in the pensione pasquale

I paddled through the rain to Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. Forgot about the rain in seconds. Donizetti as graphic novel! Couldn’t have been more uplifted and entertained by Don Pasquale. Set in a rundown Roman pensione circa 1963, Barbe & Doucet’s production for Scottish Opera is a triumph of wit, ingenuity and energy. Went in sopping, came out laughing. Opera is king, queen, knave and ACE.

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in the pink and cracking on

I’m a little pink from the pleasure of successful publication, pinker from the lovely reviews, and very pink from my new task of tweeting the reviews: twitter is real ‘heyLOOKATME’ stuff. But I’m a modern author in modern times, and if I really am ‘Jane Austen on crack cocaine’ (as gloriously described by Tom Adair in the Scotsman) I’d better stop being pink and crack on.

So – cracking on!

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head in a hatbox – the seditious connection

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publication day

Publication day is a bit like Christmas – not for the presents, but for that slightly sick excitement in the bottom of the stomach. Strange, really, since very little actually happens. It’s just the thought of Sedition winging its way in the UK through the Royal Mail and dropping through letterboxes (or generating those irritating Sorry To Have Missed You cards – apologies if you’ve got to traipse to the sorting office for your copy). And of course, in the book shops.

Amongst many nice emails this morning was one from a fire extinguisher company. It was only after I’d hit ‘reply’ and typed ‘thank you so much’ that I realised their interest was not in my book, but in getting me to order an extinguisher large enough to dowse an Amazon warehouse.

Not entirely true that nothing happens. Nice things happen. One is that the husband and I are going out to lunch. We may be some time. Sedition, by Katharine Grant, published 16th January by Virago. Hardback. Better than Christmas.

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publication eve

So – Sedition is out in the UK tomorrow (Virago). Tried and failed to concentrate on my Goldberg practice. I’m perfectly sure that Bach did his practice whatever else was going on but I’ll bet he didn’t have his first cup of tea at 4.05 a.m. Mind you, he’d probably composed a variation or two by 6, a cantata by 7, a prelude and fugue by 8 and small concerto for two instruments he’d learned overnight by 9. But he may not have listened to Martin Chuzzlewit on audio whilst walking a couple of terriers, so I have him there.

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not such fantastic dances

Today was a day of Fantastic Dances. Shostakovich’s Opus 5 for the piano, not my own, although my own dances, when, for all my practice, his Dances emerged as nothing more than a hop, skip and a stumble, were something to behold. I cavorted about my study to the tune of all kinds of bad words. The dogs thought St. Vitus had arrived. My husband, luckily, was out. My only excuse is that my Scrooge gloves, all threadbare and fingerless, are in the wash so my hands are quite cold. It’s quite possible that were I not riled up by my dancing ineptitude I would have frostbite. Mind you, on today’s performance, if I lost a couple of fingers my piano playing wouldn’t suffer a whole lot. I’m off to have some soup. Tomato, I think. The colour is cherry – cheery even. You can’t drink soup whilst dancing, which will be a relief to the soup, the dogs, and possibly to Shostakovich.

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nervy days

Days leading up to publication are nervy, at least I find them so. The piano is my anchor, but my mind strays, even as I stare at a new Goldberg variation, or struggle with three bars of Chopin I can’t get under my fingers. A habitual insomniac at the best of times, I’m currently taking my ipad to bed. Husband hates it, but there’s something quite comforting about snoozing with missed Christmas telly. Less comforting waking up with ipad glued to nose. If technology’s so damned clever, why can’t ipads put themselves away?

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two little dogs

Two little dogs went out for a walk, and it was windy weather
To stop themselves from blowing about they tied themselves together
They tied themselves with a yard of twine, the wind it blew and blew
It blew as keen as a carving knife and it cut that twine in two
Up and away like kites in the sky those two little dogs blew about
’til one little dog blew outside in and the other one inside out.

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what I played today

I keep a daily record of my piano practice, mainly to make sure I don’t forget to play things I’ve spent months learning and would only take days to forget. It’s too grim, the memory loss game. I mean, if I learn the whole of the Goldberg Variations, will my two Chopin preludes (or is it three – oh dear) dribble away? So: today is a Bach 2 part variation and the Solfeggietto as warmup. Then a quick Dr. Gradus, theme tune to Pride and Prej, Chopin Nocturne. If I don’t play Couperin’s Les Barricades Mysterieuse at least once a week, they mysterieusly vanish. Sometimes I think I’ll let them. Today may be one of those days. Then to the Goldberg, where my aria and 1 to 10 and 30 should be joined soon by another, but then I really really want to play something else, which I won’t name in case I never actually make it through to the last page. Such fun, as Miranda’s mother might say.

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finding your fingers

If you’re wondering what to give up for the New Year, don’t. Give your fingers a treat and take up the piano. Really. You can. If you stick at it, by Jan 1st 2015, you’ll be able to play something that pleases. Aim high. The piano’s a big instrument. It can absorb all your joys, furies, pleasures and pains, and adds a bit of lift to the days – sometimes weeks – that plod. Plodding with Bach and Chopin is much better than plodding without.

Happy New Year!

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