Thank you Australia!
The Grim Redzer!
Ailment of the month!
Hello there and please bear with me as I’ve just got back from Australia and although I had a wonderful, wonderful time (more of which anon) I am jetlagged out of my mind and I know that that sentence has a bang of glamour about it (I think it’s the word ‘jet’) but ontra noo, going through it is GRUELLING and not at all glamorous.
There was a time when I’d go on a work trip and coming back I’d always have the fear that when I came home the house would have burnt down but this time I found I was hoping, just as I turned the final corner that the house WOULD have burnt down because at least then I wouldn’t have to deal with all the post. (But there would still be all the email stuff, so that would be a mad and useless thing to think.)
So yes, I was in Australia for 2 weeks and you know what? It was absolutely WONDERFUL. Thank you so so so so much to all of you who came to my ‘events’. What an honour it is to travel thousands upon thousands of miles from home and to meet so many friends. And so many years after my first book came out. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me. Also thank you for all the presents you brought me – the Timtams, the Caramel Koalas, the Cherry Ripes, the Haines chocolates, the Jurlique products, the chocolate Magnets, the books by Australian writers and the Berocca! Also the crocheted bootees and wrap for Baby Hannah! Forgive me for not listing everything, my poor brain is like mush and I still haven’t unpacked but rest assured I am delighted and grateful for everything.
Also, all the media was lovely – I literally didn’t meet one snarky-arse! And I cannot tell you how rare that is. But every single interviewer on the telly, the radio and the print media was LOVELY.
I didn’t have much time off but may I tell you about a Sunday afternoon in Sydney where I took tay with not one, not two but THREE Moriarty sisters! Yes, Liane, Nicola (author of The Fifth Letter) and Jaclyn (author of Feeling Sorry for Celia and other wonderful YA novels.) And they were – as you’d expect – LOVELY. All 3 of them individually fascinating and gorgeous and collectively, powerfully charismatic. I loved them so much I seriously contemplated moving to Sydney and only that it’s so far away from the Keyesez that it means I probably can’t.
Right, where were we? Okay, can I tell you about the Grim Redzer? Yes? Thanks! Well, for the past few years, above in Dundrum, there’s been a pop-up Halloween shop for the month of October and it’s become a sort of a tradition that myself and Himself go there with the 2 lads and give them a sum of money and let them buy what they want.
When we first started going they were too young to understand how money worked and used to be thrilled when they handed in their bit of paper and got back a load of Halloween paraphernalia AND a handful of small round metal things.
Now, Redzer the Elder is old enough to add things up so he took his 20 Euro and disappeared off into the shop and returned with 19.50 worth of house decorations, which he fecked up onto the counter, along with his 20 Euro note and said words to the effect of, “I think you’ll find that that should cover it.” (How quickly they grow up.)
Redzer the Younger (younger by 2 years) had a different approach. He richocheted into the shop, on the hunt for a scythe because he wanted to go out on Halloween as the Grim Reaper. For a while he was distracted by a plastic but otherwise very convincing blood-covered chainsaw but then he found his scythe and again, although plastic, was VERY convincing. And tall. Nearly as tall as me.
To go with his scythe, we found him a grim reaper outfit and then we spent 4 to 7 minutes looking for outfits for Baby Hannah and Toddler Teddy but sadly there was nothing suitable.
Then I realised I needed a mascara (not strictly a
mascara, it’s the Estee Lauder Little Black Primer, which goes under your mascara and provides colour but no crunchiness) so I called out, “Lads! We’ve to go to House of Fraser, I’ve to get something.”
So we went down the escalator, Oscar the Grim Redzer, wearing his Chelsea kit and carrying his scythe. At the bottom of the escalator, we turned left and I said, “Lads, see that blue and gold counter shimmering in the distance, that’s where we’re going. Now we’re short on time, so lets hop to it.”
Off we set, Oscar the Grim Redzer marching at our head, carrying his scythe, the other three of us locked in tight formation around him. We were moving at speed, very much a unit, extremely focused on our goal and – I now realise – with an air of mild maraudiness about us. I should mention that Redzer the Younger has bright, bright blue eyes and has an ‘anything could happen’ kind of energy about him. We were attracting startled looks and people were jumping from our path and from a distance I could see the woman at the Estee Lauder counter with a strange, ‘Sweet Jesus, don’t tell me they’re coming for me’ look upon her face.
I effected the purchase of the Primer as quickly as I could while the lads daubed themselves in double-wear foundation and Himself watched from an amused distance and then we left.
AILMENT OF THE MONTH
For a while there I was worried I’d have nothing to offer you other than jetlag which isn’t an ailment at all really, is it. But on my last day in Melbourne, what did I get only HAYFEVER?!?! Which I’ve never had before. I don’t know why Australian summer would be different from summer in the northern hemisphere but suddenly I sneezed 8 times in a row, my eyes started streaming and my throat felt thick and swollen. I bought some anti-hayfever stuff, then I left Melbourne at 3 in the morning and all symptoms ceased and have not recurred. And while I’m glad it went away quickly and I’m sorry for those who suffer from it, I feel that at least I can tick if off my list of ‘Diseases I have dabbled in.’ All part of life’s rich tapestry, amn’t I right?
Now, books I’ve read! Okay, you know, The Dry by Jane Harper? It’s FABALISS, right? I loved it, and you probably know all about it because it was (still is) a commercial as well as a critical success. Well, while I was in Australia, I discovered she has a new book coming, it’s called Force of Nature and when my publicist said she might be able to get me a copy I almost gnawed her arm off with longing. And sure enough, when she turned up to collect me for that evening’s event in Beaumaris, she had it! And I almost COMBUSTED! Then off we go to a beautiful restaurant full of wonderful people for a great evening’s event. BUT GUESS WHAT?!?! GUESS WHO WAS THERE?!?! Yes!!!! Jane Harper!!! I know, right!?! Just a pure coincidence. She was so very very nice and the new book Force of Nature, oh my god. Such brilliance. From the first paragraph I was hooked. She’s such an excellent writer and the sense of place is so powerful and – in a way this is the best bit! – it’s the same detective as from The Dry, Aaron Falk!!!!!!!! (Not out till Feb in the northern hemisphere, sorry.)
I also read The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin. She’s a beautiful writer, who creates extremely moving, absorbing books. The Flower Arrangement is one of my most favourite books of all time and The Memory Shop is up there too.
The Making of Christina by Meredith Jaffe is an Australian book I also loved.
I know there must be more I’ve read recently but, like I said, my brain is mush.
I’ve tried to keep on top of Strictly while I’ve been away and here is my current stance: I think I prefer It Takes Two to the main show.
However! Before you all take AGIN me, I am not myself. I have also developed a small crush on the president of China, so you see how things are for me.
I am away to Canada in about 10 days. And remember how cross I was that my publishers said I shouldn’t go to the Mumbai Literary Festival in December? Yes? Well, they were right. That would have been too much.
I hope you are enjoying Autumn. The clocks going back is always a special time. Now we’re REALLY motoring!
I will be back to you at the end of November. Until then, mind yourselves and thank you again for all of your kindness about The Break and for buying it and all.
Lots of love