Deep-Fried Marshmallows

If you’ve ever worked with clients, you’ll probably know what I mean by this short story.

Fish_n_chips“The thing is with clients… they know for sure what they don’t want, but seldom know what they do want.”

“Too right! You’re expected to be part magician/part mind reader.”

“My mind reading skills have failed me of late.”

“Well, the usual trick is to give them the opposite of what they asked for.”

“Mmm, might work. When I gave them what they requested, they hated it.”

“Oh – they really didn’t like the battered, deep-fried marshmallows with ketchup?”

“Not one bit of it.”

“You could try fish, and maybe serve it with some fried potatoes?”

“I’ll give it a shot.”

 

©Emma Baird 2016

Magic

She countered the insomnia by making up stories in her head. Thinking about her working day or her life led her down too many rabbit holes and the minutes ticked by as her thoughts kept her wide awake.

The stories on the other hand… she gave herself magical powers in all of them. Abilities to fly, to be invisible, to conjure up objects out of thin air. All in direct contrast to her humdrum existence. Sometimes, she just pretended she was rich and successful, and imagined how her life might be.

She preferred the version with magic powers, in truth.

 

©Emma Baird 2016

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey PrattA Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt by Jean Lucey Pratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Notable Woman is an extraordinary book – painful reading at times, but very worthwhile. Simon Garfield has edited the journals of a 20th century woman. Jean Lucey Pratt kept journals for 61 years up until a couple of months before her death and the journals record her daily life, her feelings and what was going on at the time.

There are small details that make it incredibly fascinating – Jean loved cats for example, and there is the question about how you fed cats during the Second World War, and there is also her growing realisation that her cigarette habit is doing serious harm to her health (smoking having been thought of as mostly harmless up until the 1950s).

But most of the book is about Jean’s loneliness. It makes for very painful reading at times and you rather wish a nice man would come along – or rather, that she would stop falling for such awful cads. Her descriptions of people are rather fabulous, if often unflattering, but there’s bravery running through the writing, a kind of unflinching determination to write about herself and what is going on in truthful terms.

The book is a perfect choice for book groups, as it is bound to elicit plenty of discussion. Just a warning though – it’s a whopper (700 plus pages).

View all my reviews

Cute Shoe Alert!

new shoesIf you write a book that features cats and you happen to love them yourself, then a pair of shoes like this are a necessary purchase, wouldn’t you agree?

FYI, they are by Irregular Choice. Apparently Irregular Choice aficionados protect the sole by never wearing the shoe outside or persuading a kind friend to piggy-back them everywhere.

This is not an option for me, so the sole will not be preserved in its beauty for all eternity – although, like most high heeled shoes, these are staggeringly uncomfortable after a while and marching down the street for a long period of time whilst wearing them isn’t an option…

On Writing my first book

A writer colleague of mine has this to say about writing her first book (which is out in January)…

Jane Tulloch

Well I’ve done it now. My first book is released in January 2016. Unbelievable!  Plucking up courage to tell people I’ve written a book wasn’t easy. There tends to be several reactions: either blank astonishment, a curling lip and disbelief, sometimes compliments and pleasure at my having done it at all, or a flurry of questions about the process.

At times it seems to me that half the people I meet are writing or planning to write a book and the other half is asking how do I do it. Where do I get my ideas from? What gets my writing juices flowing? Why?

No easy answers but it did set me thinking. Now I’ve done a bit more writing and am looking to writing in the longer term I’ve been reflecting on this.

The “how” is quite straightforward. Creating a story seems to me to be like creating a painting…

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58. Send in the pussy whisperers

One clever chap I follow has made it his mission to post a flash fiction story EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m so impressed. I like all of his stories, but this one in particular appealed…

300 stories

Send in the pussy whisperers, the director yelled.

The shot had been attempted a dozen times and he still hadn’t gotten the right close-up. Which was annoying cause the pussy shot was going to be the prime selling point for the movie. It was to feature prominently in the trailer and be the focal point of the poster. Hell, the movie itself was going to be called ‘Taming Pussy’. So without this shot there would not even be a movie. Time to send in the pros.

In came Linda and Vicky, the pair of lesbians whom the tongue-in-cheek crew had called pussy whisperers from day one of the shoot. They kneeled down and worked their magic.

On the sidelines the first grip and sound recorder chatted.

That’s a lot of pussy, the first grip said.

You’d think someone would have noticed, the sound recorder replied.

On set Linda and…

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Goodbye The Bridget Jones Years… It’s Been Fun!

Regular readers may dissent, but my blog was originally wedding-themed – mine specifically – and started last year ahead of the big event which is now in, ooh, today.*

Wedding planning is a little bit fun and a little bit bonkers. There is a fluffy pink rollercoaster of a ride waiting to sweep up the unprepared and gullible bride to be as she sets out in her preparations. “Ooh,” you find yourself nodding along sagely to a saleswoman/man, “y’know that horse-drawn carriage complete with plumed horses and footmen does sound pretty unique and romantic, now you come to mention it.”

Reader dear, I resisted most of it. I batted off people trying to flog me table decorations, I ignored the pleas of wedding stationery retailers and I decided against an on site make-up artist. I also felt an engagement photo shoot was not necessary (can you imagine, you walk into our house to be greeted by a huge portrait of me and my beloved grinning at each other cheesily – it would put you right off your dinner) and we certainly would not need a wedding video.

I had a budget in mind and I stuck to it** so I’ll share with you the wisdom of moi a la the home-made bride:

Red Velvet wedding cake

Red Velvet wedding cake

Make your own cake! No, really decorating it the day before is so soothing, so relaxing so guaranteed to bond you and your beloved together as you saw through half-frozen cakes and argue (gently) over the smoothness of your sugar paste.

On the plus side, the ingredients cost £30, plus I had to splash out on £17 for two cake tins. A quick Google search reveals your average three tier wedding cake costs upwards of £250.

Create your own favours. Now this I write without mockery – this particular endeavour was a great deal of fun. In October last year, we stockpiled local brambles, steeped them in sugar and vodka and left the mix in kilner jars under the stairs for several months. Following a quick pre-wedding quality control check (hic!), the liqueur was pronounced fit for consumption and we ordered bottles and labels online.

Two for tea - and bramble vodka for one

Two for tea – and bramble vodka for one

Favour 2 (for the ladies) was little bits of millionaire’s shortbread cut up into tiny pieces and individually wrapped, then presented in a china tea cup and saucer, obtained from several trips to charity shops. (The ones in the posher parts of Edinburgh yielded the best results).

I even went so far as to make my own chocolates too as prizes for a game. Tempering chocolate isn’t difficult, though it is rather tedious but you get much better-looking results as you can see from this picture. Instructions for tempering chocolate in the microwave (and other ways) are available here.

The difference between tempered and untempered chocs...

The difference between tempered and untempered chocs…

My brother-in-law is a talented graphic designer so he designed the invites and I emailed these out to save on postal costs.

For the beauty stuff I booked in to a beauty counter in John Lewis for a long-lasting make-up lesson. (Bobbi Brown – it’s really informative, but make yourself be firm about just how many products you are going to buy at the end).

And finally the flowers, we bought vases from Ikea (ten of, £1.75 each) and the day before, we went to the local supermarket, bought five cheap bouquets and divided them up amongst the vases for the table.
As you read this, I will be about to say ‘I do’. I will bid a fond farewell to the single/unmarried years (hey, they were fun…) and hello to Mr and Mrs Life. Another chapter of life begins.

 

*Marvellous modern invention – scheduling so I’m cheating by writing this a day ahead.

**More or less, A few more items of skincare and make-up than were strictly necessary crept into my shopping bag.