Today I finished reading my second book of 2020 and I have to say it was one of those forced reads.
I started reading “Murder on Christmas Eve” on 19 December 2019. It’s an anthology of short stories about crimes at Christmas. I read the first story in 2019. Then I stopped. This year I was determined to finish it. I thought that as it was short stories, I’d easily be able to pick it up, read a story, and be fine. Get through that in a few nights.
Problem was, it was easy to put down, but hard to pick back up.
There are some really fine crime writers in this book. But few stories that actually gripped me. I have to say I found things in the very last story that as an editor I was tamping* over. One poor constable got left outside in the freezing cold and forgotten while others went inside for a cosy chat by the fire, and one of the characters was called Chief Constable and referred to as the Super.
While I wouldn’t advise against this book, there were some enjoyable stories, I would recommend it either. Very meh. 3 stars because I’m feeling generous.
The Margo I’m talking about is Margo Leadbetter, the neighbours wife in the old comedy “The Good Life”.
I’ve been a fan of that show for years, even put references to it into my writing. When the show was aired, it was Barbara Good, played by Felicity Kendal, who everyone was in love with and who everyone wanted to be. Margo was played by Penelope Keith, and she was the butt of so many jokes because she was the fashion following, middle-class princess, the corporate wife, member of all the right societies, had a housekeeper and a gardener.
I don’t have a housekeeper or a gardener, though I do have help in both from the hubby and children. I’m not a member of many societies (other than writing clubs), and I don’t wear the latest fashions, I don’t do the corporate wife stuff and in no way would I order Christmas in a van. (see the special episode “Silly, But It’s Fun…”.
But here’s the thing where I am like Margo. Margo wants to join in more, but doesn’t know how. She doesn’t understand the jokes. That’s what I’m like. The other thing about Margo, the other thing we do have in comment is a heart of gold. I may come across as a grump, but I do care, and I will do anything I can for my friends.
As a kid I wanted to be Barbara, as an adult, I’m happy being Margo.
While I know Twelfth Night isn’t until the 6th, it was time for the trees to come down.
We had two up, on in the sitting room and one in the conservatory. They both looked lovely, it was great to see them. At first. As much as I enjoy having the trees up, after a while they just feel like they are in the way.
I was struggling to use the conservatory as my office (as I usually do) because, for a start it was way too cold, but also because I was too aware of the way The Tree standing over my shoulder. It was a bit like The Christmas Invasion episode of Dr Who back in 2005. It felt like it might start spinning and trying to slice and dice me.
So today, we carefully removed the decorations and even more carefully put them in boxes and packed them away. Adding one extra box to the collection for all the new decorations brought this year. I really must stop with that. Maybe next year.
This year I also bought some pink and white lights which I used to decorate the bookshelves in the sitting room. They acquired the name “The Cheery Lights”, and have been allowed to remain in place.
Still the sitting room feels less cluttered now, and I hopefully I can reclaim my cold office tomorrow (thankfully the portable heaters should deal with the temperature).
I learnt a new word today, thanks to Twitter and Suzi Dent.
Word of the day is ‘uhtceare’ [uht-kay-ara, the ‘h’ as in the German ‘ach’]: Old English for ‘sorrow before dawn’, when you lie awake in the darkness and worry.
This is a word that should never have fallen into disuse, it is so apt for so many times in my life, so I am sure that I can’t be the only one that feels like that. The fact that there is a word for this in the English language reassures me of two things. Firstly, that English is a wonderful and powerful language. Secondly, that this feeling must be so common to have been named.
The second of these points is what gives me hope, because if this is so common, then where I lay sorrowful before dawn, then I’ll know I can’t be the only one in the world feeling that way. That means I’m not alone in the feeling which will help me feel less sorrowful.
This is a lovely word for a common feeling. Let’s see if we can bring this word back into use.
The day after Boxing Day, and already we’re discussing when to take the Christmas Trees down. Yes, trees, plural, we have two up in the house.
Today I “went back to work”. This isn’t as bad as it sounds since I’m now self-employed. Even when I had a office job, I quite liked working between Christmas and New Year because it meant most people weren’t in and I could get stuff done, always a great time for getting the filing up to date.
Work today basically meant that I sat down and drafted an on-spec article, then downloaded the edit just returned to me from my structural editor, and started on the updates.
This has actually been fantastic for me, it has a purpose that has cleared my head and started me out of the depression that hit over Christmas. My editor is always kind, but he doesn’t let me get away with anything! There aren’t major changes to make, but it’s detail all the way, which I kind of like.
Anyway, that’s enough for now, enjoy your time till the New Year.
Christmas Eve because I had a lot of things to do around the house.
Christmas Day because it was Christmas Day.
Today, because I’m not sleeping well at night and didn’t get up until 2 this afternoon. Then there were things to do done.
Now, things have come to a head. My head – it’s an itch. It seems to have overtaken me.
This is not unusual, three days of not writing and I can’t take any more. I have to write. So I’m writing this as I’m in no mood to pick up on any of my current books, not got the concentration tonight.
But it is more evidence that I have a three day threshold on not writing. So here I have written, and the itch will abate, and hopefully tomorrow normal service will review.
Didn’t know what to blog about tonight, but I’ve decided to go for pot luck.
I feel lucky.
I feel lucky because I have a nice, secure home. A roof over my head, that keeps me safe and warm. I can cook, clean, sleep, and all without worries. Yes, this is the result of years of hard work and being careful financially by my husband and I.
I feel lucky because I’ve just gone freelance and totally self-employed and I have work coming in. Yes, this is the result of years of work too.
I feel lucky because I have generally good health, and after a bout of very poor mental health earlier this year, I’ve improved greatly. Yes, this is the result of hard work too – plus the support of a loving family who I couldn’t have done it without.
Luckily, my physical health is improving too. At the start of the year I couldn’t get up the stairs without getting sore legs and struggling to breathe. Now I’m fine for that, and taking long walks every time I can. Again, this is because I started taking those walks and I’ve worked hard to keep going.
Oh look, everything I’ve been lucky about has been linked to hard work. And I suspect that’s true of everyone. Well, maybe not the good physical health – pretty sure that’s at least partly genetics, but that means I was lucky genetically too.
I really do feel lucky because I have worked, yes, but I’ve achieved because I have a fantastic husband, great kids, and wonderful friends. They bring me luck. And I thank the stars for each and every one of them.
But it remains true, whoever said it (found references to Thomas Jefferson and Gary Player as well as Samuel Goldwyn): The harder I work, the luckier I get.