Oh monster, my monster

As I start writing this, it’s 12.15am. In about six and a half hours I will be crawling out of bed to make a Pokémon cake for my nephew’s 10th birthday, before he arrives for a day of being spoiled. (‘What flavour?’ ‘Pokémon flavour!’ Vanilla will have to do.)

Anyway, he and his mum and her boyfriend came over earlier this afternoon. He fed the dogs lettuce until they were near ready to mug him for his pasta. He became best friends with Dog 1, who pinned him down with a paw and attempted to clean his head. After that they were inseparable. Dog 2 – less boisterous, likes her space – wagged her tail from a safe distance.

At some point in the evening he looked up at our mantelpiece, where everything gets stacked in a way that could be considered ‘decorative’ over the fake fire that we never plug in, and spotted my A Monster Calls print.

A-Monster-Calls-616x403

like this. (OBVIOUSLY, this is an illustration by artist genius Jim Kay)

That print was my first (possibly last) ‘big’ art buy, after I met Jim Kay’s agent at a launch Q&A (I think) for the book, with Kay and Patrick Ness.  2011. It was clear, then, how completely this story – this publication – would be a classic.

‘Look!’ says Nephew. ‘That’s the monster from A Monster Calls! It’s a good book.’

‘Yes, it is’ I say, meaning both yes, it is the monster, and yes, it is a good book. ‘That picture’s signed by Jim Kay, the illustrator.’

Nephew looks at me with great satisfaction. ‘I’ve got the book, and it’s signed to me, by both of them.’

‘I know,’ I say. ‘I got it for you for your second birthday. I think they thought I was a bit nuts, asking to have a book signed for a two year old.’

‘I wasn’t two!’

‘You were.’

I’m not sure he believes he was ever really two, but he smiles happily and leans back into his seat, goes back to his game. And I think – it doesn’t matter who got the book. It’s his – his story, signed for him, and always has been in his life as much as he remembers it.

And tomorrow he’s ten, and he’ll be rereading that book when he’s 20, and I hope it’s battered and loved and the ink has faded slightly, and that whenever he comes across it or any reference to it, he has a little jolt of special-ness – I have that book, and it was signed for me, and I have always owned it.

I am kicking myself – we peaked at birthday presents when he was two years old.

Books are brilliant, though.

Here be dragons

My tea is cooling and the dogs are asleep across my legs, and the pervading feeling is one of waiting. I am not good at waiting.

The wait is for 2014 to wobble through its last hours and 2015 to start, because once it starts, life picks up pace again, and I’ll be able to pack and organise and be proactive in a way that isn’t really possible at the moment. Continue reading

Have yourself a ferry little Christmas

Last Monday, travelling on the ferry to my parents’ house for Christmas, I was violently, horribly seasick. As it turns out, the stormy weather meant the ferry we were on would be the last one to run for a day or so, and I’m not at all surprised. It was the worst crossing I’d been on since the age of about 11 and I was absolutely not the only person with their nose in a sickbag for the last hour or so of the trip. Continue reading

Say hello, wave goodbye

It seems premature to be writing this at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, knowing that I’m mostly going to be writing about the weekend or things relating to my weekend when really it’s only half done. But the bigger half is done. That’s terrible English. I just mean the part that was most important and has been quietly taking up a significant part of my thoughts for the past two weeks. The heat melted quite a large part of the rest of my brain, which left me with about 5% focus for the rest of the world. Sorry, work; sorry, Coffee Monster. Continue reading