Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Twists and Tails

‘Let’s go for a Chinese!’ says Tom in a true triumph of hope over experience. There’s only one Chinese restaurant anywhere near us and both the decor and the menu are seriously in need of a revamp. However, with our long-serving Dyson becoming the latest victim of the appliance apocalypse sweeping (or not in the case of the Dyson) through our house, we feel in need of, well not a treat exactly, but a change of scenery.

No surprises at the restaurant; everything about it is reliably dreary, although the evening livens up when the man on the table behind us does a runner. That is, he fumbles for his walking sticks and hobbles slowly out the door without paying. Having tasted the sweet and sour pork I can understand why. So, it seems, can the staff because it takes several minutes before a waitress sets off after him.

Although the meal’s a little less than bog standard, there’s nothing wrong with our pot of jasmine tea which arrives with a couple of fortune cookies. I’m a bit wary of fortune cookies since my dad decided, a few days before he died, that he fancied a Chinese takeaway. It wasn’t a huge success since he only managed to swallow a couple of microdots of prawn toast before having to admit defeat, but our falsely jolly evening took an even bigger nosedive when I tried to cheer him up by reading his cookie fortune. ‘You are in a very difficult place,’ it said, ‘but this will pass.’ Tonight, mine predicts that, ‘You will be called to fill a position of high honour and responsibility’, which is happier if a bit worthy.

I wish someone could tell me what’s going to happen with our house move which has been dragging on forever. I do know that I’m very grateful to Preseli Mags who’s kept me sane in all kinds of ways, offering emotional support and practical advice. I’m slightly more sceptical when Mags suggests a bit of space clearing could sort out a spot of bother, nevertheless I decide to try a small experiment by space-clearing my desk which has become unusually cluttered. And here’s the really spooky thing; before the exercise, the paperback of Turning the Tide was at 58,000 on Amazon (not that I check these things... much) and I didn’t have a berludy clue what to do on the WIP, then, once my desk was clear, Turning the Tide shot up to 19,000 and I wrote 700 words. Ooh-er!

My short story, Charm’s Way, which appears in the latest edition of ‘Your Cat’ magazine also involves transformation and, maybe, a little bit of magic. I was particularly charmed, however, by Mary Kilvert’s illustration accompanying the piece. Mary’s blogged about her work here, and you can see the illustrations both for my story and that of Jane Wenham-Jones which appeared in the previous issue. Thanks for the link, Mary, I look forwards to working with you again.

Painting is 'Totem Gymraeg' by Tom Tomos

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Your Cat Magazine

'Your Cat' magazine is a must for cat lovers. It's full of practical advice - this month's issue features money-saving tips for cat owners, for example - and there are plenty of entertaining and informative articles on all aspects of cat care.

The March issue, also contains my short story, 'Charm's Way' in which a boatyard moggy helps a materialistic go-getter discover life's true treasures. I was really interested to see how my story would be illustrated and was delighted, when my copy came today, with what the artist had done.

Your Cat magazine is available now in newsagents and supermarkets.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Friends, Family and, er, Panto

Thursday 3 February
Mobile again, we decide to take the little car, aka The Biscuit Tin, to do all the things that are stacking up in the south. The Biscuit Tin whizzes along impressively, although high winds make it skitter a bit which is interesting. Arrive at Ma’s to find her glowing with health (apart from the obvious injuries). She’s had to walk everywhere and looks reinvigorated for it. My sister, by contrast, is out of hospital but looking very thin and pale.

Friday 4 February
Tom and I both to London to catch up with old friends and former colleagues. I begin in Holborn and have a rare old time catching up with a dear friend from my trades union research days. (And, John, you can be sure I won’t forget now that the quote was from ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’!) John then points me in the right direction to join Tom at a restaurant in Earlham Street. Alas, as some of you will remember, being pointed in the right direction in London doesn’t mean I’ll end up in the right place. Somewhere around Seven Dials, I have to stop to consult the satellite picture I’m carrying in lieu of a map. A very respectable-looking man joins me to tell me how much he likes my boots. Ooh-er! Hurry on and find myself outside Belgo Centraal which is where I’m meant to be! Hurrah! Join Tom and his friend Jude for pud and another fine time.

In the evening, Tom and I along with Ma, Rose and Si go to the panto. In normal circumstances, wild horses couldn’t drag me to a panto. However, this is not just any old panto; Stepson One has co-written the script, Stepson Two has written a terrific score and the players have worked together for yonks. I have to admit (apologies to Fennie and Rosie) to an absolute horror of any kind of amateur dramatics. Something about ordinary folk going up on stage pretending makes me feel bowel-curdlingly embarrassed on their behalf, but everyone else is having a grand time. I’m a bit envious of the four yummy mummies sitting in front of us getting stuck in to three bottles of wine and, as the evening progresses, a large section of the audience appears to be trollied. Ma observes, in her own imitable style, that Little Bo Peep’s revealing frock means that ‘her apple dumplings are on the boil’ and boozy requests from a number of male voices suggest they have noticed too. Nevertheless the evening is deemed a great success, so a huge ‘well done’ to everyone who put so much hard work into it.

Saturday 5 February
Take Ma and selves to Best Optometrist in the World then proceed to Worthing to catch up with Mil, Dil, Tom’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

Sunday 6 February
Croissants and coffee with my sister, brother-in-law and two nieces, before heading back up the M4. Call in at Cardiff for a brilliant Sunday lunch cooked by my newly-engaged daughter and her fiancĂ©. All gather round to admire Precious, her ring. Leave feeling very happy for the pair of them but then have the first of what, I imagine, will be many wedding-panic nightmares. Dream that I am standing in a windy field battling to spread horrid peach-coloured paper tablecloths on long tables. There are ten minutes to the ceremony and I’m still in my jeans. Then I step back and knock the cake flying. ‘Don’t worry, Mum,’ says Lily when I tell her the next day, ‘I’ll still love you!’

Wednesday 9 February
Washing machine has just given up the ghost. I know I’ve had posh chocs, dear Appliances Online, but just in case you’re watching...

And finally...
I’ve banged on a bit this week I know, but just before I go I must just tell you about the special Valentine’s offer from Choc Lit. From now until Feb 14th you can pick up a selection of Choc Lit Kindle ebooks, including Turning the Tide from just £2.14! Hurry, as they say, this offer won’t last.

Painting is County Kerry (2) by Tom Tomos

Monday, 7 February 2011

Love is in the Air at Choc Lit

Today I'm blogging over at Choc Lit Author's Corner about love tokens and Choc Lit's special Valentine's offer.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Life in the Month of...

Goodness me, those posh chocolates are a dim and distant memory now. Hopefully, thanks to those generous folks at Appliances Online, some of you will shortly be wallowing in recipe books and chocolates galore. Just remember though that if you get a washing machine I’ll be a bit miffed as mine’s still on the blink.

After a traumatic December I was hoping for a period of calm, but January’s been just as tumultuous...

Ma, feisty old bird that she is, has coped amazingly with having one arm in a sling. Her delight when she managed to put a bra on for the first time was only marred by her dismay that she’d put it on inside out. At this stage, I’d have thought ‘What the heck’ and left it, but Ma went through the whole laborious process again! The hospital lost her follow-up appointment (you knew they’d do that, didn’t you?) but she’s now back in the system. All things considered she’s been a real star.

My little sister was rushed into hospital last week with chest pains and treated for a suspected blood clot. Fortunately, it’s ‘only’ pleurisy, but it didn’t half scare the pants off everyone

When your rellies are dropping like flies, one thing you need is a reliable car. Especially when there are two buses a day from your village and the railway station is 30 miles away. So, naturally our ancient Berlingo decided to pack up. We managed to nurse it as far as the nearest garage and trade it in for a little Daihatsu that would fit in the boot of our neighbour’s 4x4. So what if it sounds like a biscuit tin when you close the door; it’s a car, it was cheap and we’re mobile again.

The house saga rolls on and will make a blog of its own. Truly, if I tell you all about it now, I’ll curl up in the foetal position and never get any writing done.

The work in progress is, well, in progress again! Hurray! I have another couple of month’s grace, but I’m in a much happier place with it. Ooh my goodness, another full-blown blog saga awaits after I’m done, but I had no idea of how much having Turning the Tide out there would affect the WIP! I’ve been very lucky and received some super reviews, emails and letters from readers, but, gosh, the odd caustic comment from one or two hardcore reviewers has nearly cut me in half! Especially when they’re unfair! Ah well, as writer Lesley Pearse, so wisely said on Twitter recently, ‘Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.’

With the Llanelli half marathon approaching, pigs are about the only animals not bothering me. If farm dogs and runaway horses weren’t enough to worry about, my favourite route has now been hijacked by a pheasant! I was slightly freaked out the first time it ran a mile with me, but after it tried to stop me getting past I decided it was time to change my route.

On the very last day of January, just when I was beginning to wonder if things were ever going to get any better, my elder daughter, known here as Lily, rang me from Edinburgh where she and her boyfriend, Russ, were on holiday. It had been a cold weekend and Lily couldn’t understand why Russ kept refusing to put his hat on. In the right place, at the right time, she discovered why; Russ had been waiting for the perfect moment to propose and the ring was wrapped up in his hat! Awwwww!

Many congratulations Lily and Russ, we’re delighted! Here’s wishing you every happiness together!

Painting is County Kerry (3) by Tom Tomos