Tuesday, 20 May 2014

I Started Something

Yesterday marked the publication of my first book for children: Mr Reuben and the Mole.  Mr Reuben is a character that I started thinking about over three years ago; sending scrappy photocopied sheets of paper to friends and family before graduating to my much beloved Moleskine notebook where I hand-wrote the stories again and drew colour illustrations so that I could take Mr Reuben to the local primary school and try his tall tales out on some very patient 5-7 year olds.

This story in particular has changed from one that was written in verse to being delivered in straight prose, the edits have been numerous and at one point in publication I literally did have to bin the whole process and start from the beginning again.  The cover has changed three times in the last month but finally Mr Reuben has made it from my imagination into the outside world and I'm just a little bit excited.

There are many tales about him to be told, most of which are still living in that notebook, all of which will need some tweaking but he's out of the blocks now and it feels like the start of something special - I can't wait to see how he gets on!

Third time lucky on the cover!

Just what is Mr Reuben so worried about?
A few story planning sketches
Soundtrack: I Started Something I Couldn't Finish - The Smiths 

Friday, 16 May 2014

There She Goes

She propels herself through the water; head down, body sleek, arm over, then through, the water.  Legs kicking, not splashing.  Concentration creating flow.  Grace, strength and power creating movement that looks effortless.  Her head glances to the side; face just visible, to catch a breath before turning back to join the water.

I am watching, rapt.  The noise of other people becoming a background thrum as I soak up the sight of my girl swimming lengths of the pool. Confident, strong strokes that I have not seen before and couldn't replicate myself.  No looking round and seeking approval, no searching to see if I'm watching.  I can't believe I've got the chance to see this.  I can't believe I am her mother.  

I want to phone my husband, to tell him what I can see and that I wish he was here, but for once in my life I resist the urge to grab my phone and try to soak up every last microscopic detail of the moment.  

The swimming instructor is pacing alongside the pool in time with her and he pauses as he sees me.  "Bet you didn't know she could do that eh?  Look at her go."

He walks on, and I watch her go.

Soundtrack: There She Goes - The La's

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Walk of Life

This morning, I finished the Moonwalk - 26.2 miles through London and part of an incredible 15,000 people who raised £3.5 million pounds collectively (and counting!)

My legs are singing with aches & pains, but my head sings with the story of the team I was part of, and you can sing along too!  It is of course - Walk of Life by Dire Straits.  


Here come Emma saying
"Roll-up, sign up
Join Compton Crackers, we'll be on our way"

Here come Lindsay saying
"I'm gonna do it, 
I'll get us training in the hills today"

We put on trainers
We hit the footpaths
Oh yeah we hiked all day
We got lost and got blisters
But Claire could read a map, and soon we found our way

And Lorraine got over her fear of bush-wees
And our long walks gave our husbands some strife
All for the walk, all for the walk of life, all for the walk of life

Here come Vic J saying
"Pimp those bras girls
I got a bucket of pink dye today"
Here come Sarah and she's raided a craft shop
Beads, bows and buttons and prosecco - yay!

We glued the ribbons, we sewed the buttons
Oh yeah the bras looked great
Some were big and some little
But all were made with love on decorating day

And Becky thinks it's all so embarrassing, 
And Evie's skills are sharp as a knife
Close to the walk, close to the walk of life, yeah the walk of life

Here comes Toni saying 
"Facebook, Twitter
Let's raise some funds the social media way"
Here comes Ben and he's the 'Cracker Tracker'
Puts us in the S-Max, takes us to the train

We get to Ascot, it's full of drunkards
Those boys, they can't behave
Get to Twickers - it's rugby
There's so much fancy dress to watch the game today

And finally we get to Clapham Common
And then we make our way to the start line
To do the walk, to do the walk of life, mmmm to do the walk of life

Here come London and it's close to midnight
We hear the horn & then we're on our way
Hi-vis helpers saying "You're gonna do it"
Seeing the landmarks take our breath away

We count the miles off
As couples walk home
Oh yeah - wine makes girls sway
They're all drunk and, we're sober
But we cheer each other on and we forget our aches

And we crossed the line knowing all of our efforts
Might help your husband, daughter, mother or wife
We did the walk, we did the walk of life, yeah we did the walk of life..........

For Becky, Claire, Emma, Lindsay, Lorraine, Sarah, Victoria, everyone who supported us and everyone who supported the Moonwalk!!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Slave to the Rhythm

When I was in my twenties and living in Reading, every Monday to Friday was taken up with going to work, going to the gym and going out in the evening.  Saturdays were for shopping and going to the pub, and Sundays were for lie-ins and pints of Guinness once the hangover had disappeared.

This remained largely unchanged until Mr K and I moved to a village where going shopping requires either a car journey, playing 'bus roulette' with the six that run each day or a £50 round trip in a taxi, and 'going to the pub' is quite literally that - you go to the pub, the only one in the village.  Sundays remained intact - winner!  The rhythm of our lives was set by where we had to be (work) and where we wanted to be (pub).

Then our daughter was born which introduced us to a new rhythm dictated mostly by her need to feed.  A perfect bundle of limbs and lovely smelling skin that took our self-indulgent Saturday nights out and Sunday lie-ins and drop-kicked them out of the window.  Our lives no longer had the easy vibe of mellow soul music, they had all the shrieking and parping of avant-garde jazz.  She didn't do the best job of turning us mad with sleep deprivation though, as a couple of years later we decided to do it all over again.  Enter the boy-wonder: bed-leaper and early-riser.

As a couple who both worked full-time, our children went to nursery full-time.  Nursery opening hours became our clocking-in system and caused us to have panic attacks if we were on the motorway at 5.45pm, as a minute past 6.00pm and you WOULD GET FINED!!  Perhaps more terrifying was the thought of being given a telling off by the manager which would leave you feeling like A. a bad parent and B. a corporate slave.  Wrong on point A, probably quite right on point B. 

Then our daughter started school which threw a ginormous spanner in the works.  Nursery and normal work hours were the same, but school?  What do you mean it ends at 3.15pm?!  We cleared that hurdle, found a way and as of last September, found ourselves again in the happy place of both children in the same place at the same time.  Bliss.  All seemed to be going swimmingly until, well swimming actually.  I thought all the after school activities were aligned, I thought I had very cleverly gamed the system making sure I only ever needed to be in one place at one time.  Until this afternoon, until my lovely girl proudly told me that she was being moved up a level in swimming which means a change of day and time.  A day and time that doesn't fit in with her brother's lesson.  Life and swimming lessons; laughing their arses off at me and creating a frantic scrabble in my brain to try to make all the clubs, appointments and non-uniform days fit together with having a job, running a house and the million other commitments it seems like we have.  

Oh well, we'll figure it out I thought.  It's only one change and perhaps by next week our son will have magically leaped several levels in swimming so they'll be on the same day again.  And then tonight I found the letter in our son's book bag (come on - who actually checks book bags when the kids get home from school?  You must always check on a Sunday night - or Bank Holiday Monday in this instance - always!) telling me that he has a new club after school.  And it clashes with swimming.....

Soundtrack: Slave to the Rhythm - Grace Jones