TODAY I Googled my way in to a whole new world. And it was more disturbing than the eye-popping stuff my dog-loving friend Eryl happened upon when she Googled ‘pregnant bitches’. In the new novel (50,000 words in, thank you for asking) one of the characters befriends a pig. The pig falls ill. The reader must believe in this pig’s illness, worry about it and root for said pig’s recovery, or I am not doing my job properly. So I Google ‘pig illness’. Oh, the pictures. I may never sleep again. Pigs, it seems, don’t catch polite little colds, or develop tickly coughs. No. Pigs’ vulvas ooze. Their rectums twist. Their snouts, for the love of God, atrophy. The world is divided in to people who have seen pictures of pigs with their snouts dropping off and people who haven’t. I am now one of the former and I mourn my lost innocence.
WHAT ELSE? Oh yeah, there have been mystery flowers delivered! Ooh, the excitement. A pretty bouquet of purplish, yellowish flowers was left on the porch. There was no addressee, no note. They could, I suppose, be for my husband but come on, they’re not. So they’re for me! Unless there is a five year old at my daughter’s school with too much pocket money and a precocious interest in the opposite sex. Who could they be from? It’s not my birthday, it’s not an anniversary, I haven’t done anybody a super-good turn in the last few days. So it must be love. Mad, passionate, reckless, leaving-flowers-on-the-porch-without-a-bleedin’-note love.
FOOD Two nice people, soon to be married, came to our house on Sunday. I gave them roast lamb, with garlic and rosemary smeared all over it, some roasted potatoes (done in the Italian style, cubed and tossed in herbs), a greek salad and some hummus. Sounds odd I know, but works like a dream. The afters were chocolate pots, and given that they involved only two ingredients, both of them delicious (chocolate and crème fraiche) they were rather disappointing. Like going on a blind date with Brad Pitt and having him talk about brass rubbing all night.
BOOKS Reading ‘The Other Half Dies’ by Sophie Hannah. She is the new Ruth Rendell and if you knew how I worship at that lady’s altar you’d know how much that compliment means from me. Twisted, misanthropic, deceitful, complex – sounds like most of my ex-boyfriends, but Sophie’s books are unputdownable. I’m going slowly with this one, partly to stretch it out, and partly so that her style doesn’t affect me too much. Halfway through writing my current novel, it would be disastrous if the tone suddenly turned menacing and spikey, as opposed to warm and funny.
I’m also losing myself in Oscar’s Books by Thomas Wright. I’ve always loved Oscar Wilde. His Irishness, his flamboyance, his insistence on his own peachily lit version of reality in the face of the grim truth, and that wrecked slab of a face. The plays bore me, but the story of his life has such sadness and brilliance: the man’s irresistible. If you’ve never read his fairy tales please treat yourself. They have a wistfulness that stays with you. Anyway, back to the current book. Thomas Wright has tracked down Oscar’s personal library, the one which was auctioned off like so many rotten cauliflowers on the pavement outside his house after he was put in jail for kissing boys. He discusses the books,and their importance to Oscar’s self-creation with erudite joy. I’m loving this book, although I’m not always up to it, as I read last thing in bed and sometimes it’s all I can do to follow ‘heat’.
TELLY Still recovering from Robert Webb on the Comic Relief dancing competition a couple of weeks back. This week’s wasn’t so thrilling. Angela Rippon scared the tripe out of me, and if I want to see cast members of The Bill riverdancing I’ll ask, thanks very much.
Snog, Marry, Avoid continues to delight and dismay in equal measure. Girls addicted to make up and skimpy clothing receive a makeunder, whereby they are parted from their make up and cajoled in to nice dresses and emerge looking a bit bleh, to be honest. The best bit is the filmed excerpts of the victims getting ready for a night out, the air thick with hairspray, as they clamber up on to stripper shoes and discard peekaboo bra’s for being too matronly. A lot of pink. And a lot of Bacardi Breezers.
I’ve given up with The Wire. Season (as they say in the States) one was riveting, but the second batch is uninvolving. The show’s habit of parachuting you straight in to the story with scant explanation, and of letting the characters rattle like machine guns with their impenetrable ghetto accents was awesome. But now, like a bored Marie Antoinette, I am tossing John McNulty and his colleagues away.
I wish I’d never seen Peep Show before, then I could lock myself in a room and catch up with all four (is it five?) series. But I have seen it. So tough.
DOG Mavis, our Cavalier King Charles spaniel is on a diet! She’s only six months old. The vet wants to be able to feel her ribs (Mavis’, not the vets’) and can’t. Mavis looks fine to us, but then we gaze at her with the besotted eyes of enslaved lovers. I mean, look at her.
Does she look fat to you? It’s Jessica Simpson all over again. I’m doing what I’m told though, and cutting out her lunch. Poor old Mavis.
FIBS I have lied this week. To other Mothers at my school. It wasn’t an actual lie, it was the sin of omission (which, according to the nuns who taught me is just as bad). I didn’t tell them that the professional looking poster I knocked up for the upcoming Ceilidh night was created by Matthew. Ah, sure, what’s the matter? (And you can shut up, the ghost of Sister Columbanus.)
WORK I do love research. It’s not as hard as writing a book, and it can involve speaking to interesting folk. For the book I’m immersed in at the mo’ I’ve been canvassing women whose opinions I trust for their views on men. What infuriates them about their partners?
I unleashed something. Taciturn types who normally email me with messages like Monday good for lunch. Where? sent me reams of information. And it wasn’t looking good for the men.
Apparently men expect an arch of swords if they manage to make cheese on toast without injury. They always turn on the centre light in a room, even if the lady of the house has spent ten minutes neurotically setting the ambient light with the care of a safecracker. They throw wet towels on the bed. They put things back in the wrong cupboards. They leave dirty mugs on the worktop directly above the dishwasher without ever having the imagination to open said dishwasher and place said mug in it. They have feet which are not pleasant to look upon. And they talk all through Sex and the City.
Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t hit ‘em in the head with a shovel.