Friday 30 November 2007

When I get older, losing my hair....

My mother is 78 and extremely fit and healthy (she says, touching wood quickly).
She lives in a small village where a car is a necessity; there is one bus a day into the nearest town and one that comes back at an inopportune time. She has been a widow for over twenty years now but has a strong network of very good friends who support each other, and her social life leaves me breathless.

But recently she had to have a hernia operation and wasn’t able to drive for a month. It nearly drove her bonkers (it tested our relationship when we went up to look after her for a week, too, but the less said about that the better).

So while Mum is able to drive and get around and be independent, all is well. But what about when she can’t drive, or if, God forbid, she should become ill? Should she come and live in Cornwall? My brothers live near London, and both have children and I can’t see her wanting to go and live with them. Or vice versa.

Himself thinks it would be a good idea, if and when the time comes, for my mum to buy somewhere nearby. ‘I’m quite happy to go and make her breakfast,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to worry about me in that respect.’

But she has so many friends in Devon, would she want to leave them? I’m not sure that she would. But what should they all do, when the time comes?

Should she come and live with us? Given that we live in a one bedroom flat, we would have to sell this, she would have to sell her house and perhaps buy something together.

Himself looked after his mum until she died at home and thinks this is only the right to do. ‘We should look after the oldies,’ he said firmly. ‘They’re family.’

Filled with guilt at Himself’s unselfish attitude, I discussed this with several friends. We all agreed, with a certain degree of shame, that having our mothers to live with us would be a disaster. Not because we don’t love them but because we don’t think it would work, and that would be disastrous.

We need our independence, just as they need theirs. The idea of a granny flat has its appeal, but I would hate for my relationship with my mother to break down. We are close but having looked after her for a week when she was unwell, I can see the problems that could arise.

I would hate her to wish she hadn’t made the move, for us to resent her and her needs. I can foresee a Pandora’s Box of complications.

A friend of mine said, “when we get old we should all sell our houses and buy a big place with a big garden. We could turn it into flats or just have a room each and share the kitchen and living room. We could have our privacy yet always know that someone was there. And medical care when we needed it.”

I think that’s a great idea. But what about my mum? What would/will you do with your parents when the time comes?

Thursday 29 November 2007

Good news and 70s memories?

Good news on the medical front – Himself has now been discharged from Geoff’s care and has to report to Debbie, our wonderful cancer nurse in future. This means that he can hopefully go on to intermittent treatment and not take the hormone treatment all the time (Geoff is a bit old fashioned on that front, believing it better to play safe. What about saving the NHS some money? Himself’s drugs must cost quite a bit.)

Geoff was still of a sunny disposition, despite being the only consultant there yesterday meaning that he saw someone else’s patients as well. This meant waiting for over an hour in chairs that gave me chronic back ache.

But I noticed that his name badge has changed. He is no longer Geoff but GT and his badge is valid till 2012. Would he really still be there then? 2012 sounds such a long way off.

The other good news is that I sold the first piece on adenomyosis. For exactly the amount that it cost me to see Dr Gray privately, so that’s a good bit of irony.

So we went to the pub.

Now this morning I’m hoping to get back to Arthur who I’ve had to neglect in favour of journalism.

What I need is your memories of the late 1970s. Queen, David Bowie, that sort of thing. Punk on its way in.

What about make up and clothes? My memories are dim as a) I was in hospital for a lot of the time and b) I’ve never had any interest in fashion anyway. Google wasn’t much help so I’m appealing to you lot.

Where were you (if you’re old enough) and what were you doing and wearing in 1977?

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Matters Medical

"We drink one another's health and spoil our own"
JEROME K. JEROME 1859-1927

I’m putting the final touches to my pieces on adenomyosis having finally got quotes from one medical source yesterday morning, and badgered poor Dr Gray’s husband into getting her to call me last night for more information and quotes.

Now I’ve rewritten the two articles and have one editor interested in one, hopefully someone else in the other one. I’ve been awake since 5am and gone over the information so much that my brain is going round in ever decreasing circles.

Now I have to catch Woman’s Hour who are doing a piece on heavy bleeding (as in menstrual) to see who they have interviewed – not Dr Gray which was a bit remiss of their researchers.

She said she thought they knew who they’d use instead, and also said that my GP had asked her (Dr Gray) if she would teach her how to insert coils with a local anaesthetic. So this means that my recent problems – and hopefully the articles - will be able to help others which is wonderful.

And on matters medical, Himself has a cancer checkup with his specialist this afternoon. This man is the most dour fellow I’ve ever come across, who wears very thick glasses, a squint and manages not to look at either of us when he speaks. He’s short and wears an identity badge that bounces off his more than ample stomach. Sense of humour? Don’t think he’s ever heard of such a thing. We are used to brief encounters with this fellow who, according to his name badge, is called Geoff. This puzzled me. If ever there was a Geoffrey, it’s him.

However, last time we went, we were greeted by a tanned, smiling, considerably smaller (as in slimmer) man. So what had happened? Had he taken up a new hobby – like rock climbing or sailing? Had he fallen in love? Left his wife? Had she left him? The mind boggles.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Obsessions and Elizabeth I

This cornet business is becoming something of an obsession and believe me we can neither afford one nor have we got room, in a one bedroom flat, to store musical instruments.

As I write, Himself is crouched over his laptop, poring over ebay (oh no), though he assures me that he’s actually going to sell one of the cornets. The one he’s fallen out with, that he bought last month. Oh fickle man. I won’t hold my breath until I see it despatched, though. I know what he’s like.

He’s been so excited over the most recent arrival in the cornet family that he’s completely switched off from normal life. He forgot to put petrol in the car on Saturday so on Sunday we drove round for an hour with it on Very Empty. Then he forgot to take the bottles to the bottle bank (which he drove straight past). He forgot to bring the newspaper back from the workshop, and forgot to make two important phone calls. This morning he forgot to put the rubbish bins out.

When he's home, he spends the entire time either playing the cornet, or he sits and gazes at it with starry eyes, stroking it. Every now and then he'll take both from their boxes and admire them, side by side. Let's hope this honeymoon period is over soon. For my sake as well as our neighbours who have to endure increasing hours of cornet practice (sorry RT).

On another note, we had a girls night out last night and met for a few drinks before going to see the latest film about Elizabeth I last night. There were some fairly gruesome scenes, but Cate Blanchett never disappoints, and neither did the cast list. We were riveted. Despite the fact that she was supposed to be in her fifties at the time and looked a lot younger, she was well portrayed I thought. A sympathetic mixture of steely ambition and thwarted desire; someone who needed to be loved and never had the chance.

I also noticed that she has a very masculine profile – that very long nose and wide mouth. Very apt given the fact that she was playing one of the most powerful women in the world at that time.

If it's on near you, I thoroughly recommend it.

Monday 26 November 2007

He's In Love (and so is Mum)

8.15 on Saturday morning, the doorbell rang. Himself went to open the door and emerged, beaming, with a huge cardboard box.

Another cornet.

He fell in love with this one on ebay last week, bid for it and got it for a knockdown price of sixty five quid (plus postage).

‘What’s the matter with the other one?’ I said.

‘Nothing, Pop, but every musician has two instruments.’


‘Well, what if someone stands on it or something?’
Not being in the habit of standing on musical instruments, I hadn’t thought of that.

Ever since he sent the cheque off he’s been in a fever of suspense, saying, ‘How long does it take for a cheque to clear?’ and ‘I wonder how he’s sent it – do you think I might get it this week? Or next week. Perhaps Monday – or Tuesday.’ And so on.

So when it arrived this morning, he was very much the proud father. ‘Oh, look, Pop,’ he said, stroking it lovingly. ‘I can’t tell you how wonderful this is.’ And then, ‘This is beautiful Pop – look.’ This refrain was repeated often during Saturday and the other cornet has been cast aside for the moment.

Oh, fickle men.

On the other hand, my mum came to stay for the weekend and we gave her the laptop. I’d already been told by my youngest brother that she was very apprehensive, and I thought OH NO. But Himself gave her some lessons and by the time she left yesterday, she had sent her first email and was positively skittish about it. She’s going to get set up at home next week (very busy social life this week) and is going to go to the library for some lessons, and when I suggested she bring the laptop down for Christmas, she said, ‘What a good idea! I can only thank you for such a generous gift. I should have done this years ago.’

So, fingers crossed…..

Friday 23 November 2007

A bad news day

This could have been the woods where I walked with a friend on Wednesday - the colours are so vibrant at the moment, like a child's painting. And I felt this was cheering on a grey autumn day.

I’ve been talking about Arthur and Jane with various friends of the writing fraternity and the general consensus of opinion is that the internet is not a safe place to publish it. There is no copyright on ideas and I can’t afford to expose my story to misuse.

So I’m afraid that that’s the last bit of Arthur for the time being. I will continue writing it however and maybe one day it will end up in the shops – I hope. Very many thanks to all of you for your comments and your encouragement that this is a story you wanted to hear. That is most important of all.

I’ve just had a call from a friend whose husband was made redundant yesterday afternoon. She’s in shock, as you can imagine.

‘I’m all hormonal and weepy,’ the poor thing said. ‘I woke up this morning and thought – waterproof or normal mascara? Luckily I settled for waterproof.’

So for anyone else who is going through a rough time, I found the following very cheering. And for all of those writers among us, this is now my motto!

''Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday 22 November 2007

A Musical Family

I’m exhausted this morning, recovering from a musical soiree. That’s a slightly grand description of last night, but it was a very late night for us.

I started off with rehearsals for Pajama Game where we sang more numbers and learnt the steps to Seven and a Half Cents. The new choreographer is tiny, with huge eyes and long un-mascara-d eyes, and is young enough to be my granddaughter (well, nearly). But she has patience and understanding which makes her a great teacher. Just as well – trying to teach thirty lumbering adults steps to a number in a small room is not easy.

But I got a real buzz from it. Being in at the beginning of a production is very exciting – like starting a novel, it’s a real adventure, full of unknowns. New people, a new plot, new songs, new moves and who knows who will play whom?

Auditions are all day on Sunday so as you can imagine, the atmosphere was electric. Everyone eyeing each other up, while being nice and smiley, thinking, “I want that part. I want it so much that – or should I go for Babe? Or Mabel. Perhaps I’ll go for them all.”

Given my dubious health this year I’ve opted to go for the chorus which will be taxing and time consuming enough, but that means I don’t have to attend auditions – though I might call in and see how it’s going.

Anyway, after that I drove a friend home then went back down to town where Himself was sitting in with a jazz band for the first time in nine years. He was very nervous but a friend had rung that morning to say her husband was also sitting in and would Himself come and join them, so it made that first time a bit easier.

In fact the band was run by someone he knows and it was her father and mother who came along to sit in – Bob is a wonderful sax player and Ruth sings with a raunchy blues voice. A wonderfully talented pair, and their daughter led the band playing guitar (she also plays the bull fiddle) so they’re a very musical family.

Himself played several numbers in the second half and excelled himself. He even played a solo which he’d refused to do, thinking he wasn’t good enough. When he and Bob played, the influx of students who’d suddenly materialised started stamping and shouting, whistling and clapping. Outside people peered in through the windows to see who was playing. The bored youngsters serving in the chippy opposite stood up and started jiving behind the counter.

Boy, was I proud.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Part Four

Over the next week, Arthur ignored Chapter Fifteen and devoted himself to his new project. It didn’t have a name, but it was a closer bond with Jane, and as he wrote she seemed to jump off the pages. He could almost smell a certain perfume she favoured which on anyone else he would have loathed. It was pungent, like too strong incense, and made him sneeze. But mixed with her French cigarettes, it had a certain cachet. It clung to his suit jacket, though, and reeked, according to the children. Marjorie never said anything. She just looked.

One morning Arthur returned from giving Mungo his morning run and settled down to the laptop. It was such a relief to be able to write again. ‘You wouldn’t understand, Mungo, but there is nothing more fearsome for a writer than being stuck.’

Mungo settled down in front of the still smoking fire with a hefty sigh.

‘Staring at that bloody screen and not having the faintest flicker of an idea. It’s terrifying.’

Mungo open one eye and shut it, turned over onto his side.

‘I really think that despondent trough I’ve been in might be lifting.’ Arthur was faintly aware of mixed metaphors but couldn’t be bothered to change them. After all, Mungo didn’t care.

Arthur settled down and as he opened the document which he had so far entitled, ‘Jane,’ his phone rang. Arthur stared at it with distrust. Few people knew he was here – Rosemary of course, and his youngest daughter Libby. That was all. Or had someone else found out? Arthur picked up the phone gingerly.

‘Arthur? Rosemary here. Listen, I need to know how you’re getting on.’

‘Fine.’ Arthur shut his eyes against the lie. Why was he so frightened of this woman?

‘So. When can I expect the manuscript?’ There was a pause. ‘Arthur. You’re not writing, are you?’

Arthur shifted in his seat and cast a hopeful eye at Mungo. Save me, he wanted to say. ‘I – well, I got rather stuck,’ he said. God how pitiful that sounded. What had he become? A shrivelled up weakling, unable to even talk to his agent. A scrap of a girl. Arthur thought back to their last meeting, which had proved Rosemary to be rather more than a scrap. She was a Rubenesque redhead with, he suspected, a temper to match her hair. He made a vow then never to anger her. The thought was at once terrifying and faintly thrilling – had he been twenty years younger.

‘Stuck?’ From the way she pronounced the word, Arthur could tell that it wasn’t one in her vocabulary.

‘Yes.’ Arthur felt like a little boy again, caught stealing his friend’s tuck. ‘Stuck. You know. Writer’s block.’

Rosemary sighed and Arthur shivered, glad that several hundred miles separated them. ‘Listen, Arthur. It is vital that you get this manuscript delivered to my desk on time.’ A poignant pause. ‘Your last sales weren’t good. As you know.’

Arthur glanced at Gertrude. Oh no, he mouthed to the impassive cat. This is worse than being at school, with the worst report of the whole school. Gertrude blinked and stretched out a laconic paw.

‘Arthur. Are you listening?’

He jumped. ‘Yes. Sales – not good.’

‘I’ve been thinking, Arthur. Maybe you should have a break for a while.’

He shuddered. He was being put out to pasture. This was the end of his writing career. No words that a writer fears more.

‘It’s either that, or –’

‘Or?’ he grabbed the chance like a lifebelt.

‘Or we try something new. A different genre. Something completely different.’

Arthur looked out of the window at the grey November morning. At the steady rain that had been falling for the last month. Beyond the sodden garden was the path leading to the beach. Where Jane would gather driftwood and scamper back to the cottage with handfuls of rubbish. ‘Look, Arthur, look!’ And she would unload her biscuit barrel, miraculously unscathed. A mobile phone, one day. An old lantern that she managed to coax into life. A bedstead that she painted up and sold, with her other treasures, lined up against the wall of the house.

‘What do you think?’

Arthur tried to bring himself back to the present. ‘Something completely different,’ he muttered. ‘Like – er – what?’

‘I don’t know, darling. You’re the writer.’ Rosemary laughed, a sound that cast terror into Arthur’s soul. It meant your career is over. Do This or you Die.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

The Best Laid Plans

That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with
delight and profit.

Amos Bronson Alcott, teacher and author (1799-1888)

Today’s one of those topsy turvy days as I have my journalist’s hat on this afternoon, interviewing someone for a feature on Inspirational Women. And this morning we promised to take the lovely James out this morning for coffee.

He’s much chirpier and very giggly which is good to know and introduced us to his Best Friend who is a lovely fellow; half Canadian and half Norwegian. Very intelligent and a good friend for James.

When we picked him up, James was fumbling about for something when Himself said, ‘are you all right, James?’

‘No.’ Giggle. ‘But I’m happy.’

I told him about Arthur and Jane. This is very curious, this story. There I was, a third of a way through my current novel, feeling decidedly down about life, bad back, writing – you name it. A real old misery guts. And then along came Arthur. Or rather, I blogged about Jane and you lot got me going. The other novel is sitting on the sidelines, like a shy debutante at a Jane Austen ball, while Arthur and Jane storm into centre stage, taking me with them. Where this is going, god knows, but it appears they want their story to be told.

I’ve realised I need to do some research on this story, it being set in the 1960s – or rather, that’s when Arthur and Jane met. And I want a title – something to do with a song of that time. Or a 1960s musical – they met in about 1966 at a party in London.

Hair is the obvious choice, given that Jane is very Extrovert and bohemian (very flower power and whacky backy), but Hair was on in Broadway in the late ‘60s so that’s too late.

I thought of Pajama Game’s Steam Heat but alas that was 1957. Drat.

So any of you out there with memories of the ‘60s or of the songs of that time – I need a good title for this tale. One that evokes the time and, of course, two very special people who fell in love……

And given that she’s an unconventional, feisty lady, what sort of jobs should she do? NO way would she be a secretary – she would want something different, probably lots of different jobs. She’s good at talking, very good at listening and is a good mimic. She’s also very attractive and has a good sense of fun. Any ideas?

Monday 19 November 2007

Part Three

Another quote that is very Jane - "Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating!"
Katherine Hepburn.

(I wish I could say the same.)

Part Three

An hour later, Arthur got up and stretched. Really, laptops were a terrible invention. Designed to ruin backs and inflict RSI. He flexed his fingers, did a few stretches as advised by his oldest daughter, a zealous physiotherapist.

He peered at what he’d written and nodded. Five pages. He felt lighter inside. Closer to Jane. It was as if writing something for her had turned into a joint venture. She’s beside me, telling me what to write, he thought, and for the first time in ages he smiled. It felt strange, exercising those unused muscles. Pleasant. A relief.

Looking down he gazed at Gertrude, Jane’s large tabby who stared at him with supercilious green eyes. She’d been fed by the neighbour after Jane died but refused to move in next door. When Arthur arrived she had seemed pleased to see him but made it clear she didn’t like sharing her house with Mungo, Arthur’s five year old long haired scruff of a mongrel who, happily, was used to cats.

Arthur went into the kitchen, rattled Gertrude’s biscuit box and watched as she jumped down fluidly, gave each leg a good stretch, and deigned to follow him to her bowl. Daintily she crunched her tea, giving it full concentration before she settled down to a lengthy wash.

Mungo sat by the fire, his eyes never leaving Arthur. Having been bitten by Gertrude for interfering with her teatime, he had learned that there was only room for one person to eat in the kitchen, so he bided his time. Now it was his turn. Beaming, he skipped forwards, missing Gertrude by a whisker, and buried his nose noisily and happily in his bowl.

Arthur smiled again, made himself another mug of tea and saw the postcard sitting on the table by the phone. I should reply, I suppose, he thought, manners surfacing as ever. A brief note, that will do. And he sat down again.

Dear Mr & Mrs Pascoe,

Thank you for your postcard of St Mawes. I once visited there with Jane one Sunday afternoon in December. It was very cold I remember but we’d spent some time in the Victory pub before (and after) which kept us warm.

That day was crystal clear in Arthur’s mind. As the light fell we walked along Millionaire’s Row, he remembered. The road the other side of the castle with all the very expensive houses on it. And onto the headland, where we watched the watery sun dip behind the fields, finally sink from sight into the cold winter sea.

She leaned against me, and I wrapped my coat round her shoulders and for the first time in my life I knew what a terrible wrench it was to love someone so completely. For the first time in my life I was completely adrift and directionless. But when I was with her I was complete.

Arthur stared at the laptop screen, tried to banish the image of Jane leaning on his shoulder. It was so real he could feel the roughness of her jumper: woollen and scratchy.

He shook himself and continued writing. In reply to your question, my name is Arthur Grace and I have known Jane for a long time. I am living in her cottage which, as you will know, needs a lot of improvements. It is extremely cold and damp and my arthritis is not improving.

However you can rest assured that I will look after her cottage and love it for it reminds me of her. When I am able, I intend to put in proper heating and a damp course and make the necessary improvements but it needs doing sensitively, without ruining the very essence of the place.

Arthur stared unseeingly at the words and continued writing. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I can’t write, but I have to be near her. When her daughter rang to say she’d died I was in Vermont – which is where I live.

I miss her so much. She was one in a million.

He looked at it – self pitying drivel. I can’t possibly send that. And he deleted the last two paragraphs. Seeing his naked anguish in words was too painful, too embarrassing. Hurriedly he saved the document and turned off the laptop.

Whistling to Mungo, Arthur fetched the lead and decided to walk round the back of the cottage to the woods, Mungo pattering happily in front of him. There he could get away from the guilt of not being able to work, let go of some of this bank of pain that had built up inside him. There, in the woods, he had found a bench that he and Jane would sit on and look out at Polruan Castle, and further, out to sea. There he could cry, alone and undisturbed. There, one day, he hoped to be able to achieve a kind of peace.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Jane Part Two

I wasn't sure about continuing this but Shelagh has insisted. So you can blame her...


(Arthur has just thrown the postcard on the fire)

That’s when he heard Jane’s voice. It was almost as if she’d cried, ‘What did you do THAT for?’ And he lunged forward guiltily, grabbed the disintegrating card from the fire, burning his fingers.

Maybe this was a sign of some kind. Not that he believed in that sort of thing. Usually. He could just make out the couple’s address, but the code for the phone number had disappeared amongst the ashes. Just as well. He didn’t like phones anyway.

Sitting back carefully, avoiding the troublesome spring, he looked round the room wondering where this couple had sat when they visited. The chair he sat in was Jane’s. She’d always sat there, like royalty, when people visited and now he felt closer to her when he sat in her chair, even though she wouldn’t like it. ‘Sentimental old fool,’ he could hear her saying.

Pip and Pop. What stupid names. Like the bloody flowerpot men. But who were they? The husband was – what had she said? A sailor? Or a jeweller. Or something, perhaps both. He had a sexy voice, she’d said, and her voice lifted when she spoke of him. Sexy and well educated. The girl – woman – had lived in Fowey for a while – had escaped there when things got bad in her life. That’s what Jane did. Collected people in need of help. Gave them stimulating conversation and watery tea and Rich Tea biscuits and kippered them with her smoke.

Arthur got up, stretched his long legs and realised his feet were still cold. ‘Bloody house,’ he muttered and went next door to the tiny kitchen to fill the kettle. While he waited for it to boil, he remembered the first time he’d met Jane.

In London, at a party in the Kings Road. She’d worn a very short mini skirt, with a black and white miniscule top and her eyes were rimmed with khol, laced with clods of mascara. I monopolised her, Arthur thought, remembering the way he’d been drawn towards her boundless energy. When he heard her deep laugh – more of a man’s chuckle, that was it. I had to have her. Except, of course, that it took ages to get her into bed, he thought ruefully, pouring boiling water onto teabags. He added milk, stirred and took a couple of Rich Tea biscuits from the chipped porcelain barrel that Jane found washed up on the beach and kept her biscuits in. Always Rich Tea. And I don’t even like bloody Rich Tea, he thought, leaving the kitchen.

He poked the fire, choked at a billow of smoke and eyed his computer warily. The screensaver winked at him unflinchingly and he could hear his agent’s voice, rather like that of Vanessa Redgrave. ‘Come on darling. I need it by the first of December. I’m being hounded.’

Arthur sighed, sat down and looked at the screen. Chapter Fifteen it said at the top, but below that it was blank. Ever since I came here I’ve been blank, he realised. I’d thought it was the news that she’d died. That can knock the words out of you. But that was six months ago. The thought stabbed him like a wound, fresh and raw. No more Jane. Was it possible? Surely not. Here she was all around him, her spirit so close that often she whispered in his ear. He could still smell her cigarettes, caught a whiff of her Imperial Leather soap.

But I need more than that, he thought. I need another connection with her. If ever I’m going to write again, I need to make things right with Jane. And after the last time we saw each other, how do I do that? It’s too late.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN sat uncompromisingly at the top of the screen. Evidence of what he’d achieved so far. A jeering reminder that he was only half way through the book. Another 50,000 words to go. Dear God. And Rosemary wanted the entire manuscript on her desk in three weeks time. I shouldn’t have lied to her, thought Arthur wearily. Yet what else could I do? She hounds me, wretched woman. Won’t leave me alone.

He sighed and clicked on his emails, anything for distraction. He saw one from his daughter in France and scanned it idly, not taking it in. What the hell can I do with Peter (the charming but psychotic bank robber) who had got himself down a Cornish mine with the pertly pretty Patricia who had a degree in Psychology and a knife in her knickers. “God this is such crap!” cried Arthur.

He could just hear Rosemary's rich gravelly voice. “Nonsense, darling. It’s very bankable,’ she would say.

Arthur sipped his tea which was too hot. He heard a whisper in his right ear. A chuckle and a waft of French cigarettes. He smiled slowly, clicked on New Document and decided to write something completely different. To hell with Rosemary. He sniggered, crunched a Rich Tea and, with crumbs falling onto his keyboard, he started to write.

Friday 16 November 2007

Jane Part Two


That quote is courtesy of Shelagh, my sister in law, but I post it here because it’s the sort of thing that would have made Jane roar with laughter.

I haven’t heard anything from the owner of Jane’s cottage, so here is a version of what might happen. Don’t tell Himself. I’m supposed to be having a break from any writing for a few days as I’ve been very down recently and he thinks I need a rest. But I just had to write this .....


Arthur heard the cough of the postman’s van outside and lifted his head, heard a raucous greeting with the ginger haired lad who always cleaned the public toilets at this time of the morning. A burst of laughter, a bark from next door’s collie and a knock on the door. Arthur started, head lifted like a gun dog. Wouldn’t be for here. Not for Jane, after so long.

Another rap on the door. ‘Oy. Mister! Letter for you.’

Arthur froze, wondered whether to hide as he had done for the last few weeks. He shivered as the call was repeated. Curiosity got the better of him. Could it be the girl writing? The boy? How old would they be now? Mid forties – fifties?

He heaved himself to his feet, crossed the tiny dark room and pulled at the top half of the stable door. Stuck, as usual. It swelled with the rain. He tugged again with such might that he feared for his blood pressure and the door swung outwards and hit his cheek with a dull thud. He cursed loudly.

‘You’ll get a nasty bruise if you’re not careful,’ said the postman, his nose ring glinting in the winter sun.

Arthur forced himself not to sock him in the jaw, grunted and took the letter, now wet, from the outstretched hand. Before the lad could talk any more, Arthur shut the door smartly, listened to the disappointed footsteps retreat down the path.

Satisfied that he’d gone, Arthur returned to the smoking fire which cast a dim glow round the room that had always reminded him of being on a ship. The ceiling was low and covered in nicotine, the room filled with a permanent haze of woodsmoke. Everything was just as she’d left it – the walls lined with Penguin classics, photographs of the children when younger – in their twenties, he supposed. A handsome young man with a proud chin, an attractive girl with her mother’s huge fun loving eyes.

A selection of demi-johns in the corner of the room. He dimly remembered her rice and raising wine. On the mantelpiece a collection of postcards from all over the world. Some that he’d sent, he saw to his relief. She’d kept those, then. A calendar, now sadly empty. In strange writing he saw Hospital visit on a Tuesday. Day Centre one Friday. And Pip and Sue in what must have been her writing.

Glancing down at the envelope he wondered how anyone else knew he was here. Had the agent in London heard? Surely he would have rung. The phone was still working. Was it one of the kids? His heart beat faster, but as he turned over the envelope, he saw it was addressed to The Owner, Farthings, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Safe. For now.

He tried to warm his hands on the fire, wondered how Jane had ever kept sane, let alone alive in this place. And yet how she’d loved it. He had a sudden image of her lying in his bed, her hair rumpled, mascara smudged under her eyes. A mini skirt lay on the floor, two empty wine glasses and a half full bottle. His white shirt, lying in a crumpled heap by her stockings. Her shoes, discarded on the floor, waiting to get up and go.

He hated it when she went. Kissed him hurriedly with a mouth that smelt of those French cigarettes she smoked. Leaving him with an empty bed and an empty heart. While she hurried back home to Harry.

He shook his head to clear the image, so bright. That was fifty years ago, felt like yesterday. That was the trouble with getting older. The past was so much clearer than the present. He looked down at the envelope and frowned.

The writing was strange. Not young. Hurried. Careless. Female at a guess. He felt a prickle of fear. Intrusion threatened. He got up, peered out of the window, careful not to show any signs of his presence. Apart from the kitchen window at the back, that he’d had to break to get in, there was no sign of his presence. Apart from the postman and the lavatory cleaner, no one knew he was here. He’d said he was looking after the place, which he was. Just not in the way that they thought.

He sighed and ripped open the envelope. Inside was a postcard, a picture of St Mawes Castle on the front. On the back a short note scrawled in untidy, almost illegible writing.

We were good friends of Jane’s and visited her often. Having heard of her death, we wondered who had bought the cottage and hope it will be loved as she loved it. If you would like to get in touch, here are our details.
There followed an address in Falmouth and a couple’s names.

Arthur sat down in the old armchair and swore as a spring poked through, piercing his right buttock. Friends of Jane’s. He was glad she’d had friends, especially towards the end. She needed them. Perhaps this was the couple she’d mentioned? The husband so much older than the wife. They brought presents and took her to the pub.

Or was this a ruse? A trick. He couldn’t afford that. He stared at the postcard, shrugged and flicked it onto the fire. Watched as the smoke spiralled upwards, shooting flames of bright blue, tongues of green and orange. He felt a sudden pang, which he stifled. Too late now.

Or was it?


Unlike my usual writing, where I have to know what’s going to happen, this time I have no idea where this is going, so please leave suggestions as you think of them.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Old Friends

This picture has nothing to do with this post but I felt like something soothing and uplifting - and seasonal.

The other weekend when we were travelling back from Devon we stopped off in Fowey. I used to live there, some time ago, and although it’s changed a lot since then, it’s still a favourite old haunt of mine. I’ll only go in winter though, when it’s quiet.

I had a very dear friend called Jane who lived at Readymoney Cove, not far from the town, but sadly she died two years ago and is sorely missed. Mind you, she’d had a good life, and at the time she died I think she’d had enough. She was in her seventies and sprightly minded, but her body was letting her down.

She had gone blind and needed a hip done. She had no money and the cottage was falling down. Her children (grown up) lived in America so they rarely came over, and most of her friends had either died or moved away.

But whenever we went to see her she was wonderful company. Intelligent, funny, a wicked sense of humour and liked nothing better than a good flirt with Himself – who was more than happy to oblige.

So it was a terrible shock when I got a phone call saying that she had died. The funeral was full of young people, which said a lot for Jane, but next to me stood a man of about Jane’s age wearing a smart dark blue woollen coat, highly polished brogues. He crept in at the last minute and cried all the way through. Then he tiptoed out, quiet as a cat.

It’s a while since we’ve been back to Fowey so I decided to go and see what had happened to her house. There were net curtains at the windows (not like Jane at all) but the door was firmly locked and no sign of life. So I asked the fellow who was cleaning the toilets if he knew who owned it now.

‘I haven’t been doing this job long, but my mate told me that a famous writer had bought it,’ he said.

So I went up and knocked on the door. Nothing. I asked her neighbours and they thought it was let as someone had the fire lit the previous night.

I came home none the wiser. Then I thought, I’ll write to the owner – whoever it is. So I did.

I’d like to know that Jane’s house was loved as she loved it. So I’m waiting for an answer. Not that I expect to get one, but you can always hope. And if not, I shall write one.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

A Meme

8 things I’m passionate about

My family
My animals
My friends
Writing (not necessarily in that order)
People watching
FUN (though it has to be said, this last week has been dire so fun has been very thin on the ground)

8 things I want to do before I die
Get all of my s****ing books published
Actually earn my living as a writer
Earn some more money so we can have a dog friendly holiday
Win the lottery so Himself needn’t work again
Get my ill health sorted this year
Can’t think of any more

8 things I say often
NO!!!!! (to Mollie)
Love you
Shit I’ve burnt it
I don’t know (in response to what do you want to eat tonight)
Yes I’d love one (in reply to how about a drink?)

8 books I’ve read recently
Ann Tyler – Ladder of Years (for reading group)
A Spot of Bother – Mark Haddon
We are all Welcome Here – Elizabeth Berg
One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
The Renegade Writer – Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
The Memory Garden – Rachel Hore
Can’t Wait to get to Heaven – Fannie Flagg

8 things that attract me to my best friends
Sense of humour
Being There
Shared interests
Love of Himself (they all do)

And I pass this challenge on to anyone who has enough time to do it! It’s taken me ages when I should be WORKING….!

Tuesday 13 November 2007


This is Tetley, an worldwide celebrity.

He and his siblings were first photographed by Richard Austin for the Western Morning News at Pennywell Farm, where they are unique. Chris Murray, the owner, started breeding these miniature pigs and the pictures were soon broadcast round the world.

Soon TV crews started arriving from America, France, Germany, New Zealand and Russia. Next week Warner Brothers are paying a visit.

This has done wonders for Pennywell Farm’s publicity of course, with more than 100,000 hits on their website: - which has already been named as Tourism Website of the year.

I remember Chris Murray from 30 years ago when we both lived in London. He was a very different person then to the family loving businessman he is today. Pennywell Farm was his idea and is now a great success with families and animal lovers all year round.

The miniature pigs are sold for £250 as pets to carefully selected customers.

As Chris said, “This French TV reporter told me the other day that the news was just full of horrible stuff all the time. So it’s nice to have something fun for a change.”

So here you are. Tetley in a teacup. Enjoy.

Monday 12 November 2007

Me and My Girl

The above picture was taken on Saturday at Agility Class Two - Moll running towards her Mum. (I'm the one in the red coat. The other one is Lisa, one of the people who runs the classes.) The photographer couldn’t get too near but you get the gist.

In the papers over the weekend came the news that curvy women are more intelligent and are more likely to give birth to brighter children.

Have you noticed that these sort of pieces are always preceded by “scientists say” – though in a piece like this, it doesn’t say who these scientists are. Mind you, I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t particularly like to be renowned for discovering such a thing. Wouldn’t win you the Nobel Peace Prize, would it?

But I doubt the authenticity of this news as I can think of loads of examples to disprove it.

The first one is my mother who is tiny – she just peeks above five foot on a good day when she’s wearing heels, and no way would you say she’s curvy. But – and here I can boast – she’s a member of Mensa.

She evidently didn’t pass her brain cells on to her children, but that’s through no fault of her own I’m sure. Perhaps her Mensa cells got stuck somewhere in her womb?

As for her offspring – well, I’ve got my mother’s build though I’m six inches taller and my brothers take after their father who was a six foot plus rugger player.

When it comes to children, my nephews and nieces are far from stupid. Sadly, we don’t have any children, but as Himself keeps telling everyone, “Mollie’s very bright, you know.”

Saturday 10 November 2007


A few weeks ago I was walking with Mollie at the beach in Flushing when on the very edge of the water I saw three large birds. They looked just like herons, but I’d only ever seen herons along the creeks.

I squinted at them: it was a hot day and the sun was slow, shining strongly in my eyes. I drew closer and, sure enough, there were three herons standing on the rocks at low tide. Mum, Dad and Littl’Un.

Of course you never have a camera when you want one, and herons being shy birds, they flew away before I could get too close.

I stood on the beach, watching as they flew to the top of a tall tree; the branches bending and swaying as they settled one by one. Standing on the beach I could only feel their absence, wished I could do more.

But it was the most magical sight. The sun bouncing off the water, turning the shadows black. The herons stood out in relief, like perfect statues, frozen in the sunlight. It was a sight that I hope I never forget.

Friday 9 November 2007

Rejections and elderly shopping

Yesterday I got another rejection for the last novel. It floored me. One a week I can cope with, but three is too much, given that my hopes were raised by a very good critique which indicated that she thought this book should be published. Sometimes you can’t win. I was drained and felt I didn’t have the energy to keep doing this. To have my spirits raised and then dashed – there’s only so much you can take, on bad days.

To cheer myself up, I had a look at the Novel Racers blog and read that someone has just had 5 positive responses from agents. Within 48 hours. While I'm delighted for her - no, I am, really. I've just read her blog and she sounds great. I mean that. And she's worked very very hard on her book for over 2 years. But a little devil inside me is shouting, 'yah hah! Hopeless aren't you? Failure!' You can guess how that makes me feel.

Himself was wonderful, gave me a big hug and said, ‘I wish there was something I could DO.’ He does of course – he provides much needed moral support, and I told him so.

But I decided I needed a few hours off. As it happened, James rang asking if we could take him shopping as he wanted to get a watch. When we arrived he said, ‘I have a very small favour to ask. Could my friend come too?’

His friend is in his late 80s and blind, but we said of course. Wondering why someone who can’t see would want to go shopping. As it happened, he declined as he was having a doze, but the two men arranged to go for a walk round the garden when James got back.

So we took him to Asda, where he said to me, ‘You didn’t bring my shopping list.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘Because neither of us could read it.’

We both giggled at that and headed off towards the watches where I found one for £8 with a nice clear face. He was delighted.

‘And now I need to go to the chemist,’ he said.

‘What for?’

‘I can’t remember,’ he replied. So we headed towards the pharmacy department so that he might remember what he wanted if he saw it. After much discussion and a lot of guesswork he bought some glue for his dentures, some toothpaste and some mouthwash. (Has someone been saying something I wonder? Is there romance in the offing? It’d be nice to think so.)

Then we went to the next aisle and he stood before it, stroking his beard and looking puzzled.

‘Do you need anything to help you sleep?’ asked Himself.

‘No,’ replied James. ‘I need – you know – it’s to do with animals.’

I carefully avoided looking at Himself and asked, ‘what kind of animals?’

‘Oh,’ James giggled. (He has a wonderful giggle.) ‘I don’t know.’

And he lumbered off to buy himself three large bars of chocolate instead.

We had a cup of coffee on the way back and got him there in time for his walk with his blind friend, who expressed great interest in coming with us next time.

I can see at this rate word will get round and we’re going to be needing a minibus.

Perhaps we could enter the Guinness Book of Records for How Many Octogenarians can you fit into a Ford Fiesta?

Thursday 8 November 2007

A Singing Flowerpot

This morning I woke up singing.

The song was, “I’m not at all in love, not at all in love, not I…” a wonderful romp of a song that gathers you up and swings you along, feet in the air, like a child.

Our first rehearsal of Pyjama Game (the musical) was last night and this was one of the songs.
It’s been six months since we performed Oliver which was the first musical I’ve done with Falmouth Theatre Company, and I loved it. I was in the chorus and had a wonderful time. Was bereft when it was over.

And now we’re starting all over again, right from the beginning, with a new musical director, producer, choreographer and pianist.

I wasn’t looking forward to it last night as I’d had One of Those Days. I was so tired I felt weepy (mood swings I fear), my back and legs ache from the side effects of the coil which means it’s very difficult getting comfortable, and I’d had a rejection from an agent for the last novel. Then one of my friends who’d been in Oliver rang up to say she’d decided not to take part in Pyjama Game as she’d got the video out again and just couldn’t get excited about it. And the kids were in Snow White so she felt it was their turn this time. She was really sorry.

I understood, of course, but my heart sank. I thought, it won’t be the same without her. (We were partners in crime in Oliver and had a good laugh which is vital. The others are pleasant but not on the same wavelength if you know what I mean.)

Also, we’d seen the video together and I wasn’t that struck either. My sense of doom increased. But I’d said I’d take another friend and introduce her, so I had to go. And thank God I did. She’s been having a bad time recently so it cheered her up, and as for me – well, it was marvellous just to sing again. Last night we sang through most of the major songs and I thought, YES!

I’m no singer – I mean, I’ve sung in choirs, but I’m not trained or anything. But even I can tell when I hit the right notes.

It was wonderful last night. Our voices took off like a flock of birds, soaring high into the air. Up and down we hovered, in and out, and all the time the music lifted us, brought us back down, swept over and under, and all that exhaustion went. We were alive again.

It’s like flying with your feet on the ground.

It reminded me how important confidence is. When I have it, I take it for granted. When it lapses, it leaves me floundering, like a bird with a broken wing.

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Silver Surfers

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come
back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

This has absolutely nothing to do with the news that Joan Barker, aged 75, is one of the three winners of Silver Surfer of the Year. The others were Dora Pegge, 93 and Pauline Davis at 83.

Joan lives in sheltered accommodation in London and learnt how to surf the net some time ago. She had had lessons and now has a laptop of her own, and this way keeps in touch with her children and grandchildren in Italy.

I’m hoping that my mum has read this by now, as we are getting her a laptop for Christmas. I thought some time ago that she would enjoy a computer – she can touchtype, she has lots of friends all over the world, and she’s very bright so she will pick up how to work it very quickly.

Originally my brothers and I were going to all club together and get a new one but they are financially indisposed so rather than wait any longer for them, we have decided to get her a secondhand one with a warranty. (So no one else is getting any presents this year, OK?!)

I’ve managed to find someone who will install it for her - someone she can ring up when things go wrong (as they always do) and now all we need is for it to arrive for the end of the month when she will come and play with our laptop, take hers home and get it fixed up. Then she’s going to go to her local library for lessons so she can go back and practise at home. Well, that’s the plan.

Like any newcomers to the world of computers and the internet, she was terrified when I first mentioned it, and needed a bit of cajoling.

‘I don’t know,’ she said, with that pursed look. ‘I’m not sure about it at all.’

My heart sank at her lack of enthusiasm, but having talked about it over the weekend, she was markedly more cheerful. Since then she’s talked to other friends who are computer literate, and the last time she phoned she was quite excited about it all.

‘I should have got one ages ago,’ she burbled. ‘I can’t wait!’

I hope to god it lives up to expectations. One thing’s for sure. This blog will have a new reader, so I’d better be careful what I write in future.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

A Television Rant

On Danuta Kean’s blog this morning - (blogger won’t let me embed links) I read that Richard and Judy are to be axed. (If you read the Channel Four website it is worded slightly differently of course.) They are, however, keeping the book show. What is the world coming to? Richard and Judy have become an institution. It's one of the few shows that Himself will watch.

But on to matters closer to my heart. Last night was the last episode of Doc Martin, the programme based in the fictitious Cornish village of Port Wenn, featuring Martin Clunes as the grumpy Doc who may or may not get together with the lovely schoolteacher Louisa.

This programme is one of the few that has had me increasingly hooked over the years, for several reasons. The script has a gentle sense of humour, and Martin C’s brilliant sense of timing shows that off to full effect. It is pure escapism – the sun always shines in Port Wenn – and yet the problems that the characters face are all real. Most of all, I love Doc Martin because he is the antithesis of most Heroes. He is grumpy, speaks his mind and has absolutely no bedside manner at all. And yet, he is a brilliant doctor, despite his aversion to blood.

And I’m not the only one to think this. Last week’s show attracted over 9.3million viewers and I would guess there was in increase last night when the couple were due to be married.

However, Himself disagrees. He thinks Doc is an ar******le and when last night’s fix ended in the couple not getting hitched, he was delighted.

‘Why would anyone want to marry an idiot* like that?’ he said ‘It’s a terrible programme, Pop, I can’t think why you watch such rubbish*.’

(*Idiot and rubbish weren’t quite the words he used).

And yet he could have gone to bed early. Did he? Did he hell. He sat and watched every minute, just as I did.

I was bitterly disappointed by last night’s ending. My hopes had been built up (along with over 9 million other people) and I wanted them to get married. My expectations were foiled, and I felt badly done by. Jilted. Yes, all this over a TV programme. Sad, isn’t it?

Presumably this was done to pave the way for another series. After all, if Doc and Louisa married, there would be no story. Or would there? I don’t actually see how they can continue the show having gone this far. But who knows? They have such a hit on their hands I’m sure they have a good plan up their sleeves.

But I went to bed disgruntled and woke up disgruntled. I’d been cheated of my happy ending. And I don’t expect my reaction is unique.

So, for all those that sneer at Romance – think again. It sells. It makes us happy. After all, there’s enough doom and gloom in the news – who wants more? What’s the matter with a bit of healthy escapism?

Monday 5 November 2007


While I love fireworks, since having animals I view the whole experience differently.

To start with, people have been setting off random rockets for the past two weeks now, and that’s fine as long as they don’t do it too close to us – one landed on our doorstep the other night, and the animals hate it.

Bussie sits on his favourite chair with his eyes tight shut, facing away from the window (even though we have to close the curtains to keep the noise and light out).

Mollie, being two and a half, has only just become frightened of fireworks. Apparently puppies live in their own little happy bubble and don’t tend to be frightened of loud noises – it’s something they learn as they grow up.

Each time a firework goes off, Mollie cowers in the corner and shakes for the next hour. This, the terrier who isn’t afraid of anything. It’s horrible to watch, as my instinct is to comfort her, but that is the wrong thing to do apparently, as you encourage the fear.

According to our vet, you should shut all windows and close the curtains. Turn the TV or music up reasonably loud. Have a selection of toys for them to play with (though poor Moll is too frightened to be distracted). Feed them a carbohydrate rich meal beforehand – pasta or mashed potatoes are both good.

If you’re organised you can get a plug in defuser which apparently helps calm the atmosphere, and there are even CDs which will help animals get used to the loud noises but obviously that has to be done weeks in advance.

So please enjoy your fireworks – and enjoy them for me as I won’t be able to look out and see them. I shall be sitting inside with a glass of wine and the TV up loud, or singing in an effort to distract my poor animals.

You can imagine their reaction – oh Mum, shut up, please……

Saturday 3 November 2007

Agility Training Part One

This, by the way, is not any of the dogs this morning, as Himself forgot the camera. Not only that, but having told me that he knew EXACTLY where he was going, Himself got lost at the Redruth roundabout. Then he took the wrong turning. When we finally got there, that's when he realised that he’d forgotten the camera.

But we'd started arguing before we even got there, when I said I thought Moll should have a run before the training to run off a bit of her excess energy.

‘You’re not taking her anywhere wet or muddy, Pop,’ said Himself, getting dressed this morning. ‘I want her pristine and brushed when she gets there.’

I looked at him, wondering this husband of mine appeared to have lost any brain cells that he had when I met him (must have been the birthday that killed off the few remaining ones).

‘She’s going to be in a field,’ I said. ‘Outside.’ In case he hadn’t got the message. ‘She’ll be filthy and wet in a minute.’

Himself frowned as he pulled on his Birthday Jumper. ‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I want her clean when we get there.’

Sometimes you wonder, don't you?

Anyway, we finally got there without killing each other and split into two groups; in our group was another Jack called Sally, and two collies, both young and very bouncy. The first training we did was on one of those long walkway things and greedy Moll took to it brilliantly – specially the bit of sausage at the bottom, whereas the collies didn’t like the feel of the rough wood on their paws at all.

Next was the tunnel which again Mollie shot down. I was the other end with a ball on a rope and she came galloping towards me with a broad grin. So much for Himself’s gloomy protestations of her hating it.

The next thing was learning basic handling techniques which meant walking with your dog clockwise and anti-clockwise, then to the left and right, ie with the dog on the inside and then outside. The idea is to keep your dog’s interest so they look at you and watch your body language the whole time. It’s a non stop lesson in communication.

And the last exercise was in weaving – another fast technique that they all seemed to enjoy.

I hadn’t realised till we got back in the car how much concentration was needed – for both dogs and owners. Despite being full of treats, Moll is now exhausted and sleeping peacefully on the sofa.

Thinking back on this morning’s activity, it occurred to me that it’s very easy to get stuck in our own relationships – with husbands/partners, with our friends, with work.

I can’t help thinking this sort of thing would be brilliant for us humans and our relationships. Not running through tunnels and weaving, of course, but going back to basics, looking at our nearest and dearests and remembering what attracted us to them in the first place. Remembering the basic art of communication and body language. And most important of all, having FUN in the process.

Just a thought.

Friday 2 November 2007

Birthday Boy

Today is Himself’s birthday and the poor fellow hasn’t been feeling well for the last few days, so he’s sitting on the sofa reading a book of Giles cartoons kindly given to him by Big Brother, with Mollie snoozing beside him and Bussie lying fatly on the computer chair (which he has now commandeered on a full time basis.)

I’m off to a writing meeting in Truro now and tonight, if the invalid has recovered sufficiently, we will have a drink at our local pub. This is run by the Reverend Barrington Bennetts, a renowned celebrity who rules his small kingdom with fiery eyebrows that draw together threatening trouble.

Barrington, as he is known, is also a priest at Falmouth Parish Church when he’s not behind the bar at the pub, and is married (but tries to avoid speaking to) his wife of rather more years than he cares to remember.

Many of the clientele have died off with advancing years, so those of us that are left view each other with relief when we step through the doors. Another one still alive.

A visit to this pub is an experience. The interior hasn’t changed for over 100 years and there is no food, no comfort and no music. Just real ale and lousy wine.

But the company’s good, and this must be one of the last Proper Pubs in Cornwall.

I love it.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Distrustful Words and Good news for Falmouth

Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)

Did any of you see the interview with Heather Mills McCartney last night? Well, I only saw a bit but that was enough for me. I’m afraid, cynic that I am, that none of that ‘Woe Is Me’ stuff worked on me.

I’m not usually that distrustful but there is something about her that causes alarm bells to ring. I’m sure she’s had a bad time but, like Victoria Beckham, she seems to have this desperate need to be in the press at every available opportunity, at the same time decrying that the media are ruining her life.

Sorry, girl. Doesn’t wash with me.

On to a brighter note, Falmouth has got the go-ahead to build a 300 berth marina down at the docks.

The £5m development will have a 600 metre long floating breakwater suitable for housing boats and yachts, facilities for showers and parking for 300 cars.

The construction is due to be completed by April next year in time for Falmouth to host the Tall Ships race later in the year.

Good news for Falmouth. If any of you fancy a trip to Cornwall, come and see the Tall Ships – it’s a sight that will take your breath away.