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1) Been thinking about twins. Somehow, and for no clear reason. Except that weeks ago I saw what appeared to be twins (women) both running (separately, one behind the other) for a train in Charing Cross Station. And that day before yesterday I thought I walked past two shopping twins (women again), one with a young child, looking at face creams. And today I maybe saw the same two maybe women twins on Canterbury High Street, walking briskly. Maybe not. You’d think I’d know for sure. But I don’t. I’m wondering if it’s not unusual for me to be in an almost constant state of double take.

2) The number of people working on the house today all at once: 6

3) The number of posé turns I did across the floor in ballet: at least 50. No wonder I’m seeing twins.

4) Hauled a chest of drawers up three steps on my own. Last time I did something like that was 15 years ago, when I carried a different set up an entire flight single-handedly. Nevertheless, proud of myself. Even if R, E, and M might not like it in the sitting room.

5) One of the six men in my house today fixed the tumble dryer. He’d been round to fix the oven last year, and the washing machine several years before that. You’d think therefore that we had a relationship of sorts. Well, no. Despite five others being in the house — in the same open space indeed, talking and joking — I couldn’t entice him to a single off the cuff remark. He did inform me though that the thermostat had gone, in his opinion, because the filter was bunged up. He lifted it up to show me: should be able to see through there. Oops. I tried to tell him, my voice no doubt trailing off, that I did sometimes carry it up to the shower…I did, um, try. He remained unmoved.

6) Another of the men in my house today was the template person. Whenever I asked if something were possible, he replied with a resounding yes. I liked that. We should all be so lucky.

The end of the line is actually within our grasp now. No, no dying involved, no last wishes, no final farewells.

It’s at last the kitchen. Paint. Cupboards. Oven. Sink. Refridgerator that doesn’t conk out with no warning.

Never mind the ubiquitous plaster dust, the ruined kettle from so many cups of tea. Never mind the tears — tears — from the children at yet another microwave meal. Yes, we have had only a microwave — no sink, no hob, no oven — for 4 weeks. We are all fretful, and now begin to feel our lack of 5-a-day. Our moods are all over the place. Our hair(s) have lost condition. Seriously!

This was all my idea, as R hastens to remind me. He’s right. Almost a year ago exactly, I decided this was it. We’d been thinking about it for 4 years, but no physical solution could be reached. Suddenly the physical solution presented: block up a door, knock through another, change the entrance…It grew like bread rising, a little package in a warm place.

We punched it down for six months. Followed it by 3 months’ work just for starters. I have to be frank: I had no idea of the upheaval, the disruption.

But my eye’s on the ball. I daren’t take it off. Otherwise I might decide to sell up. I look to Tiffany in Grand Designs as my role model. I imagine the time when we can actually all stand in the kitchen at once, when we can all cook, all talk, all taste. It’s really that simple; that’s all I want.

It all arrives next week. Tuesday. Today at Sainsbury’s I could not even bring myself to buy another meal in a horrible brown pot. We are eating at friends’ for the next two days.

I’ve never been able to figure: does something become positively unbearable just as it ends — or was it that way all along?

A burst of these, and I am multi-coloured with longing for one of my very own. Really, really COOL. In every sense of the word. Check out me sidebar if you don’t believe me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these the last few days. For a number of reasons. It’s just that there are so many different types. And I seem to be awash in them, with them. The acceptance of a gift brings responsibility. And openness. The giving of one, in the best world, means letting go. And a sort of hope.

There must be a small but determined fleet of these gift bubbles — I can’t help but see them as such, blown from one of those plastic child bottles, in surprising and joyful profusion — taking to the air over our double-glazed lives. This morning there’s a hard frost, but the urge to strike out and join them is almost overwhelming.

First there was Your Messages. Now there is Disraeli Avenue, by Caroline Smailes. I met Caroline at the Your Messages launch. But sort of knew her already, as she’d kindly reviewed Losing You.

She was lovely. I liked her piece. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read her novel In Search of Adam yet (because I’m not the best in the world at doing exactly what I want when I want, believe it or not; hand on heart though it is actually right at the top of my list).

Disraeli Avenue coverAbout Disraeli Avenue: a novella by Caroline, downloadable, by donation. In support of adult victims of sexual abuse. Remember openness? Remember hope? Some days that’s all there is. When the bubbles disintegrate, we’ve got to make sure there are decent landings. Get this book. And give generously.

Okay, here’s the family take on the whole kaboodle…

1) my mother: Feh!

2) E: “all a bit pointless, isn’t it?”

3) R:

R Maltesers

4) M:

M Valentine table

5) Me? Too busy taking note of everyone else. Snuck up on the raft of men around the Sainsbury’s card section, who seemed to be rather adrift with good intentions, clutching coloured envelopes. Saw a girl with a huge bouquet stuffed in a plastic bag, about to cross the road. Boy next to her. Was it from him, or someone else?

How about you?


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.