Blog entry Friday 11th October

Positive thinking is the way forward!

Forward thinking is the way forward!

And Glucosamine Sulphate is the way backwards. I met a neighbour on the train the other day who told me that if you take it regularly for about two million years, it replaces knee cartilage, turns back the clock to when you were able to do girl power kicks, play badminton without looking like a demented ballet dancer, ride horses and ski down red and black runs. That was the sort of thing I used to do, when Izzy was young. When I was younger. Now a flight of stairs is a major challenge. Could glucosamine sulphate be the Knee Fairy in disguise? I am off to Holland and Barrett tomorrow.

The knees are getting better, thanks for asking, getting used to this new active student life. Sometimes I can hear them singing ‘I will Survive’ very faintly. 

 Last week we went to see Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Noel Coward, with David Walliams as Bottom and Sheridan Smith as Tit. Fab production, very pagan-hippie, (as if the play wasn’t pagan enough already), all the fairies styled as festival goers from the 70s, crustie dreads, the lot. In the last production I saw the fairies were punks with shaved heads and Doc Martens. How times change. And OMG, why did I not notice that whole bestiality thing before? I must be really thick. Oberon had a West country accent, which seemed to change to an Irish one when he doubled as the Duke of Athens. The sets were superb, a massive moon against which David Walliams’s ass ears were silhouetted to great effect. He camped it up to the hilt, played it bi-sexual. Towards the end he lapsed into the Scottish hotelier in Little Britain mode. David Walliams was being David Walliams.  

I love Shakespeare. Who doesn’t? If you want to see this production, hurry before it closes on October 16th

 I got to walk across the fields at the back of my house the other day, after a 15 year gap, or is it 13 years? It was a beautiful Sunday evening with the sunlight slanting in that Autumnal way across the empty fields and the ring of trees all around us.  The farmyard is deserted now, not a cattle grid in sight and looking very forlorn. Unless our farmer friends get the tenancy soon, these beautiful fields, that I look out at from my bathroom window, will go to pot, full of thistles and weeds. That scrubby ‘set-aside’ look. 

 Izzy obligingly accompanied me and all the old memories came back.

 So Izzy and I recalled silly antics we did when she was a child and she went along with it, indulging her Mum. But then she had to get back to drive back home to Twickenham. Home. Her new home.

 I was going through the shoe baskets the other day and realised it was much emptier than it used to be. She and Dan have left home properly now. The shoes have gone with them. I do miss them. Them, not the shoes. Offspring do have to fly the nest eventually. And the birds do keep coming home to roost. If you’ve got a good relationship with your kids you will never lose them.

And this MA course is keeping me busy. It's getting interestinger and interestinger. There’s been a lot in our recent Critical Challenges reading about declining literary standards. It’s true, there is a lot of crap out there, but still some good stuff. And I do think that commercial success and literary quality can co-exist.

Our neighbouring farmer, has just delivered a trailer load of manure. You wouldn’t give it to someone as a Christmas present. But it’ll help me grow some spectacular vegetables next year. Not all shit is bad.




Posted 280 weeks ago
Posted 280 weeks ago


Friday September 27th 2013

 I hate my f***ing knees! Where is that bloody knee fairy when you need her? I need a new pair of knees, like, now, not in ten years’ time.  Preferably along Cara Delevigne lines, or perhaps Sophia Loren, more age appropriate.

The tooth fairy was pretty reliable I seem to remember. Bang on time, sixpence under the pillow the next morning, or if you were lucky, a shilling. Enough for a liquorice sherbet. (In those days sweets were like drugs and your local confectioner was your local dealer.) But the Knee Fairy is very flaky and I have decided to stop believing in her. So there. That’ll teach her.

By the way hello! I am a bad housewife for many reasons, which will become apparent. 

And here’s one of them. 

Yes, this week the knees have been giving me extra gyp. Just when you need them to function at max. I’ve just started this fantastic course in Creative Writing at Kingston University. After 30 years of making a living at it, I’ve decided to learn how to do it properly.  I’m really excited about it, it is simultaneously scaring me and thrilling me to death.  We’re going to be challenged, stretched, jerked out of our writing ruts and comfort zones and ingrained habits and (in my case), smug white middle class assumptions and preconceptions about what we should be doing. And we’re hitting the ground running! Which is not good with bad knees.

I’m going in three times a week. There’s a bit of travelling on trains, up and down stairs, rucksack on back. And there I am, yesterday morning, going down the stairs at Surbiton station and feeling the paaaain and there’s a woman in front of me, also with a heavy rucksack, and a stick. And there’s that nice Film Studies lecturer I met the other day, also walking to the university, with a limp. And later, I’m catching the bus back to Surbiton station with my lovely new bezzie fellow student Alison, discussing what we’re going to write for our first assignments. Suddenly the bus screeches to a stop, and there’s a girl on foot, and with her a girl in a motorised wheelchair, and the ramp is lowered for her, and she zooms onto the bus, and it looks like she hasn’t even got knees. She’s smiling, really brave, just getting on with her life. At least I have knees. And I can walk.


There’s always someone worse off than you and you have to be thankful for what you’ve got.

Talking of walking, I have a dog to walk. She can talk the talk. Did you know border collies have a massive vocabulary? They understand over 240 words of their native language, more than the ape. Hence they seem, spookily, to understand what you’re saying and when you’re talking about them.  They are very, very intelligent. And I am hoping she might help me with my assignments. She will no doubt start her own Dog Blog soon, working in Woof for Windows.

She can also walk the walk. She is now glaring at me balefully with that look of doggy reproach, so in a minute I will take her up to the post box. Not to post her in it you understand, to post An Important Letter about cashing in an ancient  savings account to help pay for my course.

I went to pilates this morning, a stroll of bucolic splendour up the footpath to my friend’s studio. Everyone in the class has some problem. Neck, knee (that’s me), shoulder, arm, hip, tendonitis, arthritis. But Chris has got cancer and she’s being really brave about it. Yet another reason to feel humbled.

Did I mention that I live in the country? 33 years ago we bought a derelict bungalow in the middle of 10 acres of wasteland, for like, NO MONEY, and we’ve transformed it into a paradise. I say ‘we’ advisedly, since my husband did most of the building work, I just do the housework, laundry, shopping, cooking – oh and gardening. I grow flowers, mostly Mediterranean style, in pots, on top of china elephants and in anything I can find, like old sewage pipes. The herbaceous thing is a bit difficult in heavy clay and everything except shrubby stuff just gives up and slinks away when you’re not looking. I have statues of Buddhas and Greek gods and goddesses all over the place. Why are you not surprised? I am an old hippie. I also grow vegetables now, not very successfully this year, as I forgot to mulch the garden. Loads of runner beans though, so if you’re interested, apply here.

Gardening is a great counterpoint to writing and terribly good for the soul apparently. We farmed sheep for a while, and my daughter watched me deliver twin lambs once from her pushchair. (The lambs came out of the sheep’s bum not the pushchair.) She is now nearly 25, graduated and living mostly near work in London, although she keeps coming home with her laundry. Her place is a bus ride from the university, so I plan to turn up on her doorstep demanding hot meals and sympathy. Payback time! And I do miss her. Anyway, hence the empty nester decision to do this course. She doesn’t remember the woolly nativity scene, but I christened the lambs after her. Annoyingly they were boys, so it had to be Isambard and Florian. Pretentious? Moi?

Do not ask me how we farmed the sheep. Especially if you’re a vegetarian. We did sell the wool however.

Now we have our local farmer friends put their cattle on the fields. They look dead picturesque against that lush green background and they moo a lot when they’re hungry and bash their hooves against the water troughs. At night we hear of lot of murders going on around us, of the wildlife variety. And you get attuned to things like astronomy and birdsong. It’s all very earthy and spiritual. And we’re only an hour or so from London and Brighton.

So yes, I like it here. A lot.  It’s the best of all worlds, everything on your doorstep. But a lot to look after.

I am now going to ewalk my dog. That was a spelling mistake but I’ve decided to keep it in. It would be nice to take my dog for e walks, rather than real ones.

So I’m signing off now to stride purposefully around the fields and up the footpath, being brave about my knees because I’m lucky to have them and there’s always someone worse off than you, and post that Important Letter.

This is my first writing assignment on this course. It’s good to be writing again after a self imposed summer Sabbatical and I hope I have hit the ground running, or at least stumbling, in the right direction. I hope I can talk the talk and walk the walk. 


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