Andrea Mara

Official website

Snapshot of a Woman on a Couch

New Year’s Morning. 8 am. My youngest arrived in for a chat, a few jokes, then went down to watch TV.

8:05 am. He came back up to tell me there’s nothing on TV. Sadly, I couldn’t find my magic wand – the one that makes new films appear on the Sky Box and on Netflix – so I spent ten minutes suggesting any one of the four million shows we already have.

Eventually he went back down, and wide awake now, I had the same thought I’ve had every morning over Christmas: If I get up now, I can edit another 30 pages before breakfast.

And then I remembered: I sent book 3 to my publisher on New Year’s Eve, so for the first time since May, there’s nothing to write or edit. At least for now – at least until rewrites and edits come back. The break is temporary, but it’s bliss.

So it’s time to hit the couch, and belatedly, properly soak up downtime:

What I’m wearing

Pyjamas – please don’t make me get dressed

What we’re watching

Mary Poppins Returns – I really enjoyed it, though I didn’t love the music (but – don’t shoot me! – I didn’t love it in the first one either.) We saw it in the cinema so I did have to get dressed, but I’m making up for lost pyjama time now.

What we’re watching over and over

The Greatest Showman, for the fourth time. I think it’s my favourite film of all time. Santa kindly brought it on DVD so we might go for a fifth viewing tonight.

What we’re listening to

The Greatest Showman soundtrack (via team effort from Spotify and Alexa) – still debating whether The Greatest Show or This Is Me is the best song. Both make sweeping up pine needles bearable.

What we’re shouting “he’s behind you” to

The pantomime in the Helix. This was our fourth year going – we go on New Year’s Eve in the afternoon as a way to mark the day for the family members who don’t get to celebrate champagne at midnight. This year it was Robin Hood and better than ever with loads of laugh-out-loud moments, a real live dog called Bradley, and – hurrah – Greatest Showman songs.

What I’m eating

Pudding for dinner, gin for tea, chocolates in between. It’s still okay till the kids go back to school, right?

What we’re watching when the kids go to bed

Bird Box – the new psychological thriller on Netflix. If you like The Walking Dead, you’ll like Bird Box. I had to hide behind a cushion for the tense bits.

Dumplin’ – another Netflix film – about beauty pageants in Texas, with Jennifer Aniston as an ex pageant winner. It’s lovely, feelgood stuff.

Ozark Series 2 – even better than the first series, wonderfully dark and beautifully shot.

The Good Fight – one of my favourite TV series ever is The Good Wife, and I just discovered I series-linked the spin-off, The Good Fight. Three episodes in and great so far.

What I’m listening to when it’s just me

After three series of Serial, I needed a new true crime podcast and asked  on the Office Mum Facebook page for recommendations. This is the full list of suggestions: Podcasts. I listened to most of Teacher’s Pet (intriguing but a bit repetitive), and I tried Dr Death but gave up when they began talking about painful back surgery. I started Finding Cleo and will go back to it, but then tried Dirty John and I’m really enjoying it. I suspect with podcasts it’s less about the story and more about how they’re presented.

What I’m reading

I finished Good Samaritans by Will Carver recently and it’s excellent – if you’re squeamish about graphic, erm, everything, maybe don’t read it. But it’s very clever and I was caught off guard by the reveals.

Now I’m reading An Uninvited Guest by Shari Lapena, flying through it. It’s like an Agatha Christie  – a group of guests are trapped in a remote hotel during a snowstorm, and then the murders begin… The only problem is there’s a character called Bradley, and unlike the dog-star from the pantomime, he’s a human. But every time he says something, I picture a cute little Yorkshire terrier. Otherwise, it’s going well.

What we’re arguing about

Which film to watch, who’s taking up too much room on the couch, who left the LEGO on the floor again, and why we have to eat breakfast before lunchtime. (Why indeed.)

What’s on my shopping list

I need to get back to the world of work on Monday, and if I can’t write a things-to-do list, I’m not sure how this will happen. I need a page-per-day diary, and I can’t find one in shops. All suggestions welcome! Now, back to a diary-free, chocolate-filled, pyjama-clad night of books and TV. And quite literally a snapshot of a woman on a couch.


All credit for “snapshot” blog posts to Awfully Chipper who did the original!





Click the button below to sign up to my Penguin newsletter.