A lost teddy, a shed, a Sir, and an Irving…

16 08 2010

I’m rather upset.  I’ve had this blog rattling around my head for a while now, but it required a visit to the loft to find a certain element to photograph and include.  So I finally went up there at the weekend, went to the box where said element should have been in… and it wasn’t there.  Random and rather manic searching elsewhere proved fruitless.  So what prompted this search, and what was the item that has mysteriously disappeared out of its box?  Well.  In a battered old Body Shop notebook dating back to the mid-1990s, which contains (amongst other things) the random scribbled ideas for the first Shed story, is the following line:

‘Why did the yellow teddy get left in the shed?’

Are you there yet?  No?  Want another minute or two? Okay…

Now?  Good. Yes, I was looking for the yellow teddy.  It’s rather a sad old yellow teddy. Quite small, and rather… square looking.  It had a squeaker in it.   At some point in my very small life, this yellow teddy went missing.  I must have been very small, too small to remember it going missing.  Or maybe it wasn’t a very well-loved teddy, so its missing-ness wasn’t that important.  Hope not, that’s a terrible thought.

Anyway, when I was a bit bigger, a momentous occasion occured: The Pulling Down of The Shed Day.  This shed was, quite possibly, one of the bestest, most wonderfullest of sheds ever in the entire world.  Ever.  My dad might have built it from scratch.  It had been painted white at some point, but by the time The Pulling Down of The Shed Day came around, it was a bit fadey.  Step One was to get everything out of the shed into the garden, and it was during this mammoth task that the yellow teddy was found.  To be absolutely honest, I’ve no idea if it was mine or my sisters.  But when it was found, I remember feeling extremely sorry for it (having been left amongst the cobwebs down the back of the workbench for so long) and rather sad and guilty – I also remember only vaguely remembering it, and feeling bad about that too.  Actually, now I think about, maybe it wasn’t even ours – maybe it belonged to some friend of ours… oh dear. Sorry.

But it was given a wash by mum (and probably pegged out on the washing line by its ears), and I know I’ve seen it recently.

But where is it?

And why is it important?

Well, it’s just that in the shed stories, the main character has a small yellow bear.  It doesn’t get a lot of attention in the stories, and it has no lines (being a teddy, obviously, which can’t speak.  Unlike elephants.  And lions.  And vultures.  And zebras. Which – obviously – can).  But it’s The Bear!  And I can’t find it!  And it was lost for years once before, and now it’s lost again!

I’m sure you can all feel my pain.  I’m too upset now to carry on, change of subject required…

Sir Terry Pratchett.  Chiswick Book Festival.  If I don’t get tickets there’ll be serious tears.  Please, please cross your fingers for me…  The thought of even possibly being in the same room as Him sends me rather bonkers, let alone the possibility of hearing him speak (or hearing someone speak on his behalf) and even (faint!) getting the latest Tiffany Aching book signed by him… Ooooooh, I can barely type!

I have five major writing heroes.  Two are sadly no longer with us – Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens.  Of the remaining three, I’ve seen ONE in the flesh and it blew me away, and was an indescribable inspiration.  That was John Irving in the mid-1990s, reading from the newly published ‘A Son of the Circus’ in Waterstones in Hampstead, London.  Every John Irving book I’ve read (or re-read – and believe me, I do a lot of re-reading) since has been spoken in his voice – if you get what I mean.  And I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified and nervous as when I was standing in the queue to get my copy signed.  I had in my head a line of his I was going to ask him to write (if I dared), but as I got nearer and nearer his desk, I became aware that every person – with no exception – was asking him to write the same thing.  If you know your Irving, you’ll have guessed what it was…

‘Keep passing the open windows.’

How could it have been anything else?

So I panicked.  ‘My god,’ I thought, ‘This poor man has been sitting here all evening writing the same thing over and over again… he must need a break! I can’t possibly ask him to write that again!’

Then suddenly it was my turn.

I was standing at a desk, looking down at John Irving.  John IrvingJOHN IRVING!!! The guy that wrote Garp, and The Water Method Man, and The Hotel New Hampshire, and OWEN FLIPPIN’ MEANY!!!

The guy that has the power to write things that make me laugh and cry and stay up all night turning page after page after page… even if I’m reading the book for the umpteenth time…  the guy that was the inspiration to me to start trying to write…

The next few seconds went like this:

Mr Irving: Hello, [nice friendly smile] what would you like me to write?


(are you ready for this?)

Me: [in a very small and silly, wobbly voice] To Michelle.

So he did. And I left.

Pathetic, isn’t it?!

But it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and said book is – and always will be – one of my most treasured possessions. Look, here’s the cover sheet:

And in case you’re wondering, the other two living writers on my hero list are Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  If I am lucky enough to get tickets for Sir Terry, goodness knows what a plonker of myself I’ll make if I get the chance to get a book signed… I’m cringing just thinking about it… but it will be so worth it… wow…

Right, enough.

I hate to mention it, but it’s a black-bin Tuesday so I have a little job to do…

ps… the observant amongst you will be thinking ‘Michelle? I thought her name was Rose?’
It’s both.


Erupting shed cats…

24 03 2010

Ooops, been a while.  I know it’s been a while because it was black bin day again last week, and I thought ‘Oooh, haven’t blogged since last black bin day.’  And since I thought that, the blue bin’s been emptied.  Isn’t this interesting?  Can you guess which bin’s going to be emptied next week, boys and girls?

Busy, busy, busy – Shed 3 is done, and it’s now ‘resting’.  Or ‘brewing’.  No, ‘fermenting’, that’s better.  It’s almost time to go through it one last time before sending it on it’s way.  And while it’s been fermenting I’ve been going through 1 and 2, doing a bit of tweaking (and hopefully polishing).  All things Shed-wise seem to be falling into a nice, round place.  Which is good. I think?

Also been doing a bit of drawing – found a neat site called Etsy, and have set up shop selling my stupid pictures of cats.  The shop’s called stupidcats, and it’s also on Twitter, and has a Facebook page. Called stupidcats. For some reason, I can’t put a link in to that. Oh well. Actually, I should rephrase that first bit – I’ve set up shop hoping to sell my stupid pictures of cats.  Best get drawing… I’ve only done two so far, which is a tad feeble.

Three Twitter accounts is getting a bit confusing, even with TweetDeck…

Speaking of stupidcats, ours is.  I think it might be the onset of spring.  He’s having mad half hours, tearing round the house and attaching himself to ankles.  And doing a lot of that ‘weave-in-and-out-of-your-legs-as-your-walking’ thing.

Oooh, this volcano in Iceland’s been quite exciting, hasn’t it?  Brought back memories of watching a Hekla eruption from Heimaey back in… 2000? Was at a christening party at the time, and suddenly someone rushed in, babbled about an eruption, and we all piled into cars and drove down to the harbour to watch.  I think I was expecting to see lava shooting up into the sky (yes, I know, it was miles away, silly!) so was dissapointed for about two seconds until I realised that the clouds stretching all the way across the horizon weren’t normal clouds – they were Proper Volcano Clouds.  Had one of those lift-shaft moments, you know, where your tummy drops a bit?!  And then, to top it off, a huge streak of lightening in the middle of the darkest cloud. Wow. If you really squinted, you could just make out a teeny tiny orangey-red dot on the horizon.  That was lava that was.

Right, enough, I have an appointment with a little bottle of India ink and some crayons.

Crazy hair and sheds…

24 02 2010

Good evening.  As the other half is stuck somewhere between here and Milton Keynes waiting for the AA, I thought I’d pop a little blog.

Er, now what?

Ah yes…

Braving the low shelves and book-bins (book-bins? Is that what they’re called? You know, the bits in your local library that aren’t shelves where all the bigger books for little people are kept…)… lost my thread…

Braving the low shelves and book-bins (see above) in the library yesterday I found a corker: ‘Crazy Hair’ by Neil Gaiman. Had me snorting out loud – bonkers illustrations too, sort of funny and a tiny bit scarey. Actually, I’ve just found a YouTube clip of the man himself reading it – check it out, it’s very funny!

Then I bought some kindling from the hardware store, where I overheard a rather smartly-dressed lady say (rather poshly) to her friend,

‘My shed’s so full of rubbish.  I’m going to convert it into a chicken-house.’

And that was that.

The seed for the next one has been planted, and suddenly the current one is writing itself. Hurrah! Do love the way that you get to a certain point… pause… wait… then suddenly something happens (usually when you’re just beginning to get a bit worried that you’re seriously stuck) and you’re off

Checked Twitter a bit later to find that Neil Gaiman had been giving readings of ‘Crazy Hair’ in schools probably at about the same time I read it in the library – spook…

And now… dinner.

Sadly, cake is not involved. But that’s probably for the best. Had a cheeky cream bun yesterday – don’t tell anyone.

Wigs, sharks and sheds…

23 02 2010

Just a quick one.

Be careful with your Icelandic pronunciation.  If you’re swimming in the sea and suddenly find yourself attracting the attention of a shark, be aware that in attempting to alert nearby Icelanders to your plight, a slight mis-pronunciation could result in them laughing at you and saying things like, ‘Haha! That woman/bloke says she/he is being chased by a wig!’.

Or you could inadvertently compliment a hair-sensitive Icelander on their new shark.

Change of subject.

The eagle-eyed amonst you will notice there’s a new page called ‘THE SHED’. Look, it’s just up there – no, not there, up there. See it? Good.

And now, much as I’d like to get back to the shed, I have a day and half to submit an assignment for a web-design course.  And I’m very, very behind.

Bye then.

Shed II

30 10 2009

Well, that’s the first draft of Shed II done and dusted… let it stew for a few days then give it a thorough going over methinks…

By the way, Granny Battle is a private investigator, but to the rest of the world she’s just a rather plump old lady with too many cats, who’s rather bonkers.  She has a big old motorbike with all sorts of stuff attached to it.

Spent the afternoon in Waterstones checking out the competition, and annoying small children by sitting on the floor in front of the Horrid Henry section, reading.  I also may have upset a little boy by reading a copy of Splat the Cat that I think he thought was his.