Monday, 7 August 2006


Despite appearances, our dog does have two ears. Her penchant for rolly-pollies on a freshly-mowed lawn is, however, self-evident.

Conversation with a neighbour’s five-year-old:

Boy: Is your dad a pirate?
Me: My father?
Boy: That man who lives there… (points to our house) …Is he a pirate?
Me: No – whatever gives you that idea?
Boy: We call him Pirate Man.
Me: Why? (trying not to laugh)
Boy: ‘Cause he looks like Captain Hook.

Reading Living to Tell the Tale, it was heartening to see Gabriel Garcia Marquez state, at the end of chapter two, that “the first royalties that allowed me to live on my stories and novels were paid to me when I was in my forties, after I had published four books with the most abject earnings.” So many successful writers have similar tales. Most seem to plod away for years, getting sporadic pieces published here and there, until it’s as if they’ve undergone some kind of metamorphosis, like a moth struggling out of a chrysalis formed out of scavenged ideas.

Ygraine enjoyed our walk on the beach this morning, which was unusually crowded for a week-day. By “crowded” I mean there were around ten people spread over a two-mile stretch. There were no puddles for paws to enjoy, but there was a healthy line of fresh seaweed along the tide-line which warranted numerous inquisitive sniffs and so our little lady was satisfied.

It’s an old friend’s birthday in a few short days. I find myself missing his “baroque prose”, but more so simply his company.


1. What makes you feel as if where you live is your "home", rather than just somewhere to stay?

Any home should be a sanctuary, a tranquil retreat from the world beyond. Therefore, a home needs to be as secure as possible from intrusion – and for me this also means from intrusion from objects and activities that try to impose on my personal space. To be surrounded by items of your own choosing, displayed according to your own tastes, is a luxury which must be compromised when sharing domestic space with others, of course. Each person should have their own room, their own inviolable territory, certainly.

2. How "homey" does your current abode feel to you?

This house is very much a work in progress. There are several major renovations yet to be begun. On a scale of one-to-ten, the homeliness of this house currently scores at barely a five. While I’m very fond of the geographic area, I could leave this house tomorrow without one qualm. But then I’ve moved house eight times so far in my life, and have never felt any noticeable bond to a home. I’ve always felt that there might be many equally or surpassingly interesting places to be.

3. What would your dream home be like?

At different points in my life I’ve held different ideals regarding domestic lifestyle. The chocolate-box image of a thatched cottage with fragrant roses festooning the porch certainly has cosy appeal – but equally so might a contemporary loft apartment, as space and light are most desirable to me. Or perhaps I might live in a converted church, even retaining some of the original ecclesiastical fittings, and most certainly preserving any stained glass windows, whose coloured lights are delightful to my eyes even if the subject matter is akin to an alien folklore. How does a person settle on only one ideal when, having so many diverse interests, a variety of homes might hold fascination?

4. What would your nightmare home be like?

I’ve lived in several problematic homes, actually. The various adventures are too convoluted to list here. Suffice to say I’ve lived in tiny rooms, a haunted house, a good apartment ruined by the NOISE of the pest downstairs, and a semi-derelict hotel.

5. Of all the places you have lived in your life, where did you feel most "at home"?

This question has been partially answered already. The first time I visited the seaside village where I now live, I felt strongly attracted to the area. I remember feeling envious of those who lived here, and also despairing of the idea that I could ever afford to be here too. Try as I might, I can’t define why the area just feels “right”; there is no logical reason for this.

The peninsula offers amazing scenery – beaches, ancient woodlands, moors, jagged sandstone hills, hidden ponds and farmland. West Wirral retains its rural feel and yet it’s easy to travel to the shopping centre of Birkenhead, or into the cities of Liverpool or Chester.

Chester definitely draws me; this beautiful city possesses a lively blend of ancient history and the totally contemporary. There’s a deep undercurrent of vibrant energy thrumming through some of the ancient sites – but you’ll have to read my novels to learn about those! *evil chortles*

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