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The Manorbier Castle Chronicles

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'Keep failing and fail better' says Samuel Beckett, the absurdist playwright, which has been my mantra this week. Everyone, bar one has opted out of the Esther Freud course and the Welsh t.v crew, who were to film the course and castle never materialized. It has been a spectacular failure, nonetheless I am relieved that I am not trawling round behemoth supermarkets with trolleys of food to feed 10 hungry writers all week.

So my husband and I devised our own fiction course a deux in our cottage down the lane, having got so revved up, my husband continued his play set in Notting Hill and I attacked my historical novel, which has gone adrift, a bit of a failure so far, because it began as a biography and is now morphing into fiction, which means turning most of the prose into dialogue, ie 'showing' not 'telling'. It is about a virago, Caterina Sforza, whose beauty was captured by Botticelli and she was captured and allegedly raped by Cesare Borgia. When she was besieged, she climbed up onto the castle ramparts and raised her skirts to outwit her captors, who were holding her sons hostage down by the moat and proclaimed 'Behold the forge of which I can make others.' In the 14th century people did not wear pants, and her sons were set free after this outrageous act of defiance. Maybe I will re enact this scene, right here at Manorbier one day; it is my party piece when I am feeling reckless.

Failure to find '50 Shades of Grey' sexy: having finished Jane Austin's last novel 'Persuasion' by way of contrast, I waded though pages of turgid descriptions of coitus interuptus, cuna lingus, flagrante delicto and sadomasochism in '50 Shades of Grey' . It is a compulsive read, I want to discover what genital clamps are? and it may provide fodder for my repertoire. Nonetheless I still prefer Austin's subtle suggestion, such as the ardent tender touch of a gloved hand more erotic, with the promise of more to come, whereas '50 Shades' leaves little to the imagination. I think I will move onto 'Burton's translation of a 1000 and 1 Nights.'

Complete failure to make my boys (Julian 6 and Tarquin 11, ;going on 16 and 19,) behave: They went back to school, shouting a stream of expletives that would shock an Irish navvy. They were in a mutinous mood, enraged at not having an xbox 360 and not being able to watch telly before dark, they refused to get out of the car when we drove to other castles and would not be coaxed to go on coastal walk to look at puffins and Kittiwacks, or go kayacking.
They only time they did venture out was long after dark and their putative bedtime, sneaking out of the bedroom window to play in their p.j's at being snipers in Afghanistan in the garden, joined by their 'Walish village friends. While we were tucked up in bed my husband and I had to endure full scale guerilla warfare going on all night, accompanied by loud bangs and tiles falling off the roof, having ordered several ceasefires we were too tired to stop them.

Complete sense of failure when I see that my former house on the Pennine Way and not far from 'Wuthering Heights ' is the setting for 'Zombies in the Yorkshire Dales' directed by an 'Emmerdale Farm actor. Tears ran down my cheeks as I watched the trailer; zombies defiling my romantic and picturesque house, which has been featured magazines and several books, True it was a haunted house and paralyzed with fear, usually just before dawn, we were visited, by ghosts, even Emily Bronte herself, but never zombies. I thought my boys would be thrilled to see their bedrooms filled with gory scenes, but they were strangely non plussed,; not spooky enough, more a horror film, and besides they are too young to watch such grotesque drivel.