31 October 2008

I have nothing....

Tonight we are defrosting the fridge.

Tomorrow we have a meeting with Sophie at the wedding venue to talk about … you know… stuff…. important… things. You know.

On Sunday we are going round The Mothers for lunch which will involve dumplings and I hear talk of an apple pie.

I have nothing else to share at this time.

Have a good weekend.

24 October 2008

Still Alice?

I finished it last night on the tube on the way home from work. I had read some on the way into work, until a complete stranger kindly and very gently touched my shoulder and asked whether I was ok; the tears were free flowing down my face….

Honestly, I just can’t tell you how much it’s moved me. And I really really don’t know enough good words to explain how wonderful it is. My friend Gabrielle (who I will send a copy to) will be able to help me with the words… she’s very good at that.

I meanwhile, am very good at crying and calling my Mum to see how she is and to check she is ok and not forgetting anything…

22 October 2008

I started it this morning having finished The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton last night in bed. I got to page 77 and started crying. I was still crying at page 108, and it is only the fact that I had to start doing work stuff that has stopped me (both reading and crying).

It is beautiful. Really. Absolutely achingly beautiful. And terrifying, and haunting, and touching and moving and loads of other words that escape me momentarily.

And I can’t wait to see what is going to happen to Alice and her husband and her children and the rest of her life….

I will let you know. In the meantime, if you wanted to get your mitts on a proof I might be able to squirrel one out of 2Two2 if you ask nicely.

21 October 2008

Everyone at New Work is giddy with excitement as the first batch of boxes arrived in the post from graze. Oh the wonderment.

We've all taken advantage of the “first box free and your next 1/2 price” promo they are currently running…you just need to enter the code H5LHT5Q in the link above, and within 24 hours you too can benefit from the brown box goodness of nut, seed, fruit, veg, wholesome choccy loveliness offered….

My first (free) box will come on Thursday. Am almost beside myself.

17 October 2008

There are some sure-fire, no-brainer ways to guarantee a satisfied smile on my face. A back rub. A giggle from the Niece. A really good body scrub. Breathtaking ballet. Anything being tidy. A smile from Boo. Fresh bedlinen. A great meal. Laughing with The Girls. A sunset. Cake. Beautiful men with big muscles, bald heads, tatoos and great teeth....

A night with friends from The Big W.

Last night saw 9 of us heading to The Hall of Mirrors, or Waterloo Brasserie as it actually calls itself, to celebrate Mr T’s birthday. We had a lovely big round table, with an apricot and burnt orange curtain backdrop and glass ball chandelier above…very swish. The food was good, the wine was plentiful, the company was, as ever, the best part of the evening.

Except when the unfortunate and slightly bumbling French waiter called my male friend Madame, twice, left his dinner plate till last to clear away and despite three reminders – forgot to bring his coffee…

16 October 2008

Still Alice

The best news to report today is that I have got my grubby little paws on the one and only US printed proof of a book that exists that New Work is publishing in the UK in March 09 called Still Alice that sounds cracking and I’m hoping to spend the weekend reading (now that the dreaded new kitchen project for Mrs-Mother-In-Law-To-Be-Virtue has finally finished...)

According to my colleague over on the lighter side of the building (by that I mean they have windows, where we just have wall) tells me it’s “an incredibly moving, insightful and ultimately uplifting story of a woman with early onset Alzheimer's Disease that does for Alzheimer's what A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time did for autism”… Indeed. The author holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard and is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer’s Association….she knows her onions then.

14 October 2008

Read it and weep

I am, I know, a lucky bugger. I get to work in an industry that is stimulating and exciting, with creative, amazing people who do something that forms the backbone of my free time, my travelling time, my before bed time, my in the bath time, my summer days time… my life. I mean, where would I be without books? What on earth would I do? Who on earth would I be? How would I cope? Eek. It gives me shivers just thinking about a world without books….

Anyway. As I say, I am very lucky to be able to work in an industry that I love. People far better qualified than I; that have studied the art of words for years at Uni and college type places, would beg, steal and borrow to work where I do.

Yep, I am lucky indeed.

I mean, obviously I work in the less creative sales end. Not quite what I imagined, or really wanted to do to be honest. It’s not double glazing, it’s not estate agency, it’s not photocopiers or curtain rings – but it is, when push comes to shove, sales. And let’s be honest – now is not the best time to work in sales. It could be worse mind, I could work in the city….or be unemployed of course…

Anyway. Lucky. Books. Sales. It’s all good.

And I do still get to hang out chatting about books a lot. With other people. I get to chin wag about celebrity authors, I even get to meet them sometimes… and I get to read and review as part of my job. Hurrah.

What’s my point you might ask. And well you might.

I am continually reminded that I can’t write. I mean, I know I write this blog. And I can turn my hand to a damn fine birthday card. I even do good compliment slips… I have written the odd short story that some people actually liked and I wrote the first three chapters of a novel and entered them into a competition (and didn't win) a few years back. And I have written quite a lot of porn, but let’s not go there.

But, and this is the killer. I can’t write how, or what, I want. And I am reminded that I’m crap on a daily basis by reading and reviewing proofs and manuscripts by authors who I greatly admire and would love to have a smidge of their skill…

I could, I suppose, take a course. Do the ground work. Take the plunge and just bang at it, day after day, till I got it right… but I fear it will never, ever, be good enough.

So every time someone says “a fresh new voice” or “a haunting and exquisite first novel” or “the most amazing debut I have ever read”… it sticks like a knife.

And although people say – everyone has a book in them – it is universally known that whilst that may very well be the case; that book won’t necessarily be any good, be read or indeed liked (by anyone but your mum), or ever be published. And even if you do win the lottery of life and get your damn book published, no-one (other than your mum) might ever buy it. And the handful that do might hate it. And those that review it might point and mock and laugh…

A bit like I do. Almost every day…at work.

10 October 2008

My chosen bed and bath read at the moment is the first Catherine Alliott to be published by Penguin - The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton - which is coming in HB in January…. it’s very pretty and I’m really enjoying it.

And that is despite the fact that Evie is a pain in the neck and so far seems to do bugger all all day. She doesn’t work, doesn’t look after her man or kid with any great care, is nasty to her mum, and lives in a great big house!

However, we’ve just discovered that naughty old husband Ant had a bit of fling-et just after they got engaged, which resulted in a love child – who’s just turned up, out of the blue aged 16….

I have no idea where this is going, but I am anticipating lots of angst, lots of re-evaluation, lots of tears and then some making up, some embracing of life’s strange twists and turns and big fat happy ending….I may be wrong of course, but I will let you know once I’ve finished it.

I remember reading Rosie Meadows Regrets and Olivia’s Luck back when they had primary coloured jackets in lime, jade and aqua (that’s before everything became pastel pink and lilac with lots and lots of sparkle) and thinking “Oh what jolly hockey sticks and japes and lashings of ginger beer” (or something like that…)…and so far Evie Hamilton offers the same feel good factor. Riding bicycles and horses, making jam and sponge cakes, having very loving sex, Women’s Institute stuff, country living, female bonding, sock darning… you know the kind of stuff? I mean, there are tough times, heartache, upset, relationship struggles. But no-one gets stabbed, robbed or shot. No-one injects heroin, smokes spiff, overdoses on Ketamine. No-one lives on the streets, sells the Big Issue, gets done for council tax evasion… just everyday tales of everyday people. Wrapped up in cotton wool.

9 October 2008

Bonkbuster Brilliance

Queen Collins herself just officially opened New Work’s New Office. There were cupcakes and everything.

She personally dedicated a couple of copies of her new book for me. She said I had a lovely name. My colleague (who was in the room at the time) told her that from next year my surname would be Virtue. She said that would be a great name for a character in a book…

What a lovely idea. What a lovely lady. (What a lovely cake.)

8 October 2008

To celebrate the launch of Married Lovers by the Bonkbuster Queen herself Jackie Collins, New Work is running a competition to win a two week spa break in Malta.

Not to shabby I say.

Shame I can’t enter.

But you can, go on, you know you want to.

4 October 2008

The Tropical Forest @ Syon Park

The Tropical Forest at Syon Park offers a fantastic afternoon out for a curious, fearless, animal loving 4 year old. Dirt cheap and just 3 miles from our front door it houses a mix of Squirrel Monkies, Poison Arrow Frogs, Crocodiles, Lizards, Tarantulas, Snakes, Macaws and even the odd bunny rabbit to keep you amused, I highly recommend it for an afternoon's fun.

1 October 2008

The most exciting news of the day is that a competition has been launched to find a civilian judge to sit on the panel for the Costa Book of the Year – the winner will attend the final judging meeting in January, and get to go to the dinner and ceremony. The competition is open to all UK adults and closes on 31st October. Entrants have to submit a 300-word book review and a 500-word application. A shortlist of 12 will be selected, who will then attend a book review debate, before the winner is chosen. My mate Chortle is on the judging panel for the biography category. I would love to be on the panel as resident chick lit judge. I fear it will never happen, but you should apply, go on, you know you want to.

Before I forget, me and The Mother took a stroll down memory lane last week and went to a gig by NYJO who we haven’t seen since my dad died. The orchestra has been going since 1965 under founding Musical Director Bill Ashton MBE (who has taken to wearing a hat btw), and most of the rising generation of jazz stars have passed through its ranks. (Amy Winehouse sang with them when she was 16…). They have recorded 40 albums, made numerous TV and radio programmes and performed at hundreds of venues around the UK (and the world come to that) – Ronnie Scott’s, The Barbican, The Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls and now Wealdstone Football Club, which happens to be at the end of my mums road. A real treat for me in the programme was a rearranged version of Somewhere, which a flutist called Lisa used to play some 10 years ago… it bought back so many good memories. NYJO are back at the Club at 12.30pm Sunday October 26th, November 16th, December 28th and January 18th. If you are at a loose end, and fancy some top quality Big Band Jazz it will be the best £10 you spend.