I once said a writer leads two seperate lives, one, quiet and solitary, the other busy and boisterous. Lately I have been having this love/hate relationship with writing, the quiet and solitary being like the lover you can’t keep away from, and the busy and boisterous, hating them because you feel so guilty.
After prescribing myself a bit of retail therapy to cure some of the symptoms, I decided to go into M & S to do a bit of Xmas shopping with my daughter. Lo and behold she came across this Irish Whiskey as we were perusing the booze aisle, so you can guess what one of my presents will be this year.
What I found endearing was the comma had been put under the ‘s’ in Writer’s as if a tear drop had been shed. How many of us have shed that tear? I remember sitting at my desk with my head in my hands thinking, what the bloody hell am I doing, indulging in some fantasy? or do I actually have something to say? I came to the conclusion we try and entertain, and I remember the same feeling when I got a part in a rep. company’s production of a Lorca and Shakespeare play, standing in the wings waiting for my cue to go on. What a silly way to make a living, I thought, but a living we try and make. But what we sometimes forget is, we learn a lot through art, be it theatre, literature, music, dance or visual art. And if we stop looking, listening, and writing, we might as well jack everything else in.
It was sad to hear yesterday the crime writer P.D. James had died at the ripe old age of 94. I was rather surprised to find that In a writing career spanning more than 50 years she only wrote 22 books, but what an impact she made. I will never reach her literary status, but at least I got one foot on the bottom rung of the writing ladder. And if I do occasionally feel down, I can always imbibe in a snifter of Writer’s Tears.
Practical jokes are played, even tolerated, at publish schools, but not so much in state schools where students can be referred to as vandals, while the private schools refer to their students as high-spirited. It’s like referring to football as a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, and the game of rugby, a game for hooligans played by gentlemen.
This weekend my son told me that his son’s school had telephoned him to say, my grandson, was in detention with two other boys for spreading glue on the desks during their Spanish lesson, and the teacher had not noticed them doing it. Apparently it took another student to ‘snitch’ during the lesson for the teacher to find out. These three boys were not the bottom of their class as far as Spanish language was concerned; one boy was actually an A* student. When I asked my grandson why they had done it, he said they were bored. Not only was he reprimanded by the school, but by his parents, and then by me when he came to see me on Saturday. I told him I knew about his transgression, then said he could go nowhere near my biscuit-barrel, which caused loud groans from his direction.
My grandson knows that Granny will find out everything, and his cry of, ‘don’t tell Granny,’ is not listened to. So I am used, by his parents, as the Sword of Damocles, to be hung over his head whenever he oversteps the mark. My grandson is loving and caring and always wants a hug when he calls, even though he is fourteen. All kids try their luck at shifting the boundaries every now and them. It’s called growing up and accepting the consequences for your actions.
Like any woman, one likes to look their best, even in their sixties. Women look younger today than they have ever done. We have the technology to deal with wrinkles, sagging skin and we have numerous types of make-up to cover those blemishes, as long as it’s not spread on so thick the woman ends up looking like a middle-aged slapper on the pull.
A woman of a certain age should look stylish in her choice of clothing, not up to the minute fashionable, where one can easily look like mutton dressed as lamb. Flowing styles look better on a woman who’s had children as the belly will not lie flat any more, unless you’re lying on your back in bed, then it disappears around your sides, and your breasts tuck themselves under your armpits.
I have come to believe most men like a woman with curves, and it is not unusual now for men to go for much older women, I don’t know – I’ve not done any research – but women of a certain age are perhaps less complicated. They’ve been married and had kids – so done that and got the T shirt – no more periodicals, no fear of an unwanted pregnancy, just plenty of lube and you’re away. What can be less complicated than that?
I am reading P. G. Wodehouse at the minute and am finding him a breath of fresh air. I have an eclectic taste in reading matter, from classics, modern fiction, crime and thriller, and action and adventure. I also have a good selection of reference books, including The Big Book of Filth, and a pocket sized Kama Sutra.
As a writer I find the the Big Book of Filth very useful, especially when I am writing about another era. I’ve got two books on the go at present, one is set in the 1940’s and the other the late 1980’s. I am concentrating on my 1940’s book at the minute as I have got the bones and the flesh already for the 1980’s book and it is half written. But last week I was trying to write some convincing dialogue between two soldiers during World War II and wanted to know when the word ‘wank’ came into use. Along with finding ‘toss’ originated in the 18th century and ‘sailor’s joy’ in the early 1900’s, I found that the word ‘wank’ was coined in the 1940’s. I also found that to give each other a ‘Swedish’ – coined in the 60’s – doesn’t mean giving each other a massage, as I know it, and that a ‘French fuck’ is not sexual intercourse with a French person.
The decision is when to use the proper word above the slang word. Last week I was searching for the proper word for oral sex, and I got fellatio and cunnilingus mixed up and I had to turn to the Kama Sutra to put me right. But some words and phrases seem less base than others, so I endeavour to be realistic and convincing as far as characterisation and dialogue goes, but at the same time I do not want to appear pornographic or potty-mouthed.
Thinking about it, though, I would not be too put out if someone referred to me as the lady writer with the vocabulary of an educated sailor.
The above is the title of a P.G. Wodehouse book as I mentioned yesterday. Although I am very familiar with Jeeves and Wooster, and The Blandings, I had never heard of the Psmith series until last week. I have now downloaded them onto my kindle and am reading Mike and Psmith at the moment.
As you have probably already gathered, it was the name what drew me to them. Wodehouse’s character, Rupert Psmith. is a sixth form student in a Private school whose parents have taken him out of Eton for not ‘shaping up’. At Sedleigh he meets Mike, another student who has been banished from his School, Wrykyn, because instead of studying, all he wants to do is play cricket. I do not know the rules of the game and I have never had the desire to watch a match either – give me big, burly rugby players any time – but Wodehouse’s description is both amusing and educational. Psmith turns out to have entrepreneurial spirit along with the ability to get things done and sort problems out. This, too, is me: if my mother had a problem she used to say Pat will sort it out; she’ll know what to do.
The Psmith in the book comes about because the character, Rupert, didn’t want to be known as just plain R. Smith, and he thought of other ways to change the most common of names, as I did when I was about to be married. Like the character Rupert, I too, thought of Smythe, but that didn’t appeal to either of us. Then came the double-barrelled solution which Hubby’s family baulked at: mine, they couldn’t care either way, even though my mother was double-barrelled on her birth certificate. So, unlike Rupert, I simply settled for plain and common Pat Smith, whilst he put a silent P – as in bath – in front of the S, and Psmith was born.
I wish I had read Wodehouse’s Psmith series years ago. He has a masterful grasp of the English language: is witty, amusing and is outstanding at characterisation. The only other person I can compare with Wodehouse is Stephen Fry.
If I had found P. G. Wodehouse before I was married, then my initials might have become PIP instead of PIS.
This has been me today, tearing my hair out because my computer was playing up. Not been able to send or receive emails, or get onto my dashboard to write my blog. I’ve been grumpy all day. Well it’s sorted now and I am calm again. Will read a little P. G. Wodehouse before I go to bed. Will tell you all about it tomorrow.
I was telling you yesterday about one of our pups who liked to eat yard brushes, well our other dog, a lovely black Labrador, who eventually died of old age, was so trusting she would let anyone into the garden.
I was standing at the kitchen window one night and I suddenly did a double-take when I saw our caravan disappearing through the gates at the bottom of the driveway. I shouted for Hubby who ran out, and stopping a passing car, asked the driver to, ‘Follow that caravan, it’s mine and they’re stealing it.’
Our quiet English village then turned into a scene from Starsky and Hutch. The car driver, with Hubby in the passenger seat, drove off at speed down the road. They were about to overtake the assailants when the thieves suddenly decided to abandon the car they had stolen, along with our caravan, which had been hitch-locked at the time, but they had towed it away by rope, which made it quite unstable. Hubby and the car driver, seeing the thieves legging it, gave chase, but the thieves were younger, and fitter, and Hubby and the car driver lost them.
We got our caravan back, unscathed, and so did the owner of the stolen car. But the amusing part of this story was where the thieves abandoned the stolen vehicles – outside the village police station. The thieves were never caught. The police were probably too busy nicking yard brushes.