Saturday, 28 March 2009

poor mopsy

Urchin of the Rding Stars was written on Star, a Canon Star Writer, which was very high tech for its time and had a built in printer. My first laptop was Topsy, as in Laptopsy. Then when husband was upgrading his, he suggested that I adopt his old one, which was faster and generally more useful than Topsy. I was going to call this one Turvy, but she didn't answer to it, so she became Mopsy.

Mopsy and I had words in the early stages and I had to get my son to speak severely to her, but after that we got on extremely well until Thursday. I had finished work for the day, saved it, and was closing everything down when she suddenly shrieked at me and flashed migraine-like patterns across the screen. Very cautiously, I woke her up again. This time she didn't swear at me, but the MS I'd just been working on has vanished without trace. No, if you must know, I hadn't backed it up. Everything else was still there, but not the last few days work. Gone.

Advice from those who know about these thins is that Mopsy is failing fast and doesn't need a technician so much as a priest. So today we acquired a new little lappy, Cottontail, and husband is presently training her. I shall let you know how we get on. Oh, I hope she doesn't argue.

This evening, like lots of other people all over the world, we put all the lights off for an hour as a call for more responsible use of energy. I don't know how to square this with working my way through Star, Topsy, and Mopsy and starting on Cottontail all in the last thirteen years, (though older son may well be able to make Topsy fit to pass on, and recycle bits of Mopsy). Anybody else have this problem? It's all too fast. I fondly remember our second hand fridge that lasted us for ten years and finally collapsed under the strain of a hot summer, and my mum's washing machine that must have done twenty years and could still have been painted red and used as a telephone box.

And there's a question. When did you last use a telephone box? I LOVE mobile phones, especially now that Very Small God-Daughter has now worked out how to use her big sister's and, if she manages to get hold of it, can phone me All By Herself.

But she's not getting her hands on Cottontail.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Whenever I'm not quite well, I get sleepy, which I suppose is my body's way of telling me to sleep myself better. Even for self-employed people, that isn't always an option. I'm not ill, I just have a little throat infection or something, but I know if I sit down for too long I'll zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Are you still there? Doesn't help that what I've been doing today has been a bit boring. A lot of what writers do is re-typing and reworking and tweaking about with something that still isn't quite right, and that's what I've been doing all week. And then there's 'if this story bores me, what's it doing to the reader', but it's not the story that bores me, it's all the typing, deleting, changing, and then realising that, just when you thought the jigsaw pieces fitted together, page 59 contradicts page 13. And I inadvertently deleted about five pages on Monday.

At five o'clock the phone rang and I had a fascinating conversation with Very Small God-daughter who told me a lovely story. I didn't understand a lot of it, but it began with Hello Margi and ended with Bump. It has been the most exciting thing to happen to me today.

If anyone knows how to stay awake while compelled to keep silent and still in a warm room for a long time while tired, please te...


Sunday, 22 March 2009


Mothering Sunday - thank you to mum, my children, the two lassies, the god-daughter, and all the people who have made my day special today. And a big huge bouguet and a massive hug to all the people who do mothering without being - in the literal sense - mothers. Aunties, steps, neighbours, teachers, carers, friends, who do the mothering thing just because. May you all be loved as you have loved. xxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 19 March 2009


'Er's been off again. Came back, full of the joys of spring, she's just had two days staying somewhere near the sea at the north bit of a whale (or something like that, it's hard to hear with a load of moss in one ear and a dead beetle in t'other.) She's all delighted about the blooming daffies and stuff coming out. What does she expect 'em to do, stay in with a good book?

Anyway, tell you what I just heard. Sitting here on the snail all day, I get all the gossip. You know that Red Nose thing, when they all made idiots of themselves? Apparently, 'er mates had planned to kidnap me and hold me to ransom, but they didn't get their act together. What's so difficult? I'm an old stone gnome on a snail! couldn't they catch me? I'm 'ere! Oy! ' ere! I won't run away! Useless lot.

Pity about that. Would have raised a king's ransom. Gnome's ransom, anyway. Don't know what they'd get for the snail, mind.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Comic Relief

I'm proud to say that I have been working my little bottom off for comic relief and people have been inspiringly generous. Today I just have to inform some of the winners of the competition, the ones I couldn't get hold of yesterday, and put away the cow costume (after school club yesterday) and the fairy costume (quiz last night). All credit to The Lassie, who baked very pretty biscuits which sold out in ten minutes, and lent me her fairy wings for the evening. I regard myself as a minor heroine for going to the quiz last night to pass the hat when I could have been home watching Comic Relief on TV. I hope God is impressed. All right, so my lovely husband recorded it. But it's not the same, is it?

One of the lovely things was the sense of shared vision - wherever you went, people were doing Something Funny for Money. Vision, hard work, fun, and love. Changing lives. What a thing to be part of.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Over the last two days I have written LETTER AFTER LETTER AFTER LETTER AFTER LETTER to young readers and my hand hurts. But it's a lot easier for an adult to write a letter than for a child, and when they've gone to all that trouble it's important to reply in person. I've done a couple of postcards to godchildren, too.

Yes, we have e-mails and I suppose they are more environmentally friendly than letters. But there is something so special about getting a card or a letter through the post, even for an adult, and especially for a child. Always keep a few stamps, general cards, and postcards in the house for when somebody needs a lift. Include funny ones.

A few years ago, I had a little health scare. My best friend phoned on Saturday evening and I wasn't going to tell her, but the third time she asked 'is anything wrong, because you're coming into my head a lot?' I told her. The card arrived on Monday morning. It showed a small person looking faintly worried as she skied over the edge of a cliff, and said something like 'don't panic - God is still in control'.

Skiing over the edge of a cliff may not be recommended, but good friends and cards are priceless.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Hamster at last!

Thursday was World Book Day and the launch of Hammy the Wonder Hamster (only his name is Hamilton). Unfortunately by Thursday morning I was forty hours into a forty-eight hour migraine, and couldn't get excited about anything much. But the good thing about migraines is that they go away.

So does winter, and the air yesterday was spring like. Daffodils are putting their heads up. Unfortunately we're forecast high winds and more snow next week, but I haven't told them that. Bless them.

Monday, 2 March 2009

I don't know

A child's letter to me has just knocked me sideways. She asked me what is the most important thing anyone in Urchin of the Riding Stars says. I hope she doesn't want a quick reply, because I don't know. If any of you have opinions on this, I'd love to hear them. I'm delighted that children are asking intelligent questions about the books, it's just the intelligent answers that I struggle with.

Red Nose Day is bouncing nearer, and I'm trying to get a few things sorted for that. (A competition, a stall, a party, story-telling, a wee kidnapping, you know the sort of thing). Have you seen the website? On 13 March, all the best noses will be red.