Saturday, May 31, 2008


I seem to have scared you all away with my meltdown… I thought I’d best explain myself.

Ages ago I lost my bank book – I’ve put it somewhere ‘safe’ and I keep expecting to chance upon it but I haven’t. (I put my Granny’s ring somewhere safe once, when we were moving and I didn’t see it again for seven years. And yes, I have checked the button box for my bank book. It’s not there.)

I’ve managed fine with my cashpoint/debit card. Until my cashpoint card’s electronic strip started playing up … I could get cash from certain machines so of course I ignored it. But it got worse and worse, so eventually I went into my bank branch at Emporium and said ‘the electronic strip is failing’ and after consulting many colleagues, someone told me if I came back with my passport and my bank book, pay them 300 baht, they would supply a new one.

Ahh, fine, except bank book hadn’t turned up and is still residing in its safe place. I did all the filing, searched high and low (in the button box) and couldn’t find it. I returned to the bank to tell them I couldn’t find my bank book and they told me it needed to be reported missing to the police. They need the police report in order to issue a new bank book.

In the meantime Husband said he couldn’t find his bank book either so he got his secretary to put into motion the process for lost bank books for both us. Then he, the klutz, on looking for a third time, found his book in a drawer at work. (Oh if only my safe place were as obvious as that. Just in case, I did check the button box again.)

Doing anything official or paperworky is very hard here. I could probably work out how to do it all, but if you have the offer of help, you’d be mad to reject it. For weeks, it seemed, Husband’s secretary very kindly too-ed and fro-ed to the bank/police etc collecting stuff, which she issued to Husband who strode back and forth with bits of paper for me to sign or fill in etc. a copy of my passport, which I countersigned, that came back with some Thai writing on it which I had to sign again, and then she needed a power of attorney letter. Bear in mind that all this is in a foreign language which I cannot understand but am nonetheless being asked to put my signature against. While all this was happening I had to keep asking him for money despite the fact that I actually had money, I couldn’t get to.

Eventually all the correct bits of paper had been accumulated in triplicate, countersigned photocopies, affidavits, power of attorney letters etc and all I had to do was go to the bank and present them, pay for the lost book and replacement card and bingo. I went on Thursday and the police had got the branch name of my bank incorrect so the bank wouldn’t accept the paper work.

Well, I lost the plot. Not there and then in the bank, thankfully, but outside. I really don’t know what happened. I behaved quite out of character. There were one or two things on my mind (why can’t I get on and write? Are we really staying here? If it’s only one year what will happen to Son’s two years of GCSEs? Will Husband be made redundant? Will Daughter want to go to boarding school in England?) so maybe it was partly those things too, but I sat outside Emporium Suites, sobbing and swearing, alternately, down the phone. WTF?

Anyway I felt terrible; I behaved horribly and I’m utterly ashamed of myself.

I thought you should know what kind of a person’s blog you visit.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Forgiving Friday

It’s not that I hate apologising. I don’t dislike apologising at all if I’m wrong – which I am often. In fact, I’d say the ability to say you’re sorry comes high up my list of redeeming features in people. If you can do it I think more of you not less.

What I really loathe is when sorry means “I’m sorry I got caught and just as soon as you turn your back I’m going to be at it again.” That’s not an apology.

Sometimes my children have turned, at my request that they apologise, and hissed ‘but it was an accident.’ Taking responsibility for a mistake or accident and being sorry is something I’ve encouraged as a courtesy. Maybe that means ‘I’m sorry you’re hurt’ rather than ‘I’m sorry I hurt you’ but it’s something to do with the human condition that they have empathy toward someone who is hurting for whatever reason.

Of course, being English, apologising comes high up my list of daily activities. I do it a lot. But you know you overuse the sentiment when the changing room assistant in The Gap in New York comments on the number of times you’ve told her you’re sorry in the forty five seconds you’ve been in there. I guess I mean ‘Excuse me’ in many cases.

Today I am squirming with embarrassment. I’m mortified. I’ve had to apologise, which wasn’t difficult because I was in the wrong. It’s not the being sorry though that makes me feel utterly ashamed it’s the knowledge that I lost control of my reaction to something. Getting angry in Thai culture isn’t done; you lose face. Their opinion of you diminishes. And I think that’s the problem. It’s the way she may now feel about me.

But for me, it's nothing to do with Thai culture: it's part of my way too. It takes me right back to being told off by my headmaster in junior school. I didn’t mind apologising for the deed I’d committed. What makes me cringe with humiliation to this day is the way he, the headmaster and a family friend, might feel differently about me now he knew that I was capable of such horrible behaviour.

Still, I guess that’s what forgiveness is about, isn’t it? Maybe I need to work on that.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not hearting so much today

Lovely morning: cup of coffee with Andrew Computer, gossiping and chatting about Photoshop: who’d’ve ever thought it?

Filthy, foul mood caused by idiosyncrasies of the ‘way’ things are done here. Some tears; lots of swearing; general bad temper.

Late PM
Reasons to be cheerful:

  • Daughter was pleased with how her English exam went.
  • Son said his ‘cross hatch self portrait’ homework looked like a Halloween mask. Still chuckling: he was right.
  • Penang curry: leaving the beef behind for Husband and eating all the eggplants.
  • Son making me a cup of tea: more tears? Maybe.
  • Daughter's science homework about a sperm running a marathon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why I heart Thailand 2

Back in April outside Husband’s office window, one of the big iron billboards blew down onto the building next door. In the paper that week there were reports of two people being killed by the storm earlier in the week, one by a similar billboard and another by a falling tree!

The Powers That Be issued the following safety statement:

"People should avoid standing near flimsy objects during high winds."


I've had to change the second anecdote: because Husband checked his Thai translations AFTER the joke was published. This one he witnessed and texted to me:

Saw suspect arrested outside our office today, taken off to police station on a motobike, one cop driving, and one cop behind him holding his arms. No helmet on any of them, three on a bike.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

*whispers* OMG

I’ve been OUT for about seventeen months now. Out in cyberspace I mean and in terms of having admitted to myself and others that I want … am trying … to write a novel. Strictly speaking being out under a pseudonym probably isn’t really being out – but it’s an alter ego not a pseudonym.

It's a long road and I was very early on in the process but I’ve been here on the blogs all this time, listening to the conversations, particularly though not exclusively, those of the Novel Racers and I hear things. Sometimes I hear things that make me think ‘what do they mean?’ ‘I don’t think that happens to me.’ I didn’t feel … inadequate or even intimidated but I did wonder if it would ever happen to me. Maybe it didn’t help my confidence, which is fickle at the best of times, but usually I just thought I hadn’t quite got the experience of some of the others. And that’s fine.

But do you know what? It is happening to me. Those people from Novel 2 … they keep appearing in my head and having conversations; all on their own. The Mum and the Sister have been here today, separately, and had arguments with the MC. I can see one of the more minor characters. He doesn't speak much so I haven't quite worked him out but I can see and feel him.

It’s decision made, really isn’t it?

On I go with Novel 2, then.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Novel 1, 2 and 3

Yesterday there was no stopping me. I returned to the scene of my ‘sleep crime’ in Starbucks (not to the same chair just in case it was infused with soporific stuffing) but to the sofa where I wrote and wrote and wrote about the two new ideas. Novel no 2, the idea I’d had in the UK, had appeared with characters and bits of dialogue so I wrote mostly about that one.

I really like the idea for novel no 2. It requires more research, but nothing impossible - and I do love research. (If anyone knows anyone who could tell me about ‘advisors to the Government’ I’d be very grateful. Please email though the address in my profile.)

Husband thinks that Novel No 1 idea might best be put on the back burner until it feels right. I feel emotionally attached to that one and yet I'm not doing it. I think maybe the stakes are too high. There seems to me to be several possible reasons why I'm not doing it:
  • I am not ready to write Novel 1
  • I really am bone idle
  • I beat EVERYONE on the procrastination front, whatever Sheepish says!
  • I am not cut out to write fiction
  • It’s a crappy idea

And I am rather excited by Novel No 2… which is about someone coming back home after a period working overseas. If I’m about to spend July in the UK, it might be the time to write that one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Doncha just love it?

I was feeling a little pathetic yesterday. I couldn’t write at home so after lunch with Husband and Son, I went to write in Starbucks. I bought a fruity frappacino, read the freebie Eng Lang magazine and then hugged my bag to my chest and went to sleep. Yes, in Starbucks. This means one of two things: either I have properly immersed myself in Thai culture (Thais will sleep anytime, anywhere) or I was a bit poorly.

When I got home I was full of self loathing for not writing, but then I realised I was feeling ‘not quite right.’ I took Migraleve immediately which put a halt to the pain and meant I could function. I woke this morning still feeling not quite right but we’ve got stuff planned so I got myself up; read a couple of blogs (including this one) and went into the shower (I apologise for any horrible images this conjures up for those that know me.)

While I was in the shower (ditto apology, didn’t mean to remind you) with my mind a wandering, I came up with Novel No 3 idea. (There is a small problem in that I haven’t written either novel 1 or novel 2, but it used to be the lack of ideas that worried me … now of course it’s the writing of the ideas…) Anyway, it’s perfect; it fulfils all the things that obsess interest me while being different enough from the ideas for 1& 2.

I owe Wordtryst big time for a comment in her post, which my mind picked up and flew with.

Then I had an idea for an article I’m doing that I knew was due but the subject had eluded me.

Doncha just love it? Now, of course I’ve got the small matter of writing them…

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More Tea Talk

I could get really obsessed with the visitor stat counter thing. My latest fav thing is looking at the search words to see how surfers have found my blog.

After recounting the story a few weeks ago of the headless rabbit in Younger Niece’s wardrobe, I was amused horrified … it was interesting to see that a search for ‘headless rabbit, witchcraft’ had caused someone to stumble upon tea stains. I bet that was a disappointment to them. But really, who searches stuff like that?

Today on my search list was ‘pg tips bangkok where’ so I clicked on that search link and at page 23 of Google’s list of hits I still hadn’t found tea stains. Where was I? How many pages did they trawl through to find me?

Anyway, I’ve decided that it isn’t good enough: how can I call myself tea stains and barely a mention of PG Tips? So to answer anyone interested in the purchase of PG Tips in Bangkok …

You can buy them here in Central but I’ve only seen them in boxes of 40 (which might not last me much more than a week!) And they cost 16p a teabag and at that price I can’t afford my tea habit.

When visitors and guests come I ask them to bring as big a quantity as they can carry. Lovely Sister in law brought two GARGANTUAN catering bags which made me very happy … until I noticed they were … NOOOOOO … single cup strength … for wimps. For a while I used two teabags in one mug, until a friend declared my cups of tea ‘disgusting.’

Lovely Caroline sent me a box of teabags, but I was mortified by how much it costs to send a box of teabags to Bangkok so that’s not the way to keep up a supply without bankrupting friends and family.

I didn’t bring any back from my recent trip because my suitcase was full of books and ‘Soft and Gentle’ which is another story altogether, and now my rations are running low. I’m not sure that they will last until I leave for the UK in July so my dealer Husband has found a carrier coming in June. An email has been issued requesting and detailing the procurement of the correct teabags:

  • PG Tips
  • Not One Cups
  • No leaves
  • Pyramid bags
  • No poncy tea claiming pretensions: just PG Tips

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Total Recall? Nope, not even Partial Recall

Ever since I spent the weekend in Manchester recently I’ve been toying with buying myself a Nintendo DS. I didn’t even know what a Nintendo DS was until I got to the UK.

My own children had been saying to me about their cousins: ‘J bought the girls a Nintendo DS each for Christmas.’ And I’d say ‘Really? That’s nice.’ Nintendo is the magic word: it’s a gaming thing. I switch off. Blah blah blah – no interest.

I saw the actual ones that J bought the girls for Christmas when I got to my parents. They were exactly what I thought they were: little plastic, handheld computer things. Still no interest – though irritation began to seep in: Ach, this modern world… (OMG, how OLD am I?)

Then I went to Manchester, where my seven year old god-daughter had a new Nintendo DS with brain training on it. Oh, really? ‘What does that do?’ I ask.

My vocabulary is reasonable – probably better than average – but when you’re surrounded by writers, as I am here on the blog and readers (among bloggers, friends and family) it’s probably not brilliant and let’s be honest, I like words and I can always have more in my head, can’t I? But I do have a SERIOUS problem with recall.

I know that word … yes I do. It’s on the tip of my … and then someone else supplies it. As a result I’m totally and utterly useless at crosswords, which makes me seriously pissed off – and even wondering if I might have some slow form of Alzheimers.

Part of Husband’s and my courting (OMG, how OLD am I?) was sitting over lunch in the Union Bar doing crosswords (I know, we were such a racy pair.) He’s a scientist which I think must mean the filing system in his head is pretty good (certainly if you compare his side of the bed with mine this assumption makes perfect sense) and he so fab at recall (I’m not even going into the standard of his cryptic crossword skills). Anyway, I didn’t let myself down too much since the standard of newspaper he bought in those days was pretty low! But it’s always bothered me.

So now I have a remedy: I am the proud owner of a Nintendo DS with word power and brain training programmes on it.

There’s going to be no stopping me.

And just for fun: guess which side of the bed is mine?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I’ve just finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

OH.MY.GOD. The book is amazing. It’s brilliant and terrifying. Actually it’s turned into one of those ‘why am I trying to do this when there are writers out there doing THIS?’

It’s not remotely a book I would’ve picked up myself, but Julia Bell recommended it to me when I was in the UK. (I think we were talking about ‘truth’ in writing and this was an example.) She’d done a lecture on it recently and she said she’d thought about putting some notes up on her website about it.

So I went to have a look at her website (here) to see if I could find some more about the book. I couldn’t find any notes but I found this from her article ‘Dressing to Thrill’:

‘Sometimes I fear that some writers want to get published more than they want to write. Being a successful writer is a long apprenticeship. Writing a novel is a slow, frustrating process. It takes time and patience to get it right.’

And then I saw Jon’s post from yesterday, which is relevant too.

I remembered that for me it's never been about the publishing, but about the writing - the process - the thinking. That's why I started. Yes, my standards are high and so be it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm still here

So it’s painfully slow, and I’ve calculated that if I write only 200 words a day, five days a week, it’ll take two years to write my book.

Still, I’m writing.

I can’t quite persuade myself that I can write tosh and come back and sort it out later. Maybe that’s not my way.

Maybe, I have to write slowly and right (mostly).

Still, it’s a lot of sitting and thinking. And looking at the ‘recount’ button, and pressing it and finding out I’ve only added five words since I last pressed it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not posting but writing

I don't like not posting. So I'm here to say ...

... to let you know that I'm not posting ...

... because ...

I'm writing. (Slowly.)

OMG. I'm writing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Filthy Bad Mood

I had time to write today. Husband was out golfing; Daughter had lots of homework and Son … well, was not doing any homework or revision or anything that could be construed as useful – still he was quiet.

And I, stupidly, let a filthy bad mood stop me writing. I know that I should’ve written filthy bad mood type writing, but I couldn’t even do that.

I finished The Gathering. It reminded me of conversations I had with my sister while I was in the UK recently: we are close in age and yet remember totally different things about our childhood. We talked while she drove me around because I was nearly blind (following the contact lens saga) and all our memories are so intertwined and yet also so unreliable. We looked after a horse called Blue for a while, and one of us fell off him along the side of a road we drove down, and neither of us could remember which of us it was. We couldn't even decide how old we were when we did this.

Filthy Bad Mood was dissipated by Iron Man at the cinema, bizarrely. It was very silly but quite fun. Hopefully I will be able to write tomorrow.

Now I have the pleasure of starting a new book; what shall I choose?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Books and Reading

I am forever coming here and saying ‘Oooh, I’ve had an epiphany…’ I think it might be because I’m a bit dim so as my synapses clunk and grind the truth emerges, slowly into my foggy brain and where I think it’s a revelation actually it’s just the truth dawning on a bit of a twit: Doh.

Anyway, I’ve been reading over the last few weeks, as I think we all do and I’m feeling a bit more confident about what kind of book I’m writing (really, really slowly). I’m no longer enjoying reading certain genres so the reading of late has crystallized what I don’t want to write. I had been a bit torn and it was something else to stop me writing (anything'll do; got any good ideas to stop me writing? Leave 'em in a comment and I'll get onto them immediately!)

I’ve spent all day websiting, then I went to school to see Bugsy Malone and now I’m going to get into bed with The Gathering by Anne Enright, which I’m more than half way through and loving.

Oh, and no, I'm not planning to write a The Gathering type of book.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Licence to Lunch

I’ve been a proper expat woman today. I wore a dress and I had a matching bag, nail varnish and sandals and went off to the Combined Women’s Lunch.

It was organised by the British Women’s Group (that’s us) and it had a James Bond Theme; it was called Licence to Lunch. Here’s the poster.

Some time back I spent weeks doing artwork for this event. Carol drew the little cartoony woman, and then I did all the layout stuff. Mind you, I didn’t work as hard as the rest of the committee that organised it. It was rather nice to go along today and see how the whole theme came together.

Wasn’t Roger a good sport? This is Roger with two friends from our table.

It’s amazing how much fun having your picture taken with a cardboard cut out can be after a few glasses of wine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back to Art

I’ve done lots of life (drawing) classes. It was life drawing that got me back into art after I’d had my children. I did it because I’d always been scared of it – not the nudity bit – but the ‘being able to do it’ bit. The nudity bit, well that’s okay, maybe it makes me want to snigger just a bit while I’m talking about it, but the body is really just a series of shapes and that genuinely is how I see it. (There were about thirty seconds­ in my very first class when I just didn’t know where to put my eyes but that didn’t happen again.)

I remember one class I went to while I was doing my foundation course. It was memorable for two reasons. One, because of what I’m about to tell you, but two, because my friend Sally realised that the male model was the ex-boyfriend of a friend of hers. Anonymous naked bodies are fine but naked bodies that turn out to be the checkout girl at the local corner shop, or your daughter’s classroom assistant … well, that can be a bit embarrassing.

Anyway the pose was a continuation of one we’d started the class before. The model was placed back in the same position aided by a series of marks – chalk or in this case, most likely, masking tape and reference to existing drawings. The artists had to sit in the same positions too or the fundamentals of the drawing would all be wrong. (Sometimes the fundamentals of the drawing are completely wrong anyway because of artist error, but that’s not how it should be.)

We were using the gym and the model had been set up at one end of the room. He lay parallel to the wall, precariously placed on top of a construction of gym benches. The artists were placed in a semi circle around him, and I was at one extreme end by his head. This meant that his body was totally foreshortened (head much bigger than feet because it was nearer me). Drawing bodies is one of the toughest disciplines for a variety of reasons but foreshortening is an incredibly difficult thing to deal with. Persuading the viewer that a two dimensional picture has weight and the dimension of a solid object is hard enough, but when you’ve got to think about perspective too it’s … well, it’s easy to see why it’s a hugely important discipline.

In the first session I’d pretty much dealt with the body but it was floating and in the second session I had to face up to the difficulty of drawing in the benches on which he was lying. Because I was at an extreme end of the model, the bench was dramatically foreshortened. While it was really nearly 8ft long, it looked to me to be only a few inches long and so I had a terrible time. I tore my hair out and at the end of the two hour session our tutor, Roger asked me how I’d felt about the class and my work. “Oh,” I’d said “I’ve had such a difficult time. I’ve basically only drawn one line.” And he turned to me and he said, without a trace of irony, facetiousness or taking the piss, “Oh, but look: what a line!”

Two hours: one line.

So why am I telling you this? Because when I write my blog, I can happily trot out a six, seven hundred words about something trivial but true, but when I write my novel, it takes me two hours to draw one line.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stuff in my head

Okay so that wasn’t too bad. Thank you to all commentators. I was regretting it when Husband texted me to say there was a grammatical error in it. I do worry about those errors that I can’t see. I’m not dyslexic at all, but I really can’t see them. Is there any advice about that? Easier to read on paper? Double-spaced? The Reading Layout? Rachel’s advice has been taken – they were redundant words – and I’m going to have a think about SueG’s and Lane’s.

Yesterday was the beginning of my ‘one day at a time approach’ and I’m not going to be a mean and nasty bully to myself. I posted my opening: this is brave. I’m very frightened about showing anyone any fiction as I think I can’t write fiction. I have no imagination, see? So no, I didn’t write loads more on the book, but I did finish an article I’d been writing – which is WRITING. I sent that off. I hope it was okay because I had a big, fat, looming deadline of 5pm.

Today I was going to get writing again and I will but I’m later than I hoped. I can’t stop sleeping… Could it still be jetlag? In a minute I’m going to get showered, dressed and make another cup of tea and then I’m going to write the next paragraph. Yes, that’s all I’m aiming for: a paragraph at a time.

My tummy is in a knot because there’s Stuff Happening and Being Discussed about our Future. The reason I have a knot in my tummy is because no-one talks to me about our Future. Husband tells me what’s being proposed but the powers that be at work aren’t interested in what I think. Our contract runs out in July; the company has recently been taken over and Son begins GCSEs in Autumn term ’08 so we have to know where we are for the next two years. I wish I could be as cavalier as Son. Really, the company … no big company is that interested in such things – our family life. They only tolerate us (Me and the kids) because they want Husband to do his stuff. I can’t say anymore until … well until someone deigns to tell us once and for all what’s going on.

I’m showered, dressed and the tea is stewing brewing so there’s no more prevaricating to be done.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stupid? Me? Pah.

This could be something I live to regret, but I'm nothing if not stupid brave.

I'm posting my opening (eeeeeek):

There must have been a point during the flight where Julia’s life crossed a boundary from West to East, but she didn’t know where it was. It was something she hadn’t thought to research.

She didn’t know if it was a line drawn by politicians, economists or historians but what she did know was that the split second of flying over whatever demarcation determined East from West was irrelevant. The crucial moment was the one when she agreed that if she could muster all her courage, she might be brave enough to move their family from an English village six thousand miles away to Bangkok, Thailand.

Any comments welcome. Gulp.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Just Say No

One of the very best things about leaving the UK for Thailand was that it enabled me to wean myself off certain addictive television. I was completely hooked on Coronation Street, Eastenders, Holby and Casualty.

Now, I AM aware of the off button – and I DO know how to use it, but … I … well I didn’t. I was relatively happy being hooked on them. I wasn’t doing anyone else any harm, was I?

But the whole celebrity thing: Yuk. And, a bit like picking a scab, sometimes I just couldn’t resist it. I only had to be weak for a couple of episodes before I was hyperventilating for the next one. Or, goddamn it, going online to watch the live stream. Yes, readers, I hang my head in shame but how I loved Fame Academy …

By the time we moved I’d really had my fill of all the media celebrity fascination and although I’m au fait with the off button, I just couldn’t … quite … actually do it. The only way I could cope was to not get inveigled into the programme in the first place.

I was delighted then to exile myself here because suddenly I was in a foreign land where I didn’t see or hear any of the celebrity thing. Well, of course I do see it and I do hear it, but because it’s not ‘Where is the loo?’ or ‘chicken fried rice, please’ I can’t understand it.

So yesterday I was in the hairdressers. (Yes, again. Having my hair cut again because it wasn’t short enough last time, and yes, now I’ve got the haircut of a dorky eight year old boy but even I’m getting weary at all my tales of my barnet so that’s enough of that). So I’m in the hairdressers and Johnny with the scissors tells me that the woman having her hair washed (out of earshot) is a celebrity. A soap star.

Well when she appears from the washing, it’s a terrible anticlimax because she just looks like a Thai lady. It’s not like I’m sitting next to Vera Duckworth or Pauline whatsername that Jane Wenham Jones’ book told me had been killed off. But there is some Diva like behaviour because the massage parlour next door sends in a masseur and while the Soap Star is having her hair cut, she also gets her feet and lower legs massaged.

Damn it. I wish I’d thought of that.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The alcoholic's adage

I’m still jetlagged but I’m feeling a lot better now that I’ve reverted to sleeping on UK time! I got the kids up for school at 5.45am this morning which is normal and then I went back to bed for a bit of a lie in and woke up at 12.15! Whoops.

I’ve been trying very hard not to be too hard on myself this week. My personality morphs into a witch when I’m tired. I look pretty much the same on the outside – apart from dark shadows under my eyes and the lids heavier than usual – but inside I’ve got green teeth, warts with hairs and a vicious temper. Gosh, don’t I sound attractive?

While writing an article this week I’ve been carefully mulling over what I’m going to do next. Tentatively I plan to get started again. I’m going to try and write in the mornings. I must be gentle. I’m going to start by think about both book one and book two – if I can. I suspect at some point book two will be put on the side but at least the ideas will be there in the unlikely event I ever finish the first one for when they are needed.

I’m not issuing deadlines; I’m going to do the alcoholic’s ‘one day at a time.’

Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tagged by Carol and Uphilldowndale

I’ve been tagged for a meme by Carol and Uphilldowndale. I’ve actually done this before – you can find it here – and it’s turned out rather long so I’m sticking to five things.

The rules are:

1) Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4) Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I am a potato fiend. I love them: baked, boiled, fried, roasted, mashed, hot, cold: Yum yum. When I worked in York I used to go to a little Church in Micklegate for lunch that had been turned into a resource centre with a vegetarian cafĂ©. I discovered ‘Homity Pie’ there. It’s my idea of heaven: wholemeal pastry, potato, cheese, onion, leeks and garlic. As the lunch deal you could choose a main dish and two side dishes to go with it. I used to order Homity Pie, a baked potato and potato salad.

As you can see from above the allium family are another passion. As a small child I would eat a jar of pickled onions in one sitting. Thankfully my Dad made his own so there was always a good supply of them. I still adore pickles today, but pickled eggs? Nah, I was forced into trying a pickled egg the morning after the night before, after exclaiming at the party that I loved anything pickled.

I had my left ear pierced (in the cartilage) while I was in the UK last week! I only told my sister and I swore her to secrecy because I didn’t want my Mum to find out. Yes, I am waaaaaaay over the age of consent, but somehow my Mum still makes me feel a twit for doing such things.

My hair is the bane of my life. (I’m sorry, I know I make a fuss, but Novel Racers I met last week, just ignore this one.) I’ve had it long, medium, short and orange. I’ve fought for years to control the curls. My mother has spent years telling me ‘people pay a fortune for hair like yours.’ Sorry, but it didn’t help; I didn’t care. I wanted straight glossy hair. When I was seven or eight my parents discovered what I can only describe as a large and furious bird’s nest in the nape of my neck. With hair that ruptured teeth from combs on a normal day, nothing was going through that; plus, I was a screamer! I’d been playing in the paddling pool and to this day my mother swears something must’ve happened to my hair in the pool. What a load of old tosh: I know as an adult that this bird’s nest is what happens when my hair is long and doesn’t get brushed. I think because I was a screamer my mother either left me to brush it (never) or she brushed the top and ignored the sensitive bit at the nape of my neck. However, on discovery of this felted snarl of hair, the problem could no longer be ignored. It had to be cut out.

I have a Music Stylist. Yes, really, a music stylist. Let me explain. I was brought up to believe that music is a good thing but my parents thought Radio One (along with ear piercings!) was a dirty word. They like classical music. In order to fit in with my peer group around 13-14 years old, I began listening to John Peel after lights out and writing names down of funky bands before they became famous. This bit was most important. I would then scrawl the names across my bag in felt tip. I discovered, before they became famous, groups such as The Thompson Twins and The Associates. I discovered a liking for slightly offbeat, whiney music.

I couldn’t maintain this research and grew up not really caring if I didn’t know who was ‘in’. I listened to whatever anyone else put on, and I occasionally liked stuff. I repressed a dark secret for liking some country and western folky stuff. Move forward ten years and The Archivist came into my life. (He didn’t call himself The Archivist; that would’ve been rather scary.) His obsession is music. He began to make us compilations – the first one being for our son’s birth. We spent weekends and holidays with the Archivist and his wife, and quite often a CD (they used to be tapes!) would appear with them. He doesn’t like mainstream music which really suits my style. One day, over the years I told his wife he was my music stylist – and the label stuck.

Every New Year (which, prior to Thailand we spent with them – they are our chosen family) The Archivist hands over The Music Stylist’s Pick of 200X. A new collection emerged, a few years ago following our skiing trip, where everyone kept talking about Vin Chaud. I am so deeply uncool that I thought Vin Chaud was a new group: it’s not - it’s mulled wine! However, after my faux pas I now get a Vin Chaud collection of Woe and Whimsy too. I’m just not passionate enough to search out examples of my own taste in music, but I do like what I like. I rely totally on my Music Stylist to supply me with a constant source of depressing and rough round the edges music.

I know this one has gone the rounds so I tag anyone who's reading this and hasn't done it yet! Yes, that's YOU. Please let me know if you do it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's all talk

I’m back in Bangkok and jetlagged. I went to sleep this afternoon because I couldn’t stay awake which means I’ll wake again tonight (probably).

This morning at 3am: PING I’m awake. I felt pretty good until at Book Group when I had a moment of aphasia while trying to introduce a new member. I knew the existing member’s name – it was in my head – but I couldn’t work out how to make the right sounds and it wouldn’t come out. Sooo embarrassing.

In my final days in the UK I had a horrible, horrible, H.I.D.E.O.U.S (just in case you were in any doubt) realisation: that I share certain genes with my family. I’ve buried it deep and tried to deny that this applies to me but it’s just no good; I’ve got them. I’ve got a hefty dose of Stevens ‘fantasy planning’ genes. We talk about all the things we’re going to do … and that’s all we do: TALK.

It’s me and my book.
It’s me and the filing.
It’s me and Charles Dickens, Tom Jones, and Madame Bovary.

I’ve lost the only 750 words I’ve written since January. I talked to Julia about this last Friday (not being a klutz and losing documents) but about the routine: doing it, writing, sitting and doing. It’s all to do with my ‘stop talking about it and just do it’ thing.

I make a big announcement: ‘this is what I’m going to do…’ and then fizzzzz pipple… and it’s gone. The air is thick with the evaporation of my grand plans.

I don’t want to be one of those people who say they want to write a book.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Goodbye UK Spring

The road to Hell...

I really did mean to blog every day in the UK. I wish I could say I’ve been writing, but I haven’t, however I have however got the plot – mostly – of book two. It came unbidden into my head and I’m not sure which one I’m going to proceed with yet.

Yesterday I went into London shopping. In between shopping sprees I had lunch with Julia Bell. I did so much damage on my bank account that this morning I got a phone call from the Fraud Department at the Bank asking about ‘unusual pattern of spending.’ Whoops.

I hadn’t managed to book shop though, so today I went into the local town to buy books. I haven’t been able to get Rowan’s book in Bangkok (Why not, Kinokuniya?) And I got a bit carried away there too. Still some of them were 3 for 2… I reckon I’ve got books there for every mood.

I've got a proper seclection. Two have been written by our Rowan Coleman (Novel Racer), some have won prizes, some were recommended, some I read reviews of this morning and I fancied.

I fly tomorrow night, so next time I write, I guess I’ll be in back in Bangkok. I’m sorry about the crap blogging but I promise to try harder next week.