Monthly Archives: September 2015

Newsletter for August 2015


I’ve been a bit lax in keeping up to date with these letters. Blame the garden and a glut of French beans, runner beans, courgettes etc etc – to say nothing of the weeds!

I have also been busy working, though not doing much writing at the moment. Until I find a publisher for IRONHAND there isn’t much incentive to write more. However, at the beginning of the month I was in London, teaching another two day course on writing historical fiction at the City Literary Institute. It all went well and as a result I have been asked to repeat the course in October for a group in Brick Lane, who are working on a project about the history of the East India Company. We managed to squeeze in a couple of theatre visits while we were there, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in both. ‘Hay Fever’ is one of favourite plays and I was looking forward to seeing Felicity Kendall as Judith, but it was the last night and I had the impression that she was very tired and couldn’t wait to get the performance over! Next night we saw ‘Constellations’, a two hander with an interesting premise – that in parallel universes the same actions can have very different results. Unfortunately, this led to a great deal of repetition as the same scenarios were played out with different endings.

Later in the month we had a few days away, first on Derwentwater and then in Pitlochry. Both are lovely places and we were lucky with the weather, so it made a nice break. Pitlochry has a beautiful modern theatre, which stages an ambitious summer season. We saw a new play, ‘Pyrenees’, extremely well written and acted and better than anything we saw in London.

So here we are in September and the summer (what summer, I ask myself) is almost over. Next week I’m off to Whiteley Bay to record ‘Twice Royal Lady.’

Adventures of a Visiting Speaker

I was asked to talk to the Little Bollington WI – subject Women At War. Looked up the venue on the net and it seemed fairly straightforward – basically straight up the M56 and then a short diversion. However, decided I’d better take the Sat Nav just in case. Big mistake! Instead of sticking to the M-Way she (my Sat Nav’s name is Jemima by the way) decided we should take the scenic route. After about half an hour of wandering through the country lanes she told me to turn right, down a road that was clearly marked as a dead end. I ignored her and hoped she would find another way round. After a long diversion she brought me back to the same point. ‘Turn right!’ she ordered. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no identifiable landmarks. Beginning to panic by this time, I telephoned the number of the lady who had asked me to speak. She had left, but her husband eventually managed to work out where I was. ‘Oh, you’re almost there.’ he said. ‘Keep on along the main road and take the first turning on the left.’ Reassured, I set off again. None of the roads to the left seemed to be what I wanted and I found myself at a busy and complicated roundabout system. Jemima had completely lost the plot by now and wanted to take me back across the M-Way, which I knew must be wrong. I consigned her to the glove box and phoned again. No answer! I headed back the way I had come. Now half an hour late and reduced to a gibbering wreck I rang the lady’s mobile. ‘I’m completely lost! I’m sitting outside a pub called the Swan with Two Nicks.’  ‘Oh, you’re nearly here. Wait and I’ll send someone to find you.’ This she duly did and it turned out I was withing half a mile and had already driven past the place once! So, instead of arriving in good time, cool, calm and collected, I arrived hot, bothered and teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Luckily, the members were still dealing with the business of the meeting so I had time to draw breath. In the end, the talk went very well and I sold a lot of books – and afterwards I was given a guide to get me back to the motorway. So it was worth it in the end – but boy! was I glad to get home!