Monday, 28 February 2011

I remember all too well...

 "...the premiere of Ecstasy when I watched my bare bottom bounce across the screen and my mother and father sat there in shock."

No, that's not me and Alfie up at the yard. I usually wear more clothes - although thinking about it, it might make sense to wear LESS clothes then I wouldn't have so much washing to do. But then again, I might get frostbite...decisions, decisions.

It is in fact Hedy Lamarr, in a film called Ecstasy (1933) The opening paragraph is her description of the premiere.

It's the premiere of Damage tonight.

As the screenplay writer, my memories of this auspicious evening won't be as embarrassing as Hedy Lamarr's. At least, not for the same reasons.

Wish me luck when the credits roll...


Sunday, 27 February 2011

True Grit

Yes, that's what I needed to sit through this wonderful film surrounded by OTHERS...

I think I'm going to hire Rooster Cogburn to shoot the people who think it's Very Good Entertainment to wade their way through containers of popcorn as big as a four-person jacuzzi. (The smell! The noise!)

Murder was actually committed in Latvia for the same reason during a screening of Black Swan. I laughed hollowly and felt true empathy.

Do you see the tagline on the movie poster? "Punishment comes one way or another."

Well, here is Rooster Cogburn in Row B of The Picture House in Uckfield taking aim.

KABOOM - that's for the people eating popcorn.

KABOOM - that's for the people rustling sweet papers

KABOOM - that's for people fidgeting in my peripheral field of vision

Intolerant? Moi?


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Lame excuses...

Personally, I find it quite weird how my life and the life of my horses, particularly Poppy, are inextricably linked.

Someone summon Mulder and Scully because this should be on X-Files. (Horrors, I nearly wrote X-Factor by mistake. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!)

Poppy hasn't been 100% for quite a while what with a damaged tendon then a hoof abscess. I haven't been 100% for quite a while (which has nothing to do with my legs or toenails)

This week, Poppy was super-fit. We had a lesson for the first time in ages and I took her on a slightly longer hack than usual - being careful not to over-stretch her. She was full of energy and positively FLYING. So was I - getting on very well with the novel and the screenplay and marketing on top of my day job. Soaring, I was!

Today, my brain feels sluggish as though it's only working at about three-quarters capacity. Still, fresh air is always (nearly always) my answer, so off up to the yard I go.

Poppy is lame!

Her right hind...SHE is only working at three-quarters capacity. She's now in a box waiting for the farrier to see if she has another abscess.

Do you think the farrier would look at my brain at the same time?

Friday, 25 February 2011

"Art is..."

...what we call...

the thing an artist does.

It's not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It's in the soul of the artist."

This was written by Seth Godin and I've recently starting following his blog. It seems I am not alone. He's referred to as "America's Greatest Marketer, and his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual." Unlike mine.

Here is a link, just to show I'm not mean. Seth's blog!

I have an artist's aversion to marketing. I'm also lucky because I have a husband who earns a good wage, so I can afford to float around being all artisty and claim that it's the creative process that's important not the monetary value of what I write.

...BUT the thing is, I DO wish to earn a living as a writer - of my OWN work - not corporate material for other people. I don't want that fact to change how much I love being a writer, I LOVE WRITING, just the pleasure of writing is my oxygen, my food and drink, my life-blood.

 But I MUST stop being all airy-fairy-head-in-the-cloudsy about marketing.

Seth Godin gives me hope. Someone in marketing who has a soul?

I'm sure I could become an artist who has a business brain too.

I'm absolutely certain.

Completely convinced.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

It is better to begin in the evening than not at all

Some of these English proverbs make me want to kick something. (Something quite soft that won't do irreparable damage to my foot because I've only got one other)

Is it better to begin in the evening than not at all? IS IT?  I suppose I have to admit, grudgingly, that it is. But for me it's a real struggle because  I'm so much of a morning person.

At the moment, I'm madly busy with work and with more creative projects than can easily be counted on the fingers of three hands. For that, I'm blessed. As a freelance writer, NOT being busy can be scary.

However, I have the sort of Puritan work ethic..

... that means I won't start the other, the wonderful, the uplifting, the creative writing until I've completed the Work-Work.

And this is always at the end of the day when my brain is like porridge. Or frazzled to a crisp.

TODAY, the Puritan in me is BANISHED. I'm going to start on my own projects RIGHT NOW.

You just watch me.

But promise not to tell John Calvin.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Efficiency is intelligent laziness

I like that! Not sure if it's 100% accurate, but I like it.

This morning I have been efficient. It wasn't intelligent laziness; it was more to do with giving myself a good talking to.

On Monday it's the world premiere of Damage, for which I wrote the screenplay. (OH YES I DID!)

'World premiere' sounds very grand as though it should be in Hollywood or at very least, Leicester Square in London. But THIS premiere is in Stoke-on-Trent. Well, that's part of the world, isn't it?

I have been very much putting off making any arrangements because I feel quite out of the loop with all the other people involved in the film-making process. Quite shut out.

I'm scared to go on my own.

I asked a screenplay-writing mate who lives in Stoke if he'd go with me. He is unable to attend because Stoke City are playing West Brom and he has a season ticket (you have to get your priorities right, don't you?)

So, I almost wasn't going. How crazy it that? How many times in my lifetime will I get the opportunity to see my writing come to life on the big screen? (You don't have to answer that. Really.)

This morning, I had a bit of an argument with myself  (it wasn't pleasant) and have booked the hotel and the hire-car and it only took about ten minutes in total and now I feel Very Efficient and Quite In Control.

Oh - yesterday (she says casually) I wrote the first chapter of my novel. And another scene of the synesthesia screenplay. intelligent laziness is quite unparalled.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

It's a mug's game

I'm getting a complex about the mugs people buy me. Seriously.

(No, not seriously, really)

It's the thought that counts. But the thought behind these purchases says rather too much about me. Or how I appear to others. Or the part of me that I ALLOW to appear to others.


 So, I keep on forgetting PIN numbers and finding my car keys in the fridge.

Then there's the mug that says 'Dizzy Dreamer' - but I rather like that idea.  It goes with my blue-streaked curly hair.

Then there's the mug that says 'Domestic Goddess In Disguise.' What does he mean 'IN DISGUISE?'

(What he means is that I don't notice cobwebs and I talk politely to spiders rather than suck them up the vacuum cleaner nozzle to a horrible death in a Dyson dust cyclone.)

ONE DAY, someone will buy me a mug which says...actually, I'm not sure what I want this putative mug to say.

In the meantime, I'd settle for a De Morgan hare mug.

...because I have a sort of hare obsession. And that was long before I read 'His Dark Materials' and came across Hester, Lee Scoresby's daemon. My daemon is FOR SURE a hare.

And before you even think it - this has NO relevance to me being in any way as mad as a March hare.


Monday, 21 February 2011

There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on

Robert Byrne, author and champion billiard player said this. Author and champion billiard player? That's quite natty as descriptions go. I'll have to think of something similar for myself now that I'm an AUTHOR who has started her NOVEL.

See, I even have the picture to prove it. Well, prove SOMETHING anyway. I like to write behind a gingham-checked gauze curtain.

I say started...

I looked up, on the trusty interweb, 'How To Format A Novel.'  (Surely there must be a program for novel writers like Final Draft for screenplay-writers that I can purchase at vast expense and only use about 3% of its amazing facilities?)

It took a while to set up Microsoft Word with all the correct margins and font and so on. And what IS 'widow/orphan control'? It sounds quite Dickensian to me.

Then I constructed my title page.

Then I looked at another website, also, coincidentally, called 'How To Format A Novel' and it didn't say the same things AT ALL.

I decided I had written quite enough of the novel for one day.

 Caroline Coxon, author and champion suggestible-surfer-of-the-internet?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

“And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging."

"...There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.” (Simon Dumenco)(whoever he is) (sorry Simon)

And it occurred to ME that he's right. So very right. .

This blog is very often the best of my writing in the course of a day. Hmmmm...

While I'm up at the yard with the horses, one of the things that I think about is 'what shall I talk about in my blog?' and when I get home it's the very first thing I do. (I'd be grateful if you didn't mention this to Peter)

I love it. I love choosing the images. I love posting it. I love it that some people that I care a great deal about read it. I love it that some people I don't even know read it. (Hello Albanians and Croatians everywhere!)

When it's done, I think, 'Now, I must get down to some WRITING."

Foolish girl!

I'm not going to stop.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Words behaving badly

 - or, as in the case of Simon Nye, behaving inordinately well. 

He's my latest hero.

(Yesterday it was Tom Bidwell, who wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated short, Wish 143. If you have twenty minutes to spare and a box of tissues, watch it here )

Back to Simon Nye.
He wrote Men Behaving Badly and co-wrote, with David Nobbs, the re-make of Reggie Perrin.

Well, that should be enough to convince you of his Hero Status.

Here's why he was suddenly elevated from Someone I Had Vaguely Heard Of to Lifelong Hero Of The Day

I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 about the making of Men Behaving Badly. A snippet of dialogue was broadcast and that was IT. I was swooning with admiration mixed with a most pernicious sort of envy.


Here it is (I hope, accurately)
A plainly-drunken Tony speaks to Gary.

Tony: I'm ready to seduce Deborah now. I've been imagining it in my head in minute detail.

Gary: Right. So what are you going to say to her then?

Tony: Say?

That, to me, is perfection.

And on that note...back to the writing, or I might just put a brown paper bag over my head and hide in the corner in foetal position with thumb in mouth.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful

e.e.cummings said that, except not quite because I don't think he would have capitalised the T at the beginning of the sentence. Call me anal but I couldn't bear not to.

 His is a POSITIVE way to look at mud.

When I'm slogging up the fields early in the morning, leading reluctant horses who would much rather stay in the dry and warm, I'm not quite as sanguine. Especially not when one wellie gets stuck and comes off and I step in the mud in my sock.

And when I'm chipping off the caked-on mud that encases Poppy and Alfie (well, all the bits that aren't covered with a rug) and hosing the claggy mud from their legs - put it like this - I am not composing inspirational poetry.

BUT - it DID lead to some happy thoughts this morning. It's funny how the mind works.

I was singing (through gritted teeth, admittedly) 'Mud, mud, glorious mud!' and suddenly I was 8 years old, in the drawing room of 51, St. Matthews Parade, Northampton, telephone number Northampton 33780,  listening to Flanders and Swann on the gramophone.

I still have the record

Happy days!

I'll forgive you, mud.

Just this once.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

Gene Fowler (American journalist, author and dramatist) is a man after my own heart. Or rather, WAS, because he died in 1960. I don't know if it was as a result of his writing.

I can tell he was a REAL writer because his statement is so accurate - except, in my case, it's more often 'stare at a blank screen.'

I'm about to start a screenplay for a young actor/director based in New York. It's going to be about synesthesia. Yes - I had to look it up too.

Synesthesia is a perceptual condition of mixed sensations: a stimulus in one sensory modality (e.g., hearing) involuntarily elicits a sensation/experience in another modality (e.g. vision).

The screenplay will involve people who see colours when they hear sounds. That should make for phenomenal visual imagery.

All I have to do is start...


I can't even procrastinate by sharpening my pencils because I use a keyboard. I could, however, spend some time removing the toast crumbs from between the keys.

That would work.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Attack of the killer ladybirds

You know what? I have enough trouble sleeping without being attacked by ladybirds, three nights in a row.

They have this oh so cutesy reputation, enshrined in nursery rhymes... 

...but, in the middle of the night, in the dark, they are SCARY. They go for my arms, landing like pterodactyl, then crawling with their scratchy little feet up towards my brain...

Perhaps lack of sleep could explain the near death experience I've just had on Alfie during a riding lesson? (That and the chesty cold which makes me gasp for oxygen when there doesn't seem to be any available ANYWHERE not even in the air)

Alfie is very clever. He can sense when I'm a little under par and take immediate advantage. Okay, so the sand school was like a lake and heavy under foot (hoof) so I can understand why he didn't feel that enthusiastic. Perhaps I was over-compensating? Making up for his sluggish behaviour by over-riding. I mean seriously, we could have gone faster if I'd been carrying Alfie on my back. It might have been less like hard work, anyway.

So ...we approach the TINIEST of jumps, somewhat akin to a water jump due to the puddles. Alfie decides to run out. Suddenly, he's not sluggish any more. Immediately after the run-out he dives sideways and downwards at high speed and sets off at a healthy bolt. How I stayed on, I'll never know. I lost a stirrup and remember being somewhere in mid air at a very rakish angle.

We had a bit of a slanging match and then he completed the same series of jumps in a very well-behaved fashion - admittedly with Tessa running behind waving a lunge whip.

Tessa's always one for the positive comment:

 "Even when you're not riding at your best, you still ride well enough to stay on, Caroline."

Myself, I blame the ladybirds.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Life is a yo-yo, and mankind ties knots in the string

Yesterday was certainly a yo-yo day! The ups and the downs of life as a humble writer... Did I say humble? No, I'm PROUD to be a writer. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourself...

This picture is called 'Girl With Yo-Yo' and is by a wonderful Brazilian artist called Morandini.

Yesterday, I wasn't 'Girl With Yo-Yo, ' I WAS THE YO-YO.

First, a huge UP! I learned that my Quirky Tales - The Great Wheelie Bin Robbery and The Mysterious Disappearing Flower were ON AIR from 11.30 a.m. every weekday. Fun Kids Live is a London-based digital radio station but anyone can listen on-line here

I was SO delighted! (As I write this, the time is ticking towards 11.30 when I'll be able to hear them for myself!)

Then, another huge UP without even coming down. (Is that possible with a yo-yo?)

I received an e-mail from the production company for whom I wrote a screenplay - and re-wrote...and re-wrote some more...and added extra scenes at short notice, even though I had already well-exceeded the hours I was paid for...and revised pages of dialogue at even shorter notice whilst on holiday in Canada...

It was an invitation to the premiere! WHOO HOO! I was so excited, I posted the link on Facebook.

Then I noticed...

This is the invitation:

If you can't read the writing it says:

"Co-written by Stoke-on-Trent female victim survivors and based on their actual experiences"

There is a GLARING omission in that statement. Not only that, the first part of the sentence is factually inaccurate. It's simply NOT TRUE.

I have e-mailed the production company. I think they think I'm some sort of prima donna. The invitations have already gone out. I have requested that all other publicity has me properly credited.

So there we are...

It's one huge learning curve for me.

The good bit - I was so angry that I shifted a load of hay bales!

Note to self: Get angry more often then will possess super-human strength and be able to perform heavy physical tasks with no problem at all.

I've said it before...

Is it just me?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Love is...

"...the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock."

Huzzah, John Barrymore! I like your style.

No soppy quotes for me, thank you very much! Anyway, Peter forgot today was Valentine's Day. (I didn't)

By way of punishment, I shall relate a conversation we had last night.

The setting: our bedroom. It's dark outside. We are just going to bed and Peter is drawing the curtains. He stares out of the window. He sighs with disapproval.

Peter: You didn't take down the Christmas lights, did you?

Me: I certainly did! (me inside - panicking - I'm SURE I did, but perhaps...?)

Peter: Well, what are those orange things I see glinting out there?

I look out of the window.

Me: Rosehips?


There's really nothing I need to add, is there?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

There’s nothin’ in life that’s worth doin’, if it cain’t be done from a horse…

Cowboy poet, Red Steagall. There are cowboy poets? Like cowboy builders? Maybe not.

Poppy's turn for a bit of media exposure today. She's my first horse. She used to belong to another girl in the yard who was emigrating to Australia. Nothing to do with being Poppy's owner (Of COURSE not!) It might have been, though, because Poppy has what is euphemistically described as 'A LOT OF CHARACTER.'

Tessa, the yard owner, suggested I try Poppy. My first ride on her on a lunge line, she bucked me off at canter. In floods of tears I asserted firmly 'I am NOT buying that horse. I want to come to the yard to enjoy myself and to have fun, not to be scared witless.' I think it was two or three weeks later that I succumbed...

I LIKE horses with a lot of character. In exactly the same way that I ended up as a teacher for children with special needs, I am now an owner of Horses With A Lot Of  Character.

Here she is, proud winner of The Prettiest Mare In The Show. (No mention of her being The Naughtiest Mare In The Show as well.)

She's a bit of a blonde bimbo and very like Catherine Tate's character, Lauren - "Am I bovvered, though, Look at my face, does it look bovvered, though? Look at my face. Look at my face."

She's feisty,  she's unpredictable, she strategises - if we cure one bad habit you can actually see her brain working hard to come up with a NEW way of making life difficult.

She often makes me look like a rubbish rider. In the past, she has scared me half to death. I've had tears coursing down my face as I cling on for dear life when she's been bucking and bolting along an icy road.

BUT - she's the light of my life. I absolutely ADORE her.

When I bought Alfie (I had been told that Poppy was permanently lame after 18 months of battling with a damaged tendon, but with typical Poppy chutzpah, no sooner had I signed the cheque than she came sound!) - I thought I could NEVER love another horse as much.

But I do.

So now I have TWO Horses With A Lot Of Character, and they make me know I'm alive, even when I'm half-dead.

They should be available on prescription from the National Health Service.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Weekend planning is a prime time to apply the Deathbed Priority Test:

"On your deathbed, will you wish you had spent more prime weekend hours grocery shopping or walking in the woods with your kids?"

Louise Lague wrote this. Who is she?  She's a journalist who writes about mental health issues, so I guess we have something in common.

We need more cereal, we need more milk, we need something for Sunday lunch but I don't want to go to Tesco. No kids at home, so instead, my Deathbed Priority is to spend more time with my horses. Sorry Peter.

This morning, after yard duties and stocking up the shed with hay bales - oooh, WHAT a lot of hay in the back of Olive Oyl! Just as well she's MY car so I don't have to worry, eh? - I spent some happy time with Alfie. He has lately acquired the look of a woolly mammoth (without the tusks)

Actually, I rather like this look, but he gives the impression that he's neglected, which is very far from the truth. So before a well-meaning passer-by summons the RSPCA, I spent a long time grooming him until he was shiny like a conker, washed his legs (caked in mud), pulled his mane - for the uninitiated, this means thinning it - and brushed out his tail until it rippled all silky and black. It took a long time. A very long time.

Here he is in the summer, looking more like a conker.

 All this effort so he could then go back into the field and roll in the mud until he looked like a woolly mammoth again (still without tusks)

Did I care? No, I didn't. Because Alfie and I had such a good chat. He's a very good listener. Doesn't say much but definitely understands EVERYTHING.

I'm sure he'd understand why we still have no cereal or milk and nothing for Sunday lunch.

Friday, 11 February 2011

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.

Blimey! Aristotle said that and he died in 322 BC. I expect he had some sort of employment in a philosophy call centre or something.

See, I consider myself lucky because my job(s) for sure absorb my mind but they don't degrade it. At least, not that I've noticed (but if my mind was degraded, then I wouldn't notice, would I? Duh!)

I've been education consultant for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission since 2003. I'm responsible for producing all their material for schools - mainly web-based but also CD ROMs which tell the stories of servicemen (must do a story about a WOMAN!) killed in the First and Second World Wars. It's great work. Humbling and moving and I've been privileged to meet some wonderful people.

Here's something I'm particularly proud of - working with Sliced Bread Animation - to create an interactive website about football in times of war.

Here's the link!

My other job is with The Cambian Group -  "The UK's largest provider of specialist services in education, mental health and learning disabilities"

It's equally fascinating. My grand-sounding job title there is 'Insight Editor, Specialist Services in Mental Health.'

Apart from writing web and publicity material for them, I research and write articles for their magazine, Insight. For this, I travel the country, visiting their hospitals for psychiatric rehabiliation, talking to staff and to patients. It's endlessly interesting and varied.

I'm constantly challenged and stimulated and inspired.

I love my life!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

This writing business. Pencils and whatnot. Overrated, if you ask me.

Winnie The Pooh was a bright chap!

Today's self-indulgence concerns my screenplay writing and films. I'm secretly hoping Peter might read this (and yesterday's - and tomorrow's which will be about my 'day job' writing) and think to himself "My, what a busy and fulfilled and sought-after person Caroline is. And here's me thinking she spends all day on Facebook!"

Or writing blogs.

Here is ANOTHER list!

1. Damage, the drama about domestic violence which I was commissioned to write, for which I wrote additional scenes since the cast/crew screening, is to premiere on February 28th. I will be there on the red carpet (tile)!

2. An Alan Bennett-style monologue I wrote a while back and which was in the finals of a theatre contest in 2009,  has been picked up by a producer who wants to pitch it as the first in a TV series. I have had to extend it to 30 minutes! I'm waiting for feedback. Gulp. Very exciting though.

3. A Manhattan-based actor/director wants me to write a 10-minute screenplay for him (set in a rainforest?) to showcase his talents.

4. I'm moderator of a wonderful screenplay writers' website (American-based) called MoviePoet. It's where I learned my craft. It's a wonderful community and I love to contribute there.

5. Just A Moment, a short drama, will be completed later this year.

6. I have a number of scripts with production companies, awaiting funding - notably Headcleaner, and 'Tis The Season. Mermaid-Like Awhile is on the slate of a British director who has just moved to Australia.

Then there are the feature-lengths I've promised myself I'll revise...

If only I didn't need sleep.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

I've got a little list!

I'm leaning slightly to the left.

Only joking. Not THAT sort of list.

I have several lists, actually, though I hardly like to admit it here because it's meant to be a very primitive means of self-management. Who cares, if it works for me?

The thing is, I have multiple projects going on at once. If anyone asks me what I'm working on at the moment, my mind goes into freefall and I can't think of anything at all so I sound as if I'm frittering away my existence, I'm going to put down in black and white one area of my work:

Writing for children!

1. Sleepytime Tales - Earth Baby is available to download here and will shortly be made into a greetings card with CD insert. Earth Baby will feature in a parenting magazine called ABC -  here - along with an article I've written about babies' bedtimes. The second Sleepytime Tale (Birthday Baby) is written ready to record.

2. Quirky TalesThe Mysterious Disappearing Flower and The Great Wheelie Bin Robbery are available to download here 

Tracey, my trusty right-hand woman (I think she's right-handed, anyway!) has been working hard on marketing opportunities for Sleepytime and Quirky Tales while I've been away and today is the day to START!

3. Help Your Child With Literacy (for 3-7, or for 7-11 year olds) can be bought from Continuum Books

4. Milo Saves The Circus - is to be released as an iPad/iPhone app - latest date, end of February. Production blog

5. Curly Caroline Stamps Her Feet - a picture book for little children - is currently lurking at The Andersen Press, so everyone keep fingers crossed for good news there.

6. Of Night and Light - a teen screenplay I wrote and which did well in the MoviePoet feature length contest (came second, if you must know!) should be top of my list, because I'm going to write a novel version. Very soon.

Errrm - I think that's it.

Writing lists is a great way of NOT writing block-busting novels...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pussycat, pussycat, where have I been?

I've been up to London, not visiting the queen.

See, I have got a REAL grown-up job for which I have to attend MEETINGS and look business-like and get my tall skinny latte from Starbucks and wave my OysterCard at anyone who's interested just to show that I'm Really Urban.

I used to HATE East Croydon Station. Now it's a good place to go. The man in the Starbucks kiosk on Platform 1 always comments on my hair. Not as in 'you look as though you've been dragged through a hedge backwards, woman,' but as in (this morning) 'everytime I see you I notice your hair. It's wonderful. The colour is so...strident.'  That is a GOOD way to start the day.

The meeting was long, the room was stuffy, the air-conditioning and artificial light gave me a headache, but I was FRIGHTFULLY grown-up.

Short but sweet today. No, not the latte but the blog.

Monday, 7 February 2011

"I refer to jet lag as 'jet-psychosis..."

...there's an old saying that the spirit cannot move faster than a camel." (Spalding Grey)

Well, my spirit certainly didn't. Serves me right for being over-confident. I slept for about 5 hours on the plane. We got home about 2 p.m. and I stayed up until after 10, doing all the unpacking and all the washing and thinking, 'this is a BREEZE!' Jet lag? Pah!

Then I went to bed.

I was still awake at 4.45. I even listened to the whole of the Superbowl to relieve the boredom of the wakefulness. It didn't.

So here I am, starting work which was so full of good intentions and excitement, on less than two hours sleep.

Not that I'm complaining (much)

Animal update:

Last night - Caroline 1 - Mice 0. (He was a whopper too)

Roly and Moose were happy to have us home (I think, but they didn't say much)

Poppy has had a cough and was tossing her mane in an 'am I bovvered?' kind of way when I flung my loving arms round her neck.

Alfie was...Alfie. I was glad I hadn't forgotten ENTIRELY how to ride when he decided to spin round on the road and gallop off in a homewards direction.

To work, to work...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Where's the good in goodbye?

Someone called Meredith Willson said that first. So don't go thinking I'm a genius.

Flying home today.The end of the holidays. Now THERE'S a time of mixed emotions.

The sad bit. Saying goodbye to Laurie and Irene who are such a lovely couple. Laurie has GROWN in the last few months - not height-wise (although I never actually measured him) but as a person. The result of his new job. hosting a group of nineteen wannabe ski/snowboard instructors for the last 10 weeks (I think) who possessed between them, it seems, a broad spectrum of psycho-social disorders. Not funny to deal with but a great learning curve in dealing with humanity with good grace.

Sad too, to say goodbye to Canada and the snow and log cabins and bacon, pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast (don't tell my nutritionist - she'd be aghast to learn I was eating snow and log cabins)

BUT...can't wait to see the dogs and horses. CAN'T WAIT. And I'm full of enthusiasm to continue my work promoting QuirkyTales and Sleepytime Tales and, oh, I have such a busy week next week - to London all day Tuesday, to the CommonwealthWar Graves Commission all day Thursday.

I want the feeling to last!

Friday, 4 February 2011

For those of you viewing in black and white, that doesn't have to mean grey

Yesterday I thought it would be great to have a rest day, stay indoors, do nothing but read and write and chill out - or rather, NOT chill out because it's cosy warm in the chalet. I thought wrong. I need to be outdoors. I need fresh air like I need oxygen. (Ha!)

In the afternoon, when I thought I might suffocate, I went for a walk round Alta Vista Lake (not all the way round because that would be silly) The lake is frozen. The lake has tracks and footprints all over it. I stayed on solid ground.

White bright snow and a Quink black labrador. He was surely a reincarnation. The same lean. lithe body and the same unquenchable desire to fetch sticks and catch balls - in this case snowballs. Again and again...and again some more. It made me sad and happy simultaneously. This was Quink in labrador heaven.

In the evening, to see 'Black Swan' at Whistler cinema where THEY DON'T SELL ICE-CREAM.

"Oh, we did sell it about three years ago," the girl said, as though we were so completely outdated as to be beneath contempt.

I can hardly talk about the film because it was too close to the bone for me.What a stunningly beautiful, unnerving, terrifying re-creation of a hallucinogenic spiralling descent into insanity. Natalie Portman was out of this world. The limited colour palette, each colour with its own symbolic role...simply a masterpiece.

One of those films.

That's the black and the white.

Today it MIGHT be grey. It's been raining. Is it ALLOWED to rain in a ski resort? I don't think so.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The sun is bright and the powder bitchin'

And yesterday, I skied (is that how you spell it? It always looks wrong to me) down the Mens' Olympic Downhill Course. Not on purpose. My trusty guide, "I-have-an-innate-knowledge-of-these-mountains. I-always-know-where-I-am" (Pete) took a wrong turning and instead of meandering gently through the trees to the bottom of the mountain I found myself at the top of what appeared to be a vertical wall of sheet ice. Yes, I'm exaggerating. But only a little. Honest.

Here's me looking quite cool BEFORE that. Well, it WAS -9 degrees.

Back to the near death experience. I had two options as I saw it.

1. Sue for divorce, collapse into a snivelling mound of terrified jelly and wait for Medivac.
2. Get down the mountain somehow THEN sue for divorce.

I went for Option 2. I have my pride.

You don't have to tell anyone this, but most of it was actually okay really. There were only a couple of stomach-churning, heart-in-the mouth sections. I'm very good at side-slipping...

To my joy, there were the Olympic rings near the bottom, so I absolutely INSISTED on an action shot. I wish it looked somehow STEEPER.

This is an action shot where I'm not actually moving. And appear to be going uphill.

So I made it! I was dead chuffed. I chose the pint of lager option instead of the divorce option.