This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Part 21 – Seven for a Secret

Be careful what you wish for. The other day I admitted to a secret yearning for more tagging, and hey presto, the brilliant The Last Slayer at A Hell of a Woman came up trumps, even before I had outed myself as a closet egomaniac. So before we let Topaz get down to business, allow me to disclose a few things about myself – things you never knew you wanted to know, and that I never knew I wanted to share.

The Slayer told me to reveal seven secrets. With a name like that, I’d be foolish to refuse. Here goes.

1            I can’t open my eyes under water. That’s why I’m a great admirer of Esther Williams. Not only did she not need goggles, she smiled all the time – properly, with her mouth open. Like this:

2            I love cleaning the loo. Not the really nasty bits, of course, but putting the Harpic Power Plus down and then scrubbing and frothing with the brush. As my Twitter profile says, I don’t get out much.

3            A well-known television personality and dancer once copped a good feel all the way from my left buttock down the back of my thigh while he was appearing in panto at Richmond Theatre, where I was press officer. I was at a loss to know how to maintain a professional demeanor and get the hell out of there without offending the star of the show, who was going to be around for the next eight weeks.

4            I used to be able to put my foot behind my neck. Not very useful, but a good ice-breaker at parties.

5            I once fell through a mahogany dining table after being fed too many vodka jellies. I can still remember the thud of bottles raining down around my head as I wondered why the carpet was suddenly up against my cheek. Given the circumstances, I’m impressed that I can remember anything at all.

6            When I was 11, I wee-ed in a bottle and threw it into the Shenandoah River in Virginia. We didn’t care about green issues in those days. To this day I can’t hear that haunting song ‘Shenandoah’ without smirking.

7            I played Dorothy in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. It was a boys’ school. We didn’t get to choose our parts. I could sing ‘Over the Rainbow’ like you wouldn’t believe, in a piping treble. Still can, in a growly baritone.

There you are: so easy to write, so hard to live down. And if I can do it, so can the Ageing MatronKatetakes5 and Sazen. Go on, I dare you…

Do I get that badge now, Mrs Slayer?


  1. Go on... you can still sing Over the Rainbow in a soprano darling; I dare you

  2. My oh my - just think I've known you for twenty one years and I didn't know the half of it! I wonder where that bottle is now... or the person who touched you up for that matter!!

  3. Well goodness, that is an original collection of secrets. Can't say I'm with you on the toilet cleaning, or any cleaning for that matter. Is there any connection with your wee in a bottle and your later enthusiasm for getting frothy in a toilet bowl?

    Thanks for nominating me although I've revealed so much over the years I'm not sure there's anything left in the closet. Hopefully no one remembers what I've already revealed so I can just recycle my meagre secrets...

  4. Do you know, Sarah, I never thought of those lavatorial connections. Maybe there's something deeply Freudian going on in me. I think we can be a bit flexible on the degree of secrecy: there were several witnesses to my vodka jelly shame, and to my Dorothy come to that, but most of them won't be reading this. I hope.

  5. ooo err.
    I too like a clean toilet!!
    Also had a "brush with a celebrity" - he put his hand on my right buttock & asked my manager if he could save me for later!!! YUK.......
    Never had vodka jelly.

  6. to think I have known you all these years and the only one of these I think i already knew about is the dining table story. you really have gone one better than a letter in a bottle. although I guess its still some kind of message in a a manner of speaking!

  7. Hello - ayearinlancashire here. Bit clueless about how to reply to blog comments but glad you like some of my random entries. I love the premise of yours but have to admit I haven't read the chapters yet. I'm not on Twitter - bit of a technophobe and a hermit!

  8. Hello Katie, thanks so much for commenting. I just loved your Going to Church post, and as you will have seen, the mini-bottles touched a chord with me too. I only recently joined Twitter (having been vehemently against it), as a way of getting my blog out there. It's scary how compulsive it becomes. I never knew I had so much to say about so little!