Shopping List

Today was not a work day, oh no it was not! It was a Saturday, as I am sure many of you will have spotted. It was a day for Getting Things Done at home.

Sigoth and I compiled the shopping list for a trip into town.

Shoppng List

1. Pay the newsagent.

We don’t have a daily paper ourselves but the demented mother likes to have one. It helps her keep track of the date at least, and she enjoys the pictures of puppies. I used to worry about the headlines because she likes a particular red-top with an undying devotion to that princess that was killed. Some of the front pages can be alarming if you happen to be the kind of person, like my mother, who thinks that newspapers carry actual stories about real life events with any degree of accuracy. Really these publications should be stocked on the Fiction shelves in the shop. Thankfully she now doesn’t take in what they say, so is no longer upset. Every cloud has its silver lining.

2. Drugs

3. Nails

4.Goat’s milk yoghurt

5. Paint brushes

I know, it’s an eclectic mix. In fact it made me think I was going on some kind of Outward Bound course with Sigoth where we would have to use the items listed to build a device for crossing the Atlantic as part of a team building exercise.

We talked it through and here is our plan:

First, take all the drugs to produce a creative mind set.

Then use the paint brushes to slap the yoghurt onto some rocks. We assume the course will take place on the Moors because why would you do this anywhere sane. Or warm.

Use the nails to make abstract patterns and leave them on the yoghurty rocks to rust. After a while the rocks will be covered in all kinds of beautiful lichen fed by the yoghurt and growing in psychedelic patterns traced by our drug-fuelled brains.

We will enter these into the Turner Prize or similar and win a large amount of money with which we will purchase luxury tickets to cross the Atlantic.

Job. Done.

Either that or I am just kidding and we are really going to make a bomb.

I hope you had an interesting day. Do tell me how it went.




NaNoWriMo Day 18 – looking back in achievement

Sunday, the alleged day of rest. It’s the day so many people use to get everything done except resting. Naturally Sigoth and , as fans of tradition, adhere to the conventional wisdom and imitate the chicken sans tête, rather than the action of the tiger. We moved my office.

Fortunately for me, Sigoth did most of the work, so I was able to write. For those of you keeping count I churned out 3095 pearls. Unfortunately many of those pearls would serve another purpose better than that of my novel. They were perfectly sound words, just not in this particular combination. I am led to believe that that is what editing is for.

This morning I am experimenting with writing for your entertainment in a new location, rather than the usual settee in the living room. It gives me a different window to look out while I beseech the muse for inspiration. As it faces east, I am enjoying the sunrise, which is especially fine this morning. I’m not sure it helps me to write anything, but it is pretty.

The weekend has been an achieving weekend. Saturday was fruitful, which is the posh word for busy in these parts, and Sunday more so. I even scared myself by starting Christmas shopping online. I know I won’t manage to get into town to do it this year, so it was the logical option. Everyone loves a gift from eBay, right? (Only kidding, offspring!)

The most important thing, though, was a long conversation with a friend who had just had a full mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. All has gone well, if in a sore and gradual manner and it seems there are no nasties left lurking. For which we are grateful. We both reflected on the miracle that is modern medical science, the kindness of the people who work in the NHS and our great good fortune to be alive at a time when e can be given these opportunities.

Along with pride in the BBC, I share my pride in the NHS. We are a society that wants to care for everyone in need. I know it’s a bit of a mystery to other nations how it all works, but it is our greatest national achievement and I cherish it.

For writer’s cramp, call 111. Otherwise stop prevaricating and back to your plots and scenes, my lovelies! Share the love.


Market Town Blues

Today I went into Malton to carry out a few necessary transactions. Usually I am only in town on a Saturday so I quite liked the idea of seeing it during the week. It made me feel like the heroine in Brief Encounter, off to town with her basket and list to buy some thread, eat lunch and watch a film, then fall madly in love with a stranger at the railway station.  The possibilities were endless, and more exciting than waiting for a bus and worrying about whether I’d still be able to get hold of the Radio Times or not.

I hadn’t been into Malton for a few weeks so I was looking forward to a leisurely wander around town, poking into charity shops for bargains and picking up items from my list. I thought I would try and go for a coffee half way through just in case there was a handsome stranger who needed some company with his caffeine; or at least I could rest my feet and pretend to read the paper while listening to other people’s conversations.

It’s August, so of course it’s school holidays. On the plus side this meant I didn’t have to take school finishing time into account when deciding which bus to catch home. In term time if you catch the 4.30 it’s packed with lively teens, and you can end up getting quite grumpy with the incessant ring tones and shouting. It’s the same on pension day really.  On the down side, I did worry I’d be wading through frenzied mobs of bored youths simmering in the heat and damp of a showery summer day. It was quite a shock, therefore, to discover how quiet things were in town.

On a Saturday there is usually a fair old bustle going on about Malton, and queues for the coffee shop, and for the post office, and at Butcher’s Corner where everyone waits to cross diagonally. People are chatting with neighbours and friends and hallooing across the street to one another, and generally giving every indication of a vibrant local community, if only to moan about the state of the Milton Rooms or the headline in the local paper.

Today the shops were quiet. The usual cheerful service was missing; staff were more prone to gossiping than helping customers (I like it that in Malton shop staff are helpful and friendly and often remember you from the last time). The old Museum was behind scaffolding, although I admit this would also be true at the weekend, and lots and lots of shops were closed and empty and peeling their paint in a rather dismal and depressing fashion. When it’s busy the number of empty properties is less obvious; today a new charity shop had replaced the shoe shop, but was still half empty and rather dark and sinister.

I finished all my shopping so soon I got the bus back an hour before I had planned. Maybe everyone who was not at work had taken the chance to nip off to the coast because it was a lovely day. Maybe they will all be back next time I go into town. Maybe Monday in Malton is just like that.

In December it will be busy again. First of all there’s the fair. Then the Salvation Army starts playing in the square to raise money for charity, and the market is busier than ever and everyone is rushing about and cheerful and a little manic. There are the lights to look at as it gets darker, and window displays and sometimes it snows in a very picturesque way.  Everyone has to bundle up against the cold, and dashes about with clouds of breath steaming from their mouths, carrying parcels and presents and food. Malton is in its element in the depth of winter. I just don’t think summer suits it at all/


Christmas shopping

I went to do some Christmas shopping the other week and most of the time I was fighting my way through the shops, I was thinking “Why didn’t I do it on-line?”

What a change! Now I can pick out gifts for friends and family in specialist shops and get them delivered anywhere in the country without having to queue at the post office while a confused old lady who isn’t me fumbles over stamps for a badly wrapped parcel going to brattish grandchildren in a former colony. (Even thinking about Christmas crowds puts me in a bad mood. I’m sure some of the brattish grandchildren are not really very brattish, or even in former colonies. Obviously, if I ever am blessed with grandchildren, they will be the brattiest ones on the planet, and proud of it!)

Only a few years ago – when my children were little for example – Christmas shopping still meant going to physical shops (or possibly using a catalogue, like Littlewoods, or latterly, Argos). The time needed to get all the presents was enormous; now I can spend one day shopping and finish off at home in comfort. To be honest I could probably do even more at home if I really wanted.

But my point is that the whole approach to Christmas shopping, and shopping in general, has changed enormously. I have food delivered to the house each week; and yet, when I was very little, we bought fish from the fish van, and various other products from other men in vans. Local shops delivered orders. So perhaps things have not so much changed, as changed back.

Christmas post

I do love shopping on-line for presents. All that trauma and stress just melts away as I point and click with a mouse in one hand and a mug of tea in the other.

It was pleasing today to have the parcel from that well-known on-line book store arrive safely at the house. Admittedly though I got carried away in the book shop last week and staggered home with a load of overpriced paperbacks which not only made my purse lighter, but my arms longer. But browsing in book shops probably doesn’t count as shopping – the smell of the ink, the rustle of the pages, all serve to please the senses and soothe the pain of seasonal crowds.

Shopping for presents on-line is most enjoyable when it involves the kind of thing that doesn’t need sensory inspection first. I can order flowers, food and certain geegaws without the need to sniff, rattle or stroke them first. This means friends who appreciate bouquets or particular sweet or savoury treats are easy to please. I know they like what they get, and I also know they get something to a standard with proper packaging. So hurrah for Amazon, but also hurrah for Ambala, Flowers by Post and Hotel Chocolat.