Monday, 29 November 2010

Snow and superficiality

Enough tinkering … I sent the book off yesterday afternoon while the snow swirled outside my window.  I didn’t think it was too bad think when I read it through, although I made such swingeing cuts that I began to get worried that I wasn’t going to have enough words in the end.  So that’s another book moved from my ‘to do’ pile to my editor’s, for the next few days at least. 

I’ve checked the proofs for the first book in this ‘royal’ duet too  - another job done.  Ordinary Girl in a Tiara will be out next June.  For a week or so I could keep my fingers crossed that William and Kate would plump for a June wedding and make for a fabulous tie-in, but I understand they’re going for April instead.  How selfish can you get? 

So today is one of the those days when I really love being a writer, i.e. when I don’t have to apply myself to the pesky business of actually writing.  I do have plenty of other jobs to do, but I awarded myself a day off anyway.  One of my oldest friends is staying for our annual Advent shopping trip.  We’ve been doing exactly the same thing for the past 18 years, and the whole two days has become a ritual that is an essential part of the year for both of us. 

We start with the Advent service in the Minster, which we stumbled into quite by accident that first year.  Poking our noses into the nave, we found a candle thrust into our hands, and then quite suddenly all the lights were switched off.  We were still wondering what was happening when a pure voice started singing, and a single candle appeared in the darkness as the choir processed through the shadows to the back of the cathedral where we were standing with our mouths open.  Slowly the huge nave filled with candlelight as the flame passed from one person to the next.  Magical.  It was especially atmospheric last night as we walked up through the snow.

After the service we come back here for dinner (for those foodies amongst you, last night’s offering was champagne and smoked salmon, a Cypriot lamb dish that Barbara Hannay made for me once and which I have been trying to recreate ever since, and St Clement’s cream, a deliciously fresh mouthful to end a meal).  Today was rather less spiritually uplifting, but enormously satisfying all the same: Christmas shopping, brunch at Betty’s (a York institution) and a frenzy at the Chanel counter.  I’m shamefully susceptible to smart packaging, and am usually a sucker for serums and complexes, the more nonsensical the better, but we were in make up mode today, and splurged on eyeliners and nail polishes.  Superficial R Us. 

After heavy snow yesterday, the city was looking like a Christmas card.  The snow looks beautiful when it’s pristine like this – here’s my garden first thing this morning – so I’m making the most of it before the inevitable slush.  Just like I've made the most of today before lashing myself back to the keyboard.  Tomorrow I'm starting a new book …

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