Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas

I'm not going to be online much over the following days (at least that's the theory: as my sister is coming to stay and the office doubles as the spare room it can be tricky). The dog and I have started Christmas off with a bang when we both fell over in the mud; Mary Bantam has excelled herself by actually laying an egg (first since October); and I haven't yet wrapped a single Christmas present. When you spend every day of your life wrapping things, it's difficult (no, it's impossible) to round up any enthusiasm at all for more.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, with every possible book that you want, wrapped or unwrapped!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Just when you think

it's all going to go quiet it is anything but. Normally orders slow right down the week before Christmas, so I'd made all sorts of mental lists about what I was going to do: finish the Gillian Baxter interview, finish the Josephine Pullein-Thompson interview, do some much-needed work on the website.... Oh, and disinter the presents I have bought from the Amazon boxes and sort out what I still need to get...

But no. It's been frantic, and all I seem to have been doing is pack - but it did fall to my lot to walk the dog this evening. Fortunately the dog has moved on a bit since we got her. When we first had her, she was so nervous that if she wanted to bark at something, she would have to go behind a tree and do it from there. She was scared of the dark, and would only go outside after dark if one of us came with her and held her quaking labrador paw.

Now on our evening walks, which always happen after dark, she takes off up the dark track like a rocket. I'm very glad she's blonde, as at least I can see her. I've found I rather like evening walks. I like the world when the grass has turned silver and everything is still and quiet.

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Pariah Dogs

I don't think JPT would have minded what I turned up in, but my OH has Standards (and as you probably all know by now, I don't). As he was taking the day off so I could go to London I did feel a bit of compromise was called for... and had forgotten how warm London is in comparison to the Midlands. So, I wore the one smart coat, with a few dog biscuits sneaked into it, none of which were needed as I saw no animals and the only birds were pigeons.

It was the first time I had been into the new, refurbished and clean St Pancras. For years now going into St Pancras has been a case of being shunted out to the furthest depths of the platforms, followed by a mammoth trek to the underground, and what I was hoping for most was being able to draw into St Pancras proper, and not be shunted off somewhere far distant to make room for international travellers. St Pancras has always been "my" station, and there were all those iconic things about the journey that meant you were getting near London: the long tunnel, the gas holders, and then the wonderful station with its soaring roof and the giant clock.

The tunnel is still there, but only one gas holder remains (at least there's one - I'm grateful for that), and you do, thank the Lord, come into St Pancras proper. And I think they've done a really good job. I could have forgiven just about anything else as long as the trains came into the station proper, but it's wonderful. I loved the Betjeman statue - and can anyone look at it without following his gaze to see what he's looking at - and the pale blue ironwork works surprisingly well. I liked the enormous scale of the bronze statue of the lovers meeting .

When I saw the statue I thought goodness, I must have met someone like that in all the years I've been using this station, but I don't think I ever have: even when I had boyfriends who lived the other side of London I always went to meet them on their turf, and never them on mine. But if it came to it, I'd prefer to meet by the Betjeman statue anyway, because it is fun. And it is also quite near to the champagne bar. Alcohol is something I don't much like, generally, but I do like champagne. The really tragic thing about the bar though is that it has those raised chairs and counters. I was talking about this with my husband, as we rather fancied the idea of meeting at the statue and then having champagne, but the romance of the moment would, we thought, be rather wrecked by my needing a few minutes to recover from the chairs as they put too much pressure on my arthritic hips. Romance is a little different when you're in your forties...

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Off to London

which is a fairly rare thing for me, now that rail fares are so vile , but today I am going to meet Josephine Pullein-Thompson, which as you can imagine, is a darn good reason for going anywhere.

The one thing that is causing a bit of dissent here is what coat do I wear. It is freezing. The hens were very reluctant to stir, and the dog was whizzing around trying to keep warm, rather than trying to nick the birds' fruit. To me, it's obvious. Lovely water-proof Barbour with wonderful fluffy liner; complete with pockets of dog biscuits. No, says OH. Your one smart coat - it is warm enough. I am a chilly mortal and nothing is ever warm enough. Besides, I say, the dog biscuits will come in useful when I am being chased through the streets of London by hordes of wild pariah dogs. I can buy myself useful time by hurling dog biscuits at them. You never know.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Judith M Berrisford

After a lot of huffing and puffing (including yet another load of corrupt links - why do these always surface when I am already frantic?) I have the Judith M Berrisford pages thereabouts done. For once, I have managed to find copies of nearly all her books (many, many thanks to Haffyfan, Dawn and SusanB who nobly filled gaps) - the one missing is Five Foals and Philippa, which I've just ordered. I'll be very interested to read it.

As regular readers will know, I am not JMB's biggest fan. I do think though, that she was very blessed with her cover artists. The Jackie series in particular, which was illustrated by Geoffrey Whittam, is a real charmer. I haven't seen all of the books, but I presume all the covers are by him.
Jackie and Babs, heroines of the Jackie series, I find are like puppies: incredibly enthusiastic, full of life, but prone to, every now and then, doing things you'd really rather they wouldn't. Ponymadbooklover, in this excellent post on her blog, says that Jackie and Babs manage to irritate just about every man that they meet. I have to say, although I am not male, they have just the same affect on me. I wonder if they irritated JMB? Did she herself have mixed feelings about the demon duo?

A week already?

It has been a frantic week - which is good from one point of view as at least I'm selling books, which all helps. Lovely though it is to have shelves of immaculate and expensive books, the Co-Op are strangely reluctant to take them, preferring good hard cash, so it's handy that the immaculate-but-expensive (as well as the used-and-cheaper) are being converted into cash. If this year's like any other, it will be frantic up until the middle of next week, when trade will suddenly die. Any orders there are will usually be by telephone, and the people who place them will start to have that stressed urgency in their voices which doesn't generally surface the rest of the year. Just before Christmas it is quiet, quiet, quiet, but the thing I have found over the last couple of years is that I get a lot of good orders over the Christmas period itself.

I have a few theories over why this is: people haven't got what they wanted or hinted for, so are making good now; they've decided to treat themselves as a reward for putting up with their vile relatives or are in holiday mood and have decided to indulge themselves. Still I don't mind why they order as long as they do, and a book is a lot less fattening than all those Christmas goodies. And love food though I do, I get fleetingly irritated by the way stuff I normally buy in the supermarket moves to accommodate a whole load of stuff I know we will never eat (yes, Waitrose, that's you). The Co-Op, I have to say, is much better and manages to integrate the Christmas stuff into its normal stock.

Although my son's and daughter's chocolate consumption shoots up to danger levels over Christmas, generally we don't eat much more than we normally do, and I would love to know if people actually do eat all that extra food. Every year I buy one of those rather nice boxes of chocolate biscuits from M&S and we're always so sodden with food (1001 ways of getting through the turkey.....) we don't actually eat the biscuits until well into January.

I am, however, very much looking forward to my sister's Christmas cake which last year was fantastic.... Eating Christmas cake chez Badger though is a strange affair involving careful dissection. My daughter doesn't like the cake so I eat hers, I don't like marzipan so my husband eats mine, which he will generally swap for the icing. Son wisely avoids the whole thing.

I am wavering off the point, though, so will stop.