Jill Mansell - Diary New Year 2008
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Hello again! Is it too late to wish everyone a happy New Year? May all your most outlandish dreams come true in 2008. This year my resolution is to write a book.
And I’m not joking! Even with this many behind me, I still always have the terrible, deep-down fear that I’ve used up my quota and no more will come out – like going to the cashpoint and getting that message on the screen telling you you’ve reached your limit. Anyway, the good news is that I have made a start on the next novel and – yay! – we have characters, setting and initial plot ideas. The bad news is, I did all that before Christmas, wrote the first fifty pages, then stopped when my kids broke up from school. And now that they’ve gone back, a whole month later, I’ve completely forgotten who my characters are and what they’re supposed to be doing next! Oh well, I’m sure it’ll all come back to me eventually!
Anyway, Christmas. I hope you had the best one possible – and if not, at least it’s over now. We had a lovely time here at home and I got some fab presents, several of them chosen by me for Cino (my other half) to give me, because apparently I’m difficult to buy for. Well, that’s an outrageous lie – basically, if it glitters, I’ll love it – but it ended up working out rather well and he bought me a black marabou boa with subtle black lurex fronds, two books by the stunningly clever Posy Simmonds (A Literary Life and Tamara Drewe), glamorous Wolsey hold-up stockings (because the last time we went out I was wearing mismatched ones, the only ones I had left, and he was mortified), and a spectacular Jaeger pen entirely studded in Swarovski crystals in a leopard-print pattern. I was watching This Morning with Phil and Fern when I saw this featured in a gift-buying slot and it was love at first sight. It’s beautiful and very, very sparkly, and it’s set to be my new book-signing pen.
So these were my presents and I was thrilled with them, then Cino gave me another parcel, an unexpected one this time, and inside was a handbag I’d coveted for months but refused to buy because it was too expensive. Which is the best kind of present to get, so never mind those cheap knock-off pseudo-designer bags I bought in Turkey last year (‘You like, lady? Hey lady, come see, come inside, I show you more, very good price!’). Because I now have a beautiful bag the exact colour of Cadbury’s milk chocolate wrappers, that dazzling shade of violet that goes so beautifully with black. And Lydia gave me a pair of suede gloves to match! I know, I’m very lucky, very spoiled. What a lovely lot of presents. Then, when everyone had finished opening everything, we peeled hundreds of potatoes and parsnips and sprouts and cooked a rather successful (if I say so myself) Christmas lunch for us and our families.
Am I allowed to mention just one more present? (I promise to be quick.) I’d seen this machine advertised and asked my dad to order one for me. Well, it’s adorable! It’s called a Roomba, made by iRobot, and it’s a dear little circular vacuum cleaner that you charge up then switch on, and it goes off and does the vacuuming all by itself! It’s like having a cleaning lady who never takes a tea break! It bustles along, cleans everything it can physically reach, dives under chests of drawers and sweeps up dust that has lain undisturbed for years, then does excited little pirouettes when it finds something on the carpet that needs extra attention. I’m besotted with my Roomba. It seems so real, I find myself talking to it and I’m secretly convinced it comes toward me when I call it. Now, if they could just invent one capable of stacking the dishwasher I’d be in heaven…
OK, so that was my Christmas Day, spent with family and lovely in every way. I’ve had worse. Actually, at the Reader’s Digest Christmas lunch at the Café de Paris I had an idea for a book – a compendium of celebrities’ worst-ever Christmases. Doesn’t that sound like a bestseller? Wouldn’t it be a comfort for people expecting their Christmas to be miserable, to know that others had been through it too? I can’t understand why my publishers didn’t snap up my idea, especially when it’s so completely brilliant!
OK, I’m jumping about a bit now, but I’ve just remembered a weird coincidence that happened before Christmas. Whilst surfing the internet (for research purposes, of course!) I happened to find a painting I loved. Here it is.
I instantly ordered an A3-sized print of it. A couple of days later, whilst waiting for it to arrive in the post, I was checking through the manuscript of my finished novel, reading a bit I hadn’t seen since I’d written it ten months before. Then I came to the following line: Tilly examined the painting; A3- sized and packed with quirky detail, it depicted ice skaters in Central Park.
How spooky is that?!
Anyway, here we are in January and the whole world’s gone into get-fit mode, which would be so much easier if it happened in February because then at least you’d have a fighting chance of finishing off all the naughty stuff you got given for Christmas. Here at home, we’re all currently doing our best to eat healthily for a month, which isn’t easy when you know the cupboard next to the healthy-cereal cupboard is crammed to bursting with Thorntons truffles, bags of nougat, Hotel Chocolat truffles, chocolate-covered rum-soaked raisins, Thorntons truffles, truffles and, um, more truffles. To add insult to injury, we’ve given up drinking too. For the whole of January. Just to spring-clean our livers and flush out all the old alcohol. It’s fine, but kind of boring, like being on a diet and never having anything to look forward to by way of a treat. And having read a zillion times how alcohol dries out your skin and makes you look ancient, I’m also disappointed not to look any younger. Speaking of wrinkles, I bought myself something brilliant the other week – a twelve-times magnifying mirror! Actually, it’s an addictive mixture of brilliant and absolutely horrifying. It’s fantastic if your eyes have reached that age when they can’t focus at close distances, making it almost impossible to see the eyebrows you’re trying to pluck. With this mirror, those teeny tiny hairs look like tree trunks and are a doddle to yank out. But you can’t help quailing at the rest of your face while you’re there. I was so appalled that I had to rush out and buy one for my oldest friend for Christmas. (It’s OK, she isn’t allowed to be offended, not when she bought me a bottle of anti-wrinkle liquid that contracts your skin and gives you a Joan Rivers look. That’s what good friends are for!).
What else? Sorry this has all been a bit stream-of-consciousness. I haven’t actually done anything exciting over the holidays at all! So instead I’ll just finish with one more random observation:
Who would have thought that I’d start last year’s X-Factor finding Rhydian utterly obnoxious and end it thinking he was amazing, incredible and actually a sweet boy who loves his mum? But that’s what I adore about reality TV shows (and what I love doing in my books): your perception of people can change. It’s the way it happens that I find so endlessly fascinating.
And here are a few of my own favourite websites and blogs… I’m wildly envious of people who are that much more articulate when talking about themselves than I am. (Hmm, just realised, my attempts make me feel shy and gawky and insecure, as if I’m fourteen again. I’m not like that in real life, honest!)
www.trashionista.com A brilliant site for anyone who enjoys my kind of book. Hmm, maybe I should have waited until they reviewed my new one before saying how great they are…
www.megcabot.com Only just discovered this one. Can’t believe how easily and prolifically she writes!
Snarkspot. Jennifer Weiner’s blog. It’s my dream as an author to be big in America and this gives you a taste of what it’s like.
Keris… happens to be the editor of Trashionista and also writes a wonderfully entertaining blog – an award-winning one, no less!
The Real Estalker Heaven for nosy people like me. Snooping around multimillionaire’s homes – what could be more delicious?
Go Fug Yourself Hilarious and not as rude as it sounds. Well, it is rude but only in the impertinent sense. It’s like Trinny and Susannah with piranha teeth.
And that’s it. Basically, it’s a wonder I ever manage to get any work done. Happy 2008, everyone!