Shotgun weddings and velvet divorces

So the blog has been very quiet for a couple of months now. How come I hear you ask? Well it’s been a very busy time with much to think about personally and professionally and rather than thinking out loud, I’ve been thinking inside.

I’ve been at the New Zealand Book Council for over five years now, and while it’s often been a tough gig I’ve had the benefit of a great board to work for and fab staff to work with. But a new opportunity popped up, as these things do, to go back into publishing, with Yale University Press in London. And of course it seems irresistible. As much as anything else its a chance to do some of the things I’ve speculated about here. And so after nearly six years in New Zealand we’re heading back to Britain.

This is, when it comes to it, much harder than I thought it would be. New Zealand is a beautiful, relatively calm and relaxed place and the people are a gentle and welcoming bunch. I shall miss them and Aotearoa, very much.

My children, those that emigrated and the one that arrived since are very much the barefoot and gently feral New Zealand children we hoped they’d be and it will be interesting to see how they adapt to the rather more full on style of UK life. But we’ll do what we need to, to make that okay. And I have no doubt we’ll back in the future. There are wonderful grandparents that we will all miss terribly.

Which leads me to other news that’s been keeping me busy. Michelle and I have been together through 14 years and 3 kids but for all sorts of reasons, not least a shared dislike of too much fuss, we just never got round to getting married. Until a couple of weeks ago. For reasons beknownst only to them, Booksellers New Zealand very kindly covered it on their blog, a kind of (very Kiwi) version of Hello. Apparently we’re way more popular than supply chain issues at present.

I don’t know why it took so long but I’m prouder than anything to be married to her. Never thought a ceremony, a ring and a certificate would make much difference but oddly it turns out that saying things out loud matters. I also think it works better having your kids at the wedding. I know, cart before horse, but it wouldn’t have been half so much fun without them and nice for them to see us say those important things out loud.

And I got to read a poem featuring dogs peeing up lamposts. Which was nice. You can’t beat a bit of Auden on the weddings and funeral front.

So I’m off to London at the beginning of October with the family following after. Straight off to Frankfurt and I will therefore get to go to New Zealand’s ball at the book fair, which will I think be a pleasure.

So will the blog continue? Yes indeed it will. There’s still a lot I’d like to write and muse about and while think the emphasis may change somewhat, increasingly I feel the need to write stuff. This blog has been a very important outlet for me and I’d like it to evolve and take some new directions. It’s likely that the next few weeks will be hellishly busy so posting unlikely to be huge but as I head into the twilight of my time at the Book Council, I’m going to be trying some new things out and maybe documenting the shift.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Its great to be able to handover the Book Council to the excellent Catriona Ferguson who takes over in September.

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Microwave for One

And then this, a contender for the saddest book ever. This has absolutely done the trick of renewing my perspective. My favourite quote from the Amazon reviews:

After the divorce my diet consisted primarily of uncooked ramen and whiskey. Occasionally I wondered aloud if I’d ever have another home cooked meal again.

Then I discovered “Microwave for One” and everything changed.

(HT Andrew Sullivan)

 

And I think for good measure a musical interlude is required on this sunny Friday to restore our cheer.