Hello, Hello

Well, I might not be a minor royal but I was delighted to hear that I am in the virtual pages of Hello‘s online magazine, with a lovely review of The Generation Game by brilliantly-named blogger Hot Cross Mum (aka Hazel Gaynor). I’m delighted that Hazel really ‘got’ the novel with all its retro references and allusions.

A review like this really makes my day and is a fab start to the weekend – which might just include an October (October!) BBQ just for the hell of it. While the sun shines…



I Love Sir Brucie

What a treat of a repeat, seeing Brucie host Have I got News For You again last night on BBC2. What a legend. I love this man.

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before on this blog, Sir Bruce Forsyth was the inspiration for my novel The Generation Game. Just as I was writing this post, I had a photo sent to me by my husband, who’s up in Liverpool for the Labour Party Conference. He found time to go into Waterstones and saw my book there, wedged between Daphne Du Maurier and Stella Duffy and close to Ruth Dugdall, a fellow Legend Press novelist. So exciting to see it on the shelves….finally!

Solheim Cup

Europe had a fantastic sporting win against the USA in the Solheim Cup yesterday. I am not a mad keen golf fan though I grew up with a father who was pretty handy with a 4 iron and both my brothers were junior members of the links course at Dawlish Warren. Mum and I would hang around there, having picnics or picking blackberries. And I remember the time I had too much Coca Cola and was sick in the sand dunes.

There hasn’t always been a golf gender divide in my family; my grandmother was Ladies Golf Captain at Tiverton in another era. But I am ashamed to admit that I knew very little, until this weekend just gone, about the Solheim Cup – as opposed to the Ryder Cup male equivalent (that tournament will forever be lodged in my mind – on my wedding day, half the guests disappeared mid-reception to listen to it on a car radio).

No surprises though – we still live in a society that favours male sport.

Melissa Reid and Laura Davies

And not just sport.

This week we’ve heard about David Cameron’s ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign (echoes of New Labour’s Cool Britannia here…?). He wants to get the world excited about the UK ahead of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and last week launched the campaign in New York, bigging us Brits up, glossing over this summer’s lootings. (And despite continually telling us at home we live in a ‘broken society’. Mixed messages, or what Dave?)

And where exactly are the women in this campaign? It’s all Henry VIII, Richard Branson, Wallace and Gromit. Look at the posters, and all you can see is a stiletto to represent half our population and I believe even that was designed by a man…

I’m clearly not the only one annoyed by this – very quickly a twitter campaign was counter-launched.

I do love my country but we don’t do self-congratulatory stuff very well – we are much better at satire and irony and self-deprecation. Maybe we should try harder to broadcast our talent to the world, but only if it is representative of the whole of our society.

And as long as we don’t make out we are better than anyone. We are different.

Ring any bells, Mr Cameron?

So I for one will be taking more interest in the Solheim Cup next time around…

Ruby Slippers

Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers are being auctioned in LA later this year at a guide price of $2-$3 m. Slightly more than my fluffy slippers from M&S.

This got me thinking about the things I have in my home that are worth anything – of celebrity value. I’ve got a stone from Southfork Ranch that my brother brought back for me from a trip to Dallas circa 1982. I have a signed photo of Slade given to me by my Uncle Dick after he bumped into them in a Brummie hotel at the height of their long-haired pop stardom.

And I have a first ever edition of Smash Hits magazine – though I’ve vandalised it with stickers (remember the ones you used to buy from WH Smiths with chewing gum – the best!).

That’s about it.

I don’t think I’ll be getting rich anytime soon.

But if money were no object, what would I buy? A first edition of Brideshead Revisited? The Delorean from Back to the Future? Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Fred Astaire’s tap shoes? Jacqueline du Pre’s cello?

What piece of memorabilia would you like to get your hands on?

This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night…

Downton Abbey

So love it or hate it, it’s back. Downton Abbey, the big hit of last year, returned with a vengeance to our screens last night. Pitched against the BBC’s final series of Spooks, it won the ratings war. What does this say for our viewing habits? We love costume dramas? We love the Upstairs/Downstairs concept? We are obsessed with class, still, in 2011?

The cast is impressive with Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan to name a few. There are some good one-liners (mainly from Dame Maggie aka the Dowager Countess of Grantham). Lots of sexual tension. Posh frocks. The magnificent house itself (which almost rivals Castle Howard in Brideshead Revisited).   And now, this time round, there is an added magic ingredient: the First World War and all the issues that will throw up – the end of the class system, female emancipation, a generation of lost boys…

Julian Fellowes, creator and writer, apparently says he doesn’t mind Downton Abbey being labelled a ‘posh soap’. And it is a soap opera as good as Coronation Street or Dallas – just with its own specific time and place – and lots of money thrown at its high production. All those good-looking young things but with more self-respect than those of Hollyoaks. Not as highbrow as BBC costume dramas (not that Larkrise to Candleford and Cranford are highbrow), but much more accessible, especially with its spattering of anachronistic dialogue. Brilliant.

And if my recommendation isn’t enough, just remember that Jennifer Saunders treated us to a Comic Relief parody – so if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

So will I carry on watching next week? Oh, yes, indeedy.







Guilty Pleasures

I like television on the whole. My novel The Generation Game was largely influenced by the telly of my childhood and adolescence. I often have the TV on low as background noise while I work. It keeps me company as writing can be a lonely business. I’m generally good at filtering out the rubbish and perking up when I catch the odd word or image that lures me in.

Now, I thought I’d got over reality TV long ago but something has got me hooked this late summer … The Real Housewives of New York City. I think I am actually addicted to it. ITV 2 at its guilty-pleasure best. I’ve never watched the British equivalents The Only way is Essex or Made in Chelsea and I don’t plan to. Earlier in the summer I caught some of The Real Housewives of Orange County but the women in that show were not memorable. They all had long blond hair and boob jobs and I couldn’t tell them apart. In looks or character.

The New Yorkers are much more individual and I know there is no such thing as true ‘reality’ on these programmes but there is something about these women that is intriguing. OK, so I’m only up to season 2 and reading ahead it looks like it will all kick off but I’ll hang on in there.

So… a guilty pleasure. We all have them. Some of us may not actually feel guilty about them. We might not care what other people think about our pleasures. Some of us are more secretive and coy. And for good reason.

Should we admit them? Remember what happened to Ross in Friends?

Chandler: Y’know what? We’re not sad, we’re not sad, we’re just not 21 anymore. Y’know? I’m 29 years old, damnit! And I want to sit in a comfortable chair, and watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!
Joey and Ross: Yeah!
Joey: Yeah! And I like to hang out in a quiet place where I can talk to my friends.
Chandler and Ross: Yeah!
Ross: And so what if I like to go home, throw on some Kenny G, and take a bath!
Joey: We’re 29, we’re not women.

So should I have admitted to watching TRHONYC? It could be worse – I could like Jeremy Kyle or Kenny G. And in my defence, I have grown out of Big Brother and X Factor. Maybe I like the Real Housewives because they are my age and I hanker after their high life in New York City. Maybe it’s like watching Dallas back in the day. All that glamour and rivalry… But Dallas was fiction. Maybe the Real Housewives is basically fiction too. Who knows what goes on in the editing suite? To be honest, I don’t really care too much how much is real. My job is writing fiction. And in every piece of fiction you can find some truths about life, if you look.

I’m making excuses now, aren’t I?



Yeovil to Godalming

Met some lovely people in Yeovil Waterstones on Saturday. Thanks to all those who showed an interest in The Generation Game. It all started with the Yeovil Literary Prize back in 2006 when I won the novel competition with the opening chapters. Five years later I was back in Yeovil which was really special.

One of the lovely people I met was Ian James, based locally in the RAF. His wife kindly let him pose in the photo with me! (All the best with the baby, guys.)

Check out the Yeovil Literary Prize website on the 14th September for the results of this year’s competition…

And I’m booksigning in Godalming Waterstones this Saturday 10th September from 11.oo to 1.00. Please pop by if you’re out and about in the area. I’d love to see you!


Four Poofs and a Piano

I watched Jonathan Ross’s ‘new’ show on ITV last night.



It was good to have him back on telly but strange to be on a Saturday rather than  a Friday. And I really missed the boys.

It’s always good to have a house band and they were so entertaining and refreshing, despite Ross’s routine introductory innuendos… They are a boy band extraordinaire.


In a week where my husband and number two son have been to Exmouth to watch The Wurzels (who were kicking apparently), and having watched local boys Muse on telly at Reading, and seen Tim Minchin on the comedy proms (see earlier post), I am proud to come from a country that has such diverse musical talent!

Boys, when are you coming to the West Country? I’ll be there.