Thursday, 28 June 2012

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Laughter is the best medicine ~ Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Son number one had an operation on his ear this week. When he woke up he was deaf in the ear they'd operated on. Eventually the doctors worked out why, fixed it and he was allowed to come home. But later, in the middle of the night, he appeared in my bedroom, his face and neck covered in blood, looking like an extra from a Zombie movie. We had a go at compression and homemade dressings but he continued to drip blood like a leaky tap so I took him to A&E and fortunately they managed to stop the bleeding. Afterwards he said, 'This has been the worst day of my life.' I resisted the urge to laugh or to remind him that his head circumference at birth was on the 91st percentile - I bought him a treat and tried to cheer him up.

He feels much better today, so much better that he is, right at this moment, lying on my bed with a book as I sit at my desk trying to get on with some writing. And he's not lying there quietly (which is why I've given up working on the novel and started writing this instead). He's laughing. And in between loud bursts of laughter he keeps saying, 'Mum, Mum, stop writing and listen to this one.'

He's laughing because he's reading Jen Campbell's hilarious Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. The book has been on my wish list for a little while and when I saw it in a little shop in the Lake District and read the quote on the back cover I realised that I had to have it. The quote on the back reads:
'Do you have this children's book I've heard about? It's supposed to be very good. It's called "Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe."
How could any book-lover resist?

The front cover quote from Neil Gaiman reads: 'So funny. So sad... Read it and sigh.' It's certainly true that several of the interactions between bookseller and customer(s) induce disbelieving sighs, but other exchanges are wonderfully surprising and funny and, although I'm supposed to be doing other things, every time son number one interrupts me I stop, and listen, and laugh.

I love laughing and I especially love listening to my children laugh (it's one of my favourite sounds). So thanks to Jen and Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops for cheering son number one up - the book is just what the doctor ordered (I'll steal it back later).

Friday, 1 June 2012

Word Soup Reviewed

The lovely Jane Brunning at Lancs Writing Hub has reviewed last night's Word Soup here. She writes this about my story 'The Rescue':
Carys Bray (aka Scott Prize Winner 2012!) presented us with a thought-provoking short story which took us on a poignant journey through parents’ quest for rescue and redemption, witnessing the miraculous rescue of other people’s sons to the realisation of their own hopelessness in the face of their own son’s entrapment in a hell of a different kind. Fabulous stuff, and we can see why Carys won the Salt Publishing 2012 Scott Prize.

Vicky Ellis introduced all of last night's acts as Rachel McGladdery is currently in hospital - get well soon Rachel.

Ann Wilson performed a series of wonderfully entertaining poems, including an impressive villanelle, Sarah Miller's standout piece was the tender and beautiful, 'Still Orbiting the Sun,' Jane Brunning read her magical and uncanny story 'Faery' and Danielle Rose read a very funny poem about Jeremy Kyle alongside an introspective, autobiographical piece. I especially enjoyed Kim Moore's poetry and I bought her pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves which is well worth a read.Vicky Ellis concluded with some vivid and lusty poems which Jane describes as 'disturbingly sensual' - they were certainly steamy!

(Jane's review is much more interesting and comprehensive than my brief observations). 

It was a lovely evening, I was reminded of how much I enjoy listening to people read, of how nice it is to enjoy the company of friends, and Vicky read a poem by Erica Jong which I really enjoyed.

Woman Enough
Because my grandmother's hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
inevitably unraveling
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.

Because my mother's minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.

I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
springy, springy.
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.

I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.

Erica Jong's poems are available to read here.