Wednesday, December 21, 2005


A kind friend who is the bodily incarnation of the good angel that sits on my shoulder and eggs me on to the things that are good for my life, enquired recently what had happened to my blog. The answer was a simple, I haven't had time. Or at least, becuase she is also the good psychologist who gave up her time to teach me some stress management techniques, I hope it came across as a simple answer. If she would now take up - just for a few lines - the role of the good friend who is willing to skip a few lines - I will reveal to the rest of you that the real answer was actually a more frenzied rant along the lines of I HAVEN'T GOT TIME BECAUSE WORK INSISTS ON SWAMPING THE WHOLE OF MY LIFE AND THE HARDER I TRY TO KEEP IT AT BAY THE MORE IT CALLS ME CANUTE ..... So, as I really cannot expect her to skip anymore lines, I am now going to have to come up with some meaningful content for today's blog.

Which is where that inspiring event of last Saturday comes in. No, not Shane Ward winning the X factor ( although desperate as I am, I will in fact take anyone who achieves what they want as a role model at present). I am talking about the moment I got my third autograph in my current journal. The first belongs to Alexander MCall Smith and was obtained at the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. He is a lawyer too and should be admired in my view simply for the whimsy of the fact that he has written the only existing textbook on Botswanan Criminal Law, quite apart from the beautiful simplicty of his Ladies No 1 Detective Agency books. ( I know that my embodied angel disagrees with my opinion of those books but she is allowed to be fallen just once). Moreover, he is a lovely man with perfect manners - I had a story I wanted to tell him and waited, at his invitation, while he signed books. For every person in the in the not inconsiderable queue, he stood up to shake hands with them, then sat down and wrote personal dedications for them all.

He liked my story too: My mother does not read fiction. Ever. Its not true so why waste her time, is her logic? On one visit to my house she ran out of reading material and, as the latest strategy in my quest to educate her as the foolishness of her thought processes, I loaned her 'No 1. '. She handed it back commenting that it was a lovely book. ' So, I finally got you reading a novel!' I gloated, only to see her face fall in disappointment. 'You've spoiled it now!' she said. 'I thought it was true!' Doesn't that have to be the best compliment any fiction writer could get?

But I digress. The second signature is Kathy Reichs, obtained at a signing session in Waterstones, admired for her abilty to write about the technical details of her job and still make it accessible and entertaining to lay people and for combining a prolific writing career with a demanding professional life.

But perhaps the most inspring to me is the third. It should really have been Michael Connoley, also seen at Waterstones, but his signature is little more than a scribble and I was hungry and tired and couldn't be bothered to queue. So the third turned out to be a new, prize winning poet called Neil Woodcock. Not only do I have his signature but I have his latest poem written out for me in my journal, in his handwriting, signed and dated and I am betting on it being a good investment for the future.

OK. It might be a little early to gamble that he will be the next poet Laureate, because Neil is 9. (just). And I might be a little biased becuase he is my nephew. But I still think his poem is great, and, more to the point he made time to sit down and write it, whch is more than I have been doing lately. So for me he is just as inspiring as the Sandy's and Kathy's of this world. Here is his work for you all to enjoy:


Squibs and starburst
sparks in the sky spectacular sights
to delight the eyes

with cracks and bangs
and earth shattering boom
from powerful rockets launched towards the moon

its really important not to forget
the danger of fireworks to children
and pets

By Neil Woodock

1 comment:

we saw that... said...

hey welcome back i wondered what happened to you as well :P