This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Monday, 27 February 2012

Meme, me?

Motherventing tagged me on a fiendish meme that involves 7x7x7. Actually, it’s probably quite simple, but numbers always faze me. I need to list seven of my favourite blog posts, then pass the buck to seven other bloggers. And then tell you seven things about myself.

Then the Middle-Aged Matron tagged me with 11 questions I have to answer. Don’t know why; nosiness, I imagine. I think I’m supposed to pass it on to 11 other bloggers, but frankly I’m hard pressed to come up with seven on which I can speak with authority, and I’m sure everyone’s been memed to death. So I’m going to stick to seven and hope they haven’t been bagged before now.

First things first: seven blog posts I admire:

This is from A Year in Lancashire. I love this blog; it is gentle and beautifully observed, and here's the post that got me into it: Going to Church

The Male Nanny is priceless. The language can be a bit fruity (and that’s just from the teenagers), and I quibble over his description of the family as ‘upper class’ – they sound distinctly nouveau to me. But he writes like a dream. Try this.

I’ve got to hand it to her: no one does it like the Middle-Aged Matron. Any one of her posts is a thing of wonder, so I’ve picked this one almost at random. Almost.

When I started blogging and was looking for blogs to admire, SAHDandproud was the first must-read I found. I even wrote to tell him so, which he probably found creepy. He says he isn’t a writer, but he is, he is… I’m being brave here and linking to his own version of this 7x7x7 thingy. That’ll show me up.

This one by Maid in Yorkshire combines everything I like in a post: amusing, self-deprecating, all the commas in the right places…

I haven’t paid much attention to Mammasaurus lately, which is my loss: she’s magnificent. She gives so much altruistic support and encouragement to recalcitrant/clueless novices such as myself. This video post typifies her brilliance. It’s original, generous, witty and impressively executed.

Finally, how can I omit Motherventing herself? I bet she’s rollicking company. She acts, which I used to love doing. She writes, which I still love doing. She did a virtual striptease on Twitter, which I loved so much I stuck a virtual fiver down her virtual knickers, before she virtually took ’em off. This post makes me wish I could be in the sisterhood with her.

Right, on to those seven Things about myself. I’ll try to keep it short.

1            I can wiggle one eyebrow at a time. Toddlers love it.

2            My first kiss – you know, lips and all – was on stage playing Pontius Pilate. Mrs Pilate wore very sticky stage make-up.

3            I once paid my sister 10p to let me slap her leg as hard as I could. It was in the car. She screamed. Our dad nearly crashed. I got all the blame, even though she accepted my terms.

4            I smoke about two cigarettes a year, but my mother doesn’t know.

5            Before we were married, my wife said she liked a man with a hairy chest. I’ve spent the past 20 years growing one (a hairy chest, not a man).

6            I accosted Suggs in a pub in Seven Dials while inebriated and told him how much I love ‘It must be love’. Probably happens all the time, poor chap.

7            I am the most pedantic bore I know.

Now for Ageing Matron’s questions and, more worryingly, my answers:

If you could have an audience with any British monarch which would it be?
I sometimes fancy meeting Edward VIII so I could punch him in his weak, treacherous, self-indulgent face. But on balance I’d prefer Elizabeth I.

What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?
The lid of the loft blowing open one stormy night just after I’d seen House of Wax. I’ve led a protected life.

If you appeared on Desert Island Discs what would your luxury be?
A fully crewed ocean liner. Or a piano with a teach-yourself-piano book.

What kind of museum or gallery exhibition would you cross a city to see?
Paintings, I suppose. A two-man show of Ghirlandaio and Andrea del Sarto, perhaps, or an overview of British portraiture 1900­–1950.

What would you choose as your last meal?
Boiled eggs with white bread and butter.

If you became leader of a political party what would your slogan be?
I’m always right.

What piece of music makes your pulse race?
There are heaps, some of them mentioned here. Overall, probably this, the tremendous finale to Boito's Mefistofele – try it from 6 minutes in:

Strangely, I find the ovation at the end as moving as the music itself.

What human quality to do value most highly?
Charm and courtesy. With those, so much is forgivable.

What is your greatest regret?
Not noticing that, according to my wife, plenty of girls wouldn’t have minded…

Can you do a forward roll? (if yes, photographic evidence is required)
Yes, but I can't prove it.

What would you like your epitaph to be?
‘Life is not worth living without him’. None of that ‘be happy when I’m gone’ rubbish. I want tears and lots of them.

What ingredients do you rate in a blog?
Wit, self-deprecation and correct grammar.

I have to pose 11 questions myself now. Then it’s all over, I promise.

Katie Price or Kristin Scott Thomas?
What is the most beautiful view you’ve ever seen? (And no mush about newborn babies please – I mean a proper view, like with fields and all).
What is the most revolting thing you’ve ever eaten?
What, if anything, makes you cry?
Who, in your opinion, has/had the most beautiful face ever?
If you had to live in another era, when would you choose?
Which work of art would you most like to own?
Everyone has a book in them, apparently. What’s yours about?
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
What’s your best physical feature?

Not that I’m prurient or anything

And so I pass the whole shebang on to the following. Just do the 7 bit or the 11 bit or none of it, as you like. Apologies in advance – I know you won’t thank me.

No comments:

Post a Comment