Archive for rosalind

Things to which I have been up

I think building her a snow throne may have given her ideas above her station.

I haven’t been making blog posts as often this year as I did last year. Partly because last year I had a baby who slept a lot, whereas this year I have a toddler with very firm beliefs about how often Mummy is allowed to sit at the computer before she gets to have a go too. Resulting in the very real possibility that anything I write will accidentally end up with ‘dfjgoehodnvlos!!!!’ in the middle of a sentence. Soon she will learn to type and I’ll probably have to implant a virtual iPad in her head or something, but for the moment, she’s mainly of use as an agent of chaos.

And partly because I’ve kept half-writing posts, then having a crisis of confidence about whether they’re too dull, controversial, niche, obvious, or all of the above. (All of the above would be quite a feat, admittedly.)

However, I have done a few things that you wouldn’t immediately be aware of from this page, so here they are:

- My eight-year-old has written some more stories for her bit of this site. I’m pleased I set this up for her, because it’s motivating her to finish stories rather than getting halfway through and then wandering off to kick trees. (Don’t ask.) I particularly like ‘Friday‘, which features grape-eating cutlery.

- I wrote some ebook reviews, and am in the middle of writing some more (but it’s taking a while – the good books are hard to write about and the bad ones are hard to read).

- I did a guest blogging stint for The F-Word and wrote three posts for them about musicals, porn genies and why I can, in fact, take a joke.

- I wrote a guest post for Choler speculating on whether David Cameron saw himself as a plucky maverick or as a Bond villain.

- I wrote a post on Sherlock Holmes and genderswitching for Bookshelf Bombshells, as part of their blog bonanza for the start of Sherlock series 2 in the US.

- I had my novel reviewed by The Future Fire!

- I created a Pinterest board of all the things you’d have had to own in the 1980s to equal one smartphone.

-  I started using tumblr, which turns out to be fun, although I may be reaching my social media threshold soon.

- I created The Almost Art Project: photos of found-around-the-house art accidentally designed by my children.

I’m trying to write a second novel in theory, but – well, see my first paragraph: it’s hard to find the time. So while I wait for my children to get older and less needy*, I’m working on a couple more genderswitching projects – an illustrated ebook of genderswitched Grimms fairy tales, and an ebook anthology of genderswitched extracts from classics including James Eyre, June the Obscure and The Picture of Daria Grey. To be continued…


*Sometimes people take things I say very literally. I would like to clarify that I am not spending my time resenting my children and waiting for them to get older. Well, not all of my time. Sometimes I sleep.  


Can you bear it? The Build A Bear experience

There is a new member of my family. He is a white teddy bear with brown eyes called Michael, dressed in a surfer top and shorts topped with an elegant grey waistcoat. If you press his hand he sings “Who Let The Dogs Out?”. He has a passport, a birth certificate, an online presence and a cardboard house with a door and window.

What this all means is that today I went to a Build a Bear shop, or ‘workshop’ as they describe it. And although I don’t normally write reviews of shops I have visited (“Boots offered a gratifying variety of tampon sizes”) I am impelled to do so this time because of my newly discovered and grudging, yet genuine, admiration for the Build A Bear brand. It’s so very – all-encompassing.

Our Build A Bear journey started virtually: my daughter Rosalind* signed up to, and as a result asked to go to the real-world shop. Normally I’d have put her off. The only thing I knew for certain about Build A Bear is that it costs money, and the only thing I knew for certain about our finances is that they’re in need of some gentle handling. But for a variety of reasons – one of which was the fact that the school summer holidays have just started and we needed activities  – I felt like saying yes, so I did. (Earning myself, incidentally, the title of Best Mummy In The World, And On Jupiter, And In The Whole Galaxy Everywhere. Autographs on demand.)

So what happens is, you go to the shop, and first you choose a ‘skin’. This is the empty, furry shell of your future best friend. They lie heaped in big soft piles, like rabbit skins. (Not that I particularly know what rabbit skins looks like except when they’re on rabbits, but you can picture the image I’m going for.) I quite fancied the one decorated in rainbow hearts, but Rosalind tastefully opted for plain white. She also evaded my attempt to direct her towards the mini, cheaper versions. They were £8; the most expensive skins I saw were £18; the white teddy was £11.

Is anyone else thinking "Eeek! Multicoloured chicken pox!"?

I initially thought this covered everything, but was quickly disillusioned. Rosalind scampered off to choose clothes and came back with the aforementioned surfer outfit and City waistcoat for £8 and £3 respectively. She was being frugal. There were shoes, hats, swimwear, lightsabres, pyjamas – I began to realise what I’d got into. But it only fully hit me during the next two stages.

After you choose the clothes, a friendly assistant takes you off to choose what the bear will say – £2 for pre-recorded, £5 to record your own voice. I made the tactical error of staying at a distance for this, which is why Michael the bear ended up with my least favourite song, if I can call it that, of all time. Then it was time to give him his heart and his stuffing.

You could buy, for £4.50, a beating heart. A beating heart for a teddy bear. I held one in my hand and was evenly divided between awe and horror. Thankfully, Rosalind found it “too freaky” and opted for a fabric non-beating version. It was inserted, and she helped operate the big stuffing machine. A few post-operation stitches and we had a bear.

As we queued up to pay I could have bought a toy mobile phone or a toy music player for Michael, or sunglasses, or bedding, or roller skates. I did buy a passport. Every time Rosalind visits a Build A Bear shop anywhere in the world, she can get it stamped.

Then, after paying, we registered Michael’s birth on one of the computers they provide in the shop, with special kid-friendly keyboards. We have a birth certificate scroll tied with green ribbon. If Michael gets lost at any time he can be returned to my daughter, provided he gets handed in.

Michael and his belongings were packed in a cardboard box decorated as a house with a door that really opens; he was given a hanger for his clothes. I paid £25, and my daughter has barely let Michael out of her sight since, except to go back onto and continue playing games on it.

I don’t know. It’s all very silly and arguably decadently capitalist, and surely somewhat overpriced; but I was left with a sense of respect for the sheer lengths the company has gone to to make it a full-blown experience, not just a purchase. It can’t be long before they team up with the Tiny Tears people and give their bears full digestive facilities (instead of nappies, you just take them into the woods and wait).

I guess the test is whether I’m still Best Mummy In The Universe tomorrow. For £25, I think I deserve at least a couple of days of adulation.

*As explained elsewhere, this is her name for the purposes of this website.


The Rosalind Section

Although sadly we are no longer allowed to send our children up chimneys or down mines – due to both labour laws and the relative lack of either chimneys or mines in modern Britain – I am pleased to report that they can still be useful in other ways. For example, children basically operate as unadulterated humans. If adults are wine, children are sherry: smaller, more concentrated, and potentially lethal in large doses.

Which is to say that when my daughter is trying to write a story, the process is annoyingly familiar to me. She’ll have an idea. Then she’ll tell me about it. Then she’ll write a couple of sentences. Then she’ll start designing a front cover. Then she’ll tell me how it’s going to be the Best Story Ever and she’ll be a famous writer. By the time she’s finished explaining all about her life as a famous writer, she will have entirely forgotten to finish the story.

So we have come to an agreement. She has been asking for ages if she can have a page on my website. I have finally got round to making one, and on it I have put two recent stories that she’s started and not finished. In return for her page, she has promised she will finish the stories. Well, it might happen.

So here it is: Rosalind’s Page.

(Her name isn’t Rosalind, by the way. I explained about the public nature of websites and we agreed she’d use a pen name, which she is finding quite exciting in itself.)

She's basically a cross between Oliver and the Artful Dodger.