1. A slice of chocolate cake with our coffee.
2. To let a massage therapist treat the place in my lower back that I try hard not to think about too much.
3. The moment I draw breath the children batter me with questions about the story.
2. We get the early Christmas decorations out. Things that seemed tired and gaudy on 6 January 2021 are fresh and exciting and charming on 1 December.
3. I have disappeared a few of the Christmas books to keep the collection a reasonable size and so I can buy some new titles if I fancy it. But Bettany asks pointedly for 'My special book about the little girl and her brother writing to Santa.' So I will have to un-disappear that one.
1. We sleep and sleep and sleep. It's 11am when we wake up properly.
2. Our very competent landlord holds out his sticky hands for a piece of kitchen roll and says that this is why he's not allowed to do caulking.
3. The children tumble through the door and try to tell us everything all at once.
1. For a few days now people have been commenting that it really feels like winter now. The trees on Broadwater Down are no longer orange and brown; they are grey in the sunshine.
2. Standing waiting on the edge of the football pitch, at last we have time to catch up.
3. To come home carrying a parcel of warm chips.
1. To stand for a moment observing the drifts and layers of morning mist.
2. I realise that of course there is time to smooth Bettany's ruffled feathers and tell her that it's usual to be a bit anxious before you go and have your hair done in a completely new style.
3. It's my turn to do the Scouts run. It's an hour and a half, in a hall that is just a bit too far from home to make walking back worth it. I wait in the pub -- which has an open fire and two older men gossiping -- with a pint and then a half of bitter, my notebook and a nice soft pencil.
|Hiroshige: Man on horseback crossing a bridge (Wikimedia Commons)|
2. Instead of a dark walk home, we are offered a lift in a luxurious car with enormous leather seats.
3. I have had enough of reading: instead I stare at a book of Hiroshige prints until I am too sleepy to focus.
1. It makes me feel more than a bit vulnerable to be interviewed by Sarah Salway about my writing practice in a short video, but I'm so glad I did it. We even 3BT live on camera by way of a workshop exercise -- to my surprise I come up with three completely different beautiful things for the previous 24 hours. (Sarah has a collection of extraordinary short fiction out, by the way -- Not Sorry.
2. The mother who brought Alec back from his football match said he was a gracious loser.
3. Alec's post-football bathwater is brownish when he gets out, but he still has a smudge on his face.
3b. Bettany muttering darkly about the strictness of other people's mothers.
1. We hear Bettany's alarm go off, and then her thumping footsteps coming up the stairs for a morning cuddle.
2. At coffee time I find two heart-shaped lebkuchen in the biscuit tin.
3. At the bonfire, in the dark, a smallish person, well bundled up in waterproofs, runs up to Alec and says, 'You're my favourite Year 6.'
1. Surprise! Our neighbours are at the soft play centre. She says, 'I'm working. It's the only two hours I've got.' That's great, because I'd planned to sit with a coffee and read.
2. The casual, welcoming friendliness of really good pub staff during a quiet lunchtime.
3. Jupiter -- I think -- is hanging bright and clear to the south.