Wednesday, 28 October 2020
On Sunday the Tooth Fairy and I set out to look for a van for me. Those of you who follow me regularly will know about Vangate which occurred nearly a year ago. Basically, while we were away for the weekend, the van broke down and I ended up spending £400 only to find that the problem still existed. This went on for 8 weeks and the problem is bypassed rather than fixed. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I’ve spent a lot more on the van this year so I’m thinking it’s time to look for a new one.
So we set off, driving through wind and rain while the Tooth Fairy read the map on my phone. He’s not used to an iphone cutting out every few minutes and having to put my security code in and there was a lot of cursing. Also, being a man, he hates not being able to find where we’re going. (I just cheerfully say, oh let\’s go somewhere else, but he won’t have that.)
We eventually found several garages but they were shut, as it was Sunday afternoon - still we got a good idea of what was around and then decided to have a walk on the way home. We came to Blackwater, one of the quietest hamlets I’ve come across, just off the A30, and it was like stepping back in time.
It was incredibly peaceful. Birds, no cars, no people. An old fashioned village shop. A long grassy area like a village green with benches, and a polite notice asking people to keep a 2 metre distance when walking in the village.
We walked up a lane and the sun burst forth from behind towering castle-like clouds, lighting the fields a startling emerald. Shetland ponies whickered curiously as we walked past, exchanging greetings with Lainy. Further up we came to a house covered in slogans, mainly against the local planning department, it seemed. We walked past tranquil gardens, more grazing horses, and silent gardens where bonfire smoke drifted upwards in a lazy spiral.
We kept turning right and finally arrived back at the converted chapel that is now a house with gorgeous church sized windows, and in someone’s drive was an old truck with a skeleton in the back, with a jaunty hat. On the bumper read a sticker, IT MAY BE A PILE OF SHIT BUT IT’S IN FRONT OF YOU which made my day.
So that was our Walk with a Purpose. We didn’t find a van but we had a look. We didn’t have a very long walk, but the sun came out which is always a bonus in my book. And we found something that made us laugh. You could say that we hadn’t achieved very much. To me, we had a good few hours in each other’s company, found somewhere new and enjoyed time with Lainy. What’s wrong with that?
Wednesday, 21 October 2020
We never had careers advice at school. I wasn't considered bright enough to go to university, as I did badly at exams, and in the end my parents were asked to remove me after O levels as my anorexia was considered too disruptive. I was delighted - it was what I'd been campaigning for since the age of 11.
Throughout our lives, work apart, we may become parents, partners, brothers, sisters, carers, wage earners, dependents - all kinds of things. But these roles can and often do change.
I remember after Pip died, I had a real Who Am I time. I wasn't his wife any more, or his carer. I'd lost my best (male) friend and I was just so desperately grateful that I was still a journalist rather than being cast into the role of Grieving Widow. For when I was working I was back to being Me again. The Real Me.
This year, of course, has been exceptionally weird and while for some life has stood stil, for many it has fallen into a rubble about their ears, so this can be a really difficult question to ask ourselves. It can be scary because it means looking at hopes and aspirations that may have crumbled. Our dreams might seem unrealistic, impossible, which is daunting Or just Not Possible At the Moment, which is different.
I've always been a writer, ever since I could spell, aged 4, but it was a long, long time before I was paid for that work. And now I am looking to change things a bit with my books and also I hope to get my novel published.
Not that telling stories is something new - I've made them up for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first novel when I was 13 (a Gothic novel which I found the other day. It wasn't nearly as bad as I feared!). But getting an agent/publisher is, as most of us know, incredibly hard.
But when I was asked the other day, Who Do You Want To Be? The answer has always been A Writer. I've achieved that, but now it is also A published Novelist. In addition to Journalist, Poet and Travel Writer. Greedy? No, it's what I've always longed to be.
Thursday, 15 October 2020
Like many people, this year I had Plans. I was going to go on holiday! Unlike a lot of people, I was extremely fortunate in being able to get my writing retreat in before Covid and for that I am more grateful than I can say. And sincere condolences to all those who missed getting away.
I'd also planned to go to France with some friends for a long weekend. I'd booked four short breaks courtesy of those special offers if you collect vouchers from various papers. Hah! Though one is still a possible, hanging on by a thin thread of hope and optimism.
They say that things often come in threes - bad luck that is. (I'm not sure about good luck, or perhaps we just don't notice it as much.) Anyway, last Friday I had an email from my business partner because some design work that was long overdue had arrived and wasn't what we'd hoped. Then I had an email from somebody regarding the possible sale of one of my books in Germany - well, it looked like that was a No No. Then a phone call from the caravan park where we were due to stay in November, saying that because of rising Covid cases, they've decided to shut the park for November and December. Oh, and to get a refund I had to contact the agent who then said they couldn't pay it without a Request for Refund from the park who said they'd already sent it - etc. etc. With luck we might get our money back in 28 days....
I think you can imagine how I felt. But the sun shone and I had a walk with a new friend and her dog and I thought bugger it I will not be beaten. Various friends gave very interesting feedback on the fact that Rosamunde Pilcher TV films are being shot here in Cornwall and will be aired in Germany next year, so all is not lost. Or at least that is still - maybe - a possibility. I've also found another caravan park that would be willing to take us. This required some effort, as most caravan parks in Cornwall seem to be closing quicker than you can say Sod It.
Of course we might all be in lockdown by mid November, which is when we were hoping to go, but I always feel better with a bit of optimism on the horizon. Don't we all? I've had two rejections for my novel but it's out there being looked at other agents, and I've had an offer of guidance from someone in the business and I am SO grateful for that.
So I guess the motto for this long ramble is that when it looks like the shit's hit the fan, don't give up. With a bit of perseverance, there might be some good news - somewhere. It just takes a bit of digging to find it. (Of course in a few months time when I'm weeping over yet more rejections, I might say what a load of bullshit. But at least I can self publish.)
So keep going folks! And here's some Vitamin Sea....
Wednesday, 7 October 2020
This is a rare picture of me and my lovely friends (sorry Ali, you're hidden behind Bev!) on our brief but brilliant trip to Roscoff this time last year. We had earmarked last week for a repeat trip but sadly and for obvious reasons this hasn't happened. But it will.
At least of course, I hope it will. I was talking to a friend last night about bending the truth - or not being entirely truthful - lying - whatever you like to call it. And he said "lying comes from fear" and I realised how true that is.
I have two good male friends who are at opposite ends of the Truth Spectrum. One, a very talented and clever man, tends to say exactly what he thinks. The advantage of this is that you know exactly where you are with him. The disadvantage could be that he upsets people though he's never upset me.
The other is another intelligent and talented fellow but so concerned with what people might think, that he tends to bend the truth over backwards so as not to offend anyone. And in doing so, tends to tie himself in knots. And this can have obvious complications, like not knowing when be's telling the truth.
Now I'm not saying that either is right - I tend to say what I think most of the time but I try to be reasonably diplomatic about it, and like most people I will tell the odd white lie.
So that got me thinking about you lot - those who read these words that spew forth once a week. What do you think about Bending the Truth? When and where did you last tell a white lie? After all, this is very often the stuff that books are made of. Thrillers, romantic novels, crime, historical - just about every good story has a good lie or two in it, to bring in doubt, misunderstanding, arguments, fallouts, murders- you name it.
So whatever you think of lies in real life, we couldn't do without them in our books.
Friday, 2 October 2020
This painting is by my very talented friend Ernesto Pescini - check him out on Facebook for other works of his.
Much of Ernesto's work comes from emotional turmoil, as I'm sure you can see from this one. I find them tremendously gripping - they pull you in, and the more you look, the more you see.
When I first met him, he was a bit lost - aren't we all - and hadn't been able to paint since February. But I'm glad to say he has been taken on by another gallery, in St Mawes, and is now back painting again, producing an alarming amount of paintings in the last few weeks!
He also very kindly helped sort some problems with my van this week, which was much appreciated. Yes, Van Gate rumbles on a bit (not as badly as late last year) but having totted up how much I've spent on it this year, I've realised the time has come to start looking for another one.
But then, so much has changed this year. Just after Moll died I was walking with a friend who said she thought this summer would go down as the year when nothing really happened. At least you've got your DOG, I thought bitterly. I was in that stage of grief where just seeing anyone else's dog was too painful.
But now I have Lainy - yes, I couldn't let a whole post go by without mentioning her. And Ruth, who is a dog whisperer and creator of all things caninely magical, said she couldn't believe the change in Lainy over the past week. She's gone from being scared of everyone and barking like mad, to - in a single week of meeting more of my friends, at home - welcoming them in. We've done quite a bit of work, instructing friends to give her a chew on arrival and a few other things - and lots of training, but the difference is incredible.
Now Lainy chews her chew, comes over to greet our guests, then lies on the carpet and usually goes to her bed. Quite remarkable. She also mastered going to a pub for the first time and I am so proud of her I think I might burst.
She was lost and then I found her, but more to the point she has rescued me, just as much as I rescued her. So thank you my darling girl.