Friday 27 April 2007

Milla blog

I’m not sure I can write this blog. Every time I start thinking about today I start laughing again and I sincerely mustn’t laugh the way I did earlier or I will rupture something for sure. So I am going to think soothing, calming thoughts……soothing and calming, soothing and calming.

Let me tell you how I met Milla. I had decided that I wanted to write The Novel (like so many others looking for an easy way to earn a living at home in the middle of nowhere). So I trekked off to The Hurst, near Clun in Shropshire to do an Arvon Foundation course. This was at the height of my six-year patch of insomnia so I spent most of the journey slapping my face to keep awake and arrived feeling decidedly delicate and ever-so slightly paranoid.
A small huddle of people were gathered on the terrace but I only really noticed one – a slim woman dressed entirely in black with wild dark hair and plum lipstick, with a glass of wine in one hand and a fag in the other. She’s going to be my new best friend, I decided without a second’s hesitation. Isn’t it funny how there are just a few rare people in this world that you know, just know, without even speaking, that you will ‘click’. And so it was. The course was terrifying but wonderful – led by the novelists Philip Hensher (truly inspirational, did a lot of swinging from beams) and Susan Elderkin (the landscape lady, Eden) and there was monstrously good talent there. It was actually so terrifying that one woman fled into the night without even saying goodbye.

Since then (four years is it?) neither Milla nor I have written our novels (which, in the case of Milla is seriously a crime) but we have kept in touch and meet up when we can, and email far too frequently.
So…..sorry, took a while to get there…..Beer God dumped me outside her new (to me) house and I chatted with E while Milla finished off her game of tennis (the wretched woman runs too). The reviled cat was reclining in a plant pot outside the front door looking innocent. I witnessed the space that is waiting patiently for the foul and feckless builders to transform it into a stunning kitchen. I spotted the boxes, six deep in places, around which the poor woman negotiates her life.

Clonteen, this woman has SERIOUS bird feeding gear. She also knits and is an accomplished needlewoman and craftsperson which I don’t think she has ever mentioned in the blogs. And she has a footpath running outside her back garden, DevonLife – and E apparently delights at shouting rude things to ramblers. Plus, I can vouch, she has a lot of smart yellow unpronounceable things in her garden.

We walked down to the infamous Post Office and had a coffee – ah ‘twas like stumbling onto the set of Eastenders – some place previously fictional, now made all so real. Creme eggs were purchased. We then walked the perimeter of the village to the pub for lunch. So far, so civilised. Then we sat down with a bottle and started talking about you all – bet your ears were burning – about the rough and the smooth in your lives, the funny and the poetic, the mud and the hens. Of course there was some conjecture and, OK a dollop of gossip (nothing malicious) and (hands up) some pure unadorned jealousy about the limpid quality of so much of your writing.

‘Oh my God,’ said Milla. ‘Do you realise we haven’t talked about our children, our families, our work, our real lives at all?’
‘Damn it, you’re right,’ I replied, filling my glass. ‘All we’ve done is talk about people we have never met!’
‘We don’t even know their real names,’ said Milla.
‘We don’t even know if we’re really reading about their lives,’ I countered. ‘After all, we only have it on their say-so that they are really out there, rearing hens and wading though mud.’
‘They might be men living in Leeds!’
‘In fact they might all be making it all up……maybe Frances is the only real rural person and she’s really a pig farmer in Essex.’

At this point, it all got too much and we started laughing so much that we couldn’t stop. You know when you get hysterical and the tears are falling down your face making your mascara streak? So hard that your ribs start hurting? The people on the next table were straining as hard as they could to hear what we were saying but in the end the laughter was so contagious that they started giggling too, blithely unaware of what was causing the mirth.

We laughed all the way, dodging magnolia trees and daffodil banks. We were still laughing when we got to the house, much to the consternation of E and Adrian who were talking in a sober restrained bloke way about cider.
We tried to explain but they just looked deeply puzzled and gave little knowing glances of the ‘they’ve had too much to drink’ variety.
Ah, but it was hard to say goodbye. We took a pic for posterity (to show we really are real and do exist and aren’t policemen from Chichester.)

But really, how wonderful, that we could talk for nearly four hours about you all (and, in all seriousness, it was kind, fond, ‘what nice people we know’ chat).
‘I’m so glad I introduced you to the website,’ I said.
‘It’s the best thing you ever did,’ said she.
So there you have it. Bloggers united.

PS – wordsmith, me too! I thought the same thing – but I do think the website people are maybe different from the fair people…..
Truthhurts – good plan!
@themill – you bet chillis from Northumberland….Trees Can’t Dance – from Coanwood.
Carolyn – Pure Alchemy is fabulous. Michelle Roques-O’Neill is one of the best aromatherapists I have come across (and I’ve met a fair few) – her blends aren’t cheap but are pretty special.

PPS – my nail is still shining - but the eye is back to being wrinkly……

PPPS: Frances, we did think about twin blogging, but Milla is ever impatient and couldn’t wait until I got down the motorway before starting without me!

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