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Having blithely promised to keep you informed about the step by step world of not-writing-but-walking — I’m mortified to admit that even taking into account the first two hours of every day when I forget to put it on, and the fact that we’ve all been a bit ill and I’ve been more sedentary than usual…I’m still APPALLINGLY under my aim of 7,000 steps per day.

How about the fact that I haven’t even done that ALTOGETHER yet (two days in)?! Oh my lord.

I had thought that counting steps would be a relief from the insular world of ‘how’s the book coming on?’. I’m a fit person, after all, I get about, am full of life and energy…– but it seems that here too I am bound to under-achieve, my ambition outstretching reality. Etc etc.


I am reminded of my grandparents’ mall-walking phase — you know, when you don sneakers and ‘walk the mall’, going around and around the perimeter for your daily exercise. Some malls even had (have?) lines to follow. Just so you know your way. Honestly. Of course you have to get in the car to go there….Oh dear. Last night, in a dark moment that went along the lines of I am rotting away, I actually tried to figure out where the nearest mall was. Seeing as it’s the palatial Bluewater, where if I went I would spend more money than could ever be justified, sanity — or lethargy — quickly took hold.

crab and winkle way

I live near the Crab & Winkle. I’m thinking about making that walk my mall. I’ve got to do something. Spring is springing. I’ve got to breathe deep. I’ve got two books to write.

First I need the right shoes though. Er..Bluewater?

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.



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.