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Pickle Me This

May 23, 2005

Sailing take me away nani nani

London was splendid, saw so many people, replenished my wardrobe and bought a beautiful wedding dress. Had a wonderful time with Bronwyn, Paul and I got drunk together, Claire found us mochi and I saw Adam and Ainsley at their party, for the first time in years. It was a great week, and Stu came down for the end of it. We had our fun. Moreover the weekend papers were excellent. I have become enamoured with The Independent. We went to the Notting Hill Oxfam which was like a designer boutique and I got “The Peppered Moth” by Margaret Drabble for two quid. And we went to a book sale underneath the Waterloo Brige (millions of people swarming like flies round Waterloo Underground). I got a book by Alice Thomas Ellis, who I discovered recently via this obit on a fascinating life. On the train journey there and back, I read the two stories in Carol Shields’ “Duets” and that woman was brilliant. I also got a copy of Mslexia. So it was a great week for learning. I missed meeting Priscilla Presley signing her new book in Waterstones on Oxford Street by two hours. But I did catch her in the Observer Review.

Happy Slapping is sweeping the nation! A bizarre ritual of public violence and humilation is all the rage with the kids. Maybe the same kids who wear hoodies, which have become the disparaged apparel of late. They were banned from a shopping mall in Kent. Perhaps hoodies are only difficult when you police your nation with CCTV but what do I know? I do know that England has social problems galore, and happy slapping is the tip of the ice berg, but that many of these problems are precipitated by inane tabloids concocting trends with their headlines screaming delightful catchphrases.

And no wonder I loved the weekend papers! Joan Didion was profiled in the Guardian Review.

I haven’t been writing much since we got to England. There’s been too much else to read- in a way Japan was helpfully isolating and now there is far too much candy. I have also snapped the prong off my plug adapter for my computer so who knows when I’ll write again? I seem to be destroying technology left right and centre tonight. However one interesting thing has been happening with my novel. For a time, the hero had a gay relationship. Then I realised, first there were too many gay people in my story as it was, but moreover that it wasn’t believable. So Kevin’s boyfriend “Gary” became “Charlene”. I did it via auto-change and rereading it again was really interesting. Gary had been fat and unsympathetic, but there was something disturbing about such a characterisation for a woman. As well, Gary was irritating and in one scene Kevin is nearly moved to hit him. That could NOT happen to Charlene, it just couldn’t. Lots of re-writing ahead, but it’s interesting what you learn along the way.

Further current events, I am obsessed with the Penguin 70th Birthday editions! I have bought Virginia Woolfs, and want Zadie Smith as well as others. There is inevitable controversy though, as only two of the 70 writers are black. I understand this virtual non-representatio is a problem, but at the same time my heart is with Penguin’s somewhat languid defense- that they never really thought about race in compiling, that it was to be a selection of Penguin’s top-sellers and that James Baldwin is not one of them, and that publishing under-represented people was never really their forte anyway. I just think it’s a wonderful collection, though I suppose if there were only two women represented my blood would be boiling. It’s a difficult situation and only too relative.

Off to Blackburn Lancashire tomorrow (four thousand holes! though they are rather small- hope they don’t make me count them all) to get our marriage licence. You might remember Blackburn as the registry office where they make all us foreigners go before we get married. Lets cross our fingers for smooth sailing.

After all this time, I still love Eastenders.

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