29th June, 2006
It sounded so far away when I was first asked, but then, here it was: prize giving for the Glasgow Academy prep school. There can be few things more alarming than facing an entire junior school, who are just waiting for your speech to finish to take possession of their prizes and start their holidays. If you can leave without most of them shuffling and their parents snoring, that’s a good job done. But how lovely to be asked, even if it did make me feel rather old. I mean, at my school prizegiving, you looked up at the worthy droning on on the stage, and you thought ‘I’ll NEVER be like them’. And now look at me. (By the way, speaking of looking and going back to the previous blog, I went extra blonde with the hair, but am still toying with the green.)
Tomorrow, I am at it again, this time for the senior school at Mary Erskine’s, in Edinburgh. Addressing the leavers is always a big moment. Trouble must be taken with the speech. Trouble must also be taken with the fake tan, since I must wear a dress, it’s too hot for tights and I don’t want my legs to look like pillars of salt. Time for the fake bake. Just pray it works properly and I don’t end up with legs glowing like tangerines.
I both dread and love the summer holidays. Hate the cooking and the endless laundry. As a nation, we are FAR TOO CLEAN. But by the end, I’ve quite got into the rhythm and the idea of the children being back in school is appalling. They have organised themselves quite brilliantly this summer, having long since given up on any idea that I might turn into a super-mother who gets them to camps etc. and arranges fantastical days out. My days out usually involve outdated maps, nettles and old castles. Surprisingly often, they have also involved being chased by bulls. This year, my 16 year old and 14 year old have chosen navy and airforce camps respectively. Probably safer there.
Two chapters left to go of the adult novel I am writing, which nobody has yet seen. I’m both longing and dreading finishing it because then I’ll have to do something with it. Perhaps my agent will hate it. Perhaps, when I reread it, I’ll hate it. I always go through stages when I’m writing. ‘This is great’ is followed by ‘this is hopeless’ followed by ‘yes yes yes’ followed by ‘help help help’, then a long ‘hmmmmm’. I’m at the ‘hmmmmm’ stage with this one. But having got so far I must finish it before I can concentrate on my new trilogy, which is cooking away nicely in my head, prologue written and the characters gradually forming. It hasn’t yet got a name, which makes me feel insecure – not a good thing for a control freak like me. I scour the Bible and poetry books, and scribble words down in odd places. I have turned into an unashamed eavesdropper, just in case somebody should utter the perfect phrase for a title. Why can’t I come up with something as resonant as Fair Stood The Wind For France? H. E. Bates was a titular genius. Or his publisher was. So, I listen away. If you find yourself next door to me, you have been warned.
Onwards and upwards,