Saturday, 29 October 2011

busy student - not oxymoronic, it turns out...

Really sorry for the silence. Who would have thought that being a student would be so busy? It's not how I remember things at all (but this is possibly down to the fact that last time I was a student I didn't have three kids...).
At the moment I'm printing out the novel I wrote in Nepal because it has been long-listed for a first novel competition. I was thrilled when I discovered this; however, having re-read some of it through my new creative-writing-masters-student eyes, I'm worried that quite large portions of it need substantial revision.
So I'm not expecting to win.
I've told Hubby not to expect me to win, either, thus dashing his hopes of a new yacht/car when the royalties start rolling in.
Deadlines are good. But Hubby's leave, parental visits and half term have all taken their toll and I am now so behind with things that I will have to sell my soul to the devil in order to be able to get through my workload this week. Not sure if the devil would actually want my soul though - it's a bit wrinkled and irritable, these days.
Talking of comes Halloween, hurrah, just a few short days after the dentist sombrely informed me that son has so much decay in two of his molars that they will have to be taken out. Oh well, let him stuff himself with candy first - the extractions aren't planned until the end of November. As usual, I left the dentist feeling guilty and immediately went to spend a fortune on new mouthwash, toothbrush, etc. etc.
I think the dentist and the vet must be in league (with the devil?) - just playing on my feelings of guilt and inadequacy to spend ever more money.
Right then, manuscript done.
Better get on and do some work, I guess...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

tiger stripes

Bertha is busy in the hallway, bless her little bristly rollers.
I'm not going to talk about my hair-by-pam experience (and anyway, it wasn't by Pam, it was by lovely Michelle, who did apologise for the tiger stripes on my crown and for the lack of serum/paddle brushes/mousse in the salon, and for the fact that her low blood pressure gave her the shakes when she was weaving in the highlights - which might account for the tiger stripe effect, but lets not dwell on that because she is absolutely lovely, and two hours in the chair gave me plenty of time to finish Chekhov). If Chekhov were alive today, he would probably write a short story about a hair salon in Beeston, and the futility of hair products, because we will all die an ignoble and faintly comic death sooner or later anyway. He would, however, do this via a skilled use of shifting viewpoints (as I learnt by the time my three-hour workshop finished on Tuesday).
There is more Chekhov promised throughout the course, along with a generous helping of Flaubert, who seems to be less than cheery as well. Might have to up my dose of St John's Wort, then...
Finally finished the first draft of my first chapter today and sent it off to the others on the course for feedback. I also sent it to my mum, who immediately emailed back telling me that I'm getting my apostrophes all wrong (I blame going to school in the seventies and eighties, when nobody gave a stuff about grammar - but maybe it's just because I'm a bit thick).
I have to go now and do some more reading - thankfully not Chekhov. I'm sure Bertha will put herself to bed when she's ready.
Night then x

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hair by Pam

Its already nine, and I have to read a Chekhov short story by tomorrow. Chekhov is like East Enders - you just know it won't end well. Will chocolate and wine help ease the Russian misery, or just plunge me deeper into despair? I was thinking that maybe I could read it tomorrow at the hairdressers (I'm having it done at Hair by Pam. I think having your hair done at a hairdresser called Hair by Pam bodes as well as a Chekhov story. By this time tomorrow I may not only be saturated with Eastern European gloom, I'll have a pants hairstyle as well), but I would rather leaf through an old copy of Hello and talk about hair serum for an hour. Must go and face the vortex of doom xx
ps - Son's thought for the day: Did you know that you can get a dodecohedronal prism?
Nope, me neither.

Monday, 10 October 2011

supper time

So, Twin 1 looked pensive at the supper table...
Her: Mu-ummy....
Me: Yes, darling, what is it?
Her: When I'm dying, yeah?
Me: Well, I don't really want to think about it, but what?
Her: Well, d'you know what I'm going to do when I'm dying?
Me: What will you do, sweetheart?
Her: I'm going to eat cake.

I think my daughter has the soul of a very old woman.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

aggressive housekeeping

Alcoholic ginger beer - what an inspired creation! Anyway, I'm going to save the rest for watching in front of Dad's Army (yes, I truly am a crusty old fart these days).
Hubby is here, reading something for work whilst we wait for Son to stop watching Merlin and give up the telly to the delights of 1970s comedy.
Hubby has been learning lots of new stuff for work, and relating it back to me. If I ever bump into a brigadier, I will be able to wow him with phrases like 'deep dive', 'handrail' and 'aggressive housekeeping' (oh yes, really - doesn't it just conjour up the image of a huffy old general in a frilly pink apron with Marigolds at the ready?), all of which are current military terminology. Apparently the chaps at the top aren't terribly keen on 'aggressive housekeeping' as armed forces jargon, but nobody can think of a better phrase for the particulars of managing the Afghan drawdown, so lots of top brass and senior civil servants are having serious chats in the corridors of Whitehall about aggressive housekeeping.
Talking of which - Bertha has been doing very well, recently (I've dropped the 'mini' and just accepted her as the only housekeeper worthy of the name in this house). Hubby has become, over the last 24 hours since he got home, somewhat obsessed with her, which may in part be due to her military pedigree (apparently she's a direct descendant of bomb disposal robots). He has spent most of the day following her around, cleaning her brushes, and marvelling at her efficiency. He was never like this about Sanu, or Meena (or me, either...). Dog, however is less impressed. Perhaps he senses the competition. Bertha scurries around, looking cute, and moreover, actually contributing something to the household, rather than just being a hairy parasite that costs a fortune at the vets. Dog has been huffily trying to shed hair at a faster rate than Bertha can clear it up. But nobody can beat Bertha; it's an exercise in futility to try. Poor Dog. Oh well, he should hurry up and think of something useful to do, like make lasagne or change the bedding, in order to justify his (increasingly miserable) existence.
Only three minutes until Dad's army so I have got to go.
Enjoy your weekend xxx

Thursday, 6 October 2011


House-full again: Big H, Little G and E from over the road. Twin 2 has just told me I have to go upstairs to tidy up her bed and that if I don't she will turn me into a tadpole, so I guess I'd better go...BTW I have just discovered that I have to write six thousand words for constructive crit by the class by next week, which isn't daunting at all, honest (not sure if I'll get that lemon cake book finished now). Cheerio x

pre-loved rodents

I'm sitting on the stairs to keep out of mini-Bertha's way and looking up rats online for Son. It turns out there's a rat rescue home in Nottingham - who would have thought? Unfortunately they have no pre-loved rodents at the moment, but who knows, one might turn up by the time Hubby deploys.
Today I turned down the offer of a coffee morning and worked from home. It doesn't feel like work because it's too much fun, though. I wrote a short story and then rewrote it from a different point of view and then looked up books about women soldiers during world war two. I'm hoping that the university library can get a loan of a book of memoirs of an ATS woman from the Imperial War Museum, which would be fab.
When I went to pick up the kids from school, Son greeted me with a calculation about how many nanoseconds there are in a minute. He says sixty million. Is he right? Who knows! I said, well done, Son and handed him a carrot. What's he going to be like by the time he reaches secondary school?
Big H and little G came round to play after school and the house was swiftly filled with leaves and crisp crumbs and I didn't care because I know that mini-B would just relish the challenge.
So tonight, coursework reading (Chekhov) or the rest of the lemon cake book? I know I should be disciplined, but Chekhov does make me want to top myself, so I may have to plump for the lemon cake thing.
Ooh, tired now, must go. Night night x

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

shut up and stop embarrassing me, mum

Mini-Bertha has gone to bed (when she runs out of energy, she just takes herself back to her docking station and has a good old rest, bless her), and big Bertha has gone, too. Rebecca Bryan got left behind in the university, so now it's just me and a large spritzer and some chocolate.
It has been an exciting day for Bertha. Not only did mini-Bertha get an outing, but she took delivery of a very large washing machine, as well. Unfortunately the washing machine is flashing up an error code, which isn't in the instruction manual (which actually got read from cover to cover, honestly), so she has had to email the engineers. Bertha is keeping her fingers crossed that it's nothing serious.
It has been an equally exciting day for Rebecca, although sadly for her, Amy showed up at university as well, and filled an awkward silence before the workshop began by talking over-excitedly about her new robotic hoover. The other students gave a kind of shut up and stop embarrassing me, mum stare and Rebecca cringed internally whilst maintaining an outward calm.
Must remember in future to try to only be Rebecca in university. Amy simply is not cool; she likes to talk about lipstick and names her household appliances. Deary me.
Kids were all crazy and shouty and over-tired by the time I got back, but lovely, and didn't seem to care a jot that supper consisted of carrot sticks, hummus, salami and chocolate muffins (stop it, they had chicken curry followed by some kind of pie for lunch at school - and Amy was trying to save Bertha excessive washing up).
Have to go now and read 'The peculiar sadness of lemon cake' for next week's book club. It's very good, so far...
Night then x

Monday, 3 October 2011


Hi, here we are in October. October! How did that happen? I guess the summer just went unnoticed because it wasn't, well, summery. At all. Instead of enjoying the record-breaking Indian summer we're now experiencing (and, incidentally, have you noticed that in the UK we're all in a perpetual state of surprise about the weather: it hasn't been this hot in October since Edward the Confessor; the last time it was this rainy was when Boudicea was in power, etc.) because I'm just resentful that it wasn't like this in August when we were camping indefinitely on a windswept Dorset cliff top.
Anyway, weather-related resentment aside, I'm jolly happy because I have finally got my robotic hoover. My inner Bertha is jumping for joy - the house will be so much cleaner. I thought I wasn't going to get one because just as I was on the brink of ordering it, the washing machine broke down, so I had to buy a new one, of those,  and then felt that we really couldn't justify the robot hoover...but then, our old hoover broke too (and it broke when Hubby was using it, which was a relief, because he couldn't blame me of sabotage). As the hoover drone stopped, and Hubby's voice rang out with expletives, my heart leapt. However, it was a bit of a roller coaster of emotions, because he then tried to make me buy a normal hoover. Nooooo! He said that a robotic hoover won't clean under or behind things. I said that as neither will I (and neither did Meena, for that matter), it makes no difference, and in any case you promised me this when you found out you were off to Afghanistan. He reluctantly agreed, and I pounced on the laptop and got on Amazon (putting thoughts of gargantuan credit card bill to the back of my mind - surely the kids won't mind if we cancel christmas this year?). So mini-Bertha is now sat on her charging station and will be ready to tackle the house in just sixteen short hours. I already love her almost as much as I love my children and certainly more than I love the dog.
I start being a student 'for real life' (as the twins would say) tomorrow, which is pretty exciting. We won't be having lectures, we'll be 'workshopping' tomorrow afternoon for three hours. I'm a tiny bit daunted, especially as I'm the only one in the group from a non-English Lit background, and we'll be discussing an extract from Flaubert's Madam Bovary and a short story by Chekhov (I'm guessing Joanna Trollope is not on the syllabus....). Universities are very different places these days, let me tell you. Even the process of going to the library is somewhat intimidating. A very nice librarian who was trying so hard not to be patronising showed me how to loan a book today (they have a self scan system, like the tills that nobody uses in Tesco). Then I had to zip to the doctor's to get antibiotics for my spotty chin. The doctor was very nice and called it 'peri-oral dermatitis'; however basically I look like a spotty fresher, but with the addition of wrinkles - nice combo, as you can imagine. Its good to know that even my skin and hormones are getting in the swing of being a student.