Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Inhalations and acceptances

In a brave bid to fight back the grim reaper last night, Lord H persuaded me that a steam inhalation with Vick's vapour rub would be just the ticket. This involved putting a towel over my head and all but plunging my nose into a basin of steaming pungency, while Lord H egged me on from the sidelines and ignored my cries for mercy. You may laugh, but you try breathing in a basin full of eucalyptus knives whilst looking like an extra from "Antony and Cleopatra". Or, as Lord H so kindly put it, like the Virgin Mary after a particularly bad session in the stables. Sometimes, husbands can be a little too honest, to my mind ...

Mind you, it did seem to work, as I felt really spaced out - in a nice way - afterwards, and my throat stopped being quite so fierce. Hmm, I could get quite hooked on these, I feel, and have even had another one today of my own volition. Are steam inhalations addictive?

But it does remind me of the time Lord H and I were on a golf tuition holiday, and I couldn't stop sneezing for two days. Now, this is very amusing for the first half hour or so, but after a while you do actually feel that you might lose the will to live or, at the very least, your nose. So Lord H (who is vulnerable to sneezing bouts and in fact has a whole, very complex sneeze handling routine) persuaded me to do what he has to do in order to stop - which is basically put your nose in a basin of cold water and breathe in. This seemed at first pass to be a good idea but, bearing in mind that I can't swim and am terrified of drowning, he kindly said that he would hold my head under water for me until the problem stopped. However, just as we were set up to do this, I lost my bottle - partly on the grounds that our hotel room was on the ground floor next to a main thoroughfare, so if anyone glanced in, Lord H would have a lot of explaining to do. Oh yes, m'lud, I always hold my wife's head under water until she stops struggling on a regular basis ... Hmm. Mind you, if I am married to a slow-burn wife murderer, what a way to go, eh? Interestingly, that was the same holiday that I dragged myself up early one morning to have a longer bath and was too dopey to disconnect Lord H's recharging shaver which was hovering gently over the water all the while I was washing. I've never seen him move so fast, once he arrived. Really, it's astonishing I'm still alive at all, and Lord H isn't struggling for survival in one of our overcrowded prison cells ...

I didn't bother to go to bed last night, as I knew lying down in our always icy bedroom would be a Bad Idea. So I did a bit of napping on the sofa, along with a lot of crosswords and sudokus, and a spot of TV. It's funny how I've always instinctively known the times when I won't be able to lie down without making myself worse (and keeping poor Lord H awake too ...). Maybe it's something my body tells me, as it's not a state I can easily explain to anyone else? It's also funny that I know when that state has passed, and it happens very suddenly. Always. For instance, today at 5.55am, I knew that sitting up was the only way forward, but at 6am, I knew that lying down on the bed would now be fine, so that's what I did, managing to grab a couple of hours of real sleep at last. Weird stuff indeed.

So, another day off sick today, though I do feel more human, thank God. Shame I'll miss my second back strengthening class, but hope I'll get the homework sent through anyway. Still don't want to eat anything, though I have got dressed for the first time since Sunday. In clothes I haven't been arsed to iron first, I have to say - so Lord H will not be happy, as he has issues with the crumpled look. Well, he is an accountant. What do you expect? I'm hoping that most of the creases will have dropped out by the time the homing hour arrives ...

Today's TV has been quite good, for a change. Couldn't resist the morning's offering of "Star Trek", which was great. Wish the programme planners would bring my regular fix of ST back to a normal hour and day though, so I could feed my obsession properly. I see the next double bill is later in the week at the ridiculous hour of 1 am. I don't want still to be ill enough to see it though! Absolutely not! Oh, and I've also just finished watching my DVD of Oliver Stone's "Alexander". I really enjoyed this - I must be one of the few people around who really like Colin Farrell, and think he's electric on screen. Or maybe I've only seen him when he's having a good moment? I did so love him in that strange off-genre piece about a man stuck in a phone box talking for his life. Can't remember what it was called now (probably something simple like "The Phone Box"?) but it was utterly gripping and he was brilliant. I could have done with more Farrell nudity in "Alexander" however - that would have been fun. He's got a nice body, from the glimpses I had of it.

Oh, and the lovely people at Bird and Moon ( have accepted the piece of flash fiction I sent them and will publish it online in February. Hurrah! That's really given me a lift, I have to say.

Tonight, I plan to do sod all. Well, I will try to do a little ironing maybe if I have the energy, but I don't see that lasting more than ten minutes. At most.

Today's nice things:

1. Vick inhalations
2. The flash fiction acceptance
3. The Alexander film.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Someone pass the smelling salts ...

... but I think I feel worse today. Good-oh. I think I might also be fast approaching the state of losing the ability to speak entirely. This morning's communication with Lord H before he went to work was a series of grunts only, but I think I gave him to understand that I might need more Lemsips and tissues when he goes shopping tonight. I'll have to see what he brings back - if it's fabric softener and peanuts, I'll know I need more practice.

So, more crap TV today. With a hint of sudoku. I watched my DVD of "Fourplay" which is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but which is actually a load of bollocks. Even Colin Firth looked bored. I cared about none of the four leads to be honest, though their houses were very nice. Oh, and I did a fair amount of sleeping, but no eating. Bloody hell, but I'm a cheap (if dull) date. Or would be if going out was an option. It was a shame that missing work today meant missing my lunchtime reflexology appointment too, and tonight I was also supposed to be seeing my kinesiologist, but am self-evidently not. Dahlings, I'm too ill to attend my alternative health appointments ... which reminds me of the time in our pre-married days when Lord H lived in Colliers Wood (near Wimbledon): I'd been staying the weekend and had been planning to attend his local church's healing service on Sunday evening, but in the event was too ill to go. Irony's a wonderful thing.

Things that happened today which were different from yesterday: um, bath-time was half-an-hour later, at 3pm, and I couldn't be arsed to wash my hair? That's probably about it really. Which means I look like one of those "Before" adverts for the next miracle shampoo, or possibly the downtrodden female lead in one of those 1950s kitchen sink dramas. Except my slippers are more tasteful. Probably.

Today's nice things:

1. Um, err, I finished a sudoku,
2. Had a nice, if disorientating, nap, and
3. Work are being nice, bless 'em.

Anne Brooke

Monday, January 29, 2007

Film city

Another sick day, ye gods. Will they ever end?!? Woke up way too early this morning feeling like shit. Nothing weird - or at least no weirder than normal - just a rather nasty cold and the old catarrh problem. Hurrah - not. What I should have done of course was drag myself up when I woke in order to start on the first of today's Lemsips, but foolishly I ignored the issue and stayed in bed till I felt doubly worse. So no work today - which makes me feel guilty as I should have been minuting the Steering Group which had a special guest appearance from our new registrar, and it means Ruth probably had to do it instead, and she's snowed under anyway. Still, it couldn't be helped.

The day has also brought no significant improvement, I have to say - I didn't even bother getting dressed, which is most unusual. Still, at least I managed to wash, at about 2pm when the energy levels rose slightly. Must be the ley lines, or some such nonsense ... I also typed up - slowly - the writing I did over the weekend, but couldn't be arsed to do anything else remotely creative beyond that. Instead, I attempted - and largely failed - to do some sudoku and the odd crossword, and spent the rest of the day watching the video/DVD. Films viewed: (a) Down with Love. Verdict - badly written, badly acted shit. To be brutal. Which was pretty astonishing since it starred Renee Zellweiger (or however you spell it ...) and Ewen MacGregor (however you spell that ...). I wouldn't bother, if I were you. (b) My Beautiful Laundrette - which is always a class act no matter how often you see it. You can't really go wrong with a young Daniel Day Lewis with his kit off. Phew - hot stuff. I even forgot to finish my Lemsip with that one. Oo-err, missus (c) Sense and Sensibility. Ah, perfect. And it has the utterly gorgeous Alan Rickman, so what more do you need? As always, I cried like a baby at the end. I am such a wimp.

Lord H came home after work with fresh stocks of ginger beer, Lucozade and the essential chocolate buttons - which are the only things which make being ill worthwhile. Tonight, he's out at his theology class, continuing to look at ethics (ah, if only we had some ...), so I think I'm going to slump once more in front of the TV and watch my video of Emma. Well, now I've unearthed the Jane Austen theme, I might as well stay the course ... And I can drool over the adorable Jeremy Northam, which will cheer me up once more.

God, I hope I'm better tomorrow, though at the current moment, I'm not confident.

Today's nice things:

1. Films
2. Chocolate
3. Ginger beer

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Prisons and meatballs

You'll be pleased to hear (at least if you live in the UK) that Lord H has come up with a top-notch solution to our present prison overcrowding difficulties. The simple answer is to let all the prisoners free (as half of them seem to be on the run, missing or generally involved in other ghastly goings-on anyway, that shouldn't take long ...) and then put all the innocent people in prison. That way we'll be safe, and the criminals will be free to run riot in the streets as seems to be their wish. Also the prisons will be less overcrowded as there appear to be fewer innocent people as it is. And everyone will be happy. Hurrah! Crisis over. The government will be pleased.

I decided not to go to church today, as it was the big do for the new priest's first service, which meant incense, processions, loads of people (God, I hate crowds!) and the full monty works - no doubt including healings, raisings from the dead and the parting of the waters in the village pond (that'll surprise the ducks) - and not forgetting a performance sermon from the dean. Who can't resist a do, dahlings. So I couldn't really be arsed. Lord H went, of course, as he was chief incense swinger, but even he says the sermon was a tad too long and everyone got a bit anal about who did what to whom and when. Sounds much like a normal Sunday to me ... I didn't do much of note while I had the chance though - no more than a page of "The Gifting" and a nice long bath, but hell I think I deserve it.

But the elongated holiness meant that Lord H was late back from church so we had to rush like mad things to get to our 1pm golf match. Which we eventually made at 1.30pm, so gold stars to Marian & Siegi for being as patient as angels. We had a good game in the end, though Marian and I were crap - as we always are when the menfolk are around, I have to say. But I did manage to beat my previous course record of how many bunkers I can go into during one game. Next time, I think I'll cut to the chase and just take a bucket and spade. Afterwards, it was lunch at Marian's - meatballs are one of my favourites, hurrah! And I drank like a fish, so obviously my alcohol go slow days are well and truly over. Thank God

Which meant that my weekly phonecall to mother was very jolly indeed - note to self: drink hugely before phoning mother on a regular basis as it definitely oils the wheels of family chat. And talking of oiling the wheels, Lord H has nobly WD40'd my golf trolley wheels which have been squeaking like garrotted pigs for months now, and they made not a sound today. Did I notice until he told me? Did I heck! Bad wife points for me then ... Again.

At home, I opened the note which the Church Secretary gave Lord H to give to me - and found a really sweet thank-you letter from the PCC for my years of service as Sacristan, together with £50 in book tokens. Bloody hell. Apparently I've been a "quiet presence in the vestry" - bloody hell again: is everyone deaf? I always swore like a trooper in the vestry and was regularly nasty to visiting priests. I saw this as part of my job description - that'll teach the bastards to come here and start changing things, eh? Hmm, perhaps they were turning the other cheek? Feel quite pleased though - but it would have been nice if someone had bothered to thank me while I was doing the job (which isn't the easiest), I have to say. Still, I shall write a nice thank you note in reply and shall thoroughly enjoy spending the tokens. Maybe there's another church job I can apply for and then leave dramatically, if that's what I get for it?... Never say I don't have an eye for the main chance.

Tonight, I've written some more of "The Gifting" and got some ideas for later on in the scene, which I'm pleased about. Ideas are normally so bloody hard to come by - I try to make a point of having very few, as they do mess up the flow ... I'll type up the stuff I've written tomorrow. Later, we'll watch our video of Midsomer Murders, whilst snuggling down in our dressing gowns and slippers. Life in Surrey is a hot-bed of action, you know.

This week's haiku (ironically enough) is:

Hush! Tread carefully,
wait for the priests to pass by:
lying low from church.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing
2. Golf - and meatballs!
3. Getting a nice letter & £50 in tokens.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Teeth and theatres

A dental appointment plus hygienist appointment for Lord H and myself this morning. Goodness, how our Saturdays rock. I am always annoyed by the fact that Lord H barely puts brush to enamel most days and never ever flosses, whereas I scrub my teeth religiously for hours and was once top in the National UK Flossing Championships - yet still his teeth are better than mine, dammit. I blame our mothers. It's always very soothing at the dentist actually - having a double appointment is like playing at being grown-up and doing real adult married things. Rather than the strange alien things we normally do (no, I wasn't thinking of that - for once). Today our usual dentist is still on maternity leave, so we had the mad one, Robert. He is one of those who likes to tell us what he's doing when he does it - now I'm checking for mouth cancer, ooh look - no! that fooled you, didn't it? You don't have it after all - and spends some time checking our glands. No, not those ones. You can't get that sort of service in Bramley on a Saturday morning ... We also had an interesting conversation about whether my bizarre handwriting (I tend to use a mixture of capitals and non-caps as a natural preference) means I am the patient most likely to turn out to be a serial killer. That seemed to cheer up the dentist's day and, as he said, will at least be something to tell his grandchildren. Also interestingly, Lord H has a dental x-ray theory: he is convinced that no dentist actually takes any x-rays of your teeth, and the pictures they show you afterwards are really only actors' teeth. No, Lord H is convinced that they simply set up a hairdryer at the edge of the room, make it go beep and then sell whatever it is they really get from it back to their homeworlds for peculiar sexual practices.

Anyway, after receiving our perfect teeth certificates for another year, Lord H headed off to Farnham as he is on the hunt for a new car, possibly a Saab. Bloody hell, that's like being an adult too. I might one day soon be married to a Saab owner. Ye gods, but that'll up my street-cred amongst the Ladies of Surrey. Still, it can't get any lower, can it? ... And I headed home and finished off a poem I've been writing about writing excuses (as it were), which I include below:

Excuses for not writing

The cat won’t come in
The cat won’t go out
My car has been stolen so I can’t get to the shops to buy paper
Or cat food

There’s not enough time
There’s too much time
My computer doesn’t understand me
I don’t like my keyboard
I don’t like my pen.

I don’t have any ideas
I have wonderful ideas but I don’t know how to start
My dog/cat/rabbit just died and I have to have six months of mourning
My dog/cat/rabbit won’t die so I have to spend time feeding and cuddling it

I have to keep up my solitaire scores
I have to do a sudoku. Oh, and another one
I have to email my friends
My friends keep emailing me so I have to reply. Immediately
The phone is ringing and I have to see who it is

The house is a mess and it needs tidying
The house is too tidy and it needs messing up
I have to go shopping as there’s no food in the house
I have to put the shopping away
I have to eat the food in the house in order to make room for more shopping

I’m waiting for the gasman and I can’t start anything until he arrives
Someone just called round and I have to talk to them
I don’t like my characters
I don’t like my plot

I have too little research and have to find time to do some
I have too much research and can’t plough through it all
I’m depressed about not being able to write so I have to go out and drink a lot
I am too drunk to get up, let alone write

Well, at the very least that'll raise the curtain on how much of a writer's time is actually spent writing. Answer: about 1% on a good day. Hey ho.

After lunch, we popped into Guildford, stared suspiciously at cars (Lord H now wonders if a Saab will get our golf clubs in, plus any holiday luggage ...), shopped (hey, I actually bought a new pair of casual shoes and some work trousers). Miracles will never cease. I'm beginning to think that my sudden urge to be a real woman and shop must be the result of using my SAD light this morning. Hmm, I bet that's something they don't include in the advertising. And to think that all it took was shining a bright light in my eyes and driving me to town. Now if only I'd known that as a teenager my nickname might not have been Nanook of the North. Ah well.

We then saw the new Alan Ayckbourn play - "If I were You" - dull first half, but a cracker of a second, and beautifully played by the two main leads. I'd say go if you can, though it's not one of his best. Mind you, he is in his seventies now, poor old goat, so astonishing he can lift a pen at all, I'm sure.

And, hey, some good news from Flame Books (!!! Apparently - brace yourselves at the back - "A Dangerous Man" is currently being printed for the first print run - though I suspect that's only for review copies. Naturally I am too scared to ask any more, but (whisper it softly in the aisles) my Pit of Despair might have a hint of a glimmering light at the edges. Ye gods indeed. If I ever get a copy in my hot little hands, I will be strongly tempted to run naked through the streets of Godalming whilst screaming. So I suggest it's a wise move to close your curtains and stay in.

Have just finished reading David Harsent's latest poetry book - "Legion". Um, rubbish really. I wouldn't bother. I think I could have cut most of the poems and made them all into haiku. Which might have been fairly pleasant. But, boy, does the man go on. I skipped a lot of stuff towards the end and felt very wearied. Dahling, pass me the gin and the smelling salts ...

Tonight, I'm going to watch Star Trek, eat Chinese food and drink enough beer to launch the Titanic. Again.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing (or not writing!)
2. Shopping
3. Seeing our first play of 2007.

Anne Brooke

Friday, January 26, 2007

Papers and purchases

Up at the crack of dawn today as foolishly (why, oh God, why?) I'd booked a visit from my hairdresser at 8.15am. Even managed to get Lord H out of the bath by then, which is a miracle in itself. Not, of course, that he was driven to trying to stay where he was by the thought of a glamorous, curvy brunette discovering him naked in the bathroom, oh sir, me, sir? oh sir, no sir. Far be it from me even to suggest such a thing. Anyway, poor Lynda arrived in a terrible state, which isn't surprising bearing in mind she had to put up with the mother-in-law from hell over Christmas. What is it with these bitchy women? Why do they have to be so horrid? Suffice it to say that if Lynda had put something nasty in her tea and not bothered to phone for an ambulance, I would have been (a) not judgemental and (b) happy to provide a character reference. A thought for next year perhaps?

Post-being suitably coiffed for the outside world, I nipped round an icy Godalming and actually bought some clothes. Shocking news indeed - as clothes shopping is such a heartless trauma usually. But there's something about our particular version of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill which is a million times more classy than any other EWM I've ever been in. It even has jazzy stuff for the under 80s. Phew. So I bought (wait for it ...) one jazzy jumper, a navy men's shirt (for me - boys' stuff always suits me better) and (argh!) two fluffy cardigans. Which are very nice, thank you, and will at least keep me warm during these bitter winter months. I must remember to call them "soft jackets" though, when I try to explain to Lord H - as he has a pathological hatred of the cardigan. Am looking out for my Saga invitation any day now, however ...

And a great miracle has occurred locally. The Surrey Advertiser has real news that I even want to read in it this week. Hurrah. No, double hurrah! - this hasn't happened at all before in my thirteen years of living in Surrey. Oh, apart from the time it carried a picture of me and my first poetry book. My one claim to fame, eh? But today, it is packed with information about (a) National Rabbit Week ( local events, (b) the filming of an episode of the classic Midsomer Murders at Loseley House, and (c) St Peter's new vicar, Paul Jenkins, and his plans for the parish. Riches indeed. Hmm. Interesting that I didn't feel able to type "our church" in the last item - as it definitely doesn't feel like that any more. But also interesting that he's planning a quiet day sometime during the year, and that's something I might even be up for attending. We'll see.

For the rest of the morning, I scribbled down another 1000 words of "The Gifting" - I'm just getting to an important turning point when Johan finally tells Simon the purpose of the journey they're on, a revelation which will, I hope, change Simon's world view. And this afternoon, I typed them all up onto the computer. Hey, writing can be fun. I'd forgotten that.

And I was just about to get myself ready for a round of golf when Marian rang to say she couldn't make it as her granddaughter was sick, which meant a trip to the nursery to retrieve her. Poor thing - every child I know seems to be down with something at the moment. Have to say I was quite relieved not to have to face the chill on the course though. We'll be playing golf as a foursome on Sunday so I hope to God it warms up by then.

I've also used my SAD light for the first time - goodness me, how strong it is. Hope it does me some good eventually - but I have to admit I spent a large part of the afternoon churning with writers' jealousy at the fact that my fellow writers are suddenly producing new books and getting new deals like nobody's business. Deep and heartfelt sigh. Will it ever be my turn? D'you know, sometimes it would be sooooo good if I could just go for one moment into my future and see if my writing life ever does get going in a commercial sense, or whether mainly locally available books is to be my lot in life. I almost wouldn't mind either way (almost, mind!) - but the not knowing is very destructive. And yes, I know (from reading Susan Jeffers' "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway") that this type of thinking means I am severely lacking in personal qualities and self esteem, and that I am not Taking Control of My Own Life. But, hey, tell me something I didn't know, eh? I do really think that if only Flame Books would contact me and tell me something (anything, chaps, anything - even what you bought at the shops last week will do!!) about how the publishing schedule (if there is one indeed) for "A Dangerous Man" is going, then I would feel so incredibly differently about stuff. I did, as a matter of (desperate!) interest, look at the contract I signed last April recently, and it says that they promise to publish within six months, without fail. Hmm. As that was October 2006, it doesn't fill me with much confidence, I have to say. So, I continue as ever to languish in the Flame Pit of Hell - with my fellow-submitters, Jonathan and Julie, close at my heels. Will ADM even be published in 2007? I'm not placing bets.

For the rest of the afternoon, I've had a wonderful nap, all warm and cosy on the sofa with my dressing gown, my pillow, my cuddly hedgehog and the heating on. Bliss. Tonight, Lord H is out at the practice for the induction of the new priest at St Peter's (see - still can't say "our church" ...) on Sunday. Yes, there has to be practice - it will involve incense swinging and they don't want anyone to die. It's a tricky manoeuvre. And, no, I won't be going - couldn't bear the amount of people and general bonhomie, frankly.

Tonight, I'm doing sod all. Hurrah. Though I really will have to clean something. One day.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting a haircut
2. Buying clothes
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Toilets and talking

What a hive of activity today has been. Had my usual counselling session with Kunu this morning - we talked a lot about my family and early childhood memories, and how I did - or more accurately - didn't fit in to the family format. It was actually quite liberating to talk about all this stuff that I hardly give a second's thought to at any other time but which is obviously a big driving force even now. And I think I've got a lot to mull over during the week, though no homework this time - suspect we ran out of time, as I was on something of a roll. No surprises there then.

Afterwards, I did a spot of shopping (Lord H's birthday coming up fast over the horizon now ...) and then went and did some writing in the Library. Real writing - with a pen, ye gods! Just like the old days. Thoroughly enjoyed it too, and felt I was getting somewhere important with Simon and Johan in "The Gifting". Will have to type it up tomorrow and see how it looks. But maybe I'll do that more often. There's something about holding a pen and making actual contact with the paper that makes it far more exciting. Lord knows why.

Which took me up to the belated work Christmas lunch which we had in Cambio's in Guildford. Bloody hell, what a long lunch it was indeed (and on my own time as well - though I'm definitely not complaining!) - and very nice too. The joy of Cambio's is they have the best loos in the known universe (or at least in Guildford) - lots of wonderful matt black tiles, vast expanses of mirror, rounded raised wash basins, gorgeous soap and (the crowning glory) individual hand towels to use and put in the linen basket. Bliss indeed. Can't wait till next year when I can use them all over again. I set a lot of store over what a place's toilets are like. Like my grandmother used to say, it's important to be comfortable ... In Cambio's, I went twice.

Tonight, Keith W and I are off dancing again. Am sooo looking forward to it, though I don't know what we'll be learning. I'm hoping for the Cha Cha, but will have to see.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Writing
3. Cambio's toilets
4. Ye gods - it must have been a good day: Dancing.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The terrors of snow … and clingfilm

Yikes! Is it just me or does the sight of snow fill other people with fear and oppression? Oh. Right. It is just me then. Ah well. I did think it was more than ridiculously cold last night – so much so that Lord H took pity on me, as I grabbed my bedsocks, dressing gown and hot water bottle, and finally condescended to get the winter duvet out. At last! At last! Not that he actually put it inside the duvet cover though. No, he simply laid it on top of the one we were already in. So I can see there may well be more struggles ahead in terms of personal heat maintenance …

This morning, I had my usual fight with the clingfilm we currently have whilst trying to wrap Lord H’s sandwiches. I don’t know what’s wrong with this batch, but each time I try to tear a slice off, it rips, divides itself into two and starts to fight back. It ends up in my hair, on my neck or wrapped round my sleeves – anywhere but the ruddy sandwich. What’s wrong with it? Does it have issues? Does it really want to be kitchen foil or a Tupperware box, and therefore feels trapped in its actual status? It’s a mystery, but I’m beginning to talk to it to try to soothe its wounded feelings. And I fear that it’s only a matter of time before it talks back. The only way of getting it to play ball is to get Lord H to do it. When he hears the screaming (mine) from the kitchen, he rushes in, wrestles the clingfilm holder to the floor, somehow manages to find a slice that hasn’t been ripped to shreds by my efforts, tears me off a decent amount and sticks the top of it to the shelf so I can simply pull it off (as it were) when needed. A couple of weeks ago, he even stuck five pieces along the shelf during one weekend for ease of use as the following week went by. Which meant my mornings were relatively calm and lovely. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the time since then, but I live in hope. And I’m looking forward to starting a new batch of the darn stuff, which might be more amenable. Ye gods, I really do need to get out more.

None of this excitement stopped the snow that came upon us in the night of course. Very pretty of course, but not if you have to go out in the darn stuff. Though actually it wasn’t that slippery – more like thick layers of fluffy sugar on the car. And by the time I’d got to work, the boys with the brooms had already been out, clearing the paths and adding grit, so the Estates & Facilities department win the Superhero Medal of the week. So far. Not that Lord H is that far behind though – especially as he did brush the snow off the outside stairs this morning, to save the pain of struggling up them tonight.

Ooh, and Clayton ( has asked me how last night’s Guildford Writers ( meeting went. I enjoyed it actually. Thanks for asking, Clayton. There were a fair number there, but they all had good stuff to read – all novels, except me with my flash fiction pieces. It was nice to get back into the swing of it again and, even though I still hate reading my stuff out – it makes me feel so darn vulnerable and not even half as good as everyone else – it was as always very useful to get comments, especially on the second piece, which needed to be cut down to below 100 words. They managed this, with words to spare, so many thanks for that, GWs. I also think it was good for me to get out and do something else, apart from worrying about personal stuff. And I do so love hearing what everyone else is writing and making what I hope are useful comments on it. We also have a laugh, which is nice. I need that too. Perhaps next time, I’ll try and be brave and take some of “The Gifting” along, if I can bear the thought. You never know … Funny how the novels always feel so intensely personal, whereas the shorter pieces and the poetry don’t – and that in spite of the poetry talking about subjects and feelings far more supposedly “personal” to me. Maybe I’m just a dab hand at displacement.

Today, I’ve been proactive in terms of sorting myself out and ordered a SAD light from Britebox ( in the hope that it might help these winter glooms. Goodness, that makes me feel in control of things – almost! It’s supposed to arrive within the next couple of days, so I hope the instructions are easy and that it doesn’t fuse the flat. And if you hear that I’ve been dancing in the streets of Godalming, you’ll know it works.

Oh, and Lord H’s artwork to show a happy rabbit under a SAD light is this:



One day, I swear, I’ll produce a booklet of Lord H’s computer art. It’ll be a wow. And especially meaningful now in what is National Rabbit Week ( How I wish we could have an office rabbit, like we used to have a school hen when I was young. That would be soooo good. Still, not to be, I suspect. Perhaps Wayne ( will give us more photos of his rabbits sometime soon, and I can slake my thirst on that. Over to you, Wayne …

At lunch, I went to the first of my back strengthening courses at the Sports Centre. I shall find my inner core if it kills me. Actually I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I’m very achy right now. Lots of very useful floor exercises and also with using one of those large exercise balls. I was terrified of mine at first (I’m sure it was glaring at me) but I ended up loving it. The trainer is going to give us homework to do while we’re on the course (it’s five weeks), so I am aiming for the perfect back. Which might be a dream too far for a writer? I was rather amused though at the beginning when we had to stand next to a wall and see how far we could put our hands between our backs and the wall itself. M’dears, I could have got an elephant through. And its accompanying relatives. But sadly you’re only supposed to be able to put your fingers through the gap. Ah well. At least I give the trainer a lot to work with.

This evening, I have been shopping and then, tonight, I’m hoping to look at the edits for those flash fiction pieces and get the first draft down of that poem I started on yesterday. I do have this sneaking suspicion though that the “poem” might well turn out to be more fictional in form. I’ll have to see. Perhaps a writing thought for later? You never know.

Today’s nice things:

1. Clingfilm teamwork with Lord H
2. Ordering a SAD light
3. Planning some writing for tonight.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meeting Manipulator

Ye gods, my feet haven’t touched the ground today. Which, I have to admit, is a thousand times better than being depressed and slow as yesterday was. I have arranged extraordinary meetings just in case we weren’t having enough meetings in the original schedule, put on a new meeting just to keep the punters on their toes, cancelled a meeting that nobody could be bothered to attend, and am working towards rescheduling it just in case their interest might have awakened later on. And along with all this, I have hustled for rooms and equipment, dealt with catering, completed the minutes I started yesterday and drafted a plethora of agendas just in case some darn fool out there might want to attend an additional and as yet unformattable meeting if they have a spare half hour. That’ll show ’em. Of course, I may well have forgotten something absolutely vital in the middle of it all (anyone seen the Registrar? – is he waiting for a meeting …?), but I doubt anyone will notice as their meetings will flow so smoothly (ha!) from one to the other that nobody will see the join. In my ruddy dreams, eh?… The life of a minutes secretary is a real rollercoaster, you know.

Lunchtime was spent chairing the next UniSWriters meeting. Another meeting – gosh! Nobody had done much work over the holidays, although Alan produced an utterly wonderful start to a story about a cantankerous but charming llama. Called Rasputin. Hope he finishes it, as I’m desperate to know what happens. It’s a Watership Down tale but for llamas. Yes, we do have them in Surrey, you know. Llamas, that is. Sadly, people here can actually go llama-walking in the Surrey Hills. Seems bizarre to me though. Oh, and we did a rather useful writing exercise on emotional tone and perspective, which I gleaned from the terrifying Mslexia Magazine (so it’s not all bra-burning and poetic obscurity then …). Everyone produced really good stuff from it, and I think I might even have got the skeleton of a poem I’ll work up later. We’ll see.

Tonight, I’m off to Guildford Writers ( for the usual fortnightly meeting (argh!! Not another meeting – please, please, somebody take me away from all this!...). Think I feel well enough to go this time too. But I’m really not up to reading out anything from the novel, so have printed out a couple of pieces of flash fiction to take. I hope that will do. I do so hate reading stuff out – it never gets any easier, more’s the pity.

Oh, and it’s been the boss’s birthday today, so we’ve had chocolate cakes and baklava. Hurrah!

Today’s nice things:

1. Being busy
2. UniSWriters
3. Cake.

Anne Brooke

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oranges and poetry

Well, the combination just has to be good for you. And today oranges are the only fruit. Or at least they are in the Lord H/Brooke household, where the supply of apples and bananas has reached the vanishing point. And no chance of me getting to the shops before Wednesday. Ah well. I do have a small supply of dried apricots, so should still be able to keep scurvy at bay.

The usual Monday morning drag today. It was an effort being awake, let alone attempting to look like a competent administrator. I think it’s the same for everyone though, as we were all heads down and no talking. Or perhaps we were all actually asleep and the typing noise was simply everyone’s noses rebounding off the keyboard. Wouldn’t surprise me, but I couldn't be arsed to turn round and check.

Took the minutes for the Wellbeing Group at lunchtime. It was a bit fluid, but we do have some ideas - hurrah! One of which is the Students' Union coming up with the goods once more. They're organising a "Know Yourself" month during February and March, with a focus on mental wellbeing and self-awareness. Sounds great to me - luckily staff are included, so we won't have to chain ourselves to the door and beg to be let in to the fun stuff again. That'll make a change.

This afternoon, I found myself sinking into a slough of despond again, and only managed to drag two pages of the minutes out of my notes and up onto the screen - when really I could easily have got the whole lot done. Got quite tearful a couple of times, but I don't think my immediate colleagues noticed. Thank God. I do hate explanations which involve weeping. Mine, that is. Though Sally from Student Advice did pop in and had a lovely chat with me - I can always talk to her (thank you, Sally!) - and we've arranged to go for coffee when we're both free in a couple of weeks' time, so that will be nice. Apparently, this may not - for once! - be all my own fault though, as today is supposed to be the most depressed day of the year. Bloody hell - I didn't know there was a rule. Think we should have been warned! Still, at least Lord H sent virtual hugs through the email, which are always appreciated, as in: (((Anne))). He's a genius with the keyboard ...

Oh, and I made two important decisions last night – mainly for my own mental wellbeing, let alone anyone else’s. I’ve decided to stop putting “Maloney’s Law” in the marketplace and have offered it to the Goldenford ( Gang. One reply is keen so far (thanks, Irene!), but no response from the others yet. But don’t get too excited if the answer is yes, as it’ll take its place in the queue along with everything else, so I imagine the back end of 2008, at the very earliest. But there's lots of other good Goldenford stuff coming before then, so don’t forget to save up for the best books in the south!

And I’ve decided to self-publish another poetry collection – my last one was in 2004, so it’s about time for another, I think. I’m not going to wait for any more small publishers not to respond (there’s really no point trying the main poetry publishers – unless you’re related to Hughes or Plath, they don’t even bother replying …), so I’ve sent an email to Poetry Monthly Press ( to see if they’re interested in printing it. They run a small self-publishing facility for poets, and it would be nice to get something out there this year that I can at least control. And it’ll have some award-winning and magazine-published pieces in, so probably worth a couple of quid or so. And hey stop press on this - Martin Holroyd from PMP has asked me to send him a floppy disc of the collection, which I'm calling "A Stranger's Table" after one of the poems in it. So I've spent tonight getting it organised and copied to disc. It's now wrapped in an envelope within an envelope ready for posting tomorrow. I hope he agrees to let it go through his system, as I know he doesn't take everything.

Ooh, and the lovely Sue Haywood has decided to opt for playtime advertising of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", a picture of which you can see here: - under her blog of today's date. Great picture, Sue! Thank you very much! Not sure what Health & Safety would say though ...

And Lord H (bless him!) has bought apples and bananas, to add to our orange supply - so they're not the only fruit after all ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Making two publication decisions
2. Getting through Monday - thank God!
3. Seeing the picture on Sue's site.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mad priests and birthday lists

Went to church today in a fairly neutral frame of mind. Lord H was serving and doing prayers, so I was happily sitting in a pew on my own when our lay reader came to sit next to me. A lovely gesture on her part, no doubt, but actually I would have been happier alone. Still, they're not to know that. And I can honestly say that I did have every intention of going up to communion, but the really appalling sermon the Very Reverend Alex preached was just so bloody inhumane that I decided that no way on earth was I going to take communion from such a out-and-out tosser. Though I probably should have been warned when I saw it was him; I'm sure he's pissed me off with ridiculously narrow-minded and downright cruel sermons before. Anyway, today's effort was a jumbled journey through various terrible things which happen to people, culminating in a story about a young widow whose husband had dropped dead at the age of 31, and when she'd turned to help from the nearest priest, this piss-stupid individual had said that she should be comforted that her husband had been taken as God had work for him to do in heaven. Words fail me!! Apparently these were supposed to be words of comfort which brought hope and a changed attitude to the unfortunate widow in question, and inspiration for us all. Well, bollocks to that is what I say. If any damnfool cleric is ever stupid enough to say such arrant and cruel nonsense to me, I shall kick him in the goolies and stuff his pectoral cross down his throat. What the bloody hell is the church thinking of by giving us such inhumane idiots as the Very Reverend gentleman?? Mind you, perhaps they are trying to promote him out of harm's way where he can do the least damage? I say just stick a red-hot poker up his arse and have done with it. I'll be first in line. And no ambulances. Please God bring us normal priests who know that grief is grief and should be respected - and felt - as such, and not smoothed away (as if it bloody well could be!) with honeyed "christian" nonsense. Honestly, I am getting more and more fed up with the church - and if that's the way I'm supposed to believe and the kind of God I'm supposed to believe in, then frankly I'm not interested in either. Give me humanity any day. And, in my opinion, the Good Lord Himself would probably kick a few arses and feel the same.

However, there is some good news about today: Lord H has finally succumbed to marital pressure and given me a birthday list (his birthday is in February) so I can actually buy something he wants. Each year, I have to chip away with my special nagging tools until I get some kind of an answer, but this year he has surpassed himself; instead of leaving the list on the dining-room table without talking about it in the usual manner, he wrote two items on a post-it note and stuck it in the doorway of the spare room. I walked past it several times, thinking it was some theological note with a phone number of someone he needed to call - until taking a closer look revealed it as a list in his usual undecipherable handwriting with an ISBN number at the top. Marital communication is indeed a complete mystery to us both. As you can see. It also worries me that the second item he wants is an origami kit. Oh Lord, is he going to start making a model of St Paul's out of folded paper? I sincerely hope not ...

Have written a poem about our night out yesterday - obviously it's such a rare occurence that I was moved to verse. Nothing deep here - it's basically just what I saw while we were eating, but here it is anyway:

Night out, The Seahorse, January 2007

At the neighbouring table,
framed by wood and window,
a family browses through
an Eyewitness Guide
to somewhere.

The man gets drinks,
collates supper orders
while the woman smiles
at her children.
They do not notice:

the girl, long hair
flicked back,
writes slowly in a blue notebook,
perhaps describing her trip
or imagining the one to come;

meanwhile her younger brother,
frowning over his mini chess-set,
dark eyelashes quivering,
ponders the future
in black and white.

Another Saturday night
in Surrey,
a good weekend
this time.

Most of this afternoon, I've spent reading and finishing off Lisa Gardner's "Gone". Great thriller stuff. Firmly based within the genre, yes, but still a good read as the characters were very well drawn. And a great page-turner. I'd recommend it, and I'll look out for more of hers in the future. Have to admit also here that I had planned to watch "Swan Lake" on the TV this afternoon as it seemed an ideal Sunday activity, but when push came to shove it just seemed way too worthy and I couldn't be arsed. No changes there then. In the meantime, Lord H is burning incense in preparation for the jamboree next week when St Peter's welcomes its new vicar. Yes, sadly, we do have church incense in the house. The winter evenings fly by. God, I hope the new boy isn't another VR Alex. Lord preserve us all indeed ... but I'm not holding out much hope.

Tonight, we're going to slob in front of our video of "Midsomer Murders", whilst eating Gingerbread Men (bought of course). Bliss. Rubbish detectives kick ballet into touch any day.

And this week's haiku (in honour of my first dance class) is:

While we waltz, music
whispers to our skin, gentles
us into rhythm.

Today's nice things:

1. Coming home from bloody church
2. Reading
3. TV.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fruitcake and Ver-ses

Following on from yesterday's National Insurance sad person's issues, I must say that when Lord H came home last night after work, I told him the story of my conversation with the Tax Office, and he at once came out with the correct version of not only his own National Insurance number, but mine also. Yes, folks, we are indeed the perfect example of sad Mr Accountant and His Wife. We really ought to get out more ...

And as usual the Church Times arrived with yesterday's post. The top story on Page Two was of a man who has spent three years building a four foot high replica of St Paul's Cathedral. In a fruitcake. With icing. After Lord H and I had finished shrieking with laughter and rolling about on the floor clutching our stomachs, we had to agree the following: (a) it's nice to know that some people are even sadder than ourselves; (b) it may indeed be a cunning plan actually to replace St Paul's with a fruitcake replica, life-size, at some stage, and this is only the working model. This, to my mind, could only be a good thing - as every time in my life I've visited St Paul's I've always been told either to stop talking or to leave. They are not the friendly face of the Church. A fruitcake version may be more socially useful; (c) there is at last proof that the Church does provide an important function towards society, as it's obviously where they put the mad folk. At least the streets of the UK are safe on Sunday mornings.

Oh, and I forgot to say that I finally got round to visiting poor Gladys yesterday. Post the storm, she was very shaky indeed. We spent some time having the same conversation about Christmas that we had before - but, as Lord H says, at least she does know Christmas has happened, which can only be a good thing. And she seemed more deaf than usual, so I was in full shouting mode to ensure she heard me. Unfortunately, the thing with shouting is you grow quickly used to it, so when Gladys' fully hearing neighbour came round to tell us something domestic about the garage, I found I was shouting at her too, and couldn't seem to switch into normal voice levels at all. Still, I suspect the neighbour must be used to this, but she did step back a few paces with the shock to start with; I don't have a quiet voice in the best of circumstances. Ah well.

This morning, I've been reading through my Coping with Change course notes, and embedding some of that very useful stuff in. Or trying to. I've also jotted down a useful reading list for future reference, although already Lord H has nipped out in full marital support mode and bought one of them for me - Susan Jeffers' "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway". What a sweetie he is. And, much to my delight, it seems that one of my poems, "Sundays", has been accepted by the Ver Poets short poetry anthology, which should be out during February, so that's something to look forward to. I've also entered for a couple more poetry competitions today in my usual monthly routine. Which makes me feel that I've achieved something useful in the writing world, even though I haven't actually done any writing.

Had an utterly delicious nap this afternoon - well, submitting stuff to competitions is sooooo exhausting, m'dears ... And tonight Lord H is taking me out for an airing - we've having a meal at one of our local pubs, The Seahorse in Bramley. This is truly exciting as we'll be able to find out if they are likely to have fishcakes (one of Lord H's favourites) on the menu this year - each time we go, they're always "off". Perhaps 2007 will be their year? You never know ...

Today's nice things:

1. Getting a poem in the Ver Poets anthology
2. Thinking through my course notes
3. Dinner out with Lord H.

Anne Brooke

Friday, January 19, 2007

Teeing up in the mud

Whirled round the Godalming shops today like a dervish, and even had enough courage to go into the boy motor shop in order to get more oil for my car. Not that it is a boy motor shop, you understand, but it is a motor shop, so full of boys. Mind you, as I was wearing trousers and a woolly hat, they may not have known the difference, especially with my grandfather's nose. Darn it. However, being a girl in spite of it all, I did have to stand in front of the oil shelves and take out my diary to check the exact type of oil I needed, even though I had memorised it before entering. They may well have cottoned on to my gender at that point - as of course boys don't have diaries. They have funny electronic things they can poke at (as it were), if they have anything at all. Or they are born knowing oil types as part of the species. It's hard to say. There were several smirks while I paid for it at the counter, but I frowned and refused to make eye contact, so honour of some kind was satisfied. Probably.

Back at home, I tackled The Gifting again with the kind of sinking heart that says: hey, babe, you can't write a novel so don't be ridiculous; or you'll never finish this, so why bother? But after the first few stabs at the keyboard and maniacal laughing, I actually managed to get a scene transmission half-page across in some kind of fashion (though I may well tweak it with vigour later), which brings me to the point where Johan (secondary character, but a key man) has to tell the story of where he's come from. I like to get my teeth into a main section, so that's good news. And - great excitement - I've thought of a cunning twist for 3/4s through which will shake everything up once more. Hurrah! Just have to write the darn stuff then ... Ay, there's the rub. And I've done (almost) another 1000 words, which cheers me. Achievement obsessive that I am.

Which brings me to teeing up in the mud. Though, come to think of it, that phrase also describes my writing life pretty damn well. Marian and I played golf in a post-storm Britain, and had fun bouncing off trees which hadn't been there last time we'd played - or at least not in that position - and landing splat in the mud, when we were hoping for something of a run-on effect. Hell, is that too much sad golfing terminology? Well, you know what I mean ... Actually, one of Marian's shots was utterly fantastic, over the ditch and curving beautifully onto the green, and looked really professional (argh! that word again! somebody beat me, now!), thus gaining a "10" in the Golf Cool stakes. Or it would have gained a 10 if I hadn't shrieked with joy at the sight of it and danced up and down with my club in the air. Hmm, bet that's not done during the Ryder Cup ...

And, talking of sad people (ie me), I was on the phone to the Tax Office today to make sure I could pay in their kind rebate cheque without fear of arrest and incarceration, and when the woman on the phone asked me to give her my National Insurance number, I found myself quoting it to her without even looking it up. Bloody hell, but that's sad. And it was right too. God, but that's even sadder. I should really get out more. Or possibly stay in more and not interfere with the day-to-day lives of normal folk.

Tonight, I'm going to do as little cleaning as possible, eat pizza and ice cream till my brain explodes and drink lots of red wine. It's good for my heart, apparently. But who the bloody hell cares about that?

Oh, and good news on the reading front - Roger Morris ( has another book out soon - "The Gentle Axe" - which, as a tip-off, will definitely be worth reading. His first book, "Taking Comfort", is seriously hot stuff and everyone should buy it. It's classy, readable and - to me - like an English version of Murakami. You heard it here first.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing more of The Gifting
2. Golf shrieking
3. Impressing the Tax Office.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strictly Come Coursing

Today, I've attended not one, but two courses in the search for self-improvement, and jolly good they were too. Ye gods, but I've actually had a good day. The age of miracles is not dead. And speak it softly on the street corners but I think I might actually feel happy - it's hard to say as I can't really remember what the feeling is like, but I've heard rumours ... But (being me) I have to ask: how long will it last?... Pessimist that I am.

The full day course of today as organised by work was Coping with Change - and bloody hell but I got a lot out of that. Various highlights spring to mind, including: drawing a lifeline for ourselves to note key points in our lives and times when we were happy or sad. I seem to have spent a lot of time being unhappy, with key high times being academic success at school or university and getting married to Lord H. It was especially interesting that being married to said Lord H has given me the longest running bout of general happiness ever in my life. Three cheers for the man indeed! It also struck me that even the bad times didn't last for ever, so the three key points which came out of that particular exercise for me were: (a) Everything changes; (b) Bad times don't last; and (c) Marriage is nice. Okay, not the deepest revelations ever, but they suited me. We also watched a video about how to find where our happiness lies and how to keep up with where it is, as what makes us happy changes too. Which isn't something I've thought of before. So I have to learn to keep an eye on that, so I'm not doing something just because it was okay in the past - as it has to be okay now too. Simple ideas, but effective. I think I'm going to spend some of my weekend going over my notes again and taking it in more. Self-awareness and planning for being on an even keel - somehow! - is perhaps the key.

Also astonishingly, I also managed to do some writing networking which ended up with the course presenter asking for my personal and Goldenford ( business cards. I even had them on me - which is another marvel. Sometimes, even I can look vaguely like a professional (but don't panic - I'm sure it won't last).

And straight after work, I've gone to my first ballroom/Latin American beginners' dance lesson - with a friend, Keith, from Woking. Neither his partner, Brian, nor Lord H were keen so it seemed like the ideal solution! Though there were some scuffles as to who would wear the glittery frock ... I picked K up from home and we had fun poring over his naked rugby calendar before we set off - verdict: not as good as last year's but what the heck, it's still naked men and you can't go wrong with that. And, hey, but the dance class was genuine fun, and we weren't bad at all, in my opinion. I think we might be able to discover our inner rhythm before too long at this rate. You never know. Tonight's dance was the waltz - which is more exhausting than you would think, and goodness me but my right arm was very tired indeed by the end of the lesson - all that keeping it straight out sideways, you know. I'm not very strong - obviously ... And it was only for an hour! Yes, I am a wimp.

Have just finished reading Maggie O'Farrell's "After You'd Gone". Ye gods, but it's bloody marvellous (though I could have done with a slightly stronger ending). I was gripped for 75% of the time and in tears for the remaining 25%. Which meant it didn't matter at all that the plot was obvious and could be seen coming from several miles away at all points - as I was so swept away by the power and emotion of it. I can definitely recommend it.

Today's nice things:

1. The Coping with Change course
2. Going waltzing
3. Catching up with Keith & Brian.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Counselling and chicken soup

A day off work today, as I'm in tomorrow instead for a course. I really struggled to get out of bed this morning - don't laugh, as it's very difficult when you have a huge black ball of depression in your stomach which you are forced to carry around with you. It gets in the way of everyday life, such as washing, dressing and drying one's hair. I'm actually thinking of sending a letter to Marks & Spencer in Guildford asking if they'll consider making a Depressives' designer range - which would include lots of items in black or dark blue (oh - that is the sum total of my wardrobe so, hurrah, I'm halfway there already ...) with large front pockets in which to put your depression ball. It would be so much handier. I'm sure it would be a success for them. We have a lot of depressives in Surrey. It's because it's so dull.

Which brings me, somehow, to today's counselling session. Kunu has once again worked a marvel in little under an hour. I started my session feeling as low as shit and wondering where I could put my db (see above), but she managed to get me talking as to why I thought I was so low all of a sudden. Answer: I've been hyper and slightly out-of-control (hell, that's a surprise - not ...) for the last few days, so I've been gearing up for a fall. Don't I know it. And then yesterday's difficult moment at work plunged me right back into the drama of my childhood self (ie of being the one with no friends, a shed-load of enemies and no idea as to how you change one to the other), which I've been re-enacting ever since. Ye gods, but primary school was shit. One little upset now, and I'm back in the land of Billy-No-Mates. Still, and miraculously, talking about this to Kunu actually cheered me up, and the resulting rebirth of my energy levels sent me soaring again. So we have decided that I need to plan practical strategies for coping with the down times and the up times, and keeping things simple during both. Hmm, so no pressure then (joke!). And for our next set of six sessions, we're going to focus in on my trigger points of childhood and family. Oh, I can see my Spring is going to be a barrel of laughs indeed. But it makes sense though - just hope I can manage the ride. And this week's counselling homework? - I have to find things that help me to feel calm. That should be fun ...

Back home, I've decided not to visit Gladys today, as I don't think I'm up to it, so I ferreted round my cupboards for some lunch instead. The choices involved either chicken soup or ... um, chicken soup. After a lot of thought, I chose the chicken soup option, as it seemed the best way forward. Good choice. But I added chocolate afterwards too, so all was not lost. During lunch, Lord H also rang from work to ask how his lunch was - which he'd carefully wrapped and left in the kitchen this morning. I said it was fine and would certainly be fully defrosted by the time he next saw it. So that'll save the daily battle with the carving knife tomorrow then.

This afternoon, I've thought about my novel but not done anything about it (sorry, Caroline ...), deciding instead to do some writing purely for enjoyment. Hey - result! So I've done another (longer) piece of flash fiction - about a marriage proposal of all things - and have also sent one of yesterday's pieces, which I've revamped, off to a flash fiction website ( just in case my luck is in. We'll see, but I'm endeavouring to expect nothing, and to keep calm. Hurrah.

A feeling which has not been helped by logging into my work emails and seeing the amount of shit which lies in wait for me tomorrow ... Oh God. And I'll have so little time to deal with it all due to my all-day course. Damn and bloody damn. Perhaps, one of my first methods of keeping calm is not to look at work emails while I'm not there. Kunu will be pleased ...

Oh, and after some discussion on the Writewords ( site, I think we've agreed that in actual fact commercial publishers do not exist: it's all a scam run by nefarious agents who soft-soap our fevered brows and send our work off to the great dustbin in the sky before sitting down with their gins and laughing at us in the style of Big Brother. Either that or I'm actually living in an alternative universe where no outside communication is ever received. From anyone. I mean, hey you guys, even a "no" would be appreciated, as long as it's a simple one with no la-de-dah crap attached. It would help put poor old "Thorn in the Flesh" - which my agent sent out to a plethora of places in August last, and which since then has garnered nowt but a terrible silence - out of its misery at last.

Hey ho, time for a calming moment, I think. As if. Hell, maybe it's time for a nap.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Laughing and pointing at Lord H's lunch
3. Writing another piece of flash fiction.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reflexology, religion and guilt

A dull day in the office today. Most people were out in the morning and I was the only chicken left for a while. Last one out turn the lights off, eh?... Managed to get some more minutes sorted and continued reading about religions and higher education. Today’s focus: Christianity. The content of the brochure didn’t fill me with much confidence though, especially as the writer appeared to be splitting hairs between the religion of Jesus (aka live as the historical Jesus lived) and the religion about Jesus (aka live with Jesus as an inner spiritual presence). Well, that’ll muddle the pew-dwellers for sure. Ye gods, what’s wrong with having both? Why does everything have to be an either/or situation? And what the hell does it all mean anyway?? I know I’m not very keen on the whole Christianity circus right now, but even I know that’s not an issue that keeps the Pope (or indeed the Archbishop) awake at night. It makes me wonder about the accuracy of the other brochures though …

Anyway, the desert of the day was punctuated by the oasis of reflexology at lunchtime. Much-needed bliss. Wish the therapist might be able to make me feel better about the ruddy publishing world, as well as physically, while she’s at it. But I accept that may well be beyond her remit, or even skills.

Tonight, it’s our first Goldenford ( meeting of 2007, and I’m supposed to be doing the minutes as usual. But I have to admit that I really don’t feel up to it at the moment, as yesterday’s rejection winded me and I’m still feeling raw – and not only that but my last half hour at work was spent having something of a contretemps with a colleague, which left me feeling pulped. Not that I did the sensible thing and said something reasonable about it at the time though – no, being me, I went for the laugh it off and lie option, so I now feel doubly shit. And at home, I’ve been hit by a wave of depression (hurrah – what a jolly evening I’m having, folks!) so I’m really not capable of going out tonight. Luckily one of my fellow Goldenford directors has said she’ll take minutes - so thank you hugely, Irene ( However, I am still overcome with guilt at not going when I really should. Oh well, Dr Tim in the depression book tells me that guilt is better than resentment or exhaustion, so I suppose I’ll just have to live with it.

Oh, and I’ve written my first piece of flash fiction for a long time – which feels okay. Haven’t done that for months, possibly years. At least it makes me feel like I’m being creative in a fictional sense, rather than staring at my novel and weeping at the hopelessness of it all. Bloody hell, never say I don’t over-emote. Anyway, here is the piece:

Telephone list:
When the phone rang, she smiled. He always rang on Fridays. Today his call was not unwelcome. Stepping over congealing blood and just a hint of smashed bone, she picked up the receiver. ‘Good morning. May I help you?’ After a pause, she spoke again. ‘Oh yes. You were next on my list of people to see,’ she said. ‘Do come round.’

Oh, and for good measure, here’s another one:

The lesson:

‘What do you mean you don’t have the instructions?’ Grimes hissed, glancing at the couples passing by on the lane only a few yards away. Miranda felt her face redden. ‘I thought you had them,’ she whispered. ‘Aren’t you always telling me you’ll take care of the technical stuff?’ ‘Yes, but …’ he paused and she watched spittle form at the corners of his mouth. ‘How are we going to get the stash if we don’t know where it’s hidden?’ ‘I dunno,’ she shrugged. ‘We’ll have to search for it, I suppose.’ With a sigh, Grimes leaned over and began to rummage in the nearest dustbin. ‘Stupid cow,’ he muttered. ‘I’ll teach you a lesson later for sure.’ Miranda just smiled and felt her fingers close round the cold, metal bar in her pocket.

Today’s nice things (you see, Elle – I remembered!):

1. Reflexology
2. Writing two pieces of flash fiction
3. Not being at work right now.

Anne Brooke

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ratings and rejections

Another day with an okay centre and a bloody bad ending. Ye gods, you'd think I'd be used to it by now - but no. Still at least all the crap is firming up my decision not to put my next novel out to the commercial marketplace. Believe me, it's not worth the hassle. I think these days I'd most definitely advise any halfway decent writer to self-publish or set up their own company with like-minded friends, and give the whole bloody commercial (ha! so-called) publishing world a wide berth.

Anyway, the day started sensibly enough - I spent most of it typing up the minutes I took last week at the Nursery Management Group meeting, and sorting out the boss's idiosyncratic meeting arrangements. Note to bosses everywhere: it really is far better if you just let your secretary do the organising. You don't have any abilities in this field. Trust me. And the normal grey hell of Monday took on a brighter hue as Ruth, one of my colleagues, had brought me a spare chocolate Santa left over from Christmas. Bliss indeed. Mind you, I worry about Ruth - how can anyone have "spare" chocolate? It's a mystery. But I'm not complaining, as it was two minutes of pure pleasure while I ate it.

At lunchtime, I sauntered round the lake and stared at the birds, trying to decide which was a coot and which a moorhen. Had to google it back at my desk in the end, and I now have the definitive answer: those with white beaks are coots and those with red beaks are moorhens. So now you know. And talking of birds, we have finally decided that the wonderfully lyrical bird which performs each day at 4pm outside the office window is definitely a blackbird. We checked the BBC birdsong site to find out, and it's an almost perfect match. Another mystery solved - hurrah!

And Stephanie at the Health Centre has brought me back a kiwi in a snowstorm from her trip home to New Zealand. Marvellous! I can now add it to my snowstorm/fluffy pen collection. Never say I don't have a mission in life. I also have the Holy Family in a snowstorm, and the old Pope too - so I think the kiwi will add essential secular gravitas to the desk.

Some good news on the Amazon ( front - my rating on "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" has shot up to be only 5 figures today, so some wonderful person must have bought it. A thousand blessings upon you, and please God you enjoy it, whoever you are. I shall bask in the temporary glory to the full as, no doubt, next week I shall be back to my usual six figure rating. Ah well. And speaking of potential misery, those no-good bastards (I speak only of my opinion of course ...) at Two Ravens Press (now to be known as Two Bastards Press - and no I'm not giving you the web address as I really can't be arsed) have rejected "Maloney's Law" on the grounds that it's not literary enough for them, even though they think it's an exciting read and a good thriller. Well, up your arses then, TR(B)P - oh sorry, I see there's a broom handle already up there. That'll explain your narrow-minded stiffness. I'll say it again - bastards. Which means there's only one more publisher considering M's L now, and I utterly refuse to send it out anywhere else, as I really seriously can't take any more bloody grief about it. I've chased that particular publisher today and if they say no then I'll try Goldenford ( to see if the gang might want to consider it. Because when push comes to shove, I'm really not being beaten by these bloody narrow-minded commercial publishers who are too much up their own arses to give a good novel a chance. Oh, if I had any power, I'd make sure they all go to the wall and leave room for good, decent novels to see the light of the day, rather than the unreadable crap they make us put up with. You heard it here first - so watch this space.

Today's nice things:

1. See above for any - sorry, but I'm too angry and pissed off to do this tonight.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mops, poems and tuts

Hurrah - no need to go to church today as I'm no longer doing the 8am service since giving up my role as Sacristan at Christmas, and we've never gone to the 10am Family Service anyway due to not liking choruses. Or children. Or anything written by that ruddy Graham Kendrick (the only songwriter I know of who can never manage to fit the tune to the words, no matter how much he thinks he can). Give me an old-fashioned hymn any day. At least they have depth.

So, a lazy morning followed by a lazy roast lunch and an equally lazy afternoon watching Michael J Fox in "The Secret of My Success". Cute film, though not great - but you can't really go wrong with the great Michael J. in my opinion.

In the meantime, we are having an interesting time with mops. I managed to break our mop a couple of weeks ago, and Lord H bought a new one last week, complete with spare mop parts. Ready for when I next break it, I imagine. Curiously, since that time, everywhere we go, we are followed by women bearing mops. Even in Brighton yesterday, we spotted three. Is there a national mop crisis, which I am not aware of? Or has the country been taken over by a sudden desire to keep the streets clean? Or are our womenfolk revolting with the only weapons at their disposal? Sometimes, I think I'm living in the twilight zone. Still, at least it's better than secreting illicit knives about one's person.

And, whilst I haven't been writing any fiction (poor Simon - he's still waiting for me to get him out of his current predicament ...), I have been busy with the poetry, and have managed to get two poems down this weekend. One for a Valentines Day competition in Writing Magazine ( and one about my grandmother, which I reproduce below:

My grandmother

always thought
I was a little pagan,
someone lippy who didn’t believe
quite how she did
although our anger was the same.
She sang opera
at the kitchen sink,
songs from the shows
while stoking the fire
in cold northern mornings.
Her voice woke us
in summer holidays
filled with coal and sweet pink biscuits.

We were never quite comfortable,
she and I,
never sure how to be together.
Perhaps we didn’t try for long.
But I remember one day
in my bedroom
a bird flew over my hair,
sparking ancient childish terror.
I screamed
and the bird spun upwards and from wall to wall
in wild, unreconstructed flight,
a whirlwind of feathers and fear.

Disturbed by the noise,
my grandmother pounded upstairs,
calling my name, the note of panic
sky-clear in her voice.
The bird’s wings flapped a storm around us.
Her hand snapped out,
as fast as light or sound,
and caught it.
A quick movement,
a click, a silence,
and wings hung limp and soft
over her pale fingers,
the bird’s neck broken,
an angel in death.

She left without speaking,
taking the fresh carrion with her.
I never asked what became of it,
if its fate was fire or burial
or if she simply threw it in the street
for the rag-and-bone man’s cart.

Later, I cleared the mess of feathers
from my small room
and banked the memory down.

Hmm, a tough cookie, my grandmother. And good on hand-eye coordination too. Ah, memories, eh?...

Which brings me to tutting. Apparently, Lord H tells me I do this now without thinking and even before he's done anything wrong. Well, I like to save time, as you never know what he might be about to do. I don't like to have my tutting box empty. Be prepared, as Grandma used to say. Oh, and I've just finished reading the Selected Poems of James Fenton. Loved some of them, but others left me cold or were just plain irritating. Personal favourites are: the marvellous "I'll Explain", the haunting "Tiananmen" and the bleak but beautiful "Fireflies of the Sea". And I see I only have three poetry books left to read now, so I'll have to go on the hunt for more fairly soon.

This week's haiku is:

City of bright lanes,
couples, the windswept pier
and, always, the sea.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A day in Brighton and my camp grandfather ...

My, how like the home life of our own dear Queen - a day in Brighton, Philip? Ooh, yes, let's, ma'am. So that is what Lord H and I have done today. And goodness me, it was windy on the pier. Very exciting too. I took two pictures of gulls and looked at the stormy brown waters. Very Wuthering Heights. Or it would have been, if there'd been a Height. We also stared longingly at the diamond shops in the Lanes, and wondered if we'll ever be able to afford an eternity ring. My heart is set on an emerald and diamond one, but hey it can wait another year. Or so.

But the real excitement of the day came when we popped into one of Brighton's second hand bookshops and I came across a copy of Paul Delany's "The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle". No, no, the great poet is no relation to me, I'm afraid (more's the pity ...), but I have to admit to the fact that my grandfather, Justin Brooke, was one of the RB circle at King's, and is always described, rather charmingly, in any of the Rupert B biographies as a man "with an entirely superficial nature." Shame I never actually met him - I'm sure we'd have got on like the proverbial. I like to think that I'm keeping up the family standards of superficiality and ... um ... rather big noses. Interestingly, the photo of JB which looks horrifyingly more and more like me as the years go by is also in the Delany book, so I bought it on the grounds of family loyalty. And on flicking through, I found another, younger photo of my grandfather, which looked completely like my father, so that was quite scary, as my father's been dead for years. However, I'm distinctly not mentioning the photo of my grandfather in drag playing Miss Hardcastle in "She Stoops to Conquer" purely because of his apparently legendary 22 inch waist. Which is right next to the photo of Rupert Brooke playing a very camp Stingo in the same production. The Flower of English Youth, eh? It's astonishing we won the war at all.

Other good news - on my trawl round Godalming yesterday, I found a glorious half-price calendar of half-naked firemen, so snapped one up at once. We in the Lord H household do so enjoy our naked calendars - and aren't too bothered which sex they happen to be. So I am now gazing adoringly at Andy from Norfolk, who is interested in motorcycling, gym and socialising. And is the proud owner of a very fine chest. Yummy.

Today's nice things:

1. Finding a photo of my grandfather in drag
2. The fireman calendar
3. Brighton pier.

Anne Brooke

Friday, January 12, 2007

Champagne and Gay Erotica

Ha! Thought that would spark the interest ... it's certainly made my day a little less grey in any case. Was really pleased to receive my fifth review for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" on Amazon last night, courtesy of a reader called Megsl, which - in case you haven't heard my wild screams of joy yet (really? have you been away?) - I have reproduced below:

"Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is a book full of larger than life, intriguing characters. Anne Brooke has the capacity to create the kind of bizarre characters that have such a unique flavour they will, I'm sure, enter the realm of classic characters. I loved the flamboyant "Uncle John" and the moody Heinrich who turns out to be pure gold in the end. I warmed to the kind of philosophy that lies behind much of Anne's writing and which encourages us to be whatever we want to be, to be that bravely and spiritedly, and to be damned as to what others think."

I'm particularly fond of that last sentence, I have to say - only wish I could always live it myself.

And I'm feeling a lot better than I have over the last week, thank the Lord. I even found myself singing in the bathroom today ("Wonderful day" from "Seven Brides ..." if you're wondering, and no I don't have Jane Powell's range. Sadly. Or even a soprano voice.) and eating normally. Hurrah. Lord H is 99% pleased. We both acknowledge, with amusement, the 1% that lies beneath, where he actually appreciates it when I'm ill, knowing that (a) I'm quiet, (b) I'm biddable, and (c) he knows I won't come and disturb him when he's playing Sim City. On such wry awareness are marriages built indeed ...

This week must be writing mag week - not only has Mslexia turned up, but I now have my copies of Writing Magazine & Writing News (which I much prefer, I have to admit). And, yes, I've had a quick check and I'm not in either this month. Pause for egotistical sighing. However, I did pick up that the editor of City Boy and Best Gay Erotica is on the look out for material (including novel extracts) for BGE 2008, so I'm sent them a scene from "A Dangerous Man", in which my hero, Michael (artist and part-time prostitute) first has sex with Jack (rich financier employer). Well it can't do any harm. And heck, it's the scene I most enjoyed writing - and interestingly the only one where my editor from Flame Books ( made no changes. When the book comes out (as it were), I promise to give you the page number. After all, I'm a great believer in saving time.

Have just finished reading's short story (with some poetry) anthology, "Down the Angel and Up Holloway". There's some very strong stuff in there. I particularly liked Julie Balloo's portrait of a family falling apart in "Pop Goes the Weasel". Great writing. It took an age to arrive, but was well worth it.

Oh, and I popped my head over the scary modern parapet and had a brief look at the ins and outs of podcasting - it all looks like a very good idea, but the amount of information you appear to need to know has driven me back into my Luddite cave and I am still gibbering. I suspect that you will have to go on imagining my voice for a while yet then ...

Today's nice things:

1. The "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" review
2. Singing in the bathroom - badly, but who cares?
3. Re-reading my Michael/Jack sex scene - heck, I'm only human after all.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Counselling, play and writing terrors

Bloody hell, a lie-in today. Or almost, as Lord H's alarm went off at 6.30am but I lazed around till 7. Never let anyone tell you that being born in the country is a good thing for future life - you'll never think 8am is too early to get up again. Where I was born, by 6.30am you were washed, dressed, breakfasted and ready to take the 15 minute walk to the nearest bus-stop for school. Idyllic, not ...

Attempted to blast a hole through my urgent shopping needs before going to Counselling this morning, but it seems that the Law of Diminishing Shopping Returns has once again kicked in; now I've found a shampoo I like and actually want to buy, the powers that be have taken it off the shelves. Ye gods, how many times is this going to happen? Focus Groups must lie in wait, checking my purchasing routine and smiling to themselves, knowing they're going to be able to make my life a misery later (does xxx product work? ooh, no, we've not seen anyone buy it, m'lud ... and so on).

The session with Kunu (counsellor) was quite relaxed today. We seemed to deal with my inner child quite quickly and move on. We also touched briefly on last week's rejection misery and the angst of moving (or attempting to) in the publishing world before looking at my understanding of my ten-year life cycle and how I move on from each period.

I think we've decided that ages 0-13 were the Childhood Years; ages 13-18 were the Teenage Years; ages 18-29 were the University & Meeting Lord H Years; ages 30-39 were the Early Married Years; and now I'm in the What the Heck Do I Do Now? Years. The current set being more challenging as there are no apparent rules or structure, as I've done the School-University-Marriage thing, and I'm not having children (thank God!), so now there's a big blank space between me and the Grim Reaper, with no apparent key life points to face. Hmm. Never say Kunu doesn't cut to the chase.

We then decided that as I'd done all the structure stuff, it might be okay to look at finding a balance between my obsessive approach to achieving as much as possible in as short a time frame as possible, and actually seeing life as something to enjoy rather than circumnavigate. So it may yet be that the 40s become my Enjoyment Years. Who knows? Greater miracles have happened ... So this week's counselling homework is to do more stuff I enjoy. Which probably fits in with things my inner child liked doing, and certainly fits in with my 2007 resolutions, so there might be hope for me yet.

This afternoon, I've made a start on doing biographies for my characters in "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" for the Sue Haywood project ( and I now have a skeleton outline for all my major people. Hurrah! Yeah, yeah, I know that as a novelist, I'm supposed to have this stuff at my fingertips and I am letting the side down by doing it after the novel has been published. But sod the rules anyway. Who needs 'em? And I do have to say at this point that I did once have the bios - in online note form - but a computer crash in the distant past wiped them out and I never retrieved them as I'd nearly finished writing the book at that point. That's my excuse anyway, and I 'm sticking to it. On the other hand, I am at heart a fly-by-night, seat-of-my-pants writer, and I enjoy the terror of not knowing what my characters are like till the finger hits the keyboard. Or even what the buggers are going to do. Hell, if I'm surprised at what they get up to, I can probably guarantee you will be too ...

Tonight, after a lovely, lovely nap late this afternoon, I'm going to do sod all. It's my favourite hobby, and (as above) I'm entitled to do more of it. Roll on wave after wave of crap TV. Heaven. I might read a little more of my Mslexia Magazine, which arrived today. If I feel strong enough. Is it just me, or does the sight of Mslexia on the hall table fill everyone else with guilt and horror? I know it's a mag I'm supposed to like and get inspiration from. But on the whole it simply makes me feel inadequate as (a) a woman, and (b) a woman writer. (Which of course brings me back to the fact that I never do really feel either male or female - I'm just Anne, and somewhere in between, wishing I had a unisex name like Chris or Les or Alex - Yeah, I'm up for that! ...). Anyway, some of the stuff in Mslexia is so literary and worthy that it makes my eyes spin. It's exhausting, m' dears. I think I'm going to start up a new magazine called "Crap Writer and Proud of It" - any takers out there? No literary submissions considered.

Ooh, and I feel hungry for the first time in days. Hurrah!

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Napping
3. Feeling hungry - hell, I must be getting better!

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Art, religion and children

Not the ideal mix, but there you go. Staggered nobly into work today once more, and attempted to look like a keen administrator ready for anything. Ha! My acting skills sometimes astound even me … The morning was spent going through brochures on major world religions and how these affect student life, so I am now the acknowledged expert. At least within the four walls of the office and while I can remember the stuff, so best ask any questions today as by tomorrow all that wisdom will have vanished.

Also posted a copy of “Champers” to Diane from MySpace ( today – so thanks, Diane, and I hope you enjoy the read! If not, I promise to try to improve for next time … I also picked up a late Christmas card from an artist, Michael Strang ( who exhibited at the University last year. I wrote a poem about one of his pictures at the time, and he saw a copy of it and liked it, so was kind enough to drop a line of thanks. His pictures are great, in my opinion, so take a look at the site and enjoy!

Come the afternoon, come the next meeting of the Nursery Management Group. Groan. Definitely not my favourite, as (a) I never quite know what’s going on as it’s run by Human Resources, and they are of course a mystery to us all, Gawd bless ’em, and (b) I hate children. Indeed, I am the only member of the group that’s never actually seen the nursery, and I’m determined to hold fast to that act of faith as long as I’m able to. Still, I’m only there to take the minutes, so meeting a child isn’t a requirement. Phew. And, talking of which, the HR woman who runs it has suddenly announced that she's off on maternity leave in March. Hope she uses the ruddy nursery if she comes back ... And just what is wrong with people anyway?! Anyone would think children were desirable, or is it just me ...? No, don't answer that! I was so confused by it all on my way home that I tried to get into the wrong car in the University car park. Still, all black Fiestas look alike to me and there were three of them all together. Safety in numbers, I imagine.

Tonight, I intend to collapse on the sofa in front of the TV and do as little as possible. Might even turn the TV on, if I can find the energy. I need the rest, as it happens - as there was another rejection waiting my return. Sigh. This time from Arcadia Books for "Maloney's Law." Still, at least they didn't try to overegg the pudding by trying to be nice - an omission for which I am as always more than grateful.

Today’s nice things:

1. Posting a copy of “Champers” to Diane
2. Getting a Christmas card from Michael Strang
3. Not having to meet a child.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back in the saddle ...

… groaning. Decided I was probably well enough to stagger into work today and act the martyr. Heck it’s good to have a hobby. And I do it so well. Still I managed to survive the day, catch up with the paperwork and sort out various potential meeting disasters, so I think I’ve earned my keep. But it was noticeable this afternoon that when I commenced my mammoth five minute nose-blowing exercise (no, best not to think about it too deeply, trust me), office doors were closing all round as my colleagues fled to the hills. Can’t say I blame them, to be honest.

Still, I enjoyed my first reflexology appointment of 2007 – come to think of it, this was probably what shifted my … um … blockages in the first place, so I only have alternative therapy to blame. And the Student Advice & Information people were kind enough to invite us to a belated New Year shortbread and sherry party, which went down well. Mind you, I decided to go easy on the sherry, bearing in mind I have to drive home, and my eating is up the spout anyway, what with feeling ill. Today’s food intake so far: half a bowl of cereals, three dried apricots, one chocolate and three shortbreads. Oh, and half a lake-full of Lucozade and one small sherry. Great input for the dieticians amongst us then. But no wonder I’m really hyper at the moment.

Tonight, I have to pop into Tesco to worship at the feet of the great god of materialism once more – but as Lord H has already done some shopping at lunchtime anyway, my burden is less. Hurrah! For the rest of the evening, I’ve decided not to go out to the Guildford Writers’ meeting ( on the grounds of being unwell, so instead I’m going to be doing as little as possible and ignoring the ironing pile. Anyway, isn’t the crumpled look going to be in this year?

Oh, and some news on the publishing front – at last! I had not one, not two, but three emails from Chevonne at Flame Books ( yesterday evening – all saying the same thing, mind, but, being a secretary, I do feel happier getting things in triplicate. Apparently “A Dangerous Man” is, we suspect, being printed somewhere out there (possibly) and poor Chevonne is in charge of arranging an online launch, sending out review copies and attempting (brave soul) to market it. It all sounds very modern, but heck I’m not complaining – it’s good to get any kind of communication at all. And at least with an online launch, you won’t get a hangover – though no doubt modern technology can deliver those too if need be. I of course will be as drunk as a lord, come what may, so don’t expect any sense between now and the next millennium. No change there then … No date has been suggested for this virtual event yet however, so I’ll have to wait and see once more. By the time Michael gets his small but (I hope) perfectly formed moment in the sun, I shall have an NVQ in “playing it by ear”.

And the nice Matthew Taylor at Monkey Kettle magazine has accepted one of my poems, “Anger”, for his April edition, so heck that feels good too. So it looks like if I want to get my poetry published, I have to go for extreme emotion, and ignore all the balanced stuff. Which suits my psyche then!

I've just finished the latest Robert Goddard - "Never Go Back". The usual wonderfully readable stuff - tightly plotted and with two top-class leads. But the start is confusing - too many people who all have nicknames. Why do authors do that to us?? Don't they know names are difficult enough without giving everyone two? I ask you! Still, the people get bumped off fairly regularly so the stage is thinned out at speed, thank goodness. Definitely worth a read, I'd say.

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Hearing from Flame Books
3. Getting a poem accepted.

Anne Brooke