Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Blue Notes, Green Fuse

Tom created this epainting sitting in bed the other morning, looking down at the blue pool of hydrangeas beneath our window. In March, when we moved in, there were no clues about colour in the withered husks of last year’s flower-heads. Now, in a few short months, here they are in full bloom, purple from a distance but blue as you draw close.

Looking at these flowers, I’ve often been reminded of lines from D H Lawrence’s ‘Bavarian Gentians’ written when Lawrence was so aware of his own mortality. The ‘darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness’. A poem suffused with beauty and sadness. There’s been too much sadness in the news this week, too many young lives curtailed. Locally too, the community is coming to terms with the death of a fifteen year old boy struck by a car when concerns about an unexploded WW2 shell diverted school children from their usual routes home and onto a main road. It’s all the lost potential that makes me despair.

This week, a hard-to-find John Martyn album I’d ordered to replace my worn-out vinyl copy finally arrived. Coincidentally, Chris Nickson’s biography of John Martyn, Solid Air, also became available this week. It’s a beautifully-written, lucid account of the man and the musician – not always, as Nickson reminds us, a comfortable mix. I love John Martyn for those achingly sublime moments, but there are plenty of tracks which fall short when the man sometimes got the better of the musician. John Martyn may have only been sixty when he died, but reading this biography made me keenly aware of how very young he was, just seventeen, when his professional career began and how much music he packed into his life. And whilst I’m on the subject of lost artists, there’s a wonderful tribute to Lucian Freud by Frances at her blog City Views, Country Dreams. Do have a look, especially if you think Freud was only about acres of flesh, and see his beautiful drawings.

On a happier note, the other poem that often comes to mind when I’m walking round the garden or feeling exhilarated after a swim in the sea is Dylan Thomas’s ‘The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower’. Life goes on. This weekend, oblivious to lives being taken or changed, we had a wonderful time catching up with my daughter, Rose, and her partner Si. We walked and swam and simply enjoyed being together in glorious weather. Ma’s feeling rejuvenated too, after her brush with serious injury in December. Yesterday, she phoned to tell me that she’d booked herself up on ‘a computer course for wrinklies’ since she’s itching to buy herself a laptop. And finally, Stepson One and his fiancĂ©e, Gill, fly off to Grenada tomorrow to get married. Here’s wishing them every happiness on their wedding day and for their lives together.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Congratulations to Liz Fielding

I’ve dragged myself up at Crack of Doom for the electrician, my unwashed hair’s been piled up into a bun and the plug could be pulled on the power at any moment, but despite all this I’m at a party!

I’m over at my Welsh neighbour’s (well, we’re in next-door counties), award-winning romance writer, Liz Fielding. Liz and I are members of the Carmarthen Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and were also flatmates at the recent RNA Summer Conference. Not only has Liz been very generous in her support to me as a newly-published writer, but I can tell you that she’s very generous with yummy biscuits too!

Liz is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of signing her first contract for Mills and Boon for her novel, An Image of You and she’s just completed her – gulp! - sixtieth book for them, Flirting with Italian, which is out in December. How’s that for hard work and discipline?

I’ve just finished reading her latest book, Tempted by Trouble featuring the delectable Sean McElroy who turns up in heroine Elle Amery’s life bearing a pink-and-white ice cream van. Well, an introduction like that would impress me, but you’ll have to read the book to see if Elle’s so easily won over! In the meantime, do pop over to Liz’s celebrations and raise a glass to her. Congratulations Liz!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Of Mice, Romantic Novelists, Gok and a Cabbage

It’s 7a.m. on Day One of the home improvements at Hotel H and there is a cry of disbelief from upstairs. The electrician has opened the first of the old sockets – in our bedroom – to discover two dead mice curled up behind it. Downstairs, the heating engineer is flushing out the radiators and declares it to be his Filthiest Ever Flush. Nice.

Having only returned from the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Conference the previous evening, it’s all a bit of a rude awakening. Rather than doing something about all the writing ideas vying for attention after some very inspiring conference sessions, I’m dodging bits of ceiling – ‘You are replacing these, aren’t you?’ - choking on dust and supplying lashings of ginger beer, the workmen’s tipple of choice.

I have to admit that I wasn’t especially looking forwards to the RNA Conference, too afraid, I suppose, of being a Lonely Baloney*. In the event, I don’t know what I was worried about as I was met with warmth and kindness and some really lovely comments about Turning the Tide. Here’s a selection of Choc Lit authors before the Gala Dinner.

At Hotel H, it’s time to bale out and leave the workmen to it. Tom and I head south and catch up with a whole swathe of friends and family. Stepson Two’s Gorgeous Girlfriend has been very busy promoting her campaign, Sign up, Speak up, Save Lives for Channel 4’s Battlefront. Here she is in all her gorgeosity with – gulp – Gok Wan!

Home again, it’s evident that work is still ‘in progress’. The disruption’s a little dispiriting, but we cheer ourselves up by cutting our first cabbage and here it is. What a big ‘un!

*Family slang. Billy No-Mates.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Get it while it's £1.72!

Blimey! Turning the Tide's available on Kindle at the truly bargainous price of £1.72 today. Don't those lovely folks at Amazon realise I have a plumber and electrician to pay? Ah, what the heck? Get it whilst it's hot and have a read in the sunshine.