Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gardens, glasses and angst

Book News:

Much to my surprise, A Dangerous Man briefly found itself at No 25 in the Amazon UK charts, so that was nice. In addition, The Hit List gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks for that, Chris - much appreciated.

On the sales front, there's 25% off all my Untreed Reads titles until the end of the year, so shop early shop often, and start your New Year with a bang. As it were.

Only one meditation this week as I slowly slowly get back into the habit again, and here it is:

Meditation 475
Sometimes the best victory
and the one
you remember

is simply to outlive
the one
you hate.

Life News:

A bit of an up-and-down week really. We've had a lot of nice outings, including visiting The Egyptian Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum, which is well worth it especially if you're into death rituals and bodies, as I am. We also enjoyed seeing the Lewis chessmen, which are wonderful - much smaller than I thought they'd be (silly me, eh) but absolutely exquisite.

We've also visited Wakehurst Place in the fog, where the gardens were interesting but ... um ... foggy and we probably need to go back when we can actually see things. And today, we've had a lovely time at Savill Garden, which I love and which is just as beautiful in winter, with some amazing winter displays and trails, as it is in the summer. The shop's good too and I've finally managed to buy some decent new soapdishes, which I've been looking for for ages, and a nice big happy mug too. So I can aim to be happier in 2011, ho ho.

On the way back we popped into a garden centre to look for candles, and I managed to smash one of the displays and cut myself with glass whilst doing so. Good for me, eh. The staff were lovely though and I didn't have to pay for the chaos I caused, for which I am hugely grateful - it was probably the look of total shock and the blood dripping from the finger that brought out their compassionate side. Anyway, I've calmed down now, thank the Lord, and next time I want to look at anything breakable, I will get K to lift it up for me.

Meanwhile, I've also had another physio session and the frozen shoulder is definitely on the mend, though it makes itself known every now and then. And I've bought a really lovely winter coat in the sales at Debenhams, with which I am hugely happy.

This week's drama has been the Crisis of the Missing Glasses. I attempted to watch the Rolf Harris (I have a soft spot for dear old Rolf) art show last night and realised I couldn't find my tv watching/driving glasses anywhere. Cue frantic searching of the flat, weeping and sobbing (the latter two being mine, naturally). And cue recording of Rolf. I felt really stupid and assumed I'd somehow lost them in Guildford yesterday whilst meandering round the sales. So this morning I spend 45 minutes ringing round shops I can remember being in to see if they had found them. Everyone was really lovely but sadly no glasses. I then did some more weeping and rang the optician's to make an emergency appointment to get replacements. Bearing in mind you never know how long they're going to take and I do take a while choosing new ones anyway, I decided to chance it as it's only a short trip to Godalming and take the car in myself rather than make K wait around while I faffed about. I got in the car and there the buggers were!!! What joy and bliss abounding!!! You can't imagine the relief ... especially as I've just saved myself c£300 replacement costs, double hurrahs and put out the bunting.

Anyway, K has now made me put my phone number in both my reading and my "missing" glasses cases so if they do genuinely go astray at some point then I have a better chance of getting them back. And, when I rang the optician to cancel the appointment, they were hugely pleased that their long-distance customer service skills were as top-notch as ever, gawd bless 'em. How I love a happy ending.

As a result of all that, K and I have also had a discussion about how much of a stressed-out drama queen I'm becoming - though as he freely admits that when he first met me I was stressed-out and hugely unhappy way back then, then perhaps it's not as much of a shock to him as I always assume it is when I get myself in a state now. But I do think I'm getting much worse as I get older - is it my hormones?? Or perhaps the general lack of the sort of hopeful attitude I had twenty years ago that I most definitely don't have now? I'm sure I used to assume in my twenties that things would improve no matter how bad they were, whereas nowadays I just assume they'll probably get worse and I get very angry and frustrated about it. Lordy, what a delight I am to be with indeed ... Anyway, as a result of all this deep thought, I've bought myself an anger management book and a set of bible reading notes to start in January to see if that helps. I should also do more meditation too, I think, as I'm not really very committed to it these days, particularly as my church life went downhill earlier in the year. I'm wondering about going back to the gym too, maybe, as in the old old days beyond recall I used to get rid of a hell of a lot of steam there which helped with the aggression levels, but let's not get too over-enthusiastic. Bloody Rome wasn't built in a bloody day, eh. And I don't want to set myself up for too much personal failure before the year has even begun - there's plenty of time for that yet!

Happy New Year, in any case, to all.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas completed

Life News:

Well then, it's all over for another year and I have to say it's a relief. Only the aftermath to go now, though it's always nice to have holiday time, naturally. That said, Christmas hasn't been too bad this year - K and I had a nice relaxing day together yesterday, and the champagne was grand. I've never met a champagne I didn't like though. Pressies were wonderful and even my mother didn't provide her usual really strange present amongst the goodies, so I suspect she's been swopped for someone else, but Lord knows who. I was also thrilled when K came home after work on Friday bearing a bouquet of Christmas flowers. They look lovely and, believe me, I'm worth it.

The only present he didn't manage to get (and which he, bless him, drove all the way to Bracknell for on Friday) was a book on anger management I mentioned I wanted to get during the week. Well, these waves of pre-menopausal/pre-menstrual rage are getting quite debilitating for us all. There must be a solution somewhere. Though sadly, K didn't manage to get the book as when he finally got to the bookshop the one copy they had was reserved for someone else, dammit. He did admit he wondered briefly about whether he should burst into a fit of rage (so non-K ...) at the counter that he couldn't buy an anger management book but thought, probably wisely, that might well be an irony too far. Plus he was rather nervous about whether he should be getting his wife an anger book for Christmas at all. Sometimes failure can indeed be the best result! Ah well. I shall buy it online at some point.

In the meantime, we have graced the door of the church for the Christmas morning service, which went on rather too long for my liking (didn't they know we had a bottle of champers cooling nicely in the fridge and wanted to set it free??) and I have managed to stave off my potential cold, hurrah.

This morning, we have enjoyed a pleasant, if chilly, walk at Wisley and I'm slobbing this afternoon, big time. Bliss, on both fronts. Though it's very strange about the Wisley shop - it's so posh and lovely, and I leap in with every intention of buying something whenever we go but most times never actually do. It's probably outclassing my tastes, I fear.

Book News:

I am now about three-quarters of the way through the edits to The Gifting but am giving it a couple of days' break at the moment to catch my breath before 2011 comes upon us. Hope to finish going through it in early January.

I was also pleased to see that A Dangerous Man made it up to No 52 in the Amazon US Kindle charts on Christmas Eve, so that was a very nice surprise indeed. Makes Christmas almost worthwhile, don't you know, ho ho ho.

Anyway, here's a poem:

TV Heaven

Sunday nights
are for murder,
something cosy
with a hint of spice
to get your teeth into,

not gory enough to put you off
your cocoa and cake
but with enough blood
and interesting corpses
to give a certain zest
to the cheese and biscuits.

It’s an essential bridge
from the deep deep peace of the weekend
to the frantic hurly-burly
of the working week

so sit down, switch on
and don’t speak.

And the Sunday haiku (the last one of 2010!) is:

The sound of winter:
crackle of ice harmonised
with the grey dove's song.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is it all over yet?...

Book News:

I've had a lovely and very thoughtful review of A Dangerous Man at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so many thanks to Kassa for that.

In the meantime, I'm carrying on with the publisher edits for The Gifting and am now nearing the halfway mark, which is nice.

Life News:

I have to say I am now totally fed up with 2010, to be honest, and really wish it was over. Sorry to be the Bringer of Misery (ah, it's my habitual role, you know) but there it is. On the whole, it's not been a great ending to the year and for me it has most definitely outstayed its welcome.

Part of this is because illnesses are greatly abounding - though the frozen shoulder is considerably better now, thanks to the magic skills of my physio, Helen (may her name be praised). I can now raise my arm above my shoulder, hurrah, though moving it backwards is still beyond me. And I must also sing the praises of my TENS pain relief machine and the newly-discovered Deep Heat patches - which really really work, well gosh. However today I am coming down with a cold so am fully expecting snorting, coughing and wheezing to be the accompaniment to our Christmas guinea fowl and rum butter on Saturday (Lordy, but there's a combination for sure). Still, I am taking Lemsips and echinacea in the hope of fending off the inevitable.

The slightly surprising news is that I have discovered that if I have actual physical pain (such as the frozen shoulder), then I feel considerably less depressed. I can quite honestly say that during the first few days of FS I've never been mentally happier. Really, it was a great shock to me. On the other hand, now the FS is on the mend, I feel the customary gloom pouring in, and indeed yesterday evening was a real and serious downer, double groans and pass me the revolver. Back on a double dose of St John's Wort & Passion Flower, and today I feel marginally better, probably because I gave up totally on the day last night at 9pm and simply went to bed. So, the trick is to have a low level of real pain that is evident but not too debilitating and I am Ms. Sunshine herself. Dream on, eh.

Alongside all this, we had our first viewer of the flat this week - they were "very keen" apparently and would "definitely make an offer", according to the estate agent (ho ho, as if), and since then there's been silence.  It now appears they don't like the outside stairs, and the estate agent (in the manner of all estate agents everywhere) is wrong. Now I can't believe I let myself fall even a little for the possibility of hope and I will certainly not be doing that again - it's part of what contributed to the serious meltdown of yesterday.

At the same time, Bellway Homes are getting very pushy indeed about our potential part-exchange situation and have been ringing us up every five minutes asking when they can send round yet another estate agent to give a PX value. Luckily they're on holiday now until next week so will not be pursuing us further for a while, and so I've left a message saying we're happy to sort another visit out in January when everyone's breathed after Christmas & the New Year again. Really, I have no idea what their sudden and frantic hurry is as the house of theirs we like isn't even built yet, for goodness sake. Plus I like to keep our options open just in case something better comes up (which they know) so have no intention of making any sort of final decision until at least the end of January. Ha! From now on I am no longer going to be super-nice (if indeed I ever was) but determined.

However, the overarching feeling about houses at the moment is that I really hate being in the flat and want to get out as soon as I can - like the year itself, our time here has way outstayed its welcome and I wish we'd got out sooner. If it gets to February and we have f**k all coming our way in terms of escape routes and Bellway are still playing silly devils with us, then quite frankly I'm out of here. If we have to sell this one later and live in a hovel until we do, then that is exactly what we'll do. A month ago, I didn't want to spend my birthday here, and now I'm damned if I have to spend Easter in the place. I really hate it and actually I really hate our absentee middle neighbours too. Thank God they don't actually live in the house.

Other delights of the season (ho, b****y ho) are this morning I had to go into Godalming to pay a cheque in to Santander Bank that I owe to my delightful absentee downstairs neighbours (hurrah, at least someone in the house is nice!). I must say Santander in Godalming wins the Grumpiest Staff of the Year award by a long way - they were really nasty to deal with and quite unforgivably rude to the customer in front of me too. Are they on drugs? Or maybe they should be ... Anyway it was an unpleasant experience all round and I'm just hugely glad I don't bank there. They're almost on par with Godalming Lloyds and that's saying something.

On a more positive note (at last!), I have wrapped all K's presents so am ready to fully ignore the Big Day on Saturday in the manner to which we have become accustomed over the last eighteen years. Somebody crack open the ruddy champagne already.

Happy Christmas and see you on the other side!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Notes on a winter week

Brief notes this time due to difficulties with my arm:

1. Talking of which, had a bit of a relapse with the arm over the w/e probably due to trying to do too much on Friday. Have tried to ease it down this weekend.

2. Think my new St John's Wort/Passion Flower pills might be working as I felt confident enough this morning, in spite of health problems, to change my earrings for the first time in a year. Well, gosh. Not sure that will happen again for a while though.

3. Winter has revisited us - so I'm absolutely dreading the journey to work tomorrow already. Hope K can get the car out of the road as I really don't want to struggle with walking and trains.

4. Rather disappointed by Strictly Come Dancing. Pamela should have won - especially as hers was the only showdance worth watching and the only one that was actually a dance. A very disappointing final.

5. A Dangerous Man gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks for that, Marsha.

6. I'm struggling on slowly with the edits to The Gifting but I can only do a few pages before my arm starts to give me grief. The last couple of nights have involved some very broken sleep so I am hoping for a full night's sleep tonight, please God.

7. We've put an initial deposit down on a new-build property in Guildford, but we still have to look at part-exchange possibilities and timings, so it's all up in the air at the moment. In the meantime, the flat remains on the open market.

8. The Sunday haiku is:

This winter garden
rises to embrace my skin,
silences the sky.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flash fiction and physio

Book News:

I'm carrying on, slowly, with the edits for The Gifting but I can't do very much very quickly due to the current health issues (see below).

However, keeping me ticking over is the fact that the Fiction at Work flash fiction anthology is now starting to be available although I believe its official launch date is next year. It includes a piece from me about relationships and zoos, Over in Ten. So I hope you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, a couple of my books have become available at Rainbow Ebooks, and you can also currently get discounts on a fair amount of my work at Books On Board too, so that's nice.

Today, at Vulpes Libris, I'm reviewing Meg Cabot's Queen of Babble, which is a fabulous, and fabulously funny, novel and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Life News:

This week, since Sunday, I've had a recurrence of my frozen shoulder problem, so it's not been a particularly pleasant week, health-wise. I spent most of Monday night on the sofa in rather a lot of pain (I even sobbed at one point, ah the shame of it!) and staring at bits of TV I never knew were on at 3am and beyond, though I did manage about 2 hours' sleep in slices, so one must be grateful for small mercies. Mind you, the rerun of Hornblower was nice, and I am probably now addicted to US glamour soap, Gossip Girl. Ah, the hair, the make-up, the dresses, what fun. And thank goodness for my TENS pain relief machine which was strapped to my arm almost throughout, and also for my rediscovery of the anti-inflammatory pills I used two years ago when I last had a frozen shoulder.

On Tuesday, I rediscovered the Co-Codamol pills as well and that's been a real life-saver. They're strong enough to knock a horse out in 30 seconds so do very well for me, hurrah. I also think, Monday apart, it's not been as bad as last time or possibly I'm aware of what it is so don't fiddle about trying to pretend it's not happening. Still, I can drive short distances if I'm careful, which I couldn't before so that's good. And since Monday, sleep hasn't been a problem.

Anyway, I had an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday afternoon and I'm doing some emergency physio sessions with the delightful Helen who saw me through it all last time round. She's a miracle-worker - I had the first session with her today and have two more booked for next week which should see me through to and beyond Christmas, so that's good.

In the midst of all that, we've had the team away day at work which I managed okay, with the help of my trusty machine and pills, and also our office Christmas lunch which was fun. The chocolate parfait with chocolate sticks was to die for, I swear it. And I'm able to use cutlery properly now (hurrah!) as long as I don't have to do too much cutting. Indeed the good side of this whole thing is that I can't do the cleaning or shopping, and am only on light washing up duties. There's always a silver lining, eh ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Edits, Entertainment and an Honorable Mention

Book News:

I'm very happy to say that I have the first round of edits back for The Gifting from Bluewood Publishing so I am happily getting on with those. I'm now on Page 100 of c470 pages so am doing okay, I think. Onward and upward, as they say.

I've also got a new webpage for the second in the Delaneys series, Entertaining the Delaneys, and this will be published by Amber Allure Press on 20 February 2011. I'm planning a series of four or five to this one, so there's more to come.

Other thrilling news is that The Hit List gained an Honorable Mention is this year's Rainbow Awards for Gay Contemporary Romance Fiction, so it's been really lovely to be in that ... um ... list also (sorry, couldn't resist it!). Not to be outdone, A Dangerous Man gained a very nice 5-star review at Goodreads from CAS (thanks, CAS) who called it "One of the most incredible stories I have read in a long, long time" - I hope in a good way! And Maloney's Law was, briefly, at No 19 in the Amazon UK charts, which was very nice indeed.

This week at Vulpes Libris I've also reviewed Kate Fenton's romantic novel, Picking Up - which I have to say is definitely not one of her best, and I'm a die-hard Kate Fenton fan. My advice is don't start here - but get any of her glorious earlier novels I've mentioned in my review - if you can ...

The meditation for this week is:

Meditation 474
The sharpness of thorn
and the clarity
of cedar

are a bitter memory
on the distant hills
of Lebanon.

The Sunday haiku is:

The soft snow settles
into the corners of life.
It outlasts the thaw.

Life News:

I've had my six-monthly dental appointment (hello, Margaret!) and have to have a filling redone, sob - can't fit it in until January but hey it's always good to have something to look forward to in the post-Christmas zone, eh. Besides, the dentist and her glamorous assistant are always a joy to visit, so what could be nicer, tee hee? And at least I still have all my own teeth - thus far.

Yesterday, K and I spent the day at Mother's doing the early Christmas thing. I think it was okay and neither of us murdered the other (Mother and me, not K and me ...) so that can only be a positive outcome indeed. And, say what you will, but the old matriarch does make a damn good fairy cake. Chocolate too, mmm. Not entirely sure what the ritualistic tapping of the jam pot lid meant though, but you can't have everything. Perhaps she was releasing the Genie of the Jam? Who can tell ... And, while we were out in the family (yikes!) zone, the new tenants moved in to the ground floor flat, so I hope they're settling in well. It will be nice to have someone else in the house other than us, I must say. They have a young child too (gosh!) so that's certainly a new thing. We kept up the House Tradition  of leaving champagne and chocolate biscuits on their front doorstep before we left to see Mother, along with a card of welcome - so I hope they don't think we're too scary. Also, seeing as this means there is another woman in the place for the first time in 17 years plus plus, I left the obligatory note For Her Eyes Only about the Victorian pipes and what that means in real terms in case she may not know that. It surprises me how few people do, but then again I was brought up in the country with no mains sewage so one learnt on one's mother's knee never ever to put anything down the toilet that the Victorians wouldn't have expected to be there. Say no more, eh ... Otherwise, we're all in our Wellington boots down in the cellar having a ... um ... high time, and you don't really want to go there.

This morning, we put in an appearance at church for the first time in ages, so God, and the vicar, were duly startled. I was astonished anyone remembered our names, really. It was also the Family Service, which was scary, but we coped. Though, during the talk, when the speaker asked us all what preparations we were putting in place for Christmas, I'm not sure my answer of "having the family row in order to get it over with" was exactly what the vicar was expecting. I suspect I'm probably banned from the Family service for life now.

Finally, and on a rather worried note, I am getting concerned about my right arm. It's distinctly painful today and I'm having trouble making it do anything useful, like getting dressed, having a bath etc etc. I've taken a pill to stop the pain, and later this afternoon, I think I'll use my pain relief machine - but I'm really really hoping it's not the onset of another bout of frozen shoulder. I can't bear that, as it was agonising enough the first time round! And I don't have time for it either. If it's any worse tomorrow though, maybe I should go to the doctor. I'll see.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The traumas of travel

Life News:

Getting back to work wasn't as bad as I'd feared on Monday, although I had a terrible headache in the afternoon and had to come home early just in order to go to sleep to try to get rid of the thing. Yes, I did take the usual pills but sadly they didn't work. Felt better on Tuesday though, but I made sure I got out for a walk at lunchtime which helped, and I kept working at the computer without my glasses now and again as I felt it staved off any return of the headache moment. Might need to get my eyes retested, as it does seem to be the work screen, or maybe the overhead lights, that's setting it off at the moment - as the home computer is fine.

Have switched my working days this week as I've attended the funeral for the father of one of the University Janes today, which was sad but expected as he really hadn't been well. Had a very difficult journey there and back though - I got terribly confused and ended up on the M4 instead of the M40 on the way there, so panicked and got hugely stressed and headed to Heathrow as I thought I ought to be able to pick up the M25 again there. Which I did do, but the traffic was horrendous and I nearly had an accident twice. Lordy. The funeral was difficult too, as these things are, but Jane gave a very good eulogy, which impressed me as I don't think I'd ever be able to do that. Ever. It brought back memories of my own father's funeral too - odd how the death of friend's mothers, though sad of course, doesn't quite hit home in the way the death of the older men does. Also there were people there whom I haven't seen for ages and who, to be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to. But it was okay in the end - we chatted a bit and then I left, as I didn't want to stay for the post-funeral lunch. God, but I'm never sure what those things are for but, anyway, I had to get back. Not sure either how I feel about said people - it feels like history now, to be honest, which I suppose is healthy, rather than being stressed out about it all. Still, the end of friendships can be a difficult stage to negotiate - someone ought to write a book about it.

On the way home, I managed to get lost too - my brain was a total blank and I was finding it tricky to keep (a) alert and (b) awake. Never a good way to be driving really. I found myself in a road I didn't recognise at all, saw a Dog Rescue Centre (of all places!) and stopped to ask them directions. Hell, they must be used to stressed-out strays flocking at their doors, as they were super-nice and gave me directions to get back to the M25 which even I could understand, thank the Lord. And I don't even like dogs.

Today, we've also put the house back on with another estate agent, even though we're still considering the part-exchange and new house option - on the grounds that it does no harm to keep all the options open. I don't feel very confident about any of it though, but didn't have the energy to do anything beyond just agree with most of what the new agent was saying - though I'm proud of the fact that I kicked him into touch about price - we've already dropped it three times and it's now on at £209,995, and I'm not going any lower until we've at least seen the New Year in. Besides, the other agent we had in to look at the part-exchange price quoted us £225,000 so I still think it's a snip.

Book News:

I've sent back the completed edits for Brady's Choice to the publisher, and that's due out on 23 January. I'm quite pleased with it as it's more meditative and grown-up in some ways than my other gay short stories. We'll have to see if readers agree though.

The Hit List was at No 47 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts during the week and can also be purchased directly from the publisher at a 25% discount during December.

Meanwhile, A Dangerous Man found itself at No 29 in the Amazon UK charts and at No 78 in the Amazon US Kindle charts, so thank you to those who are buying it. It was also, much to my delight, showcased at Erotic Horizon Books on Monday, so thank you, EH, for that. Much appreciated.

This week's meditations so far are:

Meditation 471
Some courage
is never seen

but vanishes into air
like the first mist
of morning,

so fragile
you hardly know it.

Meditation 472
Our lives
are a single arrow

shot through clear air
framing bright sky
for a heartbeat

and landing silent
upon the waiting earth.

Meditation 473
The secret
at the heart
of everything

is simply the need
never to be

Anne Brooke

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Houses, haikus and health

Life News:

The good news is I'm feeling a lot better, hurrah, and the snow is vanishing, double hurrah. I've even actually been out of the house today for the first time since Tuesday, so I'm definitely on the mend. Less danger of slipping too.

All this weather we've been having plus illness has meant K and I didn't get to see the one-woman play about Jane Austen's Women in Guildford on Friday, which might have been fun so I'm sorry we missed it. Plus we've had to put our Christmas visit to Mother off until next Saturday, which is what I thought would happen.

In the meantime, we've had another estate agent round to give us a quote for potential part-exchange, and we've spent today doing a thorough site visit both of the development in Guildford and the one in Chobham Lakes, just to see how we feel about them, when compared. The Chobham Lakes one is certainly nice but it might be just too executive and be striving for too much of a community feel for us. On the plus side, it's definitely quiet and if we go there I'll be able to use my car to get to work, though the drive will be longer. On the other hand, the Guildford development has an extra bedroom on the third floor which I love the sound of (it's not been built yet as it's very new!), plus a nice looking conservatory, although it's noisier as it's nearer the road and I'll have to go to work by bus as it's too near the University to get a car pass. Ah, decisions, decisions. At the moment, the Guildford development is winning by a nose, but we'll see what we feel like tomorrow - our attitudes change by the hour ...

Book News:

I'm happy to say that the second in my Delaneys series, Entertaining the Delaneys, has been accepted for publication by Amber Allure Press on 20 February 2011. I've got ideas for two more stories as well so it looks like I'll get at least a set of four out of good old Liam, bless him.

A Dangerous Man is now available in Kindle versions at Amazon UK and Amazon US, so lots more shopping opportunities to enjoy. And Thorn in the Flesh is being offered at a 26% discount plus free worldwide delivery at The Book Depository, so ideal winter reading for all.

The Sunday haiku is particularly relevant as the father of a friend of mine died this week, I'm sorry to say:

Under quiet snow
our old men are vanishing,
taken by winter.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Not the best holiday week ever ...

Life News:

Well, this is our holiday week and so far it's definitely not been great. Poor K had to go into work all day Saturday, and then on Monday had to do a fair amount of work remotely. Plus on Tuesday, he had to pop into the office for an hour or so, but thankfully it wasn't too long. Not to mention the fact that I've had a horrible and developing cold since Monday, so haven't been able to do that much anyway apart from watch bad TV and attempt to solve crossword puzzles, groan, moan. Though I did go in with him on Tuesday, so K dropped me off in Woking while he went to the office. I don't mean to be mean (as it were), but Woking isn't the most exciting place in the world, and definitely doesn't do itself justice when it's starting to snow seriously (I hate snow!) and I'm not feeling well.

So I wandered round in the indoor shopping arcade for a bit and had a cappuccino and a sit down in the theatre cafe. Which was quite nice and relaxing really. When K finished work, we decided to pop into The Lightbox Gallery as we've been meaning to go for a while and have never got round to it. It probably wasn't the best time to go, however, as one of the exhibition halls was shut and they were having a big focus on (a) childhood illustrations and (b) the history of Woking. Lordy. Neither K nor I are great fans of children though the illustrations were pleasant enough. But, quite honestly, the history of Woking can be summed up with the words: Railway; Mental Hospital; Cemetery. And that's about it really, though they're charmingly keen about it. It could have done with a mention of the H G Wells connection, but surprisingly was silent on the matter ... Ah well.

Today, we were planning to go up to London to see the Egyptian Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum but the snow and ill health have definitely stopped play. Plus we were planning to do our site visit of the housing development in Guildford, but that's likely to be put off from tomorrow again, I suspect. And goodness knows whether we'll be able to visit Mother in Essex on Saturday. Just as K and I have spent some time wrapping their presents up and doing our Christmas cards as well. Typical!

Mind you, we have, during our holiday week (ho ho), managed to do battle with various companies. We have sent a strongly-worded letter of complaint to Mann Countrywide, and I've also had to telephone Page & Moy travel company no less than seven times since Monday simply in order to get them to send us the correct discounted invoice they promised. Lordy, but they have made it all hugely complicated, though I am at least proud that I managed to keep my temper and not shout or sob, but that's probably because I'm not well and don't have the energy. I doubt it's to do with anything as spiritual as a growing maturity, God forbid. Anyway, it's interesting that (a) I asked to speak to the Administration Manager, Lynne Carter, four times in clear language but each time they refused to put me through - the last time because she was "too busy to speak to me". What rudeness! I am also way too busy to want to speak to her once, let alone seven times, yet I somehow make time in my schedule to do so ...; and (b) when they finally deigned to send the discounted invoice they had actually added the 10% discount instead of subtracting it, the fools, so they had to send it again (after yet another phone call from me). Anyway, one thing that's come out of this is that if you want anything useful done by Page & Moy, ignore Lynne Carter (she's just soooo busy, dahlings, that she can't speak to anything so lowly as an actual customer) and try to get to a lady called Lynne Barker who is nice, efficient and can also do Maths. Must be a rare thing in her office ... Why isn't Lynne B the manager?...

Book News:

I'm pleased to say that The Hit List found itself at No 36 in the Amazon Kindle charts, and Tommy's Blind Date was at No 69 in the same charts, though it's flagging now, ho ho.

My mood was also much cheered by the news that The Girl in the Painting is proving to be an ongoing bestseller for Untreed Reads, and so I must write more literary lesbian short stories in the future, I see. I already have an idea for one, so watch this space ...

And, not to be outdone, I've reached the 90,000 word marker, with much kicking and squealing, in The Executioner's Cane so am now well into that final third. I fear a hell of a lot of editing will need to take place when the first draft is done though. As ever! Meanwhile, I've reviewed P G Wodehouse's The Girl in Blue for Vulpes Libris today, so click through for your essential fix of foppish charm and wit. You know you want to!

Anne Brooke