Friday, 19th October

Friday, 19th October

Keyword for the Day: Calliope

Ahh .. got you there!  ‘What on earth is a Calliope,’ I can hear the whispered mutterings through cyberspace. I’ll let you into a secret – I didn’t know that another name for a Steam Organ was a ‘Calliope’ until just now. I love learning new words, especially ones that roll around your mouth so deliciously as this one.

Today, I feel exactly like a vintage Fairground Steam Organ. So many facets to my world are changing colour and shifting shape at the moment I can’t keep up with the emotions (or stand the noise). Have you ever looked back on your life and segregated it into little compartments? I have, in the past, although I have never really known where one has begun and another ended until I could look back down the timeline of my life and say ‘yes – that was where things changed.’

An old-fashioned Calliope, or Fairground Organ

I feel, today, like a constantly moving figure in a Fairground Organ because yesterday I was in one part of my life, and today I am in another. There are no blurry edges this time.

There are two reasons I feel this way.  The first reason is obviously because I have staked everything as a writer on The White Cuckoo. In my head I am constantly questioning – is it good enough? In my heart, I know it is. The trilogy is very special to me and there is no way I am going to self-publish the trilogy. The three books: Sunlight on Broken Glass; Melody of Raindrops and Twisted Garlands were very carefully crafted and constructed. They were written to a tried and tested formula, even though they were based on my own family saga of yesteryear. They are very traditional. When I think about how they almost made it to publication by a big publisher in 2008, I still want to cry with frustration. I still have the emails and I re-read them every so often. They don’t help – in fact they make me depressed.

The White Cuckoo was written straight from my heart with no thought of genre, or formula. Within the words and subliminal messages given out by the main story and sub-plots lies my own bared soul. I feel naked and exposed because everyone who reads it will now know the real me.  The Annie that has always been hidden behind ‘Anne’. It didn’t really matter whether it was published by the publisher or published by me – the feelings are still the same. Are people going to laugh at me? Or will they look at me and, amongst other things, know just how much I miss my lovely mum – Pippa in The White Cuckoo. Yes – I have bared my mother’s soul, too. I know that, despite what Pippa did in the story, everyone will love her. She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes – just like my own mother did with me, and I have done with my own children – but her lovely personality will shine through the secrets and lost-directions and she will be loved by my readers.

The second reason my life has changed today is also bird-related. From now on,  I am a mother living in an empty nest. The last of my own chicks has flown off to Walsingham Avenue in Kettering. As the crow flies it is, by my reckoning, about 800 metres away.  By road, around a mile and a half. It feels so strange, to stare into the empty nest (okay, not quite empty because he still has some stuff to shift, including his bed). He is my last chick to fly away, and like The White Cuckoo very special to me, as are all my children.

You see, I have always thought of Nicky as a gift. A beautiful, perfect gift, unexpectedly conceived against all the odds six years after we had thought our family was complete. Then – along came this brilliant ray of bright yellow sunshine into our lives, not to replace Michael, the son we so tragically lost and to whom The White Cuckoo is dedicated, but rather as a lovely surprise to help me overcome the terrible sense of loss I was still feeling. His nickname lives on. We all used to call him ‘Twinkle’ because he was always so happy and bright, and (most of the time) still is. He always has a big smile on his face (except when glued to Downton Abbey and other people are making a noise), sings all the time and he comes up behind you and gives you a hug – or an unexpected tickle in the ribs, which makes you jump and cry out ‘Nicky …!’  He is chirpy and noisy and is not afraid to say ‘I love you, Mum’ or, when he wants something, Mummy, dearest ….?’

So, in the space of just one day – the blinking of an eye in the number of days in my lifetime – nothing will ever be the same again.

Christie Ann Smith and Nicky Robert Ireson – I wish you every happiness in your future. I will say just one thing as you begin your lives together in your new home. ‘The best things in life are free and the most precious gift you can give someone is your time.’

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