That Sunday feeling

Sundays were typically my favourite day of the week when I was with N. If I wasn’t playing rugby and then out on the town with the ladies, they were spent drinking tea, eating fat girl’s breakfast, surrounding by the papers and watching old films.

There is something very comforting (and comfortable) about being with someone on those kind of days, especially when the weather’s playing up outside. No expectations, no need to do one’s make up, change out of pyjamas. Warm, protected, safe and calm. Confident in the love and affection of the person you’re with.

Sundays in this foreign land of mine seem to be made for this cocoon of lazy domesticity. There aren’t any shops open and the flats are still (this is one of the occasions when I thank their funny by-laws about peace and quiet). At this time of year, the skies are grey, threatening snow or rain. There is a definite nip in the air. Perfect for not doing much with someone you love.

And I’m coping with them alone.

The last couple of Sundays have been spent in a state of flux. I have taken advantage of living on my own and relishing the fact that I have the freedom of being completely selfish about my time off and yet, at the same time, something’s been missing.

Whether it’s someone to doze off next to on the sofa, someone to make tea for (or, even better, make me tea) or to argue with about whether The Colditz Story or The Dambusters makes better Sunday viewing (the answer is, of course, The Colditz Story). It’s someone to collapse onto, your legs on his lap or you planted in the crook of his arm. Curled up.

I’ve started trying to fill up the Sundays with friends, outings, phone calls, pottering. But it’s not quite the same. I miss the companionship and I find myself getting a severe case of the green eyed monster at my loved up friends.

It’s a weird feeling, this feeling of pathetic need. I don’t do needy that often but when I do, boy, I do it well.

Model of a Modern Major General has been on the receiving end of my self-pitying rants for the last couple of weeks. (Normally I try and keep it to just that, something I deal with alone except for a few people whom I know will allow me to wallow, at least for a little bit. Until they tell me to buck up my ideas.)

However, yesterday, I found myself complaining to the American, Scotsman and Hungarian*. They had come round for a proper big fat roast dinner – on the pretence that we were going to talk some rugby chat and then watch the Scotland/Ireland game. They were, of course, actually just pawns in my evil ploy to stave off the feeling that I was going to die alone and be found 3 weeks later being eaten by my cats.

Anyway, it was yesterday that I realised that this condition (which I have decided to call Sundayitis) has got to a critical point. If my complete inability to find someone to spend time with has become the basis of a conversation with friends as we eat Sunday lunch, it must be a huge problem. One that needs solving. (in a very roundabout “Oh me? No, I’m fine without a man, I don’t need a boyfriend, please love me” kind of way, of course – can’t seem too desperate)

There is one fatal flaw. A gaping chasm which I haven’t quite figured out how to traverse.

There is a severe dearth of men in this one-horse town.

Don’t get me wrong, there are men in this town (this isn’t Coutts Crossing after all)  

it’s just that… well, they fall into a number of categories:

  1. married
  2. taken
  3. taken but looking (not my bag, baby)
  4. friends (not that I’m precluding the possibility of friends becoming something more but a) I don’t fancy any of my friends and b) it seems like a pretty silly thing to do. What happens if it didn’t work out?)

As you can see, there isn’t a category which is entitled “Single, financially solvent, sane, intelligent, amusing, charming, good looking straight man looking for a stable but exciting relationship”.

Funny that.

*as an aside, I really need to introduce you to my new group of friends here. And give them better pseudonyms.


Book review: Della says OMG!

As is my wont nowadays, before sitting down to write a review of Keris Stainton‘s debut novel “Della says OMG!”, I turned to twitter asking advice on how to write a book review. Suggestions ranged from the useless to the nearly useless.

Read the book

Useful – done that.

At the beginning

Yes, that’s how I normally read books dear twitter

i read _____ it was very good. It was good because…

Well here you go.

I read “Della says OMG!” it was very good. It was good because…

OK, I jest.

With a quote from Meg Cabot on the front cover (who not only wrote the Princess Diaries but also the fab Boy Meets Girl and The Boy Next Door – both of which are well thumbed additions to my bookshelf) claiming “A fun, delicious treat you’ll want to eat up in a single bite”, I had high hopes for “Della says OMG!”

OK, granted, I’m not in the book’s target age (being at least 15 years older than the teen age range it’s aimed at) but that’s never stopped before (see my recent re-reading of Black Beauty).

The premise of the book is simple but also something that every young girl has thought about, worried about and dreaded.

Della is a normal teenager – worried about boys, her relationship with her family and friends and how she looks. She’s an every girl – believable, likable and charming – the kind of girl you’d have liked to be friends with at school. Enter Dan, the romantic interest, the boy she’s liked ever since he gave her gave her a box of crayons on the first day of primary school (how easily us ladies are impressed at a young age – if only it was so easy nowadays!)

At a party, the lovely Dan (yes, I know, he’s too young… but that doesn’t stop me having a crush on him, right? And besides, any man who can quote Blackadder, even if he’s fictional, is ok in my book.) and Della have their first kiss. Everything seems to be going the right way. Until Della realises that her diary has disappeared.

I’m not going to spoil the rest of the book. I’m not going to tell you what happens. I’m not going to tell how satisfying it was. Sorry.

Needless to say though, I started “Della says OMG!” one Saturday evening and couldn’t go to sleep until I had finished it. With characters so authentic, dialogue so delightful and a storyline which will resonate with every woman (young, or old) “Della says OMG!” really is a great new addition to an already established teen fiction genre.

I found myself giggling, gasping and grinning throughout the book. It introduced me to new favourite words which have since made regular appearances in my everyday language (“hidying” being one of them – the act of hiding things before people come round in lieu of actually tidying).

I’m very excited to see that Keris has a new book coming out (you can read the first chapter here) and I can’t wait to read it all. My recommendation now? Keris, please move into the adult fiction bracket. Please?

You can buy “Della says OMG!” from Amazon. (and I heartily recommend you do)

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People watching IV

Ann and Margaret meet the son and daughter in law

Ann and Margaret are in their twilight years. Ann’s late husband has been dead for 10 years now and this foray into lesbianism is a relatively new thing for her. Ann finds it all a bit exciting after her staid (and conventional upbringing)

Margaret’s always been “that way inclined, dear” but after the heady excesses of the 60s and 70s, never thought she’d find anyone to settle down with. And yet, here she is, with Ann.

Ann and Margaret now live a contented life in their small bungalow. It has a garden, which is a blessing. They pride it on being the best in the small Surrey village they live in. “Have you seen Barbara’s latest attempt Ann? Petunias! Frightfully common little flowers”

They first met at the parish council meeting (“such a boring thing, darling but one does like to wind up Norman”) and, recognising they were both women of a certain age, starting having regular kitchen sups together.

Margaret never had children (for obvious reasons) and Ann and Jonathan (“god rest his soul”) only had the one. Money was a bit tighter in those days so, much to Ann’s disgust, he had to be sent to the local comp. Since then he’s been a bit of a handful. Friends would probably describe him as “down to earth”. Ann winces everytime she hears him speak.

Ann came out to her son about 2 years ago. She thought, with him being “frightfully with the times”, that he’d understand. And he does, sort of.

Although why his mother can’t just find herself a “nice fella from down the pub” like other people, he’ll never know. He always feels slightly uncomfortable around the two of them but, as long as his mum’s happy, he has no complaints.

His wife hates the whole thing. She hates the forced ok-ness of it all. These lunches are a source of huge annoyance. However, her job as an office manager trains her to swallow her pride and take the rough with the smooth. Overall, this is one grisley speed bump on a very smooth ride.

I mean, don’t get her wrong, or anything, it’s not that she hates gay people. No, no. Some of her best friends are gay. It’s just different when they’re 24 and sniffing poppers.

Women in their late 60s don’t have sex, do they?

What do you get when you put me together with someone whose writing I’ve always admired, some food, a hangover (hers, not mine), wine (mine, not hers) and a pub full of characters?

A series of pen portraits.

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People watching III

James, Philippa, John, Lottie, Tor and Tom:

It’s all too, too exciting. Like, literally, only three years after coming back from her gap year, Tor’s finally got a job! Sooo amazing! Yah – she’s going to be a nanny of all things! Can you believe it? Free car, no real responsibility. Best of all, she’ll be working for Rosie and Jasper – you know, Mummy’s friends from her flatting days in London? Rosie has such excellent taste in clothes and Jasper? Well, for an older man he’s a bit of dish. Brill.

Anyway, what better way to celebrate than getting slightly tipsy on wine with all her bestest chums?

John sits at the end of the table feeling, yet again, slightly out of place. He curses his parents for sending him to the local grammar school. “You’ll meet nice people there Johnny. Grammar schools are really not that bad nowadays”.

If only he’d gone to Radley like the others.

Thank God for Bristol Uni and the blessing of rugby. Now he was moving in the circles in which he should be accustomed. Shame the bevvy of blondes opposite can’t see that. He gazes at Lottie who, in turn, gazes at James.

James is in his element. Here he is with his friends, confident in the fact he’s the best looking chap in the bunch. He could have his pick of girls and frequently does. Including the divine Lottie who, despite her butter wouldn’t melt demeanour is a bit of a goer in the sack. Shame she’s thick as two short planks eh?

He does wish that John would buck up his ideas. It’s not like the Lottie thing is ever going to happen anyway – they won’t go out with just anyone. And yes, John’s good for a laugh but he’s not really part of the gang. Bonus being that John knows some super clubs down in places like Clapham and Wimbledon! Right out in the sticks of London. These sloany ponies are all very well but sometimes he’d like to get away from the “yahs” and the pashminas and puffa jackets.

Tom isn’t too sure what to think of the whole job thing. I mean, it’s great that Tor’s finally got something and all but what about the future? Their future? It’s not like he can say to his work colleagues that he’s going out with a nanny can he? I mean, it’s either one or the other. You’re either frightfully successful or you stay at home and look after the labrador. A Jane job (yanno, a job that just any ol’ Jane can do) just won’t cut it. He glances at Philippa. Now there’s a girl who he wouldn’t mind taking the office party.

Philippa is quiet, still recovering from another night in 151s

What do you get when you put me together with someone whose writing I’ve always admired, some food, a hangover (hers, not mine), wine (mine, not hers) and a pub full of characters?

A series of pen portraits.

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People watching II

Rupert and the Armstrongs:

Rupert’s wife really doesn’t want to be here.

She and Rupert got married early (some would say too early but what’s convention in the face of true love? And a stack load of cash). The wedding was nice enough – small, in an anonymous south London registry office with a lot of Rupert’s boorish friends and a couple of her squealing Australian ones. It wasn’t the fairy-tale princess affair she would have gone for but since neither she nor her family was paying for any of it, she didn’t feel she could complain. In the 3 years since, she’s half-heartedly looked for a job but instead she prefers to spend her time watching daytime television and flirting with the (also unemployed) guy next door. It’s nothing serious. After all, she loves Rupert, doesn’t she?

Generally, her life was good and she was happy. At 25 she was a world away from the small Australian town in which she grew up. And believe me, she isn’t going back there in a hurry. The only thing she can’t stand about her new life is these irregular lunches with Mr and Mrs Armstrong.

Despite assurances from Rupe, she constantly feels out of the loop, as if she’s not part of the family. Like an unwanted (and convicted) cousin, not the wife of their youngest (and dearest) son.

Ah well, at least they have the Putney flat. And there’s no talk of babies, yet.

Rupert, on the other hand, is in his element. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to see his parents that often. The trip down from the small cottage they own in the wilds of Yorkshire (“the locals are so divine, darling! Real salt of the earth”) is a long one and so nowadays it’s only the Christmas commute and Twickenham debentures which regularly bring them together.

This is a bit of a one off. His father has some board he has to sit on and his mother thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to stay “at the club” and come and see how he’s getting on in the big city. Still, it could be worse. 

His mother is attentive and loving. His father is amused by his work and sport anecdotes. Even better, he doesn’t have to pay. Having a wife is slightly more expensive than he thought. He’s getting through his allowance at the rate of knots.

Mrs Armstrong is trying not to let her annoyance with the younger Mrs Armstrong show. Couldn’t she have found some nicer clothes to wear? Jeans with a hole in the knee really aren’t the correct attire for a Sunday lunch, are they?

And Rupie’s looking so wane. Really, it looks like he hasn’t been fed in a month. Luckily she bought down plenty of freezer bags full of venison stew and a couple ton-weight of lasagna, ratatouille and shepherd’s pie (Roger’s lambs, darling. You know Roger, Jane’s husband. Jane? Come on dear, don’t be silly – you used to have the hots for her daughter, Rebecca? Live at the top of the village? She’s married now you know, Rebecca that is. Yes, frightfully nice chap. Some job in the city.)

She sighs, quietly. Why couldn’t Rupie have married someone just a little… well, a little more like us?

Mr Armstrong ignores all those around him. He has beer and he has rugby. What more does a chap need?

What do you get when you put me together with someone whose writing I’ve always admired, some food, a hangover (hers, not mine), wine (mine, not hers) and a pub full of characters?

A series of pen portraits.

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