Past Blogs for September 2013

East Anglian Book Awards

20 September 2013


I haven’t been told officially yet, but it’s been in the Eastern Daily Press, and shared about on Twitter and Facebook, that Waiting for Bluebeard has been shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Award this year, along with Rebecca Goss (Her Birth) and George Szirtes (Bad Machine), so it must be true.   I am of course extremely pleased to be in such company!  I don’t expect to win, but I’ve never been on any kind of shortlist before, so to say ‘I already feel like a winner’, while reaching for the schmalz-cliche-sick-bucket, is an actual state of fact.

Because Bluebeard is such a personal book, I was taking quite a risk (as risky as you can get with poetry!) by putting it out into the world: Here is my life: please be kind.  So far, I have had some wonderful online reviews, and there are some paper ones coming up too.  People have emailed me and facebooked me and tweeted me with lovely comments and lots of women have come to me with their own Bluebeard stories and I feel so blessed that the book has not gone unnoticed.  The word ‘blessed’ here, has me reaching for my aforementioned bucket.  I do not use that word in everyday parlance, but somehow it’s what I arrived upon  here.

(Dear reader, if you have just happened on this site and don’t have a Scooby Doo what I’m talking about when I say the book is so personal, follow this link to something I wrote about the writing of Waiting for Bluebeard for Michelle McGrane’s Peony Moon)

Back to my thread, if I had one…oh yes, I was getting all gushy…So, to conclude: I am enormously pleased that the book has been recognized in the world of prizes.  It took twenty years to make and five years to write.  More than half my life.  It’s probably the best book I will ever write.  *looks wistfully into the middle-distance*.  Coffee time!

A something

8 September 2013

I said I was going to write something every week, and this has turned into a ‘what I did on my holidays’ type post.  It’s what I found myself writing, so here goes.

In an attempt to catch the last light of summer, we borrowed a friend’s caravan for a couple of days on the north Norfolk coast.  It’s one of those deals where the caravan lives on the site all year, and the owner tows it to plot when you want to use it and hooks you up to electricity if electricity is your thing.  We decided to forego electricity and be closer to nature.  Apparently electricity doesn’t go as far as the sea. We noticed on the way in to the site, there were a Crazy Golf course and a field of show-jumping hurdles.

There were a few dogs on the site, not any old dogs – pedigree creatures with a sharp intelligence about their eyes.  Their humans had set up little fences around their vans, and more and more, the site resembled a dog compound.  The thing about intelligent, beautiful dogs is that their audible mode of communication is barking, and to the untrained human ear this can sound the same as the mutterings of a lower-minded canine.  Caravans are not known for their high levels of soundproofing and barking – barking growing by the hour as more and more dogs arrived – is not kept at bay by plywood and glass fibre alone, we found out.

By the second day we seemed to be the only unaccompanied humans on the site and it had transpired the previous evening that there was going to be a Dog Agility Competition on the site over the coming weekend.  Suddenly the penny dropped with coppery clarity – the hurdles for ponies were in fact hurdles for dogs.  The formation of these hurdles had altered into more complex diagrams since our arrival – presumably the early-bird dogs were being put through their paces in preparation for the trials ahead.

The barking didn’t travel over the dunes so we took a few beers to the sea, which was bigger than usual. I’d cut up some lime to go in the fancy beer as we sat drinking and gazing out at the horizon, we were joined by three very friendly Border Collies and their proud owner who told us of their rosettes and triumphs.  The dogs showed no respect for my neatly sliced lime sections, which were now very just soggy sand-clumped somethings.  The owner appeared not to notice how his trio had laid waste to our idyll, as he cheerily waved goodbye and they marauded off.

We packed up a day earlier than we intended deciding if you can’t beat them, run away. The week was rounded off in a more rock ‘n’ roll way by witnessing a friend jump, fully clothed into a swimming pool at a house party.  I’ve since written two new tarot poems, none with barking in per se but the sea and immersion figure in both.  I have also just looked up the term ‘Dog Days’ and should have liked to have woven it into this somewhere more neatly, but have instead tacked it on the end because I need to make a potato, tomato and tamarind curry.