62

“Beware of men who cry. It’s true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own” said Nora Ephron, finger on pulse…

61

“All men dream, but not all equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake to find it was all vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make things happen”. T.E. Lawrence.

60

Nora Ephron, looking back through letters she received from Lillian Hellman, wrote: “it all comes back to me – how charmed I’d been, how flattered, how much less charming they began to seem, how burdensome they became, and then, finally, how boring. The story of Love.” !

59

I’m startled to realise that the end of an affair I truly believed in brings only relief that I’m free to be me again, not the target of someone’s angst, neuroses and destructive anger.

58

With a number of book projects on the go I’m having to learn the harsh discipline of staying focused, though it would be much easier and perhaps more fun in the short term to check email or make a cup of tea…

57

Writing can be a difficult, painful, frustrating, alienating process but when the piece is done, and someone says “it’s great. I really like it” you can’t wait to get going on the next piece.

56

Five years after starting to learn French, my son passes his brevet “avec mention très bien”. Fierce pride mingles with laughter that the highest praise accorded is “very good” but then the French education system is not famous for its motivating techniques.

55

I was genuinely moved to see Jean Dujardin receive his Oscar last night. Cinema was born in France, the French are passionate about film and an incredible number of excellent French movies are made every year. Is it possible the success of The Actor will encourage Americans to watch more foreign films??

54

My teenage self fell in love with France. Three decades later, I’m dining in a magnificent house, in a beautiful French town, with a group of highly articulate, intelligent and creative friends. The food is delicious, the wine excellent, the conversation entertaining, the man next to me beau!… Dreams do come true…

53

Shirley Valentine dreamed of sipping wine in the country where the grape is grown. I have the great good fortune to live in a country where, one unseasonably warm winter evening, I can drink champagne after a long walk in exquisite countryside under bright blue, warm sunny skies. Truly, I’ve found paradise.

52

Rose in the dark, frost in the moonlight. Gangly boys huddle before dawn in subzero temperatures, great clouds of steaming breath billowing above their still tired but excited heads. A rugby tournament, far away. Mon fils, “une tour de contrôle écossaise, un 2e ligne technique, pur malt. » One proud mama!

51

Bright blue skies. Work going really well. Progress on every front: it doesn’t get much better than this!

50

Working from home, trying to meet deadlines, school holidays in full swing (again). Music blaring from wherever there are children. Firmly shut study door regularly flies open with urgent cries. The mess in the kitchen is indescribable: meals merge into one … how I’ll miss this when they’re grown…

49

Mothers’ dilemma: continue working, hire childcare, exercise the grey matter and live comfortably, or stash career on back burner, spend time with the kids, struggle financially, end up crabby, prematurely grey, surrounded by laundry, dirty dishes, mess, grocery bags..? Are we bound to fail whichever path we choose??

48

The (somewhat eccentric) allergy specialist asked “Vous avez un cheval à la maison?” Picturing a 15 hand chestnut stallion in the kitchen, I laughed and said yes, of course. Do you ride the horse? Yes! I replied. My son kept looking at me as though I were mad. I now know “à la maison” doesn’t mean literally in the house…

47

New love enters and a game is played out. Children jealously guard their places in my heart, breathe to see their mother happy, worry because the future is unknown. Divorce carves families; with meetings new ones form. Complicated tendrils mix with hope and desire as we set off on immense journeys, real and metaphorical.

46

Valentine’s Day dawns freshly sprinkled with snow. A welcome rise in temperatures allows me to type wrapped in far fewer layers than of late. I smile to think that on a rain soaked isle some thousand and more miles away, a loved one sips tea reading these same words…

45

A mere six weeks after the last one, my children are on yet another two week holiday from school. The younger one has become fanatical about baking: today, chocolate hazelnut muffins, yesterday cheese scones… Impossible to refuse, I’ve worked out by the time term resumes, I’ll have gained 70 kilos…

44

5 Things I’ve learned whilst living in France:
1. The countryside looks pretty but can be very lonely.
2. Bringing up kids is as much about housework/laundry as unconditional love.
3. Teenage boys really do have hollow legs and ever-empty stomachs
4. The French won both world wars single handed. “Les Anglais” joined in a little bit at the end because they had nothing better to do.
5. Cold winters are even colder if your house isn’t insulated and you’ve only got damp wood to burn…

43

My younger son says there’s a child at school whose surname is “de la Purification” and another called “Déshabillé” (undressed). We rather childishly collect surnames that amuse: a random selection, in translation, includes Strawberry, Ouch!, Anus, of the Fingers and Pretty…