Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Conspiracy, anyone?

Current work: fiction (deadline mode – am still at the ‘this book is pants and my editor will hate it’ stage)
Listening to: Corelli (yup, am stressed enough to bring out the really big guns)
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, Take On Me (recommended by my mate Amy Andrews, who said that Sarah is brilliant, and she was right – great pace, great dialogue, great hooks, and exactly what I’d expect from someone who’s been a TV story editor. I will definitely be buying the follow-up, next month)

Five weeks and one day ago, I had a bit of a nightmare with the car. Today… same nightmare.

Actually, it’s been a difficult day today, full stop.

Started when DH woke at 5.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep, so he decided to prod me until I growled. ‘Are you awake, honey?’ Grr. I was too tired to get up and start work, so I dozed. Ended up getting up late (feeling grumpy and overtired because a certain person had woken me an hour early); and then he started burbling on about can I buy some new leads for my old computer so he can connect it up. ‘You don’t need new leads. They’re in the white box.’ (A white box it appears he may have thrown out. Which also contains my software for Office 2007. How pleased am I? Yeah.) So that’s a good hour of work he owes me which I didn’t do because I was too tired to crawl out of bed when my alarm finally went off this morning, plus another hour for sorting out something HE was meant to organise for this weekend but has left it until the last minute and dumped it on me because I’m so good at sorting things out. (Meanwhile, I have a screaming deadline AND it’s school holidays, and I want to know what he’s done with my box. This is the man who keeps non-working stereos in the bottom of his wardrobe for ten years ‘because they might come in useful’, but he can throw out a box without looking in it or checking with me first?)

So then we have Dad ringing, wanting to know why I’m not there yet (er, because I was waiting for the Sainsbury’s delivery first and it’s school holidays, and I was also trying to sneak in an hour’s work before I turned up). Except he can’t do a normal phone call: no, he doesn’t say a single word (which freaks me. If I say hello several times and you don’t reply, then I assume that my hearing aid has gone wrong and I panic). I hang up, try redialling him, and he’s there with a list of errands to be run. Why didn’t he speak? ‘I couldn’t hear anything…’ (Clearly he’d pressed the mute button.) ‘How do I change the settings on the phone?’ Uh. Trying to instruct him over the phone is NOT a good idea; plus his phone is not the same as mine so I’d need to check his manual first. ‘Do not touch it. I’ll fix it in a minute when I come over.’

Call in to Sainsbury’s to buy his required goodies and tissues. Manage to join the slowest queue in history. And then, a little more than halfway to the home (which is in the middle of nowhere), a warning light on the dashboard starts flashing and the car feels juddery. I’m nearer Dad’s than mine, but I don’t have my insurance details on me (stupid Kate, something to fix immediately – write it in Filofax and put in PDA now – and yes, I do have both. Filofax (a Radley one, of course) is backup in case PDA goes wrong). Continue with visit, inwardly panicking about car (Dad is under the impression that you get free courtesy cars with everything and the government will pay you £2000 to change your car when you want to. Er, not on this planet).

Juddering gets worse on way home. Start to lose power as we go up the hill – I’m pushing down on the accelerator and the rev counter is dropping, and another light flashes on. Arrgh. Ask son to ring DH and see when he will be home, as I do not want to drive the car to the garage without an escort in case it goes bang. ‘As soon as I can.’ (That’s so precise and helpful. Not.) Get home, hands shaking. Ring garage and explain what’s happened. They advise asking breakdown people to bring car in. Ring lovely RAC and explain. ‘We’ll be with you in 45 minutes.’

Lovely RAC turn up exactly as promised, check it out – and this time the problem is cylinder #4 (last time it was #1 so it isn't exactly the same as last time). They tow the car in to the garage for me so I don’t have to worry about a) driving and losing power as I pull away from roundabout, and someone crashing into me, and b) the kids (it’s school holidays – they’re too young to leave here, RAC van can’t take all of us, neighbours have all gone out as is nice sunny day… and oh-h-h I would rather be at the seaside than stuck here with a screaming deadline).

End result: I will be carless for two days. Luckily it’s school holidays so I don’t have to worry about the school run.

Radio Four journo rings (nice guy – had a long chat last week) but bad timing: right when I’m ready to bawl my eyes out! I’ve agreed to do an interview here tomorrow and we’ll sort the details later today. (Any squabbling from kids during said interview, and the X-box/Wii/DS Lite will be confiscated for the rest of the year. ‘That’s a bit harsh, Mum.’ Uh-huh, but this is NOT the time to test my boundaries.)

Total amount of words done so far today: nowhere near enough to hit my (revised) deadline. (Weep.)

Total amount of stress today: lots. (I think DH owes me a visit to the Pandora shop.)

Total amount of chocolate eaten: none, because I stepped on the scales this morning and it’s monstrous (ah, that can be the third thing – nasty scales, irritating husband, kaput car. Yes. Can breathe out again).

Time for a cup of coffee, methinks. And a deep breath. The kids are watching Inkheart, and I’m going sound off until I’ve put a decent amount of words on paper.


Jan Jones said...


1. next time anything goes wrong with the car, ring the RAC immediately (I always do with the AA). They will get you home and get your car to the garage.

2. up your insurance to provide a courtesy car no matter what

3. you have brought your kids up sensibly. Son IS now old enough to keep an eye on madam for short periods provided you are on the end of the phone and he knows you are depending on him to be responsible

4. you write bloody wonderful books and if they come in a week late, they come in a week late.

5. I can't help you with the scales. Mine are exactly the same. B***ards.

Anonymous said...

What a horrid day! Have a little cry. It always helps. Gillie X

linda margaret said...


You desrve a cart load of calorie free chocolate for that sort of day. We had a similar Zinger (just one though not so bad) DH has glaucoma and has to see a very specific opthalmologist in the next province about 5 - 6 hours drive away from where we live. He had an appointment for this afternoon. It required an early start with ds in tow this morning and a booking in a local hotel. I get home from my meetings today to find message on phone for him from the specialist. Oh by the way the appointment has been cancelled, would we care to rebook. He was amzingly philsophical when I reached him at his hotel to let him know. I think I would have been just about ballistic to have driven all that way and have had the appointment cancelled.

Good luck on your deadline. Maybe you can conspire with or bribe your kids for some free time.


Kate Hardy said...

Jan, thanks. Big hugs back at you. xx

Kate Hardy said...

Gillie - thanks. I stomped about a bit and played the piano...

Kate Hardy said...

Linda Margaret - sorry your husband had such a wasted day. (I would've been really cross in his shoes.) Hope the specialist gives him a better appointment at a better time... and sticks to it! You'd think that his admin team would realise that a long journey is involved and give a little more notice, if possible. (Or maybe common sense is out of the window...)

linda margaret said...


Thanks for your kind words. I told him to call the office anyway and tell them they messed up, he travelled all day and he needed to see someone because he needed a new prescription, The specialist was in surgery and they said if you don't mind waiting , someone would see after the OR was done. He waited about 2 hours but he got to see his specialist, who was very apologetic about training a new receptionist and he still can wait and doesn't need surgery. So good news all around.

I read about the favourable new contract, obviously M&B know they are on to a good thing. Congratulations. All that support from M&B is well deserved!


Kate Hardy said...

Linda, that's great news that your husband was able to see the specialist after all, and even better news that he doesn't need surgery.

And thanks for YOUR kind words :o)