Naming Names, Savant and Prom Queen

Naming Names, Savant and Prom Queen
The jacket pics I designed for my completed novels

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Scottish Question… A Political Answer

The referendum is over. The votes have been cast, and we remain one great, united, dysfunctional family.

I’m not surprised.

I have a great affinity with Scotland.

My mother’s family is Scottish, and I spent four years studying in Scotland. I love the place and its people.

I love and admire them for asking the question.

My feeling was that they would say Yes loudly and long in public, but that when it came to the privacy of the polling booths they would vote No.

I used to sing “Flower of Scotland” with them. I used to feel like one of them. I was one of them.

That’s one of the many wonderful things about the Scots: they are an inclusive people.

Yes, I’m going to generalise... so sue me.

With my haughty English accent and my decadent English ways, even back in the Thatcherite 80s, even when The Socialist Worker was the number 1 newspaper on campus, I was welcome and I was included. I was teased, of course I was, but I was also one of them, because I was there, sharing the experience, and they took me at face value. The Scottish students soon saw past the accent and listened to the words I was speaking, and they judged me on the content of my character and not on the things that mattered less.

The Scots are pragmatic too. They have their history. It is there, and it isn’t going anywhere. The Act of Union was three hundred years old in 2007, and three centuries haven’t prevented Scotland remaining Scottish or its people retaining their character or their traditions.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
Wiki's page on the Referendum
I am glad Scotland asked the question. It was their right so to do. I’m glad they asked the question for themselves, and I’m glad they asked it for the Union.

This is about politics, about all of us, and it’s about the coalition. It’s about the government that nobody voted for.

David Cameron has been the Prime Minister that nobody voted into power. I rather wish that the system was different. I rather wish that we had all gone home after the last election and come back to the polls six weeks later after further public debates, and cast a second round of votes. Six weeks more of Gordon Brown’s last government couldn’t have been the end of the World. The political parties and the electorate would have had a clear picture of the state of play, and those who hadn’t voted might have seen just how important it was to turn up.

The Scottish turned up for the referendum with more than 85 percent of them voting, rising to more than 90 percent in some areas. There is no question that the outcome reflects the opinion of the majority of the electorate, and there was no fumbling of the ball.

Let this be a lesson to us all.

The next general election is only a matter of months away. If we could all get as interested in that as the Scottish have been in the fate of their nation and in the Union, at the very least we will have a government that the majority of the electorate is agreed upon. Who knows? We might see a clear majority in the house of commons and a single party with a mandate to govern effectively.

The political wrangling of the past five years has been grubby and demoralising for all of us. It was caused by politicians to some degree, but it was instigated by the indecisiveness of the voters who turned up and by the apathy of those who didn’t. The 2010 general election saw one of the lowest turnouts for a general election since 1945.

The Scottish have shown us all how it can be done, and I hope they’ve reignited our interest in politics and in the deficiencies in this compromise, coalition government. If a coalition was a good idea, perhaps there should have been room on the ballot paper to vote for it.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Body Image

I’ve been meaning to talk about body image on this blog for quite a while, but I’ve been unsure about how I’d do it.

I thought I might just stick a picture of myself up here in my undies and say, There you go! I look like this, and it’s all down to genetics. And you look the way you look for precisely the same reasons.

I discussed this approach with another woman, a rather beautiful woman, as it happens, and she advised me against doing it. So I haven’t.

It is the truth, though. There’s really bugger all any of us can do about our bodies. We can control our weight (although for many of us that's a big problem), but as for shape, height and proportions, we’re pretty well stuck with what our parents gave us. It’s all in the genes.

That is also true of the women we see all over the media, advertising everything from shampoo to knickers, to cars and dvd players, for crying out loud. That is also true for the bodies we see plastered all over everywhere that remind us 24/7 that we are sexual beings and we’d damned well better be attractive so that we can compete with everyone else who happens to share a gender with us and find a mate.

Well, I’m sorry, but it’s all just so much rot. Kate Moss’s body is a result of genetics just as much as yours or mine is, and just as much as Marilyn Monroe’s was. Cindy Crawford can put out as many fitness videos as she likes, but she can't tell me that if I do what she does I can look like her, because it's nonsense. I can’t change my height, or the fact that my limbs are disproportionately short, and I sure as hell can’t alter the passing of the years. Not for nothing, Ms Crawford's love life has had its ups and downs, as has Ms Moss's, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to replicate Ms Monroe’s sad string of love affairs.

Can we please stop putting ourselves through the agony of being forever concerned about our bodies and how they compare to other bodies? We’re not enriching our lives or our relationships with this stuff.

Experience tells me that it is rarely the most physically attractive person in the room that gets most of the attention, and certainly not the best kind of attention. The next opportunity you get, when you’re in a room with, say, more than a dozen people, just watch what happens. See who people are drawn to. You might just be surprised.
Talking of clever and funny:
The Husband, as painted by the dort,
one of the most attractive women I know.

Me? When it comes to men, I’m always attracted to clever and funny. I never care what they look like. If you lined up the men I’ve dated, you’d quickly see that, physically, they have very little in common and their age range spans three decades. If you lined up their IQ test results or their professional qualifications, or you listened to them talking you’d probably find they have all kinds of things in common.

We’re really talking about women though, aren’t we?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Here goes, girls. Are you ready for this?

Straight men like women!  

There... I’ve said it. It’s out there. Men like women, and, what’s more, they’re generous. Most men will find something to like, something to find attractive about almost any woman. They home in on the good things and ignore the flaws. I kid you not. If you’ve got pretty eyes, a nice smile or glossy hair, that’s what a man will see. He won’t see that your nose is a little crooked or that your legs are a little short or your breasts are on the small side. You’ve got BREASTS! for heaven’s sake.

Sit in that room with those dozen or so people and watch the woman who gets the good attention. She probably won’t be the prettiest woman in the room, but I can guarantee that she will be the most confident. I can guarantee that she will smile more than other women, that she will appear less self-conscious and more open, that she'll be enjoying herself more than anyone else.

The most attractive woman in the room won’t be the prettiest, she’ll be the one least concerned about the way she looks and most interested in the way other people think and feel, and how she thinks and feels in relation to them.

You’ll like her, and so would I.

I want to be that person, but then I honestly believe that we should all want to be more like that woman, including all you wonderful men.

There are better things to concentrate on in our lives than the perfect body, which probably isn’t identifiable, because these things are endlessly subjective, and which is utterly unattainable. One of those things is a keener awareness of others and how we relate to them. 

We all lack confidence, but we can all pretend we have an ounce or two more than we actually have. The effort of pretending might make us forget our wobbly thighs for just long enough to meet someone new and make a good impression. And if jumping that hurdle doesn’t give us a shot of real confidence, I don’t know what will.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Whose Work Is It Anyway? part ii

Yesterday, in this post, I talked a bit about writing tie-in fiction, and more particularly about the husband’s contribution to the Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, and whether or not I should be proud of him.

Of course, I am.

I’m proud of him for all sorts of other things, though, too.

This week, I’m particularly proud of the response that Wild’s End has received.

I’m rather luckier than the husband, or just more bullish, or maybe it’s because I’m infinitely less successful than him, or much less in the public eye. There are myriad reasons. Whatever they are, the truth is that I have the time to do some of the things that I really want to do. Ok... the truth is that the husband loves working in existing worlds and universes. He revels in it. He’s been doing it for a long time and he’s very, very good at it.

I struggle with it somewhat. There’s sometimes a little bit of me that wants to break out of the constraints that he enjoys so much. I’ve always got projects of my own simmering away on an endless bank of back-burners that I want to get back to. He is more patient than I am.

This year, I was very lucky to be involved in two novels that I became utterly absorbed in, that were so right up my alley that I couldn’t have been happier writing them. Fiefdom from Abaddon books is set in the Kingdom universe. It began as a comic strip for 2000AD, and it’s one of my favourite things the husband writes (there’ll be more of it very soon). I’ve always loved the comic, and I’ve always wanted to write in that particular universe, so I was very active in pursuing the opportunity to do this book, and in writing it. The second novel is Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals from Brady Games, due out in October. What can I say? Strong female characters? Check. Real world settings? Check. History? Check. Archaeology? Check. Thrills and spills? Check. This was a thoroughgoing romp, and a helluva lot of fun.

I’ve also played in Black Library’s toy box this year, and you can read the results of my efforts in the autumn. I’ve got a very special relationship with the Black Library. It published some of my first work. I will admit that I have to pick and choose my projects carefully, though, because I find some of the big stuff daunting, and tough to write. I love it, but it can be hard work to get right, and I feel a huge loyalty to the fans and a great responsibility.

The biggest surprise of the year for me was being invited to write a story for an anthology. I was asked to be myself, to produce something of my own with no tie-in element whatsoever, and only the lightest of briefs. I rubbed my hands in glee, and set to it with a song in my heart. The Dangerous Games anthology is published by Solaris in December.

My response sounds ridiculous now that I read it back, but it’s still true.

I write for myself about a third of the time. I talk about some of those books, here. I’ve talked about Naming Names repeatedly. There are other books, too. I’ve written four novels that languish in files on my computer, unpublished. And there’s the rub.

I can work all day everyday writing, but I’m just like everyone else when it comes to getting that break. 

Back to Wild’s End.

The husband has written dozens of novels and thousands of comics. He’s written audiobooks and dramas, and he’s written computer games; hell, he’s even written a movie. Almost all of what he’s written has been tie-in fiction. He’s published two independent novels with Angry Robot Books. Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero is a swashbuckling, alternate history romp. It was very well-received, and more than one reviewer compared the writing style to Terry Pratchett’s. Embedded is a combat SF novel with a twist, which also has stuff to say about war and the news media. It was also widely appreciated.

There is room in comics for new stories, too.

People who don’t read comics tend to think of the superhero stuff, and that’s natural enough, because those comics account for a large proportion of the industry. Superheroes also dominate the crossover of comic books into movies and merchandising. Let’s not forget what I was talking about yesterday in this very blog.

What comic book readers know that some of the rest of us don’t is that there are a lot of independent comic books out there, often referred to as ‘creator owned’ in which comics creators come up with new concepts and stories that don’t tie-in to the stuff we’re all familiar with.

The husband has been dipping his toe into new waters with the artist INJ (Ian) Culbard.

In March 2012 the first issue of The New Deadwardians from Vertigo went on sale. It was the start of something that has been growing ever since. The comic, set at the turn of the 20th century in England, brought Zombies and Vampires together for an old-fashioned class war. It was very clever and it struck a cord with critics and readers. It ran for twelve issues and showed up on several round-up of the year and favourites lists.

This year, the husband and Ian have struck out with two new creator owned projects. Dark Ages for Dark Horse is a four part series and it’s medieval SF. It’s Apocalyptic!

Wild's End
issue #1
Wild’s End from Boom! Studios was out last week. The second issue of six is due in shops today. The elevator pitch is Wind in the Willows meets the War of the Worlds.

I love this book, and, not for nothing, so does everyone else.

I’ve never seen our Twitter feed so filled with mentions and congratulations for a project, and I’ve never seen so many rave reviews.

The husband built a toy box, filled it with toys and played out an extraordinary game. But here’s the thing: It’s his toy box and they are his toys, and Ian Culbard’s of course, because the art is absolutely gorgeous; you’re all going to love the anthropomorphic characters this team put on paper. It’s the husband’s toy box, and they’re his toys, and no one had ever played with them before. What’s more, if and when he decides to take them out to play with them again, they’ll be as fresh as the day he tucked them safely away. No one else is going to come along and reboot or reinvent or change anything in his absence. The husband doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play with the same toys. He doesn’t have to worry about destroying toys or losing them, or even leaving them in the box for this particular game. He has only himself to please.

Who knows, maybe, one day Wild’s End or something else that the husband creates might even find its way into the hands of a movie maker. I know he’s never going to direct a film, but I also know that he’s a damned fine writer, and he’d sure as hell want a shot at writing the script... He’d do a bloody good job, too.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Whose Work Is It Anyway?

That’s one question. Another question is, just how proud am I allowed to be?

Because I’m terribly proud.

The husband often delights me with his work. I happen to think he’s talented. He works a lot and he produces some pretty good stuff. Some of that stuff has earned him an accolade or two along the way. He has a stack of 5 star reviews to his name, probably more than I can count, and he’s been on the New York Times bestsellers list more than half-a-dozen times in four separate categories.

I can feel my chest swelling, even as I type.

I was proud when he was approached to write the Dr Who christmas novel The Silent Stars Go By the year after Michael Moorcock wrote his, because, let’s face it, that’s keeping some pretty decent company; and I was proud when his name appeared beside Audrey Niffenegger’s on the cover of the short story anthology Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane.

I was more than a little bit chuffed when I saw the husband’s name on-screen when the credits rolled for The Guardians of the Galaxy movie, too. And this is where it begins to get complicated.

Six years ago, the husband wrote the comic book that James Gunn based his movie on, hence the screen credit. The tone, flavour and sense of humour of the husband’s comic are all there. It was lovely that Mr Gunn made this kind of acknowledgement. But it was also deserved, because it was the husband’s team up on that screen, his dynamics, his relationships portrayed.

Writing is a funny business, and tie-in writing is a funnier business still. It’s like playing in a communal toy box. The toys don’t belong to the writers. We’re allowed to play with them, but it’s for a limited time, and we have to return them to the box at the end of playtime, in the same condition that we found them. 

When kids visit places with communal toy boxes they don’t sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play with the toys while they wait for their turn, and they don’t then have to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids come along and play with the toys that they learned to love for a while. But that’s exactly what happens to tie-in writers.

Yesterday I read this status update from James Gunn on his FaceBook page:

The article the accompanied James Gunn'sstatus update
As of yesterday, we became the first movie of the year to gross more than 300 million domestically. And we also grossed more then (sic) 300 internationally to have over 600 million worldwide (luckily I had a calculator handy to figure that out). We just opened in Japan, and are yet to open in China or Italy, so we still have a little bit to go. But I guess it's time for my Saturday morning THANK YOU!

This made me enormously proud, and I wanted to celebrate.

It’s a kind of nonsense, of course. The husband put the toys back in the toy box after he’d finished playing with them. James Gunn took them out of the toy box for his turn. He’d watched the husband play, and he’d been influenced by the husband’s games. Nevertheless, it’s James Gunn’s script and it’s James Gunn’s direction that have earned the movie those bums on those seats.

I wonder if I’m enjoying this moment vicariously. I wonder whether I’m entitled to the pride I feel. I wonder whether I’m justified in feeling that warm glow that goes with the husband being part of something big and shiny and successful. Perhaps I am, perhaps not. It’s an odd feeling. I want to enjoy it, and I do, but then I remember everyone who had a part in the making of The Guardians of the Galaxy movie and I wonder whether my pride in the husband is misplaced. Honestly, I know how hard he works and I know how talented he is, because I share a life with him... and an office for that matter, and I watched him play with the toys in that toy box, too.

If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet, go see it. It’s clever and funny, and big and shiny, and it has a heart too, and some of that comes from James Gunn and the cast and crew, but a little bit of it comes straight from the time the husband spent writing the comic books. 

Come to think of it, if you like comic books, you can buy the husband’s version as a trade collection. You’ll also soon be able to buy a new comic called Guardians 3000, in which the husband gets to play with the toys in Marvel’s cosmic toy box once more. He’s about to take the original 1968 Guardians team out for a new adventure, and I wonder where in the cosmos that might lead to.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Absence makes the heart grow fonder or Out of sight, out of mind

Looking happier than I feel
So, how long has it been since I last wrote a blog? 

Yep, it’s been a fortnight.

I know that I’ve done things in the last fortnight. I’ve been pretty busy. I also know that it has all been a bit of a trial.

I don’t know whether absence makes the heart grow fonder, or whether out of sight is out of mind. It’s probably a little of each, depending on who you are as a consumer of this blog.

I feel as if I should apologise to those of you who connect to this, who read it as part of your routine, who look forward to it, whether it’s because you agree with me on a regular basis, or because you like to come here looking for something to laugh at or fight with. To you, I’m sorry for my absence.

This latest depression has been an utter embuggerance. I am embattled. It has been four years since my last high, and nine months since things got really bad. I have been particularly flat these past couple of weeks, and the motivation to blog has been one of the things that has been lacking. I haven’t even been keeping a list of blog topics.

In the general run of things, at least once a day I’ll turn to the husband and say, I feel a blog coming on, or that’d make a good blog, or there has to be a more reasonable response to that. I usually make notes on those things. If I feel sufficiently exercised on a subject, I might even sit down, then and there, and write a blog. That hasn’t happened in the last couple of weeks, and the list of topics that pre-dates this last low patch seems stale and dated.

So, here I sit with nothing to say. It’s not like me. It makes me uncomfortable. I’ve always got an opinion. I’ve always got something to talk about.

On the upside, I have cleared the decks. 

I have no scheduled work right now.

I have decided to give myself a breathing space. I think I need one.

That is not to say that I will not work, because of course I will. The difference is that now I have an opportunity to collate my ideas and organise my time. I have the chance to prioritise. I’m going to talk to some people and make some decisions.

The creative life is an extraordinary one. It is a gift. Like all the most wonderful things, it comes at a price. For me, that price is living with the depression. The price had better be worth it, so my creative choices had better be good ones.

The work I do, the stories I tell and the people I work with will be some of the things I think about over the next days and weeks. What genres do I want to concentrate on? Do I want to write more longform fiction or short stories? Do I want comic books to be part of my working day? How much do I want to work with the husband? What tie-in work do I want to pursue? Where will I find the balance? Are all questions that I want to consider.

There are other things, too. There is the maxim that I refer to over and over again, the phrase that I quote back to writers every chance I get. I said it yesterday to a young woman who talked about her reluctance to share her work. It is this, “The point of the writer is the reader”. So, I shall be liaising with my agent for her input on what projects I can usefully be turning my creative energies to. There are publishers, too and other creators and friends that I trust.

This is my time for taking stock.

It might have been a bad year for my depression, but it’s been a good year creatively. I can celebrate my work. This year I have produced two books that I am proud of. Fiefdom from Abaddon books is out now, and Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals from Brady Games is due out next month. A new Warhammer 40K short story will be released in November, and I’ve also got a short story in the Dangerous Games anthology from Solaris, edited by Jonathan Oliver and available in December, which I’m hugely excited about. 

It is September, and, because I’ve got kids, the year has begun in September for me for a very long time. Perhaps it’s only natural that this should be happening for me now.

Today, I’m going to try to engage a little, and if I do turn to the husband with one of those comments about something being blog-worthy, perhaps I’ll remember to make a note, and perhaps I’ll sit down tomorrow morning, as I have so many mornings over the past couple of years, and actually write something. I do hope so.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Price Sanctuary

I went to church yesterday.

More information on visiting
Canterbury Cathedral
Churches are extraordinary buildings. I like them. The husband and I often visit churches when we go to new places, and sometimes we visit them in places we know well. We have favourite churches that we visit quite deliberately.

We are not religious people. That isn’t really the point. I don’t have to be religious to understand that a church can be a special place.

Yesterday, we went to Canterbury Cathedral. Of the special churches owned by the Anglican church, it is, ostensibly the most special.

I remember not going to Canterbury Cathedral on a number of previous occasions. It is not possible to enter the precinct of the cathedral without paying a fee, except in special circumstances. 

This is a bit of a problem for me. 

I am, by default, I suppose, Anglican. My head of state is the head of the Church of England. I espouse no other religious affiliation, and, if and when I go to church, I go to an Anglican church. I went to Sunday school and I was a brownie. I have sat through any number of church services. I attended church services while I was at school and I attended my children’s school services. I am no stranger to the church... this church.

I am a UK citizen. I pay UK taxes and I have not renounced the church.

I am an old-fashioned woman. 

We live in a time when and a place where our neighbours are strangers and our communities are loose and fluid. We do not live cheek by jowl with our families, and we move from town to town as we change jobs or follow our hearts.

I am an old-fashioned woman who clings to some of the more traditional ideas, and one of those is that there should be a place where any and all might find sanctuary.

There are a great many charities and organisations running in the UK to help people in need, and they often do a fine job, but they also meet the specific needs of specific sub-sets of people. 

Long gone are the days when the church door was always open and the person in need who passed through it could find help. I suppose it would be unlikely that anyone would ever actually claim sanctuary, but that the church no longer offers it as a right saddens me.

Perhaps I am too sentimental. I very probably am.

The numbers of faithful among us are dwindling. It comes as no surprise that we are a more secular society than we were five hundred years ago, or a century ago or even fifty years ago. But the church, (any church, but I’m referring to the Anglican church) preaches belief in a deity, and furthermore it puts its own faith in a loving god.

The Anglican church puts its faith in a loving God and then puts locks between that God and those in need of his succour. That manmade organisation preaches faith in a loving God and then denies access to God’s house to those most in need of the shelter it can offer.

I suppose in the twenty-first century it might be weird to leave those doors open. After all, there are thieves and vagrants, and the World is a dangerous place. God’s house, his houses are valuable, they cost vast amounts of money to maintain, they’re listed buildings, they must be preserved.

I suppose they must, except we were all taught Jesus's charitable responses to thieves and vagrants.

It’s a pity that God's house has become so profoundly part of the world of money and status, of commerce, tradition and heritage. I can’t help thinking God would hate that. Everything I learned about Jesus, as a child, suggests to me that he would have hated it. 

It’s ancient history, though. Church doors haven’t been open 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a very long time. There has been no such thing as sanctuary for years. Man has seen to that.

And I’m a romantic.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 
                                                                                                              Mark 10/25 KJV

There... I’ve said it.

What’s more, the church preaches the message.

It could preach it from anywhere, but it preaches it from God’s house, and God’s house is very often the most opulent, most valuable building in any community. 

The Anglican church owns some of the most valuable real estate in the country. It owns about 45 percent of the grade 1 listed buildings in the country. It also owns income generating assets, mostly in the form of a portfolio of stocks and bonds to the value of about four billion pounds. It raises around £460m in donations, another £100m generated from reserve funds, and it has a fund of historic legacies. The church also receives a government grant to aid with building works worth in excess of £40m a year.

It’s all very big business... very, very  big business.

The problem is that most businesses work on the premise of supply and demand. We are becoming an increasingly secular society. 

When businesses begin to fail they up their game in order to attract new business, and the Church of England is now in the history and tradition game. It’s not preaching God and handing around the collection plate to keep its business afloat, it’s charging a fee to allow those of us who can afford it to take a look at its buildings and dig a little into its history.

I’m a romantic, I’m sentimental, and I’d love to see a little of that money given over to first principles. The house of God is still standing, and I’d really appreciate it if admission was free to those seeking sanctuary, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

We went to Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, and it was magnificent. I’m glad I went. I will go again.

For two adults to enter God’s number one Anglican house costs £21.00. So, I can afford to enter his house... but if Mark 10/25 is to be believed I fall into the category that isn’t going to make it into his kingdom.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Time and Tide and A God’s Squeezebox

And so, it’s September.

I don’t know whether time is a recurring theme in my work, but I do know it’s a recurring theme in my life.

It’s September... already!

This is the first September that I’m not sending a child to a school of some kind since September of 1993, and it feels rather strange. Twenty plus years of the autumn being punctuated by the ritual of delivering a child or children to the school gates is over.

I don’t know where this year has gone, and I don’t know where two decades have disappeared to.

Time does strange things to everyone. It’s as if it lives in some fickle god’s squeeze box and he plays it unrelentingly and with boundless vigor. 

I don’t know if it’s true of all depressed people, but imagine that god is a multi-limbed monster existing in multiple dimensions pounding away at a squeezebox that resembles enough old fashioned paper chains to decorate Buckingham Palace at Christmas. That’s how time works for me.

Right now, I’m a nineteen year old girl in a fifty year old body with a husband I’ve known for over thirty years and two kids in their twenties. I have virtually no short-term memory and yet I have a large stock of trivia in my head. I don’t remember the people I was at college with, but I know the name that belongs to each face on the school photo taken when I was seven. I don’t remember the layout of the last office I worked in, but I can reel off the reg numbers of the cars my father drove until I left my parents’ home. I can’t recall what I ate yesterday, but the taste of my grandmother’s sausage pie is in my mouth. I don’t remember the classes I took at college or the books I’ve read this year, but I can still recite most of the Shakespeare soliloquies I learned for my O’level exams. I remember the dress I wore on my fifteen birthday, but not the one I wore on my last birthday.

I regularly have to turn to the husband to ask whether I have seen a movie or read a novel. I don’t remember the title of the last short story I wrote.

Time deceives me in so many ways, and is so elastic. Weeks and months can pass by without me noticing, and yet an hour or a day can feel like a lifetime.

Then there are the reminders.

Donna and Matthew have been with us since Friday, and it’s been a real pleasure to have them here. I knew it would be. I hope I haven’t been dull company. I have felt dull, and negative, too, at times, but they know that I’m depressed, and they seem content to forgive me. I love them for it.

James in a water maze 2010
Happy times!
It seems like five minutes since they were here four years ago, and much of their last visit was lost to me in the mists of time. You see how I can say ‘five minutes’ and ‘mists of time’ and yet be referring to the same four years? But having them back and talking to them has reminded me of the places we visited, of the weather, of the  meals we ate together and of the conversations we had the last time they were here. This visit has brought back much of the last, a sense of a happier time for me. It has brought back sunny September days, laughter and the very lovely James, who didn’t fly out with Donna and Matthew this time; somehow, he’s certainly here in spirit.

So, I’ve been having a tough time, and I had a rocky start to the day, today, but when I sat down to write this blog a little ray of sunshine broke through the fog.

Here’s the thing about time: It passes. And with it, other things pass, too.

Some days I fight it. Some days I’m fighting a fighting battle, and some days I’m fighting a losing battle, and some of those days feel like lifetimes. 

But when all is said and done, this too shall pass.