Thursday 29 August 2013

What can you do with a lot of grapes?

For five years we tried to grow grapes. The vines grew 6 inches then keeled over. Then a few years ago this happened. The vine grew all the way up the wall and invited itself in.

We prune it to an inch of the ground every year. Clearly it doesn't mind.
It's a glass-roofed room, so too cold to sit in most of the winter. In the summer it’s great, but...

... although the vine leaves keep the glare of the sun out, the vine leaks sap. The sap makes newsprint run so it’s an unpredictable business sitting in there with a cuppa reading a newspaper. 
Splat! Half the article is indecipherable. Splash! Direct hit in the tea. 
I suppose grape sap isn't poisonous.

Now they're just starting to ripen. And what can you do with all those grapes but convert them into bottles of red wine?

Monday 12 August 2013

Hearing voices outside my head @livingaudio247

It has never occurred to me before to link voices with a rabbit’s ears and Belgium. I've lived with a lot of people’s voices inside my head but never heard them through my ears. Living Audio is turning The Doll Makers into an audio book and I'm going to hear Annie’s voice for the first time. Not only her, also Pieternel, Aunt Marian, Dean, Mike and all the cast.

So wherefore the rabbit’s ears? It’s a weirder feeling than it should be, knowing that the audio project is going ahead and I’m going to hear the voices of these characters. It can hardly have come as a surprise, so why does it feel so odd?

I think it’s because I've never taken these ideas out and looked at them properly, they've just been there as background. And it reminds me of the 21st birthday party and the family reminiscences that turned to pets in general and a particular rabbit. ‘Do you remember,’ said the birthday girl, ‘the time Flopsy got ill and the vet made her better but the medicine turned her ears black.’ Sudden pregnant silence. One of those old memories, sitting there as background for years, is taken out and considered intellectually. Oops.

And Belgium? Same principle. My father had a trip to Belgium when I was 4. It went down in the family annals for all manner of reasons (tractor having to be called to pull a car out of a ditch and so on) but the thing I took from it at the time was that my father was flying there. Ergo, Belgium was in the sky.

I didn't make my first trip to Belgium until I was in my 30s. I went by plane. I was forced to think in a non-abstract way about where Belgium actually is. And what a surprise. My mental image still saw it in the sky and it genuinely astonished me to find it terrestrially located (bit of a relief though).

So it’s that but without the rabbity trauma. I knew once the book was going to be audioed that I’d hear the characters’ voices. But hey, I’m REALLY going to hear the characters’ voices.