Saturday, March 31, 2007

An afternoon with Antony Sher

Last night was great - the Royal Academy's (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk) "Citizens and Kings" exhibition was wonderful. I felt really calm wandering round. The star picture for me was "The Death of Marat", which took my breath away. I stared at it for ages. It's the one they're using to advertise on the website and which I attempted to be witty about yesterday. Hell, it's had its own back. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I've bought the catalogue so I can keep staring. I think it's something to do with Marat's arms and the whole bath thing and the true story behind it. Like a secular Pieta indeed. And there was also a good scattering of female artists of the time, which to our shame you don't often see. I was particularly taken by Vigee-Lebrun whose paintings hit you in the eyes with sheer luminosity. In front of her picture of Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, I thought: yes, you liked him, didn't you? You got on with him and the two of you probably had a laugh together while you were painting it. The affection shines through the canvas. Great stuff indeed. Slight amusement at the end of the exhibition when I picked up our stuff from the cloakroom; I strode right up to the counter, completely and utterly not seeing the small queue to the left and started collecting my stuff. When I gazed round, I suddenly saw one of the men in the queue, coloured up and started apologising but, quick as a flash, he came back with: "don't worry about it - it's good to know who the kings are and who the citizens are", and then we all got the giggles. Love it! And lovely to see Jane W too - I can really talk to her. Also the curry was grand.

However, I feel shattered today. I really have to attempt to get an early night sometime or I can see it's all going to go to pot. As they say. Had strange dreams in the night too - about being back at University again (as a student) and having no idea what I was supposed to do or how to get to speak to my tutors - typical stress stuff. And in the middle of it all, a woman was walking by holidng a baby tiger. God only knows what that was about. No wonder I could hardly get myself out of bed this morning.

Went to Guildford for my regular Clarins facial today, and stocked up on some stuff, which I really shouldn't do as I'm trying to save money this month. Lord H picked me up and we made a quick detour so he could give his theology essay in at last. Hurrah! Just hope he's got the right house to deliver it to. Then back to the house to get some cleaning done, and then to the Cathedral for lunch. Rather busy today, as some of the refectory was being used for a graduation lunch. Consequently we made room on our table for two lads who had nowhere else to go - and got absolutely no acknowledgement, smiles or conversation from them at all. What is it with some people? If someone makes room for me under any circumstances, I feel the least I can do is say thank you. Rude buggers! Probably one of our Science student lot - they have no finesse.

Then into Guildford again - where I bought more books in Waterstone's, when I really shouldn't have but what the hell - and onto the Yvonne Arnaud theatre to see Antony Sher in "Kean". I love Sher - I think he's one of the best actors of our generation and I try to catch his stuff whenever I can. "Kean" was incredibly good and made my toes shiver while I watched it. My knees too. It's sooooo good to see a real play well done. Honestly, it's one of the best things in life. I was tempted to hang round the stage door afterwards to get his autograph, but was overcome with an attack of shyness, so slunk (slinked?) away instead. Am really regretting that now. Damn it!!

Back home, we've finished off the cleaning (almost) and then glued ourselves to the sofa to watch the first episode of the latest series of "Dr Who". Loved it - it was great. I think the new woman assistant is going to be seriously hot. I loved her.

Tonight, I might do some more scribbling to "The Gifting", or maybe type the stuff up that I did on the train to London yesterday - we'll see. Oh, and I've just finished Erastes' (http://www.myspace.com/erastesdotcom) homoerotic historical novel, "Standish", which I really enjoyed. Two great main characters and a gallop-along plot (does that make sense? Hell, you know what I mean). The sex scenes were good too - especially in the way they showed character. Love it when that happens. Also I particularly liked the secondary character of Fleury, and hope he might have his own book one day - he could definitely carry it! At the same time I've also finished Spencer Johnson's "One Minute for Yourself", which was okay-ish, but not as meaningful for me as his "Who Moved My Cheese?" which I thought was really good. Ah well, can't win 'em all.

Today's nice things:

1. Reading "Standish"
2. Antony Sher in "Kean"
3. The "Citizens and Kings" exhibition (which was yesterday, but never mind).

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, March 30, 2007

Soggy golf and drunken art

Had a real thrill this morning when Paul Burston (http://www.myspace.com/paulburston) who edits the Gay Section in Time Out emailed me to say how much he'd enjoyed A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com), as below:

"I finished off A Dangerous Man and I have to say I loved it. Michael is a wonderful character. An artist and part time prostitute - where on earth did you find the inspiration for him? And the story had me gripped. Everyone go out and buy this book! And please let me know in advance when the next one is coming out so I can find you review space in Time Out."

I particularly enjoyed the "Everyone go out and buy this book!" comment - that would make Flame love me, for sure! Many thanks indeed, Paul. Much appreciated. And I'm looking forward to your "Lovers and Losers" being published next week too!

This morning, Marian and I played golf in spite of a steadily increasing rainfall and, actually, we did very well - for us. We even did a few really good shots when a family playing waved us through (an action normally guaranteed to make us lose any poor skills we might have thought we had ...) and looked like real golfers for a while. Result! I ended up utterly soaked through however, so hope I don't catch something nasty.

I also gave up any ideas of going into Godalming to get shopping done and have also failed to do any writing or housework. So not the most productive day on record, I have to say. Sigh. No doubt I shall wallow in guilt later on in suitable Sad Person fashion. However, I have been thinking of writing - and it struck me yesterday that perhaps the reason why I seem to have changed my writing habits with "The Gifting" (in that I am now scribbling first and typing up on the computer later, rather than doing it straight onto the computer as usual) is that of course part of Simon's job description is his role as scribe. He writes everything down - on parchment. Far-fetched perhaps, but it's made me feel that much closer to him, which can only be a good thing.

Tonight, I'm up in London with Jane W to see the "Citizens and Kings" exhibition at the Royal Academy (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk). I must say the picture advertising the exhibition looks much like myself after a hard day's scribbling but I suspect I'd probably wrap something green around my head in preference. Afterwards we will, I hope, soothe our artistic brows with a nice curry, so everything will seem fine. And I can drink to my heart's content as the noble Lord H is picking me up from the station. As long as I get off at the right station. You do, I think, always need to drink wine when looking at art - which reminds me of a friend of mine who once said she loved "King Lear" and indeed the rest of Shakespeare, but could never really get through a whole one without a choc ice in the middle. I could only agree ...

Oh, and I was jesting (not itself a word you hear often nowadays - am I in a time loop?) with Lord H yesterday, wondering why the Iranians won't give us our sailors back as, after all, God knows we have so few and they can't be needing them - to which Lord H's answer was the Iranians will have to wait their turn for being invaded, as that seems to be what we do these days, and they'll just have to be patient. Hmm. Let's hope that doesn't turn out to be prophetic, and let's hope the poor buggers are allowed home soon. Perhaps we can do a swop. Anyone for Blair?...

Today's nice things:

1. Paul's lovely comments about "A Dangerous Man"
2. Thinking about writing
3. Art.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Counselling and reviews

This morning's counselling session felt very thoughtful. Or rather I was doing a lot of thinking about how things had been in the past, and how they are now. Kunu seemed keen to get me onto the subject of religion and church, which I suppose had to happen sometime or other. I hadn't been sure how I'd feel about that but, in the event, it was okay. We talked about how and why I'd originally become a Christian, how it had been then and how it was now. Short answer: very bloody different. But then having been wrung out and mangled by the evangelical church, and spewed out, shattered but generally intact, at the other end, I suppose I should have anticipated that. Hey ho.

It was interesting though how Kunu picked up on my problems with organised communities in general. And she also asked questions about why it is I try (or have tried in the past) so hard to conform. Maybe I'm not sure whether the church per se has ever really "fitted" - it's simply that I thought that was the only way to express my faith. And of course it's (at least on my mother's side) the family tradition I've been brought up in. At heart, I don't think I've ever been a team player. Ye gods, even the phrase "family service" is enough to bring me out in a rash, "family" being one of my key stress words. Much like "religion" itself, or even "community". We did have an interesting chat about the parable of the lost sheep though - and I thought for the first time that maybe the ruddy thing didn't want to be found and brought back to the ruddy flock. Maybe it was actually in possession of a perfectly good map and a compass and had been trying to find its true home. Maybe it didn't want to be returned to its fellow sheep, but was perfectly happy on its own. Bugger, eh.

Which, if I could only connect in true EM Forster fashion, would lead me to think that if the church did suddenly turn up at the doorstep demanding to know what's wrong with me and begging me to return, I would probably flee to the Surrey Hills and beg them to leave me alone to make my own decision. Which of course rather puts the dampener on last week's blog accusing them all of cruelty and desertion. Double bugger. And of course it all goes to show how little I know my own mind and how easily I can swing from one strongly-held opinion to another in a matter of minutes without so much as a flare or a phone call. As Kunu said, we will need at some stage to explore the reasons behind my apparently desperate desire to be part of a community and my apparently equally desperate desire to avoid it. Hell, it's always good to have something to look forward to, I suppose. In the meantime, just stick a label on me and call me a hypocrite. I'll ring my own "unclean" bell ...

Back at the ranch, I have had delicious fun writing another 1000 words of "The Gifting". God, but it's like coming home. Or journeying towards it. One of the two. Possibly because I've been writing the flashback sex scene between Simon & Ralph, and I've been having to think laterally about what's he's sensing in his mind as well as physically, what with Simon being telepathic. And it's been fun to write things slightly differently in that way. Actually, no, being honest, I always love doing the sex scenes and the violence scenes. No matter what. They're where I really feel I'm buzzing. It's the sections between that cause the angst ...

Oh and the lovely Jackie from Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) has put a few very kind comments about A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com) on her blog at http://jackieluben.blogspot.com under yesterday's date, which I include below also:

"I finished Anne Brooke’s A Dangerous Man yesterday night. (It was very different from anything I’ve read before and quite difficult putting myself into the mind of a disturbed young gay man.) Anne’s hero, Michael, takes you on a journey into a twilight world and into an environment that most of us won’t have encountered. Nevertheless, any creative person can empathise with Michael’s desperate desire for success in his chosen field, and most readers will understand his longing for love and recognition. Anne has shown great insight in stepping into the shoes of this dark and obsessive character, and in leading us through highs and lows to the book’s compelling climax."

Thanks hugely, Jackie - that means a great deal (though I'm not sure about the "great insight" - as you can probably tell from Sentence Four of your own review, Michael is pretty much me ...), especially as dark crime isn't a genre you warm to and your own books are so very life-affirming. Talking of which, if you haven't come across Jacquelynn Luben's books, then you really should - The Fruit of the Tree (http://www.amazon.co.uk) is a very moving autobiography about Jackie's experiences of cot death and her own journey through and beyond that, and of course Goldenford's own A Bottle of Plonk is a very witty and wise series of interconnected stories focusing on the travels of one very unique bottle. Now if only I could get Goldenford's hot, sticky hands on her next novel, The Tainted Tree, my life as a fulfilled editor would be complete!...

Oh, and the lovely Clayton (http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) has also just finished A Dangerous Man too and has emailed me to say how much he loved it, and that he thinks I'm a "fantastic writer". Gosh. Thanks, Clayton - that means a great deal too. Because, as I said, Michael had been worried about what you might think of him. My, how that boy does fret. And each time I tried to reassure him you'd be very sweet as that is your nature, he'd just mutter something unmentionable at me and go back to his drawing. Sigh.

This afternoon, I've popped in to see Gladys. She's not having so good a week this week, I have to say, so it was quite tricky to get her smiling again. But we did agree that she must keep breathing until Tony Blair has been beaten into submission and left the leadership, as otherwise she'd never forgive herself for not seeing him out of office. My, how she hates that man. Still, it gives her an aim (of sorts!) and that's only to the good. And we also talked about holidays and her travels through Denmark just after the war. Apparently, her long-deceased husband, Charlie, had a German penfriend (well, he lived in Denmark but was German, I believe) arranged through school which he kept up with through the war. Astonishing. And bloody good for him too - why ruin a perfectly good friendship just because some crazed madman is in charge of Germany? Unfortunately, the penfriend was killed during the war at some stage, but Gladys & Charlie went over to visit the parents afterwards. Marvellous stuff. And a lesson to us all in how lucky we are now indeed.

And I have at last let drop to Gladys that I am attending church less often (for less often, read not at all ...) and that therefore I only know what's happening via Lord H. It felt more honest to say it as, off-line, I've rather been keeping this under wraps. If anything can be under wraps for an obsessional blogger like me, of course. Anyway, she was fine about it, and we moved on. Phew.

Tonight, I think I'm going to do some more scribbling to "The Gifting", as it'll be interesting to see how Johan reacts to Simon's very strong memories of Ralph. Aha! I feel a major row coming on. Hmm. It'll be difficult to have a blazing row in the middle of a small boat on a vast ocean, I must admit, but I'll see what I can do. Ah, the power, the cruelty - I love it!

Oh, and Lord H has nearly finished his divorce essay for Theology class - which, as it should be handed in on Saturday, is actually pretty much advance planning for him. Mr Last-Minute-dot-Com is indeed his middle name.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. The two reviews of A Dangerous Man
3. Remembering the war years with Gladys.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Queer Up North and hobnobbing with the stars ... almost

A fairly relaxed day today. It feels soooo good to get my luggage back. Everything feels much calmer, as if I’m really here now rather than being in transit. Hmm. Maybe I do attach too much importance to my things after all. But they’re my things. Thank goodness it’s counselling tomorrow, eh? I obviously need the input.

And the office is glad I’ve got my case, as it means I can finally donate the Madeiran honey cake to the National Office Cake Shortage Society. Hmm. It’s lovely too – even Ruth liked it, and she’s not usually a sweet-toothed gal. Carol too was glad of the extra snack input as she spent most of Monday and Tuesday not being able to get into her chocolate biscuit drawer which had jammed. Horror indeed. Luckily, Estates & Facilities treated it as an emergency and it was opened yesterday afternoon. Phew! We in Student Care Services are unable to care for our students without the proper culinary support, you know …

Oh, and I forgot to say that yesterday was especially nice as one of our students came in to thank the Dean for helping her through a bad year and therefore enabling her to get her degree and with two interviews lined up too. Fantastic! We so rarely get to hear the good news stories here – normally people only come in to complain. We were all quite choked up with the surprise of it all.

Meanwhile, back to today, I spent quite a while chatting (oh, sorry, networking) with the gals in the Student Advice Office, which made a nice change. We mainly chatted about holidays and religion & health. As you do. And what with term being over for now, we’re not too busy. Back at my desk we had a visitation from the delightful Melanie from Central HR, who’s apparently lined up to take over the care of Student Care Services once the HR restructuring is completed. Hey, we have an owner at last – hurrah! Mind you, now she’s met us, perhaps she’ll beg for a different job (please God, not Student Care Services - anybody but them!)

On the novel front, Adam Pushkin of Queer Up North (http://www.queerupnorth.com/) seems interested in having a review copy of “A Dangerous Man”, so I’m hoping he might like it. Thanks hugely to gay author Jay Mandal (whose books are great fun and can be found on Amazon) for the tip-off!

Went for a much-needed walk (note to self: must get back into my exercise regime if only for the sake of my blood pressure!) round the campus at lunchtime. This afternoon, I have caught up with the AUA (Association of University Administrators - http://www.aua.ac.uk/) newsletters in all their various formats, so I am primed for their conference that I’m attending from Monday to Wednesday next week in Nottingham. Thank goodness I’ve got my case back, eh. Another couple of days and there would have been no real need to unpack the darn thing. It did amuse me that one of the AUA newsletters mentioned a recent study that’s been done on how many people have affairs during conferences (oh Lord, how clich├ęd can you be – really, people!!) but the editor put a little aside (as it were) at the end reassuring us all that such things would never happen at the AUA, of course! Phew, that’s a relief then. I need my beauty sleep, you know.

And a former colleague from my last job, Ronnie, rang up to catch up on the news, which was unexpected, and fun. He's a part-time consultant now as he's been retired for years, but his son, Alex Yearsley, is very knowledgeable in the diamond smuggling trade (in terms of being on the side of the law!) and was apparently involved in drafting some of the script for a new film, "Blood Diamond", which opened recently. As part of the perks, he was invited to the first night, took Ronnie as a surprise, and both of them got the Red Carpet Treatment, and ended up shaking Leonardo di Caprio's hand. Bloody hell, eh! I'm obviously not quite in the inner circle of fame and will have to try harder next time. Though I have to admit to not being able to stand L di C. Didn't tell Ronnie that though ...

Catching up on books I read whilst in Madeira:

1. "The Mystery at Folly Mill" by Justin Brooke (who may or may not be my grandfather, but how weird if it is) - nice pace of story, but very much "of its time", though with an interesting focus on the psychology of the characters rather than the action. Hmm ...

2. "Gravedigger" by Joseph Hansen. A gripping gay PI story, but the man simply can't write starts or endings from this sample of work. But I loved the characters (and the plot), which were very exciting and I shall definitely read more.

Tonight, I’m really hoping to do some writing as I desperately need to get back into it in a structured way rather than scribbling a few sentences round the edges of my life, as is happening at the moment. I miss it. Big time!!

Today’s nice things:

1. The hope that Adam at QUN might like Michael
2. Happy students
3. Writing – I hope!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com/
http://www.goldenford.co.uk/

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Luggage? You must be joking …

Bloody BA. Bloody BA courier. What the bloody hell do they think they’re doing?? Honestly, they’re so thick they couldn’t stuff a bloody luggage trolley up their own arses and turn it. And how I wish I could do the deed for them – that would be sooooo satisfying. We waited up till nearly 11.30pm last night for the non-existent ruddy delivery, and I am shattered today as I then lay awake worrying about it. Their bag-tracking system & website information is bloody hopeless. It told me my case had landed in Gatwick and had been picked up by the courier between 6pm & 7pm. We waited for the promised phone call, but none materialised. Bloody hopeless bearing in mind they’d said we’d get the case yesterday.

Anyway, this morning, Lord H rang the BA baggage people who couldn’t understand why the case hadn’t been delivered. They then ran around like the proverbial and rang us back to tell us (a) they couldn’t get in touch with the courier as they wouldn’t answer the phone; (b) the case may have landed in Gatwick but it has to first be transported to Heathrow as the courier only works from Heathrow. (Ye gods – aren’t courier services supposed to travel??? Isn’t that what they’re for???); (c) The courier promises a six hour delivery turnround but only delivers up till midnight, so as the case arrived at Heathrow at 7pm, they didn’t action delivery as they couldn’t guarantee the six hour turnround as it was then only 5 hours to midnight. Ye gods!!!! Shouldn’t we have been told this information when we filled in our form at Gatwick on Saturday? Shouldn’t some so-called customer service representative at least have (a) updated the website with the correct information or (b) even had the courtesy to ring us to say they couldn’t deliver, and then name a date when they could?? It doesn’t take much to pick up a phone and give us those details. They’ve had our ruddy number after all!! I am sooooo pissedd off it’s almost untrue. After all, they could even have dropped the ruddy thing in on the drive between Gatwick and Heathrow – we’re only a few miles off the bloody M25 route between the airports after all!!

Anyway, Lord H asked them to deliver the case to his work address, but I’ve left notes with the neighbours just in case. I simply don’t trust BA or their bloody courier any more. They’re all bloody liars. Give me back my effing case!!!!!! It shouldn’t be this hard!!!! There’s definitely a big complaint letter and a demand for compensation coming on. Angry of Godalming? Just clear the ruddy route for me …

Rant over. For now ... Meanwhile, at work, I finished the first draft of yesterday’s minutes and by lunchtime was very much in need of my soothing Reflexology session. Somebody give me a chill pill … However I think the Reflexology worked as I felt much more grounded this afternoon – Emily is a miracle-worker indeed. Have spent most of the rest of the working day wondering where my luggage is – answer: we don’t know. Still. It was supposed to be delivered by 3pm to Lord H, but its absence continued apace. My working theory is that it’s doing a tour of UK airports and, having been to Gatwick and Heathrow, is now on its way to Luton. I have yet to have this theory confirmed however. Anyway, I cracked and I went shopping tonight to stock up on all the items I’ve been missing. At the very least, I shall buy a comb and stop looking like the Wild Woman of Borneo. Some hope there then.

On other fronts, Jo at the University Arts Office has confirmed my date with “A Dangerous Man” (http://www.flamebooks.com) at the University Book Circle on 30 April. Gulp. Heck, Michael and I will enjoy it, I’m sure. If he’s stuck, he can always scowl at people and draw something. So, I’ve done some marketing for that and hope that people will come along and talk. And the University bookshop is going to stock him too, so we’re both pleased about that. It's the first time in my whole writing life that any bookshop has actually rung me up and asked to stock something I've written!! Normally, I'm banging on their door, weeping and begging, while they hold it shut against me. So a Red Letter Day today then, and almost like being a real writer then...

Oh, and the lovely Lady Sister-in-Law-to-be (Lady S-I-L-t-b) (http://www.peterandsusan.co.uk/blogs/susansblog.asp) has just finished “A Dangerous Man” and has blogged a very generous review under 26 March, the second entry down. Which I have copied below also:

"I finished Anne’s book yesterday, ‘A Dangerous Man’. For the first few chapters of the novel it was constantly in the back of my mind that I knew the person who had written it and therefore I was thinking things like ‘I wonder how Anne came up with this idea’, ‘I wonder how she researched this bit’, etc etc.

However, as I progressed through the book these thoughts slipped away as the characters became real for me and took hold. I thought the novel was suspenseful, unsettling and well paced and took me into a world that is totally alien to me. Although the main character, Michael, is not your normal type of hero - in fact he is a very dark personality indeed - I felt a real empathy for him and I found myself rooting for him until the end (even when he had stepped over the boundary into criminality).

The final chapters of the book are gripping as the shadows that have been stalking Michael come to the surface and threaten to ruin his all too brief taste of success. As things head towards a climax there is a sense of foreboding and you become aware that the unattractive character, that is Jack’s mother, is feeling the same as you, the reader, that there is surely tragedy ahead for her son, Jack, and Michael. I thought the writing throughout was excellent, paticularly in the final more violent scenes, and I found it easy to visualise what was being played out in front of me. I was sorry to be coming to the end of the novel so I left the final few chapters until later in the day to savour reading them – what a sign of a good book that is!

Anne, if you are reading this, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and think that you have definitely found your genre! I look forward to reading The Gifting!"

Gosh. Thanks, Lady S-I-L-t-b – knowing how much you love dark books and your high standards, that means a huge amount. Thank you! And I think I’ve just outed your and Lord B-I-L’s real names. Sorry … And thank you again.

Tonight, I’m planning to watch “Life on Mars” and wonder where my luggage has got to. What an exciting life I lead for sure.

Stop Press! Update on the Godalming Luggage Crisis! When Lord H got home, he discovered a note through the door saying the courier couldn't raise anyone (have the downstairs neighbours all died? Oh no, I just saw one in the garden ...) and delivered my case to the house next door instead. Lord H retrieved this from the lovely lady there, but by the time I'd spoken to him I was already in the process of buying all my restocked items in the shop. I shall probably now not run out of anything till the next Millennium. At home, everything in the case looks intact, phew - even my triangular Madeiran house in a snowstorm. I am indeed an Arbiter of Taste ... But in the meantime, the BA Baggage Handlers have left three messages on our phone this evening saying they've asked the courier to take the luggage back to the depot and deliver it to our home address tonight. Frankly, m'dear, we here in the home counties don't give a fuck. And we're certainly not ringing up the bastards to say we've already got the delivery. So we wait with interest to see if any case will be delivered here tonight and, if so, whose it might be.

Ye gods, no wonder we lost the Empire, eh ...

Anyway, today’s nice things:

1. Lady S-I-L-t-b’s review of “A Dangerous Man” - thank you!
2. Reflexology
3. The University bookshop planning to stock Michael – hurrah!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Monday, March 26, 2007

The red-lipped phone

Lord H’s alarm failed to go off this morning, but I was only ten minutes late from my planned getting up time, so it could have been far worse. Heck, we probably needed the extra time anyway. Oh, and I must say that last night’s TV production of “Northanger Abbey” was marvellous – a perfect lead and a great interpretation. It really cheered me up. Naturally, that hasn’t stopped the Monday morning post-holiday blues though, but hey there you go.

However, Ruth has cheered me up by swopping my standard work phone for one made up of an enormous pair of red lips – I absolutely loved it and wish it could be mine for ever, but apparently it (the phone, not the pair of lips …) belongs to Ruth’s mother and has to go home. Shame … it’s just the sort of thing to ring Lord H on!

I spent the rest of the morning catching up on emails and actually getting level with myself on the work front. Hurrah! And the usual bliss when 12noon came and went appeared too – it’s like a weight lifting off my shoulders when Monday afternoon arrives. I minuted the Student Care Services Steering Group at lunchtime – the boss had half a ton of tabled papers, which is always a bit of a pain as it means I actually have to scrabble round for internal envelopes and post them to non-attenders, rather than rely on the simplicity of an email. Almost like being a real secretary then …

And this feeling was compounded by spending the afternoon typing up the minutes. With the bliss of a 5pm finish today, as it’s outside term-time for the students. How we love our vacation hours indeed. It’s that extra half-hour between 5 and 5.30pm that’s always so killing to the soul.

Ooh, and the lovely Caroline on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/caroline_biesse) loves "A Dangerous Man" (http://www.flamebooks.com) so much that she's advertising it on the book section of her profile. Thanks, Caroline! Michael and I both appreciate it very much. And he loves your new photo by the way (as do I!), though we do miss the hat ...

Tonight, Lord H is finishing off his divorce essay, which he’s much happier with now. He’s apparently learnt that the Bible tells him that husbands need to provide wives with food and clothing – don’t ask me for the reference though! Aha, I have a lot to catch up on then (pause for evil wife laughter …). Luckily, the same reference doesn’t give any particular duties for wives. Sound of more evil wife laughter then. And while he’s doing that, I’m planning to watch my video of last week’s “Life on Mars” and wait for my luggage to turn up. Ho ho. I live in hope, don’t I? …

Today’s nice things:

1. The red-lipped phone
2. Passing the noontide hour relatively unscathed
3. Caroline's profile page!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com/
http://www.goldenford.co.uk/

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's just not Cricket ... is it?!?

Honestly, the Sunday after you come back from holiday but before you go back into work is just so a day out of time. Like a bridge between two worlds. Which feels somewhat more twitchy this time, I think, as without my luggage I'm still not properly "back" yet. I hope to God that BA do deliver it tomorrow - I want my books! And my face cream. And my jumpers. Not to mention everything else that maximises my reality factor. Damn it.

Had a lazy lie-in today, a fact not entirely due to my lack of bedside clock. Lord H has spent the whole day working like a demon on his divorce essay Theology class - which has to be emailed to the tutor by the end of next week. Hope he doesn't get any ideas from it, eh ... While that's been going on, I have ambled round the flat, creating lists for shopping (including items I desperately need if my case never returns), doing sudokus, scribbling a few more paragraphs to "The Gifting" (hey, I still might be able to write - you never know!) and checking the oil, water & tyre pressures of the cars.

I've also just finished Paul Auster's marvellous "The Brooklyn Follies" - which is great, and edgy and fun - apart from the rather bored ending. Did he just run out of interest? Hard to say - but still a worthwhile read. A great main character and a stonkingly good plot.

And this week's haiku (can you spot a theme?) is:

We took a short break
to Madeira. Our luggage
took a longer one.

Hmm. I can see I'm going to get obsessive about this. Why, oh God, why??! Anyway, it's good to come back into a world where cricket is at last made interesting. Good for everyone but poor old Bob Woolmer of course. But, hell, what a way to go. Poisoned and strangled. It's cricket, Jim, but not as we knew it ...

Have had a lovely nap this afternoon, post my fix of "Ugly Betty". I so love that woman. And tonight, I will have to ring mother before settling down to (a) a nice soak in the tub, and (b) "Northanger Abbey" on the TV. Bliss.

Today's nice things:

1. Napping
2. Doing another few paragraphs to "The Gifting"
3. The peculiarities of the New Cricket World.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm back from hols! But where's ...

... my luggage?? Having an extended break in Madeira, that's where ... Bugger. Hope to God it makes it back to the mother country on Monday, when BA promise it will. Harrumph indeed.

That said, Madeira was great! Highlights (without the aid of my journal, still in Funchal ...) were:

  • the mountains
  • the trees on the mountains
  • the hotel
  • the sea view - fantastic!
  • seeing a grapefruit tree
  • relaxing
  • boogying on down at the Madeiran Folklore Evening (I'm such an Essex Girl ...)
  • getting on a cable car ...
  • ... and enjoying the thrill of it.
  • smelling jasmine ...
  • ... and seeing a bird of paradise flower. No, several, in fact!

Hope your weeks have been good. Back with a fuller blog tomorrow!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Monday, March 19, 2007

I spoke too soon! Another review of "A Dangerous Man"!

Sorry but I just have to blog this before I go - I've had a lovely review from crime writer, Lesley Horton (http://www.lesleyhorton.co.uk) about ADM (http://www.flamebooks.com), as below:

“To say A Dangerous Man is different is an understatement. Anne Brooke has delved into the minds, lives and loves of gay men with considerable style. The plot is dark and unsettling and leads inevitably to murder. I was hooked from the first page and I wasn’t allowed off that hook until the end. Well done Anne."

Thank you so much, Lesley. I'm very grateful indeed! And it's just the sort of comment which will get me (and no doubt Michael) smiling all the way to Madeira tomorrow!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Packing and heavy TV

The usual twitchy day prior to travel - is everyone like this, or is it really just me? There's something about a journey that makes me very unsettled. Possibly because I hate flying and I do actually hate travel - but it will be nice to be in Madeira tomorrow. At least it won't be ruddy snowing, though showers are forecast. Hell, I don't mind - it will be warmer. So I've made a start on the packing though the fear of forgetting something remains. And the new airport rules are making my head ache. Of course water is no longer allowed so we'll all be at dehydration's door by the time we arrive, no doubt! And my hand-luggage size allowance is not, I'm sure, what they'll be expecting. The trick of travelling light alludes me.

Lord H has spent all day tacking his divorce essay for theology class and also doing his self-assessment for last week's presentation. I have provided wifely proof-reading consultancy, so I have not been entirely unuseful. I've also finished the ironing, so wife points galore are, I'm sure, being showered upon me.

As for me, I've spent the rest of the day catching up with things I've recorded from TV. This means I have now watched all three hours of "The True Voice of Prostitution", "The True Voice of Rape" and "The True Voice of Murder". All true stories (obviously), but voiced & played by actors. Gripping, and really heavy, viewing. The one that had me sobbing like a baby was Lesley Sharp's (great actress, btw) portrayal of a mother whose daughter was murdered. Devastating stuff. And an eye-opener to one such as myself, who has been fortunate enough never to have had direct experience of any of these ordeals, but who writes about them in all my fiction. Sometimes at the same time. It's a weird feeling when real life breaks in to the world in my head.

Tonight, while Lord H is at theology class, I think I'm going to watch the drama, "Recovery", which I also videoed from some time ago, but which I've never got round to watching. And as it's a drama starring David Tennant and Sarah Parrish, it should be hot stuff. I think they're great together. Again, possibly not pre-holiday viewing, but what the hell.

And I've finally got round to writing a poem about the glorious picture that hangs on our living room wall opposite the sofa. I bought it some time ago for Lord H's birthday, and I love it:

L’escalier blanc: Nicholas Verrall

White steps lead upwards
to a greater light,
the shadow fading
on each slow rise.
On the left, pink bougainvillea drift
in an unfelt wind
while the pots on the right
are dappled with sunshine.

I do not see
what is beyond the topmost pillar
but already I can sense
an opening out,
a chance to shake off
the shadows’ grasp
and taste the warmth of the sun
as it sinks into skin.

All journeys lead through shadow
to an unknown light.
Only the choice of timing
remains.


I also feel a little guilty about not doing anything to "The Gifting", but I'm hoping the break will bring me back refreshed so I can at least get Simon across the water into his last scenes. Which I suspect will be long ones.

And I've had some interesting and really helpful comments responding to yesterday's blog - so thank you to those who responded. I also had my first equally interesting experience of making the decision not to accept a comment or two, as they were not helpful to me, but possibly more helpful to the contributor. I do feel a little raw about it, I must admit, but at least it means I am exercising some sort of control over what I do and what I do not accept. A lesson for life indeed ...

As this will be my last blog until after my holiday (which ends next weekend), I hope you all have a great week wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Take care.

Today's nice things:

1. Watching serious, and gripping, TV
2. Writing my poem
3. Looking forward to my holiday.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Sunday, March 18, 2007

An angry day

Woke up this morning feeling blank. A feeling which rapidly disintegrated into anger, with the odd wave of depression. Great start to the day then. Lord H went to church, as he was doing the prayers, but I cried off, as the thought of the Mothers' Day jollity was beyond bearing. I got so frustrated during the morning that I resorted to taking two calming pills. Thank God for Lane's Quiet Life remedies, eh?

There are really two things which have been upping the rollercoaster levels of my blood pressure today but God only knows why they're preying on my mind together. Lucky me, I suppose. Not. The first thing is the church. My specific (ex-) church rather than the generic one, though that's not so hot either. It strikes me that I spent most of 2006 being increasingly depressed and withdrawing from all kinds of church activity. I gave up going once a week to the daily Evening Prayer service held by the Lay Reader, I withdrew from the prayer rota, I gave my notice in as Sacristan and I stopped going to church every week. And when I did go, more often than not I didn't take communion. During that time, I've had a couple of church people tell me that if I wanted to talk I was welcome (a) to phone them, or (b) pop round for a chat. Which might seem nice on the outside, but you try asking someone suffering from depression to take any kind of action whatsoever in relation to the outside world. Believe me, it just wasn't possible. It was more than enough for me to (a) go to a counsellor and (b) talk to the doctor about it. I couldn't have done anything else. So, in all that time, not one person from my ruddy so-called caring bloody church has either popped round, rung me or left me a note. And, yes, I am bloody fucking angry about it. I'm beginning to see I have a right to be. I'm not sure I'd treat my dog (if I had one or even if I liked dogs) like this. Surely if something is sick, it's up to the healthier people to do something about it. Well, hell I've been sick and no-one's done a damn thing. Yes, I feel let down, yes I feel hurt, and yes I feel angry. The last straw today was when Lord H came home bearing a little gift of Mothers' Day flowers for me and conveying the good wishes of the church. I'm afraid my answer was (a) to chuck the flowers in the bin, and (b) say bollocks to their good wishes. I don't believe them and I don't want them. Not Lord H's fault, I know, and we did have a good talk about it today - which is a blessing which has been a long time coming. I've been wary about raising my feelings about church as I know how much a part of his life it is. My cowardice - I should have trusted him more. I think now that if anyone from the church did come round (with the possible exception of Paul, the new and very strange priest, who has been the first person there in a long time to treat me like a real human being with opinions and feelings that might be important ...), I wouldn't let them in. I also think that when I come back from our holidays, I'm going to cancel my monthly direct debit to the church, which I've been running for ages. And I'm not going to bother telling the treasurer either. I mean fuck it, why should I be proactively caring when not one other bugger has been? Bollocks to them, I say.

The other thing is that I'm not, I don't think, actively looking to find another church. I'm not sure I want to. It's way too difficult and too hurtful. If push comes to shove, or if my feelings change, I might think about the Quakers, as they've been good to me in the past when I was "between churches", but for now I think I just want to lick my wounds and be still. Hell, it's a plan. Of sorts.

And the second thing that's been making me wildly angry (and very hurt) today is my so-called old University friends. These are people I don't see very often, but have known for twenty years. Yes, I know I've blogged about them before, but this is the first time I've had this wave of anger about them. It feels as if for a long time I've been doing a lot of the running and since I made the decision last year about not organising so many group social activities, it all seems to be drifting away. It seems as if when I hear about any good or bad things that have happened to them, I'm first to respond with the appropriate celebrations or sympathy, but the same thing does not happen, in any sense, in return. Last year, one of them was in severe crisis and I drove over her way several times to have chats about it, and kept in touch by email/phone. Yet when I'm in trouble (as last year indeed), there's nothing in return - just once again the invitation to ring them if I need to talk. Well, once again, bollocks to that. It doesn't work. What I need is someone on my doorstep/on the phone/email being proactive about it. That has never happened. I've also sent emails telling them the good news about my books and, in one or two cases, how difficult things have been. Response on both counts: zilch. Surely, if someone emails you with good or bad news, it's just a matter of courtesy to respond?? I make sure I always do. It feels very hurtful, and I feel very empty, that this isn't happening from them. And, God, I think: what is it about me that makes people use me when they need a shoulder to cry on, but disappear to the fucking hills when I need the same from them? Do I have the label "Social Pushover" tattoed to my head? Bollocks to my old university gang, I say. I can do without you tossers. Everyone I know is a bloody better friend than you. So go screw yourselves.

So. What a morning that was, eh? The rest of the day I've spent doing the cleaning, stuffing sliced lemons up a chicken's arse (which has been extremely satisfying and I really must do it more often, especially when I can imagine it's the bloody church or my bloody so-called friends - though no doubt some of them would enjoy it ...) for lunch, cleaning the car, chatting to the neighbour and napping. The latter for two glorious hours - bliss! Oh, and I've rung mother to wish her the usual happy returns of today and to sound like a normal daughter with a normal life. God, what a consummate actor I indeed am.

And I've just finished reading Wendy Cope's "Serious Concerns" - poetry that always makes me smile and she's so damn clever. I've also given up on Carol Anne Davis' "Shrouded", as I couldn't bear the characters and I'm deeply uninterested in fish tanks, a subject which seemed to take up most of the first few chapters for reasons known only to her.

Tonight, I'm going to watch Billie Piper (who I think is a lovely person) in "Mansfield Park". I must admit to being in two minds about it, as I really really don't see her as Fanny - she's too blonde, too bosomy and too uncontained. Fanny is more of the quiet, slow-burn, brunette type, in my opinion. Still, we'll see.

This week's haiku (and probably appropriate for today in some strange fashion ...) is:

I speak of childhood.
Inside me, a door opens
and darkness spills out.

Today's nice things:

1. Being angry about the crap thrown at me (strangely)
2. Having the "church talk" at last with Lord H, and we're still hugging (thankfully)
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tea, Pinter and my first reading group invite

Oh, the .... Pinter last .... night was so .... full of .... pauses that at times I think I may have lost the will to live. I have no real idea what it might have been trying to say either and I even may have got to the point where I didn't much care. Which is odd as I've seen some quite sharp Pinters. This ("Old Times") is not one. It even managed to make the glorious Neil Pearson appear dull, which is quite a feat. Only an hour and a half (including a 20 minute interval), but I've never been so glad to see the lights come up and the applause begin. Though I think we might have been applauding the return of the lights rather than acknowledging the actors. Mind you, I did get the giggles when Lord H leaned over to me while we were nibbling our ice creams in the interval and said (in classic stage whisper) that, all in all, he thought there was less to it than met the eye. Well said, sir, indeed. In fact if we'd got rid of ... the ... pauses, we could probably have rattled through it in 10 mins and been home in time for "Ugly Betty". Which I'm sorry I missed.

However, fear not, as Lord H has once again come up with the correct dramatic solution. (It never ceases to amaze me how dramatically sensitive my husband actually is - he really should have been a playwright or a drama critic, at the very least, as he does this all the time). Anyway, his solution would be to take the script, add in the old school friend's husband, thus making it a four-hander, rather than a three-hander. Then he'd split the set so we could see the living room and the bedroom at the same time, and watch people go in and out of same - thus adding action and a sense of movement where there was none. He'd then give the whole thing to Alan Ayckbourn who knows a thing or two about drama, and end up with a respectable, and no doubt more popular, comedy of manners. Result! Remember: you heard it here first ...

And there's exciting news! "A Dangerous Man" (http://www.flamebooks.com) will be discussed at the university's reading group at the end of April, and I've been invited to go along and introduce it, etc etc. Hurrah! Michael actually gets to go out. For once. I'd best make sure he nobbles some of Jack's aftershave and buys himself a decent tee-shirt and at least tries to look respectable. Both of us are very excited! - but nervous too, as we're Reading Group Virgins. Much to our shame ... So if anyone out there has any useful tips, please let us know! I did ask Lord H if he could come along and be "Author's Husband", and he suggested that, bearing in mind the psychotic subject matter, perhaps Kunu could also come along, so I could be flanked by "Author's Husband" on one side and "Author's Therapist" on the other. I suspect that may be slightly too weird for the university though ... And he wasn't that keen on the idea of me dressing up as Michael and him dressing up as Jack either - though the idea of having sex in the office did perk him up. As it were. Ho hum.

Oh, and the lovely Devon on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com - sorry, Devon, but I can't find your page URL, darn it!) has very kindly added me to his profile as an author he likes. Hey, thanks, Devon - that's a first for me, I think. Much appreciated.

This afternoon, Lord H and I have been to Kent and back to celebrate a friend's 60th birthday and to eat lots of very naughty food. Bliss. And we were very good, as it was held in a vineyard and we didn't buy any of the local wine. How noble we are indeed. This probably means we can be extra naughty at the next available wine shop. Hurrah. Tonight, I'll be glued to "Primeval" on TV, getting more ironing done and probably not doing the cleaning. Hell, it's a plan.

Today's nice things:

1. Being invited to a reading group
2. Tea in Kent
3. Being a favourite author of Devon's!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, March 16, 2007

Muddling through the day

Lord, what a disjointed day it's been. One minute calm and the next in the depths of frustration - never say my life is not a rollercoaster ride. You must get tired reading about it, but that ain't nothing compared to actually being on the damn thing! Ah well.

The good news however is that my friend with the dead grandfather (at last! at last!) has this week just bagged her first headteacher job - hurrah!! No, double hurrah!! And I'm seeing her tomorrow at her husband's 60th (he's older than she), so a double celebration indeed. And it just goes to show that once you finally get rid of the family deadwood, the sky's the limit. Ha!

And I have just finished the most marvellous book which you must all rush out and read - Louise Welsh's "The Bullet Trick". This is such a relief for me even to write this as her first, "The Cutting Room" was excellent, but the second (a novella called "Tamburlaine Must Die") was an out-and-out disaster and should have been stuffed in a drawer at birth or, better, not been written at all. But TBT is even better than TCR - dark and vibrant, bleak and punchy. With an oh-so-sympathetic anti-hero, whom you grow to love hugely through the story. I love it when a book like this comes along - it makes my skin tingle and makes me feel alive. I'm devastated that I've finished it, and I'm still thinking about it. Hope the next one is equally as good and not the rushed (I suspect) disaster of the second.

I've also typed up another 1000 words of "The Gifting", which is ambling along fairly nicely on the water - no rush there then, missus. But (sigh), no eager publisher waiting for it either, eh?

Apart from that, it's felt like an edgy day - probably the aftermath of yesterday - and I'm still feeling tired. But what's really tipped me over the bloody edge is the fact that my fecking bloody printer is bloody well playing up and I have things I need to print and they're not fecking - hell, let's say it as it is - they're not fucking coming out. I hate my bloody fucking printer. And I hate it that I won't be able to sort it out until Lord H comes home and hears me weeping and gnashing my teeth. It's just the most frustrating, annoying thing in my world right now. It's making me soooooo cross. So much so that I have bought another two packets of my depression-minimising Vit B pills, when I was thinking of weaning myself off them - I spoke too soon!

Anyway, no wonder my blood pressure is up - which it is, incidentally, as I had my regular six-monthly test yesterday. Though not enough for the nurse to give me the lecture and threaten pills this time. I will have to ensure that I do my regular exercise sessions daily - I've been slacking a little recently (well, I've been ill, manic, low, published ... etc etc - take your pick). Fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening is supposed to see me through to seventy. Allegedly. Oh, and my blood is fine - the hospital test was clear so I'm likely to live another year. If the blood pressure doesn't get me first ...

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to see a Pinter play at the theatre, which I suspect isn't going to be the calming experience I am needing right now. And I do hate going out on Fridays - it means we can't have wine with our pizza, garlic bread and ice cream, and get drunk as skunks, or the Guildford playgoers will start to complain. Still, sometimes Pinter really gets to the spot and it's got Neil Pearson in, who's as sexy as hell, so if I don't like the play I can always just do the fantasising. Hell, isn't that what live performance is for?

Oh, and I've been eating chocolate like it's going out of fashion today - I am so obviously trying to fill the gap left by my lack of personal integration. Ha! Lord, but I am so cliched. Somebody pass the shell-suit and white stilettos (well, I am from Essex ...).

Today's nice things:

1. Knowing a new headteacher
2. Reading "The Bullet Trick"
3. Theatre-going (and sexy Neil).

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Counselling and time for thought

A very intense counselling session with Kunu today, but a worthwhile one too. She's halfway through "A Dangerous Man" (http://www.flamebooks.com) and is finding it "gripping", so that felt nice. We talked about family and my place in it - a subject we looked at briefly last week, but in more depth today. To be honest, I got rather tearful about it but even that felt like a good place to be. A couple of times towards the end of our hour, I couldn't talk at all, as I needed to mull on stuff - but Kunu's okay with that. It's good to have somewhere where I can be silent. God, how I need that sometimes. Not that my family was an obviously difficult place to be - we were well-off, we lived in the country or, later, a nice part of the town, we took foreign holidays, etc etc. All facts which make it more difficult to look back and think that, yes, it may have been good, but it wasn't good for me.

I think it would have been better if I'd been able, at all, to get on for any length of time with my two older brothers - or they with me - but that never happened. And, no, we don't talk now. We haven't for years. My decision - it was the right one to take at the time (though the most difficult decision I've ever had to make) and it's still the right one now. And, yes, that makes me - on the outside - the cause of the family split, but at the same time I think it helps me (slowly, so slowly ...) to work towards wholeness. I don't think either of them have ever, apart from one or two notable and short-lived occasions, been my friends. And, in fact, today I would probably count both as my enemies - though it's an animosity that's been very subtly demonstrated over the years. What I remember from my childhood relationship with my siblings is a fairly constant sniping, the assumption that I was unworthy of notice and a good stooge for mockery. I also felt, particularly after my father died, that there was nobody prepared to fight my corner and I was essentially alone. I suspect that might be natural in families (fathers favour daughters, and mothers sons - hey, 'twas ever thus!), but it doesn't make it any easier to live in the environment, believe me. It might have been easier though if I'd actually made any friends at primary school, but I hadn't worked out the trick of doing that yet (that came with secondary school, thank God). The scrawny child in the playground corner? Yep, that's me. Ye gods, and then people wonder at my lack of self-esteem. Being myself with somebody else is the most difficult thing. Almost impossible. Sometimes I'm astonished when I can relate to people at all.

So, as you can see - intensive, which has made it a day for thought. And recovering from the feeling that I've just taken two steps over the bloody trenches with only an overwhelming need to discover where I left my self, and a counsellor, for company. Interesting too, that in my slow drift from the counselling session to where I'd parked a car, I met a friend coming the other way who'd also been to his counselling session. A fact about each other neither had known before. God, but Guildford is full of headcases. But on the whole we're harmless. I hope.

At home, I've flipped idly through the Radio Times, whilst sipping my decaff coffee. It felt like being normal. Which I've needed this afternoon. I've been thinking too. About how the times when I've felt most happy in myself have come from my christianity, and my relationship with Lord H. And with one or two friends when I can let the mask slip a little. No, I don't like that language. Sorry. The mask is part of me too. Something I use and dwell in. It's more like allowing another layer to surface and to exist for a while in a conversation, I think. It's happened with Jane W and Jane H, and one or two others from my past, but no-one else that I can remember. At least not face-to-face. I find it's easier to be me to the people I know only through the means of writing. It feels like a truer medium there. Most of my conversations otherwise are entertainment, not connection.

Neither is God the connection I so longed for him to be when I made my commitment when I was 18. No. Not true either. It worked for a while, but I think I was covering the issues, not dealing with them. Not that I could have dealt with them then on any level - it's only now that there seems to be time and space to think. Maybe, when I finally walked away from Evangelical christianity (I count myself as an Evangelical survivor, in so many ways) when I was 28 was in fact my first real step to adulthood, I don't know. Since then, God has become mistier, more unclear and so very uncertain. And I've tried so hard to pretend that's not so. Now, I gain every so often a sense of connection with him, but it's as if I'm walking along a path by myself which is lined by very thick woods. Now and then, there's a movement in the woods, and I sense someone might be there other than myself, but I can't see anything, not really, and the silence soons comes again. God, to me, is like that. For me, anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

In the middle of all this, I have done a few more words to "The Gifting". And yes, Simon does get sea-sick. I'm good at vomit. Tonight, I was supposed to be (a) going up to London to a Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) get-together, or (b) going dancing with my non-existent dance partner, but I'm doing neither. Tonight I need to be at home. With Lord H. Watching TV and resting. God, yes, that will be good.

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Talking briefly with the friend I met in Guildford
3. Thinking.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Branding, minutes and more reviews

Relatively early to bed last night, so feel much less like a squeezed-out sponge today, thank goodness. Mind you, I’ve been feeling specially cheered by “A Dangerous Man” (http://www.flamebooks.com/) reader reactions, including Jane H’s brother, who thought it was excellent (thanks, Jane’s brother – much appreciated!) and Ruth at work who thought it was terrifying and gripping (thanks, Ruth!). Both comments mean a lot.

Also, Rhian from Crimeficreader (http://itsacrime.typepad.com/) has at last received a copy of ADM for reviewing – the first one is still wandering around Wales somewhere – and says she thinks Flame have done an excellent job on the look and layout. Yes, I think so too – so thanks to Flame for that. Now, all I have to do is wait for Rhian’s review … scary …

I’ve also managed to get the Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk/) minutes done – we’re looking forward to the publication of Jay Margrave’s “The Gawain Quest” in June, and are also looking into our first non-fiction book, focusing on eBay sales. It’s nice to ring the changes, and I hope they both do well. They deserve to. Oh, and in case anyone is curious, as of this point “Pink Champagne and Apple Juice” has sold 104 copies since last June. This may be small fry to you big hitters out there, but I’m always pleased when I go over the 100 marker. Believe me, it doesn’t happen often. Oh, and … um … actual sales of “A Stranger’s Table” (http://www.poetrymonthly.com) – rather than those I’ve given away as review copies or presents – is six. Which just goes to show that (a) poetry doesn’t sell, no matter how many awards you may have won for the contents, and (b) you should never produce two books in one month, as one will suffer big-time. Well, I’ve certainly learnt my lesson there, believe me!

This lunchtime, we had the Student Support Services Branding Project meeting – which isn’t, as Lord H thinks, a cunning plan to brand students when they join so we always know which department to send them back to. No, even we in the shires aren’t that cruel. Yet … aha! No, we’re trying to link different support services across our very higgledy-piggedly campus together so students can access everything they might need when they see our new brand sign. This should prevent them getting lost and milling round weeping. Oh no, sorry, that’s what I do when I can’t find my way (again) to the Management School. I have, as Carol at work tells me, special geographical needs … heck, I always knew it! All that said, it was a really good meeting (shock! horror!) – I feel quite inspired about our hoped-for improvements. Lots of website & new brochure stuff for me to do – I like to get my teeth stuck into something. Hope it works out all right.

Oh, and joy! Les M at the meeting told me (with real astonishment in his voice) how good the poems in “A Stranger’s Table” were – heck, that’s cheered me up no end as regards the poetry! Now if only I can persuade him actually to buy something …

And, talking of which, I’ve (possibly sadly?) written a poem about Michael. Maybe this is another way of saying goodbye. Again, we’ll see. Here it is:

A Dangerous Man – a final act

I want to write something
to say you’ve been here,
both friend and enemy
at different times,
sometimes at the same time.

You’ve never been dull,
even when I have been so.
Gripping, seductive, wild
in a way I can never be,
you’ve enticed me away from my self
towards a deeper self
I’d never know before.

You’re a part of me,
you see,
though I set you
as a man apart,
someone I talk to
in my mind’s dark caverns,
someone who talks to me,
whose story I can tell,
have told now.

Michael, you’re still so close
that I can feel you moving
under my skin.
My blood pulses with yours,
your limbs align to mine.
You’re the life I’ve never dared
to live
and at the heart of it we are one:
my tantalising shadow
to the sun.


Tonight, I’m worshipping at the great Tesco’s mall, and then it’s an evening in – at last! Might try to catch up on “Life on Mars” which I videoed yesterday. We’ll see.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting nice reader feedback for “A Dangerous Man” & “A Stranger’s Table” – hurrah!
2. Michael finally arriving in Wales successfully – phew!
3. Selling 104 Champers all in all.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com/

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

UniSWriters, Goldenford & reviews

Had another nice review of “A Dangerous Man” (http://www.flamebooks.com) last night – from Julie Lewthwaite, author of Negotiate to Succeed, who emailed me to say the following:

“I loved A Dangerous Man. Nagged at me while I was reading it and stayed with me after I'd finished. Can't ask for much more than that. Nice work!”

Hey, thanks, Julie! I appreciate that. Very much. Not only that but Clayton from MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) tells me that reading it is curtailing his love life, as he’s too busy reading to do anything naughty. Sorry, Clayton – hope things pick up (as it were) soon. But thanks for telling me, tee hee! And I’ve had some very positive comments from the Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) Flash Fiction II group on yesterday’s uploaded work, so that feels good too. Thanks, gang.

And you’ll also be pleased to hear that Lord H’s theology presentation went well last night – they had lots of discussion on it, though he wasn’t so happy with his summing up. Though I would have thought that was impossible to do anyway whilst you’re in the middle of something! Anyway, the group seem to have decided that they definitely don’t want GM crops, even though not having them puts the orang-utan under threat as it means the tropical rain forest will continue to be depleted. Lord, but life is so complex sometimes. Thank goodness it was only an exercise (though, sadly, one based on fact). But Lord H is at least pleased it’s over though he’ll have to wait to see what the assessors say. Oh, and the whole group are ruddy tongue-rollers, apparently. Damn it!! Is there no end to the horror?

Lunch-hour was our next UniSWriters meeting, with a focus on writing about furniture. We had a jolly good time too, with a fair number of manuscripts to look at, and a fun writing game which gave rise to a lot of good stuff. It was great! Have decided that the theme for the next set of homework should be water and/or thirst, so I’ll see what they come up with for that one. And I’d better have a bash too, of course … Oh, here it is:

River

It’s already too hot.
Pick up the bottle,
unprick the seal, take a slug.
It will ease the dryness
in your throat.

It won’t be enough though.
The heat from the bazaar rises,
engulfs you.
In its blistering touch,
you can taste
noise, narrow streets, saffron,
bread, whisky, camel dung.
All the customs and language
of a people you do not know.

Unlock the bottle again.
Raise it to your lips,
pour it like a blessing
over your head:
a talisman against the dark.

See how the water floods
your hair, your eyes, your mouth.
The shock of coolness on your skin
makes you shiver.
It’s a river, rushing, roaring,
carving lines of cleanness
through dirt,
sweeping all your past
away.


Other than that, I have to say that I’ve spent most of the day feeling absolutely shattered – I really do need my holiday next week (Lord H and I are off to Madeira for four days, and I’m really really hoping I might get some rest – it’s been a hectic few weeks, all in all). That said, I don’t feel as low as yesterday, which can only be a good thing, hurrah.

Oh, and I've joined Crimespace (http://crimespace.ning.com) and now have a page on there - they seem like a nice bunch of crime writers & readers. So possibly they're all mad - it's hard to say just now ...

Tonight, it’s the next Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) meeting, so I’d best get my minute head at the ready.

Today’s nice things:

1. The responses to “A Dangerous Man”
2. The reaction to my flash fiction piece
3. UniSWriters.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wellbeing Group and the Marmite soldier

Straight into the Wellbeing Group today – 9.30am is way too early for a meeting, let alone a Monday morning meeting. I’ve really felt quite low most of the day actually. Drained and shattered. Lord knows why. Oh and I have stiff neck & back syndrome. Moan, groan – sorry. Anyway, the meeting was quite impassioned (I agreed with the views of the most impassioned people) and almost impossible to minute with any degree of honesty, so we’re going to rely on bullet points and a cunning summary. That’s the plan anyway.

Afterwards, I nipped into the Students’ Union and picked up one of the spare tee-shirts from the recent “Know Yourself” wellbeing campaign. Nice design on a decent black shirt, so my idea of perfect, really. This lunchtime, I did steward cover for the gallery sound & vision exhibition. Unfortunately, it was way too loud to sit in the room for long with any degree of comfort so when Jo (gallery co-ordinator) returned, we tried to turn the sound down. Hmm. Bad move. This resulted in the whole thing switching off so nobody could see/hear anything. Bummer. Thank God no-one was actually in the gallery at the time. Ah well. Jo and I had a nice chat anyway, and decided that if anyone came in we'd pass ourselves off as living sculptures. Could make a fortune if we tried ... Still, she’s hoping to call the sound engineers later on. No rush though – this was obviously not the University’s most popular exhibition.

And I’ve written a piece of flash fiction for the next Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) Flash Fiction II group challenge, which has to incorporate the words: horny, devil and Marmite:

‘What the devil are you doing with that?’ Algernon asked as he strode into the living room. ‘And what is it anyway?’
Felicity shrugged nonchalantly. ‘This, darling? It’s Marmite. Surely your mother must have given it to you when you were young?’
She bit into her toast, full red lips closing with a firm crunch on the salty darkness.
‘Well, yes, darling,’ Algernon replied, feeling the tightness in his shirt collar. ‘I just hadn’t … eaten it whilst … naked … before.’
‘Really?’ Felicity said. ‘Doesn’t it make you feel horny? Anything salty is best experienced naked, my love.’

Hmm, never did like Marmite - my mother put me off for life by spreading it on like jam. Scary.

Tonight, Lord H is doing his GM presentation for the theology class, so is very twitchy today. He hates doing these things, but actually I think he’s good at them – especially when he knows the subject and can relax into it more. But I’ve got him some chocolate buttons (his favourite) – a packet for before to calm his nerves and a packet for afterwards to celebrate the fact that it’s over. So I may well regain my Wife Points after the Great Flapjack Disaster of yesterday – you never know …

Oh, and Lord B-I-L (http://www.peterandsusan.co.uk/blogs/petersblog.asp) appears very kindly to have put an entry for me on the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_brooke) site, so thank you very much for that, L.B-I-L – much appreciated! It’s almost like being a proper writer, you know …

Tonight, I think I’ll catch up on some video viewing and also watch Part Two of the adaptation of Andrew Taylor’s (http://www.andrew-taylor.co.uk) marvellous “Fallen Angel” trilogy. I won’t be able to see Part Three, darn it, but it’s still great viewing.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting a free tee-shirt
2. Chatting with Jo in the Gallery
3. Being on Wikipedia.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Waking up the House and burning the cakes

Lord H and I decided that, in spite of the need to do more theology presentation prep, Sundays are still as boring as hell, so we decided to visit local National Trust property, Clandon House. It wasn't actually officially open today, but it's having its "Wake up the House" weekend, when hordes of NT volunteers take the dustsheets down and move the bodies into the rockery. Or some such shenanigans. Actually, we quite enjoyed it - which just goes to show how sad and middle-aged we indeed are. It was nice to see the place without its usual streams of visitors and to get the behind the scenes view of what goes on. They also do a nice line in chair coverings. And we found out that it takes two women (women, mind you - here in the shires, men don't do this kind of job ...) two days to clean an average chandelier. We also watched them doing it - but not for two days, mind. You have to take off all the little crystal bits, clean them with distilled water followed by a mild soap solution, followed by more distilled water. And then you have to blow-dry them so the connections don't get rusty. Bizarrely soothing to watch. Naturally, we also raided the shop and have bought (and consumed) two chocolate mice. The first of the NT season ...

Back home, I have finished the ironing (hurrah!), checked the cars (water, oil, are Lord H's lights clean? etc etc) and caught up on the latest excitements of "Ugly Betty". Go for the cute accountant, Betty! - they're always the best choice, believe me! I've also baked a tray of flapjacks for Lord H's theology GM presentation tomorrow (it's part of his props). Under normal circumstances, this would have gained me thousands of Wife Points, but unfortunately I lost track of the time and I have burnt them. Sigh. Cue Lord H's False Husband Smile - which is quite painful to experience. I reassured him that the carcinogenic qualities of my flapjacks will take the course attendees' minds off the GM issue, so he should be grateful. Not sure he's entirely convinced by my argument, and suspect that tomorrow will see him raiding Budgens flapjack counter. Ah well. He should be grateful he doesn't have to give them my special Kitchen Floor Nuts ... Hush, say nothing ...

However, I have redeemed myself somewhat by listening to his presentation and laughing (I think) at the right moments. There's a lot of GM crop stuff to take in but he's lightening the load by demonstrating the tongue rolling (arghh!!) dominant gene, how to make a double helix DNA strand with a rubber band, and holding up a bag of rice which has a more complex DNA structure than humans do. Hmm, certainly makes you think. Oh, and he's somehow got hold of a copy of my grandfather's book on the trials and tribulations of growing peaches in England - and, believe me, seeing as Granddaddy was a founder member of the Neo-Pagans, he was certainly a man who knew his fruit. 'Nuff said already. Apparently, this demonstrates that not all pre-20th century crop improvement was carried out by monks. The theology group will be thrilled.

I've also added another 1000 words to "The Gifting", which means that Simon & Johan are at last actually on the sea. Thank God for that - I was beginning to think I'd never get them there. Now all they have to do is get to the other side ... So, 102,000 words and rising, slowly. Dogger, Gromety, Watchamacallit, or however the Radio 4 shipping forecast goes ...

Tonight, I've earmarked the first part of the "Fallen Angel" trilogy for watching on TV - and, bearing in mind that it was written by the lovely Andrew Taylor (http://www.andrew-taylor.co.uk) who gave me a nice review for "A Dangerous Man" (http://www.flamebooks.com), you must all watch it too! Though I'm sure the book (published in its entirety as "Requiem for an Angel") will be better, as it's an ace read.

This week's haiku:

As we talk: grey-black,
a pair of wild geese rises,
trumpeting the spring.

Oh, and my friend's nasty grandfather has finally died, and she's feeling goooood - double hurrah for us all!

Today's nice things:

1. Visiting Clandon
2. Doing more to "The Gifting"
3. Making double helixes out of rubber bands.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cleaning, Gifting and exploding nuts

A fairly lazy lie-in today, followed by a wild bout of cleaning. With Lord H helping, even though he was supposed to be getting on with his theology presentation for Monday. Still, I didn't complain too much, eh! And the flat is now the cleanest it's been for a while. I even moved piles to dust underneath them - my grandmother would be proud ...

Afterwards, I had a brief yen to tackle the ironing, but instead got sidetracked into adding more to "The Gifting", which I hope to type up tomorrow. It was slow at first, but then I seemed to get into it more, which was reassuring. Still, I do seem to have had an attack of the "buzz words" at the moment - I can't stop typing "hands", "fling" and "a little". Make of that what you will. Oh, and I've also tacked a tanka (5 line Japanese verse) for an upcoming Writers' News (http://www.writersnews.co.uk) competition. I do admit to cheating - I took this week's haiku, fiddled it and added two lines. There, you see; I told you I had no artistic morals. So I've uploaded it to the Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) site for comment and will see what they say.

After all that excitement, I had a glorious two-hour nap, followed by the decision that I really can't finish DBC Pierre's "Ludmila's Broken English" in spite of the glorious language. Unlike his previous effort ("Vernon God Little"), I just don't care enough about any of the characters. It's strange how cold and distant they feel, in spite of the exciting words/phrases he uses. A triumph of style over passion perhaps? I don't know.

Lord H and I had tentatively decided to go to the pub at the bottom of the road tonight, but actually neither of us can be arsed. So he's gone to the shops to (a) get a break from theology and dull Village Hall Committee stuff, and (b) get a Chinese. In the meantime, I've put a couple of beers in the fridge, and attempted to open some nuts, which have exploded all over our newly cleaned kitchen. Damn it. As he wasn't here and will never know, I have picked them up and put them back in the bag. For God's sake, never tell him! He hates that kind of thing ... But, hey, the kitchen was clean; it'll be fine!

Tonight, there's "Primeval" on TV (bliss), and I really have to do that ironing. Sigh.

Today's nice things:

1. Doing more to "The Gifting"
2. Getting the tanka done
3. Napping.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, March 09, 2007

Golf, Gifting and good sales

A moment of joy occurred whilst shopping in Godalming today, when I realised that I actually didn't have to buy anything expensive. Apart from more cash, of course. Just a paper, a Radio Times, a brief saunter in the High Street sun and home again. Almost makes me feel like a lady of leisure. Almost being the operative word here.

Once home, I typed up the latest pieces of "The Gifting", which has brought me to 101,000-ish words. And Simon and Johan are so nearly on the sea ... whilst being chased by ... aha! but I won't say. I don't want to spoil the surprise. Though bearing in mind my 4-year lead-in time from completion to publication, my advice is don't wait up. Ooh, shall I give Simon an unexpected tendency to seasickness? Oh yes, I think so, don't you? I suffer from it after all, so why shouldn't he? Ha! The power, the cruelty, I love it.

Had a great round of golf with Marian this morning. My tee shots were truly wicked. In the best sense. This may have something to do with the fact that the muscles in my legs have been in agony since my back exercise class/Laughter Gym day on Wednesday, and I have been forced to keep absolutely still whilst taking my shots. It certainly concentrates the mind. And just goes to show how unfit I really am. Mind you, it's giving Lord H a lot of enjoyment - I can't go up and down stairs without groaning (which is tough as we live on the 2nd floor), and don't even mention how far down one has to go before one actually arrives on the loo seat ... Arggh!!... I was almost tempted to steal Gladys' stick when I popped in to see her this afternoon, but suspect that would be viewed as Cruelty to Old Folk. She is enjoying the daffodils and being ruled by her cat, by the way, so all is as usual on the Gladys Front.

And joy! Flame Books (http://www.flamebooks.com) have emailed me to say that internet sales of "A Dangerous Man" are good, and they're hoping to start getting trade orders this month. No, sorry, I don't have a fecking clue what that really means either, and if you think I have the courage to ask, then you obviously have no inkling of my total and utter writerly cowardice. But my sales are good, people, they're good! Ye gods indeed. No idea what that means either actually, but I'm hoping it's more than two. So, many thanks to those who've bought; I hope you've enjoyed the ride.

Whilst surfing wildly, I've come across another possible outlet for "Maloney's Law" or even "Thorn in the Flesh" in the guise of the LGBT US publisher Cleis Press (http://www.cleispress.com), so John (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk/about.html) is going to query it with them. Though I suspect there's not really enough gay sex in "M's L", and Kate's lesbianism in "Thorn" is only met in passing. In my defence, I have to say that I did have a lesbian sex scene in there originally, but then decided that she probably wouldn't do that at that particular time and in those particular circumstances after all. So I took it out. Ah well. How I cling to the wreckage of hope indeed, eh?

Hey, my internet sales are good! Did I say that already?

And I've just finished reading the Ver Poets Ten Line Poems anthology, which was (cue ego moment ...) particularly enjoyable in having my own offering, "Sundays", in it. Which did start out as an 11 line poem, and which I still think is much better as an 11 line poem, but I fiddled it to meet the competition rules. So, as you can see, I have absolutely no artistic morals whatsoever. Cue Lord H's favourite muttering: You don't like my morals? Don't worry - I have other ones ...

Oh, and we've had the street cleaned today. How nice. So 1950s. Or would be if they hadn't actually left it much dirtier than it originally was. Which is the opposite to my "Thorn" moment, I suppose.

Tonight, I shall try to show willing and do some cleaning, then I shall eat pizza, garlic bread and ice cream washed down with a gallon of white wine until my head explodes. And it's good to have a plan.

And, oh, did I tell you my internet sales are good?

Today's nice things:

1. Good internet sales
2. Good internet sales
3. Go ... lf (that got you!).

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blood, Falling and the Gas Man

Up at the crack of dawn (lucky dawn) this morning in order to get to the hospital blood clinic. I had imagined this would take several days and would be accompanied by a surly, snarling nurse. In the event, I arrived at the hospital 20 minutes before it opened at 9am, took my ticket at 8.44am, was seen by said surly, snarling nurse at 8.46am and was in the car on my way home by 8.55am. So much for my NHS assumptions and prejudices. It almost makes me want to sign the petition to Save the Royal Surrey County Hospital, which I have to admit I have not yet done, as all my most horrendous and tearfully crushing experiences have taken place in that ruddy hospital, and that's not even when I've been visiting someone else. Up until today, I've been quite happy at the thought that they plan to close it and bus us all to Frimley or make us pay for Mount Alvernia (private hospital which is wonderful and so clean). Now, I'm not so sure ... (although of course that's not what I've been saying to people if they ask me, wimp and coward that I am). We'll see.

The rest of the day has been spent typing up my latest additions to "The Gifting" and reading the wonderful "Falling" by ML Rhodes (http://www.myspace.com/mlrhodeswriting) which arrived today and which has been so utterly gripping that I've had to finish it. Which has put a gaping hole in my own writing plans, I have to say! It's a novel just up my street (as it were): erotic gay fantasy with a great plot and two excellent main characters. I hope there's a sequel as, if there is, my money is certainly ready and waiting. Oh and the sex was hot too. More graphic than my own gay writing, but hey a girl's got to push the boundaries sometimes, eh?!

In the middle of it all, the gas man arrived to service my boiler (no, that is not a metaphor - steady, people, steady ...). He said he'd be here between 12noon and 6pm, so I assumed the earliest would be 6.30pm. In the event, he turned up at 12.30, thus blowing my assumptions out of the water once more. Has the world gone crazy? Am I in the twilight zone? While he was here, he also said that our boiler is so old it's virtually a collectible, but that it was made in the days when men were men and women were cooking so it'll probably outlast us. So there's little point in succumbing to the lure of a modern flimsy boiler - though he did admit that wasn't what he was supposed to say. Still, I liked his honesty so much that I donated two chocolate cookies to the British Gas Hunger Fund and everyone was happy. Hurrah.

And the lovely Julia (http://greatleveller.blogspot.com) has kindly given me a mention in her blog as she's reading "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) - and in the same breath as Jane Austen too! I'm speechless - for once. Thanks, Julia. Must rush and get my bonnet just now ...

Tonight, I've got counselling at 7.15pm as Kunu couldn't make this morning. And having planned my hospital visit, I would have been panicking about it too - though in the event I could have got there with time to spare for shopping. It'll be good to see her, but I do hate (a) having my routine screwed, and (b) going out in the evenings. God, but I need to see a counseller then. Obviously ...

Oh, and today I am wearing the skirt that Lord H bought me from Orvis (http://www.orvis.co.uk). It's lovely. I must buy more when I next feel up to it. Just thought I'd mention it as I so rarely wear skirts. Maybe the 40s will be my most female decade after all? Either that or the Jane Austen effect is working ... You never know.

Today's nice things:

1. The quick blood test
2. The honest gas man
3. Reading "Falling".

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Back class and the Laughter Gym

Feeling better today, phew. I think that whatever it is has turned into a slight cold, which I can cope with. Heck, I should be used to them by now! Today, it’s a busy day on campus, with another UCAS day, which means that grey parking permit people (of which I am one) can’t park, so Lord H gave me a lift in this morning. This meant I arrived at 8.30am, which is a bit of a shame on a day where there hasn't been a great deal to do.

Interestingly though, there’s still no “at risk” letter for me, so I’m beginning to wonder if my association with Student Care Services is actually proving to be more effective in terms of job salvation than my grouping with the support staff category. Hmm, I’m sure there’s a religious symbolism in there somewhere, but I’m way too sneezy to find it. Lord H says that if I haven’t received the Curse of the Black Spot just yet, I should beware of one-legged men with parrots on their shoulders. Describes the Vice-Chancellor to a tee, I’m sure. (And if I don’t get my letter after that sentence, it will be a ruddy miracle indeed …)

Went to my back exercise class at lunchtime, so had to lie down in a darkened room with a flannel, come the afternoon. Lord, but she worked us hard. Tonight, the Health Centre hosted a Happy Hour Laughter Gym after work, with a Laughter Consultant (hey, what a great job!!) we’ve hired who cost £200 per hour. Heck, I’m definitely in the wrong job. I’ll tell you a bad joke for a fiver. Lord, but I’m cheap. We had great fun though - did laughter yoga and laughter meditation and felt like a million dollars afterwards. Definitely worth it.
Mind you, extra fun was had by the fact that my boss and the Dean of Students were both wearing the same clothes today - consisting of blue & white checked shirt, taupe trousers and brown shoes. They looked like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. But oh the humiliation across campus - everyone will think that Student Care Services has a uniform ...

Oh, and the neighbour down the road has complained as he gets a lot of my post and is fed up with delivering it to me. Which I suppose is fair enough as he’s in his 80s and we do have a tricky set of outside stairs. He’s now saying he doesn’t want to deliver any more of it, which is rather worrying. After all, it’s not my fault and I do also deliver post to him. So it’s a two-way problem, I think. Anyway, I’ve complained to the Royal Mail, and have had a chat with him on the phone today – so I think he’s feeling happier. But I hope he doesn’t start throwing anything essential away – I dread the thought that someone might send me something nice and I might never know. Maybe we’ll have to think about getting an outside mail box put in, as they do in the US. Still won’t stop the postman getting the numbers mixed up though. Sigh.

Tonight, it’s a night in. Bliss. Might type up what I’ve done of “The Gifting” and also watch my video of yesterday’s “Life on Mars”. We’ll see. Oh and the lovely Becky on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/edie1964) tells me she's enjoying "A Stranger's Table" - huge thanks, Becky! I really appreciate you saying that!

Today’s nice things:

1. Back class
2. Laughter Gym
3. Not getting a Black Spot letter – yet …

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Alternative therapies and the Great Gay Question

Yes, I’m the great alternative therapy user today. Which has to be a good thing as I was up last night feeling really sick. Goodness knows what it is, but it’s not a great way to spend the hours of 3 and 4 in the morning. Not with the plan to get up early and collect my blood form from the surgery when they opened at 8am – as they were kind enough to leave a message on my ansaphone yesterday that it was ready for collection. The doctor must assume I’m still alive then. Good.

And I didn't feel so great the rest of the day actually – I skipped breakfast (a shockingly rare event) and had two mugs of hot, sweet tea at my desk (another shockingly rare event x2). Which helped, though food was a no-no till 3pm. When I ate 3 dried apricots, 2 chocolate finger biscuits and some rice. In that order. Maybe I should have demanded “patient care” rights and an anti-sickness pill when I popped into the surgery to collect the ruddy form, but frankly I felt too sick to put up a fight. That’s the power of the doctor – when you need them the most, you’re too ill to express it. Darn it.

Still, I had my reflexology appointment at or lunchtime, which must have moved some of my apparent toxins through to the outside world. And Emily (reflexologist) also bought a copy of “A Dangerous Man” (http://www.flamebooks.com), which came with a free copy of "A Stranger's Table". And she's such a nice woman too. Hope she continues to do my feet after she's read it ... And talking of which, the Blessed Clayton (now his official title - at http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) has emailed me to say he's enjoying Michael and finds him very similar to the boys lurking outside his Soho shop. Hurrah! That's certainly perked me up - thanks again, Clayton (sorry, B.C. for short). Oh, and my boss has read the first ten pages and kept giving me faintly astonished looks. As well as having an interesting conversation about how it feels to be inside the head of someone like M. I can see my work review is going to be a riot.

This afternoon, I was supposed to be giving blood (help! I soon won’t have any left at the rate the buggers are taking it …), but I cried off in the end due to health. Self-pity’s a marvellous thing.

Tonight, Lord H is at the Worship Committee (which he hates with a vengeance, but feels morally obliged to go as the friendly face of finance), and I've just come back from my kinesiologist (http://www.kinesiology4health.com) – who has performed wonders with my Chakras and I am now a New Woman. Still not blonde though, curses. Apparently, I am now aligned with my emotional blueprint and must try to keep in step with it. Weird, I know - but bizarrely I do feel better. So let's not knock the weirdness just yet. And it was fun to do.

At home, I am videoing "Life on Mars" as I have no time to watch it, m'dears. Too busy blogging and such like. And Clare from The Friday Project (http://www.thefridayproject.co.uk) - who read yesterday's blog (if you're reading again, hello, Clare!) has emailed me to say she hasn't got my synopses yet. Oh dear, perhaps the TFP taste monitor took one look at them and held up its hands in horror. I have replied to ask if she would like them sent in another fashion, and await a response. Or the inevitable rejection - argghh!!

Oh, and Lord H had a good time at the homosexuality and poverty session at theology class last night. It was as has been obvious for many, many years: the laity really don’t give two hoots about who people sleep with, and it’s only the church leadership (and the media) which makes such a fuss about it. All the course attenders agreed that the sexuality issue is completely irrelevant as God’s got way more important issues to deal with – an agreement which apparently surprised the course leaders (again, another obvious fact: the church leadership never ever listen to the wisdom of their flock. Well, hey, tell us something we didn’t know …). Interestingly (and very sadly) though, two people in the group did say that, even though they had no problems with gay or lesbian people being part of their church, they would in fact advise any who turned up that they might be better placed elsewhere as their own local leadership was likely to make things difficult for them. Lord preserve us indeed. This issue always makes me soooo cross. I get quite tearful thinking about it. Why can’t people stop persecuting other people just because they have different desires from them? Aren’t we all human in the end? Pause for enraged yelling at the narrow-mindedness and stupidity of our so-called church leaders: Argghhh. Well, even though I’ve got (other) problems with church, at least anyone will be welcome at St Peter’s – as Lord H said, we’re 90% gay there anyway. Even the straight folk. Indeed, that’s been the High Church way for centuries …

Oh, and Jackie (http://jackieluben.blogspot.com) and Jennifer (wo-)manned a Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) stall at the Farmers' Market in Guildford today, and sold copies of all our books, hurrah! Including one copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" to Julia from UniSWriters - thanks, Julia. Hope you like it!

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Finding my blueprint(!)
3. Clayton's email.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com