The problem with a blog is that, like keeping a diary, it’s harder to find time for it when you’re busy doing things about which it might subsequently be interesting to read. Consequently old journals are full of fascinating accounts of visits to the gym and coffee with the girls and it’s only when one ends abruptly with a sheaf of blank pages that I can tell life became more complicated. Which is my excuse for falling silent for the best part of a year. My aim is to try to write at least one post a month, so we’ll see how I do.

Mostly it’s been family commitments that have kept me away from my computer – elderly parents, teenage children, the usual – but I’ve also been teaching, and one job has led to another, until now I’m schlepping all over London, trying variously to help younger children unlock their creativity and older ones pass exams. I have been writing a bit, too: I signed up for NanNoWriMo, which for those of you who don’t already know is a scheme aimed primarily at people who need encouragement to finish a book. The idea is that you produce 50,000 words during November, which works out at 1,700 words per day. I managed this for the first few days, but only by staying up until 3 am, not something I wanted to sustain for a whole month, but I did manage to bring the total word count for my novel in progress to over 50,000 words. Then I met my former Goldsmiths tutor, Pam Johnson (see her excellent blog, Words Unlimited) at the launch of my friend Sara Grant’s novel, Dark Parties and she recommended doing what she’s doing with a group of writer friends: each sending the others 500 words a week. So that’s what I’m doing with my friend Emily. Nothing concentrates the writer’s mind like a deadline, and even I can’t find an excuse for not writing that amount.

I’ve been to a few plays – mostly at the National, because their £12 tickets are all we can afford nowadays: A Woman Killed by Kindness, One Man, Two Guvnors, Juno and the Paycock, but we did splash out for the Catherine Tate/David Tennant Much Ado and just before Christmas, finally got to see Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, which was well worth it, as Mark Rylance’s performance was just as dazzling as everyone had said it was. Not so sure about the other one, though: I enjoyed it, but although Tennant was good, Catherine Tate was mostly Catherine Tate – and sometimes Frankie Howerd. I don’t see any problem with star vehicles that draw in a wider audience, but if the point is to attract people who don’t normally go to the theatre, surely there should be some attempt to win them over to the unique qualities of a theatre experience, rather than serving them up more of what they’re used to? I should have liked to see Ralph Fiennes Prospero, but I would have needed to remortgage the house to afford tickets. The way things are going in the West End, it won’t be long before going to see a play is as expensive as going to the opera – which, I suppose, is why directors want people off the telly to attract the punters, who are more expensive to hire, and so it goes on…

Another cultural highlight of last summer was the chance to dress up in medieval costume and wander through the streets around Borough market handing out leaflets for a Poet in the City talk on Chaucer. Although the sleeves got in the way a bit, I soon forgot that I was wearing costume, so I was teken aback when some tourists asked to have their picture taken with me…

Anyone who knows me well will be relieved to learn that I wasn’t among those selected to carry the Olympic torch. My children thought it was hysterical that anyone might even consider putting a flaming object in my hand and sending me running through a built-up area, but luckily there were enough rather more worthy candidates to fill the places. At least now London is safe from conflagration.

Being nominated to carry the torch didn’t help us get any tickets, though, despite the fact that we live in an Olympic borough, so we’re just going to have to keep our heads down – or move away for the duration – while the Games are on.

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