Oooh, where to start?
It’s been quite a couple of days. I still have a head cold that makes remembering tricky sometimes, so it’s probably easiest if I work backwards, slowly.
So first of all, which was actually last of all – the eight year-old’s carol service this evening. Strongest memories are of a single, candle-lit face singing a solo, the whole of years 3 to 6 really going for it during Gaudeamus Hodie and my son making funny faces at me from one of the middle rows. History doesn’t relate whether or not I made funny faces back. Luckily.
Then there was the question of FINALLY getting down to the last of those book 2 line edits in the library. And on the way out, spotting this:
And there have been a few book reviews recently, on Keris Stainton’s Five Minutes Peace blog, and in the Glasgow Herald, another version of the Herald (not sure which) and the Irish Independent (thank you yet again, Sarah). I’ll quote a bit of the not-sure-which-Herald, if you don’t mind, because it made me smile:
Bennett writes about can-do characters at whom life throws some strange missiles. Real, charming, funny and heart-breaking – it’s the kind of memorable story young readers will thank you for. If only by txt
So that was all very lovely …
And yesterday was lovely from start to finish (or, given the way I’m doing this post, finish to start).
In the evening, it was the birthday-eve of a girl called Rachel, with very beautiful red hair, and she chose to spend it with her friends at my reading at Simply Books in Bramhall, Cheshire.
Simply Books isn’t exactly what it says on the tin. It is books, certainly, but it is definitely not simple. It is a charming, welcoming, fascinating, original book heaven. Run by the amazing Sue Steel and her simply charming husband Andrew. They were run off their feet all day, selling books (think on, Borders) and I can understand why. If you had Simply Books within 50 miles, you’d be in there whenever possible too, buying, browsing, or sampling their hot chocolate and home made cakes.
Sue is a Costa Prize (that’s the Whitbread, in old money) judge this year. And a typical example of her approach is that she got her customers to vote to choose her outfit for the prizegiving dinner. She’s a literary dynamo and drove me around the gorgeous north Cheshire countryside, before setting up her shop as a party venue for the evening and welcoming a merry band of customers for my talk, some fairy cakes and a glass of Prosecco. A perfect author evening, in fact.
I had a great time with the girls and their mummies who came for the talk (or was it the fairy cakes?), and also managed to meet Jenny Davies from WondrousReads, who’s been a Twitter friend for a while, and who even gave me a lift to the station afterwards. How cool was that?
Sue herself drove me to Manchester High School for Girls in the morning, where I gave a talk to Year 7 and had a fab chat with the girls at lunchtime. Hi, girls! We talked books for teens, not surprisingly. They’ve read far more than me. Twilight divided opinion, but Hunger Games was generally considered excellent. I really must put it on my list. Anyway, it was, as always, a total pleasure and I still can’t quite believe it’s MY JOB. Yay yay yay!
Back another day and, doing my mummy job instead of my writing job, I had the three year-old’s nativity play to go to. The school is always brilliant at these. How they do it with three and four year-olds (and even some two year-olds) I’ll never understand, but by now my expectations are high. This term, the headmistress explained, was the worst in her 24 years of teaching for illness. They’ve had swine flu (obviously), foot and mouth, chicken pox, mumps, every cold under the sun and a few others. And no full rehearsals with all the children at any stage.
Nevertheless, it was a triumph. The older children chose their own parts, so we had two Marys, two Josephs and quite a lot of knights accompanying the three kings. Oh, and two donkeys. Or possibly three. My little mite was a sheep, technically. (‘NOT a sheep, Mummy. I am a BOY.’ – In sheep’s clothing.) As the headmistress narrated, they all arranged themselves on stage in a tableau and sang Twinkle Twinkle, Baa Baa Black Sheep, We will rock you (the nativity version, not the Queen version) and other appropriate tear-jerkers.
For half an hour, there was no climate change, no financial meltdown and no Al Quaeda. Just mummies, daddies and grannies filming on their phones through teary eyes and clapping hard whenever there was an opportunity. And a couple of sheep jabbing each other with bells when they thought nobody was looking.
Happy Nearly-Christmas, everyone!