Friday 27 April 2007

The Penultimate One

I am sleep-deprived and not making any sense today. James had a friend for a sleepover last night and we spent half the night playing musical beds. I think I managed about two hours in total and the whole day has taken on a rather surreal air. Actually I think I might wake up at any moment and discover that the columnist shortlist is all a dream!
I’m not saying the finalists aren’t good – they’re fine (or, as Bill says, will be with a bit of judicious editing). But I am very surprised that the list is so short and that obvious contenders aren’t there. Some, I think (Eden and Milla spring to mind) are actually too good for a column – they should be writing novels or short stories. Others (lixtroll, westerwitch, maitreyi etc) are possibly too left-field (and I mean that in SUCH a good way) and far too creative for mere journalism. But that leaves a fat seam of excellent writers who I was gobsmacked to find weren’t included. While there were so many I loved, I had my money on CL choosing someone with a bit of a theme – and was half-expecting (and rather hoping) to be reading My Life on a Remote Island or Diary of a New Restaurant Owner or We Inherited a Moat or We Fled to Devon (but I still Fly to London).

I just hope you won’t be too discouraged and will carry on writing. It’s funny but, when the competition started, I confess I was a bit miffed at all these people flooding the site, not apparently blogging for the joy of it but for the prize of a column. But I have so forgotten all that and love your work and your insights into country life – whether heavy or lite, whether issue-laden or brimming with wine and lippy.

In another, funny, way I’m not that unpleased with the shortlist. It leaves us merry band of bloggers all in the same boat (apart from those sensible souls who didn’t enter) and will surely bond us all even closer together…nothing like a bit of shared adversity. And, by heck, it will liven up the chat room (I am going to have to go in and cancel my ‘notify new posts’ on jackofall’s thread as new emails are pinging in every second!).

Anyhow, back in the real world, lack of sleep is telling on me. I spent the morning editing two chapters of my ‘author’s’ book and then managed to save the unedited version rather than the edited so have lost the whole lot.

So I switched to researching a feature on addiction and laughed my head off as I realised that most of us are suffering from CCU (compulsive computer use)! I also read a fascinating feature on the Telegraph online by Lesley Garner (who is a fabulous writer and damn nice person to boot) about on-line bullying in chat rooms and blog sites (which made for very interesting reading).

Meanwhile I could hear the boys outside doing what all small boys should do on a fine day like this. They were building a den, aided and abetted by Asbo, hunting amongst the beech trees for suitable fallen timber (under strict instructions not to disturb ones that were obviously very old and providing homes for bugs). I was called up to inspect the den and a very fine one it is too, snug between the beech hedge, a rhododendron and a young birch.

They came in briefly to refuel and pick up a picnic and took off for the river for a little bit of damming before lunch. Next up it was a game of cricket and now I can see them vanishing off into the bracken with Adrian hunting for antlers. I do hope they find at least one (I’m almost tempted to sneak out and plant one of our old ones so Nathan has something to take home with him)….but that would be cheating I suppose (and we don’t want that, no sirreee).

Anyhow, dear bloggers. No matter what we may privately think or publicly say about the competition I think we need to hang on to the fact that it has introduced us to wonderful people all over the world. As many of you have said today, if it hadn’t been for the competition, you wouldn’t have started blogging. And that, I think we can all agree, would be a sad thing indeed. Courage, mes braves, and I can’t wait for Blossom to come back beautified and give us the tale from the horse’s mouth!

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