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For those of you who knew it was going to happen, it happened. For those who didn’t: I threw a surprise party for R last week. 

Oh yes I did.

The children were in on it. It took weeks to plan. On top of everything else. I don’t know what got into me, except this: we have a tendency to be away for his birthday. In fact, we haven’t been home in years  on the actual day. So I wanted to make an effort. I  said I’d cook him dinner. He was panicking (stop laughing). We sent him outside to his shed until we were ready. He was panicking. He thought that the best he could hope for was take-away Chinese.

The children led him in the front door, eyes closed. When he walked in —

18 people were sitting on the floor of our living room.

I’d done it! We’d done it!

He was gob-smacked. The first thing he said was Who thought this would be a good idea? In fact he said this several times in the first two minutes. Which panicked me somewhat.

Then we poured him a glass of bubbly.

Friends had sent cards. Sarah and Mike had sent flowers. Nancy and Hamish had sent a strawberry tart from the Goods Shed. Everyone had brought food. So R’s fears were unfounded. And it was good food. Even better, it was great.

The children popped all the poppers and then watched loads of episodes of the Simpsons with their friends.

We ate and ate. R opened his presents (cookbooks and wine!). 

His brother called. His father called.

He had a birthday. He is Eeyore no more.

(But I hated the white lies. Shiver.)

*

We are lunging for the finish line that is called our annual holiday — hurray! So will be out of commission on these pages for a coupla weeks….Will return with photos and quite a bit fatter no doubt (though I’ve earned it: gym three times a week, yay!).

Til then: peace. Read a good book.

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It would be remiss as all get-out (love this expression) of me not to mention that the launch for the paperback of Losing You is nearly upon us:

Losing You front coverDate: THIS Thursday 13 December

Time: 7pm

Venue: Crockatt & Powell, London SE1

I’ve heard from a number of folks who say they’ll be there, and others bound for Christmas do’s who won’t. If you’re undecided because, say, it’s late night shopping, and you really need to get on — you could always come buy some books to give for presents?!

Speaking of Christmas do’s, when I was working in London (as a secretary for a real estate firm), we always had slap-up Christmas parties. The one that stays with me is the mortifying one, when I

a) said clearly and within ear shot of my boss that I wouldn’t be around more than another six months (I wasn’t),

b) slow-danced with the head of sales in the City and inevitably,

c) threw up when I got home.

Of course, I do love parties. But not like that. I like the sort of party where — another Christmas one, this time in Canterbury, at our house — you end up in the icy street, trying to balance a broom on your forehead, coloured star lights in all the surrounding windows. And no one falls down or gets sick. And the next morning you watch as cars do slow slides into each other in the bright sunshine, down gentle gradients as if part of a big dance. No one gets hurt there either, and people get out of the cars and laugh. And you’re inside drinking hot chocolate.

Wow. Where to begin? Last night’s launch of Night Train 5 was a corker: a hundred people, great readings, splendid music, snazzy food and drink… and a shedload of books sold, apparently. Like, 150. Wow. Again.

Many thanks are due: to the contributors one and all, to the readers, to those who submitted. To the School of English at Uni Kent who support the venture with hard cold cash. To Vicky Wilson (Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year AND copy editor), Chris Lancaster at the Uni Print Unit for saving the day, Frances Knight (piano) and Paul Booth (saxophone). And of course to the editors, Susan Wicks and Andrew McGuinness, without whom, etc…

A particular thanks goes to the Gulbenkian staff, who just kept bringing out the chairs, adjusting the mic, and flogging those books! The theatre cafe also looked positively seasonal, red and tinselled — the end of term was in the air! Really fab.

And I’d also like to thank everyone who came up to me and said hello (along with so many nice things). Never one to shirk my social responsibilities (!), I took unadulterated pleasure in seeing so many familiar faces, so much energy, so much enjoyment, and so much success coming to so many of you.

As readers of this blog will know — and indeed, anyone who knows me knows!– I love a party. And what a party. What top notch work all around.

Finally, an appeal: if anyone took any pictures on the night, send ’em! I’ll stick them up….

I HAVE MOVED

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.