Where, the poet TS Eliot once famously asked, is the summer, the absolute zero summer? Of course, to make it all the more poignant, Eliot was talking about how remote summer seems in the depths of midwinter – not a few days before the longest day – but it’s still a good question.
Because after a couple of weeks of glorious sunshine Britain has been pounded by wind and rain, with storms going round giving everything a good kicking like a bored motorcycle gang in a 1960s out-of-season seaside town. The south of England has gone from being a designated drought area to underwater in just a few days. (A typical British summer, in other words, I hear you say.)
Here in Caithness it’s all very confusing. One the one hand, it’s broad daylight till after 10.30 at night (which makes drawing the curtains at bedtime seem just wrong); on the other hand we’ve dusted off the hot water bottles and have the heating on. Migrating birds give you accusing stares as you pass them by, huddled and shivering down by the river, as if you’re personally responsible and this wasn’t what they were told to expect from the brochure.
Suddenly knitting ganseys doesn’t seem so incongruous. I have finished the back, consisting of an 8-inch armhole topped with another inch of “rig and fur” shoulder strap (purl, purl, knit, knit, x 3). The front will be exactly the same, except for the neckline. I tend to get the knitting equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome during gansey projects, so I fall in love with each one and think they’re the best ever – I’m told mothers experience something similar – but I am very impressed with this pattern. And it should be warm: the myriad ridges caused by the steps, or ladders, will provide lots of pockets for warm air to nestle next to the body.
Well, it’s been a month since my novel was launched on an unsuspecting world, and astonishingly it’s still selling (I’ve almost earned enough in royalties to buy a takeaway to celebrate – mind you, at 30% of 99 cents a time, it’s gonna take a while). Many thanks again to everyone who downloaded a copy, and especially to those who took the trouble to write a review. The book has now garnered a gratifying six reviews – three on the Amazon.com and three on Amazon.co.uk.
I’m preparing my next novel, The Bone Fire, for publication in August, doing the final proofing. I now have software that lets me more easily export documents as kindle-friendly files, so what I’d like to do is offer readers of this blog the opportunity to get an advance free copy; all I ask is that you undertake to try to read it before the middle of August, and then – if you like it – post a review on Amazon when it’s published, to hopefully give it a boost. (Of course, if you don’t get round to reading it, don’t like it or finish it, don’t worry – this is just an experiment. We won’t fall out over it!)
Anyway, if you’re interested, just drop me an email at email@example.com to register and I’ll send you the book in kindle format as a .mobi file in the next week or so.
Bread. Not bagels, alas (sorry Tamar) – I had a migraine this weekend, so I wasn’t up for anything complicated. Instead, I made some flatbread, yeasted bread you roll out flat like tortillas and cook in a skillet. They don’t need any oil, but I had a bottle of olive oil in the cupboard, the kind you spray like underarm deodorant (n.b., be very careful not to get your boxes mixed up when moving house, cos one time… Well, anyway. Not as bad as the time I confused the tube of shaving cream with toothpaste, but still). The oil adds a sort of smoky barbecue flavour to the flatbread (not to mention your eyebrows), and it’s all very quick and easy; and, the way the summer is going, it’s the closest we’ll get to a barbecue for quite a while…