Busy, busy month amigos. Nothing big or spectacular, but lots of small stuff, lots of trips to UK. Promo work for book has started already, even though it isn’t out until October, so lots of over and back. Nice stuff though. Judged a short story competition for Woman and Home and we got to ring the winner there and then and tell her she’d won and honestly, how uplifting! Also one of the other judges was the very lovely Marina Lewycka, author of wonderful books - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Two Caravans and her latest, We Are All Made of Glue. Do you know them? If not, I can heartily recommend them. She’s a beautiful author, she’s very funny but oh, so compassionate and kind and warm and wise.
Speaking of books, I have another couple of recommendations for you. It’s funny, I’ve had a long run of it where nothing – NOTHING – grabbed me. Not even my beloved Michael Connolly. I actually had to ABANDON his latest book The Scarecrow because it was both too violent and too dull. In fairness it wasn’t a Harry Bosch but entre nous, I think he’s writing the books too fast. Which is not something that could ever be said about me! Ho ho! (Yes, I am mocking my own incredible slowness.)
But then I read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – you must have heard about it, it’s a thinly disguised, fictionalised account of Laura Bush’s life and oh my God! It’s delicious! It’s fascinating and compelling and strangely sympathetic. She even manages to make Dubya seem charming. And hot on the heels of that, I read One Day by David Nicholls. And oh God, I finished it last night and I’m still quite wobbly and affected by it. It was BRILLIANT. It’s about 2 people, a boy and a girl who had a one-night-stand 20 years ago and then they were friends and it’s obvious they should be together and the book follows them through their lives, their separate paths and you think, Ah yeah, I know where this is going. But YOU DON’T, AMIGOS, YOU DON’T. There is an almighty twist. I did not see it coming. And the dialogue. I could have wept with jealousy at how good it is. And the characterisation! Again, the jealousy nearly made me puke. I wish I’d written this book.
Anyway! I can heartily recommend all of the above. Right. I’m trying to write in smaller paragraphs because someone wrote in to me last month complaining that my paragraphs are too long and now I’m very conscious of it but frankly, it’s inhibiting me. I like to let things flow. I’ll try and come back and tidy things up later.
So yes, minor disasters. But first a lovely, lovely thing. You know the way I said last month that I feared you might think my life was one long shoe-buying holiday and that you might take agin me for same. Well, it’s worse this month. You’re going to HATE me.
Let’s go back in time. New paragraph there. Did you see that? Okay, about 2 years ago I was in Sweden working and I was meant to be off the sugar at the time but I was knackered and premenstrual and just wasn’t strong enough so I cracked and went out and bought a bar of chocolate. It was a brand I’d never before encountered (unusual situation for me, of course, but I put it down to being in a foreign country.) It was called DIVINE and had beautiful black wrapping paper and the chocolate itself was delicious.
And naturally because of my specialist interest in the subject, I made enquiries. And it turns out that this chocolate is not only delicious but very very ethical. It’s sourced in Ghana and not only are the cacao bean growers (most of them women) paid fair trade prices, but they’re all shareholders in the company - not only ethical but very very feelgood. It’s done wonders for female empowerment in the area and brought in money for medicine, water and education. I’ve been reading a lot about it and I just thought what a wonderful thing Divine are doing – changing the lives of women who had lived in appalling poverty while bringing delicious chocolate to the likes of us in the developed world. I mean, what’s not to love about this? It’s a win-win for everyone. (If you’d like to read more, you could look on www.divinechocolate.com.)
But anyway, feelers have been put out between Divine chocolate and me and I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but something lovely is, you can be sure of it, probably around the publication time of the new book and I’ll do my very best to see that you, lovely readers, benefit.
However, now I get to the part where you’re going to hate me – Divine sent me a hamper – yes a HAMPER – a hamper of chocolate. Did you ever hear of anything more fabulous? It was so I could stand over the product. I mean, I needed to sample widely from their range, before I could speak with authority on it, right?
… ah sorry if I’m not convincing you. Well, Himself and myself knew it was coming and we were rightly psyched up and dancing around by the front door and when it came, we were pulling it out of each other’s hands and scrabbling to open it and when we did – Christ alive – it was off the scale. I should say at the is point that I’m back on the sugar. I’ve been trying to do it in moderation and for a lot of the time succeeding. Although there was going to be nothing in moderation about this day. Oh, the delicious stuff! Dried apricots covered in dark chocolate! Big, chunky bars of milk chocolate. White chocolate and strawberry bars! Orange chocolate slabs! Mini-eggs! Milk chocolate hearts! After dinner mints covered in dark chocolate. There was TONS of stuff. Even now, I’m drooling thinking about it.
I decided that all restraint was off. There was no need to feel guilty. I was going to eat exactly what I wanted and enjoy every mouthful and so I did and it was MAGNIFICENT. BUT. Yes, but. After we’d sampled enough to know all their products were brilliant, we stopped. One big blow out. Then we had to give the rest away because I would eventually have eaten it all. So we had a great time, then passed on the love.
How am I doing on paragraphs? Good, I think. But it’s inhibiting. So the month was going well, as you can see, apart from never being in my own bed more that 1 night in a row. Then, a few days ago, I woke up feeling like I was swallowing razor blades so I had to go to the doctor and I’ve been having such a good run on the health that I was well overdue something and yes, I have a throat infection and am on antibiotics. Then the following day, the real drama kicked off. I bit a piece off a bar of chocolate (not Divine chocolate, but some inferior brand which I won’t shame by naming) and the next thing I heard this unmerciful cracking noise – I’d fecking cracked the bridge on my teeth! I know this is incredibly shallow but I was in the horrors. Yes, call it vanity. Do, do. And of course far far worse things happen to people. Honest to God, I do have some perspective. But teeth. I swear to God, they cause me nothing but misery. It’s my own fault. I didn’t go to the dentist for 10 years, from the age of 20 to 30. I mean, I was drinking alcoholically, I was suicidal on a regular basis, if you’re thinking of topping yourself and you think you’re worthless and deserve nothing, you’re hardly going to to to the dentist, now are you? So I didn’t and although sometimes I used to wake up in the middle on the night in the total horrors, wondering if the day was coming when I’d wake up one morning with a mouthful of rotten teeth, I did my best to ignore it. THEN.
Sorry. New paragraph. THEN. I ended up in rehab and one of my teeth kicked off and honestly I haven’t had a moment’s peace from it ever since. I had to have a root canal thing WHILE I WAS IN REHAB. Did you ever hear of anything so unfair? Like my life wasn’t in enough of a shambles? But on the up side, because my life WAS in such an epic shambles, having to go to the dentist seemed like nothing, nothing at all. All my fear had gone. Which is just as well, because I am a very very regular visitor since. Not by choice either.
Have you ever had that dream where all your teeth have fallen out? Yes? Horrible, no? Yes, well it happened to me. Okay, not all of them. But one of them. The same root canally one. I’d had some sort of cap put on it and one day I was a work eating a toffo and the next thing out the tooth came. So I got it fixed and a while later, I got published and was sent off to Bath to visit Waterstones and I was having a cup of tea and a scone with a girl who worked in Waterstones and I was as nervous as billy-oh – her name was Cordelia, I still remember, because the incident had such an impact on me – the next thing my tooth was rattling around in my mouth. Yip. Rattling around. In my mouth. And I was trying to suck up to Cordelia so I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified to swallow me bit of scone in case I swallowed the tooth and I was terrified to open my mouth because she’d see the enormous, drafty, echoey, black hole of a gap. So I spent the rest of my time with her nodding silently and giving enthusiastic, clamped-mouth smiles and gesturing expansively until I was finally able to leave, some centuries later and spit the half-chewed mouthful of scone and the runaway tooth into my hand.
Awful! So eventually it became so unstable that I had to get a bridge put in. And for those of you who don’t know what a bridge entails, the dentist files down the 2 healthy teeth on either side of the gammy one, so that when your bridge cracks and falls out, it looks like you’re missing not 1 but – yes! – 3 teeth.
A delightful look. Especially if – as I am – you’re having your photo taken this coming Monday morning with the gorgeous Cathy Kelly, for Women and Home. And especially if – as I am – you’re making a television ad next Wednesday. And especially if – as I am – you’re going to New York in 2 weeks for a lunch with the glossy magazines.
So I know it’s shallow. But please, can’t you forgive me for this one? I know it’s not cancer or even swine flu (although after the throat infection, I had my worries) but it’s rattled me.
Mercifully I got an emergency appointment with the dentist and he fitted a temporary yoke. And then I got home and had my lunch, which happened to be chickpea curry and a while later I happened to be passing a mirror and glanced in to see that my new temporary bridge had gone BRIGHT YELLOW. The yellow of jaundice. The yellow of fever. The yellow of cowardice. It was the fecking turmeric in the chickpea curry! And too late I remembered what the dentist had said the last time I’d had a temporary bridge put it – that the bridge was made of very porous acrylic, so to stay away from foods that could stain. Eg Red wine, diet coke – and curry!
Oh God! So I scrubbed and scrubbed. I scrubbed till my gums bled. I scrubbed till I’d nearly dislodged the fecking thing and mercifully most of the yellowness has now faded.
Yes, I know it’s still not cancer. Not even any kind of flu. Yes, I know. I’m trying to keep it in perspective. Also to write very short paragraphs. Have you noticed?
So that’s been my month. Now, a handy tip! Baby wipes! Covered head to toe in tar? Babywipes will get it off. Drenched with nuclear fallout? Babywipes is your boy! Honestly, they can remove ANYTHING. I got tar on the back on my favourite dress. Okay, so the blackness is still there but the babywipes removed the stickiness so now when I sit down I don’t adhere to the chair. Then I spilled chocolate icecream on my white trousers from Gap (19.99 and lovely) and a good intense rub from a babywipe magicked it away. Then Himself bought a new pair of trousers. In the sale. In Alias Tom. (Fancy duds shop for men in Dublin.) Himself loves 2 things.
1. A bargain.
2. A bargain in Alias Tom
You see, Alias Tom is dear and Himself stalks the stock during the sale, waiting till it’s reduced by 50%. So he bought himself a lovely pair of grey linen trousers at a knockdown price and was very pleased with himself. But then… he read on the label that the trousers were not grey but in fact ‘taupe’ and he went into a bit of a decline. So we examined them from all angles and in several lights and concluded that the label must be wrong, that they were definitely grey and most definitely not taupe.
But then! He was taking out the bins and somehow got snail slime on his lovely new, non-taupe trousers and back down into the decline he went.
But! Aha! Out I came with my trusty babywipes and erased that snail slime with one swipe. Magic things, babywipes. Mind you, I’m not at all sure they should be used on babies tender bottoms, I mean, they must be riddled with chemicals!
I’ve just had a thought! I should have tried a babywipe on my yellow teeth, I’m sure it would have made short work of them.
Just a final thought. My mother said that me cracking my bridge on chocolate might be a sign from above that I should knock off the sugar again. And in fairness, I too am a believer in signs. And I think that me cracking my bridge on non-Divine chocolate is a sign that I should only eat Divine chocolate from now on. Good. I’m glad I’ve sorted that out.
So there we are, July. I hope you had a nice one. Have you seen the new Lip Smoothies from Clinique. Oh, I’m in love. The Pink Me Up one is especially gorgeous. It’s a great opacity – if there’s such a word. It’s gleamy like a gloss and goes on like a gloss but it’s not a sheer tinted colour, it’s proper thick pink. It also has Vitamin C in it, which can only be good. Mind you, I don’t care about that, I only care about how it looks because I’m obviously very shallow.
I hope you’re having a nice Summer and that you have a nice August. Things stay a bit mental for me in August but it’s not all work. Ema (9) and Luka (nearly 8) are coming on August 10th and we’re going to Alton Towers on the 12th because it’s Luka’s birthday on the 13th. So that should be lovely. I will report.
Sorry. It’s just occurred to me that that bragging about going to a theme park might be insensitive, given the cataclysmic times we’re living in. I really apologise if I’ve upset you or caused you offence. This is something that’s been planned since last Summer for Luka, he’s been looking forward to it for a while year and really we couldn’t break his heart by cancelling it.
Thank you as always, for your kindness. Have a lovely August and I’ll report back on teeth, trips etc, at the end of the month
Lots of love