Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So long 2009: we had fun I guess....

We've been joking for a while about how we'll kick 2009's backside as it exits on Midnight December 31st, but really a lot of great stuff has happened this year.

Our daughter, Isabella Arwen was born. And she had all the toes and fingers that a father could want, as well as a sleep routine and smile that could make any parent could wish for.

I re-wrote my novel. A couple of times i think. We drank a lot of Bollinger to celebrate, and a few rows worth of prosecco all along the way.

My brother was married. We spent maternity leave in Ireland, and London where I went to the 20th anniversary reunion for my school, St Peter's in York.

So long, 2009! Not many people will remember you that fondly, but you and I - we spent a long time together, and life for the most part was good.

Life is, I honestly believe, good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Menu

I sat down to the Christmas meal last year to eat and almost fell asleep on the spot. I had cooked so much, with sauces, chutneys, veg, and a variety of stuffings that I was utterly exhausted by the time it came to eat.

Resolution to self, keep it simple next time round. So this is the keeping it simple: a roast goose with a staightforward selection of delicious foods. Had George and her brother and daughter and parents over, which made 3 kids and six adults - and managed to stretch this out for six hours of feasting.

Merry Christmas, which does of course go on for Twelve Nights!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas reading

Christmas: fabulous! I'm clearly a great fan of this fesitval of light and food and company, which really Christmas is all about, and like to accompany the season with suitabe reading.

Now when I was young I read Terry Brooks The Sword of Shanara, timing my reading so that I finished it on Christmas Eve - allowing me to stay up late and hopefully catch sight of Santa or my father, which I think I did a couple of times.

As a slight cheat there was a BBC drama I recorded back in the 80s, which was all about the pagan themes of Yuletide - but which went missing a few years before I could convert that cassette to mp3.

Which has left me a little lacking, when wanting some literary Christmas mate4rial.

I tried Dicken's Christmas Stories, which include the Christmas Carol, but others besides. Enjoyable, but sometimes I just can't be bothered to go through Dicken's wordiness. My son loves The Snow Queen, from The Pink Fairy book. I don't bother reading it now, but just snuggle up and retell it, which always seems a more interesting way to experience a stopry.

For the last couple of years Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, has filled my Xmas slot.

It takes part over two subsequent Yuletides, with the feasting and warmth and company, during the fantasitical reign of Arthur. There are some fabulous phrases - the grass being fixed with frost, swine swinging they swagger home!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You might like it

You know it's been a busy year: I strted work at Hong Kong University, started a pension policy, started jogging again, and I (we?!) had a baby, (Isabella Arwen) who has been delightful and rejuvinating - as well as a large consumer of sleep-time.

It's because of her I'm writing this blog, actually. Isabella has given me the gift of sitting and doing nothing, as she chugs quietly away on a bottle of milk. Part of that time has gone to catching up with sleep, but a large amount of time has gone reading. Yes, reading!

It's a slightly odd admission for a writer to make, but I haven't been reading as much as I ought, and sometime this year I decided to go back and read books I liked as a child. I got Terry Brooks, Sword of Shanara, one of the first Lord of the Ring's look alikes, that Santa kindly brought me back in the early '80s, and which became my Christmas holiday reading for years after. I would aim to finish the book on Christmas Eve, hoping it would keep me up long enough to catch sight of Santa, or perhaps later, my father coming in with a well-stuffed stocking.

I bought Julian May's Pliocene Series. I went back to my old Dan Abnetts. I read The King of Athelney, by Alfred Duggan - which my father gave me years ago, and said something like, 'Try this, you might like it.'

He was right of course, I loved it. It tells the tale of King Alfred, from a boy to an old and victorious man. It has chapter titles like, Battle Winter, which got my teenage and adult imagination masticulating with excitment.

I could go on. Haggard, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard. All fabulous writers and fabulous ways to spend an hour or two with a baby. Between books I realised a couple of things. I wasn't reading any of the worthy 'literary' fiction my books seemed to be lumped as. These books, that teenage boys like to read, were still books that I like to read, and then I realised I was finally writing a book that I could give to my teenage cousin and say 'Try this, you might like it.'