Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Freshers' Week Day Three

Shattered today, and I can't really form a reasonable sentence, so here are today's notable things in no noticeable order:

1. It was busier at the Information Point than yesterday, but not as busy as Monday (thank the Lord)
2. I should have got to bed earlier last night and I would have coped better
3. One of the students thought the Students' Union event planner was a boardgame - but he might have an idea there. Why isn't it a boardgame?
4. Halfway through the day, some of the female dance students (at least one assumes it was them ...) began to walk in very peculiar ways in very high heels in front of us. Presumably as part of their training? It was ever so slightly spooky ... Are we in the Twilight Zone?
5. We shut up shop early afternoon as Freshers' Fayre was on and nobody was interested in facts any more
6. The boss bought chocolate cake and Ruth made chocolate brownies for an afternoon party
7. The campus water supply went terribly terribly wrong and there was no water for most of the afternoon. At all.
8. One of my postgraduate talk presenters didn't turn up to a talk I'd scheduled for them as they "hadn't realised it was important". Gaarrgghh. The PG department concerned wasn't happy, understandably. I was upset as that particular department is very nice and we let them down. Groan.
9. The boss has had a promotion (well done hugely, David!) and is now Director of Student Care Services, rather than just Head of same. We are all therefore more important by proxy, hurrah. Well, one can hope, eh ...
10. I was so tired that I fell asleep the moment I got home and am now feeling extremely disorientated.
11. I'm glad my Freshers' Week is over, but I think we've done some worthwhile work.
12. I'm feeling disheartened by writing, but same old, same old, really.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Two of Freshers' Week

Slightly better today, though still busy, and questions asked at my Information Point table tended to come in waves rather than full on as yesterday. I even managed to get back to the office for an hour during the day to catch up with email, while my team of voluntary staff held the fort which was good. And the day was shorter too - in at 8.15am and ending at 5.30pm, hurrah.

Also am more able to carry on conversations with people who aren't students today as well - I had so many Fresher questions yesterday that the ability to communicate with or even think about anyone else utterly left me. Ruth found the same on her Information Point table too (in another building). Plus I fitted in two Starbucks runs for my little team, so that cheered us all greatly.

Today there were lots and lots of questions about where the University Hall was (where registration takes place) and also where the big Lecture Theatre was (known as the Griffiths Theatre), as there was a lot going on there today. I felt like an air stewardess saying over and over again (whilst pointing): to get to the University Hall, you go here, then here and then here, or to get to the Griffiths Theatre you go here and here. In case of difficulty, your oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Try to breathe normally. No, I didn't actually say that last one. Honest. After a while, those of us behind the IP table got into a routine of pointing and chanting, depending on which direction people wanted, and at one stage I got a wave of hysteria and collapsed into giggles whilst pointing. I think the student got the message though as they headed off in the right direction. Phew.

At home, I was explaining that my whole day had basically consisted of lots of smiling and saying: Turn left for the University Hall; right for the Griffiths Theatre; turn right for the Griffiths Theatre; turn left for the University Hall; turn right into the Griffiths Hall; don't be left behind in the University Theatre; have you found the Theatre Hall?; keep an eye out for the University Griffin. And so on and so on. Lord H suggested that I should have added: when you return to your room, the University Griffin will be waiting for you. Prepare to die. But I feel he might not have fully grasped the niceties of customer service. Ah well.

Anyway, it's good to be home. I popped in to see Gladys on the way but she was very tired, so I just sat with her for a while. Managed to catch It Takes Two with Claudia on TV, which makes me feel as if I'm more into a normal routine again, hurrah. And later on it's The Fixer. I might just manage to keep awake for it. You never know.

Today's nice things:

1. Two Starbucks runs
2. Air stewardess training
3. The unexpected birth of the University Griffin
4. TV.

Anne Brooke - feeling more human today
Thorn in the Flesh - for the darker secrets of University staff ...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freshers' Week Day One


Up at 6am. In office at 7.45am. At Information Point from 8am. 5 minute lunch. Packed up at 4.15pm. Back to office. Worked on admin until 6.15pm. Shattered.

That's it really.

Anne Brooke - the one with no brain left
The Bones of Summer - about two men who didn't go to University (phew!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wisley, sculpture and chilling

Am making the most of the day before the onslaught of Freshers' Week next week. Honestly it's been really great today that I haven't had to talk to anyone apart from Lord H. Bliss. Here's today's poem:

Meditation 229

Water and prayer
quench the dry land’s thirst

and wash sin away.
If only

you could bottle both.

So we've had a delightful amble through the joys of Wisley, which included the excitements of the Sculpture Trail that was today's special event. I particularly thrilled to the glorious sculpture of different sized fish on bicycles. Called Cycling School, it was utterly delightful and a work of genius perfectly placed. Wonderful. Here's a link to a photograph of it. Ain't that magical?... And here's a link to the sculptor - some fabulous pieces there too. Anyway, we had lunch out at the Wisley cafe, which was very pleasant though it did appear that the staff were on a go-slow in terms of collecting up dirty plates. We suspect the scary manager isn't on today - every other time we've been there, the clearing up has been astonishingly good and the moment a table is vacated, it's cleared and wiped down for the next people. As it should be really. Today, the system was something of a mess. Ah well.

This afternoon, I've had a much-needed nap - heck, I need all the strength I can get for the week to come, I fear. Later, we'll be looking at holidays (hurrah!) and I'll probably do some more editing to The Hit List. Robert is looking sultry and mysterious. Always get your characters to play to their strengths, eh. And there's sod-all on TV, sigh.

I've also enjoyed Mary Beard's Pompeii, which is a non-fiction study of that tragic town. Very interesting indeed, though I did feel it was rather too heavy in places. But a highly useful manual if you're intending to visit, which we are, at some point.

Here's this week's rather sparse haiku:

Nothing in my head
this week is worth the paper
I scribble it on.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Wisley
3. Sculptures
4. Napping
5. Editing The Hit List
6. Books
7. Haikus.

Anne Brooke - something of a fish on a bicycle herself
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice - ideal Sunday drinking

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Condescending publishers and Freshers galore

Goodness me, but what an exhausting and severely draining day. Here's today's poem though, which I just had time for this morning:

Meditation 228

Offering money
for the gift of salvation

is lambasted
to oblivion

by the sainted
Peter and John

but has in fact
been in common use

for centuries since
in the church.

Really, the more I do these meditation poems, the more cynical I become, I fear. Church is all too debilitating these days. One wonders what it's all for.

Anyway, I've been severely peed off by some pesky small-time publisher who emailed me to say, in a very high-handed and condescending tone, how extremely hard to read The Gifting is but of course they were sure I would find someone to take it on one day. Ignorant t*****s. They're obviously unable to read words of more than one syllable anyway, so no wonder nobody's heard of them. And I would like to advise all publishers here and now that if they do reject a piece of work, then the sentence they need to send out is simply: Thank you, but this does not fit our lists. Really, that's all they need to say - any other ridiculous and ill-thought out statement is likely only to cause offence. And it keeps the syllables down to only one per word, which is surely doable for most of them ... One would hope.

For a large part of the day, I have been smiling and smiling like a villain while we greet Freshers onto campus and settle them into their rooms. Not a job for which I am remotely suited, but I think I managed to fool them into thinking I was a nice normal human being, rather than a severely pissed-off furious and failing would-be fantasy writer whose books no publisher will apparently touch with a proverbial bargepole. Whilst sending snippety emails and putting the boot in at the same time. And on the whole my smile remained mostly on. Which is a bloody miracle indeed.

But, Lordy, our new students think they've got problems. Really, they have no idea how very lucky they are - must be great to be at the very beginning of one's career and have it still all to play for. Rather than being somewhere in the middle of life, with mid-life droop and have really not much to play for at all - and what little there is, so few people seem to actually want. Which is what it feels like, precisely here and precisely now. I can guarantee to you that in twenty years' time, I'll still be in the same literary position I am in today: that is, struggling along at the bottom, being told by well-meaning and of course totally lovely people that I have to keep going, but selling no more than 50-100 or so copies of each book (not counting the poetry books, where I sell about 10 and then give the rest away). Honestly, sometimes this business is like being back at primary school - I don't think there's anything wrong with me and indeed I'm no worse than anyone else (as my new strapline says!), but still nobody wants to be friends. It's a mystery. I do think the sense of hope I had nine years ago when I first started writing fiction is all but vanquished. Cynicism reigns supreme. And maybe indeed the solution is not to try so hard? I do think that my decision to go back to the self-publishing process is definitely the best way forward - I'm much happier, mental health-wise, if I don't even have to enter the submissions arena at all. Yes, I will try with the small GLBT press as and when I produce GLBT fiction, but for the rest, I simply don't want to put myself through the horror and terrible depression of it all. Publishing is not in any sense of the phrase a pleasant business: I don't think I could ever encourage anyone now to try to be a professional writer - it's like suggesting that they walk through fire in order to reach a distant and probably imaginary oasis. Probably not worth the burning.

Oh, but I must say that halfway through my "smiling at Freshers and being nice when I just feel like weeping" ordeal, Lord H turned up with two Starbucks cappuccinos, one for me and one for Clare, who was staffing our table with me - so we leapt upon him with great cries of glee and swore undying adoration. I think he was pleased ... But really - what a superhero!

So, after all that, thank goodness for the joys of Strictly Come Dancing tonight - I am currently rooting for both Ricky and Phil, but can't make up my mind which one I prefer. I'll see how they do in the Latin dances later on, and then decide who gets my vote!

Oh, and I've finished Adam Thorpe's short story collection, Is This The Way You Said? - which I'm hoping to review for Vulpes Libris at some point (though at the moment don't wait up ...). A very interesting collection and well worth a read, though a couple of the stories (including the long title story) didn't really quite work for me. I also read the list in the front of all the wonderful novels and poetry collections he's published over the last few years and felt like spitting and sticking a pitchfork into his ruddy successful bottom, but I shall endeavour not to let my extreme bitterness and overwhelming deal-envy get the better of me when I write the review. Hmm, we'll see, eh ...

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Being bitchy about pesky publishers who, frankly, deserve it
3. Cappuccinos from Lord H
4. TV
5. Books (even though, today, I hate all authors who appear in bookshops on principle).

Anne Brooke - bitter, twisted, but with a jolly nice smile, ho ho
The Gifting - totally unpublishable and very hard to read, apparently ...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Golf and glittery frocks

What a glorious day it's been today - an Indian summer indeed. Here's today's verse:

Meditation 227

Sometimes the only thing
that counts
is the wild shedding

of blood:
from the small agonies
of ancient kings –

names long forgotten –
to the murderous fury
of Paul

as he condemns to darkness
those he’s come
to hate,

it has always been so.

Not really suited to the weather, I know, but what the heck eh. This morning, I have played a rollercoaster game of golf with Marian, which she rightfully won, as being far and away the most consistent player. I had an utterly appalling time on the sixth hole, where astonishingly I missed my first tee shot entirely, but managed somehow to knock the tee itself backwards (backwards?! I ask you!!) whilst leaving the ball still in its place on the mat. Just slightly lower. Ah, the shame. Though it was in some respects a shot of true genius. My second attempt knocked the ball a foot or so in front of me so I decided to try again. My third attempt sent the ball so high that it landed in a tree and then fell between the three split branches so it was completely unplayable. When I took my shot from the nearest point to there, it then went straight into the pond. Lordy. Marian by this time was beside herself with hysterical laughter, and I did wonder whether I should call for an ambulance. Just in case. Never say I'm not caring ... I eventually finished the damn hole in 12. 12!!! Shocking for a par 3 hole. Mind you, I managed to partially redeem myself by getting four apiece in the next three holes, but of course Marian still won. By a good mile.

I then popped into Godalming to restock my essential supplies of Quiet Life pills (over the next week I'm definitely going to need them ...) and peppermint oil. I aim always for a state of calm alertness. As you can tell, ho ho. I've also been working away on the edit to The Hit List and am now on p106 and a quarter of the way through. Robert's arrived. He's pretty damn hot. I forget how much I like Robert - nice to reacquaint myself with him again after so long. I'm enjoying this more than I anticipated I would, I must say.

Oh and I'm fighting a losing battle with trying to get DHL to deliver a parcel to me. They tried it yesterday, but were confused by the door arrangements and left a card without knocking. When I rang up this morning, I find the parcel number on the card is wrong, so they weren't sure for quite a while who the sender might be, and when I asked to change the delivery address to be Lord H's work one, I was told I couldn't do that as only the sender can change details. The sendee is too untrustworthy for such dizzy responsibility. After much argy-bargy, I gather they might try and redeliver here tomorrow, but of course I'll be out at the University welcoming Freshers with a bright smile and a lot of leaflets. Ah well, we'll wait and see then ...

Tonight, we have a Strictly Come Dancing TV extravaganza. I have promised Lord H I will be strong and not vote for anyone, but I told him that last week, and rushed to the phone back then to vote for Chris & Ola as soon as I could - so I fear my husband does not entirely believe me ... I must also do some kind of cleaning before I need to get my sparkly frock out. Bring on the glitter ball. As they say.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Trick golf
3. Editing The Hit List
4. TV.

Anne Brooke - bamboozled by golf balls
The Bones of Summer - a truly sizzling read, naturally ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reviews and stonings

I have to say it's great not to be in the office today. Almost feels like being normal (perish the thought). Here's today's poem:

Meditation 226

To start the day:
a good stoning.
Cover your ears

and let sharp rocks
blanket the words
that pierce you most

while the rough cloaks
of murderers
lie heavy in your arms.

My, Saul of Tarsus/St Paul could be a bloodthirsty man on occasion. And really I can't blame him - Stephen the Martyr did go on so. If I'd been there, I might well have stoned him myself. Just to shut him up. Hush my mouth.

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that Maloney's Law has received a five star review on Amazon US, which you can read below:

“This is one compelling and riveting story. I could not put it down. Paul is one tortured soul and his mesmerizing narration grips me from page 1. International intrigues, heart stopping plot, gut wrenching love, a heart tugging friendship, Maloney's Law has it all. Paul is such a complex character. Flawed and pitiful when it comes to his obsessive love for a man who could never reciprocate. Yet without a thought for his life when his search for the truth drives him on. His tragic loss since childhood, his plunge into despair, his sense of justice, his struggle to live on, all these powerfully expressed by the writer. Just brilliant and I look forward to reading the sequel, The Bones of Summer, and more from Anne Brooke. My only regret is that I should have read this earlier.”

Gosh, thank you, R Parkland - so glad you enjoyed the read!

I've also received my proof copy of Salt and Gold and have made one or two corrections and lowered the price to £3.50 for the paperback. So I've asked for another proof copy and will wait to see what that looks like before I go properly public. As it were.

For the rest of the day, I've been continuing the edit of The Hit List and am now happily on p50. Which is roughly one-eighth through. Yes, I do need to cut drastically, as it's quite long for a comedy romance (which is what I'm now intending to make it, rather than comedy crime). We'll see how things shape up as we go on, as they say.

I've also had my back realigned at my Alexander Technique lesson - and goodness me but it needed it after two flights and a tense work week. I think I was all but Toblerone shaped when I walked in, but rather more normal (ho ho) when the lesson had finished. I have to think about inhabiting my space more, apparently. Trouble is, I do find people difficult (they're stealing my space, they're stealing it!) so I tend to duck down and shy away from them, especially if I don't know them. Which of course leads inevitably to a hunched back and a very stiff neck. Sigh. What a lot there is to relearn indeed. On oh so many levels.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. The review of Maloney's Law
3. Tweaking Salt and Gold
4. Editing The Hit List
5. Alexander Technique.

Anne Brooke - conserving her sense of her own space to the best of her limited ability
Maloney's Law - a tortured soul made good ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Positivity overload and TV heaven

Here’s today’s poem:

Meditation 225

Two men
rehearse the past

while the darkness
surrounding God

rolls in
like the sea

and the secret heart
of fire burns

but does not kill.
Let their long words

cease, fall into

I forgot to say that we had great fun yesterday making up an alternative new strapline for the business – a fun fifteen minutes which came about as one of our colleagues from another office had to come in to see us as, what with the build-up to Freshers’ Week, she was suffering badly from an overload of positivity. Really, constantly saying everything is perfect is not good for the mental health, you know – and you can always rely on our office for a good grumble, and a rather more honest view. Anyway, the upshot is a new virtual strapline: No worse than anywhere else and better than some. Heck, it does it for me. And Lord H was also impressed and said he’d definitely apply for a course at an organisation with that level of honesty. Sadly, I don’t feel it will be acceptable to the powers that be, and so I might end up purloining the strapline for my own writing life: Anne Brooke: no worse than any other writer and better than some. You heard it here first.

Another fun moment from yesterday was the moment when a man suddenly appeared at the window. No strangeness there, you might think, but we are on the third floor, so we were for a short while highly impressed with the length of his legs (steady, people …). Until we realised he was actually hanging from a rope and cleaning the windows. Nobody told us he was due. Perhaps he was an intrepid burglar after all? The plot thickens.

Meanwhile, the CoolReader disasters continue. Lord H is doing sterling work attempting to persuade them to do the decent thing under the circumstances. Now, however, they are asking us to send the machine back so they can check that we haven’t damaged it ourselves before they consider reimbursement. Um, no. Frankly, I no longer trust them not to do something to the wretched ereader to make it look as if we have damaged it, just so they can get out of paying us the refund. And I’d like to state for the record now that I did not hurt the wretched beast in any way and neither did Lord H. We’re not hooligans. Or criminals. The first machine broke down and then the second machine broke down. It’s up to CoolReaders to deal with it in the way that we would like. And not to assume that we are in the wrong. To my mind, they need to take a long and serious look at their customer care skills. And I would certainly warn people not to buy anything from them. At all. Deep deep sigh … Mind you, I’ve finally managed to get hold of my Twitter CoolReader contact and she seems to be talking some sense at last, for which we are grateful. Here’s hoping it continues.

At work, I’m still attempting to tackle my outstanding piles of minutes, and also to deal with final Freshers’ Week crises. I must really pick up the University stands and great droves of tablecloths today – this is my one big task. I have also remembered to put my Here to Help t-shirt and badge in my bag so I can go straight to the venue on Saturday when I’m in without having to come to the office first. All these things save time. Thank goodness then for my second cappuccino of the week. Am I in danger of becoming an addict?

On the way back home, I popped into see Gladys, but she really wasn't up to much, poor thing. She even turned her nose up at chocolate (shock! horror!). Ah well. Tonight, I’m looking forward to relaxing in a veritable TV heaven – It Takes Two with the lovely Claudia (bliss) and then two hours of the glorious Midsomer Murders. I can’t wait.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. New straplines
3. Mysterious window cleaners
4. Cappuccino – again!
5. TV.

Anne Brooke – no worse than any other writer and better than some
A Dangerous Man – now there’s someone who wouldn’t take any nonsense from an ereader company

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An imperfect past and shopping galore

I’m pleased to say that my review of Julian Fellowes’ almost perfect novel, Past Imperfect, is now up at Vulpes Libris. Definitely a novel worth the reading, in my opinion.

Though, keeping to the topic of book matters, I’m sad and very frustrated to say that the CoolReader company are being extremely difficult – Lord H has three times asked for our money back and each time they’ve come back with a standard sales email pitching something else to us that we can download from the internet to mend our machine. Well, to be honest, that isn’t good enough and I’m very unhappy about it. I don’t much care what patches they’ve produced to cobble the darn thing together now – the fact remains that they sold me a duff machine in the first place, then replaced it with another duff machine – and now the implication is that all the machines they sold must have been duff as they’re promoting this marvellous new “cure” for all. Well, we don’t want it. We just want our money back and we’re going to continue to keep asking them until that is achieved. How difficult can that be for them, for goodness sake??? Take this as a warning, anyone who is thinking of purchasing a CoolReader ...

Today I’ve been attempting to tackle writing up the minutes from yesterday’s meeting, plus the ones that were left over from before the holiday. But, really, my interest is very small, especially with Freshers’ Week looming over us and casting its long dark shadow. As it were. Plus I also have to think about the new and thrilling things I appear to have to do as a result of my review, but the thought of all that is pitching me into existential despair. Groan. And double groan. Besides, how can you improve on perfection?...

And still the excitement mounts – I popped out to Tesco’s at lunchtime to get in some shopping and then popped back after work to get some more. Lordy, but my days are so meaningful. Mind you, Ruth has improved the afternoon hugely by getting in the Starbucks order and she even sprinkled a chocolate topping on my cappuccino - thank you so much, Ruth! Where would I be without you?

Not much on TV tonight – apart from the glorious Claudia on It Takes Two. But I am starting to rejig my very first novel, The Hit List, and make it more acceptable (I hope) for the American GLBT market. Plus it needs a barrel-load of improvements and a thorough professional edit. So far I’m on page 4 and actually quite enjoying wielding that red pen. It used to be page 46 … Um, joke. Sort of.

Today’s nice things:

1. The Vulpes Libris review
2. Cappuccino
3. TV
4. Rejigging The Hit List.

Anne Brooke – pondering her own imperfect past …
Vulpes Libris: considering the perfection of the journey

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to work …

Here’s today’s poem for you:

Meditation 224

A man with the face
of an angel

doesn’t really do it
for me.

a little darkness

seasons the mix
more perfectly.

Other writing news is that Cassie from the Joyfully Reviewed website gave The Bones of Summer a rather nice review and you can read it here. Thanks, Cassie – much appreciated.

Ah the pains of being back to work though. I have six zillion emails, several Freshers’ Week crises and an attitude problem. Same old same old then, eh. Ah well. I am attempting to rationalise the emails, keeping my head down and hoping for the end of the day to be soon, please God.

Had to get my smiley professional head on for the lunchtime Steering Group meeting though – it’s supposed to be our new style meetings so I don’t have to take many notes apparently, but we’ll see. I fear too much that I might miss something vital, as I’m never really sure what the vital things actually are.

Tonight, I’m at the University Book Group and we’re looking at Julian Fellowes’ glorious novel, Past Imperfect, so it should be fun. That is, if I haven’t run screaming to the hills by then. Coincidentally, I’m also reviewing it for Vulpes Libris tomorrow, so that’s almost perfect timing.

And thank goodness for the light relief of Would I Lie To You? on TV tonight. My week is utterly incomplete without David Mitchell.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. The Bones of Summer review
3. Books
4. TV.

Anne Brooke – sullenly to school …
The Bones of Summer – a very modern romance

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Of ex-agents and Strictly gold

Back to the meditations this morning, so here's today's:

Meditation 223

Twelve leaders,
seven accountants
but only two altars

for prayer
just about sums up
the church,

both then
and now.

Is it just me or is everything topsy-turvy in terms of standards? Ah well. Anyway, this morning I have finally brought to an end the relationship between my agent and me, and honestly it feels as if a great weight of literary expectation has been lifted from my shoulders. And I hadn't even realised it was there - though abandoning any form of agent representation has been going through my mind for months really. Ye gods though, it feels good to be free. After all, no mainstream press is ever going to give me the time of day, so why put myself through the agonising mill each time? Crazy really. So it's back to my usual small independent press outlets, plus self-publishing. It's like coming home.

With that in mind, I've uploaded my third poetry collection, Salt and Gold (Forty Meditations) onto Lulu UK and you can find out more here. I've requested a proof copy just to check it for sillies, so it's not quite ready yet, but I do so love the cover:

It will be available as a paperback and in ebook versions, so I'll let you know when that's happened. And talking of good things (hurrah - makes a change after yesterday's misery, eh), I must say that the Chris & Ola's rumba on Strictly Come Dancing yesterday absolutely took my breath away. It was romantic, strong and very very poignant, and Chris (who I've never heard of before, I must admit) was somehow a dead ringer for Colin Firth during the dance, so he is definitely now my favourite. I've watched the dance on YouTube several times already and here it is in case you've somehow missed it. Well worth a viewing for sure.

Other events of today - we managed church this morning, though slipped away before the agonies of the post-service coffee & chat could come upon us. Some great hymns too, and someone behind me was singing really well, so it meant I could keep in tune more easily. Always makes a difference.

I've also caught up with Ugly Betty on TV, though the episode was a tad on the gloomy side, really. Bring back the humour is what I say. Tonight, there's not much viewing pleasure on offer, so I might dig out a DVD and chill a little before the horrors of the week to come (double groaning alert). Ooh, and so far, my Sony Reader is at least a thousand times better than the CoolReader - it's much quicker and even allows me to read an eBook without breaking down, ho ho. I love it and I've named it Eric. The wretched CoolReader is thankfully forgotten.

And here's the week's haiku:

Tall, dark and silent.
Forgotten sunflower fields
wait their turn to die.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Abandoning the agent
3. Salt and Gold
4. Strictly rumbas
5. My Sony Reader
6. Haikus.

Anne Brooke - Strictly impressed
Salt and Gold - meditations for today

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Holidays and publishing news

Italy was kind of fun, I must say - the best thing was just getting away and not having to think about all the other stuff, to be honest. Such a treat. I wouldn't say it was our favourite ever holiday, probably not by a long chalk, but there were some great (and some not so great ...) highlights, including:

1. Assisi. It's fabulous - I really loved it, far more than I thought I would. I'd go back tomorrow if asked.
2. Spotting a Common Redstart - a lifetime first, hurrah!
3. Spotting hosts of glorious Swallowtail butterflies on a walk through an olive tree grove, double hurrah.
4. My digital camera refusing to function, so I had to borrow Lord H's if I saw something I liked.
5. And guess what? Yes, you're right, my replacement CoolReader broke on the 2nd day, in the same way as it did before. No, I won't be getting another. I'll replace it myself with a Sony Reader (of which more later). I do feel we should have at least some of Lord H's CoolReader money back though, but I suspect the company aren't going to make it easy for us, deep deep sigh ... Either way, the CoolReader has not in any way covered itself with glory.

Meanwhile at home, the following has occurred, some good and some bad:

1. Meditation Poem 13 is now published here.
2. Toes do furnish a man (another poem) is also published here.
3. My short story, Two Christmases, has been accepted for Dreamspinner Press's upcoming anthology, Mistletoe Madness.
4. Despite sending the final version of Hallsfoot's Battle to the agent before I went on holiday, there's been no acknowledgement. Of any sort. Is he dead or terribly terribly sick, we ask??...
5. The Gifting has now been rejected by every single publisher, both large and small, in the known universe and possibly some in the Delta Quadrant also (but I haven't had their emails yet). So I am planning to self-publish it either later this year or early 2010. Sod the lot of the ruddy publishing world, I say. I am really seriously fed up with them - except of course those lovely small publishers who have seen some kind of merit in what I have previously written, Gawd bless 'em.
6. I have therefore asked my agent to bring our business relationship to an end, as there's no point having a fantasy novel agent if I'm going to self-publish the whole trilogy on my own without bothering the crumbling ivory towers of the so-called mainstream (and not so mainstream) fantasy press - I don't want them to get their hands dirty with good literature, eh, do I, ho ho. As I've had no response to that message from the agent either, I've gone ahead and started the process of getting an independent editor/proofreader for The Gifting anyway. After all, what's the point of waiting for answers that never appear? Plus I've made initial enquiries with a suitable self-publishing company. So, watch this space for a rollicking good adventure read to come ...
7. Lord H has bought me a Sony Reader - which I hope will last longer than the rather more than feeble Coolreader - and I am busy charging it up right now. Again, watch this space.
8. We've spent a very pleasant day at Pulborough Brooks and spotted a wood sandpiper (another lifetime first!), two buzzards, a kestrel and a chiff-chaff, amongst the usual suspects. It's been a relief to get away from the pains of my stumbling literary career (ho ho).
9. I have thoroughly depressed myself by looking at my work emails, of which there are many, most of which are urgent and I will have to do the moment I return to work on Monday. Honestly, I swear that one of the main reasons for me trying to become a successful (pause for rampant laughter) novelist was the stalking fear of being swallowed up whole by meaningless administration, but I see it is likely to happen anyway. Really, work is sometimes so overwhelmingly depressing, and the business of writing is sometimes so shot through with inevitable failure that I just feel like bursting into tears and running away onto a desert island as far away as possible from both of them. With Lord H of course (well, he doesn't like work either). If only one were allowed to be successful in the career one actually wants to have, then life would be so much less dark, I feel. As it is, I am only relatively successful in a field that means almost nothing to me, so it's all something of a bugger really. Ah well. Only another ten years to go and I might be allowed to think about retirement, eh.
10. Sorry about the moaning, but going on holiday only makes things a thousand times worse when you come back. I think that, as I get older, it also gets harder to settle down into the daily round again. I'm dreading Monday already, double sigh.

Anne Brooke - she tried to be a novelist once, you know ...
The Gifting - the novel nobody wants: coming soon to an online provider near you (but don't wait up)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy (nearly) Anniversary, holidays and a raft of book news ...

Heck, where do I start? What a supremely busy day it's been today. First off I must say happy 16th wedding anniversary to us as of tomorrow, hurrah! Well gosh and it's astonishing that Lord H hasn't sent me back to the Wife Shop yet. We're celebrating today though as tomorrow we're off to Italy at some ungodly hour and there'll be no time for anything but packing and panicking. Bring on that champagne and make it snappy ...

And here's today's meditation:

Meditation 222

In the storm
of harsh words,
accusation and hate,

one clear voice
tells us what we know
in the blood:

that God is eternal
but the work of man
must die.

My, how jolly I am. No, really ... Meanwhile, what a lot of writing news there is today, most good but some bad, ah well. You'll be pleased to hear that I finally finished the edits for Hallsfoot's Battle and have sent the book off to the agent for his delectation. Or otherwise. It's such a relief to have done it, I must say. Just in time for the holiday too, hurrah.

Set against that is the bad news that my final (or almost final - see a few sentences on ...) potential publisher for The Gifting has just rejected it, so my faint commercial hopes for it are alas all but over. That said, I've had a surprising request for the first three chapters from a small independent fantasy press, so I've sent that off, as I'd be foolish not to, really. I should hear by October apparently, so at least the pain will be swift. And then I can, with a bit of luck and if the wind is in the right direction, get on with self-publishing it for early 2010.

And the writing news is not over yet. I'm pleased to say that my review of Ian Kelly's biography of Casanova is now up at Vulpes Libris and I can thoroughly recommend the book. It's stylish, sexy and beguiling - what more can you want?

Keeping on the subject of Vulpes Libris, I'm thrilled to report that the Vulpes review of The Bones of Summer has been syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times so now appears there also. Well, gosh, and well done to Moira and me! Vulpes rocks, naturally ...

Not only that, but I'm also happy to say that Maloney's Law has been given a 5 star review at Jessewave Reviews, and the same review also appears today at Jenre's Reviews. Thank you so much, Jenre!

In the middle of all this excitement, I'm completed my review of Sarah Stonich's The Ice Chorus, and that should be uploaded onto the Vulpes site on 9 October. It's a lyrical and rich read indeed, but not without its faults. Then again, who isn't?

I've also packed, chatted to the neighbour and played around with my website for a while. As you do. Oh and I've also downloaded a suitable number of eBooks onto my eReader for the hols - here's hoping it doesn't break down again, eh. As, for the next week, Lord H and I will be taking what I think is a hugely well-earned break, and we will be sunning ourselves here, whilst eating an enormous amount of ice-cream and admiring an enormous amount of history and art. I can't wait. I'll be back late on 18 September, so probably back online on 19th, I imagine.

Until then, I hope you all have a glorious week, and please don't work too hard. I don't intend to.

Today's nice things:

1. 16 years of marriage, hurrah!
2. Poetry
3. Completing the Hallsfoot edit
4. Casanova on Vulpes
5. The syndication of the Vulpes Bones review
6. The Maloney review
7. Books
8. Ebooks
9. Holidays!

Anne Brooke - getting ready for sunshine and happiness
Vulpes Libris: enjoying some 18th century sex and style with Mr Newhouse (ho ho)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Various reviews and a pre-holiday scramble

Am thrilled to say that I had two good reviews yesterday evening. First off was a four-star review of Painting from Life on the Goodreads site from Daisiemae – thank you, Daisiemae! And I also had a lovely five star review of A Dangerous Man on Amazon UK from Ms D Ilott which you can read below:

“Anne Brooke's novel of the collision of art and money, ambition and power, grabs you from the start and doesn't let go. What's especially impressive is the way that Brooke's style sets up narrative information - about the business of art, the grinding frustration of hustling cash for ambitions always just out of reach - without letting go the pace or losing purpose. There's always something going on and Brooke is highly skilled at pushing the story forward, even when pausing on her characters' thoughts and motives. The artist Michael draws in monochrome, surely a deliberate parallel with the business of writing, struggling to control the colours beyond the edge of the paper. The metaphor works, as do the London settings; Brooke has the feel for how so much of London seems frosted with dust whatever the weather. But the characters are far from colourless. Believable, fallible people chasing their own ambitions; even the bully Paul has his reasons. Michael's relationship with rich-boy Jack is neatly drawn, recognisable to anyone who knows that people who sleep together do not necessarily get along. And the plot twist is surprising, even on second reading. A shady, chilly story - so much of it seems to take place in half-light - that manages to say something about art (about writing too) without being pretentious and gives an ingenious riff on the dour old truth that the worst that can happen is to get what you want.”

Thanks, Ms Ilott – much appreciated! And here’s today’s poem:

Meditation 221

They wait
in sunlight
and the street’s low murmur

for the shadow
of the man
who once touched goodness

to pass by.
And everywhere
rumours of healing,

echoes of song.

At work, I’m running around attempting to sort out those Sunday early arrivals flyer – ah, the mysteries of reducing maps and getting everything to line up. At least the boss appeared to know what to do which was a relief, hurrah. And thanks only to him, we’ve finally got it all under control. Phew. Astonishing really that in an office with at least three professionally trained secretaries (including me, ho ho), the only person who could work the photocopier properly was the boss. Ah well, thank goodness my review is over for this year …

Managed to nip into town at lunchtime to put a cheque in (well, gosh) and get some last-minute holiday gubbins (suncream and … err … suncream, really). Much to my horror, the sales lady in Boots who took my cash had an absolutely streaming cold, poor thing – I only hope I don’t get it, dammit … Time for some Echinacea, big-time, I feel. This afternoon, I was knee-deep in minuting the thrills and spills of the Student Experience Strategy Project Board. No, I don’t really know what that means either, but I don’t think anyone’s quite found me out yet … Actually, it was a really good meeting, but there’s no chance of getting the minutes written up before I’m off though, so I hope I remember what on earth it was all about by the time I get back.

Tonight, I have the final twenty pages of Hallsfoot’s Battle to edit, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel at last. And the lovely people at Dark Diva Reviews are having a month-long October competition and are including me in it. More to be revealed in October …

Today’s nice things:

1. Review of Painting from Life
2. Review of A Dangerous Man
3. Poetry
4. Editing Hallsfoot
5. The Dark Diva Reviews competition.

Anne Brooke – surrounded by paperwork but dreaming of Italy …
A Dangerous Man – art and love in all its forms

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bones reviews and writers group

Am really delighted to say that Moira has given The Bones of Summer a very kind review at Vulpes Libris which you can read here. Thanks, Moira – much appreciated!

And here’s today’s meditation:

Meditation 220

For the lack
of a few coins

they hold back
from the kitty,

Ananias and Sapphira
lie dead

amongst the new disciples.
It’s not my idea

of a caring church
at all.

It’s a strange part of the bible for sure. And doesn’t exactly encourage church giving, ho ho.

At work, I’m busy with those dang meeting arrangements and attempting to tidy things up before my holiday. I’m also trying to write up the minutes of yesterday’s meeting, but I fear confusion reigns. Again. Plus we’ve had to arrange an urgent Welcome event for this coming Sunday (arrghh!!) that we didn’t know about until today, so I’ve been scrabbling around frantically for rooms and catering, and trying to work out a last-minute publicity flyer. Honestly, I’ve barely had time to breathe …

Took the Writers’ Group at lunchtime, which was fun. If scary, as ever. I’m not a natural group leader, by a long long chalk. But I gave them a writing game about historical events and how they might have been. I think they enjoyed it.

Tonight, I’m tackling the last 80 pages of the edit to Hallsfoot’s Battle, and looking forward to the glorious darkness of The Fixer on TV. Perfect Tuesday viewing.

Today’s nice things:

1. The Bones of Summer Vulpes review
2. Poetry
3. Writers’ Group
4. Editing Hallsfoot
5. TV.

Anne Brooke – scary but nice. Honestly …
The Bones of Summer: casting a knowing eye over the human condition (thanks, Moira!)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Meetings, reflexology and goodbye Sir Terry ...

A ridiculously busy day today, but here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 219

For me
a city

is never
a place of refuge

but a place
of shifting shadows

and alienation.

Could work be the new city? It’s certainly a thought … a place full of alienation and shifting shadows indeed. I’m not sure I feel entirely human here. Anyway today, I’ve juggled at least a zillion meeting demands, stared blankly at hundreds of pieces of paper and wondered if I can fit a Starbucks moment into the week at all. Plus this morning we had the last of our Welcome Week planning sessions, and if it’s not done now, then I fear it may never be.

Thank goodness then for lunchtime reflexology – I desperately needed to chill. I’m also attempting to come to terms with the great and deep shock of Terry Wogan leaving the Radio Two Breakfast slot, after about 150 years at least. He always makes me feel so much more real as I drive to work, and I hate the thought that he won’t be there for long. Besides, I really can’t stand any of the Chris Evans’ shows and the thought of him replacing the great Sir Terry is making me lose the will to live entirely, sigh. I’ll have to go back to listening to Classic FM & Radio 3, depending on which tune I prefer.

This afternoon, I’ve done some more meeting flurrying around and a heck of a lot of worrying. Much like a normal day then, but so much more so. Tonight, I’ll pop in to see Gladys on my way home. And then it’s straight into the Hallsfoot’s Battle edit. One third to go …

Ooh, and there’s Mock the Week and Would I Lie To You? on TV so I’ll just have to catch those. Comedy TV makes it all worthwhile, you know.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Reflexology
3. Editing Hallsfoot
4. TV.

Anne Brooke – mourning the imminent loss of breakfast sanity
A Dangerous Man – who has more to worry about than radio stars

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Church, chocolate and battle

Here's today's meditation poem:

Meditation 218

After a too-long allocation
of city to tribe,

people to place,
meeting every Israelite need

but his own,
Joshua finally takes

a city for himself
in the Ephraim hills:

calm stones, bleak grasses,
olive trees and silence.

I do always feel quite sorry for Joshua - the poor chap seems to have to deal with rather more admin than Moses ever did. He must have been hugely glad to come to the end of the paperwork at last. Talking of which, we popped into church today and sang some jolly traditional hymns. Always a good thing. Though communion proved tricky - the girlie vicar obviously decided that we all needed additional spiritual help this week (a decision for which I for one cannot blame her) and gave us extra large portions of biscuit (um, wafer, if you want the real word). Which meant that we couldn't manage to get it down before heading towards the holy booze (um the wine ...) so I for one had to store the wafer in my cheeks like a chipmunk whilst taking the wine, all the time trying not to giggle. Or choke. Lordy, Death by Communion - now that would be embarrassing. Thankfully we all survived. And I see that the September edition of the parish magazine has a short article about Disasters and Miracles in it, hurrah, so am hoping that might encourage some sales. You never know, eh.

We were then straight out for a buffet lunch with Liz & friends at her home to celebrate her retirement, and there was an utterly pleasing amount of chocolate during this gorgeous feast. Really, she knows me too well, I suspect ... We are of course all green with envy at the concept of retirement at all: a distant vision of the pleasure of stopping that one can only faintly imagine. Coincidentally, the boy vicar is also planning to retire in a couple of years, and apparently hopes to be useful on Sundays and dig his garden. Harrumph, I say. My advice was to ditch such dull religious nonsense, take up blues guitar and travel the world whilst grape-picking. That's what I would do if I were a vicar planning for retirement anyway - surely the priesthood are more in need of a break from their previous life than any of us? I think he was surprised, and strangely pleased, at my response, so only time will tell ...

For the rest of the day, I've been tackling the final read-through of Hallsfoot's Battle before sending it off to the agent for comment. The plan is to complete it before we go off on holiday this Friday, and I'm now nearly two-thirds through, so there's hope, Carruthers, hope.

And here's this week's haiku (I worry I'm obsessing too much about work and what it does to the soul, alas):

In the review form
there's no box for my mind-state:
fragmented and sad.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. The challenges of church
3. Disasters and Miracles in the parish mag
4. Lunch - and chocolate
5. The Hallsfoot read-through
6. Haikus.

Anne Brooke - still chewing that dang wafer ...
Disasters and Miracles: the everyday life of Bible folk

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Disasters and Miracles

A very up and down kind of day today - again! Though really, it's been that kind of week. Here's today's poem anyway:

Meditation 217

Throughout Peter’s long
and I have to say

dull explanation
of his first miracle

it’s striking to note
that what astonishes

the listeners
most of all

is the fact
that the healed man

is over forty.
Obviously no hope

of any cure
for me then.

And I'm very pleased to say that the lovely Jilly has given her thoughts on Disasters and Miracles not once but twice - thank you hugely, Jilly! You can find her initial opinion here and also in more detail at Amazon UK.

Set against that good news however is the rejection of The Gifting by one of my remaining two small publishers who still have it (I'm not counting the big guys who are simply too rude to respond - sorry, but it's true ...). So, as I like to think of it now, it's one rejection, equals one more publisher to hear from, equals one step nearer self-publishing. I'm beginning to think now as to which company I might like to self-publish with. At the moment, the two current favourites are Iuniverse and Yorkshire Publishing Group. But I'll see how I feel about it when I get to that point.

Anyway, today, Lord H and I have had a very pleasant time wandering around Pagham Harbour where we managed to spot some beautiful grey plovers in summer plumage. Totally stunning. And new for this year, hurrah. I'm so glad we saw them, especially as we got totally lost actually trying to find Pagham Harbour. We've been slightly lost before when visiting it but, as Lord H said, we're obviously getting better at the lost part of the equation. It just seems to vanish as you drive south of Chichester - do they move it perhaps in between visits? Really, it's the only explanation ...

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Jilly's reviews of Disasters and Miracles
3. Birds.

Anne Brooke - making plans to return to her self-publishing roots
Disasters and Miracles - the perfect anthology for all the family

Friday, September 04, 2009

Poetry and packages

I'm very pleased today (well, at last, we cry! - and what a week it's been ...) that two of my meditation poems are now published at Grey Sparrow Press, so that's been a nice boost. Talking of which, here's today's poem:

Meditation 216

The landscape
of contemplation

grows bleak
with the onslaught

of words.
They crowd the air

like lost birds
crying for home

and do not find
a resting place

with you.

Also today, I've managed to complete the more structural edit of Hallsfoot's Battle so that's very satisfying. Though it's meant that my word count is now below the "standard" fantasy novel expectations of 120,000 words at least. I'm at 117,500, if you're interested. Still, as the mainstream press are even now preparing to ignore the beast, why worry, eh? There are compensations for being unpopular, ho ho. So I'll give it a close read-through now before sending it off to the agent for his opinion. I doubt he'll be rushing to read it either as he still won't be able to sell it, poor chap. Ah well.

Anyway, bah to the standard press gods, bah we say. Because we are more than delighted with the kindnesses of the independents: the lovely Dreamspinner Press have totally unexpectedly sent me a huge parcel of The Bones of Summer goodies, which has really put a big smile on my face - so thank you, Elizabeth! So I now have a Bones of Summer t-shirt, countless Bones postcards and bookmarks, plus Dreamspinner pens and bookmarks. It's like Christmas here in the shires, you know. I intend to wear my t-shirt every day and put a big BUY THIS BOOK notice on my head, whilst parading round town until somebody takes pity on me. Or puts the shirt in the wash. I also need to sign some of the postcards and bookmarks (rather than just slobbering over them and crying with delight ...) and return them to Dreamspinner for use in book fairs etc. Sounds like a marketing plan for sure. I am already practising my very best signature.

I've also played golf with Marian this morning - which turned out to be a game of three thirds. As it were. I was okay to begin with, total rubbish in the middle, and then redeemed myself with two neat little pars (one from off the green even) at the end, hurrah. In fact, our state of play in the middle of the game was so distinctly odd that when we teed off from the fourth, we both ended up on the fairway of the third, so simply played the previous hole backwards, as it were. Well, there was nobody playing behind us, so it seemed reasonable. But probably not quite in the golf rules, I suspect.

This afternoon, I've straightened out my extremely stressed back (too much typing, not enough walking) and got in touch with my inner reality (scary ...) at my Alexander Technique lesson, so that's been very relaxing. I do prefer the table work - as standing properly is just so exhausting, my dears ...

And tonight we have a mammoth clean of the flat to face - which I really should be getting on with or Lord H will think I've given up tidying for Lent, or whatever season we're actually in now. Roll on that pizza & ice cream moment though.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry publication
2. The continuing Hallsfoot edit
3. Bones of Summer goodies
4. Golf
5. Alexander Technique
6. Food, mmm ...

Anne Brooke - the new Tiger Woods, but backwards
The Bones of Summer - comes with its own t-shirt, you know ...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Battling through to a kind of finish ...

A rather singleminded focus day today, but here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 215

He offers
not money

but healing.
Miraculous afternoon.

Though sometimes I wonder
what a lifelong

lame beggar
might do

in the years
that followed after.

For most of today, I'm simply been striding determinedly through the edit of Hallsfoot's Battle, attempting to change scene viewpoints and make the final battle scenes less fragmented. Though I have to say that the nature of battle is in itself pretty fragmented, I would imagine. I've typed and groaned, and muttered and typed, and muttered some more. In between pacing the flat like a mad goat and wondering where the hell the chocolate is. So no great changes there from a normal writing day then. I'm pleased to say however that I've completed the first tranche of the editing process, and I shall attempt to start the nitty-gritty part of shifting things around in a more detailed way tomorrow. Onward and downward, eh.

I must admit though that I've had great waves of existential despair and wondering why the hell I'm bothering - after all, nobody's leapt back to me with amazement in the fifteen months it's been doing the rounds to say they desperately want to publish The Gifting, so who on earth is going to want the second in a trilogy? In fact, publishers haven't even bothered to reject it, not even to the agent. They've just ignored it entirely. Really, I begin to wonder if I'm actually invisible. So, I have two very small publishers that I've submitted The Gifting to directly, and if I hear nothing by the end of the year, then I'll self-publish. If that happens, then I don't think I'll actually submit Hallsfoot's Battle to anyone. It's really not worth the pain and terrible silence, to my mind. One must consider one's mental health, when all's ... err ... written and done.

In the middle of all this, I've also got rid of two dead wasps and one live one (where the hell do they come from, the evil beasts??...) so huge applause for me and my extraordinary courage. Not sure I have the guts to deal with another one if it turns up though. If it does, I will have to hide sobbing in a cupboard and wait for Lord H to come home. I also suspect that as the two dead wasps were young ones and the living one was very dopey that there's a nest somewhere about coming to its natural end. Thank the Lord.

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to the theatre to see Strictly Murder - which, whilst probably not being strong on laughs, does at least look as if it might take my mind off my writing disappointments, hurrah.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Editing
3. Dead wasps
4. Theatre.

Anne Brooke - last woman standing, possibly
Painting from Life - art and death: what could be nicer?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Church, cappuccinos and coatstands

Am feeling the pressure of apparent perfection in today’s Bible reading so here’s my take on it:

Meditation 214

Those early Christians
with all their

fellowship, sharing,
hospitality, gladness,

humility, praise
and that whole community life

sound really
rather dull

but then
I’ve always found

the concept of church
faintly suspicious

and really
rather false.

Teams – I’m just no good in them. Never see the point, myself … An obvious psycho-social lack in me, I’m sure. Ah well, tell me something I don’t know, eh. Anyway, I’ve also written a poem about marmalade biscuits. Well, they deserve some kind of accolade and it may as well be me.

Today, I’ve been rootling away with my long-running meetings crises and attempting to lie low, whilst worrying about Freshers’ Week. So much the same as a normal day, all in all. Still, our team cappuccino break late morning was much appreciated. It’s great to get out of the office and chill a bit once in a while. Especially before the rollercoaster ride of Freshers’ Week comes upon us.

In the meantime, the mysteries of office post collection continue. As we’re now in Senate House, the post department don’t deliver to us directly but leave and collect the post via the use of lockers on the first floor. Which means that at the specified posting times, crowds of staff are walking up and down stairs clutching the enormous brown post bags and looking ever so slightly anxious. The unwritten law seems to be that if you miss the time slots, then the post people remove your bags entirely and homeless pieces of post float round the building for ever and a day trying to find rest – so yesterday when it was my turn, pressure of work meant I never seemed to get quite the right time for it and we were left with no bags at all. So today we’ve had to pile up our outgoing post on top of the coatstand where the bag normally hangs. Honestly you wouldn’t put this sort of stuff in a Monty Python episode, you know, but it does all look rather pretty … Though I fear that everyone else in the office gets much more hung up about the post disasters than I do as I can’t get that excited about paperwork (unless it’s a novel contract, ho ho), but luckily Carol has saved the day and somehow found a spare bag when she took her turn. Which at least means the coatstand is back to its usual function, hurrah. I suspect I will – like double-entry bookkeeping – never really “get it”, sigh … It’s also been suggested that if the post department don’t want to climb up and down the Senate House stairs to deliver directly, then they should use the lift and just chuck the bags out at each floor – but I suspect that might well cause passing visitors some concern and will have the Health & Safety Department up in arms. It’s a nice image though.

Also managed to take a walk around campus at lunchtime, and I even remembered to take my trusty (so far …) e-reader with me. How I love that little mauve rectangle. Well, not so little really, but with my eyes I can’t be doing with too small. I also popped into the art gallery which had some wonderful pictures of strong solitary women. Very impressive.

On the way home, I popped in to see Gladys. They’ve changed her bed & seat positions lately so she can see more easily out of the window. Which is a good thing. Though, to be honest, I don’t know now if she sees any of the birds at the bird table at all. Still, I keep filling it up. Lordy but they’re greedy little things. Or maybe it’s the squirrels? Who can tell … Anyway, she couldn't be doing with me today, so I didn't stay long. Mind you, I can't really blame her - I am at odds with the world.

Tonight, I’m carrying on with my edit to Hallsfoot’s Battle, and I think I’m getting into the final stretch, hurrah. Or rather the beginning of the final stretch. The battle is at last in sight anyway. About time too, we cry.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Cappuccino
3. Lunchtime walks
4. Art
5. Editing.

Anne Brooke – wishing she were as frothy and bright as that cappuccino …
Disasters and Miracles: Bible life revisited

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Unwillingly once more to school …

Such a struggle to get into work today. It’s always the same after the delicious taste of freedom in the bank holidays, groan. Anyway, here’s today’s poem:

Meditation 213

After the fire
he speaks
for a long time,

so long
that the flame
rising inside

is beaten away
to almost

and you are left only
with the taste
of old prayers

and memory.

Meanwhile, amidst the gloom, I am catching up on emails and attempting to make sense of what I did last week. Hmm, don’t wait up then is my advice. Am also desperately trying to sort out an urgent meeting happening next week, but the people I need to contact just won’t bite. Sigh … Plus I also have 101 (at least) other meetings to arrange, with yet more people who don’t appear to want to attend them much. Really, it’s rather grim.

Managed to slip out to do a spot of shopping at lunchtime, and then went back to Tesco for yet more shopping this evening. Dear me but my life is just one existential thrill after another. Thank goodness that The Fixer is back on TV tonight – I did always enjoy that one.

I’ve read the latest edition of poetry & short story magazine, Tears in the Fence, and wasn’t greatly impressed, I have to say. Though I did like Peter Riley's Snow in a Silver Bowl (haiku-like verses about nature and journeys), Lori Jakiela's short story about a very off-beat wedding, Kegger, plus John Torrance's tour-de-force poem about Rothko, and Jeremy Reed's Book Thieves. But there wasn't much competition. I think I might not renew my subscription next time it comes up. I fear it’s not as good as it once was.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. TV
3. Being at home – eventually.

Anne Brooke – longing for home
Thorn in the Flesh – when home isn’t quite what you want it to be …