Sunday, April 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I laughed as young Tilly skipped laughing through the buttercup filled meadow under the typically bright and warm northern spring sunshine. ‘I’m so happy mummy’, she laughed. I laughed too. ‘why are you happy Tilly, my love? Because it's always sunny?' I asked, smiling. ‘Because I love you mummy’, she said, with a beautiful childlike grin, and she put a daisy chain around my neck. ‘You look pretty mummy’, she chuckled and we both laughed. ‘Mummy?’ asked my lovely daughter. ‘Yes Tilly darling?’ ‘I want to live in a castle’ she said. ‘We already own half the village dear’, I explained, ‘What more do you want?’ ‘I want to live in a proper castle and be a princess’. ‘Oh gosh’, I said, ‘we’ll have to see what we can do about that dear’, I told her, wondering if my old chum the paper’s court correspondent could swing an invite from any newly single eligible bachelors of her aquaintance this summer. ‘Oh mummy, it’s starting to rain!’ said Tilly, tugging my sleeve, 'let’s go and sit in that old boat over there and pretend we’re in a storm!’ and so we ran, mother and daughter hand in hand, fleeing two by two to board The Narrative Ark and get out of the rain. I hoped we wouldn’t be aboard for forty days and forty nights though; I didn't know how long I could keep this up, the baby sick was starting to whiff a bit and a nagging recollection from my catholic upbringing told me The Ark had no bar onboard.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I arrived at the stables. ‘Er hellair', said a man in even tighter trousers than me, ‘you must be Rilly’. ‘Are you supposed to be able to bend your knees in these?' I asked. The instructor looked impressed. ‘I say, those are the same brand The Queen wears you know’, he said, as if to explain why Her majesty rides side saddle. 'Are you ready for me?' I asked. 'Yep, I've upped the old insurance since I spoke to you on the phone Rilly', he replied. 'Oh dear, did I sound that accident prone?' I asked. 'No, just worried you'd slag us orff orn that blog of yours! Now, let’s get you started then shall we dear’. he said. ‘Foot in the stirrups’, he indicated, ‘easy as visiting the gynaecologist, eh old girl?' Good thing I’m not seeing him today’, I said. ‘Oh, I don’t know', replied my instructor, ‘At least wearing those jods he’d be able to see everything was OK without you taking your trousers orf!’ He steadied the horse with a calm masculine, although slightly horsey smelling, confidence. ‘Alright up there Rilly?' He asked. ‘I can see one of my houses from here!’ I told him. I tried to hide my nervousness whilst making a note to mention it on the blog for dramatic effect. ‘Maybe I should trade in the car for one of these’, I said, patting my mount. ‘How many horsepower can you get out of these things?’ At least I couldn’t lose the keys, I thought, although my husband would probably still forget to fill it with hay, or whatever they run on. Maybe instead of driving each morning to watch other people work I could ride. ‘Does that Philips girl ever visit your stables?’ I asked. ‘Fraid not dear’ said the manly Rupert, ‘but Daniel Radcliffe comes up from time to time, that’s why old Shergar here seems a little nervous. He's been through enough already, poor lad. Don’t worry though Rilly’, he continued, ‘a horse is just like a man, you just need to get on him and ride him until you break his spirit’. Oh dear, I thought as that image entered my prescient imagination, I really should have worn the dark blue jodhpurs today, and I began to slide slowly sideways off of the damp saddle.
Later, as I stepped out of the shower at home and made a mental note to order another gallon of deep heat before the next riding lesson I thought that perhaps I was cut out for this country life after all. I put on my riding hat and resolved to wear it whilst I recounted my adventures to the world. I looked in the Mirror and Ellen Whitaker looked back, although a little less blonde, young and able to tell one end of a horse from the other than young Ellen normally is. Suddenly the doorbell rang. It was Rupert, all six foot of mud spattered Jods, high leather boots and masterful authority of him. I sighed. ‘Just popped by to check you survived’, he said. ‘Come in’, I whispered in a timorous voice I put down to the smokey karaoke of the previous night. My intuition told me he was very impressed that I was wearing my riding hat when I answered the door. 'Very impressed to see you wearing your riding hat when you answered the door!' he said. I don’t know how long he was there but sadly eventually he had to go. ‘I can see you’re really keen to adopt the country life Rilly’, he said, 'just one small word of advice, and hope I'm not too late, don’t forget all your old London ways next time you go back home will you. Remember some things are completely the other way around in the city than they are here’. ‘What do you mean exactly?' I asked, puzzled. He looked me up and down and smiled. 'I think you’ll find that in town the fashion is still hat orff, trousers orn dear.’
As Rupert left, the phone rang. It was my agent again. 'Rilly darling!' he began, 'just read about the riding lesson, just what we need, that's the horsey fraternity hooked up to buy the book for absolute certain dear'. He hung up and I sighed as the prospect of my dust jacket author's photograph replacing the ponies and horses on a thousand 4x4 spare wheel covers suddenly cast a cloud over my day in the sun. I reached for the dictafone that I used for my novel and tried to speak but only a hoarse whisper came out. Would I really ever fit in? Would I ever find the inspiration to finish my romantic novel or was I trapped in the gritty kitchen sink social realism of Strife in the North for ever? Sigh...
Friday, April 20, 2007
06.00 Husband gets up to go to go back to London. I don’t notice because I made him sleep in the spare room last night so he didn’t get me up early.
06.15 Woken by nanny’s crying. She is homesick. She shouldn’t really have her clock radio set to Radio Gdansk Breakfast Show. It can’t help. It is good reception up here though. If not for Denmark in the way you could even see Poland from here.
06.19 Baby starts to cry.
06.20 Switch on Radio to drown out baby. The sound of Carolyn Quinn makes me feel homesick. I start to cry.
06.22 I bang on wall and shout to Nanny that children will be late for school. Pull pillow over head.
08.20 Hear door slam as children go to school.
09.30 Phone rings. It is my agent. Why have I hardly written anything this week? Why not do a diary type post to show how awfully busy I am because everyone thinks the nanny does everything. Put phone down, pull duvet over head.
09.45 Call in Natalia and tell her to make a list of everything I do today.
09.48 Gaze at Radio Times picture of Colin Firth as MrDarcy stuck on ceiling above bed.
10.00 Log onto Wife in the North. Consoled that someone else has as grim a life as me. Read comments onWifey's blog. Someone using a photo of Audrey Hepburn in their profile criticises another commenter for hiding behind anonymity. V. strange.
10.30 Think probably should get out of bed now. Just time for a quick bath before I go out to site meeting at cottage.
12.45 Get out of bath. Can’t find car keys.
12.46 Write blog post about losing car keys and make appointment with post traumatic stress disorder consultant. He can’t see me for three weeks due to sudden influx of downshifters putting strain on resources by losing keys, dealing with homesick nannies and arguing with builders about pantries.
12.57 Find car keys.
13.00 Get in car. Husband has filled it with petrol. Hurrah! Start engine.
13.01 Find favourite CD in glove box to cheer me up.
13.05 Car engine cuts out. Remember now that car runs on diesel. V. bad
13.06 Can’t get James Blunt out of my stereo, as well as out of my head, now ignition dead. Start to cry.
13.07 look in rear view mirror. ‘you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful it’s true’. Cry some more.
13.20 Get out of car. Realize I will have to walk all the rest of the way, sigh, start walking.
13.24 Arrive at cottage for meeting with architect.
13.30 Disappointed when architect says building noise hasn’t forced owners of remaining house in street to sell to us.
13.31 Grumpy local (is there another kind?) complains about housing shortage. I tell him my family occupies three houses in the village so how can he say there is a shortage.
14.00 Arrive back home just in time for health visitor to drop by. She is local so brings an interpretor.
14.01 Health visitor checks baby’s name for records. 'Willy Super', I tell her. 'No, I know your name Rilly', she says, 'what’s the baby’s name.?' I tell her she can jolly well run along and return when she can be more respectful. Health visitor goes red and falls off chair.
14.05 My agent rings. I need to do something to add some local atmosphere. He has booked riding lesson. He hangs up. Riding what? I ask myself.
14.30 Time for first drink according to new years resolution, as amended from no alcohol until 7pm on January 3rd and absolutely not a drop until 5.30pm on February 12th.
15.00 Send Natalia to off licence for fresh supplies
15.45 Children arrive back from school. I tell Natalia to tell them I have died.
15.48 Milly and Tilly start to cry.
15.50 Natalia comes upstairs. She starts to cry
15.51 I start to cry.
15.52 I have another drink.
15.55 Phone rings. I am expected at riding stables 10 am tomorrow. Voice from riding stables says he can't quite match my name with a face. I remind him who I am. Riding instructor starts to cry.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Telescopic poles to tap on the road so I know where you are
GPS electronic satellite thingy to save £2 cost of streetmap
Ray Mears wilderness bushcraft survival handbook and DVD
Brightly coloured woolly hats with dangly tassles to blend in
Portable Camping aga, well, just never leave home without it
Flag sent from Ken Livingstone to stake claim to village green
Sunglasses as disguise from journos not from Sunday Times
Anecdotes about falling down a crevasse on Hamstead Heath
Spray-on repellent and hat to keep locals at bay if item 4 fails
I realised I needed to quickly go and work on a less tenuous sounding action mountaineering adventure movie inspired title so I left out the last twenty five items on the list. 'Ok girls, I want you back from Freya’s birthday party by six. Don't dawdle, don't talk to any local children on the way and don't come back without a goody bag worth at least the same as Freya's birthday present, oh hang on, damn, her present, I knew there was something I'd forgotten...