These last four days have been terrible and wonderful all at once. “Terrible” is rather an understatement, actually. “Wonderful” is a considerable understatement, too. Hell, “surreal” is probably more appropriate, although my life tends to be quite surreal at the best of times.
First, the bad stuff:
In my previous blog entry I mentioned having an ear infection. I was prescribed antibiotics to clear it up (it’s almost gone now, thank you for asking) but they made me horribly sleepy, so I spent last weekend in bed as a result. Which then gave me a bad back. You can’t win sometimes, can you?
On Thursday morning I woke up feeling dreadful, stiff and sore and achey, so I took two aspirins. Then I hobbled into work and, forgetting I’d already popped some pills, took a prescription painkiller too. Which, as I discovered 45 minutes later, was THE KING OF ALL BAD IDEAS.
Later that day my doctor told me I’d taken an overdose and that I should never, ever do it again. Like I’d even consider it after what happened…
The hour and a half spent sitting on the (thankfully clean) floor in the ladies’ toilets at work was bad enough. Being utterly sick and losing the ability to move my legs wasn’t too nice, either. But the worst part – the very, very worst part – was when the sickness wore off and all of a sudden, as though somebody had snapped their fingers, I was completely ecstatic.
I started to giggle. I didn’t stop for two hours. I slurred my words, fell over (several times) and talked complete nonsense, right up until one of my marvellously practical and caring co-workers had the sense to call a taxi, throw me into it and get me home sharpish.
Apparently, according to my friend Sam (whom I seem to remember hugging before squealing into his ear, “I’ve taken an overdose – wheeeeee!”), I was just like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. And I think I probably was: I must have looked absolutely pissed as a newt! I couldn’t speak properly or stand upright and I’m sure I wasn’t far from saying, “You’re my best mate, you are,” to everyone walking by. Or, failing that: “I feel sullied and unusual… where’s the rum?”
Oh God! I don’t want to go to work tomorrow! I’ll never live it down!
It WAS kind of funny, in retrospect, if you ignore the fact I was so sick before the giggles started. And if you ignore the fact that I was sick again that night: really, really sick, the kind of sick that has you whimpering into the toilet bowl, “I need to be dead now, please!” I’ve not felt right all weekend, either.
Drugs are BAD, m’kay? Just say no, kids.
However, here’s the good news:
After spending the most godawful night of my life thinking I was going to die, I managed to wake up feeling moderately okay on Friday morning, which was the just most amazing thing that could have happened because Friday 1 September was probably one of the most incredible days of my life.
The reason? I travelled to a beautiful 17th-century manor house and spent the afternoon sitting in the sun by a lily pond interviewing the author who made me want to become a writer when I was a little girl. Her name is Victoria Clayton – nee Walker – and her books (The Winter Of Enchantment and The House Called Hadlows) were the most important things in the world to me when I was a child.
This is all part of a long, long story featuring Neil Gaiman, the power of the internet and a quest I can’t quite believe is at an end. I’ll be writing about it in an upcoming issue of SFX magazine so I won’t go into detail here, but I would like to say that meeting Victoria after 22 years of searching was possibly one of the most magical moments of my entire life. And, blissfully, she lived up to the hype: what a marvellously warm and lovely woman she is! From pointing out the wet moorhen footprints drying in the sun by her pond to showing me around her garden and teaching me that phlox smells like pepper (who knew?), she was a delightful host and a wonderful interviewee. She was everything I wanted the favourite author of my childhood to be. I wish my 11 year-old self could have seen me chatting away to her…
Victoria’s books will be back in print soon thanks to Vanessa Robertson at Fidra Books (www.fidrabooks.co.uk), who knows a classic or two when she sees one. It’s taken 30 years and I can’t quite believe it’s finally happening!
What amazes me is that I was so horribly poorly both before and after the interview (I had to lie down across three seats on the train home, which got some funny looks), and yet for the entire duration I was absolutely 100%, as though my body refused to let me feel ill while I was doing something so important. It’s the same thing that happened a few months ago when I met Sean Bean with a streaming cold; it completely vanished when I was with him. I think this kind of healing power should be investigated by doctors and scientists.
In the meantime, I’m so grateful I was well enough to meet Victoria that I don’t know which God to thank first, so instead I’ll send my gratitude to a small ginger cat called Mantari. Which will mean nothing to anyone who hasn’t read those books… but everything to those who have.