One important development of the last few days, is that I seem to have acquired an agent, at least for the current outrage. This is a great relief to my mind. My American agent has been doing her cultivated and charming best, and very useful she has been, but with a book so irremediably British as this one, I have felt more and more uneasy about having its final shaping steered from America. The thing about the infinitely lamented Pat is that she was a person of exquisite elegance of both mind and body, profoundly cultivated, and interested in all kinds of things that interest me too (landscape, patchwork, gardening, cooking, etc. etc.), which made her personal friendship of the greatest importance to me, but at the same time, she rather famously didn’t get where she did by being charming. There was a steely quality in her which caused large fierce publishers to lock themselves in the Gents’ and refuse to come out. I have, naturally, been wondering what the future might hold for me. What has bobbed up is someone quite tough and blokeish, and not charming at all, but we seem to get on. I spent much of the weekend going over the text for the umpteenth time, working in a couple of pertinent suggestions from Mr Rottweiler, and contemplating with some irritation the curious but undeniable fact that even in a text currently weighing in at 151,613 words, two perfectly beautiful and poetic sentences I thought of overnight just can’t find a perch anywhere. The relationship with Mr Rottweiler, if it is sustained beyond the current project, will be something completely different, but not necessarily the worse for that. An agent does not have to be a soulmate, or a friend, or even at all like you. As long as both parties are clear about what is whose job, and have faith in the product, it can be a meeting of opposites, or the relationship of an athete and a personal trainer, or what you will. Mr Rottweiler seems pretty cheerful about selling Exhibit A, so here’s hoping.
Another nice thing which happened this weekend was a visit from the Huntly Two. They were, as always, good. It was freezing cold, so the outside bit of the entertainment consisted of the time-honoured game of skimming stones as far as possible over the frozen lake, and finding large rocks to lob through the ice with a satisfying crash.Then when they started turning blue, they came in again and we made little pink cakes. I realised, in the process, why fairy cakes are a Good Idea - they only take about fifteen minutes to cook, so you can move from manufacture to decoration in the absolute minimum of time. I had not only red food colouring but writing icing to hand, so between them, the Two created a whole set of violently pink cakes with Jackson Pollock tendencies.
Also, the first crocus has come out, and there are snowdrops in the more sheltered spots. Things may be opening up at last.