Hello – I’m back!
What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was gone? I’m hurt.
For four days and five nights last week, (yes I counted every precious hour), I was staying at Lumb Bank in West Yorkshire, formally owned by Ted Hughes, and now one of the inspiring properties belonging to The Arvon Foundation. I was staying with 15 other aspiring writers, indulging ourselves in an almost-week of writing, drinking and talking about books.
Our live-in tutors were the writers William Fiennes and Mark Haddon and they were both fantastic – so experienced and knowledgeable and generous with their time. Plus quite fanciable, which is always a bonus.
The picture is a view from Lumb Bank. You can see why you might be inspired can’t you?
Last night I gave in to my most self-destructive instincts and went to see Sex and the City 2, knowing full well that I would come out feeling poor, fat and completely lacking in style. It’s a bit like drinking – you know you’ll feel bad about yourself the next day, but it’s fun at the time.
I’ve read some pretty shocking reviews, and it has been criticised heavily for the product placement bonanza, so as I pulled up at the cinema in my TVR Tuscan I was feeling a little anxious, hoping that I wasn’t wasting my one child free night out per fortnight. I stepped out of the car, smoothed down my Chanel shift dress and checked the time on my Rolex, gazing admiringly as the last of the day’s sun sparkled across its jewel encrusted face. I was just on time.
Yesterday I was on the way to the park with my sister Annabel and we pulled up behind a car that had a ‘Help the Heroes’ car sticker in the back.
“Do you think we should celebrate soldiers as heroes?” Annabel asked me. That’s the kind of heavy debate we go in for on a Thursday afternoon.
“Well…” I stalled, trying to come up with a suitably thoughtful answer, “I don’t know.” (Lame) “I certainly wouldn’t want to do what they do.”
And that’s true enough, but then I wouldn’t want to clean toilets for a living, or pack biros in a biro factory, or milk cows, or run marathons, or a million other things.
When Bee was about three or four years old I could make her cry by pretending to be a lion.
It would start with just a serious face and a very quiet roar and initially she’d just look a little concerned. “Stop it Mummy!” she’d say. But I couldn’t stop. I’d roar again, with the same deadly serious look on my face. She’d look a bit more concerned, so I’d do it again. Her bottom lip would start to tremble and I knew this was the tipping point – I could stop and smile and she’d be ok, or I could do it one more time and she’d cry. Obviously I had to do it one more time.
I found it hilarious. I am a cruel, cruel mummy.
“You have a lot of grey hair Mummy,” says Belle as she gets into my bed this morning. Charming. No ‘good morning Mummy’, ‘I hope you slept well Mummy’.
“Er, yes, thanks for pointing that out.”
She snuggles down and I decide to change the subject before she starts pointing out my blackheads or poking the fat on my thighs.
“Belle,” I say, “what would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?”
“What are strengths and weaknesses?”
“They are things you are good at or do well, things about you that you are pleased with, or things you don’t do so well or would like to improve.”
“Um…” she doesn’t looked particularly gripped by the question. “I don’t know. What are yours?”