Thursday 26 April 2007

Milla comes clean

January 2007

There are good days, and bad days, and yesterday was (against all the odds) a good ‘un. It started with the deep pink bruise of a sky that, although you know it augurs bad weather, is always such an awe-inspiring sight that it kickstarts the day into a good mood.

I figured Adrian and I needed a break. Even though we both work from home, we’re so busy we barely see one another. We’ve also been pretty demoralised about the lack of a sale. So I said I’d treat him to lunch at the Thai restaurant in town. This is a miracle of a place – where you can get an absolutely stunning lunch for a tenner. I had chicken satay, red prawn curry, jasmine rice and salad (with those gorgeous carved carrot flowers) and it was utterly divine. And we talked – for the first time in ages – about the house and what we were going to do. For once we were sensible and deeply grown-up. We agreed that we had fallen recklessly and foolishly in love with a totally insane house and that, were we not to get it, it might not be the life-threatening disaster we had assumed. Then we even discussed the possibility (never before admitted) that maybe we would have to Look Further Afield. And I mentioned a farmhouse near C, and he mentioned a cottage out on the moor – and neither of us flinched or shuddered or threw our toys out of the pram.

Replete, we trolled into B (fabulous interiors shop) feeling mellow and relaxed, and had a fascinating conversation with Jane, the owner, about elves and fairies (as you do). She’d seen a programme about a chap on Dartmoor who totally believes in magical creatures and will, apparently, talk to any you may have who are feeling hard done by or unappreciated (which is probably a lot, given that few people I know are on nodding terms with their household elves). This led on to discussions about dark magic. I had some fascinating emails from a fellow CL poster who used to live near us – but about twenty years ago – and she told how there used to be a black magic circle meeting in the woods not far from our house, and that half the locals were involved!

‘Who? Who?’ I demanded, desperate for some truly sensational gossip. Trying hard to imagine the local farmers or the solid church-going village shop keeper clad in black robes (or less) prancing round a bane-fire. But she was either being discrete or simply didn’t remember…..nary a name appeared. But all the same, it was fabulous stuff – especially for a winter’s afternoon.
We came back, did a smidge of work and then picked up James before decamping to Woods for our usual Friday evening drink (reading back, this makes freelancing sound like an idyllic life, but trust me, it isn’t always such fun). Rumbled back over the moor and saw two new tawny owls sitting, like sentinels, on either side of the drive. As we drove up, one stayed blinking slowly while the other flew ahead of us, leading the way home. They were both quite young – and it was lovely to see them. We usually have a pair of tawnies roosting in the abandoned farm building above the house but we hadn’t seen any for a while.

Got the fire in the living room going, lit tons of candles and settled down for a quiet evening. Prompted by magical creatures and spooky goings on, we read M R James, the perfect accompaniment to a log fire and candle-light. James played the guitar a bit and I have to say it was all pretty idyllic.
‘Maybe it’s not the end of the world if we don’t move,’ I said to A.
‘Hmm, maybe,’ he murmured, nose in a cook book. ‘Moroccan chicken or kebabs?’

Btw, so funny that Milla fessed up to our friendship. I had been nagging her to write a blog for ages. She is (as many of you have noticed) a stunning writer and should – by all that is fair and noble – be writing her novel really. But she refuses to believe how good she is and does a professional line in self-deprecation. The blog’s the place, I insisted – where you just get into the habit of writing every day (hopefully) and don’t have time for self-criticism and endless rewriting. And so it is turning out. Frankly, if I wrote like she did when she was – shall we say - lightly inebriated, I’d be drinking a vat of wine every day. Drunken blogging? Maybe we should all try it.

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