19th March, 2011: Pineapple for hire

Sometimes it does feel like my entire life is divided into the bits when I’m not trying to write 1,000 words, and the bits when I’m trying to write 1,000 words. I’m not complaining, exactly – this is my choice, entirely. But sometimes you need a day off.

Friday was my day off. I had day gig work to do, of course, but the sun was shining and I just chilled out.

See, already I’ve forgotten something. Friday did involve some writing-related stuff – a couple of emails to Angry Robot about character names, and I checked over my chapters and synopsis for The Suicide Tree and sent those off to the publisher. My beta readers all seemed to really dig what they read, and doing a final pass I quite enjoyed the story myself. So we’ll see what happens.

But in terms of wordcount, there was no action to report.

I did, however, read a really cool book. All My Friends Are Superheroes is short – 108 pages – and is really not even a novella, just a long short story. But it’s very sweet, very strange, and very cool. It’s romantic and funny, and I heartily recommend it to anyone whether they’re interested in superheroes or not. In fact, the superhero aspect – while adding a great deal of humour and originality – is entirely secondary. This is a love story, and a very unusual one. It’s great. Get it. Read it in an hour or less and see if you’re not smiling at the end of it.

Now, today is a writing day, and also the first day this year the weather has been good enough – and it really is a gloriousy sunny day – to get out and about and go look at something old.

One of the reasons we moved from New Zealand to the UK was to experience the rich history this country has. People who are from the UK tend to take it for granted, but that’s entirely understandable – if you’ve grown up surrounded by this kind of stuff, then obviously it’s just how it is. New Zealand does have an interesting history, but it’s on the short side, and in terms of physical objects of any age (like old houses), it’s lacking.

My wife and I are members of the National Trust, and each year try and get around as many properties as we can. Since last year we’ve moved south a little, which has opened up a whole new region of the country to us. Today was Attingham Park

…and it was awesome. I love this kind of things – huge country houses filled with history, paintings, art, furniture, taxidermy (a collection of 82 birds from South America in this case), usually set in amazing grounds which, given the size of the UK and the compression of the inhabited spaces, are vast. That’s me in the black jacket between the columns.

History is full of quirks, and discovering these is all part of the fun. Today I learnt that the pineapple which was the centrepiece of an elborate table setting in the great dining room at Attingham was, in the 18th century, hired out around the various country houses in the area whenever a banquet was held, so exotic and expensive was the fruit.

I love that. A pineapple for hire. I’m sure there’s a short story at least lurking there somewhere.

  • Beautiful building!

  • Completely agree on the ‘taking it for granted’ comment. I didn’t care about England at all when I was there, now… well I think I’m more patriotic than ever.