Friday, 27 June 2008

Signing up

A very exciting moment this week when an adorable contract dropped through the letterbox from my German publishers, the incredibly discerning Ullstein Verlag. This was full of baffling clauses about rights and royalties and other stuff which didn't even ruffle my coiffure as it whizzed so far over my head. Naturally I didn't stop for a second to read the small print - I couldn't even begin to understand the big print in 24 point bold - and just whipped out my favourite ink pen, given to me by a lovely friend Abroad for my fortieth birthday party some years, ahem, only a couple of days, ago (I never know whether people want their names mentioned but think it's safer not to (Mr X! Shudder!) unless given express permission). She said then that the pen would help me write my name with a flourish at booksignings and, though I tried to be insouciant about such a dim, distant prospect I was utterly thrilled at the idea. Now it's moved a step closer! Yippee! The book is called Hot Chocolate and will be published in the Autumn of 2009. Everyone order your Linguaphone courses now - and cross your fingers, please, for a UK publisher too!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Dog's dinner

Little clouds were being chased across the sky by a bossy wind, the odd aeroplane swished silently over us and we noshed away on a delicious picnic, under our favourite tree in Brockwell Park on Sunday.

When we first moved here, I was somehow under the misapprension that it was called Broccoli Park, not Brockwell, and once the error was corrected by a hooting friend, some of the charm of the place was destroyed forever. But it's still our favourite picnic spot, partly as it's downhill all the way and you can stop in at the little Herne Hill Sainsbury's en route to get all sorts of stuff that the children crave, which are normally on the banned substances list. They have discovered that I am softened up no end by the trek down the road carrying a picnic bag, rug, sandwiches, juice etc and, by the time they get me into the shop, I'm too knackered to remonstrate as they hurl apple and blackcurrant squash (yuck!), crisps (shudder) and biscuits (too, too yummy) into the basket.

This time, we'd picked up an enormous tub of humous and some crudites for dipping as well as the usual nasties, so I felt we were still on the wholesome end of the scale as we tucked in to the whole lot on our rug.

Just then, something big, beige and furry blocked out the light. It was a huge golden retriever, which had bounded over for a nice pat, I thought. How sweet. The children love animals and there were instant 'ahhhhhhhhs' - which then turned rapidly into 'arghhhhhhs!' as the dog ignored our attempts to stroke it and fell, instead, upon our picnic in complete ravening beast style. Within seconds it was tearing into our chicken sandwiches, hoovering up the salami and finally, outrage of outrages, sticking its vast hairy beige chops into our humous pot and scarfing up the lot!

By this stage, I had staggered to my feet and was shouting 'off, off' and being completely ignored by the beige eating machine, who had finished the crudities and was about to tear open the biscuits. The children, meanwhile, were whimpering as all their food disappeared into its slathering jaws. It turned its nose up at the apple and blackcurrant squash (even mad dogs have some standards, apparently) but everything else went - in moments. Then, as suddenly as it had bounded over, it raced away over the hill, wearing a Sainsbury's bag round its neck, dragging the silver foil sandwich wrapper with it, and scattering the remains of our feast to the winds.

I looked down at the children, sitting in dog-slobbered debris, with their little bottom lips a-quiver. Right, I thought. The owner of this dog has it coming. It's not the dog's fault, of course - dogs are dogs, picnics are picnics and I know better than anyone that you can resist anything except temptation - but the owner should have kept a wild dog like that under control, on a lead, I fumed. It had snatched the bread out of my children's very mouths!

I glared about crossly, scanning the horizon for signs of a mad sandy-coloured beast with a feckless human in tow. Finally, I spotted them - recognising the dog by its 'I've eaten a hundred chicken sandwiches and a pot of humous' bounce - and I strode off in martial mood, practicing terse complaints under my breath, like 'you do realise your dog has eaten my children's food. Can't you keep an eye on it?' My feisty moment lasted until I got within twenty foot of the owner, who'd sat down on a bench and was putting a complicated harness back on the dog. He then stood up, took hold of the harness, and picked up his white stick, which he'd propped against the bench for a moment. Then the two of them walked past me, the owner striding confidently with his trusty dog by his side - while the retriever stared right at me and gave a big, wide, doggy grin.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Upsy Daisy

When you find yourself on the floor after a good kicking, you have a choice. Get up, get on and get even - or lie there and moan piteously.

I must admit my natural inclination is to lie still and not even bother with the moaning, though I might work up to the odd faint whimper now and again if left for long enough. But, thank God, I have children, and luckily they are bolshy types who know when my mind is not on the job and have now insisted that enough is enough and that I must stop flopping around the place like the before picture in a plastic surgery ad and do something useful. So up I get, wash the boot marks off my face, shrug my shoulders and straighten that spine.

Things are going to change around here. No more concessions, no more conciliation. No more guilt. No more .... er, income. And what on earth do I do next?

I'm rather off The Secret after recent events. The Louis Vuitton handbags seem to be as firmly stuck in the post as Winnie the Pooh was in the rabbit hole, and other events seem to have shown me little of the universe's abundance, unless it is an abundance of crap, and a surprising absence of cosmic loo paper to clean it all up with.

But I have my lovely children, cat and house, which are all anyone could really want, and on top I've still got my book being published, which is as gorgeous as possible. Nothing Mr X can do about that, ha! Although perhaps I shouldn't say that, no, I must think positive. I really, really don't think he can stop it happening. Fingers crossed. And I've got plenty of material for another book, as my lovely cyberchums have pointed out. Thank you so much to everyone for your comments, which really have kept me going. True Love is also leaving me lots and lots of time and space to write hundreds of new books in and generously, if inadvertently, providing tons of inspiration, too.

And there are other hopeful little signs of regeneration, like the writing club I've just joined, with a cast of characters who are all too delicious not to write about.

Of course, I wouldn't be able to see any of this if I carried on lounging around in the gutter. No view at all from down there, I've noticed. So there's really no choice. Up I get. On I go.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

My ideal mate

I suppose I might as well admit it. I am a little less heartbroken these days - because I have spent the last week and a half with the perfect male. He never grabs the remote, he is happy to eat any old thing, he looks at me with the most adoring eyes and he never, ever interrupts. He has listened to my Secrets CD without making a single negative comment ( a massive feat) and was very supportive during the duvet crisis. He is warm, funny, and, not that I want to give away the secrets of the boudoir, lovely to cuddle up to at night.

On the downside, he is really a tincy bit whiffy, and the eating anything bit encompasses trying to nibble the cable on the children's Wii (bought by their doting uncle, I wouldn't have got one in a million) and a bit of Child Two's arm.

Yes, he is none other than the lovely Dill, my glamorous friend B's rabbit. As you know, I was braced for a terror and, while he does have some problems in sticking rigorously to his rabbit diet - and who wouldn't, his food is rock hard little pellets that really don't look that different from the rock hard little pellets that come out of him at the other end - in all other respects he has been the ideal guest. Even when staying for a few days at Mr X's, he behaved impeccably, possibly because he was shut in the bathroom. Not that I was hoping he would eat X's comfy chairs or ravage the wedding china, oh no, because I am sooooooo not like that.

It was with a heavy heart that I handed Dilly back to B, when she stopped in briefly between returning from the South of France and jetting off for a break in the Caribbean. She has other rabbit sitters lined up to cover her latest holiday. Indeed, there is something of a waiting list developing for Dill's soothing, supportive male presence. With Euro 2008 looming, why am I not surprised?

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Reckoning

Time for a little refresher on how things are going, since I discovered The Secret:

1. Weight loss. You may recall that my half term stupor had left me with an attractive brontosaurus neck, thanks to ingesting several hundredweight of Tescos chocolate peanuts and raisins on the sofa. Well, thanks to concentrating on Thin Thoughts, the neck has deflated slightly! Before you even say it, dearest Goodbyetoallfat, this may also have had something to do with my horrific cold/sore throat, which has prevented me from staggering to the fridge in the odd moment when I am not required to drive my darlings to their violin, ballroom dancing and bassoon lessons since school started again.

2. Handbags. Strangely, the Louis Vuitton handbag hasn't arrived yet. I expect it's just held up in the post.

3. Huge cheques. These haven't come either. Tsk, that post really is appalling.

4. Newspaper column! This is obviously fabulous - but I did hear about it before I started listening to The Secret so I don't think it can count. And, unfortunately, it does seem to have become a bit of a misogynist magnet. Honestly, men!

5. True Love. Despite my valiant efforts to think happy thoughts and project a future where we are together in blissful harmony, all I've had for my pains is a text saying he is getting to the bottom of things. Yes, but whose bottom, that's what I want to know! Sniff.

6. Blessings. Part of the Secret is counting these, and I must say this is no struggle. Here I am, living in lovely Dulwich, with lots of friends, both corporeal and cyber, my gorgeous children, a slightly dysfunctional cat, a plentiful supply of chocolate peanuts, no, I'm going to slam the fridge door now ....and ....oooh, is that the postman I hear?

Monday, 2 June 2008

The Secret

There is only one way to get over the duvet debacle, and that's to change my entire life and everything in it. Apart, of course, from my darling children, my house, my cat, my friends and the car that I have become quite attatched to (both because I can't turn the seat-warmer facility off and tend to stick to it, and because otherwise I'd have to walk).

Luckily, my lovely sister-in-law sent me her CDs of The Secret about a year ago. The Secret turns out not to be the address of the Louis Vuitton clearance store, as I'd dearly hoped (please don't tell me this doesn't exist, a girl can dream and I don't look good crying as True Love can testify). Instead, it is a motivational slash thought training programme to turn life's losers - like me - into all-out, glossy, permagrinning winners. This is very tempting and I must admit, after initial resistance to the sound track, which is part African drums, part spooky chanting, I settle down obediently to have my life changed.

The Secret itself, confides the Australian lady authoress in soothing tones, is the Law of Attraction. I suppose it says little for this Law that it took a year or so for me to be attracted to the CDs in the first place - but she would probably say the fact that I am now listening means it does work, and that I am just a bit slow. The Law means that you get what you ask for - if you think constantly about debt, misery and revenge (guilty) then that is exactly what you will have. If, on the other hand, you think non-stop about Louis Vuitton, wads of cash and romance, then the universe will provide. Irresistible, huh?

Some bits of the philosophy are worrying - for instance, people killed by deranged dictators must have wanted to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hm, surely not. And, on weight, the authoress is positive that people 'think themselves fat'. Silly me, I thought it was something to do with chocolate. After half term, I really should know - to succour myself I have taken to eating my own bodyweight in chocolate peanuts and raisins every night and, as I discovered as I was passing the mirror the other day, even my neck has put on about half a stone.

Well, I am very happy to put it all to the test. Thinking thin suits me an awful lot better than going to the gym! Wish me luck, wish me skinny and I'll report back soon.