My editor, Debi, sent me the latest report on Flight Into Darkness and has suggested some changes to improve the pace, so the rewrite begins today. Well, maybe tomorrow. Another rejection from another publisher with the same criticisms. OK, OK, I got the message!
I got an email toiday from an old friend, Naomi Gluckstein. Imagine a St Trinian’s schoolgirl who has had a career and retired; that’s Naomi. She was a secretary at EASA and later moved to Technical Training but, at heart, she is a writer. She’s started a blog, slightly pussycat orientated, but that’s OK, says Puggie. Have a look: http://naomismag.livejournal.com/. Now she needs to dust off her two manuscripts and start putting herself about a bit. Shouldn’t be too difficult for an old St Trinian’s girl.
Last night, we went to visit a couple of friends, Henry and Miguel, in Alentejo. It’s 150 km away so was a sleepover. Alentejo is the bit of Portugal north of the Algarve and south of Lisbon; it is the size of the Netherlands and has a population of 25,000 so to say it is tranquil is something of an understatement. The house is in a village called Reliquias (pop. 500), a rather ugly, rundown and claustrophobic place that should be idyllic but isn’t. The access road to the village is like a farm track and was clearly not designed to impress.
Their house was rebuilt from a few cowsheds on the side of a hill ten years ago and now consists of a sweeping Hello Dolly staircase from which rooms emerge on the way up. At the bottom is the lounge, kitchen and dining room. The whole edifice melds nicely into the architectural style of the village. It’s overlooked by the village church and is absolutely traditional, even to the extent of having the salts of centuries-old cattle urine seeping up the cob walls, requiring an annual whitewash inside and out.
Having built it, they now want to sell it and can’t; it’s a classic case of developing a better house than anything else in the area. Miguel prefers Lisbon but I think Henry will be there forever, a village fixture, referred to in hushed tones as the eccentric Englishman in the big house; the one who lives with another man. A Portuguese man. Fancy. The only gay in the village.
Miguel, who is a history teacher, cooked Bacalhao a Bras and it was fab but it always seems to me that there is an air of melancholy about the house – the exiled Englishman who doesn’t need to work, urbane and sophisticated, in a house that he didn’t really want and can’t leave. He’d clearly be more at home at Ascot and I suspect that probably gets Christmas cards from Camilla.
The weather has been uncharacteristically cloudy and wet. In August, when the clouds gather, the sky seems so heavy that you feel you could reach up and touch it. Then it rains muddy water with Donner und Blitz, covering cars in Moroccan sand and detritis. Then it´s over, the skies clear, it´s mercifully cooler and the fields smile in appreciation. Back to normal tomorrow.
Now, where is that report of Debi’s? Oh, maybe a glass of wine first….