Good with words

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas holiday

Finally finished for Christmas. Just got some wrapping and deliveries, and we're in Wales for a being-cooked-for Christmas with the whole family.

The Muppets' Christmas Carol is on Channel 5 on Saturday 23rd. My Christmas is complete!

Illegal Christmas cards

Know how I said about my compulsive post-opening disorder? Well, two extra Christmas cards arrived through the letterbox last week. "Mark F" and "Mike F" - no return address, nothing. Seeing as we didn't have many cards arrive yet, and I wanted to put some more on the fireplace, I figured I'd just open them. But it backfired. One had a Smiths £10 voucher inside. Well, what do I do? My conscience wouldn't let me spend it. Couldn't think how to return it without an address. Put it in the bin, and the buyer never gets it back. Suddenly realised, horribly, that next-door there is a real Mark (you know, as opposed to an Anna who pretends she is a Mark to get more Christmas cards).

So I quickly scrawled "Whoops! Sorry, opened without looking!" and sent husband to put the ripped-open card through their letterbox. Then cowered. Glad I sent him - they opened the door. Turns out it wasn't meant for that Mark, either. Now what? The criminal evidence was back in my hands. I couldn't spend it; so give it to someone whose conscience would let them spend it, right? Is that just as bad as spending it myself? I know! Nextdoor (as well as having a real Mark) have a baby. Spend it on him, I said firmly, because as everyone knows, babies can't go to hell.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Getting organised

There's nothing like a holiday plan to speed up the organisation process! This week I've been ever so busy working, invoicing, ironing, baking, cleaning, hoovering, stain-removing, de-cluttering. Phew. All because we are counting down to the holidays on Friday!

We are off to a little cottage in romantic St Davids, West Wales. The dog's coming, but that aside, we're planning to mooch around in pyjamas, watch a lot of Christmas movies, and drink champagne. Perfect!

But before then, I have to iron a heck of a lot more, and coax a reluctant MD into talking to me on the telephone. It's not often I make phone calls where I'm the one doing the talking.

Now then, I have a little dilemma. Supposing that one had accidentally opened husband's telephone bill, and recognised the number of a certain jeweller? Should one keep quiet or blab to husband that yet again, his Christmas surprise has been ruined? (This happened once before, when my Grandma rang on Christmas morning and blurted: "Did you love the bracelet?!", even though I'd just told her that we hadn't yet opened our presents.)

Grandma and Grandad have always gotten up ridiculously early at Christmas. My brothers think I'm a nuisance banging on their doors at 8am, but whenever Grandma and Grandad stayed, I'd run to their room and find them sitting up with wrapping paper all around the bed.

Anyway, I digress. Probably keeping schtum is the best bet. I wish I didn't compulsively read everything. No matter who the post is addressed to, I'll usually open it. (Yes, I know it's a criminal offence to read letters addressed to your home's last owners.) It's quicker than writing RETURN TO SENDER and walking to the post box.

Christmas cards all sent, I think. Presents all bought, I hope (a couple of panicky ones this week but they're all here now). Sainsbury's shopping ordered for the 22nd (to back up the vegetable box, of course!). Ironing.... yet to be done. But husband is working late tonight so I will be able to put on a Christmas episode of Ally McBeal and work through it.

Now I am going to have a mince pie and do some work (with a pen!) downstairs, with the dog. Caroling, caroling, through the town, Christmas bells are ringing...

Oh and do you know what else is on my mind this week? Stupid people who hate Christmas. It is entirely beyond my reach of understanding. And yet it seems to be a universal joke to hate Christmas, and laugh at those who revel in the festivities. I was in B&Q on Sunday (dragged by husband, and allowed to stay in the Christmas aisle), standing in the doorway, watching a darling trio of outdoor dancing snowmen who were singing Christmas songs. (Husband won't let me put things like this on or outside our house, so I enjoy them when I can.) A family walked in behind me and the father, smirking, went to the lead singer and pretended to kick him in the head. The rest of them laughed and continued straight past, while I stood there, aghast. Kicking a singing snowman? It doesn't get much Scroogier than that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not so crummy

Trouble with crumbs behind the toaster? Rice beneath the hot-plates? Cornflakes sneaking under the microwave? You need.... the Patented Black Sheep Novelty Crumb Hoover!

I'm not really this way inclined, preferring to live and let live when it comes to crumbs... but I know some of you will love this! Also comes in Duck and Elephant models.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Playing with the big girls

I haven't posted about work for a while, which is probably for a few reasons:
1. I have been writing about some truly dull stuff, like hackers, gritting the roads, letting houses, and computer software.
2. After an intensely busy period, I found myself suddenly twiddling thumbs wondering where January's wages will come from, and
3. I have been Very Busy formulating The Great January Get-Working Plan. (So far only two pages.)

So, here is a very boring post about the amateur copywriter's conundrum.

Well, it isn't that I'm an amateur. I mean, how can anyone who comes up with "We won't beat about the bush. That's your job" be disrespected? But because of the route I took to freelance copywriting - lacking proper, city experience, big brand names, or agency contacts - I'm hardly facing the big time.

And here's the big news: a famous, international, big-wowsers fashion brand is looking for a writer. What's more, an agency in London thought I might have what it takes, and - da-da-da-da-daaaaa - has forwarded some of my work for consideration. Which you might think would have me dancing in my home office, but actually, is too big and scary to contemplate. Just think. Somewhere, in a busy city office, my feeble little CV is batted from desk to desk, probably the source of much amusement and hilarity.

The whole thing has kind of bummed me out.

It's happened before - with Selfridges. An agency lady rang me, I sent samples across, she sent it all to the client, and nothing happened. It wasn't a big surprise, but I was holding my breath all the same. Is this my big break? But the answer was inevitably no.

Thing is, when is my big break? I can talk the talk; when do I get to walk the walk, and how do I do it without having any actual proper walking practice?

No, I don't know either. Aretha Franklin's the answer. And mince pies.

(In further thrilling work news, am meeting with new client on Monday r.e. engineering project: copy about water meters and gas thermometers. From one extreme to another.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cocktail, anyone?

Liz and Harvey's post on Persephone has reminded me of one of my favourite books. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is a gorgeous, frilly, martini-filled romp through 1920s high society, featuring a glamorous Hollywood-actress-wannabe and her put-upon accidental maid, Miss Pettigrew, who thinks she must have knocked on the wrong door for her job interview, but is too intrigued to say so.

The mismatched pair spend a day together dealing with the starlet's various man-friends and attending cocktail parties, each learning something from the other. Reading it, you're not so much concerned with the ending - will Miss Pettigrew head back for her grey, unemployed existence as a past-it nanny with poor employment prospects? - as with the intimate detail of the jaw-dropping dresses, the charming cads, and the social satire surrounding the pair. It's just an absolute delight, full of colourful situations, pretty illustrations, and perfect characterisation. So if you have any girls on your Christmas list but no idea what to buy them, try this. Open the grey cover, and discover the suddenly diamond-strung world of Miss Pettigrew!