Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Blood Knots

Luke, during his speech, thanked his wife.  'She's had a very tough time,' he said, 'after discovering today that Ricky Martin is gay...'

Really?  Today? You mean, this was something you really had to be told?

Just when I think I'm really stupid, I realise that though this might be true, at least I have gaydar.

The Art of Conversation

Oh the glamour, the glitz, the excitement, the joy, the sycophancy that is working in publishing.

Tonight it's a book launch for Luke Jennings' elegant and brilliant book Blood Knots which we're holding at the Antiquarian Society in Burlington House, where people walk past the window in an almost constant trail carrying large canvases into The Royal Academy for the Summer Exhibition. 

'Wouldn't you like to go and mingle?' asks one of my fellow indians, jammed with me into the corner where I'm providing the absolutely vital function of selling books, with a glass of red in one hand and a sack of pot pourri aka vegetable chips in the other.  It makes giving change slightly difficult but luckily I can multi-task. 

'I'm fine - I haven't really finessed the art of mingling.'  I say.  Book-selling means that people come to you, can be engaged in conversation while they hand over their fivers, and can stay if they're so inclined, or suddenly see someone they simply have to speak to at the other side of the room if they aren't.  In this way I have a chat with one of Luke's seven (yes 7) brothers (in a fairy story they'd all be turned into swans or something) and a jolly woman who has put her hand into a blender (and yes, jolly, really!).   Later an agent comes in who I have previously only known from emails, though the acquaintance is not mutual.  She's escorted by a tall, craggily handsome chap in a grey jumper that either has a spot of white paint splashed where lesser creatures sport the logo of designer knitwear, or a moth hole through which his white t-shirt is visible.  I feel immediate empathy since I have my own large moth hole in the cardi which I threw on this morning and intended to change before the party, but am still wearing since I didn't have time to go home first,.  My attempts at disguise consisted of pulling up my black tights to camouflage the hole and tying a knot at the offending spot on the cardi.  But it's like toothache - I can't stop poking at it.

'Are you an author?' I ask - Ms Originality or what!

'Well I've written a book but I wouldn't call myself an author.'

'Oh I would.  It helps me not to staple my hands to my desk and scream when I'm talking to people called Tracy from call centres trying to sell me office supplies.'

He asks about my book, but that's where the theory goes a bit awry as it's one thing saying you're an author (novelist is my usual self-description, though not even I believe it) but it's another thing trying to talk about your own one startlingly ordinary work of no genius whatsoever without sounding like a conceited self-regarding ass.  I mumble what I hope is something non-committal and try to turn the subject back to most men's favourite subjects.  Themselves.  But, darn it, this chap is a rare find.  He asks questions.  It's like playing tennis with things you don't want to talk about instead of little yellow balls.

Eventually, he takes pity on me and tells me he's really an artist.

'Lovely,' I say, none the wiser.  I live in Notting Hill Gate where painter, artist, scriptwriter and writer are all euphemisms for unemployed and on the dole.

'But you don't write any more?'  I prod.

'Well, I'm writing the screenplay for my book at the moment.'

As I said, painter, artist, writer, screenwriter...

'...but I'm really an artist.'

I was talking to a self-proclaimed (and unemployed) artist at my friend's memorial service the other day in Portobello Road - this one did video installations which more or less shut me up for the rest of the conversation as, even after myself spending several years in art school myself, I had no idea, and less inclination, to find out what that actually entailed.  But you're not in Kansas now, toto, you're in the Land of the Literati with Lynn Barber standing behind you and as it later turns out, a very successful contemporary artist watching you eat pot pourri with a red wine smile curling up the side of your face. 

He did tell me his name, but, being the sort of pleb who hangs out with slum landlords in Willesden who support their artistic habits letting out rooms in houses they bought in 1973 for fourpence, it sailed over my head like a miss-hit ping pong ball.  He also told me what he had painted - but thank goodness, it wasn't until I googled him this morning that the penny dropped into the slot as I recognised the images.  It's just an awful lot easier to talk about Roxy Music to someone you imagine is as ordinary as you are, than it is to find something meaningful to say to a person whose reputation is supposed to precede them. (I mean you should have heard me babbling to Lynn Barber - though I did manage to stop short of telling her that my first boyfriend was married too.  Just.)  Unfortunately, we got cut off before he began to expound on women's underwear which his wife designs - a subject very dear and near to my underwired heart.

'Guess what.  I met Harland Miller last night,' I told a bleary-eyed former art-dealing, editorial who sits opposite me.

'WHAT.  You met Harland Miller - he's amazing, he's my favourite artist.  I own a Harland Miller.  I got it from White Cube...  and you met him at a launch.'  I'm not liking the way he is emphasising the 'you'.

'Not only did I meet him, but I spoke to him for ages.  He even told me that I  look a bit like Jerry Hall.  We were talking about Roxy Music and he said "Remember they had her dressed as a mermaid on the cover of Siren..."'

Editorial looks really crushed.  Ha - I've got him back for that bloody Japanese film...

I add that I hoped he meant I looked like her then and not now, but either way, I chose to take it as a compliment.

Even though I think she looks a bit like a horse.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Golden oldies

'What are you doing tonight?'

'I'm going to a concert'

'Really, 'oo is playing?'

'The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Drifters, The Three Degrees...'

'oo are they?'

'They're old groups from the sixties and seventies - you know Motown, Soul...?'

He looked at me as though I've Foreign Accent Syndrome, which as far as he's concerned, since I'm Scottish, this is a 'handicap' I do suffer from'.

'Sugar pie, honey bunch... '  I sang.

Still blank.

'Saturday night at the movies...'  Another try.

'When will I see you a-gain....'  (With whirly arm movements.)

'No, never 'eard of them.'

'Surely you've heard of the Temptations?'  I stand up and do a little shuffle, jump and finger snap to a chorus of Papa Was a Rolling Stone...

'Ees it the Rolling Stones you are seeing?'

'No it's soul. They're black...'

'Are they a boy band?'

'A very, very old boy band - they must be in their eighties...  Most of them are probably dead (though not those singing, obviously).'

He continued to look mystified, as well he might be, and so I gave up.  I don't have the tools to explain the lure of geriatrics in sparkly suits doing harmonies to a twenty five, sorry FOUR, year old French boy with a modified Mohican.

Nevertheless, at 7.30 I found myself at the 02 centre with my ex-husband,  at a point on the Jubilee Line where hitherto I thought you fell off the world, in a packed auditorium waving my hands in the air and singing along with what turned out to be The No Degrees since it contained no founder members of the original trio and the lead singer was so out of breath after belting out the first tune she was panting as she introduced the second, The One Top and No Temptation whatsoever, unless you count the one who is now in the Four Tops...  I later discovered that one of my friends - Beryl - was once - not only 'a' Vandella touring with Martha Reeves, but 'the' Vandella when none of the other backing singers turned up.  And she's white and comes from Liverpool. Obviously these things are pretty fluid...

My son texted me.  Despite being a 21 year old multi-issue anarchist with a shaved head and three kafiyas wound round his stubbled neck, he was brought up on Motown, soul and disco in the many car journeys he and his siblings suffered through as children.  He was the one who gave me the tickets for my birthday.

Is it the best present ever?

Yes, I texted back.  Though the audience is 99.9% white, 95% over 60 and 90% obese 

Obviously I'm in the minority.

I glanced at my rotund ex husband who was bundled up in a scarf, wearing a big green cashmere jumper and a Uniqlo pea coat stretched over his somewhat expansive stomach, rubbing the arthritis in his knee.

Though your dad, not so much ...

The auditorium was a sea of white and bald heads, and should there have been a stampede for the exits  - well - let's put it this way, they wouldn't have had to put up the house lights for anyone to find their way out - the silver hair was glowing incandescently in the dark.  Furthermore the age and bulk of most of the attendees would have rendered a stampede, which seems to imply speed, out of the question.

But, gosh, everyone was enjoying themselves hugely, on their feet and swaying from side to side.  The couple next to me, both huge in leather jackets with shoulder pads were in full voice, singing along to the lyrics in proper pub-style:

'When it's co-o-lde outsi- ayide, ahve got the month of May ay ayee...'

Cripes, we're old.

As we hobbled out of the auditorium (his gout was playing up), my ex-husband looked up at a billboard advertising a future event.

'Marion...'  He began plaintively.  'Do you have any idea what Hip Hop actually is?'


'Or trance, or techno, or drum and bass or house...?'

'Well you know what hip hop is, of course you do...  '

He doesn't.

'It's the stuff that Huss listens to.'

That didn't help, mostly because he listens on headphones after we yell at him to turn the noise down.

I tried again.  'And trance is sort of trancy, isn't it?  I mean it's dreamy and goes all woo woo woo  (I make some I-Dream-of-Genie hand movements and a sound akin to a ghost in a kid's bed-time story, but with a vague attempt at melody).

His face was blank.

'Come on, you know what I mean, remember the bit in Donna Summer where it goes let me lo-o-o-o-ve..  though that's disco not trance, but ...'  And then my brain dried up.  Now I'm the one who looked blank.  'And techno is...'  I racked my head's ancient CD collection trying to think of a song he might possibly have heard in 1975 that had an element of techno in it and can't.  And anyway, the truth is that I actually didn't have a clue.  I've listened to all of this stuff and its gone in one ear and out the other.  The only thing I know about drum and bass is that it's loud and it makes your chest feel as though someone is using a defibrillator on it.

'Never mind.  It's not for people our age,' I said and took his arm as we wended our way to the tube station which is empty because we've left the concert early to avoid the crush.  Though first the ex has to pop into the Gents. 

Prostate, bless him.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The truth is...

For those of you who have resisted the charitable impulse to rescue me from landfill or the remainder bookshop of Southampton Road, let me share with you the first line of my book:

'My name was Edith Lutz.'

This is why the email cowering in my spam is particularly worrying.  My cursor hovers over the open button as I continue to hesitate.  Should I open it?  Is it just another ad for Viagra or Cialis (enough wood for the weekend), a fake Rolex or a college degree, which actually, does tempt me.  Who wouldn't want a PhD in Nuclear Physics from the University of  Umpaloompa in Wonkaville TX for only $210.

I look at the address - I've just been sent an email by my own fictional character.

A bite from both sides of the apple...

One of our authors had an interview in one of the Lay-deez papers and was mightily and rightily upset by the barrage of bitchy on-line comments people had posted. 

Why on earth are you reading the comments, for God's sake?  I asked her.  Do you have rocks in your head?  Who wants to know what people think..?  If it's negative (and let's face it, most people who leave messages - Edwin Moore not withstanding, speaking of whom, where are you? - don't want to pass on gifts like the good fairy at a princess's christening, they want to cough up all their own toads of bile and dump them on you) what possible good does it do you to wallow in them?  Would you stand on the street and let a stranger spit on you?  No, you'd walk away.  So do the same with the nutters who vent their spleen anonymously. 

Those comments at the bottom of newspaper articles have become the new poison pen letters.  It used to be that if you wanted to voice your opinion in a newspaper you had to supply your name and address, and even if you wanted to preserve your anonymity, these would still have to be supplied.  Nowadays any Tom, Dick or Harridan can say whatever nasty, ill-informed, irrelevant, skin-crawling nonsense they feel like, while hiding behind an email address that can be as fake as they are - or even worse - a completely spurious and random alias which rarely bears any relationship to either their identity or their character.  I mean, how many bitterbitches or sourwankers do you know leaving comments?  I do think that people would be a bit more measured and responsible about being vitriolic and mean if they weren't sniping from cyberspace and had to have their physical net-curtain twitching address printed below their so-called opinions.

On a blog such as this the comments are moderated and an email address has to be provided.  I think it's only fair that since everyone knows who I am and where you can find me, both in the real and virtual worlds, that if you're going to slag me off, I should know you are.  If you are not willing to put your moniker where your mouth is, then why the hell should I, or anyone else, be interested in your critical analysis?  Anyone up for a verbal stoning?

Sod it, not me.  That's what the delete button is for.  And as for newspaper articles - you write them and you forget about them,.  Even if the Google search engine has a long, elephantine memory, it also has the attention span of a flea and it soon hops on to another host.  So, just say no.  Do not put yourself on a Google Alert.  Do not scroll down for comments. 

As an author, however, we're all co-dependant hostages to such things - from Amazon reviews onwards.  And as the lucky recipient of  Borders promotion in the States where my only task was to open a thread on their Facebook discussion forum, I greeted the email telling me that someone had replied to my post, with some trepidation.  It sat in my in box for thirty minutes while I ignored it in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons that I ignored the comments beneath my article in The Times On-Line. 


But the book represents eighteen months of my life and the newspaper article took one hour.  And so, after it seemed as though my stomach could sink no further, I mustered sufficient courage to click on the link...

and okay...  Good Fairies do occasionally come to the Christening.

She loved it.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

And I did it all without yawning

Second task of the day

We're having a Director's Meeting.  The big five.  It's like the permanent members of the UN security council hunched around the table, awash with spread sheets and fizzy water (that exploded when I opened it) except that I'm sure they don't send Uganda out for sandwiches first.

Oh yes, I really do hold a position of considerable authority here.  Imagine if you too had to decide what everyone had in their Pret a Manger sarnie.  In fact, entrusted with this monumental task, I did the sensible thing and put aside my psychic abilities and asked.  I assumed that China's request for foie gras and a half bottle of Montrachet was a joke, and I ignored the delegate who asked for Miso Soup - I mean, even without the Superman t-shirt I do not yet have the power to keep liquid hot for extended periods time.  Then, like Red in Mad Men,  I sashayed off to Southampton Row with my shopping list, and distributed the food to Russia, United Kingdom, China and Russia, before asking America who had been too busy running the world for most of the morning to be consulted,  if he would prefer ham and Gruyère, salt beef or whichever of the prawn or egg salad that China decided against.

He made a face.

Psychic abilities should have been left switched on.

Goddamit, Uganda might be one of the poorest and heavily indebted countries in the world but it's trying its ruddy best...

And it was willing to eat the want nobody else wanted.

In this case it was salt beef, though there had been a secret longing for the egg mayonnaise which always  has pleasant connotations of children's parties.

China asked me if I had a glass and, having searched around my person just in case I had stuck one in my bra and hadn't noticed (which may account for Red's massive bosom), I took my essential two X chromosomes, jumped up, ran to the kitchen to fetch one, gathering up another two which I set before the other delegates all filled, dutifully, with water.  Nobody even looked up. 

I'm so glad I didn't have an expensive Oxbridge education.

However, had I been lucky enough to have had such a thing it might have helpful for the other important part of the meeting - the minutes.  It's awfully hard to write anything meaningful down when your interpreter isn't there and everyone is speaking Serbo Croat whilst pouring over spreadsheets across which tiny numbers march, seemingly without purpose.  I don't have a head for figures.  I don't have a clue what they're talking about.  Nevertheless I scribble away energetically, whilst writing bullet points in my head for an article the Times have asked me to write and file by four o'clock, though I expect the meeting to last until three which is when I should go home but will instead sit at my computer and slam out 1,200 words of solipsistic drivel.

This is what you call multi-tasking.

And you wonder why women aren't running the world?

First task of the day

The microwave at work is making a hideous noise.

'It's the sound my soul makes,' said Editorial, poetically.

'No, miine is a lot shriller,' I add.

'Yeah, only children and dogs can hear it,' said Editorial, with a pained expression that might hint that she came somewhere within one of those categories - the young one, I hasten to add.

Meanwhile the microwave continues to squeal and groan, like whales in a breech birth without an epidural.

'Should I put a note on it?' asked Sales.  He's standing in front of me wearing a Superman t-shirt.

'I don't know, you're the one dressed as a super hero - why don't you tell me what to do?'

'What do you mean?'

'The t-shirt!'  I say, waving my finger around his torso meaningfully. 'What colour underpants are you wearing?'

He looks shocked, as only a young male colleague would when cross examined on his smalls by matronly colleague. 

'Superman always wore red...' I say, by way of explanation.

'How do I know what colour Superman's pants were..?'

'He wore them on the outside of his tights,' yelled Ubereditor helpfully from inside his office (superhuman hearing - obviously we have more than one employee with special powers.)

'But what does that have to do with the Microwave?'  (Which is still bellowing and wailing eerily with the odd Baskerville howl.  God I know how it feels.)  'What if it explodes all over someone?'

'Okay so put a note on it...'

Just another day in the life of a busy publishing executive...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Third Date

So, as far as I know, on Valentine's Day, Jeremy zoomed off to the O2 Centre with one of his sons and partner, a few of those mythical friends from work and his friend's wife (the one on whose floor he seemed to spend an awful lot of time sleeping) and kissed the rest of his tickets goodbye.

Meanwhile, back in Singletown, I had the house to myself.  Younger daughter had gone to a party and Elder son was despatched to spend the night with his girlfriend.  For the first time in months I was totally and completely alone.

Until lovely Lukewarm arrived.

With only one shirt.

Oh what a tangled web..

Even Lukewarm love takes up a lot of time and so my blogging life has been somewhat blank.  On the page at least.

'So Jeremy Clarkson's gone?'  asked Tom who has been wondering if his wife (my closest friend) and I have argued as we've seen so little of each other over the past months.

'Jeremy Clarkson?  Gone? What - as in dead?'  I'm surprised that I sound as though I actually care.

'Is he?'  Now Tom is the one who sounds surprised.

'I don't know - you were the one who said he had gone...'

'But not dead, surely? Nell told me you had broken up...'

And then the exhaust fumes cleared.  I think he's talking about Jeremy Clarkson the TV presenter who lives on BBC World in hotel rooms around the globe where Top Gear is always playing.

Tom, however, is referring to Jeremy Clarkson - his nickname for the last man in my life who drove a Metallic red Mitsubishi Evo (my kids called him the Essex Boy) and seemed to think it was all very vroom vroom and impressive. 

A car is a handbag on wheels for me, and an Evo, surely, just a character in Star Wars - it was Tom who told me it was some sort of souped up rally car for people from Maidenhead so I can't say I noticed much about it beyond drum and bass blasting from the speakers, the torn gift wrap shoved into the door tray and the pair of shirts hanging in the back.  However, as the sole driver in a family of four plus husband, I did like being driven around in it.  Arriving at Worcester train station to find Jigsaw man (who my kids called Tory Boy) on the platform with his cream-upholstered convertible parked outside was one of the highlights of our relationship (the one before last - keep up!); and being chauffeured to Queen's Square in the morning really iced an otherwise very pale Victoria sponge of mutual indifference with Jeremy.

I mean he was nice enough.  No really, he was.  And extremely generous.  And we made loads and loads of  wonderful plans together.  But the plans, somehow, failed to come to fruition.  And despite him complaining bitterly about the noise of the extractor fan in my bathroom (nothing to my snoring apparently) and offering to remove and replace it, it's still there roaring like Runway 3 at Heathrow.  As am I - though I always suspected that there were many covert attempts to remove and replace me - which is why the two shirts swinging on a hanger over his back seat rather surprised me when he never spent more than one night at my place (when challenged he said he often stayed up in London with 'friends').  Well, that and his daily visit to the Guardian Soulmates website - the man just could not stop shopping for love.  The torn gift wrap, however, we'll leave for another paragraph...

I hadn't realised when I met him that he had only recently been dumped by his partner of  fifteen years.  But we all have our baggage, so I didn't think very much about it until I discovered, after we'd been seeing each other for a couple of months, that none of his family - his sister or his brother (who he spent Christmas and New Year with, respectively) or any of his three grown up kids - even knew that they had split up at all.  Furthermore, since his ex girlfriend was his boss, none of his friends at work knew that he was seeing anyone else (that would be me, with a possible cast of suspected others) because he didn't want her to think he had moved on.  The final rev on the rocky road of deception, however, was when I looked up his address on to send him a Birthday Day, and noticed the date range on the accompanying census entry was from 55-59...  Very odd.  Especially since he had told me he was 51.  To compound matters he had also bought twelve tickets for Eric Clapton at the 02 Centre - intending to take his kids and their partners, as well as a few friends from work. But now not all his kids wanted to come and he couldn't rid of the tickets. 

'Well you could ask me.'  I suggested wryly.  The concert was on Valentine's Day after all.

'No, because my kids don't know about you.  And the people from work don't know about you either.  So it would be awkward.'

I looked at him open mouthed.  Awkward.  Mmm.  That's a word.

'Worlds were colliding! 

Apparently, I really was dating Walter Mitty.  In an Evo.

I marvelled that he could keep all his stories straight - what with subtracting seven years from to his kids' ages every time I asked about their lives, but enough was enough.  I decided it was time to put the whole relationship into neutral and park it.

And then a couple of weeks later Jeremy pitched up at the house with a gift - a bottle of  perfume.  Darn it, I'm like one of those South Sea islanders from the turn of the century when it comes to presents.  Show me a shiny thing and I'm signing away my historical land rights for a string of glass beads.  Relationship putty, and soothed with reassurances that all truths would be told, I relented, and the next morning, with yet another extra spare shirt draped crisply on its hanger in the back of the car, he drove me to work.

...which is when I saw the gift wrap.

'Oh, what's this,' I asked, as I pulled it out of the seat pocket and smoothed it on my knee.  It was torn along the top but still retained a small flat boxed shape.  I remembered that he had told me it was his ex girlfriend's birthday the week before and he claimed to have taken her out to dinner in Covent Garden.  I assumed this must have been the present.

He shrugged.

'Is this what you got Shrek for her birthday?' (She actually looks quite normal in a bland sort of way but it's the form to slag off the ex when you've been dumped - believe me, I know.)

'Yeah,' he said, vaguely, pretending a sudden interest in the road though the traffic on the Westway was stationary for a mile ahead.

'Oh, so what did you get her?'  I checked out the dimensions.  It looked like jewellery.  (My ex husband used to say I was a loss to the Security Services and he was right.)

'I can't remember...'

'You can't remember?'   Comeaaaaawn.  I mean, I know Jeremy drank a bit, but it seemed unlikely that his memory was going to fail him after just a few days - especially honed with all the practice of the age discrepancies he had been juggling - not to mention having to explain away all these mysterious nights with 'friends' in London who had to be kept in the dark about my existence...


I said nothing.  From many years of stammering kids' excuses I know when to keep my mouth shut.

'Well, I think it was perfume.'  He said, eventually.

'Really.  What does she like?'

'I don't know.'

The man lived with her for fifteen years.  I'm guessing he must know what perfume she wore.

 'I think it was Kenzo.'  He added after a long silence.

I crumpled the paper into a ball and jammed it back into the pocket.

'Think again. I'll think you'll find that you gave the bottle of Kenzo to me.'  I said.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Pitch and pout

Our meetings take me back to my schooldays for sheer, sit at the back of the class, doodling, please-god-don't-let-anyone-ask-me-a-question torpor, but never more so than today when, in an effort to accommodate the expanding body that is the Pedantic workforce, one of the newly appointed indians rearranged the furniture into rows.

The back of the class, however, is too close to the open window through which, in a spookily uncanny reproduction of my Scottish primary school, an Arctic wind blows in and bites off your face - and so I find myself wedged behind one of the Big Chiefs with an irresistible desire to put chewing gum in his hair, and stick notes on his back.  I resist.  With difficulty.  Ubereditor squeezes himself into what would be the dunce's corner had it not been within thigh pressing distance of Mr T who whilst welcoming us with the words 'all aboard for the bus to hell' is playing the part of headmaster which probably makes UberEd more of a pet and blackboard cleaner than a pest who has to be kept under close surveillance.  He's just had a holiday, I mean a business trip, to Australia and has returned from his meetings tanned and chilled in all the ways that are good and none of the ways that are currently London - and so he has a smile spread on his face as smoothly as melted butter on hot bread as he settles himself in his place.

And then we begin.

Three imprints, tens and tens of delicious books.  I should be excited - that's what these meetings are all about but instead my heart that plummets like a water balloon from a great height. Each title has an AI from which most of the editors will read verbatim and I've already got to the last book with notes on all those I can't wait to read, before the even first presentation is finished.   In exactly this way I skipped ahead and finished Catcher in the Rye while Johnny Glencourse was still sounding out Hol-den Ca-ul-field, ditto the rest of the GCSE syllabus, and still Johnny was stammering over Phow-eeb.

And then I hear a low chuckle.

I glance around.  Is somebody off their meds?

A sigh of contentment drifts around the room.'  I scan the chairs.  People are weeping with fatigue and at least one person may be in a coma, but there seem no signs of the blissful rapture at which the musical crooning seems to hint.

And then it comes again...

'Da da da da.' Followed by a loud shriek of laughter.

Someone thinks that the series about a one-legged co-joined Lesbian twin from Azerbaijan who's working as a forensic scientist on a Lunar zombie penal colony some time in a post apocalyptic future is funny!

Apparently so, though the person in question is six months old and crawling around on the floor with saliva dripping from her mouth.

Who doesn't seem to work here.  (Though anything's possible.)

Which may cast  some suspicion on her powers of critical analysis.

But no - I spoke too soon.  She starts to wail, to be scooped up by her father who cradles her in his arm and, unperturbed, continues his pitch on the difficulties of carrying out an autopsy on a zombie when they're never really dead, especially if you only have one leg and are dragging around your co-joined twin (though the zero gravity of the moon helps...)

Seconds later, baby is swept up by her grandfather and carried off to a distant office where I expect she's working her way through the slush pile.

And we're still only on the third book.

We have been in the room for three years.  By the time we get out that baby will be going to college.

Friday, 5 March 2010

on the down low

'What are you doing at the weekend?'

'I'm going to see Husky Rescue.'

'What's that - a film about Huskies?  A dog show?'

'No, it's a band from Finland, it's a (hasty look around the room in embarrassment)


(loud disembodied northern voice from the Sales & Marketing Office):


Okay, so yes.  New man likes music.  I am just so relieved that I no longer have to pretend to like drum and bass after sitting for hours in previous man's car having my ears burnt off that I'm delighted to be swept away by his enthusiasm.  One of the things he has me lined up for is at Heaven.  There's a strict over-14s policy.

The day the music died

And then today, one of my colleagues was very upset that a television presenter had died. I tried to sympathise. 'I felt the same about Elvis,' I said.

'But you weren't born when Elvis died!'

'I was.'

'But it was ages ago - in the 70s...'

'Yes, I got married in the late 70s...' (of course I was a forced child bride).

'Really!' (Shocked mathematical calculation using more than just the fingers on two hands resulting in bewilderment.

'Yes, really. When were you born?'


I have dresses older than this.

A fine Romance with no piglets...

It's been a very social week as you can see by the photographs below taken at a series of swanky Pedantic launch parties.  I also hosted my own party last Friday for some fellow Pedants, past and present, who have recently got engaged, though having a celebration at the broken home of a poster child (okay matron) for divorce is probably not every bride-to-be's dream night out.  Nevertheless, they came,  they drank tequila, they did mime... (oh yes - the French are always with us...)

The events of the evening are vague, cloudy, even -  Marguerita frosted and bathed in a Cosmopolitan rosy-hued glow - thanks to my bar-tender son who left several litres of mixed drinks in the fridge which went nicely with the leaning tower of quesadillas which I had made, Blue Peter style, some time earlier in the sober light of day.  My one over-riding memory is of our very own resident Marcel Marceau disappearing behind my kitchen counter as though gliding downstairs on an escalator - and then landing with a slap on the floor.

Later, when discussing someone whom he felt had been rather over-familiar, he said with a shrug: 
'On n’a pas gardé les cochons ensemble...'

'What?'  We said, not sure for a second whether he was speaking French or we were just  drunker than we'd thought...

He looked at us incredulously as if unable to fathom why we didn't know what he meant:  ' do you say in English?  I mean, it's not like we've guarded pigs together...'


'You know, pigs... Don't you say this?'

'Erm, no...'

'It means, it's not like we're intimate, that we've spent a lot of time together...'

'...with pigs.'

'Not necessarily pigs, maybe it's sheep.'  He looked thoughtful and repeated the phrase:  'on n'a pas garde les cochons...  Is that sheep or...?'

'No it's pigs, definitely pigs.'

Ah - so much for the French being the language of love.  You can just see the Gallic remake of Brokeback mountain...  two love-lorn swineherds...  guarding pigs together.