Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I want to live in John Lewis

I scuttled into the large department store John Lewis after work last night. Well, when I say ‘scuttle’, I was bounced along the Metropolitan line, ejected at Baker Street, squooshed down towards the Bakerloo line, trundled on the tube, and then splashed out as part of a giant wave of people at Oxford Street, straight into another giant wave of people trying to rush back down into the station.

After a bit of confused ebbing and flowing I finally escaped into the shop. There is something about department stores that picks me up and cuddles me in rich soft duvets. I waft around pretending I can afford this and that, and look at things like fabric for my imaginary house. Within the store’s well-lit walls anything can be possible, and I’ve decided I want to live there.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. There are four department stores worthy of consideration within a walk of Oxford Circus. These are Debenhams, Selfridges, John Lewis and Liberty’s.

If Lived in Debenhams

I wouldn’t be able to resist the makeup and beauty department. I’d sparkle with glitter gloss and super shine. I’d have huge false eyelashes and would swan around in tons of reasonably priced bling. In fact, I’d bling and shine so much that I’d cause the national grid to do a Matrix like surge of power and cut all the lights in the west end. It’s probably not a wise move to let me live in Debenhams.

If I lived in Selfridges

I’d be no good at living in Selfridges. I’d be too tempted to clear all the stock out and just sell fridges. I’d employ traders with plenty of chat to sell them as if they’re flogging a job lot down Hackney Market, and every buyer would get a yellow Selfridges bag with spare fridge parts and egg racks. And then when all the fridges had gone I'd rename the store 'Sodfridges' and sell flowers instead.

If I lived in John Lewis

I would write novels about the hunt for the perfect kitchen utensil in the style of Moby Dick - 'Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whisk itself.'  You can picture its majesty I'm sure. It would be a publishing sensation, and while I was writing, I'd be an elegant addition (perhaps) to the sofas. I’d even be willing to point people in the right direction if they were lost and needing new moleskine notebooks. I’d create fabulous artwork out of the contents of the haberdashery department, and cry tears of joy to be John Lewis’ new Barbara Hepworth with buttons.

If I lived in Liberty’s

If I lived in Liberty’s I’m afraid it would go straight to my head. I’d hole up in the Grand Scarf Hall and the next time you see me I will be doing the dance of the seven sheer silk and bloody expensive veils. I might bolt the doors to shoppers and stalk the store in various velvet cloaks, gloating at my incredible fortune. People will look up at the candle-lit windows to watch me waltz past, occasionally reappearing on a different floor in a new hat. I’d throw petals down into the street, yell ‘ahoy’ in honour of Liberty’s sea-faring connection, and cause debate in the House of Commons about whether I’m a wonderfully eccentric tourist attraction or just a ruddy nuisance. I feel my residence may be rather short-lived.

So there you have it. John Lewis it is. Me and my button-sculpturing and Moby Dick parodying skills are poised to move in immediately!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rewrite Update

What to say
when life gets in the way?
Sometimes there are quiet times
and I retreat off stage
to let another person take centre place
and speak my lines.

Every time I click on my blog I feel horrendously guilty for not being here, tremendously happy to see none of you have gone away, and touchingly thrilled to see more people have joined. I’m sorry for being so quiet of late. The Grand Novel Rewrite alongside the Annoying Three-Hour-a-Day Commute and the Stupidly Busy Full-time Work tipped me screaming over the edge.

I’m back now, though. Imagine me striding from the jungle with the novel in a knap-sack, the triumphant tune from Indiana Jones playing in the background.

Some of you asked why I decided to do the rewrite. The easiest explanation is that I felt ‘something’ wasn’t right, but at the same time had a total belief in the actual story. So in July I pieced together feedback and advice, considered what would happen to the plot if I made some drastic changes, and decided that it would work rather nicely. So August was spent writing a whole new beginning, and then September and October I worked through the rest of novel, finally finishing up just before Halloween.

Auspicious, maybe? Bwahahaha.

After that I was completely knackered! I needed to resettle myself in the world, spend time with friends, tidy up, and just breathe. The new-look novel needed to breathe as well. So it’s been in a metaphorical drawer for the last two weeks but this weekend it’ll come out and I’ll work on it anew. Looking forward to it! The synopsis is mainly done too, so now all that is left is a fresh look at my query letter, and then away she goes. I’m pondering the wisdom of querying so close to Christmas but it all goes into a pile to be read eventually, and I don’t think my manuscript will be mistaken for a mince pie, so I’m sure all will be fine.

However, I did have one last little burst of creativity at the end of October – I managed to enter the National Poetry Contest by the skin of my teeth. (Eugh – I’ve always hated that saying. Whose monstrous teeth have skin?!) I’ve always loved poetry – writing, reading, listening, speaking – but it’s the first time I’ve sent a poem away anywhere. It’s new ground for me in the way the poem is put together but that’s the whole point of poetry – reaching and stretching to see where words can go. The contest shortlist / winners will be announced in spring 2012. Oh so long to wait!