Toes and String and Sealing Wax etc

Hello, hello! We have made it to July without an apocalypse. That’s no mean feat in these ‘interesting times,’ so we should celebrate by having a catch up. I’ll put the kettle on. You dig out the Hob Nobs. What’s occurrin’?

Well in this house there has been a great deal of weather and a lot of foot related shenanigans. Let’s start with the fact that every time I pack Martin, the most neurotic car in the world, to adventure northwards, I might as well engage canoe mode and get my paddle.  Matt and I went off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a few days ago.  The weather didn’t look too good when we set off, but I figured that it would dry up later and it wasn’t as bad as when I went to Sheffield. Ha.

We picnicked in a downpour. We saw sculptures in a downpour. We watched roads and paths turn to streams and rivers. We were soaked to the skin by the time we gave up.  I spent three years living in Wales. I am used to inclement weather, but even I was ready to go home by the time we surfed out of the car park. Wet denim against your skin should be classified by the UN as an instrument of torture.  Nevertheless I am glad I got to see the Damien Hirst exhibition.  I’d say I’ll go again when the weather is better, but it’s so random I am making no promises.

In between that we are all boiling and the garden is parched. I went to water it last week and the hose split in about a thousand places just as the water poured through it and I was drenched. So that was nice. I managed to jerry rig things until the new hose arrived so that I didn’t have to spend my days forming a one woman human chain and running backwards and forwards with a gravy boat. I’ve just bought some new plants now that the lovely Helen has me organised and I am morbidly afraid of them dying in between her visits. I risked another hydrangea. Usually I kill at least one a year. I am hoping that Helen will not let that happen and for the first time in my life I will see one flourish. It seems like I’m asking a lot, frankly.

In toe related news, Oscar had his surgery on Thursday. He was very brave, but the injections were agony and even though he said he didn’t need to hold my hand, after the first needle we did, but we just didn’t look at each other, so it didn’t really count.  Now he has huge, bandage wrapped toes and I have to change the dressings for him every few days until a check up next week, and then we shall see. He finishes school for the summer on Thursday and I shall keep him off. He already had someone tread on his toes once at school. I can’t risk it happening again now. Also, he can’t get his shoes on with his mummified digits.  He is rather happy about this whole thing. As you can imagine. Although he wouldn’t let me draw faces on his dressings, which is mean.

Now that we are heading out of the woods with his appendages I thought it only fair that I steal the limelight. I managed to run into the corner of a marble plinth in our bathroom on Tuesday night and rammed my second smallest toe down into the body of my foot. I’m fairly sure it’s broken. The top of my foot is an interesting shade of navy blue as well, and I have been severely hampered in my Pokemon hunting this week due to a nasty limp. It is a difficult life.

In work related news, things are uneven. I have more clients for styling, which is my favourite bit, and is lovely. Sales are erratic. I did well last weekend, and sold one thing for the whole of the rest of the week, which is less fun. I also fell out spectacularly with a lady at eBay customer services who was obtuse and unhelpful and had passive aggression off to a fine art. I lost my temper in a way I haven’t since before I had a hysterectomy and spent the rest of the day wanting to burn something to the ground and dance in the ashes.  Thankfully that mood had passed by the next day, especially because my toe will not permit dancing at the moment. Or running away from arson attacks.

I did go and visit a wonderful lady on Tuesday night who was selling off some of her vintage collection and I bought some lovely things, most of which will end up in my wardrobe, which is not so good profit wise, but lovely for me. She also let me go and look at the clothes she isn’t selling and I had one of the best hours of my life, looking at all her beautiful clothes. I have decided to let her adopt me. She doesn’t know that yet, but I’m sure it won’t be a bother.

I’m going through a fallow period, reading wise, which is not helpful as I have about eight books to review at the moment. I just can’t stick with anything and haven’t finished a book in a fortnight. I usually read two or three a week. I’m hoping that I snap out of it by the time we go on holiday. I’ve been spending my evenings catching up with Glastonbury footage on iPlayer. I am in love with Lizzo Beeting. That woman is joy personified.  I also loved Janelle Monae, Kate Tempest and Christine and the Queens. All power to the girls, I say.

Mental health wise I am less anxious, which is good. It’s no fun thinking that you might just have a heart attack at any point due to raging anxiety about things you can’t do anything about and don’t want to even if you could. I have been a bit of a Pinball Wizard this week in terms of highs and lows, which is a bit knackering, particularly because the not sleeping and nightmares are still happening. I started using some CBD oil on a friend’s recommendation. I did get one decent night’s sleep, but I’ve also had two of the worst nightmares in living memory since then, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of things. I have nightmares anyway, so I’m not saying that these were because of the CBD oil. Who the hell knows? Anyway, I shall keep turning myself into a human guinea pig, and if nothing else it keeps my mind occupied in the wee small hours.

Tallulah is sixteen on Monday.






I thought I’d better get another blog post in before it’s Tallulah’s birthday. The year spins by at an alarming rate and before you know it this site will be appropriated by pirates or weevils or something that is not random posts by a middle aged woman shouting into the void, and who would want that?

Updates as follows:

Tilly’s birthday was a great success. We went to London and the sun shone on us all day. We ate sushi and went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, where for the fifth year running I resisted buying art. It gets harder every year mind you.  We bought chocolates from Fortnums and tried gorgeous perfumes in Liberty. We had afternoon tea and cocktails at The Covent Garden Hotel. We went to comic shops and walked for miles. We got back home late, tired and very happy.

This week she hosted her own birthday party at her house with a Scooby Doo theme. I was amazed that after two years of insisting on being called Daphne and dressing only in pink and purple dresses when she was tiny, that she went as Velma, but there you have it. Fickle.

I did not go to the party. I was not sad. I am too old for that kind of shenanigans now.

Tallulah has, thankfully, finished all her exams. She has also finished school and Prom has prommed, and been a success, and my stint as picker up from the after party was not marred by vomit, despite it being a bit touch and go, coming back from God knows where at 3.00 in the morning.  She has her first taster day at Sixth form college on Tuesday and then it’s waiting for results.

Oscar still has hideously manky toes and is on his second lot of antibiotics while we wait for his toe surgery, which is on the 4th July. American independence can do one. Toe surgery is where it’s at. He spends his life at the moment wearing sliders and looking pained. People keep treading on his toes in the corridors at school. End of term cannot come soon enough.

We are off to Devon in the first week of the holidays. We have booked a house overlooking the Tamar valley, at least that’s what it says on Air B’n’B. Jason has also booked us dinner at River Cottage HQ one night while we are there, and to say I am excited is the understatement of the year.

In the meantime.

I have been for another weekend to Hay on Wye with Jason where we read lots of books and hung out in our favourite grain silo. I accidentally gate crashed a festival when I took myself off Pokemon hunting on the Sunday. Nobody seemed to mind, so I hung out for a bit, watched some bands, caught some Pokemon and wandered away before anyone noticed I didn’t have a wrist band on. I felt quite daring.

I have been to Sheffield in a biblical deluge in which I feared I might drown on the motorway. I hung out with my friend Fern and foraged about some charity shops. Then I hung out with my friend Kate and foraged around some cake shops and it was excellent. I should like very much to go to Sheffield again on a day when it is dry. It seems like a cool city.

Jason and Bred went to the Download festival last weekend to see Slayer. It was my job to  drop off and pick up on the day. It was very wet, and very muddy and Bred got drunk and forgot which blue tent he was supposed to meet Jason by if they got split up, and of course they did, and Oscar, who had come with me to do the pick up so we could hang out and have a night time adventure, had the only phone that was working. This meant he kept getting calls from an irate Jason and a drunk Bred who was being intimidated by a man with a megaphone, and at one point I thought about chucking it all in and abandoning the lot of them, but I was kind and good and stayed to the bitter, muddy end. I was very grateful when they didn’t want me to drop off and pick up when they went to see Metallica this week.

I am not a rock ‘n’ roll chauffeur. You could tell that if you spent five minutes in Martin, the world’s most neurotic car. He has now taken to shouting ‘PING! PING! DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT NEED A BREAK? WHY NOT HAVE A CUP OF TEA AND A LIE DOWN?’ and I’m all, like; ‘MARTIN! CHILL YOUR BEANS MAN. WE’RE ONLY AT LEICESTER FOREST EAST SERVICES FFS.’

In other rock ‘n’ roll news, I’m off to see Madness and The Lightning Seeds on Friday. I am dropping off and picking up myself. This seems by far the most sensible plan.  I haven’t told Martin yet. He’ll have a conniption, even though it’s only in Northampton. Jason is taking me to see The Foo Fighters in a few weeks too, so we are having a gig heavy summer. Martin can’t cope with the thought of Leeds, so we will go in Jason’s car.

Tilly and I went to a damp cricket club in Kibworth this week to see Ben Aaranovitch talk about The Rivers of London books. We love him. Granny loves him too, but she couldn’t come because she was babysitting Uncle Robber’s dogs while he was living the high life in Vegas, baby. We suggested that she come anyway and leave Grandad with the dogs, but we all agreed we might get home to find that Grandad had been accidentally eaten by the dogs, so we got Ben to sign copies of Granny’s favourite books for her instead. It was almost as good.

Work is sporadic. I’ve done some talks, got some clients, been on the radio and sold some stuff, but in fits and starts. Mary Portas I aint. It doesn’t help that I keep running away to go to gigs and talks. I’m off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this week with my friend Matt. Life is too alluring to be doing work all the time. I just can’t fit it in.

My mental health is absolutely shocking. I am in a permanent state of anxiety at the moment. I have absolutely no reason to be and as you can see, my life is pretty brilliant. But that’s why I’m mental. If I had something to be anxious about I would be normal, right?

I have an emergency valium on my desk. I got given three by the miserable GP that wouldn’t give me a proper prescription when I was going for my hysteroscopy, because I looked like the sort of woman who might turn into a drug addict.  Chance would be a fine thing.  I keep looking at the one, remaining pill and thinking I’ll save it for a day when I’m really bad. Last week I got as far as running my finger along the foil seal. It’s a bit like playing chess with Death but less cinematic.

I am doing things to help myself. I’m exercising more, getting fresh air, going about in nature (fucking nature), trying to sleep, eat etc better. It’s making things worse. Today I gave in to my craving for a filthy Big Mac meal and a McFlurry and felt better than I had in weeks. I wonder if I’m wired up wrong? For everyone else, staying hydrated, getting 20 hours a day of sleep and eschewing animal products with a firm hand is the path to mental harmony. For me, it’s like kryptonite. Perhaps I should stop all that and just eat shit, sleep for 20 minutes a day and take up crack cocaine. I will probably turn into the Dalai Lama.

In the meantime, I am flogging along, making like a normal person until I can’t. Then I have a little hibernate.  I am still going to the gym once a week, to stop the crumbling of the bones. Pete hasn’t smashed my head in with a spade and buried me in the car park yet, so this is good. I nearly threw up on him two weeks ago, when he made me hang upside down like a bat and then flail about. I am constitutionally unable to do bat manoeuvres is what we learned on that fateful day.  Also, I have no core.  We are working on my core now. I say this is all well and good, but you can’t work on what you haven’t got. He tells me to shut up, and so we go on.

I am walking a lot. This is down to the Pokemon collecting. I am, it transpires, shit hot at Pokemon Go. I spend a lot of time lurking in church yards talking to small boys, which sounds rather like Operation Yew Tree, I do admit. Trust me when I say that we talk a lot about combat power and levelling up and spend more time staring at our phones than each other.  What I have found, in my few weeks of doing this, is that there are two, clear tribes of Pokemon players, middle aged women, and small boys.  The other thing I have found is that most of the middle aged women I know who play, are hands down, kicking the ass of small boys everywhere. Take that, Patriarchy.




Happy Birthday Tilly

Dear Tilly

Today you are twenty.

At this point, twenty years ago, we were still waiting for you to arrive. It was the third day of a labour that had gone wrong at pretty much every stage. My birth plan was about as useful as me having printed the lyrics to Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep onto a sheet of paper, set fire to it and handing the charred remains to the midwife. Nevertheless we persevered and day three was notable for a) the triumphant arrival of the epidural and b) your triumphant arrival around eleven o’clock at night.

I’d go through it all again and more to have the honour of calling you my daughter.

I have absolutely no words of wisdomosity to share with you. You live in your own house, that you bought yourself. Your fiscal responsibility is clearly a genetic throwback and I worship at the feet of your ability to organise your finances. One day I hope you will teach me everything you know. You live with your lovely boy, who adores you and are surrounded by friends who are exactly the right sort of friends because they love you entirely for yourself. You have a steady job with access to free running books, which if you have to have a steady job at all is a pretty good one to have. You are still an artist to the core and I look forward to watching you take the world by storm one day. You seem to be living your best life, and I trust that if it doesn’t feel like your best life you will have the courage to change it, because you are brave and clever.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mum. You have taught me far more about being a good human being than you will ever know. Life would have been duller and meaner in every way without you in it. Today I am feeling very privileged, not only because it’s your birthday but because you’re spending it with me. Thank you.

Happy birthday heart of my heart. I love you.




June hoves into view

How did it get to be June already?

The last few weeks have passed in something of a blur. Tallulah is in the thick of exams, we have had guests for two weeks and this week has been half term. I feel like I’ve barely drawn breath.

As ever, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag here at Boo Towers. My mental health continues unpredictable, rather like the weather. I seem to gain ground, then something happens and I’m back down in the mire again. Sleep is a big factor. It’s still quite elusive, and I tend to have two states, dull fog of the mind or spin cycle of the mind, neither of which is ideal. Nevertheless, I still do have the mind, which I suppose is better than rocking purgatorially in the twilight.

My eye is better, which is very cheering as I haven’t had time to knit myself an eye patch.  Oscar has been referred for surgery for his ingrowing toenail. We wait for the letter much like Patience on a monument, if Patience wore sliders and ate a lot of pizza.

I am still plugging away at the gym. I only go once a week for an hour, but I go, which is very unlike me. Sadly I do not enjoy it any more than I did, but I am noticing that my joints are less unhappy with me, so there is that. Part of me wants to say it’s rubbish so I can bin it off and go back to a the sloth life, but I keep hitting that part of me with sticks until it shuts up.

I have also taken to walking a lot recently due to the fact that the kids installed Pokemon Go on my phone two weeks ago, and I have become completely addicted to it. I literally ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All.’ This is as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone else. I am not a gamer, never have been. I have one game on my phone which I regularly de-install. I don’t even play Candy Crush. It turns out though, that when small, turtle style creatures pop out of hedges, I can’t help myself. I am walking about forty kilometres a week now, and I am already on level 22 of the game.

In some ways it’s really good for me. I am moving a considerable amount, which is helping my creaky old bones. It’s also free.  In other ways it is feeding my addictive personality in a rather concerning way. I am monitoring it, in case I have to ask Jason to smash my phone with a hammer for my own good.

Work is not something I’ve had a massive amount of time for in the last few weeks. Home life and shoring up my precarious mental health has taken precedent. I’ve stopped stressing so much about it, which is good. Things are selling at a fairly steady rate, which helps.

My art class finished this week. There isn’t another one until November, so I shall try to make time to do some at home in the meantime. Painting mediocre water colours continues to delight me in a way I could never have predicted. Much like Pokemon Go.

I went to Kew Gardens for the day with my friend Matt to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition. It was glorious. The sun shone, we had a magnificent picnic and the exhibits were beautiful.  We enjoyed ourselves so much we extended the trip, walking some of the Thames path and going for dinner before heading back. I highly recommend a visit. Unlike lots of places, you simply pay the regular entry fee for Kew and you can see all the Chihuly pieces without having to cough up extra. I appreciate that in these straitened times.

Book wise, I finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s an incredible book, complex, long, absorbing. One of those big American novels that I tend to avoid, yet this one was brilliant. Rather upsetting in places but one of those books that stays with you and changes the way you look at the world after you’ve read it.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton was another utterly absorbing read. Based on Dalton’s own life this is a coming of age tale set against enormous deprivation, abuse and poverty. It sounds terrible but it really isn’t. It’s weirdly magical and I have never read anything quite like it.

Virginia Nicholson’s How Was It For You? Was a look at the Sixties through the eyes of women who had lived through it. She takes the big themes of the day and interviews women from all walks of life and geographical locations about how things like the coming of the pill really changed their lives, if it indeed did. It was fascinating. Really well written.

Tan France’s autobiography ‘Naturally Tan’, was a relatively entertaining bit of fluff, which was clearly written at some speed to cash in on the Queer Eye phenomenon. Tan, it appears, is quite a private person in real life, which makes it rather hard to write an autobiography with any depth at all, which is a shame, because he has, from the glimpses he gives you, had quite the life.

All the above were from Netgalley.

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner was from Amazon Vine. I chose it because lots of people were recommending it on social media. For the first third of the book I totally got what everyone was raving about. I really enjoyed it. Then it lost its way in the second third, and I found myself putting it down a lot and getting really bored with the characters. It picked up in the last third, and there were some really clever ideas in the book, but in the end I didn’t love it.

I also got given a glorious picture book about The Origin of the Species by Sabina Radeva. It’s fabulous. The illustrations are beautiful and the author makes a really good fist of taking something incredibly complex and making it interesting and comprehensible for children.

Finally, I regressed back into my childhood bookcase and read The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner and Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh, because it turns out I hadn’t actually read either of them. Loved them.

I’m watching Good Omens, which is as splendid as I had hoped and keeps making me squeep with delight for so many reasons.

That’s about it, really. I’m gearing up for another busy week. Tilly is twenty on Thursday which is quite the thing to wrestle with. We are going to London for the day to see the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and eat lots of snacks. It will be nice.

Jason and I head off for a restorative weekend in our grain silo at Hay on Friday. It feels like I haven’t been for about five years, despite it only having been a couple of months since we were last there. I am very much looking forward to it. I think everyone should be allocated weekends in grain silos from time to time, on the NHS.


Head emptying

It’s been a while.

The dilemmas of blogging through a period of interesting mental health are that when things are going well I want and need to get out and about and do real life and there is not much time to write. When things are not going well, the temptation is to fill the blog with words of sadness, despite the fact that life is not all sadness, but writing the better bits is too hard. Hence the radio silence.

Today is ok. I have, on the minus side, cleaned up lots of cat sick and my plans for the day have been rather de-railed by circumstance. On the plus side I have drunk my coffee in a tiny window of sunshine, sitting outside on the deck and got to read two chapters of my book before everyone else got up.

Edited highlights of the last few weeks include

Getting used to Martin Launderette, my new car. He is still a bit of a bum licker and his parking sensors drive me mental. As we say in our house, ‘Martin! Martin! He’s got lots of banter.’ This is not necessarily a good thing. On the other hand, since I got a stone chip in the windscreen and the across the cup-de-sac neighbour backed into my passenger door because she was too busy looking at a cat, he is much less intimidating and more like my actual car. Also I can get Radio Six, which pleases me greatly.

My sore eye returned spectacularly and rather ruined the weekend before last. It did, at one, inconvenient point, actually explode and I had to have antibiotics the size of actual canoes for a week to clear it all up.  I was rather fed up during this period. I couldn’t see very well, my eye hurt like a bastard, the pills were making my stomach hurt and all in all I found the whole experience challenging at every level.

Oscar’s ingrowing toenail also exploded in the same week, and again, because the laws of medicine dictate that anything awful that happens to you happens outside of normal working hours, we ended up in children’s A&E for four hours on a Wednesday evening. He has been referred to the podiatrist and will eventually become the Pobble who has no toes. I am ok with this. I shall hire him out at children’s birthday parties and passing circuses.

Oscar, in between having his foot exploding and annoying his French teacher (interesting report card), has joined an acting troupe (I love the word troupe, very monkey like) and spends several hours every Saturday in a church hall thesping about. He loves it. Since Tallulah gave up on her dreams of Hollywood stardom and Tilly moved out to be a starving artist/bookseller, it rests on him to revive the family’s flagging fortunes. Obviously this will only work if his toes don’t explode and he becomes a circus freak instead.

Work is dismal. Absolutely dismal. I am resigned to having to weave a bedouin tent out of my stock and live like a nomad, scavenging the highways and byways of Britain. This will be good practice for when our politicians finally drag us irrevocably into the abyss. I will rename myself as The Urban Bear Grylls and make my fortune that way.

Jason went off for ten days to Las Vegas to play golf and poker and bask in the sunshine. This, of course, meant that the weather here became sub optimal as soon as his plane took off, and then we all exploded.

Tallulah starts GCSE’s on Monday. This has been as good for her mental health as you would expect given the intense nonsense and pressure schools place on results for something that only helps you get into sixth form and nobody gives a rat’s ass about ever again. I fume. We endure.

I have been visited by my wonderful friend Claire, and we ate curry and gossiped and laughed a lot. I visited my new friend, Fern and despite Bolsover (half way between our houses) promising much and delivering little, it was really lovely to meet her in actual, real life. I have been on a day out with Jenn, where we ate magnificent Thai food and shopped. I have been on a day out with my mum and sister in law where we fondled lots of fabric and ate magnificent Vietnamese food.

Tilly has been to visit several times. We laugh, we talk about books a lot, we eat food a lot. It’s good. We have just booked tickets to see Ben Aaranovitch talk about his new book The October Man, in a few weeks. Also in a few weeks, Tilly is twenty. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this fries my brain. I shall just park that thought there and prod it again later.

Book wise, I finished The Theoretical Foot, which was good but not gripping. The Overstory was exceptional but very upsetting. I read Jeanette Winterson’s Frankisstein: A Love Story, which is clever and funny and brilliant. I read The Case of Miss Elliott, the Tea Room Detective by Baroness Orczy, which was merely ok. I read Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen which is absolutely brilliant and I think everyone should read. From that and recommendations by Tilly and Alex I have also started to listen to The Guilty Feminist Podcast, which is superb. Oh, and I’m listening to a musician called Aldous Harding, who I really rate.



Some of the Books of My Life

Right then. Let’s have a whistle stop tour of some of the things I’ve been reading in the last few weeks:

It’s always nice when you think you’re up to date to find books in a series you’ve missed. I read two by Stuart MacBride from the Logan McRae series, The Blood Road and Now We Are Dead. Gritty, Scottish noir with a darkly humorous slant. I love them. There’s a new one out in May.

I had more of a crime fix with The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham, a book of short stories which I was sent by NetGalley. Old fashioned and rather charming. I liked them very much, particularly the stories in which Campion didn’t feature, which was a surprise.

I also read Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell, which Oscar bought me for my birthday. Don’t tell Oscar but I hated it. I’ve only ever read one other Kay Scarpetta book and hated that too. I had rather hoped that this would be better. It wasn’t. You know it isn’t for you when you really hope that the horrible sociopath will bump Scarpetta off in chapter four, only to be cruelly disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson was a proof from NetGalley. I very much enjoyed it. It’s a YA novel about the fashion industry and exploitation of young girls. It’s well written and I think it’s an important book for its target market. It’s out at the end of May.

Natboff by Andy Stanton was a good, solid offering from the creator of Mr. Gum, who I love with all my heart. Even my new car is named after a character in one of his books. Natboff doesn’t live up to quite the deluded genius of Mr. Gum but it has its moments. If you have kids who like very silly books, you should get it for them.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was an odd one. I really enjoy Japanese literature. I’m not sure whether it’s the authors I’m choosing to read or the translations, but they all tend to have this quite surreal quality to them. This is no exception, and I loved this right up until the end, which I thought let it down somewhat by not being weird enough.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks was another odd one. Hanks (of film star fame) collects old typewriters in real life. He also writes stories on the type writers. Each story in the collection is written on a different antique typewriter from his collection and makes reference to said typewriter in the story. It’s novel, I’ll give it that. Some of the stories are good, some less so. I got my copy in the Kindle sale a while back. I’d have been annoyed to pay full price.

Three books about fashion were all great. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson and The Button Box: The Story of Women in the Twentieth Century Through The Clothes They Wore by Lynn Knight, were all fascinating. The Lynn Knight was my favourite. I love a wander through social history with an interesting focus and this provided all of the above. The McQueen was next. It’s made me want to watch the film again. The Picardie book was a bit staid, but got more interesting as it went on.

Paul O’Grady Still Standing: The Savage Years, Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain and Then It Fell Apart by Moby were all decent autobiographies. Rosie was particularly fascinating because Tremain is such a vivid writer and her incredibly privileged childhood at the end of the Forties is so well drawn. I also really enjoyed the Moby book because it was pretty salacious and full of gossip. He’s had a surprisingly louche life for a vegan. Both these were advance copies from NetGalley. The Paul O’Grady was because I still love Lily Savage. I saw her once on stage. She reminded me rather of my gran.

I also read A World Gone Mad: The Wartime Diaries of Astrid Lindgren. It was interesting, but I realise I know very little about Lindgren, and because the book is predominantly diary extracts I found myself frustrated because I wanted to know more about all the people she talks about.

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant by Joel Golby was sort of autobiographical, along with journalism. A real mixed bag, but yes, brilliant.

The Haunting of Henry Twist by Rebecca F John was a bit of a punt, and not an entirely successful one. It started off as one thing, which I was really into, and then about a third of the way through, decided to branch off in about twenty different directions, none of which really resolved at the end in any way I found satisfactory.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney was excellent and as enjoyable for me as her book, Normal People. She writes with this sort of superb ordinariness that I find hugely appealing despite the fact that lots of people seem to hate her. I think she’s exceptional.

Currently I have several books on the go:

I am reading an extraordinarily boring book about the Tudors which I have been reading on and off for two years now and which is a very effective insomnia cure. It was free on Kindle and it’s really, really terrible. Imagine the worst text book you ever read and then add levels of hitherto unknown boredom. I can’t even be bothered to tell you who it’s by, that’s how bored I am of it.

I am reading The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware, which is another book Oscar got me for my birthday and which actually seems pretty good so far.

I am reading The Theoretical Foot by M F K Fisher which is strange and excellent

and finally I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers which I got sent by NetGalley and which is superb.



Slightly less gloom

I am still here. Still quite mad, but hanging on in there. I’ve had more sleep in the last few days, so that’s good. Things are always more manageable when you’re not exhausted. I’m still knackered, but I’m not swivel eyed anymore. Top marks for me.

I am trying a slightly new approach to things. I am attempting to do everything at the pace I can manage, rather than the pace the world dictates. This is helping a lot. Some days I get a lot of things done. Other days not so many. That’s ok. People are being very patient with me. This is probably due to the fact that all the asylums are now luxury flats and nobody wants to have to sit with me while I do basket weaving.

As well as getting more sleep, I am eating more things than toast. This is an improvement. Not that there is anything wrong with toast. It is one of the foods of the gods, along with mashed potato, but a girl can have too much toast. I was that girl. Toast is a treat, not a lifestyle. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Luckily for my newly restored vigour in terms of cooking, Amazon Vine sent me Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book Bazaar to review and I have been testing things from it. As with all her books, it is excellent. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and tasty.  It has meant that I have been eating proper meals again. To sum it up, all the recipes are vegetarian, but even my meat loving husband is actively enjoying the food. Nuff said.

I am still very, very sad about many things and prone to bursting into tears at random times. I think I am also quite furious about some things, but am far too tired to do anything about them. This is probably a good thing. I am definitely still on the morbid end of the thought spectrum, but am less terrified by everything. Slightly.

I know I am less terrified, because I am actively making plans to do things instead of putting them off, even the nice things. My diary is beginning to look more jovial. Whether I do these things remains to be seen, but choosing to do them is a step in the right direction, rather than forcing myself, or simply pretending that nothing is happening.

I spent several days last week with a painfully blocked tear duct (probably overworked) and a headache which turned into a spectacular migraine by Thursday afternoon. I have spent the majority of the Easter weekend recovering. This has mostly entailed sitting in the sun, reading my book, eating big, fat olives stuffed with garlic. Today I didn’t even bother to get out of my pyjamas. Well, except to have a bath, where I wallowed for a good hour, also reading my book.

To a large extent, books are saving my life at the moment. They give me peace I don’t get elsewhere, and fill my head with words that are not mine, and worlds that are not mine and this is good.

It’s been a long time since I posted book recommendations. The next post will be for the bibliophiles and then it will be back to the usual plangent moaning and the odd post about the cats.