Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Monday, January 12, 2009


I've been off the scene with the winter illness - the coldy one, not the other one, thank goodness.

But I worked out that I've hosted 34 out of the last 35 Christmasses and this is only the second time I've been ill on the day itself, so that's not bad going.

I got all the fanmail answered before and then a fan wrote to me on Christmas Day! I've just done it again, because I am trying to clear everything out of the way that isn't City of Ships. I have to do a brief critique of a friend's novel and write an Italian essay but apart from that I think it can be just me and the laptop and the mindmap.

There have been a lot of jollifications in spite of illness. We had a very traditional Christmas with lots of family visits and I think the only things that didn't happen was the special pudding I was planning for Boxing Day and for me church on Christmas morning.

We [a;yed Boggle and Articulate and a new game Rhiannon was given, called Bookchase, which was like a cross between Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. We saw the TV programme about Paul Schofield - lovely man - as well as the Doctor Who Christmas Special ( a bit meh) and Wallace and Gromit's A Matter of Loaf and Death, which didn't quite live up to its title.

I got lots of books, including the 2 Barack Obamas, which I'm looking forward to.And Cds and DVds, only one of which I've heard/seen so far.

This was Mamma Mia, which we watched with mulled wine on New Year's Eve. Really it needs more alcohol to cope with Pierce Brosnan's singing!

WE've been to Rugby, where we had lunch in a very interesting vegetarian restaurant, which also sold pretty things. And bought new binoculars.

Then for the first weekend of the year we went to Durham and York, where we saw Durham cathedral (using the binoculars) but not the Minster because we had been there the year before. And went to a said mass in York in a medieval church.

I finished the Well of Lost Plots and am now reading Something Rotten. Only one Thursday Next left after this. The Lodger continued to be magnificent. Also read Them by Jon Ronson and A Good Plain Cook, whose author I have forgotten. That was quite gripping, but ended very weakly - just petered out in fact.

Am now immersed in books about "La Scapigliatura" (Italian version of Bohemianism).

But far and away the cultural event of the season was seeing Toby Sharp in The Woman in Black, which happened on Saturday. Toby is middle daughter's partner and has been understudying the role since September but was scheduled to take over while his principal was on holiday for a week in January, so he has done eight performances.

30 of us gathered in an Italian restaurant for lunch then went to the matinee which was full of teenage girls who screamed their heads of at every spooky moment, of which there were many. There were screams in the production too, so it was sometimes hard to know who was making the noise!

I had read the book, which fortified me against being scared. And I was so impressed by Toby; it's one thing to have a friend who's an actor - quite another to see him in cation on a West End Stage. I foretell a starry career

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