Friday, July 12, 2013


We have passed the halfway mark now of my sons summer holiday. Thank god! "Holiday" is a word fraught with the pressure of relaxing and enjoying oneself. Relaxation and enjoyment shouldn't be things that cause stress, but I find that they are.

Firstly, my son's school holiday is three months long. So that's three months during which time I have to ensure his relaxation and enjoyment because the rest of the time the poor child has to go to school – an experience which I loathed.

You can, of course, train them to occupy themselves all summer with television and computers (check) but you are obliged to let them out into the fresh air once in a while and allow them mix with other human beings.

Last year I was scheduling an intricate childcare rota which involved various summer camps and grandparents when my ex housekeeper Theresa  (I miss her!) once said when I was trying to rope into helping me create a child-free working summer, pointed out: "It's supposed to be their holiday."

Theresa is great like that – she can always cut straight to the point. A useful talent for when she has to manage the people as well as the house.

This summer has been a successful one for junior. We have the usual excitement when my mother’s ebullient sister Auntie Sheila comes to stay followed by Mum’s birthday dinner and lots of sleepovers with the cousins. In a couple of weeks we are off to London – a first for us all which we are all very much looking forward to.
We have a network of fantastic friends so there is rarely a shortage of playmates and my house is familiar with the mayhem of small children running up and down the stairs going "Yeeeee-hoooow!"

However while friends occupy them, they still have to be invited, and fed, and scraped off one another – and in amongst all of this I have to write a book. Because, allegedly, I am a writer who has to start writing another novel, although at the moment it doesn't feel much like it. At the moment it feels like I am caught in some awful suspended reality where I should be working, where I want to be working, but I'm not. It's not writer's block. It's summer holiday block, and it happens to me every year.

Every year I am behind when June comes and I decide I have to "work" hard through the summer to catch up. But writing is such an absorbing activity that I find it impossible with another person – never mind a gang of children – in the house.

When I am working I feel guilty that I am not camping – and when I am camping, I feel guilty that I am not working. I wish I was one of these focused writers who can zone out and switch off from human contact and write with a fierce concentration, but I'm not. There is always a small part of me open to distraction – and there is nothing more distracting than my beautiful sons.

Or as Theresa put it when I tutted after the Tominator landed in on top of me this morning to give me a no-reason kiss: "It's your summer holiday too, you know."

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