Wild wonderful retreat; a response from the Ambassador; a birthday in Blighty; temporary farewell to village house; upcoming wedding (not mine) and another Victorian blog. And Season’s Greetings.
Yes, yes. This time it’s not even the correct month. But I have every excuse for my lateness, and also I think I’ll call this the November/December newsletter. So a very merry Yule to you all, whether it’s a hot or a cold one.
We’re not going anywhere else for Xmas this year, so I’ve unearthed my tiny tree. it’s a bit token, being about 15cm high, and you have to be careful about decorating it as it tends to get unbalanced and topple over. I am reminded of other strange ideas of mine, for example, the minimalist tree I decided on when the kids were little. It consisted of some twiggy branches covered in green crepe paper. That was an even worse idea than my topply tree.
I told you last time I would be going on a road trip to my week-long writer’s retreat. And I did – the rail tracks being partially wiped out by recent floods at one end, and rail travel being very dicey at the other end due to a strike – and drove through heavy wind and rain the 704 km or so over about 8 hours. But it was worth it. The ‘Circle of Missé’ is about an hour north of Poitiers, in a rural setting, very very comfortable with meals provided three times a day and, for a very modest extra, the chance of in-depth and knowledgable mentoring. Then I drove back, but this time it was sunny with blue skies and only took 6 hours. I even arrived in daylight.
My deepest gratitude to Wayne for his wonderful hosting and advice. Writers really like a bit of pampering from time to time, and he does it well.
As an aside and before anyone thinks I’m attacking unions for striking (you should know me better than that) apparently the dispute was about the driver being entirely on his own to deal with absolutely everything after a fatal accident that wasn’t his fault. Train drivers are usually devastated by these incidents in any case. So next time someone complains about unions insisting on the presence of guards on trains…
My wonderful retreat/visit means that my Vietnam novel is just about ready to send out to droves of agents. I’ll tidy it up while house-sitting just after Christmas. Or at least I think so. I’m confused now since apparently I have been long-listed in a novel comp (Grindstone International Novel Competition, associated with Curtis Brown the literary agents) for a novel manuscript I really haven’t done much to for a long time. They based this on the first chapter. So now I’m torn. Still, I’ve had worse problems.
Speaking of which and in the meantime, the pension campaign (to regain Australians their right to their own Australian old age pension while living in France) is going reasonably well. The Ambassador eventually wrote back and vowed to give the issue all his energy. This was much better than the response, for example, from the Australian Minister, who effectively shrugged by email. Our group now has a name with an acronym: Australian Pensions in France (APIF), though of course the protocol this would be a part of is about reciprocity between the two countries on all sorts of topics to do with social security, not just the issue of Australian pensions in France. However, the Australian government’s changes to pensioners’ expectations aren’t encouraging, of course.
After the retreat, there was a brief visit to Blighty, where my partner’s sister was having her 70th birthday. She’s a very lovely person, besides excellently sharing my first name. I drew a portrait of her, though I have to say it wasn’t my best work. That’s what happens when the pressure is on to perform. Actually I drew two. The second was slightly better, thank goodness.
Almost immediately after the return, I sat for two days with eight other writers at the local Cracker Fair. Some of us did better than others. Apparently, children’s books, thrillers and novels about local history do reasonably well. Also, books in French might have done better. Weirdly, many passersby had not thought books can be good Christmas presents. However, we writers had a lot of time to get to know one another, and thought we’d quite like – in order to attract custom, you understand – a dedicated room with comfortable seating, time for a few readings, and mulled wine. God knows what the readings would be like by the end of the day.
In between landing and sitting (as it were) and also afterwards, there was much frantic deep-cleaning to my house as I am very temporarily leasing it to a friend who is between houses. I hasten to say this is by no means a long term thing, though will help a little until the movie offer/enormous publishing advance/Booker prize come through.
And now you see why this newsletter was so late.
Next year is already looking eventful. My older son is getting married in April, so here comes a long and excruciating economy flight. Drink lots of water; walk up and down the aisles. Still, it will all be enchanting at the end.
The Victorian blog this time is all about ladies’ fans, and their unexpected role in communications at public occasions. Read on at www.jlcrozier.com
Have a great Christmas and new year, and may we all receive the peace and health we need and deserve, world leaders doing the right thing on climate change and human rights, a showering of awards and rewards for our work…
Lots of love,