Edna is a member of both DAWG, the Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group and DADS, the Didsbrook Amateur Dramatic Society. She is blessed with an unwavering self-belief that she is about to join the ranks of world-renown authors, convinced she is Didsbrook’s answer to J. K. Rowling, hence her rather suspect non-de-plume, E. D. Fowling.
Welcome to Didsbrook, a sleepy market town nestling in the bosom of a conservation area. It can be reached either by train or by car, but there is only one way in, and one way out. It is a pastoral dead-end, an idyllic haven, surrounded by rolling, untouched, countryside; one of the last remaining bastions of serenity in England’s green and pleasant land.
Dulcie Darling and the Wizard’s Cauldron is Edna’s current work-in-progress. Her fourteen-year-old protagonist, Dulcie, is a meddlesome goody-two-shoes.
Blessed with magical powers inherited from her mother, who, quite by accident, ate magic mushrooms when she was pregnant, Dulcie wreaks havoc wherever she goes.
Week by week, members of DAWG have been enchanted by Edna’s jaunty readings of the ‘away with the fairies’ Dulcie as she magically extracts herself from farcical situations.
Edna’s conviction that her work-in-progress will reach the dizzy heights of ‘world best-seller’ is unshakable. She often regales her envisaged scenario to DAWG, the one about rubbing her ample shoulders with her idol, J. K. Rowling.
‘A pen name is my only option. Once ‘Dulcie’ goes into print, my privacy will go to pot, when I become a household name.’
Edna collared me in Hargreaves, Didsbrook’s old-fashioned purveyor of meat after she’d finished her fifteenth rewrite. We were standing at the front of an orderly queue of customers spilling out of the door and onto the pavement. Didsbrookians prefer to pay twice as much to watch Mr Hargreaves hack off their chosen Sunday joint with his cleaver and give the hermetically sealed equivalent from the supermarket down the road the cold shoulder.
Edna has a thunderous thespian voice. Her enunciation lies somewhere between Queen Elizabeth II of England and Eliza Doolittle, born within the sound of Bow Bells. Hargreaves is a tiny shop with a sawdust-covered wooden flooring, so it served to amplify her theatrical tones.
‘Of course, once my book is reviewed, and, no doubt, you will be reviewing it too, won’t you, Lucy, dear?’
I manage a feeble smile and nod. No doubt I will but, I will be hiding behind my pen name, the savage Jane Jones, so I don’t have to leave the country.
I’m not alone with my assessment of Dulcie Darling. Only at last week’s meeting of DAWG, poor Basil committed the deadliest crime a writer’s group member could ever perpetrate. He fell asleep while Edna was reading Chapter 16, Dulcie Dices with Death. He could have been listening intently with his eyes closed but, his crime was exposed when he started snoring. As Dulcie’s monotonous magical monologue drones towards The End, all seven of in the group are in danger of falling asleep.
‘It will be all over the press, the Internet, and goodness knows everywhere else. I’ll have fans turning up on the doorstep asking me for autographs every five minutes and, although I appreciate attracting thousands of fans to Didsbrook would do wonders for the local economy, as I am sure Mr Hargreaves here would agree…’
Edna paused to look at Mr Hargreaves. His vacant stare and lazy smile betraying his feelings of not giving a toss, then bore his cleaver down onto an inert carcass, as Edna continued.
‘I know they would mean well, but they would take up far too much of my time whilst I’m writing the sequel.’
God forbid, a sequel! I know us aspiring writers need to keep the faith, how I wish mine were as strong as Edna’s.