Within Temptation – Angels

Sooooo excited to see Within Temptation tomorrow night, even if it has rather unexpectedly become a school night (curse you Comic Relief grants panel!). Working Tuesdays shouldn’t be allowed – I will have to remain sober and keep reminding myself this is a 5 hour long crucial meeting. The good news is that I’m only in 2 days next week and the weekend starts Thursday…tapas is on the menu, folks.

Pique-y fit over, not been a bad week. Reading on Monday went very well, despite the low turn out (or perhaps because of). Mum & Bill well impressed with the Lit & Phil. My cheerful band of reprobates (Derry, Dave & Sue) were present and waving at me from the back row. And Pauly, well, he bought me tea. I only mangled one sentence exceptionally badly. There are no photos that I can find, but I do know the whole thing was video’d…

Started writing in my lunch breaks again, trying out some exercises in voice (a mermaid monologue and a second person pen portrait of a transvestite, thank you oh Mslexia for the prod). Becoming such a regular in Nero that the nice gents working there carry my coffee upstairs for me (they’ve seen the catastrophe waiting to happen with my shaking hands). I need to lay off the bacon muffins and lemon and poppy seed muffins though. I’m definitely sprouting my very own muffin top.

If I survive the Comic Relief marathon (33,000 word fund report, written in 10 working days – why can’t I translate this output to my own writing?), I’ll have earned that damn muffin. ‘Til later.

 

Indulgence

Hell, why not? What else is birthday money for?! I’m also sitting her in a major panic about the short story reading tonight at the Lit & Phil. My trial runs have not been very successful; however it is a useful lesson to a rookie writer to remember that at some point you may be required to read your work out loud so try it at least once at the drafting stage to ensure it does not sound pretentious (and that you can pronounce those big words you love so much!).

Anyhow, I am an April Fool. I spent a rather nice day with my mum, step-dad and aunty in Newcastle, being people-that-lunch. My mum and step dad bought me the cutest charm for my charm bracelet – a silver skull from Hammonds of Whitby. Aunty kindly gave me some money, as did my Big Bro (in the form of a Gothic Shop voucher).  The lovely husband had a system going live at work on my actual birthday, so took me out on Saturday and bought me a gorgeous, delicate locket with a smokey quartz stone which I am intending to wear tonight.

I’m obviously on the jewellery trail, as I couldn’t decide between 2 Alchemy Gothic pieces. Naturally I ended up with both…the path of least resistance is the one I will always follow! Birthday monies all committed, I fell for this lovely choker:

 

Westnera Choker: license to self impale!

Westnera Choker: license to self impale!

And then because I liked it I also ended up with the Twilight bracelet. Now I certainly am no fan of Twilight, but I did like this (the earrings are pretty nifty too, but I do have some restraint, honest!).

 

Shiny pretty moony things

Shiny pretty moony things

So, I’m now off to iron my shirt for tonight, and do another (painful) read through for my bored audience of one grumpy dog. Seriously considering gin! And must hide the credit card…

Light through clouds

Forgive me, those who read my last post. I realise with hindsight it is a post that should have always been private, dealing as it did with basic, primal grief.  It now is.

Moving on.

The sun has broken through, a little. I wander my home town and remember why it is mine. I feel it, almost in a primal way. The grubbiness, the oddness, the acceptance of difference (to a degree, just don’t talk football teams – then it gets tribal) – it makes me feel better.

Even the work, the WTF moment as a grant assessor when you realise someone is asking you for 6 guns. Er, really?! This is England!!! This is a highly publicised charitable trust – NO NO NO!

On April 7th I am privileged to be doing a reading of my short story The Bone Queen at Newcastle’s Lit & Phil. This is an anthology / short story comp launch combined. The Lit & Phil is an amazing place and when I first visited as a gauche library student so many years ago I could never have envisaged standing up there reading my own work.

Then I booked a week’s retreat on an Arvon residential at Moniack Mhor. This is something I have longed to do but neither had the money or the justification to give myself this time out of life. In the UK Arvon are the gold stars of writing retreats, with amazing tutors and hideaways. To go seclude myself for 7 days in Scotland really is a dream. No internet, no phone reception – wow! I would have chickened, had the boy not got me when I was drunk and said simply – ‘Just do it!’.

So glad I did. Creatively, its such a kick in the pants to start writing again.

Even more so, as I was wandering about the Grainger Market (my spiritual home) today, I felt happy. I felt like me. I realised at work my colleagues were being lovely, because they want me to be happy again. And I have been.

Grainger Market, photo by Frank Charlton

Grainger Market, photo by Frank Charlton

I wobble, sure. I can’t face the purple bag in my study, on the corner of my desk. But I have many people still here to love and to care for. And I’ve realised, they so love and care for me too (well, I knew that before but sometimes it does bear repeating).

So I’m smiling. It is sad, but it’s a start. Like light through clouds.

Imprinted: Part 1

This post had it’s genesis from the lovely Claire at Divine Obscurity, and her thoughts on the books that changed her life.  I thought I’d pinch the idea, and it’s quite interesting thinking about the books that have impacted the most on me over a lifetime (especially given I read 50+ books a year).

I have realised that there are many books in a lifetime, whilst shortlisting for this post.  So this particular list is Jane: the early years – up until the point I finished university at 21.  Here goes:

  1. The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton.  I’ve gone right back to the beginning here.  Probably the first concept I ever had of fantasy came from this book.  The possibility of other worlds, all neatly spinning at the top of a magic tree populated by friendly fantastical creatures such as Moonface and Silky the Fairy. The adventures of Joe, Bessie and Fanny (in my day, I believe the names have now been changed to Joe, Beth and Frannie to please modern tastes). Its quite astounding to me that this book was written in 1939 (and that Enid herself was such a harridan to her children).  Time has dated it, but it remains indelible in my mind, perfectly encapsulating the time when books caught me in their magical snare and took me to faraway places. (Blyton’s Secret Island and the Wishing Chair also had a very special place on my bookshelves)

    The Enchanted Wood – my copy had this cover

  2. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I still have this; in fact it’s my mum’s copy, a lovely hard backed, blue bound edition with gorgeous illustrations. Probably the first historical piece I was aware of reading – the British Empire was a completely new concept to me. Always loved stories about orphans. And these children were uniformly horrid! Mary and Colin are spoilt, entitled brats who scream and fight and generally act like pillocks, ultimately saved by a boy called Dickon and the great outdoors. Just gorgeous. (Also love FHB’s Little Princess, with missing father’s, children stuck in garretts working to pay their fees, and genteelly impoverished misery).
  3. The Silver Brumbie by Elyne Mitchell. Oh man. I loved horses. I bought Horse and Pony religiously. I never had a hope in hell of owning one, but I’d read the small ads, looking for my own perfect pony. And this book is where that obsession started, when I was in the third year of junior school (about 9 or 10 years old). One of my teachers gave me this to read. With it’s beautiful silver stallion kicking it’s heels up in a river on the cover, I fell head over heels with Thowra, our beautiful silver brumbie narrator, and into the world of the Australia bush and kangaroos, the quest to become smart and clever and evade capture, all whilst building up a small harem, ahem, herd of fine creamy coloured fillies. I bought the series, and am proud to say that all these years later I still have them. (see also the wonderful For the Love of a Horse by Patricia Leitch, about a girl who rehomes a chestnut Arab mare.  She just happened to be ginger and a little bit weird, like me. Instant book love. They’ve not left the building either).
  4. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. My first foray into Big Girl’s Fantasy, when I was about 13. I remember buying this, I never had much money and I was on an after school trip with friends to Fenwicks Department store in Newcastle, where we always had cream cakes and coke and bought pretty stationery. This occasion I bought a rather insipid looking paperback, with this picture on the front:

    Pawn of Prophecy

    Wizard, stern but beautiful woman, young boy with mysterious birthmark. I fell headlong into the world of the Belgariad (and subsequently the Mallorean), to the point where I stalked each book’s release, saving for weeks to afford the hard backs. This was the first multi volume fantasy series I ever read, and it remains to this day one of the best. It’s like a warm bath in times of stress. I have lost count of how many times I’ve read it, and I still can’t find fault with it. Each character in what is a standard hero-quest epic journey is beautifully realised, the world building is wonderful and quite frankly it set a very high standard for any future multi volume book set I’ve ever read (including Game of Thrones which reached astounding levels of tedium right about book 4).

  5. Tess of the D’Urbervilles / Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.  Sixth form! Whilst everyone else was raving about Mr Darcy, I found my spiritual home in Hardy’s exquisite misery. I also had a marvellous altruistic English teacher who recognised someone who would steal books wherever possible, so decided to offload a heap of classics on me that were being scrapped at school. He also loved Hardy, and encouraged me to write. Mr Jim Hollingsworth, you were a bloody brilliant teacher.
    Gemma Arterton as Tess. Perfection

    Gemma Arterton as Tess. Perfection

    So I devoured Hardy. Not just these two, as many of them as I could get my hands on. Mayor of Casterbridge, Under the Greenwood Tree, A Pair of Blue Eyes. And, man, he could make me cry. I only understood about 1 sentence in every 3 of Jude, but that didn’t stop me being carried away on the surging tide of misery that is an every man’s existence. Did I mention it was this time in my life I became a fully blown gothling?! And Tess remains the personification of exhilarated sadness for me. Watch Gemma Arterton play her. I cried for days. Wonderful!

  6. Preludes and Nocturnes / The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman. University. I read many, many books. None of them came close to the Neil Gaiman love fest that I inadvertently stumbled into when I started hanging out with the comic geek boys in the computer lab. A gent who named himself ‘Morpheus’ on our computer chat system (and was really called Colin) leant me a pile of single issues to read (along with Hellblazer, which is much more brutal but also absolutely brilliant).  It’s hard to pick one volume, so I’ve just listed the first two, but the Sandman as a whole is a completely immersive and sometimes almost spiritual experience. And I wanted to be Shivering Jemmy. Or Delirium (actually, at university I probably was, I was such a dolly daydream head). Still love geek boys (Reader, I married one). But if push came to shove, I’d save my autographed Death: the High Cost of Living comics first in a fire (only kidding, husband!).  BTW my favourite of the series has always been and remains Season of Mists. The devil resigns. It really doesn’t get better than that!
    'Mr Shouty be sausages!' (Shivering Jemmy)

    ‘Mr Shouty be sausages!’ (Shivering Jemmy)

    And that is quite enough!  Picking those most important to me as an adult is going to even worse…though William Horwood is likely to figure highly on the list, along with Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker. Now off to hunt down book boxes…

Genetics

GENETICS by Sinead Morrissey
My father’s in my fingers, but my mother’s in my palms.
I lift them up and look at them with pleasure –
I know my parents made me by my hands.
My Mum and Dad's wedding, 1963
They may have been repelled to separate lands,
to separate hemispheres, may sleep with other lovers,
but in me they touch where fingers link to palms.With nothing left of their togetherness but friends
who quarry for their image by a river,
at least I know their marriage by my hands.I shape a chapel where a steeple stands.
And when I turn it over,
my father’s by my fingers, my mother’s by my palms

demure before a priest reciting psalms.
My body is their marriage register.
I re-enact their wedding with my hands.

So take me with you, take up the skin’s demands
for mirroring in bodies of the future.
I’ll bequeath my fingers, if you bequeath your palms.
We know our parents make us by our hands.

Lost

We’ve followed the mechanics of death, the corporate paperwork and the guy at the funeral parlour advising us that after cremation we could wash out the urn and put it in the recycling bin. Really? Is that appropriate?

My brother and I did what we had to do, booking the wake. Walking into the club, like stepping back 20 years in time. Possibly 30 – needle skidding on record.

David and I have been pulling together thoughts for a humanist funeral. Dad loved Neil Diamond and country, Johnny Cash etc. So we’ve had to pull back from some of the obvious which admittedly caused some inappropriate laughter. Three songs – the intro will be Song Sung Blues (cause everybody has one), the exit will be Crackling Rosie.

But the mid hymn is the hard one. And we are English. So a very english song, Abide With Me. The Emile Sande version. This:

Abide With Me

(Would have posted vid but WP was being a bitch grrrr).

Life Support

I  start this post with both an apology and a disclaimer. The views and expressions within are my own, entirely, and other folk may have their own belief systems that are equally as relevant to them. I live my life within a humanist framework and believe we are all star stuff. And today I am struggling to articulate the impact of sudden grief.

You may have on occasion wondered what your reaction would be, if it were your responsibility to call time on a life. If the consultant placed the decision to remove life support squarely in your hands, there are so many shades of grey that could colour your reaction. Then you swiftly move away from such thoughts and hope that such a decision will never come to be your duty.

Today it became my decision. And there was no hesitation. No need to second guess the wishes of the patient, because he was my father and he had made his views and his fears about living a life of dependency very clear to me.

The consultant told me the diagnosis, the prognosis, the options.  Multi organ failure. A blood starved of oxygen for several hours. An old man, frail and with little chance of a meaningful recovery.

It was easy to turn the life support off.

It was not easy to then sit by your side and hold your hand until you died.

THAT should never be easy. But I was given the opportunity to say goodbye and to tell you I love you and that it was ok for you to go. To go and not suffer. I don’t know if you could hear me, but you slipped as gently and as peacefully away as any of us could wish to go. You were treated with dignity and love throughout the process, and you were with Paul and I, who love you.

The last time we spoke on Tuesday we each told the other we loved them, and in the end that is all we can ask for; to know that we are much loved.

Farewell to Trevor: raconteur; petrol head; publican; chemist; maverick father; terrible man-flirt; and occasional hell-raiser.

25th June 1937 – 13th February 2014

Miss Havisham

Women of a certain age that have not had children should be prepared for the consequences. So quoth my generally lovely doctor when confronted by my now lengthy wailing about issues in my pelvic area. Yeah, right dear – I’d just have had a nervous breakdown from the overwhelming responsibility of screwing up someone else’s life. Some people really shouldn’t have kids. Trust me.

However, it took chronic anaemia to force the issue. A couple of physical collapses helped. You know, that grinding, fist clenchingly awful pain in your groin that has you walking like there’s a grotesquely full nappy sack suspended between your legs. First I tried the pills. Mefanamic acid was a delight – did everything it said on the tin. Sadly, it also did a whole lot more and when my vocal chords began to swell somewhat alarmingly, the pharmacist had the heebies, demanded I stop taking them immediately and sent me packing back to the GP. Result: allergy to ibuprofen confirmed. Not good for an asthmatic.

I have odd reactions to medications. So I switched to limited doses of codeine. This worked well. Too well. Dear god, it works so well.  I live in a very happy place on codeine. Shame I’m incapable of coherent thought or anything remotely normal on even the smallest doses. But oooooooh so haaaaaapppppyyyyy! Fluffy! There is the slight issue of it’s addictive nature of course, but I suspect my disorientation is more likely to have me flattened by a truck.

So the good Doctor packed me off for an ultra sound. Fine…I slurped the litre of water, clenched my bladder for an hour and then wheeled in to see a delightful Irish lady who had me laughing so hard she had to pause the scan. Mind, she did threaten me with an internal, which clenched my humour up rapidly. That and the search for my ‘missing’ right ovary. After a fairly graphic conversation that would have the male half of the population running gibbering for the hills, the diagnosis was official: Miss Havisham and Estella have set up home in my womb.  Miss H being a big, womb curdling cow bag of a fibroid, full of malevolently mutated oestrogen apparently thwarted by a life of childlessness. Estella being the dinky one off to the right. No wonder that ovary had gone into hibernation with those two evil bags on the horizon.

Exactly what I see in the mirror when Miss H grabs my short & curlies

Exactly what I see in the mirror when Miss H grabs my short & curlies

Next week I meet the good Doctor to discuss action. Now if it were up to me, Miss H and her little leech would be lasered off until eternity.  This being the NHS I will have to work through the various useless alternatives and barbaric methods of treatment that had to be devised by a bloke. Hot wax to the womb anyone? (Don’t believe me, then google endrometrial ablation). And the apparent saviour of all pre menopausal women everywhere – the mirena coil.  Oh no, mate. That ain’t happening. I’ve been told by too many lady doctors that my various parts are ‘shy’, ‘hidden’, ‘bendy’. No one – but no one – is attempting to implant something with sharp edges in my dainty lady areas. I appreciate the good Doctor will repeat the phrase ‘I’m on transmit but no one is receiving’ at me in his plaintive way as usual. Mate, as a doctor, you’re a damn fine human being. But you are also very conservative. And I am not having anything I cannot control myself stuck anywhere up my nether regions. Call me a control freak, call me stubborn – I don’t care. I’d rather keep Havisham, a hot water bottle and the codeine than have your plastic parts emitting their radiation inside me. Or harpooning a fallopian tube. If they can ever find one.

Isn’t encroaching cronedom grand? I’m now off to hide under a mound of feather pillows for eternity. With my hot water bottle.

Stock Check

Can words been seen as stock?  I’m not too sure, but for my purposes today that is what they are and that is what I’ve been counting. My writer’s shelf is embarrassingly bare; I am not the most prolific of souls and sometimes it gets me a little disheartened. I also write in fits and starts and can never tell how long each burst will last. Finally, my short stories are utterly bizarre in their gestation – there’s usually a research period into the subject matter with a vague idea of how it’s meant to be told, several abandoned handwritten starts in a notebook and then a flourish of typing when I transfer the bones of the drafts to the laptop and begin to flesh the bones out. This can take months. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. There’s a tale I really wish to tell about rapper dancers (the kind with swords and bells, not a dreadful cacophony of words and noise and thrusting naked parts).  Research is complete – I even played one of their songs note by halting note on my much abused recorder to get the thread of it – and nada. Nothing. Abandoned pages, no story. Just one very bemused and anxious dog sticking her nose up the end of my instrument and begging with me to stop the dreadful racket.

So, bare cupboards. Lots of scrag ends, little tangible. To get over this hump I’ve had a look at the work I was attempting to complete last year. Two novels, Breaking the Angel and Poison Prince remain incomplete.  However, looking behind that at the drafts so far I’m actually pretty happy. BTA has shifted shape a number of times, being the first vague idea I ever had for a novel. It’s now at 63,387 words – and I’m aiming for it to be complete at 80,000. I’m finally happy with the structure and direction. I am way over the initial writing crisis with this one and I am planning book 2, ensuring that certain threads are planted in the story arc at this stage to give continuity without being heavy handed.  Given that at work I churn out 20,000 word reports on a pretty frequent basis, I can see the finish line for the first draft with this one and I’m going to prioritise it this winter / spring because then I can actually say ‘bloody hell, I wrote a novel!’. It may never go anywhere other than my laptop and Wattpad, but I really don’t care – the mental line of finishing will have been crossed. And without a forcible / sackable deadline, I am a crappy starter / finisher. An excerpt:

What was illusion, I wonder now?  What parts of Gabriel should I have trusted – or should my own intuition regarding his motives towards me be my reference point?  It’s easy to love something that beautiful; such elegant eye candy.  When he smiles and bestows his glory on me – on any woman – you become transcendent.  He raises you up.

Then just as quickly he can drop you down again.

I should have taken more note of his words, I suppose.  He was trying to tell me I still had the opportunity to fall on the side of nominal good.  To avoid his mistakes, regardless of the fleeting pleasures they could bring.

Gabriel was the one for all my life.  That’s all I knew at eighteen.

Poison Prince started as a bit of fluff, drawing on my memories and diaries as a teenager. It’s fluff that’s reached 30,000 words and is completely different to BTA in that it is much more contemporary coming of age and has no magical realism or fantasy woven in.  Him Underfoot has read the draft so far and been consistently amused and on occasion a little bit shocked.  I haven’t held back. He has mildly suggested it may be something I never, ever let my family read…and he has a point.  This is the catharsis book. I wrote this first section over a concentrated 2 month period and then just…stopped. Work / life / Christmas got in the way. Guilt over not finishing BTA. I got side tracked. As much as this amuses me, I need to park it for a while until BTA is at full draft stage and I can devote my full attention, frustration and occasional seething anger at it. Along with my never ending love of dodgy 1980′s music.  It is plotted in full, which helps. A quote:

My brain was in denial that disco day.  Right up until I got home, that is.  I walked through the door to a scene from a badly lit soap opera; Bernadette sprawled gracelessly on the settee, makeup sliding from her face and eyes like coal pits.  My father was holding court in the kitchenette, a glass of dark liquid being liberally poured down his throat as he bawled insults at his dear wife.  I was pretty sure the liquid wasn’t cola.

Their argument was in full flow, and as I walked unwittingly into their midst so unfortunately was a glass ashtray.  Shaped in a lucky clover leaf design, it was just the right size to whack into my nose – arguably my cutest feature – and leave a considerable dent therein.  Not content with mere reshaping, a bloody effluent came pouring out of my left nostril and splattered the lino as it overflowed my inadequately small hands.

Then there is the short story dilemma. I do not consider myself a strong short story writer, yet I do on occasion produce work I am proud of. When they work (very infrequently), it’s like they have been delivered to me from another dimension. I know how much work I put into them, the research, the marination, the execution, more marination, then editing and more editing. They are highly subjective and much more literary than my novels. I find them mentally exhausting to write – there is a reason I call the loose collection The Repository of Lost Souls.

But they have another purpose. With Charybdis published, and The Bone Queen to follow this year, they give my writing a legitimacy it didn’t have before. They make me actually think, hey, I can do this and people don’t think I’m a screaming weirdo lunatic. They may be sad and odd but they’ve connected with people.

That’s not why I write them. I sat down today unsure what to write or where my thoughts were going and I began to write Scylla, a companion piece to Charybdis.  Now she’s been floating about in my head for a while (yup, research done) but she’s never coalesced into anyone tangible.  Today she did. It’s early days, early drafts (only 2 abandoned paper based starts), but I am broadly happy with where the first draft is going.  The only botheration is that I’m back at work tomorrow and all writing will now be parked until the weekend. So I’ll lose the flow (and no, there is no creative writing at work, I am too busy writing issue based, emotionally exhausting assessment reports trying to find money for amazing charities).

Broadly speaking, I feel I am starting the writing year in a solid place.  I have tangible, realisable goals and it was a pleasure to be writing properly today. I’ve written this post to remind me of this, when I flag. When I lose myself in the Universe of Procrastination (aka the Internet). So that when I come back here in a year’s time I can reflect on one completed manuscript and another in progress (if not in full draft).  The only thing holding me back is me.  I’ve never been here before, and it feels like the sun is dancing on my keyboard, bringing life into my fingertips.

Breeding Books

It’s January. That means it is definitely time for a book census before 2014′s book buying begins in earnest. It also means I need to sort my desk out and get back down to some serious writing. And of course, it lends itself to a glorious afternoon of lost treasures and procrastination.

However, the task is now complete and 26 books have been identified for initial consideration this year (I really do stockpile them. Charity shops are my downfall). Rather than list them, I took a pic as they looked so pretty:

From French folk tales to the history of the damned, my little reading pile for 2014

From French folk tales to the history of the damned, my little reading pile for 2014

Three of them are library books, so pretty high up the pecking order, with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children also being high up the list as it’s book club’s read next month. I’ve already read this, and think it’s a bit of a strange choice for my normally conservative and classic loving group but we shall see! I’ve chucked a bit of steampunk into the mix with Cherie Priest and James P. Blaylock, plus some historical books (the history of St Nicholas’ Hospital, my local mental hospital and Death in the Victorian Family, a very odd find in my local Mind shop).

I’m really looking forward to reading  Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik, Temeraire was one of my big reading delights of 2013 and this promises to be just as lovely. I have just picked up the amazing William Horwood’s Winter, the conclusion to his brilliant Hyddenworld quartet which I need to read when I have time to digest it, obsess over every word and just generally appreciate what a beautiful, heart breaking author Mr Horwood is.  Also in the heap is a very old copy of Lorna Doone, found in the Red Cross shop (I live in a charity shop wonderland). I have no idea how old this book is; I bought it because when I opened it a letter fell out, explaining it was a birthday gift and it instantly grabbed my heart:

Lorna Doone plus lovely letter

Lorna Doone plus lovely letter

Sadly once I’d finished playing with books (which literally are breeding in various corners of this house), I had to bite the bullet and get my desk back to optimum work position. Now this past week has been all very exciting, learning that The Bone Queen is going forward for publication in an anthology with Red Squirrel Press later this year, and having to send off the document for typesetting – but I have to admit I’ve written nothing this year. Nada. I have some lovely ideas, have carried out the requisite research and yet produced nothing. I have watched a great many episodes of Criminal Minds however. So, nose to the grist time.   My desk is now perfectly formed (if a little pose-y!):

Spot all the cliches!

Spot all the cliches!

So, yup I am a walking cliche. I love fountain pens – and this is a gorgeous gift from my big brother, an absolutely exquisite Pelikan pen which writes like a dream (I am not a pen snob mind you, I have a sweet little Parker for outside use which is equally pleasing and writes with pretty purple ink). Under the dubious cloth there is a lovely  wooden desk that I am paranoid about damaging, hence the cover. And yes – cliche no 2 – moleskine note books abound in my world. There’s just something about the creamy paper and durability of them that does me fine.

The two pics have been giving me some inspiration. The two dears on the right are actually great great aunts of mine in their Victorian finery and looking very stern.  The lovely lady on the left with her pert bob and pretty red suit is my maternal Grandmother, Elsie Margaret who never let her 4’10″ frame stop her from being totally in charge.  She was a lovely lady and I like to have her here watching me.

So, to the real work.  And to that, as much as I love paper and pen, I need my lovely Zephyr. My Macbook. Never knew I needed a Mac until someone gave me one.  Zephyr (yes, I name my technology – his predecessor was Ares, my first laptop Zeus. Sorry for blowing you up Zeus).  And a cup of tea. And now I really do have no excuses!  Until next time…