“We are literally living the twelve days of Christmas. Last night was the seventh carol service, six grown-ups parties in a row, we have had five flute concerts, four children’s parties, three work events, two elderly parents staying and only missing the Partridge because I haven’t made it to Waitrose yet.”
So reads the email this morning from the friend who has been making me laugh ever since we were sixteen. All the mad rushing around and suddenly it really does seem like Christmas.
Here’s this scene set for a family party at home yesterday that marks the point for us when the festive season truly starts. As befits a Georgian house (built circa 1750) the dining room is cosy and lit only by candles. It may be an affectation, but when we renovated the house and took out neon strip lighting (nice) we very deliberately decided not to have any electric lighting in here. In all the years since, we’ve never regretted it and our dinners and winter lunches with friends and family have always taken place in a warm convivial glow against the dusky red walls.
The tree has been dressed, most of the shopping is in, presents are wrapped, and now it’s just a question of keeping up with the entries on the calendar.
All writing stopped with the end of the school term and the really important concerns of life like the promised iPhone for the Teenager and the logistics of the Rhianna concert at the O2 in London. Still, as all Two Regular Readers of this sadly neglected blog may know, there was a word count in operation before Christmas, and the results are in. I was aiming for 50,000 words, and managed 48,000 of the first draft of the new novel before deciding to hive off a section and make that into a separate novella. That now stands at 12,000 words, so all in all I’m feeling pretty pleased. Or I would be if I weren’t convinced that at least 30,000 were rubbish. They may well be, in which case I will simply have to try harder in the New Year.
For those who are curious about the setting and subject matter, I can reveal that I am back in the lavender fields of Provence during the Second World War. Those pictures of the workers haunted me (you can see them here) and life couldn’t really have been as apparently simple there as Bénédicte claimed in The Lantern, could it?
Anyway, I raise a glass to you all and wish you a happy and calm week before Christmas!