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A change of plans

The best-laid plans

Well, it's Friday the Thirteenth. Ooh err. 

All nonsense, of course, but the day starts with our having to cancel planned filming on our new movie, The Garden, as it's chucking it down with rain and some of the crew have come down splat with colds in any case.

They were filming here yesterday in bitter temperatures. Although I'd sent out an email reminding everyone to dress in their warmest clothes I was a bit surprised when they all turned up in short jackets. I think people underestimate how cold you get when you're standing around in the cold rather than walking around in it.

The DH, of course, was walking about without a coat at all, not because he's hard, but because he'd donned his Regatta fleece thermals as a base layer and was wearing neoprene-lined wellies, so he was as warm as toast.

The day began thrillingly frost-covered, with the whole landscape looking like a Christmas card, but to my, and everyone elses's surprise, he didn't want to film in it for continuity reasons, and instead waited until most of the frost had burned off. A missed opportunity to my mind, but then it's not my movie.

My job, as usual, was makeup and costumes. Our main female character, who is nameless, is dressed a bit like a rock chick, necessitating jeans, loads of cheap jewellery, a t-shirt with writing all over it and a denim waistcoat. This, quelle surprise, had gone missing in the post (exactly as happened with our last shoot), but luckily one of the crew had an old denim jacket that he didn't mind us butchering, so while the crew had breakfast, I frantically cut it up to make a waistcoat (sleeves off, shoulders narrowed, bottom trim removed and sides taken in). I then frayed all the raw edges and it looked great - exactly what we were after. 

Since our earlier location had blown out (hence the necessity to film at our house), and along with it, the caterer, I was also doing the food, and had spent hours over the previous few days creating vegetarian soups and curries, plus puddings, for the supposed seven to eight crew members. Only two are veggie, but it saved cooking two separate dishes.

After everyone had had breakfast and gone out, I tidied up, kept the woodburner loaded up and then, at 11.00, took hot chocolate, cakes and hot water bottles out into the garden, all of which were met with alacrity by the freezing crew. E, our sound girl, ended up with a hot water bottle under each arm, stuffed up her gilet, while P, a new guy on board, had feet that were completely frozen.  

Once elevenses were over, I started on lunch, gently reheating a Chinese mushroom soup I'd made the day before, plus a quiche that P had brought with him, and focaccias and ciabattinis. M kept popping in and out, as she had to 'look summery', but she was streaming with cold, and C too began to feel achey and shivery as the day wore on.

Lunch was meant to be at 1.00 but they carried on filming till 1.45, then we all sat down and everyone ate like they'd never seen food before. It must have been tough going outside again after that, even though the day had warmed up to a balmy 9 degrees or so. I was glad I could stay in by the fire. 

Another hour's filming and they began to lose the light, and they finished up about 4.30. I made coffees for everyone then, and we reviewed the rushes, and everyone toddled off home again, ready to be up at 6.00 this morning for another day.

Sadly, it is not to be, so it's back to adopt Plan B, fridge up the massive vegetarian curry that was defrosting in the kitchen, and we'll just have to hope we can start again tomorrow.   

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A question of balance

A bit of balance would be very welcome in our lives right now.

Well 2015 does seem to be getting off to a bad start. We could really do with things getting back to normal pretty soon. 

Not only did I start the year with a job loss, so have almost no money coming in, this was shortly followed by the terrible massacres in Paris (and even round here the gendarmes are now armed with sub-machine guns, which is hardly a comforting sight), then the death of a close friend, and then by some upset in a couple of groups of which I'm a member. Someone also reversed into our car while we were parked.

Hopefully these things will all blow over, but it feels almost like there was a shiver in the ether or something. I am keen for things to get back to normal.

The death of our friend and colleague Steve Gold, in particular, has thrown us into not only grief but a mid-life crisis. The other day, the DH and I sat down and decided to make strong efforts to achieve more happiness in our lives. In his case, that means film-making and electronics; in mine it means more sewing and beading. And for both of us it means getting out more and feeling as if we really live in France, rather than just in our house. Beautiful though it is, it could be anywhere - Scotland or Wales - and if one doesn't make the trips to the bakery and the café and the patisserie, some very pleasant aspects of French life go by the board. 

In the interests of achieving some peace and quiet psychologically, I am also progressing in my Zen Den. The daybed has arrived, which replaces the old double bed, and it has been furnished with a nice mattress and lots of cushions. I've installed some lovely Diptyque candles, a little Zen garden, my singing bowl and runes, lots of light in the shape of SAD lightboxes, daylight-balanced fluorescents and softer lighting for evening. There's room for my yoga mat to go down without having to move anything, and the animals, much as I love them, can be shut out. (As anyone who's tried to do yoga with cats or dogs around will know, they do tend you 'help you out' in distinctly unhelpful ways...). My plan now is to sell our old Renault to pay for a huge cupboard to be built in.

The other night I had one of my white menopausal nights and came down at about 4.00am. Instead of sitting in our vast living room, I went and snuggled up in the Zen Den under a quilt and read a 1920s book of household tips until I felt sleepy again. It was lovely to have this quiet, white retreat with no fear of disturbance and I think it will be a haven in the coming months. 

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Charlie Hebdo sold out

The first million copies have all gone

It's 9.30am and we're just back from a trip into town to buy Charlie Hebdo. No joy - it's sold out. 

In our local presse, we managed to reserve a copy for Friday - the Thursday reserves are all booked. One copy each - you can't buy multiple copies, it's strictly one per person. In the supermarket, meanwhile, it was all sold out within minutes of the store opening.

The solidarity shown by the French people since this godawful incident is amazingly heartening. The extremists have stuck a fork in the toaster this time, when they kill journalists, police officers and Jews and threaten the civil liberties of an entire nation.

I know that the image on the cover offends some Muslims who have decided it's Mohammed (although whether it is, is moot, and there is besides a long tradition of depicting the Prophet in Shia Islam - the idea that depictions are and always have been forbidden is simply not true). But I live in a village with a church, whose presence offends me because I am an atheist. I have a friend who is a big fan of Thatcher. We can't all go around killing one another because we disagree about subjects - offence is something that is taken, not given.

 

 

 

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Steve Gold RIP

A good friend died last night.

Our friend Steve Gold died last night. 

He had complications following heart surgery, which he had needed for a long time due to his heart failing. 

Steve and I were friends for about 25 years, almost half my life, and he was friends with my husband for even longer. In fact, he was how we met. I was working on PC Dealer magazine in 1991 when Steve, who was acting editor, brought aboard his friend 'Rotsky' to act as features editor.

Steve was always an ebullient man. Fundamentally a techhead, he had also worked as a psychiatric nurse or orderly - I forget which - and was one of the first to warn me that my then-boyfriend was a psycho (he was not at all wrong, as it later proved). He was a kind and generous co-worker and few of those who knew him will forget his 'hacking' of the fruit machines in various pubs to pay for rounds of drinks for the PC Dealer team.

When I met my now-husband of nearly 20 years, Steve was the one who lent us his flat so we could talk in peace and quiet. He was sympathetic partly because he had by then met the woman who would become his wife, Sylvia. On one occasion, Sylvia was visiting her family in Poland and Steve decided to send her some red roses. He spent about 20 dollars, not realising that this would buy all the roses in the district, and the flowers arrived at the family house by the cartload. 

Although we spoke just about every week on the phone, I last saw Steve in 2011, when I visited London briefly. I was a bit shocked by his appearance. Even then, he was looking pale, though his personality was as ebullient as ever and he made light of any concerns. He gave me a cake for my birthday, and, as ever, he slipped me some tablets - on this occasion Imuran - understanding very well how poorly I was with my ulcerative colitis. We took different routes on that issue - he taking whatever the medical profession could offer him, myself opting for the natural and diet method. But it may be that the UC in the end was what killed him - he told me last year that it had weakened his heart and he would need major surgery.

He went in for this not long before Christmas, which we knew although he hadn't announced it - worried, perhaps, as a freelance journalist, that people might not book him for work if they knew how ill he was? I don't know, but although he seemed to be recovering well from surgery, yesterday he could not be woken, and he died in the night.

We'll miss you, Glod. I don't care how good a journalist you were, or how respected in your field. For us, you were just a good mate. Rest in peace.  

 

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Je suis Charlie

Christ, what a terrible day.

Je Suis charlie

What can you say about these people? 

What can you say about people who will kill a man just because he thinks differently? Who will shoot in the head a defenceless man lying on the ground? Who will kill a man who does nothing but draws a line on paper that disagrees with their world view? 

Yesterday was a shocking day for France. These terrorists are not just killers but murderers. Not just murderers but executioners. Not just executioners but assassins. They chose their targets carefully, and through sheer hatred - men who had committed no crime, but reserved the right to say, and draw, what they thought, as is their right in a democracy. 

As fellow journalists, we feel it keenly. The victims were like us. These were people sitting in an editorial meeting, on an ordinary day, as we ourselves have done so many hundreds of times in other newspaper offices, in other cities. The ordinariness of such a day, ending in fear and tragedy for no good reason at all. It beggars belief. So many bereaved and orphaned children, for what? Who kills cartoonists, for Christ's sake?

France has long defended freedom of speech and Charlie Hebdo takes the piss out of everyone - Jews, Christians, Buddhists, politicians. It reserves the right to be offensive. It is one of things for which it is loved. And never, ever, has this offence been a killing issue until now, with these Islamic extremists.

Now it is the moderate Muslims who will pay for it as the right-wing nut-jobs exact their revenge on everyone they can get their hands on - the housewives and the taxi drivers, the shopkeepers and the children. This terrorist attack plays straight into the hands of the Right.

And perhaps we British too will suffer - because there are plenty of Le Pen scum who would love to kick us out of this country. My own commune did not shift to the National Front in recent elections, but all around us are communes that did - something we would not have thought possible when we moved here under Mitterand's Socialist government so many years ago.  

Life in France feels bleak today. We can only hope that they catch these murderers soon and bring them to something approaching justice. 

 

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Project 333

Could you stick to 33 items of clothing for the next three months?

A streamlined wardrobe

Twenty sacks and counting.

A room of one's own

I'm creating a Zen space for myself.

The big declutter

Decluttering is an exhausting but fulfilling process.

A calmer environment

We recently stayed in the most beautiful holiday place we've ever booked and it's inspired me to change my home.

Dog happy

You can't be precious with dogs in the house.

Rohan

Rohan has been around a long time, but it's a new label for me.

No to this

I sometimes think there's nothing at all to wear...

The end of the maize

The last harvest of the year is upon us

A nip in the air

Autumn is approaching - time for fleece pyjamas