Sunday, 24 May 2009


It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in my bedroom in Spain, looking out over the calm blue Mediterranean and giggling. No one is tickling me - no dog or cat, grandchild or lover - though my friend, Rich-ard is asleep in the other room. He is, sadly, neither Rich nor ‘ard – but a good friend is ‘arder to find than a rich one, so we leave it at that.

The reason I’m giggling is something that happened at last night’s party - my niece’s 40th. She was born in 1969 so the theme was The Sixties.

While searching for the perfect get-up, I contemplated wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘I’m in My Sixties!’ printed on it. Then, while hunting through the vintage rails of Camden and Portobello, I found the perfect dress: an A-line silver number complete with couture label, of the type worn by Jackie Kennedy or Twiggy way back when. £15 secured it.

I chopped another few inches off the hem and teamed it with white tights and a pair of Aunty Betty’s pointy-toe sling back shoes from Dolcis still lurking at the back of her wardrobe. Genuine 1965!

Add a beehive hairdo, Dusty make-up, false eyelashes which flapped like crows’ wings, white lipstick et voilĂ ! It’s my old self come back to haunt me 40 years on! All that was missing was a Beatle, but the one I loved way back then is currently crooning with the angels. Yeah. . . yeah. . . yeah. . .

So there we are at the party – among the mini-skirts and flower powered hippies - when the mike crackles and silence is requested. Standing before us is a man in a suit about to burst into song. This is my sister’s surprise to her daughter: a ‘Frank Sinatra’ impressionist who proceeds, with the help of a scratchy playback, to murder most of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ greatest hits.

"Fry me a baboon and let me pray among the cars
Let me know what wife is ripe on Blue Peter and Mars. . ."

Poor guy was Mexican and had obviously learned the words phonetically! It was clear he had no idea what he was singing about – and no voice to speak of either. We all looked at each other and burst into fits of laughter. At the price she paid, my poor sister had been done up like a kipper.

‘See if he can sing Far Far Away’ I told her.

After he’d finished the Sinatra set, he came back on as Elvis. Well, let’s just say he’d changed into a pair of white shoes.

"If you lookee for trouble, uh-huh, uh-huh, you come a right place
If you lookee for trouble, uh-huh, uh-huh, you come right in my face. . ."

Yes. Well. Whatever. . .!

The party went with a swing but if you’re ever going to book a Sing-a-Like in Sunny Spain, make sure you check him out first.

Friday, 15 May 2009


In between my workaday slog of trying insidiously to sneak back in all the bits my editor is cutting out of The Daily Male (will it never end...!) I've entertained myself socially with a few blind dates, totally blind, in fact, as I never actually got to see any of the guys I’d arranged to meet!

The first was the darling 20-something, effusive in his admiration, showering me with compliments, begging for an hour of my time, a minute, a second even - just for the pleasure and privilege of merely setting eyes on me.

He assured me of his utmost devotion, enthusing about how he would go to the ends of the earth simply to sniff the air I’d just exhaled! Whooaah! It’s not every day you get bombarded like that, so, overwhelmed with the force of his affection, we made a date.

The great day dawned and I texted to confirm. No reply. I never leave home without re-confirming a confirmation. You know how vacant toyboys can be... Most times I don’t leave home until they’ve called to say they’re actually waiting at the designated venue, but did he reply to my text? Did he answer my email? Did he have any intention of actually turning up? Answers on a pinhead, please.

Adding ten years to the equation, the second ‘applicant’ was a 30-something Oxbridge graduate, a professional man working away but keen to meet up the minute he got back. We emailed for a few weeks, our friendship growing with every message. He was polite, articulate, charming and well-mannered - everything I like in a man. The scent of promise was in the air.

On the morning of our first date, a Jekyll and Hyde transformation took place. He began texting vulgarity – detailing everything he was going to do to me the minute he walked in my door. I hadn’t invited him through my door. Why would I? We hadn’t yet met and I needed to check him out in person first.

And so he blew it. If only he could have remained a gentleman a little longer...maybe the porn would have taken place, but on my agenda not his!

As the premise of The Daily Male is my attempt to find a more suitable suitor, I decided to creep up the age ladder by another ten years. The 40-something was not exactly a toyboy, but seemed interesting nevertheless. And probably, or so I thought, somewhat less of a brain fuck.

He generously invited me to the theatre in a complicated building which I knew but he didn’t. I explained exactly where I would be waiting and arrived at the appointed time. No sign of him. I went up and down and round and round until the first and second bells had been rung.

At 7.29 p.m., with the audience in their seats and my date nowhere to be found, I reviewed my options: I could either slink off home and sulk for the rest of the night or I could buy a ticket and go in. I chose the latter. Very brave and grown-up, I thought - especially after the disappointment of having been stood up.

On returning to my flat, there was a message from him: ‘ You missed a great play’.

'No I didn’t! You missed some great company!' I shot back. And then he phoned.

‘I waited by the book shop,’ he explained. ‘You had to come that way from the station.’

‘I waited at the first floor box office’ I answered, ‘exactly where I said I would be because I drove straight into the underground car park and went up in the lift. Who ever mentioned anything about the book shop anyway, and why didn’t you call me to tell me where you were?’

And then he uttered the immortal line: ‘I was out of credit.’

I’m sorry but if you’re over forty and don’t have a mobile contract, then you’re not the man for me!

He has since texted to ask if I'll give him another chance, assuring me that he now has a mobile contract. I'll have to give him another task to do like climbing Everest - see if he'll oblige with that as well.

And as for the 20-something, he came over all apologetic the next day and wants to make another date too.

Frankly, I can't be arsed. Well would you?

Friday, 1 May 2009


Hallo. I'm sorry. I'll say that again. Hello.

Which of the above is correct, do you think? I'm darned if I know but my editor has deleted all my 'a's and replaced them with 'e's. Whazzat all about?

The reason I've been off the radar since Easter is as follows: I'm re-writing the edit of the edit of the edit of The Toyboy Diaries II - The Daily Male. I thought I'd finished this book about a year ago, but when my publishers got hold of it, they told me I had not.

This is a blog, sez they, and a blog doth not a book make. And so I've had to go over every single word of it - 82,786 words in fact - to create a proper story with a narrative arc of no more than 70,000 words. The deadline was last week. I'm only halfway through and I'm suffering - oh boy! am I suffering...

It's going to be good though. By wielding her iron fist inside a velvet glove, my editor has encouraged me to craft my story in a different more readable way.

The cover is ready. The shelf-space in the shops has been booked. All that remains is for me to finish subtly honing the text.

And then I can start to tell you my other little stories the one about the toyboy who came for Sunday lunch and stayed till Tuesday.

And the 44-year old I made a date with because I'm trying to be good and climb the age ladder.

And the wagon I'll doubtless fall off when that doesn't work out...