Dorothy Cannell: My husband Julian and I have taken to drink. Well, somewhat truish.
At Christmas time I usually make hot wine punch, mostly because it makes the house smell nice, but this time, either because it tasted better than usual or because we told ourselves we were coming down with colds, I kept replenishing the pot. At first saying ‘this is the last batch,’ then ‘just while it snows,’ until the present when we are talking of a ‘moratorium in June.’
Could have put this confession another way as in ‘Julian and I have been enjoying a cup of hot wine punch of an evening during this winter season,’ but I didn’t think that would have made for the arresting opening sentence which is one of the basic writing requirements. That’s the problem with writing from a personal experience perspective, it often requires some embroidery to make it passably interesting reading when life is going through an uneventful patch.
Nothing else of a current nature springs to mind deserving of even a second paragraph, so (with apologies) continuing on is the self-indulgence of keeping my arthritic fingers nimble. Today started exactly the same as yesterday, the day before yesterday, the day before the day before the previous yesterday and the day before the previous, previous yesterday. I awoke at six thirty to the stealthy sounds of Julian leaving to exercise at the Y. As always I wondered if he might be sneaking off for good into the arms of a statuesque, or buxom blond, whichever is the irresistible sort these days. But inevitably there was no ‘don’t try to find me’ note pinned to the pillow.
For three and three quarter minutes I contemplated a brief lie-in, but before I had closed my eyes half way the dogs Teddy and Watson roused as if having thawed back to life after lying buried in a crater since the last ice age. Here is what follows:
- Put them out in fenced area
- Fill their food bowls and place in separate areas to avoid one of them insisting he is the only one entitled to eat
- Make coffee
- Bring them in and cajole each into his food station. Closing doors behind them
- Pour myself a cup of coffee
- Turn on the news
- Release dogs
- Fill their water bowls
- Turn off news, to avoid an attack of depression over state of world affairs
- Pour myself another cup of coffee
- Have bath and dress
- Boil an egg and toast an English muffin
And so it continues with one dull doing activity after another, but out of concern for anyone who has continued reading on in hope of gaining sainthood through martyrdom, but is beginning to think being boiled in oil preferable, even cheering, I’ll leave it there.
Well, not quite. There is a point, inadequate though it may be, for my dwelling on the trivial and it’s this: As a writer I am fueled by mindless activity, it allows me to go inside myself to work out the next scene in current book, think up ways of fleshing out a character, come up with a slice of dialogue, make a discovery such as realizing the person I had designated at the murderer didn’t do it.
I have written books during times that weren’t tranquil – when life was filled with grim realities, and in those cases I endeavored to find strength in continuing with the ordinary. Grounding myself in the mundane. To have the luxury of not having anything better to focus on than whether to add another stick or two of cinnamon to the hot wine punch, or engage in similar blissfully boring endeavors.
Note to readers who have enquired whether I am going to write another Ellie Haskell book, I’ve been working on one in my head and plan to get on with it while replenishing the hot wine punch, etc.…
And here’s the recipe: 2/5th of sweet red wine; 32 oz. of orange juice; cup of light brown
sugar; 6 cinnamon sticks; 12 cloves stuck in a slice of orange; a tablespoon of ginger; dash of nutmeg; bring to a boil and simmer for half-hour.
When taken at night encourages nodding off to pleasant dreams.