Having six weeks off is excellent and I'm not complaining, I'm really not. But. The problem with having six weeks off is that after it has whizzed by in a matter of seconds, people WILL keep asking what exactly you got up to in all that time off work; surely you must have achieved quite a number of worthwhile things? Going back to work is even worse, as you discover that your colleagues have apparently back-packed round Ecuador, written a best-selling novel, climbed a selection of very tall mountains, and founded several orphanages. And what have I done? Well, I, er, read some books, and went to the sea-side, and, erm, drank a lot of wine and watched lots of cricket on TV.
So this year is going to be different: I too am going to return to work having DONE STUFF. The good work began yesterday, with a visit to John Rylands Library on Deansgate to see the current exhibition in honour of Manchester-based novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. To be honest, it was a teensy bit disappointing: a small room which very quickly became crowded with ladies of a certain age talking loudly about how much they'd enjoyed watching Cranford on TV. No doubt this is entirely fitting for a popular novelist whose stories were often serialised for mass consumption, but still; if I was a writer of note who happened to have been born exactly 200 years ago, I would hope for a little more than a few letters on display in glass cases. The library itself is beautiful though, so you should go anyway.
Today I have also been gainfully occupied, on a writing workshop held by the marvellous people at Creative Tourist, an online arts magazine that everyone in Manchester (and beyond) should read. It's always a little scary to meet people in the flesh when you have previously only conversed via Twitter, but everyone was shiny and beautiful, and even looked a tiny bit like their avatars. Thanks to Kate, Susie and Shan for a great course; see how I have been inspired to write something already (please ignore the fact it's the same old stuff.)
Tomorrow, however, culture looks a little thin on the ground. I have created a monstrous husband (in my own image) who expects to celebrate his (non-milestone) birthday for the entire weekend, beginning tomorrow. So, I went to an exhibition, a writing workshop and I, er, drank wine...
- Elizabeth Gaskell: A Connected Life is on at John Rylands Library until 28 November 2010; full details at www.library.manchester.ac.uk/specialcollections/exhibitions
- Creative Tourist can be found at www.creativetourist.com; go and see them now.