Good morning all. Another lull from Bird HQ here but a better excuse this time as I have been on A Properly Grown Up Writing Course. Steady!
A quick warning though: Please don't expect grammar and spellings and all sorts of business just because of the above. I for one am sure people like Ted Hughes didn't care about details as they were far too busy wearing Interesting Jumpers and Being Deep. Anyway as my literary inspiration comes mostly from N.Molesworth of St Custards I think we're fine. So there. Chiz.
Anyway, the course. What did I learn? Here goes:
1. Be faster off the mark to bagsy doing the crumble on your night to cook.
A schoolboy error I'm afraid. Having eyed up the list earlier I wasn't my usual panther-like self when it came to actually helping. Arriving confidently at the sink a bit late, imagine le culinary horreur when offered the 'don't worry it's easy' alternative of Spinach and Ricotta in Filo Pastry instead.
Yes. Filo Pastry.
'Easy? Are you sure?' I said.
'Yes,' said the nice lady running the course. 'Don't worry, the pastry comes from a packet.'
'Ah right,' I said. 'Do you mean that packet there containing the sheets of gossamer I am supposed to magic into a pie dish? Has Hogwarts opened a food shop?'
It was a fair enough query I feel.
So that went well then. An hour later the dish was 'perfected'. By which I mean manhandled into position with a Pritstick. No one saw though and only a couple of people were actually physically poorly so I filed that one under 'Triumph' and ran away.
2. Try not to steal a lovely best selling novelist's laptop at the end of the course.
Yes I know. Poor form.
Having cheerfully suggested giving two of my fellow pupils a lift to their trains, we had a little bit of a hiccup as we divvied up the luggage only to be left with a rogue laptop bag sitting on its own in the station car park.
'This must be yours.'
'No, I didn't bring one.'
'Oh. Yours then?'
'Not really, no.'
We all backed away as realisation dawned that we were a nanosecond away from probable litigation with Random House.
'That's not a good start to your literary career,' pointed out my new friends as they carefully edged backwards towards the train. Any train. Didn't matter where to. 'Safe journey,' they called, breaking into a fast gallop, 'See you soon.'
Cripes. I tell you, NEVER have I so carefully carried a bag than during the walk to the hotel to take it back to its owner. I've carried children with less concern on more than one occasion. 'Oh I've dropped little Timmy..... No matter, his mother has other children.' This though? Gulp.
Now, street crime isn't exactly rife in the artsy hamlets of Yorkshire but you can't be too careful and as such I think it perfectly reasonable for me to get the first punch in on the little old lady who looked in my direction as I went to cross the road. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to formally apologise and wish her all the best for a speedy recovery. Sorry about that.
3. Be careful what you read out loud in an isolated cottage on a moor to people who don't really know you.
And it had been going so well.
'What do you enjoy writing about?' someone asked kindly.
'Oh - you know - jolly things about stuff that is chipper.' I replied.
'That sounds nice. Well today's exercise is about getting into a lift with someone you're not fond of.'
That sounded fun. Having a lovely time I hoppity skipped back to my room with its lovely view and only a little bit of damp and decided to just glance at my work emails before starting the writing.
Big mistake. Ten minutes later The Muse Had Turned Bad.
'No one can help you,' I read to the group the next morning. 'And you're going to die.'
I looked up from my paper, hopeful for some feedback, possibly critical encouragement. Funny really, no one made eye contact. One lady was a bit pale. Another one went to the toilet quite quickly - double locking the door which was odd.
'The email addresses we gave you,' said the tutors a bit later. 'You might find they don't work.'
'Spinach filo anyone?' I asked keenly at lunchtime. 'There's some left over from dinner.'
Do you know people can be really picky about leftovers. And after I'd glued it and everything.
Apologies and huge thanks to everyone at Arvon for such a fab week. I made up the bit about the Pritstick I promise. xx