Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Socialising and shopping

Someone wrote a play with ‘shopping’ and er something else or other in the title, didn’t they? Well enough of that – we went to another neighbour drinks thing on Sunday night and yesterday, Christmas Day, to M’s brother, who produced roast turkey with all the trimmings for us. Excellent job. It was rather a lazy day, and we watched Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone on the TV – and a number of other things. Having read the first four books for my dissertation in 2002, I watched it (although for the second time) with interest. It was a very faithful version of the book.

We made up our minds to go to Comet today to get a new microwave and this was surprisingly effortless. We managed to get a reasonable parking space; we found the microwave we wanted and a nice young salesman carried it to the car; we then hunted for a digital radio and found one of those too. Then we took ourselves off to see carpets and suites to assess prices, etc., our living room carpet having developed a worn patch and our suite having been deserving of the elbow for some time. I can’t decide if the worn patch is due to my aerobics period (although I haven’t been energetic enough to do this recently) or the fact that the Dyson seems to eat up half the carpet on every tour of duty. Typically, M on seeing the pattern books in the furniture shop was reluctant to agree to a dark brown suite to replace our green one. I could see what he wanted, as he has never stopped hankering for a white carpet – he wanted the cream coloured one, so that he could pour coffee over it and decorate it with tar and oil. I had to concede that the dark brown would make our lounge look rather depressing and cream was actually the right colour for the room. The salesman in Furniture Village – very helpful and not at all pushy – nearly sold us the idea when he told us about the guaranteed protective surface which could be sprayed on. We left without making a decision though. New suite requires a little mulling over.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The festive season

No-one’s ever accused me of being energetic, so I’m happy if I get one major job done in a day. I did the Sainsbury’s shop on Friday – not a huge shop, as we don’t have to cater for anyone until after Christmas – however, when I run out of bananas, I always know it’s time to go to the supermarket. I also got off the first couple of quotations with an accompanying explanatory letter, which M & I worked on together. My writing skills are always put to good use when I’m taking dictation.

There’ll be another visit to the supermarket on Wednesday next before our kids arrive – by that time, we’ll need fresh fruit and veg. oh – and milk. The milkman, who always believes in keeping his visits a secret from me in the Christmas period, left me my Friday order, plus my Christmas order – six pints in total - but didn’t fill me in on when he’s coming next.

Yesterday I made an apple cake, a portion to take to my brother in law on Christmas Day, and the rest for freezing. It’s basically a Victoria sponge cake with large pieces of apple covering the top, and always appreciated, though this time, I think I overcooked it a fraction, and the sponge shrunk back from the apple. Recipe available for anyone who’s interested. I took a couple of apples from my store in the shed and spotted a couple of bad ones, which I threw out. But the one I used was perfect.

Then in the evening, we went to our first two social occasions – one with our neighbours and the second at Jennifer’s (Writers’ Circle and MD of Goldenford (www.goldenford.co.uk)). It was a shame to leave party No. 1, but there is another neighbour’s party tonight and a lot of the same people will be there, so we’ll have a chance to talk to them then. We spent most of the evening at party No. 2 – thank you Jennifer and Tony for a great evening. Lovely food and good company. We left at 11.30 pm. M was falling asleep and I didn’t realise how tired he was and delegated the driving to him, as I’d a couple of glasses of wine. But I couldn’t get off to sleep, affected by a late cup of tea at Jennifer’s. I can’t take caffeine late at night, now.

Woke up this morning very tired indeed and in fact was so dopey that I washed most of me twice over in the shower. I only remembered when I thought – I’ve washed this leg before. However I’ve woken up a bit now and will try to do something productive this afternoon before going to our next social bash.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another horrid day

Almost nothing can be worse than this horrible fog. And so cold too. The heating’s been on all day, and the grey outside hasn’t shifted. I spent almost the entire morning taking dictation and started up again after lunch, until a Chinese restaurant in Croydon called M out to an emergency job. Took him to the station and will have to collect him again later, when it’s dark.

I cooked some joints of turkey, yesterday, possibly for a meal for us, if I’m do a veggie roast for the kids. No decisions made on that yet. I’ll see what I come up with. But we had some last night and it was very good. Some of the trimmings, too – parsnips, roast potatoes and Brussels. But I have to carve the rest today some time and put it into foil parcels for future use. I couldn’t be bothered to do anything else last night and had a Victorian evening with Bramwell, followed by Sherlock Holmes – The House of the Baskervilles with Jeremy Brett – all on Sky UKTV Drama, or somesuch. Both very good.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Man out at work

It was cold yesterday, and my heart sank when M commented in the morning, ‘It’s very mild, isn’t it?’ Another day of playing ‘draughts’ - him opening windows and me closing them and sneaking the heating on. But, after a week of him staying home and watching repeats on Sky TV, he got called out, and I think was quite pleased to leave the house. While out, he offered to go to Irene to sort out a problem with her heating. Oh joy. The heating went on, here, the second he left the house. Later Irene immortalised him on her blog – (http://www.thisthatfromireneblack.blogspot.com/) well the back end of him, that is, and she was full of praise at his efforts.

I collected a few bits and pieces which I might need during the Christmas period – contact lens fluid; free range eggs – and aspirin, though I still have my main shop to do, as late as possible in the week; I polished off some ironing and printed out my nearly successful story for comments from Guildford Writers (www.guildfordwriters.co.uk) in the evening. I’ll send it off again somewhere; it’s been shortlisted twice. Oh and I went on line and had another go at PayPal. I confessed once again to forgetting my password and got the necessary reminders and than informed them of the amounts paid into my account. And yes! That’s been successful and all I have to do now is earn royalties from Virtual Tales (www.virtualtales.com) to get money coming into the account.

That was yesterday. Today M has gone off again – I took him out to the station this morning – a horrible, foggy day, and I’ve just heard that his trip out today will bring about three quotations. Bo-o-o-r-r-r-ing. Just when I was thinking I could carry on tidying up loose ends and concentrate on cooking for next week. Anyhow before he comes back, I will at least make up the bed for Eve, the first of my granddaughters to visit - with her parents, of course – next week.

Later today, a breakthrough. I tried to connect to Virgin (dial up still, of course) and after two days of being barred, they let me in. And I managed to order the filters for the broadband connection – with a bit of luck everything will be ready to go when my kids arrive and surely, one or other of them, with their Maths with Computing degrees, will be able to help us connect up.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Technology strikes again

I spent a thoroughly frustrating evening last night. It’s all a giant conspiracy to confuse the technologically challenged. As soon as I get on the Net and have to start filling out forms, it all goes pear-shaped, to use a clichĂ©. (Who invented that one, by the way?)

It started when my son telephoned. I’d already told him on email that I couldn’t send the Plonk cover file – uploading via FTP, and he was obviously determined to educate me so that I could rise to the challenge. After a half hour or so on the telephone with him giving instructions and me trying to follow them, we gave up.

I needed to deal with PayPal. When you register for PayPal, they credit your account with two small amounts so that you can verify it’s gone to the right account. I decided to take advantage of the 24 hour service provided by my bank and telephone them. I did get the information in the end, but not until I’d been on the phone for ten minutes listening to the dreariest music imaginable.

OK, I’d made some progress. Now to attempt something I’d been putting off for days. Getting linked up to Broadband. All these problems sending large files have convinced me. Using my Virgin connection, I dialled up and started filling out the form. I started three times – inextricably, the dial up disconnected me twice. You’d think they didn’t want my business. No choice, but to use my other connection. Right, I was on to the page again and this time, I managed to deal with almost all the questions. But then I got to the request to deliver the filtering equipment. I fill out the questions and get to the end of the page. I do it twice or three times, but there’s nowhere to go from there. I go back. Then they tell me that due to a glitch, they can’t take my order at the moment. There’s another problem, they ask for my Virgin address, etc. I provide that, but my password’s wrong. I can’t remember it; I thought it was the same as the one used for my other connection. Before I stop to think I’ve pressed the button for ‘forgotten password’. And then it’s downhill all the way. By now I’ve remembered that my Virgin password has got extra digits and I think I know what they are. But it’s too late. I have to put in a new password and when I go back to the Virgin connection to fill out the details of the bank credits for PayPal, I can’t get in. I can’t use the old password and I can’t use the new password and I can’t use my other connection because that gets used for Goldenford Publishers (www.goldenford.co.uk) . And will I get to speak to another human being who’ll help me? No way. I’m faced with a barrage of computerised robots who will send me error messages ad infinitum, probably without even knowing what they mean. I go to bed, frustrated. I haven’t completed anything.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Old fashioned ways

After several attempts to send off the cover file to Virtual Tales (www.virtualtales.com) I found it easier to put it on CD and take it to the post office. Five working days, they tell me, so it should get there before the New Year. Sometimes you have to recognise when you’ve been defeated by new technology. The file is very large because it is unlocked. That enables the people at Virtual Tales to fiddle with it – and possibly change the font. As soon as the file is locked, it immediately becomes much smaller.

I also finished the editing of A Bottle of Plonk last night and sent that off to Jake. I see I've already mentioned this. Anyhow, Jake has now received it, which is good. I also subscribed again to the Virtual Tales contributors’ e-group. I had already done it, but when I went to the Yahoo site to deal with something on the Guildford Writers’ e-group I wasn’t recognised. I got sent from page to page and had to confirm my password, and I thought I’d better register again, as I didn’t seem to exist in Yahoo’s eyes.

So with all that behind me, I can concentrate on other things. Can I come up with a new story for Guildford Writers (www.guildfordwriters.com) tomorrow night? Or a further instalment of my novel? And how much time should I spend on cooking for my kids’ visits, post Christmas?

M is going out to a job tomorrow. First call-out he’s had for about a week. I think he’s actually quite enjoyed sitting at home watching, Keeping up Appearances, Poirrot, Rumpole of the Bailey and numerous repeats of Only Fools and Horses.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Relaxing weekend

A weekend of recharging batteries, before the big rush next week.

I sat in front of the TV last night and watched three Frasiers in a row. I love Frasier; it's so clever and subtle sometimes, even though it's farcical at others. It's never crude and you have so much empathy for the main characters. Before I realised, it was midnight. We slept late this morning as a result.

I did a major shop, though I'm sure I'll have to repeat it before next weekend. After all, we are expecting the kids after Christmas, in turn not together. And I will have to do some food preparation before they arrive, otherwise my time will be spent exclusively in the kitchen.

I have now completely read through A Bottle of Plonk and made a few small alterations before returning it to the editor at Virtual Tales. It was interesting to re-read it and I was pleasantly surprised to realise that the rewrites I had made just before publication by Goldenford in 2005 had worked quite well. I know that most writers, artists, etc are terribly unsatisfied by their work when they look at it. I expect there's something wrong with me.

I've had terrible trouble trying to send off my original cover to Virtual Tales. It's too large to go by email in any unlocked state. I'm going to have to resort to putting it in an envelope and sending it through the post.

I'll deal with that tomorrow, when I send off my grand-daughter's birthday present.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Working on the novel

I’ve been assigned an editor, Jake, by Virtual Tales (http://www.virtualtales.com/) and I’ve been spending some time on looking through his few changes to my original version. It’s all moving along quite quickly. I’m also contemplating going on broadband shortly, because I’ve had so much hassle sending large files. My computer has been slowly grinding through everything I ask it to do, but neighbour, Celia suggested that I defrag it and I think that and putting it through its cleaning programme has helped.

The Christmas cards are gradually disappearing too, but still some sticky labels around (printed out from last year’s list) that I haven’t dealt with and I’m wondering – are they going to send this year? I wouldn’t recognise them if I met them in the street. Why are we still going through the motions? We got a card from our regular holiday resort in Majorca. A dyslexic secretary had addressed it to M with the name he never uses, except that she’d managed to turn it into Brain.

M took my car in for its service yesterday, and using the garage as a car park, went on into Guildford. He first attached the bike he picked up recently, with the intention of cycling, once he’d handed in the car. But the gears jammed up, and he had to walk in the end. When he got home, he was so irritated, he took his angle grinder and cut off the back gears. He’s unlikely to be cycling up hills on it.

It’s been a busy week. A committee meeting on Monday. A meeting of Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk/) on Tuesday. A nice relaxed meal last night to compensate M for the rushed ones of the previous couple of days and tonight a meeting of the reading circle. We discussed A short history of tractors in Ukrainian – a very good choice and much to discuss. Several of the group thought it was not hilarious, as described on the cover, but rather a sad book. Nevertheless we did find ourselves laughing at the descriptions. I think it was the author’s (Marina Lewycka) style and language that was funny not the events themselves. It was a very social occasion with savouries and mince pies provided by our hostess, Jackie. I took along some chocolate brownies. If you’ve got a recipe that works, you might as well use it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Crossing things off the list

Yes I actually organised a couple of things today. That doesn’t actually amount to doing them, but at least I have made appointments for both servicing and MOT of my car and writing a will (the two not connected.)

As far as other miscellaneous things are concerned, I did a bit of office work, including the post and filing; changed sheets, etc. I haven’t made any progress on Christmas cards, though, and the ironing is falling behind again. Oh dear, there’s the children’s presents to wrap up too, including one for Ella’s birthday, which must go off shortly.

I spent useful time on my website, updating it to include Virtual Tales (http://www.virtualtales.com/) in various places. Programming doesn’t come naturally to me – even though I have two very computer literate children (I use the term loosely – meaning offspring.) I have to copy other bits of HTML and even that goes wrong sometimes. For example, in my first attempt to link to Virtual Tales with a label – A Bottle of Plonk – On-line version, I copied the original label directing interested parties to Goldenford Publishers (http://www.goldenford.co.uk/). Why should the new label pop up in blue, when the old one was in white? A missing apostrophe or bracket, perhaps. Who know? I had to keep trying and checking the changes, all of which is time consuming. Still, I’m nearly there now. When I’m sure it’s all right, I’ll upload it to the Net.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lost in Woking

I still had some clearing up to do – mainly washing up some nice dishes that won’t go in the dish washer. Unfortunately the spout broke off my posh teapot yesterday – not, thank goodness, as I was pouring tea out, but in the kitchen, when I'd given it a minor tap. M has repaired it, but I will inspect before bringing it out. The whole point of it is that it’s a nice china pot. If it has a circle of glue round the spout, it no longer qualifies as posh.

I also spent time investigating a blockage in my Dyson. There are wispy little spiders around the house determined to leave the largest possible cobweb and when I tried to vacuum one of these webs, I found there was no suction at all. M was very impressed – he assumes all women are impractical. I dismantled it completely and looked through every tube, cleaned away surplus dust from all other parts and then reassembled it. And now it’s fine. It’s a matter of pride with me that I can deal with such things. I even bought my own tool box and Phillips’ screwdriver, but M discovered their whereabouts and frequently borrows them.

Having spoken on the phone to my daughter, I was given permission to get another present for Eve. I had scoured Guildford for Barbie clothes to no avail, and nearly everything I’d bought for her came under the category of boring, practical, clothes (for Eve that is, not Barbie). M offered to take me to Woking this afternoon. I thought he would park the car and walk to the toy shop with me, but he wanted to drop me off and drive round in circles until I’d finished. Under sufferance, he eventually came with me. You can’t get lost in Woking, because there are only a few roads around a central area. BUT you can certainly get lost in the Peacocks’ car park. We parked in the wrong colour, walked out of the car park to get to Toysarus and then having bought a jigsaw, couldn’t find our way back to the yellow car park. We went round in circles, up and down stairs, not enhanced by the aroma of public lavatory, and eventually asked someone and followed them to safety. This enforced M’s conviction that he hates shopping and he hates car parks and confirmed my feeling that I am much happier shopping in Guildford.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lunch is served

The meal went off OK, but I would love to have a slave running around after me, saying, ‘Don’t forget to heat the dishes,’ and putting out crisps and so on. Reminding me to buy soft drinks like bitter lemon and soda would be helpful too. Alas, the nearest thing to the lowly helper in my household is the other half. Those who know him will know that he is not very domesticated, and on a day of entertaining like today, has to be told every little thing, including that it is time for him to get changed, and which trousers to put on. Nevertheless we had a pleasant lunch and afternoon, and felt too full (after cakes as well as lunch) to eat this evening.

I went on line, this evening, to organise myself a PayPal account for the vast wealth that will be flooding into this account from Bottle of Plonk royalties from Virtual Tales (http://www.virtualtales.com/). Sorry, I’m being ungracious. Virtual Tales have taken me on, and I am delighted with this. But e-publishing is an unknown quantity to me, so I have no idea how well Plonk will do. Now I have several tasks ahead of me, including creating a digital signature to send them, so that the contract can be signed without my posting it via ‘snail mail’. They have also asked me to create links from my website, etc. and to send a photo. There’s an article about them in September’s Writers’ News, but I think I originally read about them in an earlier edition. The fact that they were looking for books that could be chopped up into small episodes made me think that Plonk might be right for them.

Dealing with PayPal took me absolute ages. I hate these sites, where you go round and round in circles while they tell you, you didn’t fill that in or this in. Also it is manned by faceless robots back at the PayPal centre, wherever that might be, that never answer your questions, just send you a bit of prepared jargon. I have a question I need to ask them, and I know what the result will be. Just frustration.

I received the current copy of Writers’ News (http://www.writersnews.co.uk/) this morning and found that I had been shortlisted for their Foster Mother competition. I felt sure I had sent them a SAE, but I didn’t receive my story back, and a subsequent story that did come back to me had no attached letter, as is usually the case. Anne - (http://www.annebrooke.com/) - my writing friend, says that they are going through a period of change at the moment, so perhaps that accounts for it. It’s a while since my last WN short-listing, so I’m pleased about that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Unexpected success?

Last night after I got in from shopping, I went to check emails and found that the telephone line wasn’t working. We checked all the phones, then M went to our neighbours to report the fault. It must have been something to do with the torrential rain, because an hour or so later, we were back on line.

When I checked my emails, I had a surprise. There was an email from Virtual Tales asking why I hadn’t returned the contract they’d sent me. Had I decided not to go ahead with this? I’d forgotten I sent them A Bottle of Plonk for their website. They let people see a first chapter and then can buy the rest as a serial. I thought Plonk would be ideal for this, and it seems they thought it might be OK too. However, as far as the contract was concerned, I didn’t know anything about it. I asked them to send me another copy, which also disappeared. Then I thought to check my other service provider, which I hardly ever use and there it was – all eight pages of it. (Twice over, by now.) It was originally sent on 22nd November.

Being a pessimist, I feel there’s plenty of scope for things going wrong, so no point in getting excited about this. But it entailed a bit of correspondence, as I queried one or two items in the contract. Virtual Tales is based in Washington, USA.

I’ve been preparing for lunch with friends tomorrow. I’m always so slow in the mornings, I have to compensate by working nights. As I’m making a steak and mushroom pie, I will prepare the pastry tomorrow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Getting things done

My cousin Nick (who I’ve never met, but who is in charge of a huge family tree) sent me the census records for my grandfather and great grandfather on my father’s side for the years 1881 and 1871. Fascinating stuff. They lived in East London and although they, themselves, had, I think about one or two children each, at that time, the total occupancy of the houses in which they lived was about a dozen people. My grandfather was a young man at the time, living with his first wife; my grandmother was a little girl. They married when his wife died, by which time, he had eight children.

I started watching ‘Love Actually’ last night and switched it off after establishing it was a load of rubbish. Why Richard whathisname is so acclaimed, I can’t imagine. I couldn’t put up with the gratuitous four letter words. It reminded me of when my son said ‘Knickers’ as a substitute swear word, when he was about ten. These stupid people regard the overuse of swearing as wit or sophistication. Give me American chick-lit any time. Nora Ephron with ‘When Sally met Harry’, or ‘You’ve got mail.’

The weather was terrible today. When I went off to Guildford, there was a gale and the rain was teeming down. (Later I heard there was a tornado in NW London.) But it quietened down and I managed to park easily, which was great. And I accomplished what I wanted to do and got presents for the kids, and got back before rush hour too. And tonight, I made a batch of brownies. Tomorrow, I have cooking to do for a lunch on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pressure builds up

Inspiration didn’t come yesterday, so I wasn’t able to read at the Guildford Writers’ meeting. But there was plenty of good stuff – everything leaving you wanting to know what happened next.

I had every intention of going to Guildford today, but woke up with a bad back due no doubt to shunting things around in my freezer yesterday – lots of bending and lifting. I took some aspirins and later went to Sainsbury’s instead. M came with me, feeling he should do some strong arm stuff in view of me limping around. So I bought twice as much as I'd intended. I would have had to go tomorrow, as I'd run out of several things.

The first Christmas cards have started to arrive. Must get down to that too and we have invitations to another couple of happenings in the pre-Christmas period. And I should have arranged to have my car serviced. It’s all too much.

I got an unsolicited review of my chapters today, to my surprise, from someone else at the YouWriteOn site – once again, I was criticised for too much in the way of explanation. I just can’t get these first chapters right. It’s not so much that the reader needs to know the back story, but my heroine needs to know certain things before she can go off and start researching the family tree. But I can’t put these things in without there being too much narrative. But I will certainly have to look at the chapters again, when the pressure’s off.

Sent off my short story entry for the Writers’ News competition.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Writing progress

Out for lunch yesterday at Irene’s, (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/blacks.house/) my fellow writing buddy. But not before I had dealt with the mindless Monday tasks of removing sheets, towels etc and filling the linen basket with them. Like Alice, for ever running to stand still, in this aspect of my life. But this morning I’ve loaded the machine, so the contents of the linen basket are reduced by half.

Horrible morning, so far, the sky dark and the rain pouring down and drumming on the roof. But it’s still not cold for December. When I was writing my novel, Tainted Tree, which takes place over a six month period, I kept a database so that I would know what was going on in the garden, what the weather was like on any particular day and what time the sun went down. This web diary could prove equally useful as a reference – assuming, of course, I can go back into my own archive, which I haven’t checked.

There was a good interview on the Today programme this morning. Professor Christopher Marks was on, explaining why we should keep open the Royal Surrey County Hospital. M and I talked about the awful occasion when he had waterworks problems. He woke me up in the middle of the night and told me I had to get him to hospital. He was in agony. I didn’t have time to put in my contacts, but used glasses instead (never quite as good) and the weather was horrible. But the drive to the Royal Surrey is easy, and I got him there in less than 15 minutes. How different it would have been if we had had to cross the ranges to Frimley, or drive along the horrid ‘narrow lanes’ leading to St. Peter’s, Chertsey. Speed was of the essence; they said afterwards his kidneys could have been damaged.

Why are they reducing the facilities of a modern hospital?

I’ve received the first critique of Tainted Tree from the YouWriteOn site. Main criticism – description needs cutting and my heroine doesn’t sound American. I will have to look at it again. However, last night, when I prepared three chapters to send out, I hadn’t seen these comments and I will send it off anyway, without amendment. Today, I’m also going to print out my short story for submission, and see if I can come up with something new for Guildford Writers (http://www.guildfordwriters.net/) tonight.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lazy weekend

Not much happening over the weekend. I caught up yesterday with ironing - exciting stuff. Bought a paper when I dropped M at the station and read through all the supplements. They are so time consuming. Watched Casualty in the evening where the emphasis was on homelessness. The elderly homeless heroine assured the nurses that (having been a journalist in an earlier life) ‘it’s surprising how quickly you can get used to a new way of life…’ (to paraphrase.) Really? When we were living without electricity for six months, (as described in my book The Fruit of the Tree,) I didn’t get used to it at all. I hated every moment of it.

We’ve just been to our neighbours. Their parents went on a cruise, but our neighbour’s father was thrown to the ground in high winds, broke his ankle and spent three days marooned in the cabin while half the boat was seasick. At one point in a Force 10 or 12 gale, a lifeboat was lifted off the deck and crashed into the neighbouring cabin. The two of them subsequently spent the rest of the holiday in a hospital in Funchal. It sounded like a chapter of accidents, and they were finally flown back to England yesterday and brought by ambulance to our neighbours, (where their car is.)

The shower’s leaking and I tried to redesign the bathroom, but didn’t come up with anything better. I need to draw it out to scale and add little toilets and basins and baths and move them around to see where they fit. But I suspect we will end up with a replacement shower tray and nothing else changed.

I haven’t yet heard whether the birthday present I sent to my youngest granddaughter arrived safely. I bought it in Guildford on Tuesday – twin dancing Barbies. I tried several shops to find it – ended up in Argos. By the time I walked back to the car park with that and three or four other presents, I was worn out from the ups and downs. Several people smiled at me. ‘Poor old soul,’ they must have thought. Either that or I was wearing my pants on the outside of my trousers. Come to think of it, a couple of people chatted to me in the M & S cafĂ©. Why was everyone being so friendly? There was a man who started telling me about the Lyons’ Corner House in Leicester Square (in past times) and a young mother who was entertaining her baby and feeding her at the table. I tried to think if I could incorporate them into a story, but didn’t come up with anything.

I finally, this evening, uploaded chapters of my novel, Tainted Tree, to the YouWriteOn site. It took me ages and having entered a set of questions about it, giving three answers (only one right), I found myself getting the answers wrong and had to redo it. However, something accomplished.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Parcel

Very grey and dreary outside and high winds forecast. One of those mornings when nothing much gets done. Can’t blame it on the weather, though. I’ve browsed through my small dictionary of quotations for a title for my Park Keeper story, and ended up with To everything a season. Not sure how appropriate it is, but it’s the best I can do.

A parcel arrived for me – some mail order sheets, gloves and slippers. I now have numerous slippers and none of them seem to fit properly. Needless to say, these are too big. But my granddaughter will enjoy trying them on and slip-slopping around the house in them. She likes to investigate my wardrobe to see what shoes she can try on. She will soon find that they are desperately uncool. Talking of uncool, I also received a free gift - a horrible jacket. So horrible, it almost didn't deserve to be given away. I'll save it for emergencies, or a charity shop.

We are invited to a neighbour for Christmas drinks. I phoned to say we’d like to come, but are usually invited by other neighbours. I said we’d try to get to both. I don’t want to offend either sets and neighbour 2 hasn’t actually sent out invites yet.

I have been preparing tonight’s meal, when my brother in law will join us. M and his brother specialise in male chauvinism, but when Bro. is around, M abdicates his role and is rather quiet as we indulge in sparring matches.