Monthly Archives: July 2012

Apply Here and Pray


Someone I know has just asked if I can help with his CV and write a covering note for a prospective employer. I’m happy to offer my expertise. But just how wise is it to ask a children’s fiction author to write your personal statement for you?

It’s the warrior! And I just bought a new hat

As a highly motivated warrior with a tendency for flaying squirrels and pinning them to the enemy’s heavily bolted wooden gates, I’m just the person for the job at Krumbly Biscuits Inc. My hand can be turned to any task, however bloodthirsty, and I have a nice line in battle cries. I sprinkle Rice Krispies in my hair and encourage crows to widdle on my head as I make my final death charge. It makes a fine show as I storm the gates at annual sales conferences.

Having just completed my degree in Fairies, Witches and Magic, I feel that I could bring an inexplicable something to Carpet & Rug Ltd. Something which none of your customers could explain, but which might leave them with a warm sense of well-being and an urge to dance uncontrollably through your salesroom, singing about shagpile.

Qualifications: chocolate

Passionately committed as I am to finance-related products, there is a risk that halfway through a sales pitch for you at Sign Up & Cry, I will bite off my own head and post it to Belgium where it will gorge on chocolate and send you postcards written with its tongue.

Skill set: includes incineration

I would bring a wide range of colour, jokes and entertainment to the Soupy’s Circus staffroom at break times, occasionally pointing out of the tent window while gasping: “Was that a dragon I just saw, buffing the Ringmaster’s unicycle?”

I’m going to enjoy this. I can’t speak for the friend, although he’s bound to find an extremely interesting job by the time I’ve finished with him.


Steely Wombles


It was my steel wedding anniversary at the weekend, otherwise known as “How-long-is-it-again-eleven-years”. Since I recently blogged on the subject of nuptials (5 May 2012) I will keep this brief, but I couldn’t resist a little speculation on the worst possible gifts to mark the occasion.

Steel teeth

Handy for jemmying open recalcitrant jars of night cream but too scary to be romantic. In the face of steel teeth I would panic and scour the streets for a crowd of sinister Brazilian carnival puppets among which I might hide. Not many of those to the pound in Surrey. Frensham’s Scarecrow Festival could work if I get desperate.

DVD Box Set of Sapphire and Steel

I would envy Joanna Lumley’s haircut and wonder wistfully what it might take to make David McCallum smile and I might have to take myself off to compose an ode to Love Across the Sands of Time and that would be the end of a romantic evening with a real person.

A novel by Danielle Steel

The Ring would be good, except of course that it is golden and must therefore be saved for 39 years’ time. The Promise is too tragic, while Martha’s New Daddy is plain wrong. Where to turn? Where to turn? Disaster everywhere I look. And not in a good, Danielle-Steely kind of way.



Steeleye Span album

Nice thought, until you remember the band’s appearance on Top of the Pops dressed in Womble suits. This would not light the touch paper of romance beneath this particular love cauldron, although I might develop an urge for litter-picking on Hankley Common.

What are we left with? Bolt cutters? A neck brace? Some kind of vehicular chassis? It’s a problematic anniversary, friends. And then I remember – with unalloyed joy – that it’s over and done with now anyway. Next up: silk. Hurrah!

What Makes a Good Writer?


I am thinking of offering my services to freelance writer websites in order to earn more money. A quick sweep of suitable employers was exciting. I particularly liked the look of a website called Prospect Solution, because in addition to requesting my ‘resume’  (which instantly conjures a bowl of clear soup with a CV floating in it) they asked the following question.

What makes a good writer? Answer in 150 words. 

OK. I’ll have a go. How hard can it be to summarise the complexities, the delicate tracery of words on paper, the sweat and the tea breaks and the disgusting fluffy bits in the keyboard that one can only ever remove with an unfolded paperclip? Firstly, please note the salient advice to the left of this paragraph. Then we shall proceed.


On no account let this author anywhere near your ocular nerve

A good writer catches your eye, preferably without damaging it. If they can then replace it in the socket with a minimum level of fuss, so much the better. Sadly, most writers don’t find themselves in many ophthalmological emergencies, except when spelling ‘ophthalmological’. They must be sure of their facts and never skimp on their research. Imagine, for example, that ophthalmology had nothing at all to do with eye surgery. Then the writer in question would have dug herself an enormous hole and impressed no one, least of all the head gardener. A good writer must inform (how much did you know about ophthalmology before reading this?); amuse (riffing on the oddities of the English language is always good); possibly enrage (gardeners nationwide); cope with long and complex sentences recklessly littered with parentheses and semi-colons yet not lose their way (yup); and always engage the reader. How am I doing?

Well, THIS is embarrassing

Mellow Yellow


Thank you all for your fantastic response to last week’s post. Views rocketed into three figures. Yes! And it was all down to you! I am, however, a little worried about how to follow such success. So I thought I’d talk about the colour yellow today.

Yellow. I miss it. This grey-pearl-sky business is all very well, but we still need a jab of buttery loveliness every now and again. Here are some yellow things to tide us over.

 My fried egg necklace, as previously mentioned on this blog. I would have salted, peppered and eaten it long ago were it not for the rhinestones, which tend to stick in the teeth. It bamboozles people who are loath to ask: “Is that a fried egg?”

In case I am offended and reply along the lines of: “Why on EARTH would I wear a fried egg as a necklace?”


  The only two yellow books that I have produced to date. Scarlet Silver: The Impossible Island is about a pirate with excellent hair and an even better wardrobe than mine, while Naughty Fairies: Sweet Cheat is about fairies and toffee, roughly in that order.

I haven’t included The Lemony Adventures of Mr Lemon here because I haven’t written it and, sadly for all concerned, probably never will. I can hear you all weeping through the screen.


My yellow shoes. Even evil cat dictator Crumble has fallen for their lemon-curdy loveliness. Look at the state of her. DRUNK, I tell you. She’s a disgrace to cats the world over.


And finally the sun. Aaah. Remember the sun? It used to be so cute! And then it turned into a teenager and has been sulking for months in its big cloud room covered in posters of rock bands called things like Arctic Death Winter, refusing to join in any family occasions and hardly ever washing its armpits.

Which makes me a bit annoyed.

Three Feet of Life


I am Billy Lamb, about to say something profound.

Anyone out there watch Silk? It’s about barristers in London, wheeling and dealing, drinking real ale in dark Victorian pubs and having stand-offs in courtrooms. I’m mesmerised by a bit of dialogue in the last episode which I can’t get out of my head.

Billy Lamb, the head clerk, has just been diagnosed with cancer. Jake, a junior clark, is hopelessly in love with Bethany of the burnished hair, but can’t work up the courage to ask her out. So Billy says an extraordinarily powerful thing. It’s so powerful that Jake – poor wordless spotty Jake – leaps out of his seat like a jet-propelled Sir Galahad and asks Bethany for a date.

When you come into the world, you come out of your mother’s downstairs like a rocket fired straight into a brick wall about three feet away … Make the most of the three feet.

Three feet. Not much, is it? How do we make the most of so little?

Laugh. Younger Son told me a joke the other day. What do bunnies play tennis with? Tennis rabbits. Permit yourself silly thoughts that will make you smirk as you trog around Sainsburys. Invent amusing acronyms from the number plate of the car blocking your drive. Enjoy the squelch of water in your shoes as you get splashed by a passing bus.

Be Outside. So what if the weather’s being evil just now? The trees are green. The flowers are huge. The air is soft. The snail shells are pretty and the beetles are shiny and THERE ARE NO WASPS. The sky is like a grey pearl. If you can’t see that, look harder. Get out there and fill your lungs, friends! It’s what they’re for! Just don’t get struck by lightning.

Write Your Novel. If you’ve always wanted to write one, that is. If it’s never crossed your mind, don’t go there. Too much trouble. The rest of you (including me) should just crack on, whether you’ve still got twenty inches to spare or the brick wall is is sight.

Salted caramel yum

Eat Cake. Ideally those tiny salted caramel squares they sell in Starbucks.

Kiss Your Children. Even if they smell of poorly wiped bottoms. If you don’t have children, smile at any that you see. Beam at the glowering teenagers outside Tesco’s. They’re just kids. They may have a couple of inches on you, but they’re trying to get through three feet of life too.

Enjoy What You’ve Got. The law of averages states that there’s bound to be something good about it. And change the rubbish bits. That wall’s getting nearer.

So how am I doing on my manifesto for Three Feet of Life today?

I Kissed My Children this morning. I Laughed about a dream where I had to show John Barrowman to a decent greasy spoon cafe. Now it’s time to Enjoy What I’ve Got (a roof over my head, legs that work, a pretty necklace that looks like a fried egg), Get Outside (walk down the hill to my work cafe) and Write My Novel, via a bit of paid work to allow me to Eat Cake.

How about you?