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Happy holidays all! Hope everyone gets a chance for a breather and some nice food these next two weeks sometime.

And all the best for a peaceful 2008.

Shopping all day (one list day down, 90% of it ticked off, yay!), but before we all go underground and lower our metabolic rates, in my inbox this evening — very kindly and efficiently — is the link to an interview I did for Authortrek.

Anyone who’s read the other interviews on this site (see sidebar) might register that pesky Greyhound bus incident, which comes up again here. Of course, slightly disingenuous of me to wonder where it’s come from. Nevertheless, like a visitor to my own life, I think ‘gosh it really must have figured strongly’. Which of course it did.


For X-factor aficionados: have to admit we have Leon Jackson playing in the background. Once Niki was out, we thought Leon all the way, hah! Didn’t vote though….

Another crisp frosty start, so rather looking forward to heading into town later to finish the shopping. Staving off panic. All a bit last minute this year. And no cards written yet. Again.

As usual, my lists are exhaustive, obsessive and nearly incomprehensible: E haircut (made), M haircut (make), cats’ claws, cat litter x 2, drycleaning 24 hours? (ask), travel medicine, night time cough medicine, shave, truffle ingredients? (R). Etc. And the list of presents not yet secured: E to M, M to E, E to R, M to R. Etc. And now that the children can read, all in a code only I understand: M C & H, E 2… Sigh. And as if one list isn’t enough, I’ve today started my usual list series, a day by day countdown. I don’t think that a poem out of all of this would be very entertaining to anyone but me. However, in all my spare time I might write it anyway.

As a kind of leavening (wandering lists), check this out. Sent by Deborah via via via via facebook, as ever. Enjoy!

Because we have Wonderful Builder in, earlier this month we broke it to the children that there would be no decorations or tree this year. We would be going away for the holidays, we stressed, to a house where there is always a huge tree, garlanded stairs, etc — bliss — so it’s not like they won’t get their fix. Nods of acquiescence all around.

However. The closer we hove the more pleading the looks, so at the weekend out came the box: M’s idea was to decorate their rooms and only their rooms. A little bit of Christmas.

Well. Almost every single decoration and the tree lights along the hall later, I’ve decided that children are much more sensible than adults. Again.

It looks like Christmas. It feels like Christmas. They took two hours stringing tinsel along their beds and paper chains across their ceilings. Baubles on every knob of their chests of drawers. And two nights ago when the lights first flashed on it was, as they say, magical.

Never mind that last night the lights, um, flashed off. So I’ll be at the hardware store today, trying to find a fuse bulb for a five year old set of lights. And probably end up buying a whole new string. It’ll be worth it…


Tatted starAmongst the decorations come my grandmother’s tatted ones, made many many years ago and carefully preserved year on year in a square, christmas-y box. They are strung with red ribbons, starched stiff. We only have five.

M in particular is affected by the concept of time. Yesterday she put on her tiny silver ring, bought last year in France. One of her most precious things she says, because (this seven year old says) it ‘holds memories’. Her shelves are full of objects gathered at such and such a place at such and such a time: wool caught in the fence of her infant school playground, a stone mouse from Pisa, a tiny china bear from her best friend, a ‘key’ she fashioned out of strong grass, a small enamel painting of St Francis of Assisi she chose at the place itself. Etc.

I feel I have no way to disperse this for her, and perhaps I don’t need to. I too have felt it all my life, and remember crying on my twelfth birthday because I would never be eleven again. Sigh.

I suppose that while she makes and arranges objects to remind her, I most often use words to do the same thing, e.g. the memoir work on this site about my beloved grandparents.

M has formed and reflected her life from things around her ever since she was old enough to grasp and hold. There’s no getting round it, and though I know this attentive, sensitive way of getting through the world isn’t a simple (or lucrative!) path to follow…I don’t think she (or we) has (have) any choice. She’s on it.


And hooray! Thrilled to discover over the weekend that one of my pieces has been chosen for publication in Your Messages. As some of you may remember (or maybe not…), the blast of doing it was long-lasting. When I was in the Lakes in late November, I felt quite bereft of the whole project, having wanted to do at least one a week to keep my hand in….Alas, to venture to Hawkshead and try to find a computer would have been breaking my pact with the Land of Long-hand. So I didn’t.

However. It’s turned out more than all right in the end. The launch for Your Messages goes like this:

Messages coverDate: Thursday 31 January 2008

Time: tbc

Venue: The Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, London WC1

I’ll be reading, along with maybe 20 others! Sounds fabulous. I’m very honoured. Thank you to Lynne Rees and Sarah Salway for thinking of it, and for running such a tight ship. A wonderful, enriching and utterly sound idea which created a strong community, and will produce a fine artefact. Not to mention make some good money for a more than fine charity. Hats off to you, ladies!


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.