Thursday, 27 August 2009

Oh Dear

Dear Blog, I'm really sorry I've been ignoring you recently - but I've been really BUSY writing. Well, no that's not strictly true - I've been a BIT busy writing (Midnight Feast) but I've also been away. Yes - again! Don't nag. The Toyboy Trucker and I snook away for a few days, okay? And that's why I'm posting this and why you've got a Proper Literary Person as an illustration today. All will be revealed, promise...
love, Chris xxxx

This is cross-my-heart true:-

While on hols last week and browsing (i.e. rearranging my books face-out in front of other people's who don't need the royalties as much as I do) in a bookshop I witnessed the following...

Bookseller (wearing bookseller badge) deep in conversation with junior assistant (wearing bookselling assistant badge) about the merits of Katie Price's "Sapphire" which was currently splashed in its dozens over three shelves of "Number One Best-Seller" was interrupted by a middle-aged female customer.

Customer: Excuse me, where can I find Somerset Maugham?
Bookseller: Somerset Morn? Sorry, never heard of it. Who's it by?
Customer: It's not a title. It's an author.
Bookselling Assistant: Oh.
Bookseller: What's she written?
Customer: He's a man.
Bookselling Assistant: Oh.
Bookseller: What's he written?
Customer: Lots of things. Cakes and Ale? The Painted Veil? The Moon and Sixpence?
Bookselling Assistant: Oh.
Bookseller: Which one are you looking for?
Customer: Of Human Bondage.
Bookselling Assistant: Have you tried Erotica?
Customer: No. Doesn't he have a section of his own?
Bookseller: Is he in the Top Fifty? Does he write crime?
Customer: No, his books are classics.
Bookselling Assistant: Ah, classics. Like Dickens? We've got some Dickens classics - and lots of Jane Austen.
Customer: More recent than them, but yes, maybe in the same area.
Bookseller: No, I don't think so. How are you spelling Morn?
Customer: M-a-u-g-h-a-m.
Bookselling Assistant: Oh.
Bookseller: That's a funny spelling. I've never heard of him.
Customer: But do you have any of his books?
Bookselling Assistant: Not if he's not in with Dickens and Jane Austen. Do you want me to look under M in contemporary?
Customer (exiting shop looking defeated): No thank you.
Bookseller (watching her go): Have you ever heard of Somerset Morn before?
Bookselling Assistant: Nah. Can't have written much, can he?

Oh, dear......

Friday, 7 August 2009

I Wanna Be A Girlie Girl

In the late spring of 2007 I decided I was going to "go into frocks". The late spring of 2007 was HOT. I fondly imagined that months of warm summer weather stretched ahead. I also fondly imagined that I could look sweet and feminine. I'm not and never have been either of those things, and since becoming a Real Writer and thrilled to not have to wear tights-to-the-office have lived in jeans/trousers/cut-offs. Anyway, frocks were always something that looked good on Other People. I wasn't girlie enough - but that could and would change... Inspired by two things (apart from the lure of a hot summer) - Judy Astley's incredible frock wardrobe and that line in Aretha's Say A Little Prayer - "...while wondering which dress to wear..." which always conjures up such a pretty image and makes me very jealous - I bought four frocks.

The summer of 2007 was wet. Very, very wet. We were flooded for most of it. The frocks stayed in the wardrobe and I lived in jeans-tucked-into-wellies and a cagoule. However, come the following spring, thinking that the summer of 2008 had to be better, I bought another four frocks. The summer of 2008, as you may well remember, was even wetter and windier and colder. I lived in jeans-tucked-into wellies and three jumpers and a cagoule. Eight frocks now hung prettily in my wardrobe.

So, this year, three summers on, and being promised a heatwave that would split the pavements, I bought two more. And yep, all ten of them now hang in the wardrobe in all their gorgeous, colourful, floaty, floral glory. Unworn. But not unstroked. I sigh happily over them on a daily basis. And I'm still in jeans and wellies.

So? If I was the proper girlie girl I long to be, would I have worn the frocks for the last three summers regardless of the Noah/Ark/monsoon conditions? If we have a burst of late heat will I ever rescue them from the wardrobe and wear them with pride? Or is it too late for me? Have I had too many years of comfortably "dressing like a bloke" as The Toyboy Trucker once helpfully said? Will I actually feel (as I fear) like a drag queen or one of those Disney dancing hippos if I ever abandon the jeans/trousers and pull on a frock at last?

Rain is pouring from a leaden sky as I write this. We're already into August. I'm typing wearing jeans and a big sweat-shirt. The frocks, I fear, will moulder for at least another 10 months. So - maybe next summer...?