I like Beryl too, she is always upbeat, and we go way back. She teaches PE at Didsbrook’s secondary school, including me for seven years. I thought she was a bit long in the tooth for the job then, but she was probably only fifty-something. She would send us out for a five-mile run up the A59 and follow us in her topless MG shouting words of encouragement. Beryl is due to retire at the end of the next term and has been working on a novel. From the rather steamy pieces she has been reading to us, she could well be Didsbrook’s answer to E. L. James. She captures everybody’s attention when she reads, especially Basil and Tom, who are as animated as we ever see them. I can’t help wondering if Beryl is drawing from her own experiences. If she is, I really do need to get a life.
I started off December 2020 in a bah humbug state of mind. Now, here were are on Christmas Eve and my mental state hasn’t improved. Two days ago, I rearranged the sitting room and forgot that I’m not in my prime anymore, when I swung a heavy, high-backed chair from one side of the room to another and, my back gave way—what a time to self-incapacitate.
Jack is the love of my protagonist, Lisa Grant’s, life. He always has been, but they split up when Lisa was twenty-two after Jack proposed. Lisa had panicked, turning him down for a multitude of reasons. Too young, fear of commitment, terrified of going through the ‘monopause’ and turning in to her mother. Instead of talking it through with Lisa, Jack walked away, leaving her alone at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Eighteen years later, and in the throws of getting back together, Jack has another hissy fit after misinterpreting an intimate moment between Lisa her ex, Rory, and flounces off back home to New York.
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. Edna is one of my favourite characters from The Doyenne of Didsbrook because every inch of her reminds me of one of Roy Clarke’s wonderful characters, Hyacinth Bucket.
He stopped his tirade and got up to pour himself a stiff whiskey and, realising he was trembling, knocked it back in one.
‘Damn you, Will! If we are going to make our marriage work, the least you can do is be civil to me. You’re widely regarded as being exceedingly bright. So, you should be able to work it out.’
‘Work out what?’ He turned to glower at her, and hissed ‘insufferable as well as insane,’ before slamming his glass down on to the drinks tray and poured himself another one.
‘The dates, Will, they don’t add up. Not with Jeremy anyway, and Grandbo only wants to walk a virgin up the aisle. He told me to get out when he found out I wasn’t.’ Elizabeth started to sob. ‘He was about to put his grandmother’s engagement ring on my finger. It’s a sapphire… the size of a quail’s egg. Oh, Will, I really thought he was going to be the one. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in marrying a woman with a desecrated hymen, let alone one carrying a developing foetus. My life is ruined, and I never wanted children, and it’s all your fault!’
She closed her eyes.
‘Forty-years-old and no husband. It’s unthinkable. How could it possibly happen to a daughter of mine?’
Having a forty-year-old daughter did not sit comfortably with Cynthia, especially a forty-year-old unmarried one. She squirmed inwardly, turning up her stinky fish nose and pursing her lips as the phrase spinster of the parish flashed into her mind.
She wasn’t really surprised. She always felt Katie’s choice of men over the years had been questionable. Probably satisfying in the bedroom department perhaps, but none of them ever had any money.
In Cynthia’s mind, money, lots of it, and preferably a title were the essential ingredients to sustain a successful marriage.
It should have been my first summer of love with that ridiculous Atticus Ridley. Why his parents chose to call him after an ancient Greek philosopher is a mystery. Looking back, I think his Christian name affected him psychologically, especially at school, when his classmates nicknamed him Abacus. Mind you, he was brilliant with figures even as a child, which I suppose is why he became an accountant. Then, of course, there was his OCD problem – a constant obsession with cleaning. The upside of that was I never had to lift a finger in the housework department.
This is the bittersweet story of the first four decades of Lisa Grant’s life. Growing up with her narcissist mother, Elizabeth, has a knock-on effect in her adult life. When she finds out the truth about her mother’s early life, can she find it in her heart to forgive Elizabeth for her appalling behaviour over the last forty years?
HAPPY SATURDAY! I hope this finds you rude with health and feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, which is not like Lisa Grant is feeling in today’s snippet from Just Say It! She has recently moved to London and is sharing a flat in Notting Hill with two school friends. Waking up the morning after her twenty-first birthday, which turned out to be one hell of a party, suffering from the KATZENJAMMER to end all KATZENJAMMERS.
After seventeen years apart, Lisa realises she is still in love with Jack, but after he misinterprets a fond farewell between Lisa and Rory, he flounces off home to NYC. This extract leads up to the agonising moment Jack realises he has got things horribly wrong. FEBRUARY 2000 Jack was holding the neck of an empty miniature …
In November 2019, I had the pleasure of interviewing children’s author Becci Murray, who had recently published her book, Billy’s Brain Booster Juice. Earlier this month she released a children’s poetry book – subtly entitled, ‘Don’t Wear Your Knickers on Your Head (and other very serious poems about really important stuff)’, which has been a long time in …
During the week that President Trump advocated swallowing bleach to get shot of Coronavirus , I struggled with re-working the humour that stitches together one of my 92,000-word works-in-progress.
I was searching for a little light relief to come from somewhere, anywhere. Something, anything, to crack me up, and I eventually found it with Sindhu Vee, Live at the Apollo, on catch-up TV last night.
I’ve never trusted anybody who comes over as having had a sense of humour bypass. When chatting to someone new at a party or, these days, at a virtual social soiree, you unleash your best one-liner. As your voice trails away into cyberspace, together with the sound of a damp squib, it’s time to mute yourself, and go and chat to someone else.
There was always a distinct chill inside the cottage, which was responsible for the black clusters of mould marching across its walls like aggressive armies of Unsullied. It was impossible to heat. She ran the tips of her fingers across the top of the old storage heater in the kitchen. It had only just come on so she would keep her coat on a little longer and there was no point in lighting the fire in the living room as she was going out later. No significant other, so no candlelight dinner, but a night out with the girls, which would inevitably end up being pretty wild.
I was having such an incredible dream. It was the start of a long haul flight, I’ve no idea where I was going, but my excitement was as effervescent as the fizz I was sipping. I tipped my head back, savouring the moment. Waiting for someone to whisper sweet nothings in my ear, when the deep-throated moan of a hungry Burmese cat, demanding to be fed, blasted my eardrum.
‘Just let me sleep!’ Not quite all the words I used, but this is a family show.
I started 2020 with newfound confidence and a steely determination to succeed in my writing goals. I’m over halfway through my second novel, a murder-mystery spoof, and was skipping and dancing my way down a road fuelled by purple patches with a finishing date of the end of April. Then, somewhere around the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Italy, my bubble burst, and I lost my mojo. Since then, I’ve been struggling to find my funny.