There are two or three stunningly good poems in it, but I'm not convinced by the rest. Too many words, my dear Mozart (or some such phrase) ... but what do they mean? Really, if you want the energy, electricity and literary style I think Shukman was going for, you're best off with the incredibly good Neil Rollinson. Every time. Hush my mouth.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Writing
3. The theatre.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Websites and night creatures

I must say I actually enjoyed “Gavin & Stacey” on TV last night – it had some jokes in it for once, though there were still the weird, unrealistic parts. Not as good as “Outnumbered” of course, which was as utterly and subtly off the wall as ever. Astonishing how much I like it, even though I hate children. Must be that it almost makes children seem like real people. No! Surely not, we cry … everyone knows they’re aliens from the Planet Zog.

Anyway, another day spent tidying up the website at work. Honestly, my eyes will be shaped like a computer screen soon. I was supposed to be going for a coffee with Sally from Student Advice at lunchtime, but she … um … forgot. Sigh. (How memorable am I? Sorry? Who said that …?) I was so looking forward to it too. Had a walk round campus instead to try to reset my eyes – hope it’s worked …

But, to cheer me up, the builders are back doing something to the windows in the building opposite, so that’s fun, and there seems to be a younger contingent at the moment, hurrah! Talking of which, I’d like to offer a belated welcome to Fireman Kelly, my choice pin-up for September, who comes from Essex and has a rather nice bod and the cutest smile in the world. Lovely …

I’m also showing my age – have got a bit of a dodgy hip today, which sometimes happens. So, I’m managing to look both sad and limpy whilst walking. Really, I should have the darn thing done! – and that’s exactly what I’m going to do when I turn 60, ho ho. Not sure you’re allowed new body parts before then. At least not on the National Health.

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to Pulborough Brooks for an evening spent looking for night creatures. Or at least that’s what the events guide tells us. I’m hoping for lots of bats, foxes and deer, and absolutely no moths at all. Of any shape or size. Lord H did wonder earlier in the week if there might be screaming, should a moth appear. From me, that is … But I’m hoping it won’t come to that – provided that I make sure Lord H is always between me and the creatures from the deep. If he isn’t, I may just have to beat one to death with my torch. Which may not go down that well with the warden of course …

Because of all that, we’re having to perform a super-speedy turn-round when we get back from work this evening, as we absolutely must be out of the flat by 6.30pm at the latest. Before if we can manage it. Which is why Lord H got up early today and sorted out a slow-cooker lamb dinner so we can just eat and go. Must say it smelt delicious when I left for work – could have eaten it there and then. Mmm …

Oh, and last night I did manage 500 words to The Bones of Summer, which takes Craig up to his first flashback scene, so all is not lost on the writing front. One hopes.

Today’s nice things:

1. Lunchtime walk
2. Slow-cooked lamb
3. Pulborough Brooks.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Web Queen

Have spent all morning doing web stuff and marketing for the SCS site – apparently we’re going to have a whizzy new system next year that we can do far more exciting things on, so hurrah for that! In the meantime, I need to tidy up my pages and get rid of my hidden items for good if I don’t really need them. Groan! I hate deleting information so have been hiding things for four years. So I suspect I have rather a lot of web housekeeping to do. Good job I’m not like that in the flat then … Much.

Actually, I do find the thought of a whole new web system to learn and play round in a very exciting prospect – which probably goes to show just how sad and secretarial I really am.

On top of all that, we’ve also decided to produce a Mini-Guide to our care services for students – on the back of the new Big Guide to the university. Might give us more of an obvious presence on campus, which can only be a good thing. And a chance to spend our marketing budget – hurrah! Bloody hell, yes, it’s official – I am sad.

Managed to have a look at the latest exhibition at the Art Gallery during lunch – though I can’t say I was that taken by the pictures. None of them made me stop, though they were pleasant enough.

Oh, and Jay Mandal has finally collected his books left over from the July Writers' Conference, so we have cupboard space once more. Which in a flat this size, we definitely need.

I also think I'm giving up on getting anyone to take my article on women writing gay male fiction - not that I've tried many outlets, to be honest, as I don't know many, but there've been no bites, and I don't have the energy to pursue it. To be frank. Shame, as I do think it's an interesting subject, especially as I'm being contacted by more and more women who are actually writing in that genre. Perhaps one of them will be more successful in their efforts to be heard. One can only hope so. And apologies to the bevy of wonderful writers who gave me their wisdom - sorry I couldn't seem to spark any interest from outside, gals ...

Tonight, Lord H is at the village hall committee, and I’m planning to do more to The Bones of Summer. Must read through my exciting new character studies before I start – and then I might know where I’m going. Ho ho. And I mustn't forget "Outnumbered" on TV tonight, though whether I have the energy for the dreadful "Gavin & Stacey" as well remains to be seen.

Today’s nice things:

1. The thought of a new web system
2. Spending the marketing budget
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website