Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Charlie's Top Five Hates

5: Single glazing. When lorries go past the house she jumps up, convinced they will smash through the thin-as-a-wafer glass. Even if she's sleeping she jumps up.

4: Snow. What's with the cold paws and why does it turn into water?

3: Blankets. Access to owners' feet v.important at all times. So anything that potentially covers feet is not welcomed by Charlie (apart from when she wants a nap).

2: Avocados.

1: The doorbell. Doorbell chimes are the song of the devil, whether they go ding-dong-ding-dong or brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Obliged to climb onto the top shelf in the wardrobe and stay there for at least an hour whenever the bell rings.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Views from the cottage this morning

Friday, November 18, 2005


I love Fridays. Probably more than Saturdays. Same as I love the week before Christmas, probably more than Christmas itself. It's the promise on the horizon... the twinkle in your eye.

I am still wearing my three layers, but am sweating in a very unladylike way. It is either eye-poppingly hot (with the fan heater on) or teeth-grittingly cold (when it cuts out), and neither option is favourable.

But still, it's Friday! My veg box has just arrived! With another pumpkin! Now we have 4! And Halloween was about a year ago!

I am not entirely sure I like pumpkin any more. We have had pumpkin soup and pumpkin tart (don't ask - leftover invention) and roast pumpkin and pumpkin curry. It's the texture that makes me cringe - when it gets mushy in the middle. It makes me shiver, like velvet or cotton wool. Ew! (Oh, just the thought of cotton wool makes me want to cry.)

Aside from pumpkin overload, this week has been very productive. I finished with the toys and hampers (and the plump Santa, see below) so Thursday was Dead People day (the video wills website is well on its way) and Wednesday was Diamonds Day... now there's a job and a half. "Anna, our team is all men, so you choose the diamonds for the new range and oh, we need names too." Hurrah! Such a romantic job. This company considers Tiffany's to be their main competition, so you can imagine how wondrous the jewellery is.

Am not sure that the 'Vanity Cluster Studs' will sell, no matter how inventive I thought the name was. But never mind. I am married to a vain man and have no problem telling him. I would buy him the Vanity studs if he was a girl. Except I can't afford them.

How's Charlie? you ask. She is also having a VERY good week! Since the fateful night when Tabby met Steve, it hasn't graced our garden so Charlie is very much enjoying her free run. Terrorising Sam the Siamese (without actually touching him) and stalking the Fuschia bush. She has hardly been inside, even when the lawn was all white and frosty.

Monday, November 14, 2005

First Santa of the Year

And what a mince-pie-stuffed darling he is.

Christmas is only 40 days away! Before we know it, we will be opening advents and gorging on truffles! And 18 shopping days left! Ooh... anyone who hasn't found this before now will be kicking themselves...

My Story: the Demon Tabby gets a slot

'Twas a cold November night, and all was quiet at the cottage. That damned runt of a cat was loitering in the grass as if it owned the joint, and I'd had it up to my back teeth. "Sam", I said to the Siamese, "Tonight's the night I teach that cat a lesson. Who does she think she is? Strutting around, jumping on my roofs, drinking from my puddles, stamping right on my dignity. I've gotta make an example outta her if it's the last thing I do."

She was sitting right on top of the shed at the bottom of the garden, licking her paw like she was Cleopatra. But I had the element of surprise. Boom! There I was, on the tiles right behind her. 'Hello, Princess,' I growled, and she leapt onto the lawn. In hot pursuit, we raced across the grass and over the moonlit path.

She darted through the open door and into the cottage, which was quiet indeed. I followed with a whisper of anticipation, but then she struck with her secret weapon: the thing they call Steve.

All at once the water was on me, hot and blinding, more'n you can picture, but I've been locked out in the rain more times than I can count, so I struggled on. Through the first room and onto the staircase, with the she-cat getting a good lead on me. Suddenly a second attack was launched - more water, worse than a rainstorm, and even more in my eyes. It was too much - not even a dog could take it - so I turned, and went valiantly for the door, realising it was my only chance to avoid certain death - and then I was free, on the lawn, and I kept going.

Like the old saying goes, a tabby scorned is a tabby hellbent on revenge... I'll be back... and next time with backup.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fainting Goats II

Rob, look away now, but I couldn't resist:

This is a breeding farm where they sell them. Around £100 each, but you would have to go and get them, and walking them home would be fun.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Layers and layers

We have a 70-year-old barometer that needs tuning. To do this, you need to find out the current air pressure, divide it by 0.0something, then times it by the centimetres of mercury and stand upside down to read the weather forecast. Or at least that's what I think you are supposed to do. These things are obviously mainly for experts and weather geeks.

Buses in Swindon all had names and were frequently to be found. In Silverton, there are no buses. We are so far in the country that buses fear to tread here.

That's enough about geeks. Let me tell you about layers. I am wearing three: a vest, a jumper, and Steve's fleecy dressing gown. I am still quite cold. Is there a limit on the amount of layers you can wear? Like a piece of paper, that can only be folded a certain number of times? I suppose there probably isn't, but I will find out soon. The only real problem will be when I can't move my arms to type.

Work-wise, it has been an extremely good day. Apart from being distracted by my blog, and other people's, I have done some email copy for a toy company and also some for a hamper company. (They have marvellous hampers, including a special Breakfast tray, and designer hampers for babies.) Tomorrow I will be working on a brochure for an entrepeneur in Surrey (that's where they all live, you know - in the mansions bought from their whopping London pay packets) who is setting up a business offering to record people reading their wills.

It is a bit of a gloomy topic, probably. One selling point is that you get to speak to your family from beyond the grave. You could say some fun stuff, eh? Now there's a moment for complete honesty. You could spill all the family secrets and tell everyone who has been doing what behind whose else's backs. It'd be a great play.

After that, I will be researching things for my new fashion advice column, believe it or not. And you won't. I don't know how I will write about knee-length tweed shorts with a straight face. Specially as I am sitting here in a man's dressing gown.

And, as always, hoping the mortgage will pay itself.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

It all comes at once, you see. I ought to remember that next time work slows down. Today I am writing Christmassy things about wonderful things like toys, hampers and clothes. Finally my addiction to catalogues has paid off.

And I am listening to White Christmas.... and I don't care how early it is, am not apologising... I have seen Christmas adverts on the telly, so that's good enough for me. I can't WAIT for Christmas! Last night I was trying to figure out where the tree ought to go. It is our first Christmas in our second home and this time around, we will be able to have the tree in our lounge. Hurrah! Decorating the tree is probably my Christmas no.1. Also in the top 5 would be warm mulled wine, watching a nativity, opening my stocking, and that week before Christmas when all you must do is lie around in pyjamas, wrap presents and do some hoovering.

Now I am getting overexcited and must stop. Or I will literally be too hyperactive to type.

Only....... 50 days to go. Precisely.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ignorance is bliss

Actually no, it isn't.

You see, I wrote copy for the chocolate fountains, and I wrote copy for the eye-lifting serum, and I wrote copy for the toys and the web consultants and the organic place and all the other people who say 'yes, if you like, you can write us something' and then


I could be in my room sending emails to myself for all it matters. I could be imagining these requests and hopefully inventing companies and creating alternative personas to stay employed.

But time and again, I enthusiastically launch myself at the sample copy, and give it all I've got, all the puns and comedy timing and alliteration I can pull out of my hat, and then

On and on and on it goes

Water bills, electricity direct debits, mortgage repayments, vegetable payments, supermarket shopping, curtains, wood for the stove, coffee and tea, telephone bills, petrol, catfood, council tax, income tax, national insurance, recycling,

How do you know when need stops and want begins? Do you need curtains and telephone calls? Would we be able to cut back? It just goes on, all the things you must have and the money you must work for to pay for the things you must have, and then you use those things up and need more, newer, better things and to pay for everyone else's rises and rates, in a circle. Mortgage payments are half a person's salary. Bills are the rest and that's about it, all accounted for. 37 hour weeks only pay for the cost of living - since when did this happen? What is the way out? There is no modern equivalent to self-sufficiency, is there?

Is there?

Fainting Goats

Highly amusing video clip about my new favourite type of goat: