Words from the week

Firstly, I ficced! I got home last Friday night and felt in need of some cute puppy snuggles with a side of naughty teasing. So I wrote some. Titled “It is Halloween, John. What did you expect?” it involves Sherlock, John, and a Labrador puppy. What more could you possibly need?

Do I hear you say a theatre review would be nice? Just as well, because I have one all ready for you. On Tuesday I went to see the dramatization of Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy at the Wolverhampton Grand, including a Q&A with the director and actors beforehand. My full review is here but the short version is “absolutely loved it, go and see it if you can”.

NaNoWriMo is upon us once more and once again I am joining in. That said, I’m being a rebel this year and using the challenge as a way to get some progress on the WIPs of shame. Thus far I’ve managed to get a one-shot that’s been hanging around half finished completely re-written and I’m nearly done with my WWI submissions too. I’ve written every day, even if haven’t hit the daily word count, and I’m brimming over with positivity. Which is nice.

Actually, the upbeatness where my writing is concerned could be down to spending the weekend at Gladstone’s Library for their Hearth event. I attended two very inspiring workshops, one called “Dialogue as Action” and the other “Spinning Facts in Historical Fiction” that have given me some new, and invaluable, tools in case of word drought or plot failure. There were also two panel events – with James Runcie, Lucy Gough, Rebecca Abrams and Patricia Bracewell – both held by a roaring fire in the Gladstone room (hence the event being called Hearth) and the stories the authors shared made me feel a lot less alone in some of my fears and idiosyncrasies. They also made me laugh until my sides ached. Add to that spending time catching with people I’d met at the library on other visits and making some new acquaintances and it was a really wonderful experience.

Bonfire night (and the weeks either surrounding it – seriously, our parish council thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to host a huge fireworks display on 15th November) remains a time of trial and terror for both me and Dog, who has never recovered from the idiocy of my ex-husband deciding to set off homemade fireworks in the back garden without warning. Dog remains terrified of all loud noises, to the point that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing, just that she wants to get away and ends up trying to claw her way through walls or floor whilst physically shaking. Although I am not in the least bothered by the fireworks, I am upset beyond belief by how it affects Dog. It’s distressing to watch and very difficult to know how to deal with. The sedatives recommended by the vet, whilst stopping her physically being able to harm herself, do nothing for her mentally – probably making her more terrified in fact since she’s unable to move properly and has no idea why. None of the calming drops, diffusers, lotions and CDs that are commercially available work either. So she is placed in the kitchen, where she is least likely to harm herself, with the extractor fan on full blast (white noise) and the radio set to Classic FM. It’s the best solution I can come up with but I hate shutting her away.

The realisation that in seven weeks exactly Christmas Day will be drawing to a close is somewhat concerning (please note that I am utilising the great British tradition of understatement with the use of the somewhat). I have much to do, present wise, as I decided this year should involve the knitting of items for several of my friends. Add that to the need to source enough small gifts to fill stockings for both my parents and find suitable presents for my teenage niece and nephew and what seemed perfectly doable last week suddenly seems like an insurmountable problem. Maybe I shall look for bits and bobs whilst I’m in London this weekend. No, there is no maybe, I shall.

I can’t not mention what happened yesterday, because it made me ridiculously happy given that it has literally nothing to do with me and no impact on my life whatsoever, however ….

Benedict Cumberbatch is engaged to be married to Sophie Hunter.

I couldn’t be more pleased for them both and I hope they have a long and happy future together. I was less happy about the way the journalists reported the engagement (no, his fans are not all sobbing and wailing and claiming their hearts are broken, stop using lazy stereotypes and practice some real journalism for a change – in other words do your research) but it did have one benefit; this morning when I arrived at work I was offered – entirely tongue in cheek – tea and sympathy by three of my colleagues and given chocolate by a fourth. Whilst their actions highlight that I don’t keep quiet about the things I enjoy in life, least of all my liking for BC, and gave us all a good laugh it also reminded me how lucky I am to work in a team of people I genuinely like and who seem to like me.

But more importantly than all of that, Dog had her tenth Birthday on Monday! She’s therefore seventy in dog years, which is pleasing and worrying in equal measure. Her muzzle is certainly showing the passage of time but she can still be as daft and puppyish as ever, as well as being one of the sweetest natured dogs I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

Birthday presents comprised of a large chew, a new squeaky toy and some tasty titbits in her dinner. She seemed suitably appreciative:

Now if only I could switch the firework noises off for her!

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