I love Christmas but I do confess to getting panicky right now. I feel the pressure building up behind my eyes and my heart beating just a little too fast.
It’s good to remember the true meaning of Christmas. As much as I love the shiny baubles and the Buble’s Christmas CD, I was reminded yesterday that Christmas is about awe and wonder. A baby in a manger. A world of possibility.
Children have it right. Anticipation and excitement. But we as adults need to play our part. We need to cut back on Argos and Tesco, even John Lewis (who do the best adverts by far). We need to focus on the way Christmas brings us together, whatever our beliefs. For me, as a Christian, there is nothing better than the carols by candlelight service at our church, which is always packed and so pretty.
What can we do?
Buy local. Buy Fair-trade. Buy from charity shops and Oxfam online. Buy homemade. Or make something yourself. Buy vintage.
Ask someone over for Christmas day.
Watch telly with your family. Watch Elf. Or Home Alone. Or Mupppet Christmas Carol. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life.
Pick up the phone and call a loved one.
Find it in your heart to let go of any hurt and bitterness that lurks there.
Give a book and make an author happy.
This Christmas I’m going to try to cut back on the stress. Which is flipping hard. So When I feel that pressure building, I will watch this scene from Elf, where Buddy shows the excitement of a child. And pop another cherry liqueur.
Here are some links to my favourite online stores right now.
If you have a minute check out Legend Press’s blog where I am talking about Christmas. http://www.legendpress.co.uk
Did I mention The Generation Game is on Kindle for 99p this December?
And can you tell I am all over the place? This blog post is an outpouring of thoughts right now. Better out than in, as they say. Maybe.
Have a very happy, peace-filled Christmas.
When I was a teenager, back in the mid 80s, I loved Wham! and Tears for Fears and the Human League. I also loved Motown, especially Marvin and Aretha. However, I also had a thing for country music, Dolly and Tammy and Johnny and, in particular, Crystal. I spent three weeks in Canada in the summer of ’85 listening to her back catalogue on my Walkman. Whenever I hear her, I remember that awesome holiday.
So there. I’ve said it. Only a few people close to me know how I feel about this woman and I’ve had to stick up for her over the years. But that’s fine. I’m good at sticking up for things and causes and people.
But I’s sorry to say that Crystal and I have drifted apart. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to her, partly because she has this tendency to make me cry and there have been times, dark times, when I really haven’t needed any help in that department thank you very much. But today I felt strong enough to listen to her again and tried to work out what it is that draws me to her voice and sound.
And it’s to do with emotion. She tells you about her heartache, her loves and dreams. And you believe her.
She also has the most amazingly long hair you have ever seen.
Here she is singing Johnny Cash’s ‘I Still Miss Someone’.
I just watched Tom Daley’s youtube video where he articulately shares details of his personal life. He is in a relationship with a bloke and is very happy and safe. As the mother of a gay son I know how hard this must be for him to announce to the world and confirms to me what I’ve always thought about him – as well as being a great role model and a fantastically dedicated diver, he is a brave young man. And I’m chuffed to be a fellow Devonian.
So Tom, if people have a go, it is their ignorance, not your problem. Listen to those who love you, like your mum. And I just know your lovely dad would be so proud of you.
We’ll be with you on your journey to Rio.
A lovely review. Thank you very much to Random Book Muses
Wonderful photos by my talented niece at her older sister’s wedding. So sad to have missed it in person but a joy to see these.
Much has been said in the press this week about Morrissey’s autobiography. The man himself is like Marmite; you love him or hate him.
Or do you? Are you in fact like me? You loved The Smiths. Had all their albums. Quoted his lyrics to friends and lovers. But then, when The Smiths were no more, you moved on. You knew the Morrissey/Marr combo would never be equalled. So you left it there. Happy memories. Poignant memories.
That was me. I never saw The Smiths live but I did years later see Morrissey at the Brighton Centre. He was everything I thought he would be. Witty and charismatic. But I wasn’t blown away. There was some weird detachment that I felt. Like he was in a forcefield. Untouchable. Unlovable…
Like George Michael, he has become a parody of himself. He seems to believe in his own genius. That he will go down in history alongside Yeats and Wilde. Why else would he insist that his autobiography would only be published by Penguin Classics?
Maybe the problem is to be found in middle-age. If he had died at 27 – like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse – he would have been preserved in rock and roll aspic. But, as a 54 year old man, with houses all over the world, who’s made some outrageous, hateful statements, who puts animals above humans, he does not have enough distance or perspective or self-awareness to write a balanced memoir. But then who does? Maybe it is better to leave it to the biographers.
‘Autobiography’ lies on our kitchen table. I look at the cover – a beautiful image – but I can’t open the book. I am happy to leave The Smiths where they are, a certain moment in my history. I don’t need to know the gory details, the recriminations, the self-justifications. I have the albums and that’s enough.
‘Brilliant one minute, petulant the next, Morrissey’s autobiography is as maddening as the man himself’ – Stuart Maconie, The Guardian
I know I shouldn’t comment until I’ve read the book. And maybe I will. But I have read Alan Partridge’s autobiography, ‘I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan’, and loved it. But, then, Alan is fictional.
PS. If you haven’t yet done it, try this quiz:
And finally, ‘remember, there’s more to life than books you know…’
OK, writers out there. You still have until the end of the month to sharpen up those novel manuscripts and enter them into the Exeter Novel Prize.
If you are not currently under contract, then you can enter this competition,whether you’ve been published before or not. If it wasn’t for writing prizes, I wouldn’t have been published. Your manuscript will be read and considered by the three of us at CreativeWritingMatters – Margaret James, Cathie Hartigan and me. The shortlist will be read by literary agent Broo Doherty. And who knows what will follow…
You don’t even have to spend on postage. It’s just the push of a button…
I did something I know I shouldn’t do. I googled myself. Worse, I googled Sophie Duffy images. And there I was, in many forms, with many different hair cuts, clothes, backgrounds, but with the same smile which I think is genuine as I had it as a baby.
So who is Sophie Duffy? Well, she’s a lot of things, including a mother and a writer. A daughter. A sister. A cousin. A niece. A Feminist. A teacher. A mentor. A friend. A Christian (Baptist to be precise – but don’t let that put you off; you might be surprised). I’m also a wife – not a particularly good wife because I don’t clean behind the fridge. Not forgetting a depressive. A suicide survivor (not my own, my dad’s). And a Corrie addict.
I can be grumpy and moody. Persistent and stubborn. Impatient and bored. But I can be kind and funny. Sometimes. If you get me on a good day. With a fair wind.
And one day I hope to be happy. And grown up. And wise. And then I might know who I really am.
You never know… Watch this space…
OK, firstly please forgive this possibly garbled post. I have thoughts rushing at me and they are hard to catch. Bear with me…
I’ve had a weird year, not least because I turned 45. I was worried about this particular birthday because my dad was 45 when he took his own life. My birthday passed and it was OK. But it was when I was in Canada last month, on my own, that I hit his exact age, to the day. It was horrible. But I survived.
Now I feel like this age – 45 – is not a millstone but a milestone. I have survived. I don’t know what the road ahead will be like – I have more mountains to climb, that’s for sure. As we all do, in our own way. But I am still here and I have to make each day count.
My childhood is vivid and present with me as I grow older. Last week, I was in my shed/office (shoffice?) sorting through old postcards and I found this kitsch one of two kittens. I had a shock when I saw who’d sent it to me, back in the long hot summer of 1976. It was from a lady I knew as Auntie Wink. She lived over the road from our sweet shop in Torquay. We hung out. It was fun. Though her house smelt of cat pee.
Wink was the starting point for my first novel The Generation Game. I had no idea I’d kept the postcard. I was really moved to have it in my hand. I was back in her front room watching Bruce and Anthea, eating fish and chips. And I said a big thank you to her for making my book what it is.
And something more. This novel was published as a result of the Luke Bitmead Writers Award, a bursary for new novelists set up in memory of a very special young writer who sadly took his own life. His mother, Elaine Hanson, who set up the award, is a wonderful woman. And a survivor.
So I suppose what I am saying is two things:
1. We can never leave our childhood, however old we get. It shapes who we are, for better, for worse. And sometimes it comes back at us, in unexpected ways.
2. We are all connected.
And finally. Today I am giving a special thought to my dad. I wish you’d got some help, Daddy. Then you might still be here, with us, approaching your 80th birthday. That’s a lot of lost years.
And finally finally. Here’s my plea. If you are feeling suicidal or if you are worried about someone who might be suicidal, then please know there is help. Please call the Samaritans. Please talk.