Saturday, September 30, 2006

TV catch-up day

Lazy morning - hurrah! And then Lord H & I cleaned the flat in a frenzy of activity. Not like us at all really. The rest of my day has been spent doing a little more to "The Gifting" - I'm really struggling on the scene I'm on at the moment. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen with the snow-ravens, but maybe it'll be a test or series of tests my MC has to jump through. I'll have to see what the fingers end up typing.

I've also managed to catch up on most of the TV I've recorded over the week: Jane Eyre was good, very atmospheric; the second part of Stephen Fry's bipolar disorder programme was very good too - moving and thought-provoking. Good for him. And the York Minster people appear to have invited a gay trainee priest over for 6 weeks and then abandoned the poor bugger (sorry). Honestly, it's the height of rudeness - my heart went out to him. Still, from my experience of cathedrals, they're not the most welcoming of places. If he'd come to Hascombe, we would at least have met him at the station and given him a friendly face to stay with!!

And there've been lots of interesting discussions on the Writewords ( site. We've just formed a Teachers' Group - so I've joined hoping to get ideas and help for my UniSWriters' gang. I'm sure we can all help and inspire each other along the way - at least, that's the hope.

Anne Brooke

Friday, September 29, 2006

Haircut and night out in London

Hey, it's rare I actually get those two things to coincide - perhaps the universe is for me today. Or maybe I'll be rained and blowed on so much on my way to the station tonight that it won't make a fistful of difference. Hey ho. Still, right now, I'm looking quite chic - trust me on this one.

When I wasn't getting my hair cut, I've been editing and writing more of "The Gifting", sending out papers for next week's Goldenford ( meeting and writing a poem for the UniSWriters' group. I've put the latter up on the Writewords ( site for comment, so I'll see what people say. Talking of which, I had a lovely and very positive comment on Writewords for "The Gifting" - thanks, Sarah! Very much appreciated - just hope I can try to keep it up!

I did get rather cross with one of the topic threads on Writewords though - once again, people are saying that if a book is "good enough", then it will be published. Actually, bollocks, people! Quality is irrelevant, and many very good books don't get published - in reality, what's published is only what's deemed "commercially viable" and, believe me, that has sod all to do with quality.

This afternoon, I need to nip into Godalming to get some shopping and distribute flyers to Ottakar's (aka Waterstone's) for our upcoming Goldenford event there on 12 October. I'll also see if I can persuade the Library and the museum to take some. If there's time. After that, I'll be up to London to see Jane and to go to the Kandinsky exhibition at the Tate Modern, so all in all a very busy day - for me. Sometimes it's astonishing I'm still standing. But it'll be lovely to see Jane.

Today's nice things:

1. Haircut
2. The Writewords comment on "The Gifting"
3. Seeing Jane.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Golf day

Lord H took a day off today and we spent it at the World Championship golf day at The Grove club near Watford. Utterly fantastic - I got so close to Tiger Woods, Colin Montgomery (great smile, Colin!), Vijay Singh and, best of all, Jose Maria Olazabal (Mr Sexy Spaniard) that I could have touched them! Or at least spat at them, if I'd been so inclined. It was marvellous to see so much good play and so many beautiful swings. Only wish mine were a zillionth as good. We wandered round the course and saw all the big names. All very exciting.

I do feel rather guilty though that I haven't done any of the things I'd thought about doing today, such as distributing Goldenford ( events leaflets in Godalming, sorting out poetry to read for our Guildford Writers ( book festival evening or even editing more of "The Gifting". Ah well, there's always tomorrow and the weekend.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. More golf
3. Even more golf

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Got a hell of a lot done at work today, and actually felt quite calm and not so low. Result, eh? Still tired though, but that's not too surprising. Had a lunchtime counselling session with Zoe, which was really very good indeed. I felt quite energised after it. We talked about the fact that I never feel I fit into the "girl" or "boy" slots in life, but am somewhere in between, simply being me. Bloody hell, but gender specifics are way overrated ...! If I had to make a choice, I'd say that inside I feel 75% boy and 25% girl, or maybe 65/35. Either way, welcome to the twilight zone. This might go some way towards explaining why if I write from the male point of view, I use "I", and if I write from the female point of view, I use "she". And in my dreaming I'm a man. Mostly. But hell, live with it, people. Quite honestly, it is what it is. Anyway, talking about this kind of stuff made me feel much more real. And that can only be for the good.

Was going to go golfing with Marian tonight, but the winter nights are drawing in, so we decided against it. What the heck happened to summer??

I've just finished Nicci French's "Catch Me When I Fall" - all about a woman with bipolar disorder. Great and page-turning stuff, but it's made me feel very edgy. I also enjoyed the fact that the second character gets a chunk to herself at the end, thus giving a different and equally exciting view of events.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. The Nicci French book
3. Work being all right.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Editing, and writers galore

A double entry today due to an editing frenzy yesterday (Monday 25 September). I was too busy doing the final editing to "A Dangerous Man" for Flame ( to spare a moment for blogging. It was a strange experience too - I wrote the book about four years ago - yes, folks, it's taken that long to perfect and sell - and coming back to it now makes me realise I don't think I could write so intensely and with such darkness about art, sex and death again. It's an exhausting - almost carthartic - experience. But my main character's (Michael's) voice has such a strong grip on me that it's been like coming back into the clutches of an obsession or drug. Strange stuff but oddly enjoyable..

So, today (Tuesday 26 September), I've felt absolutely shattered all day and I've kept returning to Michael's voice and the things he says and feels. I definitely need some sleep.

Over the last couple of days, work hasn't been so bad either. I'm almost up to date with my minutes and the meetings I've been to have been all right. Which is good, as I'm not sure I could take anything complicated at the moment. God forbid! Also, today I've had UniSWriters, which was great, and I popped into Guildford Writers ( for the first hour, which was also very good - before leaving to pursue my dream of an early night. There's still time, hurrah!

And my reprints of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" for Goldenford ( have arrived in time for our October events - thank goodness! Here's hoping I manage to sell some ...

I've just finished Clare Morrall's latest novel, "Natural Flights of the Human Mind". Stunning, gripping and the woman is a genius. I couldn't put it down - she does relationships so well. It was a pleasure to read and I'm looking forward to her next.

Today's nice things (yesterday counts too!):

1. Editing "A Dangerous Man"
2. UniSWriters
3. Guildford Writers' meeting.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Coming down with a cold

Decided to skip church today - they're resurrecting some old bishop to take the service who is probably a saint but should no doubt have been put out to pasture some time ago, and to cap it all they've got a confirmation as well. Frankly I can't be arsed. Besides, I'm coming down with a cold and not feeling so good, so a morning off is well overdue. So, instead, I chatted to the neighbour and sorted the cars out, and then Lord H and I had lunch at The Stag at Eashing. Good pub and great food, though the service is a little on the slow side of slow. That's the country for you ...

Some good news on the booksales front - Gary from Independent Authors ( has sold a copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" for me, so I've broken my duck for September. Huge thanks, Gary - you're a star!

This afternoon, I lazed around watching "Star Trek" and last week's video of "Ancient Rome". Looks like Nero was all fine and dandy until he went insane. Though no doubt the same could be said of any of us. Still, he carried a certain pizzazz with it all, which I warmed to. Tonight, I'll watch "Midsomer Murders" and video the first part of "Jane Eyre". I take style over substance any day.

This week's haiku:

A Reader's Life:
Poems for breakfast,
novels in the lunchtime lull,
short stories at night.

Today's nice things:

1. Not going to church
2. Lunch out
3. Selling a copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice".

Anne Brooke

Saturday, September 23, 2006


A lazy morning, followed by a mad rush round trying to get essential lunch shopping done (Lord H) and tidying the house (me). Then golf with Marian and Siegi, followed by lunch at ours (which explains the previous sentence). It was fun, but we didn't do hugely well - still, such is golf. At least the weather was good.

On the writing front, I was cheered by a comment on the Writewords ( site saying how much they loved my extract of "The Gifting", but brought down to earth by a strong (and probably justified) comment on the poem I currently have on the same site. Up one moment and down the next - welcome to the writing life, eh?

Post-golf, I'm absolutely shattered, so am hoping for a evening of TV and flopping. Right now, that sounds like bliss.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf (at least the good holes ...)
2. The Writewords novel comment.

Anne Brooke

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Gifting continues ....

... but slowly. Still, managed a thousand words today, so am now up to 62,000. Over halfway through then. I think. Phew. It's an interesting journey - scenes are buzzing round my head, but at the moment I can't write them till I actually get to them in the text, as lots of other strange things are happening on the way. Such is the writing process, I suppose!

Last night's theatre - a Shared Experience version of "Orestes" - was superb. Gripping, dark, sexy and politically relevant. Honestly, SE can do no wrong. If they ever bring a production to your part of the country, for God's sake, go and see it. Top class theatre every time.

Was thrilled to receive a postcard this morning from Trish from church saying how much she enjoyed "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" whilst she was on holiday and couldn't put it down. Thanks, Trish! It's this sort of response that makes it all worthwhile and keeps me slogging away. I'm more than grateful.

Popped into Godalming to stock up on lavender oil and herb teas. Goodness, how new age-y I'm becoming. I think they do some good though. Also managed to buy four very decent shirts from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill for only £11.00 the lot. Re-sult. Ah the joy of the sales. And I have to say that Godalming's EWM is the classiest one I've ever known and always well worth a visit. The stock is completely different and much better quality than other of the brand's outlets.

Managed to fit in a nap this afternoon while the rain hammered down. It's been like a monsoon out there today, though now (late afternoon), the sun has at last shown its face.

Have just finished Patricia Duncker's "Miss Webster and Cherif." Hell, what a disappointment from a writer I usually admire. This time, it's clunky, dull, the story doesn't start until Page 80 (when - at last! - Cherif turns up), and all the plot twists are squeezed into the last 20 pages. To my mind, it would have been better as a novella or long short story. Not one I recommend. Let's hope Duncker's next is back to form.

Today's nice things:

1. Trish's postcard
2. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill sale purchases
3. The Gifting.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Competition entry day

A late start to the morning, but eventually got down to doing my monthly competition entries. Have given up on short stories entirely now, but am still keeping up with the poetry round. I seem to do better there, in general. It took me ages to get together a haiku collection for the Snapshot Press competition, but the rest of it was fairly straightforward.

So a late lunch and then I squeezed in some more of "The Gifting" and popped in to see Gladys. This week she's happy but frail. Apparently she'd been thinking of me and then, scarily, I turned up. Good talent - I told her she ought to be thinking of nubile young men and see if it has the same effect. If she could bottle that skill, she'd make a fortune!

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the theatre in Guildford to see "Orestes". Not many jokes there then. And terrible news about Richard Hammond of "Top Gear" - he's had a dreadful accident and is now seriously ill in hospital. I was really upset when I heard this morning - he's seems a genuinely nice guy. I hope and pray he'll be all right. Life's so bloody fragile.

Today's nice things:

1. The theatre trip
2. Getting my first haiku collection together, funnily enough.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Freshers' Week Day Three

And the last day of my working week, thank goodness. Though, having said that, it hasn't been so bad today. Library duties at the registration in the morning weren't great, but only an hour so not as bad as it could have been. And the students seemed brighter and chattier than yesterday (probably less exhausted ...), so that was okay. Later in the morning, we had two upset freshers in the office - I actually prefer this as I'm dealing with people in small, do-able numbers, rather than great and frightening swathes of them. Between us, Ruth and I managed to sort them out, with the help of tissues, fluffy pens and the use of my phone, so I think they were much calmer when they left. And, ye gods, I even felt humanly useful for once - so that was nice.

Lunchtime counselling with Zoe was great. I talked about how depressed I was last week, and the lowness I feel this week, which was helpful - and had a long discussion about how I think I ought to live more "organically", from the inside, rather than trying to follow structures which other people use or impose on me. Talking about this really got my energy levels fizzing, so I seriously think it's something I ought to move towards doing, or doing more often. I'm going to try to do things I enjoy, rather than what everyone anticipate or expects. Hell, sometimes I just want to be free to be myself - and I think it's a journey worth taking.

This afternoon was the first of this academic year's meetings to minute. And today it was the Nursery Management Group with scary Charmian. Actually she was quite smiley, so maybe she's warming towards me at last. Still haven't got an effing clue what they're going on about and I've zilch interest in children, but I got most of it down and hope it makes sense when I get the first draft done.

Things in the office between the boss and me seem to be better as well, which is something of a relief. I'm still looking around to see what's out there, but the edge of desperation has eased. Thank God. And tonight, it's TV and flopping. Bliss.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Helping the upset students in the office
3. Getting Freshers' Week over with.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Freshers' Week Day Two

Ah, the hell of the Library registration. I did two sessions today of covering our small Student Care Services stall - one in the morning and one in the afternoon - and I really don't like doing it. I'm not a people person. So I put on my plastic smile (which is rather worn out really) and tried not to make too much eye contact. Doing this sort of stuff only confirms that I'm a back-room girl, through and through. Damn shame I have another session of this tomorrow. Curses. Still, the one good thing is that I've found out how to make the wretched DVD and a PowerPoint presentation work on the plasma screen. I am now technologically empowered. Hurrah.

Thank the Lord for my lunchtime reflexology session. Bliss as usual and I drifted off to sleep a couple of times. Afterwards I felt quite balanced. For a while ...

And the DVD story continues ... this morning, we had one session where the bloody thing wouldn't work in a room and one session where the students forgot to turn up. Apparently they might turn up on Friday, but who knows?

The one good thing about today was coming home to Lord H - such a relief. It's the best part of my day. Ooh, and my publishers ( have contacted me again - so hope springs up once more. It was only to do with holidays and publicity though, damn it - when what I really want to know about is publication dates and finishing the editing. Maybe one day they'll let me know - in the meantime, we plod on ...

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the working day over with
2. Coming home to Lord H
3. Flame contacting me.

Anne Brooke

Monday, September 18, 2006

Freshers' Week Day One

The beginning of the Week from Hell. But actually it hasn't been too bad - yet. Both our talks today went well, and the damn DVD worked. Hurrah. The campus is stuffed with bright young people holding maps and looking puzzled. 'Twas ever thus. It'll take them six months to get used to the layout. It's not intuitive. Welcome to the adult world, people ...

Gave blood this afternoon - and for once I didn't have to take the extra test as I wasn't borderline anaemic. Phew. Must be all those dried apricots I'm eating. Better keep it up then.

At home, Lord H has bought me "Psychologies" magazine - as it has an article to help me find out if I'm depressed or just low. Actually, reading it made me feel worse, as I couldn't tell which I was. Do I have flashes of contentment or joy, or not? Haven't a bloody clue, Mr Smug Article Writer. You tell me. I think I'll put the whole mag to one side for a while - though I usually think it's okay, I simply don't have the energy at the moment.

Have just finished Lucy Ellman's "Doctors and Nurses" - bizarre in the extreme, but I got used to it in the end, though I was skipping through it rather than reading in depth. She's probably a genius, or a rather good scam artist, but I wouldn't want to read another one.

Today's nice things:

1. The chocolate biscuits and chat at the blood doner van
2. Being at home and being able to flop
3. Getting Day One over.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Church and a lazy day

Church not too bad this morning - only felt like escaping two or three times, which wasn't as many as I'd been expecting. I even liked a couple of the hymns, though I phased out when it came to saying (and actually meaning) any of the non-sung words. The nice stand-in vicar came (Robin Roe), who's really sweet and asks questions about non-religious stuff (thank the Lord), but my goodness his sermons are long. Lord H was sure there were at least three sermons in there. Today was heaven and hell, so I tried not to listen - too depressing by far. But I'm sorry he's not turning up till Christmas Eve now - I'll miss him. Had a couple of nice conversations after church too, which was a boost.

Was terribly noble and washed the car. How wonderfully suburban I'm getting. Sod it, who cares anyway? Spent the afternoon catching up on my video mountain, including "Far From Heaven" (classy film about the 50s) and "Afterlife" (great stuff with a good twist). Tonight, it's "Midsomer Murder", so my TV day will be complete. Thank God for television - it stops you thinking.

This week's haiku:

As a special treat
today we drown in chocolate:
truffles; candy; fudge.

Today's nice things:

1. The nice vicar
2. The nice post-church conversation
3. TV.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Haslemere Chocolate Day

A morning spent cleaning - not Lord H's or my favourite task but, hell, it's got to be done. Then an early lunch and a visit to the Chocolate Day of Haslemere's food festival ( - bliss. Stocked up on chocolate buttons, chocolate swizzle sticks (for melting into hot milk), chocolate ginger, and chocolate dried pineapples. Also sampled chocolate hazelnut tart and chocolate flapjacks. I think we've done our bit for the local food trade this week ... And a trip round the town took us to a sausage tasting (also part of the foof festival), so never say that Surrey doesn't know how to enjoy itself.

Late afternoon, I caught up with Star Trek, and then tonight it's the last episode of "How do You Solve a Problem like Maria?" ( - I really hope Connie wins, but I'll take Helena as second choice if I have to. But please, please don't let it be Siobhan - I can't stand her! What am I going to do Saturday nights now it's over? Oooh nooo!

Today's nice things:

1. Chocolate
2. Star Trek
3. Maria School

Anne Brooke

Friday, September 15, 2006

Clarins day

Clarins massage and facial today - bliss. Hell, I deserve it. Bought some De-Stress herbal remedy from Holland & Barrett to see if I can knock this feeling low all the time phase into touch - the concoction is stronger than my usual Quiet Life pills, so I can only hope ... But if it doesn't work, I might try some St John's Wort, even though there's such mixed opinions about it. To be honest, I'll try anything (well, almost anything) at this stage which doesn't involve having to ask the doctor for anti-depressants. Here's hoping ...

This afternoon, I had a long nap, which was also bliss. And much-needed. Am planning to get some writing on "The Gifting" done this evening, while Lord H is out at the village hall gardening presentation. Goodness, how very "Midsomer" we're getting around here. Though in a less murderous sense, one hopes!

Today's nice things (I've decided to list any I find up to three, rather than always having to do three):

1. Clarins treatments
2. Sleeping.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A slightly better day - but only slightly

More problems with our pre-induction week at work - but Monique and I rushed around to get things sorted and we just about managed it. I'm hoping the students didn't notice the join. Still felt sore about all the rubbish stuff earlier in the week, but I had a good talk with the boss later on, and I think we both feel better about it now. Phew.

Didn't get anywhere in the placings for the Harry Bowling Award, damn it, so am really disappointed about that. I'm fed up with getting shortlisted and nothing more. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Right now, I really hate the publishing world, and I'm not sure why I'm bothering with it. Not only that, but no sign of that £100 cheque for being on the shortlist either, which they promised. Hmm. Even that would have been something to show for the trip to London.

As you can see, I'm feeling low. In general. I might finish off "The Gifting" and then not write anything for a while. Unless someone shows any real interest in any of my writing. At all. It's just bringing me down, and I really can't hack the pressure or the expectations. When, in the end, the result is nothing. Doesn't seem much point in it really, if what I produce isn't going to get read.

Could do with a night in tonight, to be honest. But it's the works do out and I said I'd go. Hope I can sneak away early though. That would be nice.

The one nice thing about today is that Colin complemented me on my reading aloud skills - he said the piece from "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" was very enjoyable. That made me feel better for a short while - thanks, Colin.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Harry Bowling Novel Prize

Day in lieu today, as this afternoon I have to go up to London to (a) meet my agent ( - phew, at last! - and (b) attend the Harry Bowling Novel Prize ( to see if "Maloney's Law" can do more than its usual "shortlist only" showing. To be honest, I'm not holding out much hope, if past experience is anything to go by. And, needless to say, I'm shitting bricks although I know I should be saying what a fun evening it will be and how useful it will be to my career in that people will get to know my name and what I look like. And might therefore remember me when they come to look at their precious future publications lists. Hmm. Some hope. Still shitting bricks though ... And I'm wired up about meeting John Jarrold too - as I hate going to meet people when I don't know what they look like. And I hate having to walk into strange pubs to meet them. Hey ho. Will have to take a calming pill or two fairly soon.

This morning was nice though - Jane Hide came for tea and chat, and we did a good old catch-up. Lovely to see her again. Now the children are both either at or nearly at school, she's going to be doing some product selling for a beauty firm ( Looks like good stuff, Jane - so go for it!

Managed to get about 500 words of "The Gifting" done before I started to worry about which train to catch. So have stopped now, as I can't concentrate. Am also dreading having to do an extra day at work tomorrow, when I've been having such a crap week. Groan. How I hate it when my routine is messed up.

Have just finished Sue Miller's "The World Below". Not one of her best offerings, I think, but still worthwhile reading. Rather too meandering for me, and I lost the point very early on. An interesting writer though, and I've enjoyed some of her others.

Today's three nice things:

1. Jane's visit
2. Meeting my agent
3. Going to a post London literary do - that'll show 'em!

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Double entry today

Which is somehow fitting, bearing in mind Lord H's profession (accountancy). Yesterday - 11 September 2006 - was our 13th wedding anniversary. Work was hell (of which more later - grrrr...), but anniversary was lovely. Presents of books, a CD and flowers, including roses (my favourite), topped off nicely with a bottle of pink champagne, and "Dalziel and Pascoe" on TV. Perfect. And we're a teenager now. Hurrah!

Today was further hell at work. I've been working my socks off and my heart out to get these bloody induction presentation talks sorted out. Two things went wrong yesterday (neither of which it turns out were our fault), which in my opinion I dealt admirably with - fire-fighting, supporting and encouraging the troops, apologising to and soft-soaping those who needed it - and generally getting the show back on the road, with sterling support from our team of crack presenters. All this when the boss was out. The moment he comes back, he sends out an email saying exactly the same things as in my earlier email (which he'd already seen ...) as if he and only he was capable of coping with the disasters. Well wipe my bottom and call me a monkey then. Bloody hell - words fail me!! Not only that, but he takes the time to question, criticise and stare at me blankly, but is there even one word of thanks? Is there hell. Now, I may not be the world's greatest manager, but when I had staff, when the shit hit the fan I at least knew how to say thank you and make them feel (a) supported and (b) better. Which I think makes me a million times better than him right now. Thanks a lot - for nothing.

So today, I'm feeling very close to throwing the whole thing up in the air and (a) seeing if he can hack it, (b) telling him there's no way in hell I'm doing this again next year if that's the level of support I get, and (c) looking for another job. Perhaps the time to move on is beckoning - a fact only made clearer by today's thorough mis-management of me. Shame, but there it is. As and when I get something else, it will be a huge relief not to have to pretend I care (Fact: I don't - hell, it's just a job, after all. I do it to the best of my ability, but I don't see it as important. It's not writing ...).

But nice things that happened today include the Tesco's till-lady recognising me and knowing how much money I was likely to ask for - goodness, I'm so predictable, but hey that's service! And lunchtime reflexology with the new lady, Emily, was wonderful - so relaxing I drifted off twice. It provided a much-needed respite from the shit of the rest of the day.

I should have been going to Guildford Writers this evening, but the day's been too hellish and I don't have the emotional energy for it. So a night in in front of the TV calls me. Thank God.

Today's three nice things:

1. Tesco lady's banter
2. Reflexology
3. Coming home to Lord H.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Antiques shopping

No church today, as Sue promised to cover the 8am service - hurrah! - and it looks like she'll be covering sacristan duties until Christmas when it's apparently hoped to get a part-time verger to do the setting-up etc. It's good not to have the responsibility any more, although I've said I can do the stuff if there's a gap. I'm sure Sue and I can play it by ear and as it comes (double cliche moment - hurrah again!).

So, this morning, Lord H and I did some antiques browsing in the Farnham shops - some lovely bedside cabinets, but the ones we really liked were about £800, so rather out of our price range. Still, as we've been searching for bedside cabinets for 13 years, we can look a little longer ... maybe it will be a retirement present for ourselves.

A late lunch, and I slobbed in front of "Crocodile Dundee" this afternoon - great stuff, with a fantastically satisfying ending. Love it. This evening is more TV heaven - thank the Lord for crime dramas, but it's annoying that "Dalziel and Pascoe" is on opposite "Midsomer Murders". Looks like "MM" will be for the video again. And talking of TV, I am now seriously hooked on "How do You Solve a Problem like Maria?". Go, Connie, go! - I soooo hope you get it, gal, though I do have a soft spot for back-from-the-bottom-again Helena. Surely all this must count as research? Hmm ... Though, hell, why not? I work like a trooper normally. It's good to relax.

Lord H and I were talking about politics recently (strangely!) and he commented that the more the weeks go by, the more Blair is becoming something like Miss Haversham. I can just see him in 10 years' time, still hanging onto his dreams and surrounded by the trappings of power from years gone by. Now there's an idea for a story ...

This week's haiku:

Your sliced tomatoes
a row of Tiller Girls.
I know where your mind is.

Today's three nice things:

1. A lazy morning
2. "Crocodile Dundee"
3. A lazy evening.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Articles - publication and commission

Some good news today - the lovely people at Independent Authors ( have asked me for an article for their October magazine. Have decided to focus on what it's like to be both a writer and a publisher, and they seem happy with that. Have managed to get a first draft (c1,500 words) done this morning, but have some facts to check and also the read-throughs, so I'll see how it feels tomorrow.

And there's a piece about me in this month's Writers' News Magazine (, so that felt really good. Hell, it's always nice to be in print, and it was a good article - phew!

Everything stopped at lunchtime when Star Trek came on - the real world, don't you know. All that we see around us now is simply a holodeck illusion. My real life is up there in space. Surely. Later on this afternoon, I'll do a Sainsbury's shop - to save shopping on Monday (which will be our 13th anniversary - Lord H & I are a teenager at last!). And tonight, it's "How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?" on TV, and I'm completely hooked. Connie! It has to be Connie - please!

A perfect Saturday.

Today's three nice things:

1. The article commission
2. The Writers' News article - high five!
3. Star Trek.

Anne Brooke

Friday, September 08, 2006

Traffic jam Friday

A morning of traffic jams today. Got stuck on the road from Farnham into Godalming for half an hour. Everything just stopped. When I finally got to the point where the jam was, I realised it was a 3 car accident (though it didn't look too bad) and the police were doing their best to clear it off the road. A few minutes after that, I got stuck again on the Charterhouse Road - this time because two large lorries were attempting to pass in opposite directions on a road not originally made with the demands of big business in mind. It's going to be hell, should they ever give the go-ahead to the bloody quarry. We'll have lorries as big as Manhattan battling for supremacy every five minutes. Anyway, cue (or queue?) ten minutes of panting and puffing, edging and squeezing before the man in the smaller lorry gave in and had to get out to give direct instructions. At least that's what I think he was doing. Shades of Mr Bean ... Still, at last they sorted it out and I finally made it home. Phew!

At home, I got stuck into The Gifting again. Another 1000 words done and, this time, there was a lot of ideas for other scenes and maybe even a big near-finale set piece buzzing round my head. It's getting exciting again - hurrah! After that, I popped into Godalming (roads clear, thank the Lord) to stock up on lavender oil. Peace, man. But not for long, as gloom and severe pissed-offness reared its head - as I went into the dreaded Surrey Bookshop and spoke to Mrs Unhelpful to get three of our Goldenford ( books back, as she hasn't been arsed to pay for them (though she has paid for Pink Champagne). Apparently she can't be arsed to try to sell them either, as when I asked for them back, she delved around behind the counter and brought them all out, including Champers - which I forced her to hang onto. Honestly, I ask you!! If she could possibly stir herself from her sluggish literary daze to put books on the shelves, she might be having more success than she is. My loyalties are now entirely with Ottakar's opposite - something I thought I'd never say! - but, really, up yours, madam.

Ooh, and Irene is doing a fantastic display of posters for Goldenford books in preparation for our October event in Barclays, Guildford. They look superb - well done, Irene! I've also written a comic occasional poem today - for the friend of a friend's hen night (are you keeping up?) - I rather enjoyed flexing the poetic muscles again. Hell, sometimes I can still do it.

By the way, last night's play in Guildford - The French Lieutenant's Woman - was utterly, utterly fantastic. Best thing I've seen for ages in the theatre. Classy and deep, with comic touches. Superb scenery and even better acting. It's made me want to rush out and buy the book - to see if it's as good as the play! Hmm, something wrong with the order there, I fear - but, hell, at least it's made me want to buy it.

Tonight, it's wine, pizza, garlic bread, ice cream & TV heaven. Bliss.

Today's three nice things:

1. The writing
2. Pizza & ice cream
3. Irene's posters.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Gifting continues

Aha! At last I'm able to get down to doing some of The Gifting again. Simon is now in the Kingdom of the Air, so I feel the two of us are moving along a little more. Something of a relief really. So another 1000 words done. Also did the minutes from Tuesday's Goldenford ( meeting and sent them out. Jane Hide rang and we caught up with each other's news, which was good - she's coming round for coffee next Wednesday morning. Which is the same day that I'm off up to London in the afternoon to attend the Harry Bowling Prize ( ceremony. Would be lovely to win with the apparently unsellable Maloney's Law, but I'm too much of a hardened cynic by now to expect such blessings. But the good news is that next Wednesday I finally get to meet my agent ( as he's taking me for drink before the knees-up. Hurrah!

Popped into see Gladys this afternoon - very vague again today, and we had the same conversations two or three times. Maybe she's more fragile in the heat? Then again, aren't we all? And she doesn't do badly for 90.

This evening, Lord H and I are off to see "The French Lieutenant's Woman" in Guildford Theatre. Not many laughs there, I fear, but it will save reading the book ...!

Today's three nice things:

1. Getting some writing done
2. Speaking to Jane
3. The theatre.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Counselling session

A busy, and sometimes frantic, day - full of sound and fury. I have an urgent new leaflet crisis, which is supposed to be resolved by next Friday (ha!), but I doubt it will be. Still, at least it gave me a focus to the day, which was a pleasant change. Nothing like a good crisis, eh ...

And I had my first counselling session for 3 weeks with Zoe. Goodness, how I've missed being able to talk things through. I feel as if August has been a complete blank, and I've found it hard to feel anything at all, even when supposedly nice things were happening. Almost as if there's an enormous blockage between where I am and where the feeling is. It was good to hack my way through it all - or at least some of it - and whilst I was rather upset at the end of my hour, hell at least it was a bloody feeling, so I'm not complaining. At some stage, I need to be able to find a space in life where I can express this sort of thing outside the actual counselling sessions, and I'm not used to doing that - or admitting I might even need to do that - so I suspect it's going to be a long, hard process. Ho hum, but I should be used to those by now.

At home, Lord H and I watched a video of "Midsomer Murders", which was great, and provided much-needed slob-out time. I also managed to have a good chat with him, which made us both feel better, I think. Lord H also thought having a holiday in August was entirely strange - as if it wasn't happening at all - so it feels good not to be alone in that opinion.

Have just finished reading Sue Miller's "While I was Gone." Slow, but somehow electrically gripping. An in-depth portrait of a marriage in crisis. And she writes like a dream. I shall work my way through her backlist as soon as I can and wait in anticipation for the next offering.

Today's three nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Midsomer Murders
3. Chatting with Lord H.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Goldenford meeting

A long day at work. God, how long it seemed. I did get quite a lot done, but it just dragged. Another walk round the lake at lunchtime, but all the benches were taken, so I couldn't sit down this time. Admired the new exhibition in the Lewis Elton gallery instead. Shame the pictures I liked were all Not For Sale. Mind you, all the others were way into the thousands, so goodness knows who might buy them on campus!

The Writewords ( site is having a discussion on agents and publishers. That dreadful and completely meaningless word, "publishable", came up again. Ye gods. They should strike "publishable" from the dictionary - half the stuff published by the mainstream guys these days is unadulterated crap, so it's certainly no guide to quality. Let's get rid of the word entirely, chaps, and also let's ditch the idea that agents and publishers know f*** all about quality writing. They're only in it to sell what is deemed currently fashionable. It's got nothing to do with quality, believe me.

Tonight, I'm minuting the monthly Goldenford ( meeting. Hell, now there's a publisher who knows what good stuff is! And that, of course, is because we're a small independent, and not a mainstream f***er. In my opinion.

Today's three nice things:

1. The art exhibition
2. The smoked salmon starter we had for dinner
3. The fact that - somehow - the working day finally came to a close ...

Anne Brooke

Monday, September 04, 2006

A present of crystals

The usual agony of Monday morning arrived too soon - as ever. It was a real struggle getting to lunch time (after noon, somehow it's as if a weight is lifted from my shoulders), but then I suppose it is my first Monday back at work since being on holiday. The payback from bank holidays indeed ...

Had a lovely walk round campus at lunch, and sat for a while near the lake admiring the ducks and moorhens. It's nice to stop and do something without purpose once in a while. During the afternoon, Julia popped in and kindly gave me a present of three crystals - one green, one red and green, and the third a shiny slate grey. They're really lovely - so thank you, Julia! All together, they're supposed to help me be centred, balanced, in tune with the real me and calm. Which sounds great! As per instructions, I washed them when I got in and am keeping them in my handbag, to see how things go. I should be a new woman the next time a Monday turns up - here's hoping ...!

Not much happened this evening - except I tackled the recycling and put it out for collection tomorrow. I am now the recycling queen of the house. And, later, it'll be the second part of "Dalziel and Pascoe" - I was gripped by Part One last night, so am hoping for a rip-roaring conclusion.

Today's three nice things:

1. Getting to the end of Monday
2. The three lovely crystals
3. Dalziel and Pascoe.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, but who cares?

Struggled through church today wishing I was still in bed. The high point was when one of the light bulbs exploded just after the Nicene Creed and woke everyone up. Nobody was hurt but it did provide the only excitement of the morning. Even the hymns were long and dreary. Afterwards, I did my chores and slipped away as soon as possible to get a much-needed nap (I was up during the night feeling totally wired - way too much coffee yesterday. Ye gods, I won't do that again ...) while Lord H went off to practise on the range with his new golf club.

This afternoon, I've caught up with yesterday's Star Trek, and plan to ring Mother and then have an evening doing as little as possible. I might do some writing of "The Gifting" but only if the mood takes me - we'll see. I should have cleaned the car too but, frankly, I can't be arsed. I'm fed up with doing everything I'm supposed to do. Maybe it's time to kick ass on the bloody routine. Here's hoping, eh?

And I'm dreading tomorrow and already getting the Sunday night depression - God, I hate Mondays. They're crap.

This week's haiku:

At your funeral
a butterfly danced; not you
but something close.

Today's three nice things:

1. The lightbulb explosion
2. Star Trek
3. My glass of lunchtime sherry.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day in Oxford

Lord H and I had a day in Oxford today - just to treat ourselves. The city of dreaming spires lived up to its name - or maybe that should be dreaming towers? A couple of the colleges were open so we could have a nose around quadrangles and stuff. It's certainly another world away from the hustle and bustle of normal city life. We ended up doing our own walking tour, and feel we've only really skated the surface. There's a lot to unpack, and we'll definitely be making a return visit or two. The highlight of the day was the touring choir singing and giving us a history of the songs they chose in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Glorious and completely unexpected - we stayed for a while.

Have just finished Patrick Gale's "The Facts of Life". Goodness me, but it's a novel of two halves. The first half has real people in it, whom I really cared about. But the second half was crass and completely unbelievable. Oh no, not someone dying of AIDS again - per-lease. Surely in the 90s (when the book was published), this was still old-fashioned. It felt as if Gale was just using characters as ciphers to showcase his beliefs and they were as shallow as shit (is that a phrase? Hell, I think it should be) - and, honestly, his understanding of family dynamics in terms of siblings and sex is once again non-existent. I think he should (a) simply have stuck to the first part of the novel, which would have stood perfectly well on its own, and (b) not write about brother/sister stuff again - you just can't cut it, matey! Trust me on this one!

Today's three nice things:

1. Oxford colleges
2. The unexpected choir
3. Putting down the disappointing Gale.

Anne Brooke

Friday, September 01, 2006

Eileen's funeral

Attended the funeral of Eileen White (Brian's mother) in Kent today. The first funeral of one of the parents of my Durham friends since I came to know them. She was strongly Catholic, so we had the "full monty", which was very well done indeed. Interesting too - I learnt a lot more about her than I'd known before! Such is the world of the funeral, I think ... During the service, a red admiral butterfly got into the church and fluttered around - rather fitting, somehow, and Eileen would have liked it.

At home, had a much-needed nap, and also sent out the first few chapters of "Maloney's Law" to new press, Five Lines in the Sand. We live in hope, eh? No energy for actual novel writing today, but I didn't really expect there would be. One of my UniSWriters friends, Julia, tells me she's found a green crystal with a streak of red in it, which might have my name on it - will look forward to viewing said beast once I return to work next week! I think I might call it George ...

Oh, and I sent my first fresh (ie not one I'm answering) text today - thanks, Julia! - apparently it worked. A new era begins.

Anne Brooke