Monday, April 26, 2010

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

Which is just as well, it’s been a busy time round by ’ere.

Efforts in the veg patch are seeing results. Small seeds have sprouted, and will soon bear fruit. The Better Half is so encouraged he gives reports almost hourly. Still it’s a nice change to the hourly reports on the latest election poll. The beloved has dug a new bed for the sweetcorn and is contemplating another to accommodate yet more varieties. His healthy eating parents, who have been with us for a visit, have been egging him on.

The in-laws have also suggested planting vines and getting chickens - a good combination, as I’ll need a drink after keeping the gargantuan puppy and killer cats away from a coop. I can’t see it happening. Personally, I’m starting to think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew – especially when it comes to the row upon row of rocket. All the cultivating makes it hard to get inside to the computer. Sometimes I feel like running to the study, touching a frenzied hand to the keyboard and claiming sanctuary.

The recent fine weather means the study window is now open for business and bugs. It is also open to the cats. I regularly have to break the train of thought to raise the blind and let them in, and then wait until they have settled down on the desk. This means putting up with having cat snot wiped down the knuckles every time I reach for the mouse. But hey, it’s preferable to having them practise their feline burlesque moves in front of the screen or sitting behind me in the chair, never knowing when they will choose to sharpen their claws, or put up with the yowling if I kick them out.

April also coincides with our most frenetic celebration season outside of Christmas. In the same thirty-day period we have Easter, my brother’s birthday, my birthday, the Better Half’s and my wedding anniversary, No.1 daughter’s birthday and No. 2 daughter’s birthday.

There are 12 days between the last two events – I predict many a joint party. Culminating on April 26th 2025, a Saturday falling in between No1’s 21st and No2’s 18th. Gawd help us. Exactly fifteen years to go. I’d like to point out that working out the date is as far as I’ve got – I haven’t booked a hotel or marquee, you understand, but I have secretly imagined the evening.

If I’m spared, and of course invited and not just paying for it, I know I’ll be spending the entire time convincing their father that he really doesn’t need to go up to either of their rooms to check on what they’re doing. If I’m not spared I shall leave instructions in my will for the girls to not go upstairs at all when he’s around and continue to pull the wool over his eyes…..

The most recent joint party was of the bouncy castle persuasion (though that would probably still be a hit in 2025.) It wasn’t meant to be joint, but No.2 is now of the age when suddenly any party or cake has turned into “My”.

Ah the making of the cakes, the one time of the year when I can be assured of an outlet for both creative juices and smug, competitive mummyness.

No.1, being queer for all things Ariel, the Little Mermaid, had her order in early.
No.2, being still catholic in her taste, got a last minute Mickey Mouse.

They teach a good life lesson, kid’s parties. No. 1 is learning that it’s best to make sure the going up was worth the coming down. Her post party blues have been short lived. Exacerbated by the departure of her grandparents on one hand and soothed by new strumming on the other. She was given an outstandingly pink ukulele and has become quite attached; making sure it is in reach on the bed when she goes to sleep.

Unfortunately I too have become attached. I have never laid hands on one before but after tuning it for her, found it very difficult to give back. It just makes you smile. When I contemplated creeping into her room during the wee small to cop a feel of its strings I knew I had a problem. I may have to get my own.

Being officially tone deaf, the Better Half is raising a quizzical eyebrow at this latest infatuation. Before I rush out to get all the gear and no idea I should remember other failed ambitions – The dusty foreign language CDs, the yellowing London Marathon application forms, the rusting ice skates, twice worn ski boots and slack strung tennis racquet. In the end it will probably be a race to see whose interest wanes first, hers or mine…

But who knows. Once Spring has turned to Summer if I’m still sneaking a peak at online ukulele lessons then it might not just be a dream on the horizon.

It might be the start of something small.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

My gast has been flabbered.

A few days ago the phone went. The Better Half answered, screamed and rushed for the remote. Jumping from foot to foot, while making strangled “ack ack” sounds, he flicked through the channels leaving me in stunned silence as to what earth shattering event could be taking place. So, you can imagine my confusion when the TV finally rested on the CBeebies channel. What bomb could they possibly be dropping to cause such an outburst?

Then, a nanosecond before my jaw hit the floor, I got it. The presenter was just finishing up reading ‘Dragon’s Dinner’.

I had no idea it was going to be on – I would have been paused hawk like over the record button had I known. Nor did the publishers, who are sending missives to Auntie Beeb to get a copy as we speak.

Now, I’ve been on telly enough to not hide behind the sofa anymore but this was different. This was the book what I wrote, up there on CBeebies – if it can make it there…

This feeling of wonderment tinged, if I’m honest, with a side order of smugness lasted until yesterday morning when it was topped by the post arriving.

Egmont have sent the mock up of my next picture book ‘One Cool Cat’. This is a ‘floppy’ version with finalised layout and illustrations that will become the blueprint for the hardback edition. It is also a version to take to Book Fairs and other publishing houses in the hopes of securing foreign deals.

There has been much excitement from Egmont on the style of the cover, and now I see why. It is most unusual, and very, very cool. David Roberts, the illustrator, was worth the wait. He has created a matt black cover with the cool white cat lounging between the gloss black words of the title. It would not look out of place in Darth Vader’s Book of Bedtime Stories. Throughout the illustrations David has managed to out do my imagination. I absolutely love it.

You can see some of David’s illustrations on my shiny new website, the launch of which was another first this week– remember to wipe your feet on the way in the builders have only just left.

Such an outstanding purple patch makes me wonder what’s around the corner waiting to balance it out. To keep things on an even keel, as soon as British Summertime officially hove into view I developed a chest infection and threw my back out. When I finish typing this and stand up, the 90 degree angle between torso and thighs will be maintained. But on this particularly Good Friday, as I crawl towards the Benylin, I’ll still be smiling.