Monday 22 February 2010

Little Shop Girl's Diary

I went up to the attic today and found exactly what I was looking for.
A Diary of a ten year old.
You see, I’m working on a new novel and my two main characters start young and grow up during the course of the story.
It’s a bit of an epic.
And it’s going to be fun.
Hopefully as fun as looking though my diaries and seeing how much of a geek I was.
When I was little I started up an ‘Animal and Tree Rescue Club’ which took place in our Assembly room while we waited for our parents to collect us.
We didn’t do any actual rescuing. We just swapped stickers (two shiny ones for a furry) and wrote fact files about our pets.
Eg. Animal: Hamster
Name: Blob
Nickname: Blobus, Bobby, Blobby-Blob, Tom.
Likes: Eating, sleeping, Me
Dislikes: Our cat
Some say I was a despotic leader.
They were the ones I expelled.
I expelled them because they were fighting each other and I couldn’t afford to let them ruin the image of my club.
Such disciplinary measures might sound alarming coming from a fluffy-haired, toothy ten year old who couldn’t even spell disciplinary if her life depended on it.
However I have evidence that suggests I wasn’t all bad.
Along with my diaries, I also found a letter from the RSPCA thanking us for our kind donation of ten pounds.
So, there we are, proof that I was a strict but effective leader.
I have no idea where the ten pounds came from since we never did anything useful enough to raise money. But I’m sure it was got through fair means.
The club was obviously a key part of my life as a ten year old.
My diary begins with a promise: I promise that I will do my best to look after trees and wildlife.
And then I wrote down a Law.
Yes, an actual Law.
And it was this: I shall not tread on, or say ‘ergh’ to eny Animal or Insect.
Ah, but humans are weak.
Since then I’ve brutally murdered many insects, including a memorable and most satisfying splat of a big black buzzing creature against a bus window.
It may have been the last one of its species but at least I didn’t say ‘ergh’.
Sixteen years on and the pages of my oldest diary are still scented.
My diary reminds me of a time when stickers and toy trolls were the centre of my world, and boys were of no interest and generally annoying.
Even at ten I wanted to be a novelist, (July 1994: ‘I’ve started a new book which I’m going to get published’) and the attic is full with mini novels, including ‘Evil Eyes’ mentioned on the back of my book Shop Girl Diaries.
I can’t help grinning when I flick through all those early pages.
They mark the very beginning of a dream.
True happiness may exist in the present.
But for a moment, I drift into the future and visualise my first best seller.

Friday 12 February 2010

Shop Girl and The Date

The Date’s UK Visa has been rejected.
I didn’t cry until I’d got off the phone.
Imagine if you had five days to leave the country.
Five days to close down your whole life.
To pack up your home, cancel the telly, the phone.
To say goodbye to the contacts you’ve worked so hard to get and to the jobs which were finally taking you where you wanted to go.
Imagine five days left with your friends.
Five days left with your girlfriend, except it wouldn’t be five days together because you’d be too busy packing your life up.
Could you do it?
We’ve already taken more than a year to close the shop and we’re still open.
We even fitted a new shutter last week. (Don’t ask, I don’t know.)
The Date has lodged an appeal. At the worst it will buy him time.
Four weeks, I think.
Something gave way inside me when he told me the news.
All those things that had mattered before like getting my own space and finding a new job ceased to be important.
What is independence if you have no control over the big things?
My heart isn’t heavy. My heart is fine.
Life may be uncertain but there is certainty in what I care about.
I feel light because for me there is no dilemma.
If he goes then I’ll follow.
I’ve always preferred happy endings.