Tuesday, March 06, 2007

53,029 Words


It's eight songs isn't it? I realise that now. Well, my eighth song would have to be Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen because that's my funeral song. It's not that the lyrics mean anything special to me, it's just the sound of it I love. It's so mournful and beautiful.

I've been daydreaming again, only this time it's purely material. I read last week in the Guardian Review about a blogger being paid £70K for a book and my mind keeps wandering off at inconvenient moments, like when I ought to be concentrating on NOT going onto autopilot at the roundabout down the road and heading off towards junction 40 when I need to take any one of the alternative exits (I can't tell you how many times I've done that!).

I would buy:

  • a new computer, just for me, so I don't have to share it with people checking their email and little ones playing on the cbeebies website. Maybe I'd have one with a vertical screen. I saw one like that in a 'writers' rooms' feature a few weeks ago.
  • two mornings a week of childcare instead of just one. (I'm still waiting to hear about that bloody job! For a scale 4 job, that's about £14,000 a year full-time to those not familiar with local authority payscales, I've had an interview, an aptitude test, given two initial referees plus one extra that they asked for and now they want me back in a week for a 2nd interview. I used to be on scale SO2 when I worked full time, which is four whole scales higher, and it didn't take this much effort to get that job!)
  • a landscape gardening co. to move my shed, which is currently halfway down my long, narrow garden, to a position right at the bottom, facing up to the house. That way I'll be able to see the kids wherever they're playing and I can have a patio where it used to be.
  • a downstairs loo! Perhaps that should have been no.1 (pardon the semi-pun there) we're really desperate for one so that we can take hosting Christmas off my mum's hands. We've got enough bedrooms if the girls squidge in together but the bathroom situation would be horrendous.
  • I'd go on one of those plastic surgery holidays and have my mummy-tummy done. Honestly, I'm alright in magic knickers but let's just say we don't leave the light on anymore.
  • a family holiday somewhere sunny, somewhere we can do some voluntary work. I love going to Wales and Scotland with my parents but, like Karen Blixen, I have a dream of Africa.


I love my new desk, by the way. I was so eager to get to work on it that I've only put one coat of beeswax on the top and the rest is still bare. It has a series of built-in bookends in the back left-hand corner where I can store my most frequently used reference books within arm's reach and, although the lovely smell of the beeswax faded within a couple of days, I get a fresh, spring-cleaning whiff of it every time I lift a volume.


PM now:

In the book I'm really beginning to see the refugee thread of the story coming to the fore. I think the plot is going to end up hanging fairly heavily on it. The rest of it ties in well too, I think: families that work, families that don't, people who feel like strangers within their own families, people who are separated from their families and really are surrounded by strangers, teenagers just finding their own identities, juxtaposed with the loss of identity experienced by a refugee - not just national identity but that deep-down, certain knowledge of who you are that allows you to relate to other people and to function in the outside world.

I do have some refugees whom I can count as close friends, in case anyone was wondering, so I have had many of these experiences straight from the horse's mouth and I have, of course, asked their permission before fictionalising their experiences. One beloved friend, M, said that she thought as many people as possible ought to know how hard it is to leave your country, to lose your family ties and possessions, to lose so much time out of your life in the arduous process of starting from scratch. She wants the world to know that no one would make such a decision unless it was LIFE OR DEATH.

Love A


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