This week is jam making week. I don’t like making jam but I like eating it. The Cotswold hedges are black with berries, so some good has come out of the rain. Sunday belongs to my god-children, three buckets, and a skull and cross-bones sign. The youngest designed this herself to wave at cheapskate day trippers who watch too many seasonal cookery programmes and then come and raid the countryside looking for the stuff of jam.
I am preserving like mad this year because I feel guilty about my AGA. I have a geo-thermal heating and hot water system which is cheap to run and brilliantly ecological, but then I have the cream AGA, which uses so much electricity that it makes me dizzy watching the little hamster wheel go round and round.
My only hope is to start generating electricity myself, and with this in mind I have bought a derelict building and half an acre of wood next to me, and I am writing to those nice people at Quiet Revolution, who make beautiful wind turbines that look like a triple helix, to see if we can’t do a deal. I am always doing deals; something about being brought up hard up in Lancashire where Mrs Winterson ran her club that traded eggs, veg, bits of slaughtered goat, (not always available), Bible study, wool stockings, and canaries, (not always available). Obviously things will have to be a bit more sophisticated down in the Cotswolds, but I love my AGA and I must find a way of keeping her.
With the jam bubbling away in its copper pan, I shall leave the kids to do their favourite thing; melt candles so that we can make little wax seals to lie between the jam and the lid. This is probably not necessary but it is fun. We need fun. At a charity dinner-party in Northleach, I met a man who advises companies on how to be more efficient, (probably the same man responsible for making us ring India to find out the train times from Paddington to Cheltenham). He asked me what steps I had taken to ‘monetise my brand.’ I should have told him that a ladies’ brand is her own affair, but instead I explained that monetise is not a word and that there is more to life than the bottom line. He didn’t speak to me again – hooray. Let’s hope he never retires to the Cotswolds and gets his hands on the village fete.
Most people round the Slaughters know that I am a writer and are fine about that solitary vice, though when I turned up in a new Landrover last year, the old boy who runs the allotments looked it over and said, ‘So you got that by doing writing?’
An elderly neighbour of mine who has a large house and a lot of money likes to zoom past my much smaller house in her motorised wheel-chair. Sometimes her carer sprints alongside. It turns out that the new carer reads books, and so I was interested when a note popped through my door, asking if it was indeed my good self residing in the house. My neighbour had been pointing out the local landmarks, declaring, ‘that is our homosexual authoress.’
The only one in the village…
This week I have ordered my brogues and tweed skirt and leather driving gloves, and on Wednesday I am going to Pony Club to seduce the girls.
By Friday the jam will be gleaming in the larder and my brogues will need a polish, so I will be off from Kingham station to live it up in London. Leon, who is the Station Master at Kingham has had to get rid of the rescue parrot he brought to the ticket office. Clearly it had had a bad start in life because it kept telling the passengers to F OFF. That is against Railway Bye-Laws.
In London, it’s lunch at the Wolsely with Ruth Rendell, and then off to ANY QUESTIONS down in Reigate. I suppose we will have to talk about the Labour Party Conference. Ruth is a Labour peer, but two years ago I bet her £500 that David Cameron would win the next election. She’s looking nervous.
Then, the best thing of all – coming home in the dead of night to this beautiful place where there are no lights and no noise, and where the dog, the cats, the owls, the foxes, the badgers and the stars are more or less where I left them.