Life, Hedwig, novels, trumpets – things like that.

It’s been a while. I had another baby, wrote a lot, struggled to balance everything, lost my mind to anxiety for a while, rebalanced things….

… and throughout all this I DID NOT BLOG.

I just didn’t want to.

And then suddenly today, I’m writing this.

I wanted to draw up a list of my top ten London cafes to write in, and then I started to think of the other things that I wanted to tell you about….

So many things have happened. For example my friends Ben and Nathan got married in the form of a musical for Channel Four.

I was best woman. It was deeply moving, and hilarious and nerve-wracking and something that no one who was part of will ever forget. The bit which stays with me the most bit is Andy Bell’s reworking of A Little Respect.

Ben is Benjamin Till, a brilliant WORD FOR LOTS OF THINGS who has written a new musical, Brass, which is premiering with the NYMT at the City Varieties in Leeds. I’m dramaturg which basically means I get to cast an outside eye over his wonderful script. It’s a brilliant piece of work, a First World War story about a brass band who get sent to the frontline and the women they leave behind. You can find out about the show here…

Dylan and I went to visit our dear friends Steve and Waidehi in Philadelphia and managed to fit in a 3 day trip to New York with the kids. Whilst there I had a BRIEF MOMENT OF BEING A GROWNUP and went to see this…

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH!!! I am a huge fan of Hedwig, and have been ever since I saw the movie many years ago. My favourite song is Wig in a Box which you can have a look at here.

That’s the movie version. When they played it on stage I nearly cried with happiness. Neil Patrick Harris rocked. The show was an unbridled joy from beginning to end.

I’ve been working with the original Hedwig, actor/writer/director/amazing human being John Cameron Mitchell and producer extraordinaire Howard Gertler for a few years on a film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties which is finally ready (the script at any rate!) The development process has been a pure delight and I hope to tell you good news about the production soon.

Other things you might like to know:

….. I’m writing a novel. I started getting into prose fiction for children when Dylan and I began writing Christmas stories for our nephews and nieces. Now I’ve turned one of those short stories (Lily’s) into a whole novel. I’m thrilled and excited to be doing it. It’s such a different skill to screenwriting and it’s hard work, but it’s worth it because when it’s finished it will be a wonderful thing that I’ve created and children will read and (hopefully) find inspiring. And it will be mine. All mine. I’m going to test it out on my nieces, nephews and children. If I can survive that critique, I’m ready for anything.

…… Photographer extraordinaire Gabrielle Motola always introduces me to new worlds, just as she did this week when we went to see this man draw Tank Girl live on the roof of Rockwell House.

Really inspiring. It made me want to collaborate on some comics.

…… Afterwards we went to see Samaris play Birthdays. They were wonderful and fey and a bit disturbing just like a living Icelandic fairytale should be. Go and take a look.

Well now I’ve written so much I’ll have to save the coffee shops for next time.

Oh, and this week I played a trumpet for the first time ever. It sounded terrible. It made me feel wonderful. I hired it. All this time I’ve secretly longed to be a ginger Louis Armstrong. Sorry in advance to the neighbours…

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Can’t blog. Won’t blog. MUST BLOG.

Today I’m trying to write my way through a thick fog of sleep-deprivation; it’s making the most surreal screenplay I’ve ever written seem even odder. Last night Deia woke almost every hour shouting for her father (in Singapore,) me (lying next to her,) and breakfast (at two am.) Who knows why? Maybe the knock on effects of being in Austria over the weekend, maybe a stomach bug, maybe too much excitement at the Zoo yesterday – carousels, penguin joy, butterflies on her head, bouncy castles and monkeys hopping onto prams. But really, the terrible truth is that some children just don’t sleep well until they’re three – or (please God, no) even four or five. So if you don’t want to sleep-train, you just have to ride it out. Me and my face are here to show you that the journey – although beautiful – can be very ageing.

And what if there were two children? How on earth would that work?  I saw my friends Julia and Cosi yesterday – both with toddlers at their heels and babies strapped to their backs. Both radiant despite almost never sleeping. Warrior women. Remarkable. Am I up to it? Well not today, that’s for sure. Today I’m going to write some more madness and then hang out with Deia and her godfather. At six o’clock I’ll squeeze my feet into some seldom-used high-heels and dip my face into a vat of foundation for Sophie’s birthday in a pop-up restaurant in Exmouth Market. Trendy! Youthful! Hopefully the fog will lift enough for me to find my way out of Hackney…

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Butterfly Blog

December 24th 2010 – Hilltop Farm, County Durham.

I was about to start writing about the magical wonder of Christmas Eve in a kind of kitsch tribute to my years of Disney indoctrination, when a butterfly materialised on the wall by the bed and started circling the light. 

The thing is, it’s minus 10 outside. Minus 10…

And I’m not saying that the butterfly actually, definitively IS the spirit of my grandmother, who passed away four days ago, come back to visit me. But, you know… surely there’s a distinct possibility….

We’re at Dylan’s parents’ house, Hilltop, a deeply eccentric farmhouse near Darlington. Current inhabitants, Chris and Janina (the parents), Kate (my Mum), Brigitte (sister in law), Deia (daughter), Dylan (husband), Gabrielle (godmother of daughter), Tessa (dog), Kismet and Oscar (puppies), three horses and an as yet anonymous Shetland pony. Today we take delivery of Rob (friend) and Gareth (brother in law).

Christmas day will bring even more, but Hilltop will accommodate all of us with ease and delight. Chris and Janina never fail to astonish me in this respect – producing unexpected beds in crumbling outbuildings and somehow making them cosy with (health hazard) ancient gas heaters and three hot water bottles; ladling delicious ox-tail soup from a pot which has been bubbling on the stove for two days; receiving news of your life back home with enough interest to make you feel  you’ve come from some kind of mystical kingdom; every action, every detail is woven together into the enchantment of Hilltop, which is nothing less than a blessing to travellers.

The puppies are super-cute, but mostly incontinent. Much mania around cleaning obvious poos off the floor, stepping in hidden poos under the dinner table, disinfecting the floor, running out with puppies into the snow as poo threatens etc.

Deia is delighted. She loves this proof that other people are as fascinated by this marvelous bodily function as she is. Last night, to show solidarity, she pooed in the bath…

Right now she’s sitting on my lap in bed, watching Charlie and Lola on the other half of my screen. Dylan is bringing us toast and tea…

My butterfly has de-materialised. But then Granny had three children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren spread over two continents – she has a busy Christmas Eve ahead of her…

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