Lordy, what a rollercoaster of a day. Up with rosy-fingered dawn (lucky dawn) today as I'd booked an 8.30am haircut and Lynda is super-efficient and always turns up early. Indeed when Lord H left the house at 8.15am, he found her parked outside and sent her up. She'd probably been parked there all night. Perhaps I should have offered her breakfast? Anyway, after her tender ministrations, I now look fairly presentable. At least temporarily.
All this meant I could pop into Godalming first thing and stock up on essential local papers and jiffy bags (in case someone actually buys Thorn in the Flesh and I have to send it to them - hell, you never know!). I also spent my birthday book vouchers in Waterstone's, and the girls there were incredibly helpful and got me books I might actually want to read - ie dark, quirky and different, which was what I asked them to find. I suspect they might have been significantly less helpful if they'd known I was one of the hated Breed of Authors. Bookshops don't mix with the likes of us, you know. Interestingly, one of the girls also said how boring most of the stuff they had in now was and it was very dull that everyone was writing the same sort of book, and how lovely it was that I as a reader was making their jobs exciting by asking for something different. Cue my line of bringing Goldenford and our wonderfully different books to their attention, but I was too frightened to mention it, to be honest - it's not often bookshop staff are nice to me and I was too moved by the experience to ruin it ... Sigh. I am a Grade One Wimp, to be sure.
The big event of the day however was of course Penny's funeral. Her work friends turned up in force, which I was glad to see, plus long-term friends and family, so actually it was very fitting. And very "Penny". We had a laugh, along with a few tears as well, of course. In the end, it was sassy, straightforward and fun - much like the woman herself. Guildford Crematorium is a lovely place, I must say. I'll be very happy to end up there. And I got to know it extremely well too as after the service, my car wouldn't start. Goddammit. My, Penny would have loved that - she would have killed herself laughing, so it's probably a good job she's already dead. If I'm allowed to say such a thing on Funeral Day. Ruth was kind enough to wait until I'd called the RAC man and sorted out my time of rescue, and also bequeathed (couldn't resist it, sorry) me the remains (God, but I'm good) of her apple juice plus a mug to drink it with from the bowels of her campervan. Thanks, Ruth. So I had a pleasant hour-and-a-half sitting on a shady bench and admiring the funeral style of the next body in. Or possibly out. Funeral Number Two had a zillion mourners, truckloads of flowers and the black horses with the plumes. Way to go! It did make my car and the RAC van rather unpopular, as they could have done with the extra parking spaces, and we were obviously not of their ilk. Ah well. I also managed in the unexpected lull to write out a plot and themes for Hallsfoot's Battle. So that's got me excited and enthused about it again, hurrah! Not to mention having a brand-new battery and a car that works now, double hurrah.
It'll still have to be put on hold though as when I got back I found the report on The Bones of Summer (anyone remember that one?) from The Literary Consultancy. It was much better than I'd anticipated, triple hurrahs! So thank you, Sara Maitland, for your advice. It's very much appreciated. Her overall view was that the novel was "a very satisfying and dramatic tale", and she loved the whole Craig and Paul story arc. She thought I handled the sex very well (gosh!), as it was open and realistic without being "in your face". That's a relief then, as sex writing is one of my strong points, I think. Negative points are that I really need to up the ante of my plot (which I knew - I always need help with plot. It's my big weak point), and she gave me some wonderful suggestions for that. Alongside, I also need to give more life to the secondary characters, but her plot suggestions will go a long way to sorting that out. So I've started the edit and I'm looking forward to giving it some welly as I go through, along with some more exciting strands. My, how I love getting my teeth into the edit - as long as the report I'm basing it on is a positive one, that is!
Oh, and I see from a read through of The Surrey Advertiser that the police have "swooped" (why do they always do that??) on the nearby sleepy little village of Elstead, as they've discovered a cannabis farm there. My, how exciting! You would have thought they could have invited us round for a party first, dammit. It's getting more "Midsomer" here by the minute. And a Guildford man has been shortlisted for Husband of the Year in Eve Magazine's awards. How hugely embarrassing for him. Though, to my mind, Lord H could knock all of their entries into a cocked hat - I shall have to enter him for it next year ...
Today's nice things:
2. Saying goodbye to Penny
3. Breaking down in a Crematorium (yes, I know, but it was funny ...)
4. Discovering a plot and some themes for Hallsfoot
5. Getting a positive report for Bones - and hey one I can use for improvement!