Category Archives: work

On the market …

Life news:

Our flat is finally on the market (hurrah!) and can be found in all its Victorian glory at RightMove. All reasonable offers considered, naturally. Everyone does seem to love (or hate!) our zebra rug, but hey that zebra was one class act. Even had its own seat on the train when K brought it all the way back from north London some years ago …

We’ve also been continuing to view properties and have a list of 3 so far that we’d like to view again if they’re still available by the time we find our own buyer: one in Godalming in a location to die for, gloriously spacious rooms and with a garden you’d have to bring a telescope to see the end of; one in Normandy which was really lovely (apart from the bitchy owner who did rather put me off, what a cow …) and had a glorious set of coloured tiles in the pleasingly large kitchen; and one in Elstead (my favoured village) with so much in the not-very-large-but-very-cleverly-arranged garden that you’d definitely have to take tours round it. Next week I’m viewing another house in Elstead during the week, and then I hope to set up two Normandy bungalow viewings for K and me next Saturday. Really it’s all go.

We’ve also been filling in a mound of paperwork for the fast-start conveyancing service, and will send it off to the solicitors after we’ve seen the mortgage specialist next Saturday morning. I suspect they’re going to have fun with our leasing arrangements. Apparently the estate agents have already had a great deal of fun with them as part of our lease forbids anyone in the house to set up a brothel or a pub, and it’s the first time the agents have come across that one! I suspect it stems from the time when there was a brothel down our road a few decades ago and eventually they pulled the whole house down. Though one assumes not when there was someone still in it.

Also yesterday, I helped out with the open day at the university at the last minute (in between house viewings) as there was a gap we couldn’t fill and I didn’t want to leave one person on her own. Loads of questions about finances, naturally, but it’s all very fluid at the moment so we’re really not quite sure how the new system will all work out, or even if it will. Loads of people there too as they want to start next year before the fees are raised, so it was busy busy busy.

This morning, we graced the doors of church – the poor vicar’s not very well at all, so Jenny took the service and has apparently told the Archdeacon (giving him no room for contradiction) that the vicar needs time off, and she and the other priest will handle everything until December. Good for her – it takes a woman to sort things out when the men are faffing around, you know! And double good for her as Archdeacons can be tricky, as we all know from the recent TV series, Rev. K and I were also deeply bamboozled by the fact that someone called him Kevin during the peace and the server gave him the wine with the words: The blood of Christ, Peter … I reckon Kevin is my No 2 husband and Peter is my No 3 husband – lordy, no wonder we need a larger house. Really, it’s an utter mystery why K, Kevin and Peter haven’t ever bumped into each other in the 17 years we’ve lived here. Thank goodness for lofts …

After that we’ve had a lovely house-free time at Wisley where the peculiarly named Europom event has been taking place to celebrate autumn this weekend. Yes, I thought it was Europorn too when I first read it but actually it’s do to with apples. As an apple farmer’s daughter, I had to attend of course. And how lovely it is to see the Laxton apple on sale – the last time I saw a Laxton was thirty years ago, so it certainly brought back old memories. I also appeared to be the only woman in the apple-tasting queue who knew how to pronounce Pearmain – no, no, people! It’s not Pear-man, it’s per-MAIN

Book News:

Much to my delight, A Dangerous Man is now available at All Romance Ebooks, though someone hates it so much they’ve allocated it a one-star rating which somehow always cheers me. I have to say it’s a literary rather than a romance novel, so I suspect it’s not what that particular Cross Reader was expecting.

Meanwhile, I have posted about what’s coming up this week at Vulpes Libris Reviews, a week which is packed full of endings, orgasms and secrets, so well worth keeping an eye on each day’s review in the run-up to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (as I prefer to call the season …).

Today’s meditation poem is:

Meditation 448
Only a quiet room
and the faint echo
of weeping elsewhere

accompany this wild hope
that from death
something more will appear.

The Sunday haiku is:

The shadowed garden
whispers its secrets to me.
From next door: laughter.

Anne Brooke

Painting and proofs

Book News:

This week I’ve been working on the final proofs for A Dangerous Man and have just now sent them back to Cheyenne Publishing and Bristlecone Pine Press ready for publication date on 15 October. Nearly there, gosh. I’ve been thrilled today to see that the novel is included in the Lambda Literary October listings (Mystery & Thriller section), and that’s a seriously good place to be showcased, double gosh.

Meanwhile, Maloney’s Law gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks for that, Nicci – so glad you enjoyed the story. I’m also very happy indeed that Tommy’s Blind Date is No 4 in the Amber Allure September Bestseller lists, and many thanks to those who’ve put it there. And I’m equally happy that I appear twice in Jessewave Reviews’ September Recommended Reads list, once with good old Tommy’s Blind Date and once with Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle – thank you, Wave!

Over at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of Jane Green’s Girl Friday, which is a fabulous novel for the over-forties, and we so definitely need more of those. And the lovely Kirsty has also published a wonderful haiku-review of my Sunday Haiku collection – many thanks, Kirsty!

Here are this week’s meditation poems:

Meditation 438
Wine and women
are a heady brew;

they befuddle kings
and confound the things

that are true.
Who knew?

Meditation 439
Men become liars
and truth hides
in the deepest well

when the story we long for
is not the one
where we dwell.

Life News:

K has been in Dubai all this week and I have missed him LOADS. Thankfully he’s back tonight (hurrah!!) and is even now jetting his way towards Heathrow, so it will be totally lovely to have him back again. Goodness me but I was super-wimpy when he left at some ungodly hour on Monday morning – only barely managing not to grab him by the ankles and weep. Lordy, never say I’m not stylish, though what style it actually is must be anyone’s guess.

Anyway, it’s been strange rattling about in this old Victorian house all on my own for several days, but I have kept myself busy by doing bucketloads of DIY each evening when I got back from work – with the result that the spare room walls and ceiling are now painted with four coats, and the skirting board and door glossed with two. Oh and those proofs have kept me focused too, so that’s been good.

Work’s been horrendously busy as well, what with being the first week of term, and I simply haven’t had time to sit down, my dears. Not one second. I couldn’t even spare the time (or the energy) to go to Starbucks, and the wonderful Ruth had to bring me not one but two coffees where I sat pinned to my desk and panicking like a trouper. What a superstar that woman is. It’s the froth that keeps me going, you know …

Today, one of the vendors from the flat below has been in the house though, so I’ve not been entirely alone. I think we are studiously ignoring each other, which is no doubt best, and really I don’t have any desire at all to communicate with them again, to be honest. Yes, that probably means I’m a bad person but hey at least I’m honest about it. I’d feel happier about it if K was home as it’s a little unsettling, but as long as said vendor doesn’t try to talk to me I’ll be fine. Though if you do hear tell of a man being pinned to a landing wall with a screwdriver in a small Surrey town, I trust that all of you will vouch for my obviously impeccable character. Ho hum.

Anne Brooke

Freshers Galore

Life News:

Great news – I survived Freshers’ Week! As, I think so far and on the whole, have the Freshers themselves, so good news all round really. It was as exhausting and sometimes exhilarating as usual, but to my mind we paced ourselves better this year and that’s made all the difference. Also we knew what we were doing more, as we’d had the first bite at the new system last year so it felt familiar this time round. The biggest help of all though has been that instead of having two Information Point tables (that we’re responsible for), we’ve had one, so it’s meant that Ruth and I don’t have to be there all the time on our separate tables but we’ve been doing about two hours on and two hours off on a rota system during the day so we each get a chance to regroup and stop the work piling up in the office. As I’ve said before, being at the Information Point is much like performing on stage, so I reckon two hours is just about right before the need for an interval comes upon us.

Naturally, there’ve been some emergencies and last-minute changes, including three lecture theatres being unexpectedly out-of-action so a lot of our time has been spent directing confused people (staff and students alike) to the correct rooms and apologising, though most people have been lovely about it. And, of course, there’s been the odd talk overrunning, with the need for a bit of creative redistribution of stock. As it were. Still, I don’t think anyone saw the join …

Anyway, frankly, it’s been my best Freshers’ Week so far, so a big thank you to Clare W who’s organised it all once again. And an equally big and rather more than slightly tearful farewell to the aforementioned Clare, who’s leaving us this week for better and closer-to-home things … Really, it’s all change in the office, as not only that but Lauren from the Mentoring team is leaving as well (further sobbing, but there’s still time to change your minds, girls!) so last night we all had a farewell early dinner at Ask in Guildford, which was I hope a good send-off for both. And already we have replacements for our disappearing staff, as Steve has been with us for a week in the Mentoring office, and Jon arrives full-time on Monday to sit in Clare’s place. Boys in the office, eh – well, whatever next!…

All this rushing about and preparing for change this week has utterly wiped me out though and I have had a 2.5 hour nap this afternoon, well really and it must be my age … I think it’s done the trick though as I’m ready to continue our mammoth DIY project once K gets home. This morning, I’ve painted half the ceiling in the spare room and put a first coat of gloss on the window alcove skirting board and window ledge. Once the 2nd coat is on, we reckon that the alcove will be done and we can move things back into it, thus creating space in the non-decorated part of the room so we can start having a go at that too. The good news is that the hallway and front door is now finished and looks very nice indeed, hurrah.

The other big excitement is we’ve found out that if you attach the electric sander to the Hoover then there’s virtually no dust, double hurrahs and break out the Bolly. Sanding with a Hoover is therefore our new hobby, so be warned …

Books News:

I’m pleased to say that Tommy’s Blind Date is now available as a Kindle book at Amazon US and Amazon UK, and a copy or two has already been purchased at both stores – which is surprising as Amazon UK Kindle has a lot of catching up to do with its American cousin in these early days of its existence.

Meanwhile, The Hit List received a lovely 4.5 star review at Goodreads, so thank you, Jo, for your comments. And The Delaneys and Me made a brief visit to the Amazon Top 100 charts, but has disappeared once more, alas. Publishers have been busy too, and you can now find all my Untreed Reads books in one convenient location (thanks, Jay!) so if you want to know about dancing, nature, fruit, art or accountancy, or perhaps all of these, you know where to go.

Looking forward to October, I’m delighted that A Dangerous Man, which is due out on 15 October, now has its own page at Cheyenne Publishing – a perfect read for those dark autumnal days indeed.

Meditations so far this week are:

Meditation 434
When engrossed
in your daily chores
do not neglect
the subtle gestures
of God

and see how everything
changes.

Meditation 435
It says something
about a man

when he’d rather give away
his women and children

than his valuables
if he can.

Anne Brooke

Popes, Prayer and paint

Life News:

A hell of a lot of painting has gone on this week – we’ve painted the bathroom door and skirting board, the hall cupboard, the spare room door & cupboard, some of the hall skirting boards and two sets of the three wooden frames that are a feature of our hallway. It all lightens it up nicely, which is hugely pleasing – if we’d known it would look so good, we’ve have done it much earlier, but it certainly should make it more desirable at the very least. And it’s a lesson to us for our next home – paint everything light colours and watch the space increase!

Not only that but I’ve tidied the living room and spare rooms so they look much bigger – or the spare room would if we hadn’t today moved everything around in order to paint, but it will do when it’s back in its right place again! I’ve also recycled six bags of books last week and have created another nine bags of books today to take to the recycling point this week. We do have a lot of books – K did an estimate a while back and made it 1200, but it’s 15 bags less now! We’ve also chucked away a load of old videos and tapes that we never watch/listen to – Lord only knows why we were keeping them. Laziness probably.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon behind the Student Care stand at the University Open Day – not as hectic as the last time which was truly horrible, but I wasn’t feeling that well really, so I kept smiling inanely and hoping that people believed whatever it was I was saying. Most seemed to.

Oh, and Marian and I played an outrageously bad game of golf on Friday – we were so bad we became utterly hysterical at one point and couldn’t stop laughing. Thank goodness no-one was behind us. Marian managed to get both her tee shots on the 6th hole into the pond, which is at least consistent, and I managed to hit not one, not two, but three trees on the 8th, two of them with the same shot. Lordy, but I’m good, um not. Thankfully, Marian and her husband came round for dinner on Friday night (pre-painting extravaganza) so we were able to drown our sorrows in good measure.

Finally, rumour has it that some elderly Catholic gent has come over to the UK for the weekend, Gawd bless ‘im. I hope he enjoys his brief stay, though I do think the least we could do is give him a car he could actually get in and out of successfully. He is 83, after all, and Jaguar’s don’t really allow for much leeway … Mind you, K reminded me that he must have been greatly chuffed indeed during his private audience with the Queen and Prince Philip – to be at last the youngest person in the room must have fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition for him, hurrah!

Book News:

I’ve finished the edits for The Prayer Seeker, so I now feel happier with that. Now all I have to do (ho hum) is find someone who might want it. Suggest no-one holds their breath though! And I’m pleased to say that Tommy’s Blind Date is now available at All Romance Ebooks and, not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me popped briefly back into the Amazon Charts at No 78 though not for long.

This week’s meditation is:

Meditation 429
If you’re in a desert
where ravens bring you food
and God provides the water

sneak away quickly
as your odds for happiness
probably just got shorter.

The Sunday haiku is:

A sparkle of birds
wheels and dances in the sky.
Sunlight on water.

Anne Brooke

Kindles and Christmases

Book News:

Yes, sorry about the title but someone has to mention the Dreaded Christmas Word first and it might as well be me. The big news of this week has been the long-awaited arrival of my new Kindle. Or Katy, as I’m calling her. She is totally wonderful and I love her – so far. The screen is clearer than the Sony ereader and I particularly enjoy the way that when you switch her off, a different writing-related picture comes up each time. So far I’ve had (as it were) Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and the front cover of a medieval-style manuscript. Lovely. The only problem is that you don’t see the covers of the books you buy, which is a shame. I do like covers. Still, Katy is great and I have no real complaints at the moment.

Talking of the Kindle,  I’m pleased to say that my poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, managed the dizzy heights of No 8 in the Amazon Kindle Poetry charts, though it’s now fallen to No 29, but it was a real boost. And if you now have or are expecting your UK Kindle, don’t forget that there’s a whole wealth of shopping fun here – enjoy!

Meanwhile, publication day for Tommy’s Blind Date will soon be upon us, and I have accordingly returned the final galleys. You can also now find further information plus a short & spicy extract at the publisher’s website – just to whet your appetite, don’t you know.

Not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me made a brief appearance at No 44 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts but has now, sadly, slipped away again. This week I have also been heartened that Two Christmases gained a very positive 4-star review at Goodreads – many thanks indeed, Aredhel.

And, at The Bemused Gardener, I have been mulling over mint, figs and the strangeness of sticks, which might – just! – be coming to life again. You never know.

This week’s meditations are:

Meditation 415
Never trust an old prophet.
They are like
false smiles
at the meal-table

and ravenous lions
on your path:
avoid them.

Meditation 416
The ancient, well thought-of
and venerable role of priest

is, in these dangerous days, the career
we recommend the least.

Life News:

There’s still no definite news on any exchange date for our potential new flat – I had so hoped it would be today, but obviously … um … not. It’s rather disappointing, not to mention frustrating – even though I do quite understand that the vendors need to get things signed in different parts of the country and then back to their solicitors and then back to our conveyancers, and the bank holiday has slowed everything down and it’s a bother for them too, etc etc. It’s just that we were aiming to exchange at the end of August, and we’d done everything in our power to make it happen. Yes, I understand that – with a bit of luck and the wind in the right direction – everything will hopefully happen very suddenly and then we’ll be there, but until it does I’m feeling hugely twitchy and unsettled. Ah, it’s the waiting which kills you, Carruthers, don’t you know. Watch this space though … We live in hope!

Popped in to see the ground floor neighbour today in order to thank him for signing all the documents we need to help the sale go through – he and his family have been total stars throughout all this and we are very grateful to them indeed. Thank you to the M Family! Also lovely to catch up with what’s been going on – we chatted for ages which was great.

Other good news is that the very irritating car that was abandoned outside the house during the summer has now finally been removed by the council, so thank you, Mr Council, for that. It’s a good job it’s gone as my plan this weekend was to beat it to death with sticks, which would have been quite a frightening sight really.

All of which takes my mind off the fact that this week I’ve had my work review – well, most of it, as David and I chatted for so long that we ran out of time and we must needs finish it off next week sometime. Looks like I’m not too bad after all and he has decided not to sack me yet – hurrah!

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Milestones and mortgages

Life News:

A slightly earlier mid-week blog than usual as I’m fiddling around with my days this week, so am working tomorrow and then straight out to London to see a friend. As a result today has been hugely busy and I appear to have driven at least 75 miles in the pursuit of health and happiness.

Had my appointment with the lovely gynae consultant at the hospital today, who is cautiously pleased with my progress thus far but is altering the doses of my HRT in order to take the St John’s Wort happy pills into account – so I’m a bit concerned about how that will affect things, but once again we’ll have to see. I’m also being referred to another gynae expert in Guildford to see whether I might at some stage need another op or not. I hope not, but you never can tell. Such is the exciting health life of we middle-aged Surrey women. Hey ho.

Immediately after that I drove across to near where Lord H works in order to sort out, with him, the conveyancing on our new flat purchase, so we’ve now instructed a conveyancer and a mortgage company, so I’m not sure there are any other orders we need to give anyone. Not yet anyway. So far, there are only a couple of issues that need sorting out – so I will I suspect feel calmer when they’re out of the way. All this unfamiliar stuff is making me terribly jittery – which doesn’t surprise me.

Thank goodness for tonight, when we’re out to see The Importance of Being Oscar at the Guildford Theatre, so an opportunity to relax and enjoy definitely beckons. How I need it!

Other life excitements this week so far have been the redoing of the tarmac at the University car park which means everyone is desperately juggling for spaces and we all have to get in early in order to find one. Not too much of a problem, and these things have to be done – my only difficulty has been attempting to find where the heck I’ve put the car at the end of the day as it’s not in my usual place and, being me and a creature of routine, I end up staring soulfully through the fencing at where I usually park and wondering why I can’t get there, and why indeed the car isn’t there at all. Really, how people live lives of adventure and change is beyond me – I like structure and for things to be the same. Lordy, what a wimp, eh.

Book News:

The Delaneys and Me continues its whistle-stop tour round the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, and was up as high as Number 20 earlier this week. Many thanks to those people who are buying – it’s very much appreciated.

I’m also very happy to say that I’ve reached the 40,000 word marker in my blogged novella, The Prayer Seeker, and you can read the latest episode here. I reckon it might end up being 45-50,000 words, but certainly no more.

Not only that, but I’ve reached my 400th meditation poem, hurrah! Here are the latest two:

Meditation 399
Through all the bustle
and clamour,

the demands, the dreams
and the night-waking fears,

the greatest desire of all
is simply to be heard.

Meditation 400
When all is done –
the words, the tears

and the hard-won hope –
what counts

above all
is mercy.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Haikus, houses and Holmes

Book News:

I’m happy to say that my latest poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, has already received two 4-star reviews at Goodreads, one from Kim and one from Lisa, who says amongst other comments that she “felt captured within the calm of the poetry” which is precisely the feeling I was trying to attain. Thank you very much, both. And you can now also find Sunday Haiku on sale in PDF version at Rainbow Ebooks, so I hope that covers all buying possibilities. Enjoy!

In addition, I’m getting towards writing the final few scenes of The Prayer Seeker’s Journal, where you can now find the latest episode. There’s a time lag between writing them and actually uploading them, but I hope to finish the first draft by the autumn or thereabouts, though I suspect the last few chapters will be fairly long.

Other books news includes the following: Creative Accountancy for Beginners found itself in the Smashwords Top 10 Humour Bestsellers list, which has been a lovely boost; Painting from Life gained a 4-star review at Goodreads; and The Bones of Summer also had a 4-star Goodreads review – many thanks, Nene, for reading! Meanwhile The Delaneys and Me, continues its rise and fall through the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, rising as high as No 32 this week.

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 396
No matter
how many lists you make –

table, lampstand,
flowers, cups, bowls

and all the paraphernalia
of fire and hope –

you cannot keep God
contained by your

limitation.

Meditation 397
A cloudy day
and a simple ritual,

wood and stone
and silent angels,

but when the light
arrives, it dazzles you

to the eternal changeability
of prayer.

Meditation 398
The slow history
of stone

wraps you round
in memory

and truth,
helps you

pray again.

And here’s a poem I’ve also written this week:

East

These eastern winds
are an icy layer
leaving you
and me

too close
for comfort

and too far away
to see.

This week’s haiku:

Two blue bicycles
energise the road, piercing
the day’s warm silence.

Life News:

The very big news this week which is both exciting and terrifying is that we and our deceased neighbour’s nephews have agreed on a price for his old flat (below ours) – it’s at the upper limit of our budget but we think that with a bit of scraping around and with the wind in the right direction we can do it, hurrah! So we’re now plunged into the process of conveyancing and soliciting (as it were) and mortgaging, and we hope to have contracts exchanged – all things being equal – by the end of August. I hope it all goes to plan, as it would be great to have more space, not to mention a part of the house garden and a garage. And two floors, well gosh. Whatever next? We won’t be able to eat or go on holiday for the next five years, but what the heck, eh. Who needs food or aeroplanes? We do so love the house, which has got an NVQ Level 5 in Character, though those old Victorian pipes can be a tad dodgy (don’t ask, but never ever put anything at all if you can possibly help it down the loo in a Victorian house – a piece of Life Advice you can have for free …!), so it would be lovely to have more of it. So watch this space, and wish us luck.

Marian and I had a good round of golf on Friday, though we can tell that the schools are ready to break up, as it took a lot longer to go round. I started off with two pretty damn glorious pars (hurrah!) but rapidly faded, so only just managed to scrape victory from the certain jaws of defeat. Yesterday, I was briefly (on a Saturday, how dreadful!) back at work to help out in the afternoon at the University’s open day – which I must say was the busiest I’ve ever known, so I did a heck of a lot of smiling, and was utterly shattered when I got home. So much so that I nearly fell asleep in front of our recorded episode of Midsomer Murders and had to go to bed at 9.30pm, which is really unheard of.

I’m still tired today as well, but this might have been a good thing as they sprang a cunning double christening at church on us today, so there was a lot of water and gurgling, not all of which was me. I’m not a great fan of christenings to be honest – too child-centred for my tastes, but I did a lot of smiling and trying to look normal, so I think people were fooled. Mind you, the family had dressed up to the nines, which was nice to see, and all looked very glam. We’re not used to that in the Sunday crowd …

Ooh, and tonight I and Lord H are hugely looking forward to the new updated version of Sherlock Holmes, which I’m sure will be well worth catching – 9pm on BBC. Don’t miss it! Must dash and get my violin and deerstalker hat ready, if only for old times’ sake.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal