Oh the terrible delay

Hello beloveds,

Well, life is hard work at the moment. M in the New Forest, me here in Brighton, people having heart attacks and people getting depression and me mail-ordering orchids to them all.

The course at the Brighton Journalist Works is going well, despite me, as usual, overegging my own pudding, so to speak. I have taken on a bit too much, but luckily my course leader has let me wriggle a bit and I’ve got a week off because as well as the journalism I have been rehearsing with Mr Danny Green in order to go on the Laish tour in two weeks! As you see, Laish are good’uns, and they’re just crying out for a bit of banjo:

Choochoo! J x

(P.S. Melville our dog arrived, finally, from Spain, eight months after M did!)

Herman Melville, the white whale, and the Pequod

Bowling will make brutes of us all.

Last weekend, I wrote a novel in three days. Well, a novella, really. I had wanted to write this one particular novel since 2003, and so it has had seven years to complicate itself into unimaginable subtlety in my head. And the characters were so ‘precious’ to me. Which is, of course, a massive weight to be carrying around. And not very tough. And now that it’s written, I think that I have written the echo of the novel I would have written seven years ago. Which is good. It is purgative to be a bit ruthless with things you have been coddling. I killed off Hampus, the sweet old man, unrepentantly, for example.

I start my journalism course in Brighton next Monday, and we have so much to do. I am ill with some sinus thing, and M is getting his job finished, and somehow we need to move house and say goodbye to Cambridge. I’m not looking forward to being away from M.

And then, to make matters worse, during the first week of the course, there’s going to be bowling. It’s very nice that someone thought to book in an icebreaking activity. As a teacher, I know it can really help group cohesion. But why is it always bowling?

I hate bowling. I hate how it requires you to interrupt perfectly good conversations in order to throw a ball at some skittles. I hate the witless, mechanical “banter”, and the ugly atmosphere of bowling alleys: the cheap vinyl seats and neon, the grey hamburgers, the warm milkshakes. And they’re always located on industrial estates.

Oh. I will try. And in the car on the way home I will listen to The Smiths, who will understand.

Shorthand = short tempers


I STILL haven’t finished my flipping project. I can say that’s it’s a song I’m writing for new baby Jennifer June Anderson, on banjo, because now her Mum and Dad know about it so I’m not revealing the surprise. Here’s the problem… it is IMPOSSIBLE to write a song for a new baby without making yourself weep every time you try to play it.

Plus, I am spending all my time trying to learn shorthand ahead of my journalism course. It’s not easy. LOOK AT IT!

(all mistakes mine)

I started a new blog, which I haven’t had time to write much for yet, but it’s on my to-do list, ok?! So for now I have little to offer except two more videos from last summer’s Camper Van Jamboree. Guess which song is older. Guess which one embarrasses me.

Swallows and Amazons



The adventures of Mini and Maxi Jen.

As predicted, Celia Dunn had a baby (apparently they can’t stay in there forever), and she is a girl, so I feel vindicated. Many of those withered old facebook trouts said it would be a boy, but they are withered and know nothing, even if it was a blooming pregnancy and a small bump and such, and so, Jennifer June Anderson was born on her due date, and here she is with the hippo I made her.

I just got back from a week in the Shropshire Hills, which has left me in a terrible grump because I had a fantastic time smoking and drinking and (the purpose of my trip) learning about journalism from Zoe Williams and Hannah Pool, both wonderfully readable and LOVELY, did I mention lovely? And now I am back in my mother’s house, listening to the dogs barking, worrying about money, and feeling understimulated. The course, which was run by the Arvon Foundation, was a great mix of people, from the ex-wives of millionaires, to radical Christians, to post-apocalyptic lifestylists, to a particularly fantastic personal trainer. It was kind of like being back at university, only better, because everyone was nice to each other despite being politically/socially/financially diverse, and because the food was delicious (local smoked bacon and this fantastic black bread). And even though I was hungover I did get out of bed, unlike at university where I slept through all my supervisions and went around with the terminally guilty look of a philanderer, hiding in bushes if ever I saw my professors. The early rising was partly for the fantastic bread, but also because the morning sessions (which took place in an old barn by a lake) were fantastic. We’d basically start by looking over the papers and then brainstorming ideas for possible G2 features based on news stories, and then we moved on to various other topics, including a session on how to actually sell the drivel you’ve been writing, which at the time made me feel very confident, although increasingly less so. Hannah and Zoe are both very down-to-earth, and human, I suppose. I always assume successful people are robotic, but they weren’t, at all. In the evenings we cooked in teams and then sat in the Ted Hughes room, where we had readings. And views out over blue remembered hills that weren’t blue at all, but yellow because the corn is out.

Knuffelbeestje (cuddlebeastie)

I appear to be on a lucky streak – three wonderful things at once.

After a fantastic weekend riding on trains and watching indie-pop bands in Derbyshire, the man I love asked me to marry him on Monday morning. And I said YES!

Neither of us come from particularly successful marriages. And I think, before we met each other, neither of us believed in marriage. I still don’t “believe in it” in the way I thought I would. I mean, I still think relationships can and should come in all sizes and colours and what not, and sometimes, because I’m human, I miss running around single being irresponsible. But M is kind of integral now. I seem to be more productive, more creative, more loved, happier and freer in this relationship than out of it.

Anyway, I think I shall follow my Grandfather’s example. He never looks more at home than at a celebration. And I think, there is no better sign of greatness, generosity of spirit, than the readiness to celebrate at the drop of a hat. Like celebration is the natural state of the blissful soul. Embracing the world and art and all things, not being mean or cruel or bitter. At the end of Shakespeare’s comedies, when the lovers all marry and it’s a beautiful evening in Athens, and the night is full of stars and nightingales and wildflowers and fairies lighting the way to the marriage bed and LA LA LA!

And I get to wear my grandmother’s ring!

My second piece of good news is that I got accepted onto a course at the Brighton Journalist Works. So I will be learning how to be a hack! I will board with my godmother in Brighton and come back to my family home on weekends. M will be living in the loft, and being fussed over by Mum, who thinks he’s a waif and wants feeding up. And I will be learning shorthand, and how to avoid libel laws, and reading The Rum Diaries.

And thirdly, one of my best friends is about to have a baby! Next post, perhaps??

I am still working on my *top-secret project* which I hope I can share with everyone soon. For now, meet my new sewing creation. He is a knuffelbeestje, as yet unnamed.