I had to laugh last week when I read an article by Linda Grant about the shoddiness of some so-called designer clothes - laugh at myself, that is.
She begins the article by saying that she'd had to bin two Zara little black dresses which hadn't lasted two years, too shabby now even for a charity shop. I thought: Two LBDs from Zara?!!! When would a writer like me buy even one LBD from Zara, let alone two? When would a writer like me ever wear an LBD? Once in a blue moon maybe for a prizegiving - and other people's rather than my own, because at my own I'd rather be taken seriously as a writer, not a fashion victim (but there I am, see, obsessed with image anyway) - so when it comes to LBDs (along with most kinds of clothes, I have to admit) it's charity-shop jobs for me. (Which is why, perhaps, when I went as a guest of winner Carl Tighe to the Authors' Club first book award, an amazingly beautiful ice queen in an absolutely up-to-the-minute LBD didn't half give me the snooty once-over in the loo.)
But maybe my reaction to Grant's article was coloured by the fact that I've spent January more or less in my pyjamas, lost in the new series of short stories I've just embarked on and hardly going out - though I seem to be making up for this last at the moment.
You've got to work on your publicity, right? And on Friday I went into town through the wind and snow - my god, it's cold out there in the big wide world! - to Manchester Digital Development Agency, where Art of Fiction blogger Adrian Slatcher was putting into practice an idea he found in that bottle of red wine we had at our post-Christmas drink, and which included filming a 'Meet the Author' type clip of me. I'll put it up on this blog if I turn out not to be too absolutely dreadful - see, there I am again, on about image; or maybe I'm just being sensible: a dreadful image is not going sell any books, or so they say. (How do you know, for instance, that there aren't fangs and carbuncles Photoshopped out of my profile photo?)
And then yesterday I spent the whole day in town at the initial sifting of scripts for the 24:7 Theatre Festival (snow on the ground!). I couldn't imagine how Amanda (Hennessey) and David (Slack) were going to organize it, but it worked like a dream and involved us reading aloud a substantial portion of each play, which, since most of the readers were actors as well as writers and/or directors, ensured that the readings justified the plays as far as possible (you know actors, they have an inbuilt instinct to try and realize characters as well as possible). What a marathon, though! We were so hoarse by the end of it! But it was so enjoyable, and I have to say I was stunned by the general high standard and inventiveness of some of the plays I saw - which means it's going to be a cracking festival come July.
And tomorrow I'm off to London for the day, and in the evening I'll be going to the Salt poetry reading at the Troubadour Cafe, 265 Old Brompton Road, 8.00pm - 10pm. Ten Salt poets reading: I'm really looking forward to it - those Salt poets are fantastic, and the Salt readings are great.