27.11.2012

'What is a weekend?'

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Sunday was a good day. We were getting ready to go out for a walk and while we waited for our girls to extract themselves from their pyjamas (a lengthy task), I clicked on Facebook to see what was happening. The poet Jean Bleakney had sent me a link to the Guardian’s Books of the Year 2012 in which a number of published writers had named their recommendations. ‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘this is interesting, potential Christmas pressie ideas.’ I scrolled down through the books taking note of John Banville’s favourites, Ali Smith’s, Wendy Cope’s and then I reached Downton writer Julian Fellowes’ picks, at which point I very nearly fell off my swivel chair. He’d only gone and named The Butterfly Cabinet as his novel of the year (which is why, I realised belatedly, Jean had sent me the link in the first place). I think I may, momentarily, have stopped breathing. I grabbed the laptop and ran down the stairs. ‘Come here, come here!’ I shouted at the family who couldn’t tell from my face if the news was good or bad. ‘Downton,’ I gasped. My husband nodded. ‘Julian Fellowes,’ I said. He nodded again. He must have thought my obsession had reached epic proportions. No plot twist could merit this kind of reaction. Finally, I pointed. ‘Read!’ I said. So he did, and he grinned, and the girls did, and then everyone shouted and there were hugs all round and then the girls got out of their pyjamas and we went for our walk.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of Downton Abbey. As soon as I heard that the writer of Gosford Park had written a series I was there. Gosford Park is one of my favourite movies. When I was writing The Butterfly Cabinet and reading the first-hand accounts of Victorian servants, I kept seeing those scenes from the film where the kitchen operates like a massive engine room, keeping the ship of the big house afloat. I am a member of an informal online writing group with a number of other friends and while a large part of our time is spent supporting and encouraging each other, when Downton is showing, Monday is given over to post-show discussion. ‘O’Brien, how could you?’ and ‘Mmmm, Branson,’ and ‘Hurrah for the Dowager!’ and ‘No! Mr Bates!’ are the flavour of the day. (I will confess, there is one of our number who is not a fan. She’s a Hobbit kind of girl. She says the second a hairy dwarf appears in Downton she’s in there, but not before. Plot idea, Lord Fellowes?) So needless to say, I’m chuffed. "'What is a weekend?'" Dowager, let me tell you. It's a quiet spell before the week ahead, when an unexpected piece of good news will have you smiling idiotically at your computer screen for a good few days to come. Now if only I could get on with writing the next one (in which, at the moment, there isn’t a single decent frock to be seen).



Comments

Bernie
Even though he doesn't write the dwarves, Mandy?
Tue, 27/11/2012 - 4:32pm
Mandy T

Fantastic news, and very well deserved! He obviously has impeccable taste. :)

Tue, 27/11/2012 - 4:09pm
Bernie
Not famous at all I would imagine, Tina, but I'm still smiling nonetheless. Thank you! B
Tue, 27/11/2012 - 2:54pm
Tina Mullan

Well well done Bernie....how famous are you going to be!!!!

Tue, 27/11/2012 - 2:31pm

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