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By their very nature, collections of short stories will be a mixed bag of winners and losers. This collection stands above that. Most collections are ‘edited by’ someone, but this book is different; this book is ‘curated by’ Abi Elphinson, and you really get the feeling that she has brought together these stories though a love of them much like objects are curated in a museum. She hasn’t touched, or changed these stories, just brought them together in one, beautiful volume.
There are some standout stories in here; A Night at the Frost Fair by Emma Carroll and Michelle Harrison’s The Voice in the Snow – proof if proof be needed that though short it maybe, a story can be big and powerful and perfect. I enjoyed The Magic of MidwinterThe Wishing Book by Piers Torday.
If it were possible to have Winter Magic: Volume II next Christmas, then it would be a treat beyond treats.
Had one of those weird thoughts this evenings about what will happen to all my most-treasured posessions after I’m (and Emma) are gone. The thoughts centred around the assumption that by the time I get old, my books will have become successful and wide enough known about that my estate will be pass to the National Trust. This evening I imagined them opening up my former home as their first cat museum. By which I mean that, visitors will be able to tour the place that I lived, and worked, and wrote my books and there would be cats living there just as there are cats living in my home.
Do you ever have thoughts about what will happen to your possessions after you’re gone?
I love our little independent shops in Bicester. Well, most of them. I’ve already spoken about how I (sadly) don’t feel the love for Cole’s Books in the way that I feel I should for an independent bookshop. Our little independent bicycle shop, Broadribbs, is a different story. They’ve been in the town for as long as anyone can remember. Emma even had her first bike from there when she was a child as well as her latest bike just a decade ago.
We popped in there today to do some preliminary investigations for me getting a folding bike with the work cyclescheme so that I could cycle to the bus, and then from town into work. It’s definitely a tempting prospect, and if I do I shall definitely be getting it from Broadribbs…
Friday 13th. We’re now on day thirteen of 2017, and two working weeks in, and I have managed to wake up every morning so far with my alarm only to fail to get up as I should and instead getting up much later. I have however, somehow managed to get to my correct bus on time. I’m not entirely sure how I’m managing this but I’m sure it’s all going to go horribly wrong at some point.
So Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said some things to today that have confused me. He’s come out and said that Britain doesn’t necessary need free movement of workers and access to the single market. He’s also said that there should be a cap to the very highest earners. On this latter point, my problem with that is if you cap the wages of the highest paid you also cap the potential taxes you could get from them.
I voted for Corbyn, and I dislike the way that PLP have refused to get behind him, but I am beginning to get concerned by him. Sherlock actor, Martin Freeman, puts it very well in an interview in this week’s Radio Times:
The thing is, for me as a Labour supporter, he said a lot of things that I’ve been waiting for a Labour leader to say for years and years and years. But you also have to look at practicality, you know, so I’m observing that with interest.
Sunday. With no work to get up for (myself), or as yesterday (for Emma), I actually got to sleep through to whenever nature decided was my time to wake. Thinking about it, despite the three weeks off I had, this might have been one of the first days in ages that I have been able to wake up in this way what with family commitments at Christmas and workmen to get up for. It was bliss; waking up to the morning light drifting in through the curtains. I came to, propped myself up and read some fore we finally got up and breakfasted.
Emma’s head/ear is still not right, but she set to cleaning out the fish and seeing to Alice who is currently living freerange in the garage (and I think making some improvement) whilst I cleaned out the bunnies and the other chickens. Around lunchtime, just as we we were thinking about lunch Emma got a callout so I made myself some bread and cheese and settled down to lunch with Gardener’s Question Time on the radio.
This morning, after early rain cleared up to be actually quite nice whilst I worked in the garden, but during the afternoon it came over all grey and murky again, and I retreated to the armchair to read 2017 Book 2 – a book that I have been looking forward to relish reading ever since I found out about it. Winter Magic is a collection of short stories by a number of great authors, and curated by Abi Elphinstone.
I’ve read the first two stories so far. Emma Carroll’s A Night at the Frost Fair was delicious, and Amy Alward’s The Magic of Midwinter was inventive in an Eoin Colfer kind of way. Next up is Michelle Harrison’s The Voice in the Snow…
Next up, all I need to do is find a time to get back to my own writing. I love reading, and I love to make time for reading but I also want and need to make time for writing. Those thirty days of NaNoWriMo seem so long ago. I need to get back to that, and finish my story of The Imaginary Wife.
I’ve never been homeless and I do not pretend to know what that must feel and be like. Each morning though, on the way to work, as I walk across the city from one bus to the next, I see them sleeping in shop doorways. At 7.30 in the morning it is like the city is switching over between two worlds that don’t co-exist. Come back at any other of the day and these homeless people will not be found.
I often wonder what their stories are, how they come to be living rough; I wonder what they do during the day, and where they go. If I was any other writer (or just anyone else) I might ask them, find out their stories but that would being someone who wasn’t as shy as I am. It doesn’t stop me wonder though, and wonder at the stories…
Mr Tumnal is the story of a man and his imaginary friend, and The Imaginary Wife, is the story of the the man’s imaginary friend. Sequel to them both will be Forgotten Friends – the story of all the imaginary friends out there who have been left behind by the people who dreampt them up and then cast aside by society. What if the homeless were these imaginary friends – people with their own lives and their own cultures, linked to all of us but unseen and forgotten, seen only at the edges of the day and night, and only if you really look for them.
Alice is a poorly bird. And there’s often not you can do with a poorly chicken, so today Emma took her off to the vets sure that she would be coming home with an empty basket. We don’t don’t really know what’s wrong with her but she is quite badly jaundiced. The decision was made to put her to sleep, because as I said, there’s not much you can do for chickens.
The thing is Alice is only six months old and hasn’t even layed her first egg. The vet decided that there could be some things to try and as she was generally quite perky, she’s had a reprieve. She lives to see another day, and we are left to medicate a chicken twice a day for I don’t how long.
Had an awful journey back from work on the bus today. Getting the 4 o’clock one from town because of finishing early on Fridays, which I had to run from I went upstairs. I try to get a seat on the front row because of having a little more legroom. Three of the four seats were taken already though, with one being taken up by some girl’s shopping bags. I asked perfectly nicely if the seat was free, whereupon she looked like I had asked to murder her mother, and grudgingly moved her bag. She then spent virtually the entire time from the centre of Oxford complaining that I was sitting to close and that she had no room despite the fact that I was well within my space on the seat and if anything was falling off the seat. She was completely unreasonable and petty – so much so that some girls sat across the isle had a go at her for all her moaning. If she’d been nicer about it, I might have relented and moved to another seat, but I thought, no, I’m fine and I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m staying. I like to think that she built her stress and anger up within her and made her really miserable.