Monday, 23 February 2009

Judging a book by its cover

I crawl out of my foxhole like a soldier in a very battered tin hat, accessoried with khaki netting, my bayonet still raised to ward off any stray pink hearts which could still be circling, ready to attack. I feel my military metaphors are hopelessly tangled, but you get the idea. Thank God Valentine's Day is over for another year. Things were so easy once upon a time. I just smiled prettily, and I got shedloads of chocs and hothouses of flowers. These days, with True Love, the donkey getting lost on the way to Mantua with Juliet's letter explaining the whole potion/crypt thing to Romeo looks like an efficient and speedy means of communication, with a possibly less fraught conclusion to boot.

Never mind. My children are at school for a reason - to distract me from my life. Half term is so over. The alarm clock shrills and we are plunged back into 'who stole my tights?' and 'you know I've always hated Cheerios!'. Ah, sweet music.

No sooner do I scramble back on to the school run, however, than more pink hearts appear on the horizon. This time, they are being sent by my adorable publisher, Ullstein, and are - gasp! - on the cover of my soon-to-be published novel, Hot Chocolate or, I should now say, Schokoherz, which all German-speakers will know sounds much better in German.

I do love all the warm, rich red tones, which go beautifully with my character, Bella, who is as toasty as a ....well, toastie, actually. She is, of course, the me I wish I was - constantly funny, kind and magnetic, whereas I, though I try to be a good girl, have unfortunate tendencies towards rattiness, depression, fecklessness ...feel free to fill the rest in when you have a moment.

The whole book issue, though, brings me to a difficult matter. My name. I'm afraid I won't be able to resist more mentions of the book, when it comes out, though revealing the whole, entire cover (the version here is doctored) will, inevitably, blow my own cover. The Dulwich Divorcee will be wandering through the village wearing only her skimpiest negligee. Just be grateful that I'm sparing you total nudity.

I've always thought of dear DD as a fictional creation, a warm-up for writing Novel Number 2 (going v slowly) and Not Me at all. But perhaps she is just a mask, or a negligee, which I cower behind while taking a pop at poor dear True Love when he is already down.

Whatever, I shall have to resolve this, and soon. It is, after all, nearly spring - could be time to prune!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Have a heart

It's Valentine's Day. Sniff. The children are with Mr X. The only post was from the Inland Revenue, demanding £793.

But am I downcast?

Well, der, as Child One and Two would say in unison, if only they were here. My cast is definitely down. However much one steels oneself, that naughty little worm, hope, will keep on wriggling. And, in fact, I will be seeing my True Love later. But sometimes we both seem to be lugging so much baggage around that we each need a separate carousel.

Luckily, there are important cybermatters to attend to which will distract me from the sight of the rest of the world, and especially Dulwich, wallowing in red velvet-swaddled deliciousness, the lucky, lucky beasts.

Right, now, before I get distracted and go off on another rant, what was it that Potty Mummy asked me to do? Ah yes, 'Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures. Pick the 4th picture in that folder. Explain the picture. Tag 4 people to do the same.'

Off I go, weaving in and out of the good, the bad and the ugly stacking up in my computer. Though I am fairly hopeless at remembering to capture those golden moments, somehow the PC's innards are silting up with blurry, out of focus images culled from my mobile and stored here, for what purpose I cannot say. I come to the fourth of the fourth - and it's one I can't show you. Like the lovely Potty herself, I shy away from using real pictures of my children in my blog. I change names, I change events, I can be economical, not to say parsimonious, with the truth. And yes, I know you'll be shocked, but I feel we know each other well enough now for me to admit it, my first name is not Dulwich.

Nevertheless, I am perfectly happy to blather on a bit about the picture, even if I'm not going to whip it out of my cyberskirts with a great voila. It's a (blurry, out of focus) shot of my darling Child Two, at her - gulp - 9th birthday party, just after we had hit these shores. The party was held at the Build A Bear Workshop, in sunny Bromley, with Child Two's newly acquired schoolchums. Build A Bear, in case you have had the good luck not to be exposed to it, is a joint where you can choose, then stuff, your own bear. You even choose a little satin heart, make a wish, and put it inside the bear. Then you dress it up in mini clothes, including firemen's outfits and tinkerbell costumes. The whole place is so camp, I'm always surprised that the entire line-up of the Village People doesn't burst out of the shop performing YMCA every time we pass. It is also completely shocking that you can buy skateboards and sunglasses for your bear - so very Marie-Antoinette before the tumbrils that, if I were the company, in these crunchy times, I would start building my own barricades.

Still, there we are, and she looks very happy in the photo, clutching the bear which she named Blossom, and apparently at ease with the other girls. But, looking back, I realise how difficult it must have been for her. She hardly knew these girls, whereas she had grown up with the friends left behind Abroad.

I've put everyone through so much. I hope they'll forgive me.

Meanwhile, I have to pass on the tag - I'm nominating the lovely Rosiero, Rural Villager, Part Mummy Part Me and Nunhead Ramblings.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The cat's whiskers

As you know, after listening to my sister-in-law's CDs of the Secret, I have been keenly awaiting the arrival of a Louis Vuitton handbag as, to summarise the Secret (and save you from listening to 4 CDs), if you expect something hard enough, it will turn up. Well, nothing to report on the handbag front - yet - but I am now the proud owner of a Dyson Motorhead vacuum cleaner.

This did not exactly drop onto my doormat via the stars, but came from a lovely Dyson PR lady, who invited a group of Mummy Bloggers along to test out her wares and be converted to the wonderful world of bagless suction. Yes, I am at last part of a global phenomenon. It is not the Secret, but instead is embedded advertising. You may already have caught on to this sort of stuff via the current TMobile ad, where everybody gets up and dances, apparently spontaneously, at Liverpool Street station in London. This was first sent round like a virus, from person to person in an email, then appeared on YouTube, and is now coming at you from all sides, while doing an extremely groovy boogey-woogey, admittedly.

Well, I can't promise to boogey much with my Motorhead as it is, as the PR lady warned me, rather heavy. And she did say there was absolutely no need to write about it. But she did also say it is the best for getting out every bit of filth and, as you know, I am nothing if not obsessive about my cleaning. Moi, not write about a new appliance? No, it's just too irresistible and, I'm afraid, too revolting to pass up.

The truth is that I nearly passed out after vacuuming only the sitting room and filling the clear drum up to its max capacity in moments. Given that I am sad enough to enjoy nothing better than a quick whisk round with the hoover on a distressingly regular basis, I really wasn't expecting to pick up much, but soon found a heady mixture of Mme Bovary's whiskers, Jumbo's fluffy tail, and miscellaneous bits of teenage yuck which I couldn't bear to scrutinise too closely, all swirling around the clear plastic innards. Here comes my only criticism so far of the lovely Dyson - when emptying out the cylinder, the compacted dust was most reluctant to leave its glamorous new home, and I had to insert a finger and poke around a bit, with my eyes closed of course, but still, euwww! But maybe because that's because there was just so much in it, euwww again!

Anyway, it was lovely to meet my fellow bloggers, and I am thoroughly enjoying my brush with embedded advertising - and now seriously considering getting the little hand-held Dyson, which looks like the kind of space-age gun that Lara Croft would prance around with in Tomb Raider. Though I shall probably spare the Treasures the sight of their mother dressed in shorts and singlet.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow joke

Oh, the bliss! The Treasures' ludicrously expensive schools are shut, shuddering at the thought of a single snowflake sullying their immaculate tarmac, and we have spent two days at Brockwell Park, whooshing down slopes on my least favourite tray from Peter Jones, emblazoned with an unpleasantly photographic rendition of a passion fruit.

There was some muttering from the darlings, I do admit, as they are used to their top of the range Swiss sleigh, which has every possible embellishment a girl could want, short of a team of matching Lipizzaner ponies to pull you along (I was working on that when everything went belly-up Abroad). But, as I pointed out, someone just along from us was using a blue Ikea bag and there were a couple of boys making do perfectly well with corrugated cardboard, accessorised only with merry smiles.

Best of all, while I was working on developing a lushly apple-cheeked glow in the great outdoors, True Love was snowed in at home, unable to get to his office in an achingly trendy part of town and forced to bunker down in Divorce Towers with only his laptop and Jumbo the bunny for company.

Natually, the moment we were back, he managed to get the front door open, (my strategic piles of snow were no match for his manly muscles, sigh) and he was off, saying he was going to do the panic buying at Sainsbury's Local. I thought that would be the last we saw of him for some time, but he made his way courageously home through the wild, snow-blasted terrain of Herne Hill with not one, but four different types of humous and a brace of avocados.

Hmm. Humous was on the list, and I was mindful that, as ever, I was not only looking a gift Lipizzaner in the mouth but kicking it in the shins for good measure by even mentioning staples like milk, bread and butter. 'Humous?' I said weakly.

He shrugged. 'They'd run out of doughnuts,' he explained.