Fudge That Grudge, by Beth Miller

Fudge That Grudge, by Beth Miller

September 10th. The 253rd day of the year. The day that the Empress Elisabeth of Austria was assassinated in 1898. The annual moment set aside to celebrate TV Dinner Day (oh yes!). This year, though, it’s special mainly because it’s publication day for Beth Miller’s new and wonderful novel The Good Neighbour, and I’m DELIGHTED to be hosting her blog tour stop. So set aside any plans you’ve made for National Swap Ideas Day and have a read of Beth’s contribution to my occasional series known fondly as Not The Guardian Family Section:   ‘Your father…’ my mum would say, accusingly, as though it was my fault. That I had chosen my father badly. ‘Your father behaved like an absolute shit.’ My mum never recovered from my dad...

The Opposite of Kin, by Jo Bell

The Opposite of Kin, by Jo Bell

What could be better for this week’s Not The Guardian Family Section than some thoughts on kith, those ‘who are known, taken collectively; one’s friends, fellow-countrymen or neighbours’? It’s the title of Jo Bell’s upcoming poetry collection, for a start, and I’m exceedingly happy that two of the major kith areas of my life – those of writing and boating – intersect with those of Jo. I’ll be reporting back from the launch of KITH, which will be happening later this month in the marvellously named Much Wenlock, but for now, here is Jo with a look at what kith means to her.     Experience has shown, dear reader, that commitment is not my thing. I am what Nancy Mitford would call a Bolter. I have...

Getting On With It, by Robbie Burton

Getting On With It, by Robbie Burton

For today’s guest post in my occasional series, Not The Guardian Family Section, I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite poets. I love pretty much everything Robbie Burton writes. And says. She has an unerring sense of both humour and poignancy, and I’m happy to share this with you as we wait for her pamphlet to come out. (I’ve heard the draft. It’s ace.)     A bit of a crack-pot, my late husband. Thirty-three years we lived in our last house, thirty-three years without carpet, wallpaper or paint on the hall, landing and stairs. The house was Victorian and its landing was vast. The hall floor had lost its beautiful tiles and was chipboard. My husband was a surveyor and occasionally visited remarkable houses. One...

Living with the Tidy Gene

Living with the Tidy Gene

First off, I’ll make it clear that I’m not the one with the tidy gene. In fact, the very idea would have any friend of mine rolling around on my floor, at risk of being impaled by Lego corners. No, the reason I’m thinking about tidiness is because my son, now just coming up to 14, has discovered the delights of it. And this, for me, is a mixed blessing. He’s been muttering for a couple of days about it being time to have a tidy up, and today, when we got back from swimming, he got stuck in. Much of the assorted crap littering the (floor, chairs, worktop, insert noun of choice) was actually his. He went around finding homes for it, and put the rest on my bed, to be dealt with a some unspecified point in the future. The sitting room is now...

Happy Birthday to me (and Rosemary Higgs)

Happy Birthday to me (and Rosemary Higgs)

This week, it’s all been about covers and copy edits, which have both been exciting, if in different ways. They mark a real staging point on the publication journey: it’s not about a pile of manuscript pages any more. Before long, now, I’ll have a proper book… Talking about the edits led to one of my favourite threads ever on Facebook, with writer friends sharing the overused words they’d had to cut out pre-publication. We all had our own: my characters are always ‘looking’, and spend a lot of time pushing themselves up on to their elbows. (nb. see how I now know that it’s ‘on to’ and not ‘onto’…). Everyone’s pet words were different: some that came up were ‘only’ and...

Finding Bridie

Finding Bridie

Being a girl from Swindon means that going to London is a big deal. I mean, you never know when you’ll make it back there. Even now, with Manchester on my doorstep and semi-regular London flits becoming part and parcel of having a book deal, I still feel the need to justify my presence with meaningful activity. This time, though, it wasn’t museums or exhibitions or galleries I was after. This time, I was going to find my grandmother. Not literally, because she died in the mid-nineties. Part of her story, though, was played out in Kensington. My plan was to walk across Hyde Park and find where it had happened. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. As a teenager, my social life was completely bound up in the Swindon Young Musicians, where I played...