Wednesday, 2 December 2015

When Data Protection fails

When does Data Protection cease to be in the interests of those it claims to protect?

Well, let me tell you a little story ...

Today was book launch day for me so Mr Misfit and I headed to our lovely local pub on Putney Common with The Alfie Dog for a quick lunch and a glass of wine.  As we crossed the common we spotted two lads on a scooter chucking (what I thought was) a bag of rubbish.  Grumbling and complaining about their lack of consideration for our environment, we approached it. It was only when we got closer that we realised that it was a hand/baby changing bag. Once we realised that the bag contained a purse, bank cards and car/house keys it was too late. The little b*stards had done a runner before we could get their number plate.

SO ... off we headed to the pub where the young barmen were very helpful, offering the phone and advice.

Far more helpful than the police when we called 101.

'We don't deal with lost property.'
Erm, it's not lost property, it's clearly a theft (or possibly a mugging and the poor woman could be bleeding to death somewhere?!)

Furthermore, they only took details of where the bag had been dumped and OUR contact numbers - not the victim's name or address, which was on her driver's licence.

We then asked if they could contact her via the DVLA, knowing they have access to their records.
Really?  Wouldn't that make sense? Give her a call, put her mind at rest and stop her cancelling her cards or having her house locks changed?

OK. So, following their guidance (I use that word loosely), we called NatWest and asked if THEY could give her a call.  We were then told that they could only report her card as stolen.  Even when we explained that we didn't expect for them to give us her number, all we wanted was for them to contact her and say we had her bag, bank cards and HOUSE keys - with her ADDRESS - we hit a brick wall.


It seemed easier to head to  her house - basically giving up on a world that has gone PC to the point of obstruction.

No-one home.

Left a note and our mobile number.

Eventually we received a call from a police constable who told us that he was with the lady who was terrified that the b*stards might have broken in to her home with her house keys. No sh*t, Sherlock!

To cut a long story short, we have now delivered the bag back to the frazzled mum and, had the system worked more efficiently, she might not have had QUITE such a crappy day.  She told us that the police were just leaving her house and telling her that she'd need to have all the locks changed, at considerable expense, when she just happened to see our note in the letterbox.

She called us her 'angels'.

If it wasn't for 'angels' like us and if the bag had fallen into the wrong hands, the police and the banks would have been partly responsible for the possible outcome. Surely authorities should act while the trail's still hot and realise they have it within their power to shorten the victim's agony by reuniting them with their precious belongings as quickly as possible and prevent any further angst.

God help us if the man in the street has more common sense than those whose duty it is to 'protect' us.

Monday, 23 November 2015

There’s a new Cat Café in Town


'Catnaps & Flapjacks' is now available to pre-order from Amazon for your Kindle.

Release date is still WEDNESDAY 2nd DECEMBER but if you order now it can be on your Kindle the minute it goes 'live'.


Cover reveal, including the back cover/blurb for the paperback which can soon be bought at  Details to follow shortly.

Here's my lovely new cover ... 

[Click to Enlarge]

... and the blurb on the back:
[Click to Enlarge]

Kindle copies can be bought NOW in the UK and US (elsewhere please check your local Amazon site)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pull up a Seat at 'Catnaps & Flapjacks' !

As promised, here's the blurb and the first chapter of my next release, 'Catnaps & Flapjacks'.

If you're tempted to read more, it will be available to pre-order on Amazon for Kindle from 25 November for release on 2 December.  It will also be out in paperback at from the beginning of December.


Abandoned and fostered as a babe-in-arms,
I've spent my life yearning to belong.

Pregnant at 16 by the boy I loved, I thought I'd found my happy place.
How wrong I was.

Becoming a grandmother at 34, I believed my daughter and granddaughter
were all I needed - along with the cats I cherish in my café.
Wrong again!

Suddenly people from my past are crawling out of the woodwork
and hot men are coming along like buses.

Grab a coffee and a cake at
and snuggle up with one of my fur-babies
as my story unfolds.

* * * * *

Chapter One

‘So, after ogling his cute little buns for approximately two hours, five minutes and nineteen seconds - not that I was counting or anything - he finally came over and spoke to me.’

Ross was putting the finishing touches to our last batch of cupcakes and filling me in on his night at a newly opened gay bar he’d been so excited about visiting.

‘And …?’ I asked as I wiped down the surfaces and checked that we were on schedule for opening time.

‘Oh Ellie.  I could have cried!  In fact, little tears of pain did spring to my eyes!  You could have stripped paint with his breath.’  He paused and wiped his hands on his frilly pinny, emblazoned with the sequinned words ‘Diva on Duty!’  As he shook his head with a huff, he continued, ‘You know what it reminded me of?  Remember that time Rupert had his gammy tooth and it cost you a fortune at the vet?  It was exactly the same rancid stench.’

Oh yes, I remembered it well and the smell, combined with the memory of the bill, almost brought tears to my eyes too.

‘Not your dream man, after all then?’ I stated obviously as I removed my dirty apron and replaced it with a clean one.  ‘Still … plenty more fish in the sea, eh?’

‘In the sea?  Pfft!  I reckon he had a whole shoal of dead ones hiding under his tongue!  Uggh.  I could vom just thinking about it.’

Poor Ross had been looking for ‘lurve’ for as long as I’d known him.  Not the type for endless one night stands, his dream was to settle down with Mr Reliable.  He hankered for cosy nights in front of the TV, weekends in the country and the ideal of living with and being cherished by his soul mate.

‘I give up Ellie!  I’m going to die a lonely old man surrounded by cats and stinking of pee and flea spray.’

‘Ross!  Will you stop it?  You’re thirty years of age - you’re not going to die lonely.  And anyway, I wouldn’t let you.’

Smiling bravely, Ross sighed and said, ‘Well as lovely as that is, Elles, I think we need to remind ourselves that you don’t have the necessary qualifying equipment so you kind of fall at the first hurdle.  And anyway, you’ll no doubt be married to the sensible Stefan by then - I don’t think he’d take too kindly to me muscling in on the act, do you?’

Opening my mouth to reply, I quickly closed it again as I realised it wasn’t the time to tell Ross about Stefan’s proposal the previous night or my lacklustre reaction and the confused feelings which seemed to have set up camp in my head, leaving me tossing and turning into the early hours.

No.  I needed to come to terms with the whole idea before I discussed it with anyone - in particular my prickly and stubborn daughter, Poppy.

That was not a conversation I was looking forward to.


‘Well as long as you don’t expect me to call him Dad, it’s up to you what you do.’

Poppy was in her usual ‘shut-down mode’ as she handed cubes of cheese and cucumber to her good-natured three year old, who was happily flicking through a sticker book whilst chewing and humming.

‘Ria!  Will you please just eat and stop messing about,’ my daughter reprimanded unnecessarily - and I found myself, not for the first time, wishing that she’d just lighten up a little.

Stroking my granddaughter’s head and winking at her, I soothed, ‘You’re a good girl, aren’t you Sweetheart?  Eat up for MumsMum,’ I encouraged, using her pet name for me.

I was rewarded with the smile that never failed to melt my heart - a smile I couldn’t imagine life without.

And yet becoming a granny at the tender age of thirty-four had come as quite a shock - but what right did I have to judge?  Poppy had simply followed in my foolish footsteps and fallen pregnant before she’d even hung up her school uniform.  Yes, we’d both ‘got caught’ - as my headmistress had so delightfully put it - at the age of sixteen as a result of our first foray into the complicated world of sex.

That was where the similarities ended though.  My ‘happy accident’ had actually been premeditated.  I'd been in love, believed I was being loved in return and I'd planned to create a little being who would feel cherished and wanted - one who would become the centre of my universe.

Yes, I knew how Poppy had come to be and I also knew how close we’d been, how happy and carefree she’d been until the day she fell pregnant.

That was the day I lost her, when she pushed me away and refused to let me - or anyone else - in.  Almost four years later, I was none the wiser about the father or the circumstances behind how it happened.  It was a story she still wasn’t prepared to tell.


I’d lost count of the foster carers I’d stayed with by the time I was thirteen.  They’d begun to morph into faceless, nameless blobs who offered me a bed, put a roof over my head and food in my stomach.  They did their jobs well and I couldn’t fault them but, although they cared, they didn’t love.

To be fair, most of them weren’t given the chance to even start to love me, as the authorities seemed to think that it was perfectly acceptable to move me from pillar to post at the drop of a hat.  By the time I’d reached ten, I was an old hand - after all, I’d been offloaded since I was a few months old - and so I developed the knack of living out of a suitcase - what was the point of unpacking only to move on again?

There were always reasons for my upheaval - some that I could understand and others that made no sense to a young, vulnerable girl in desperate need of stability and a family to call her own - but I learnt to spot the signs.  My social worker Pat would arrive with her briefcase and folders, there would be muffled chat in another room and then she'd join me for ‘The Pat Chat’.

Over the years I’d heard it all - foster mum was going into hospital, foster dad had changed his mind, foster mum was pregnant, foster parents had decided to adopt a baby and wanted to devote all of their time to their new child.  It seemed that nobody wanted me ‘for keeps’ and that hurt.

But at thirteen, everything changed - at least that’s what I’d thought at the time.

Arriving at 21 Flaxton Avenue on that bitterly cold December afternoon had felt different - I had no idea how but it just had.  Despite the sprinkling of snow on the pavements and the black ice on the roads, I’d felt warm and cosy for the first time in my life and I liked it.

Eric and Eileen had welcomed me with open arms and I’d stood in awe, gaping at their gaudily dressed Christmas tree, which was surrounded by enticing looking parcels and boxes.

‘Father Christmas came early this year, my love,’ Eileen told me with an easy grin.  ‘Lots of goodies under there for you - and not too long to wait now!’

She’d then taken my hand in hers, ordered Eric to get the hot chocolate ready and told me she’d show me to my room and help me to unpack.

For once, I didn’t question the logic in taking all of my things from their cases and placing them in beautifully scented, lined drawers as I looked at the comfy duvet on my pretty bed.

I was staying.  I was home.


In their mid-sixties, my new foster parents had devoted their lives to caring for children.  Their flock-papered walls proudly displayed photographs of all the lives that had come into theirs - some for short stays, the majority until they were old enough to leave and care for themselves.  Most of them were still in contact with Eric and Eileen - one big happy family.

To name just a few, there was Adrian who lived just around the corner with his wife and son, Maggie who had moved to Ireland but often came back for visits and Lillian who popped in every day on her way home from work.

Sometimes I could be found engrossed by their little ‘Rogues Gallery’ as Eileen affectionately referred to it, and Eric would come in and tell me stories about them that made me laugh.  I loved to hear about each child and the funny or naughty things they’d got up to and Eric was a great raconteur - although Eileen would often chuckle and give him a telling off with, ‘Oh Eric!  That’s not how it happened at all.  You do exaggerate so.’

In short, I’d never been happier and the icing on the cake was when I started at Newton High School and met Lauren.

It had been a happy coincidence that we both started attending the school in the January term - two lost souls, nervous and terrified, we’d taken comfort in one another and instantly hit it off.

By the end of that first term we were inseparable.  Weekends, holidays and after school would see us at one another’s houses - chatting, studying, practicing our make up skills, confiding our secret crushes or listening to music.

But the thing that really sealed the deal on our friendship was our mutual passion for cats.  As much as I grew to love Eric and Eileen and felt comfortable taking Lauren home, the time I spent at her house was treasured because there were always cuddles of the furry variety.

Major Tom - the fat tabby - and Madonna - the slinky tortoiseshell - gave their love unconditionally and I soon became besotted.  When we found out that Madonna was expecting kittens I could think of nothing else.  I had to have one.

Of course, after two years of living with Eric and Eileen I knew that they were pushovers.  If something made me happy and it was within their power to make it happen, then they would allow it.

When I got the call from Lauren at just gone three o’clock one morning, Eric dragged himself from his bed and drove me bleary-eyed, in his tartan pyjamas, to see the tiny mewing scraps just after Madonna had delivered them.

I knew the minute I set eyes on Pebble that he was the cat for me and Eric nodded in agreement, dabbing at his eyes with his sleeve like the big softie I’d grown to love.

‘He’s a fine cat,’ he declared with a nod.  ‘Yes.  He’ll have a happy home with us.’

I couldn’t possibly have known that within a year, Pebble would be back living with Lauren and that I would, once again, be without love.


Eric and Eileen were killed instantly in the motorway accident that was to change my life forever.  Two days after my sixteenth birthday, when I was riding on the crest of a wave and had well and truly shaken off my insecurities, they’d set off to visit Eileen’s elderly aunt and never returned.

The authorities swung into action again and, being considered a ‘difficult age’, I was allowed to stay with Lauren and her parents for a while before I was moved on to interim care.

And so I went back to living out of a suitcase - no one really wanted a sixteen year old and I just had to accept that while dealing with the grieving process at the same time.  Having Eric, Eileen and Pebble in my life I’d learnt how to love and be loved, and suddenly nothing made sense any more.

Maybe I didn’t deserve that privilege.  After all, my birth parents had abandoned me hadn’t they?  I began to believe that it was all my fault that I'd be alone and unloved forever.

Then I met Robert.

* * * * *

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Asking for a Friend ...

I have a friend ...

She's mainly happy but often sad and sometimes a little bit broken but she pulls herself up and carries on because she has no choice.

Her husband is her rock and, on bad days, she feels she'd be nothing without him.  But she knows - in her darkest moments - that if it comes to that, she would have to, once again, pick herself up and carry on. To mix the happy with the sad.

You see, she's watching someone slowly slip away from her - not dying but gradually, almost as if ounce by ounce, become another person on a journey that they can only take for themselves.

It's hard. She feels lonely, frightened, angry, isolated, tired, fed-up and sometimes - just sometimes -  a little bit sorry for herself.

Losing someone you love is always hard but when you start to blame yourself - and other people - for their demise, it's unbearable.  To the point where it physically hurts.

She asks herself what could she, and those significant others, have done differently?  Is it too late to turn back the clock now?

In reality, probably yes.

The damage has been done.

My friend will do what she can, gritting her teeth, allowing silent tears to fall whilst wondering just how it came to this sad and bitter end.

And through all of that, she'll mentally plan an inevitable funeral that won't be a fitting end, surrounded by love and happy feelings that the person she's losing so deserves.

In the meantime, she'll keep on keeping on.  With love in her heart, as much patience as she can muster, tiredness in her bones and a little piece of bitterness that will never understand why people can't see what she is seeing.

What would you do?

Asking for a friend ...

Monday, 17 August 2015

A Shaggy Dog Story

Eighteen years ago when we lost our gorgeous dog, Ralfie, I vowed that I would never have another dog again.  I was heart-broken - why would I want to put myself through that again?


Eventually, when our son was three, I decided I had a place in my heart for a cat - and so Pinga came on the scene.  She's seventeen now and still going strong.  She firmly believes that she's a princess, walks like a catwalk model and has never learned to love our second cat, nine year old Fred - they merely tolerate one another!

I guess I always knew deep down that I would want to love a dog again one day and assumed that it would be when our cats went to Pussy Heaven.  But ... more and more people seemed to be getting dogs that got along fine with resident cats so I suddenly found myself Dog Broody and I've been suffering from this complaint for about three years but recently it got worse.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, you too may be a victim!

Stroking other people's dogs and imagining them living in YOUR home as YOUR pet.

Envisaging a dog in your house and planning how it would work with your routine and other commitments.

Spending your lunch break browsing the internet for rescue dogs - by now, you've got it bad and there's no going back.

This final symptom was my downfall.  I'd been doing it for a while - yes, 'My name's Amanda and I'm Dog Broody' - so when hubbie discovered my guilty secret we decided that the time was right for us to have a dog again IF we found one that was 'meant to be'.

Of course the more you look,  the more you're likely to accidently find Mr Perfect Pooch.  There were only a few things on our checklist but they were pretty important:

1.  Good with cats - for obvious reasons
2.  Scruffy - I love dogs that look like they should be with a tramp.
3. Cross breed.

So when I saw an ad on Gumtree for a 17 month old poodle cross who lived with cats, my hands reached for my mobile faster than you can say 'Walkies!'

When the lady told me his name was Alfie, I burst into tears.  From Ralfie to Alfie! It was meant to be.

He's been with us for two days now and is proving to be a very clever little chap. He's totally fine with our ginger tom but things are a little trickier with Princess Pinga.  We're getting there gradually and she hasn't left home so that's a bonus.  Tomorrow we have calming pills and collars coming.  If they don't work, I'll get some for us!

In the meantime, may I introduce you to Alfie ...

If you're as mad as I am about dogs, you might want to check out my doggie-themed book 'Lottie's Luck'!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Derma C - Facecare - Rejuvaderm - Garcinia Cambogia SCAM



DO NOT deal with the above companies and in particular DO NOT order the FREE trial of DermaC Vitamin C Face Cream.

They will send you a sample for £2.99 p&p and then continue to take £89.78 per month from your bank account, telling you that you agreed to their Terms and Conditions.

AT NO POINT did I tick a T&C's box (hence I cannot be bound) and I am being robbed.

My bank are now dealing with this - along with heaps of other complaints about this company - but I want to spread the word to stop these scammers.

The product is absolute rubbish anyway so it went in the bin.

Their whole website is a farce - links to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ go nowhere.

Further complaints board forum regarding this company here.  Also be aware of a company called Garcinia Cambogia, a weight loss company, who appear to be affiliated with these people as I was given their number to escalate my complaint - unsurprisingly, they hung up.

More info on 'Free Trial' scams here.

Do not allow the FAT CAT behind this to continue feeding his illegal lifestyle!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Misfit Does a Music Festival - well, almost!

My friends and family know that I can be a bit precious when it comes to creature comforts.  I love my bath, my bed and my hairdryer - simples.  So the thought of ever doing a festival like Glastonbury - as much as I would love to experience the music - is just a no-go.

Mud, stinky loos, smelly wellies and no hot water?  Uggh!  You can stick that right up your cold-running hose pipe.

However, last night I had a taste of what a music festival would be like but still returned home to my bath and my bed - heaven!

We set off to Flaunden in Hertfordshire to my friend's house where he had organised 'FlaundenFest' to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

On a beautiful balmy evening, 300 of us gathered and raised just over £3k in the process.  We drank, had a BBQ, sang, danced and lolled on our picnic blankets or haystacks.

Toddlers were happily filling their pockets with gravel from the driveway, dogs were mingling amongst the crowd and asking to be played with - one even had a GoPro attached to a harness on his back filming the events.  I'm glad he didn't get footage of me in the (very dark) Portaloo when a woman kept insisting on opening the door and shoving her camera light in for me!  Thoughtful, yes.  But I'm fine means I'm fine!

So ... has it changed my mind about doing a full-blown festival?


Would I go to FlaundenFest again?

Oh yes!

The entrance and first band kicking off the evening

My friend sang with the band too!
The Phoenix Blues Band
Let's not forget what the event was for.

The Misfits had fun in the setting sun
Photos from past years can be found on FlaundenFest's Facebook page.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Ladies' Night Out

Last night I hit the town with 'Fenella' to celebrate her birthday.  It was lovely to glam up a little and do something a bit different as, apart from our theatre trips, we tend to stay fairly local.

Mr Misfit offered to be our cabbie for the night, despite the fact that we said we wouldn't give him a tip - other than telling him to avoid cyclists or keep further to the left.  Top tip!

First we hit Cafe des Amis in Covent Garden and we were greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne as promised to me on Twitter for giving them a shout out for their excellent service in the past.  What can I say about this restaurant?  I love it - friendly staff, excellent and varied food and surprisingly good value for money, considering its location.

We'd planned to walk to our next venue but, having both worn heels for the first time in a while, we hailed a cab and set off to High Holborn and Scarfes Bar.

Scarfes is part of The Rosewood Hotel, a beautifully restored Grade II-listed building which you approach through an arch leading to an Edwardian courtyard.  The entrance certainly has the WOW factor.

The bar itself has been ‘lovingly evolved into a living canvas by political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe’ and ‘meticulously designed’ by the renowned Martin Brudnizki.  Think opulent gentleman's club without the stuffiness, with its roaring fire, bookcases filled with over 1,000 antique books (heaven!) hand-picked by a Portobello antique dealer, low-key lighting, plush velvet armchairs and sofa seating.

I was slightly surprised to find that many tables were reserved, despite the fact that I'd been told that there was a 'no reservation' policy (maybe we're not posh enough!) but we were lucky enough to find a cosy table for two with a good view of the entertainment.  Admittedly, we almost fell off our beautifully upholstered leather arm chairs when we discovered that the House Wine was £50 a bottle!  £50!!!  I guess they have to pay their musicians somehow as there is no entrance fee but ...!  Anyway, after we'd slithered back into upright positions we settled in for the night and chatted as we waited for The Nick and Kitty Trio to start.

We were not disappointed!  With Nick Shankland on piano, accompanied by a trumpet player (sorry I have no name) Kitty LaRoar performed jazz standards with a voice that ran through us like deliciously thick whipped cream - what a talent!  I love to listen to a singer and feel that I have complete confidence in them and as Kitty sang and scatted away, expertly playing her miniature drum kit, I felt in wonderfully safe hands.  She was faultless.  When her husband Nick joined her, the feeling continued - his tone is easy and smooth, like molten treacle.  It's clear to see that they're married - wordless connections made their act classy and a joy to watch.

When other guests were presented with birthday cakes, Kitty sang Happy Birthday in a breathy Marilyn Monroe style which so suits her delightfully quirky look - a glamorous pocket rocket who makes you wonder where that huge (and sometimes small but incredibly effective) voice is kept.

If you want to listen for yourself, here's a sample:

It was a magical night. If you're in or around London, love live entertainment and are looking to do something a bit different, Scarfes Bar is like stepping back in time and will leave you feeling spoiled, if a little poorer!

DON'T FORGET!  'Lottie's Luck' is free until the end of today and you can pre-order 'Recipe for Change' NOW for delivery to your Kindle on Wednesday.

Friday, 5 June 2015


I was watching Sky News this morning -  in between feeding cats, searching for the teen's hair gel and kicking said teen out of the door to work - and the delightfully tasty Martin Kemp was being interviewed about his new film 'Age of Kill'.  I didn't listen to a great deal of what he said because he really is rather easy on the eye - ask my 88 year old mother, she was swooning over him yesterday - but I did hear him say that it's great to be able to sum up the plot for a film in one line.

So that's exactly what I thought I'd do with my books.  If you've read any of them, let me know if you agree with the summaries below and, if you haven't, maybe these might just be the tasters you need:

One mum's journey as she tries to find her place at the prep-school gates.

She's got it all now but how long can it last and does it bring fulfillment?

It's never too late to find that missing piece of happiness.

Enter a world of glitz and glamour and learn 'It's what's inside that counts'.

You might think your life is heading in the right
direction, but what happens when fate has its own ideas?

Watch out!  There's a cuckoo in the nest and she's trouble.

Poor little rich girl loses everything
- but gains so much more.

When being jilted is the best thing that can happen to a girl.

'RECIPE FOR CHANGE' - available to pre-order 10th June for download on 17th.
Take one reality cookery show, mix in five contestants and leave to simmer.


A family gather for the festive season and unwrap their secrets.

A pantomime shakes up a sleepy village as it waves its magic wand over it.

So, there you go - short, sharp snapshots of each of my books.  
Don't forget that you can pre-order 'Recipe for Change' from next Wednesday 10th June and all of my books are also available in paperback at Lulu.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Save The George Tavern!

A wet summer (I use this word lightly) Sunday in London.  What are your options when you’ve got your nose pressed at the window, desperate to do something that makes your heart sing and doesn’t involve going out in the poopy British weather?

Londoners, listen up!  I have the answer.  Get ye down to The George Tavern on the last Sunday (probably wet!) of every month and have a free - yes FREE - singalong with an amazing bunch of people who will have you tapping your feet, belting out a song and sticking up two fingers at the weather. It's Variety Bunker time.

Regular readers will know that I’m an ex (Read: frustrated) actress and when I wrote ‘Stilettos & Stubble’ I took great pleasure in creating ‘The Gossamer Glove’ where it’s set.  If the truth be known, my dream is to own that club in real life - but instead of pure drag I’d host everything from drag to burlesque, torch songs to the more bizarre.

The George Tavern is not The Gossamer Glove, I can’t lie to you.  Imagine a run down, typical East End pub.  Well inside, anyway - the outside has recently had a facelift. It’s basic - with a worryingly distressed ceiling and graffiti in the loos (very funny it is too), but first appearances can be deceptive. Delve deeper and you discover its rich heritage - from its ornate bar to the VIPs who have graced its doors over the years. The patron's area isn't glamorous at all, but … it’s filled with love, happy stuff and I’ve come home feeling like I’ve just experienced a smashing slice of whacky Britishness!

I walked in with hubbie and the teen, not quite knowing what to expect.  A few tables surrounded the stage and piano where the audience were waiting for the show to begin.  A large farmhouse table offered food, provided by the artists, and punters were invited to help themselves.  Waiting for a show at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon felt a little odd but once the acts began nobody gave a hoot what time it was.

We started with 'For the Boys' with Mister Meredith on piano (I do so love a man in uniform) and the Divine Miss Em (fab legs and lungs).  We laughed, we sang, we clapped and we had a sing-off.  It felt like it was four in the morning - weird but true.  Songs ranged from traditional feelgood war songs to more updated numbers.  We even sang ‘Fairytale of New York’ because it was requested -‘ in effing May!’ as the Divine Miss Em pointed out.

We moved on to a double act, the Fabulous Ray & Johnny - again in uniform (Home Guard) - who took us on a journey singing George Formby songs on banjos.  Once again, everybody joined in.

After a brief interval we were wowed by the drag act RubyVenezuela and, I have to say, I fell a little bit in love.  We’re talking ‘old school’ drag - think Danny LaRue on steroids and you’re just about there.  She belted out songs as she wheezed, stuffed up jokes and flirted with the audience like a trooper.  When her act was over and my husband accidentally knocked my wine all over the floor, she thought nothing of giving me half her vodka and coke in my glass with a sequinned wink and a bitchy, ‘Get him to buy you another one immediately!’

The afternoon ended with more from ‘Songs For the Boys’ and then the barman joined them for THE MOST AMAZING version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. OMG! WHAT a talent.  I've since found out that he was on ‘The Voice’ last year.  Go Jamie! You can check him out on YouTube.

I can’t begin to tell you how upbeat I felt after experiencing this little piece of Sunday afternoon magic. Everyone at The George Tavern was happy.  There were groups of people, gay and straight couples, a disabled lady on her own, even a mum breast-feeding alone - it’s a feelgood place that touches your heart.

So when I heard that it’s under threat of closure, I got a bit cross - and we all know what Mummy Misfit’s like when she’s cross!  Save The George Tavern!  (See NME article). We need places like this - places where people can go and know that they’ll leave feeling uplifted.

So that was my Sunday.  Boring?  Hell no!  Made me even more determined to open ‘The Gossamer Glove’?  Hmmm …

I have not been paid to write this review - this is my opinion only.
The acts at ‘The George Tavern’ ask that you make a contribution in the hat as it comes around.
If you want to book any of the acts above please go the links on their names - you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Introducing ... "Recipe for Change"

For those who have been eagerly awaiting the publication of my next novel, as promised, I have a little something to whet your appetite.

I hope you enjoy my cover reveal/blurb/first chapter and may I remind you to make a note of the following dates:

10th June - available to pre-order on Amazon
17th June - published on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.

Now ... grab a coffee, have a read and let me have your thoughts.


Take 1 single mum

Stir in:
1 hunky male housekeeper
1 new love interest
2 cute kids

Marinate with:
1 randy neighbour
2 feisty OAPs
2 recently dumped broken hearts


Lightly toss in a reality TV show.
Add a spoonful of salsa and a liberal sprinkling of rumba.

Leave on a slow simmer and watch it bubble.

* * * * *


Fancy yourself as a bit of a whizz in the kitchen?
Want to see yourself on TV?

Contestants needed for the popular cooking show
‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’

Five nights, five hosts, five menus.
The guests mark each meal out of 10 and
at the end of the week the winner walks
away with a thousand pounds.

Contact RealLife TV now!

* * * * *


‘It’s absolute madness, Krista!  You can’t even boil an egg without setting off the smoke alarm.’

Alfie was ironing my crisp, white work blouses and looking at me as if I was in dire need of psychiatric help.

I slipped out of my cripplingly high heels and sat rubbing the balls of my stockinged feet.

‘Well thanks for that vote of confidence Alfie, but I don’t actually pay you to pass judgment on my lack of culinary skills so I’d be grateful if you could keep your opinions to yourself.’

‘Fine.  I’ll say no more on the subject,’ Alfie shrugged as he expertly pressed a collar and then placed the finished shirt on a hanger, ready to take to my en suite dressing room.  ‘By the way, there are some letters from the school on the breakfast bar and Harry’s got a school trip next week followed by a football match on Saturday.  You need to sign the forms.’

I stood to flick through the paperwork, feeling a little mean that I’d snapped at him.  We worked well together and my life had never been easier since he’d interviewed for the position of housekeeper.  His thoughts on my madcap idea to take part in a cookery programme did matter because he wasn’t just an employee - he’d become a good friend too.

When Joss and I divorced, I was a mess.  I’d had no idea that all his late nights at the office had meant that he was banging his secretary - not terribly original, huh?  Ironically, the reason I hadn’t twigged was because I’d been too busy working actual overtime myself.  You don’t become a hot-shot music lawyer without putting in the hours and, looking back, I couldn’t really blame Joss for popping out for a juicy steak because the boring old hamburger clearly wasn’t on the menu at the time.

Harry was four when we split and had been nursed by more au pairs and nannies than I cared to remember.  I wasn’t proud of this appalling record, or appearing to abandon him into the care of others at such a young age, but it was just the way it had worked out.  We couldn’t afford the huge house, holidays, private education or any of the finer things in life if I didn’t graft and, with Joss living in Hong Kong with a new family to support, this had become even more apparent.  I had to work.

But what hadn’t worked was the endless stream of young girls who floated through my house to look after Harry.  The majority of them, I chose to forget - to blot them from my memory bank - but some would haunt me forever.

There was Olita, a sullen Lithuanian who I found borrowed my clothes and shagged my (now fired) gardener in my bed.

We moved on to Felina - she was great with Harry but I ended up spending most of my time clearing up after her or cooking (Read: burning) meals for us all.  It was like having two children.

Marguerite was the one I still had nightmares about.  She broke the door off the Aga, left Harry in the park, threw up all over my prized Persian rug after ‘over-celebrating’ her new job the night before and made an overseas call to her mother that cost thirty quid - all on Day One.

I soon found that I was working more and more days at home or dragging Harry into the City where he’d cause havoc in the office, purely because the poor kid was bored witless.

My life was a mess and I was failing in just about every aspect.  I needed reliable help before my career suffered and we lost everything.

‘You need a housekeeper,’ Justine, my neighbour told me.  ‘Someone with a bit of maturity who looks after Harry and you.  Stop going down the au pair route and all your problems will be solved.

And she was right.  When Mrs Withers moved in, my life became … smoother.  Smoother but a little regimented.  Harry would eat at six pm - not a moment later - he would spend no longer than ten minutes in the bath and I would call by four if I wasn’t returning for supper.

It was like living with my mother and, although I could go to work knowing that my son was safe, my cupboards filled and my laundry clean, it was a little stifling.

Good old Granddad came to the rescue and, for once, I praised his incorrigible ways.  Granddad, or Ernest as he prefers me to call him, lives at the end of the garden in the summer house - painted in shocking pink, surrounded by gnomes and with a wooden plaque on the door telling all visitors that they are about to enter ‘The Love Shack’.

Yes at eighty-five, Ernest is a bit of a character.

So the third time he pinched Mrs Withers’ bottom and chased her around the breakfast bar saw an end to my problem of how to dispose of her.

And a return of my old problem.  As she packed her bags with pursed lips and hefty tuts, I was left without help again.

Until Alfie appeared.


Looking back, I can’t believe that I very nearly didn’t offer the job to him.  Why would I want a strange man and his daughter living under my roof?

Yes, he came with baggage in the shape of a shy nine year old called Nancy.  Of course she’s now a chatty pre-teen and I love her to bits.  It’s great having a bit of female company around and we often have girlie days or sit sobbing over romcoms and munching on our guilty secret of ice cold Maltesers.

But … it so nearly didn’t happen.  Alfie’s CV and experience were perfect, his manners impeccable, his demeanour easy - and yet I just couldn’t envisage myself having a man work for me.  He’d be washing my knickers for heavens sake!  He’d know my bra size!

‘OMG!  He’s gorge!’  Justine had popped in for coffee when she’d seen him leaving on the day of the interview.  ‘Lucky old you, eh?  Cor!  I wish I had an excuse to take on a housekeeper but I don’t think Rod would agree to one when he knows I do sod all every day as it is.’

Yes.  Alfie was gorgeous.  That was another reason why it hadn’t sat well with me.  How could I have a hunk of a man under my roof as I flitted about in PJs or rollers and face pack?

Fate forced my hand though.  A HUGE meeting cropped up in town, just as Harry came down with measles and so I made a frantic call to Alfie.  He was still available and had moved in to the top floor of our town house with Nancy and their belongings by the end of that day.

That was three years ago and we’ve never looked back.  He does wash my knickers.  He does know my bra size.  He’s even brought me pain killers and camomile tea when he knew I had crippling period pains.

But I only ever saw him as just … well, Alfie - the man who ran my house, cared for my son, brought order to my life and went on to become a confidante.

And now it’s virtually impossible to imagine how I managed without him.


‘Oh that is funny!’  Nancy was tucking in to her supper and looking at me, shaking her lovely dark hair and laughing.  ‘Krista?  Cooking?  Seriously?’

I noticed Alfie stifling a chuckle as he shot his daughter a ‘Ssshh’ look.

Harry wriggled and fidgeted, picking at his food and desperate to join in the ribbing.

‘Mummy won’t cook.  She’ll order pizza.  It’s what we lived on before you came here.’

‘Oh ha ha!’  I pouted and looked at each of them in turn.  ‘You can mock all you like but I’m doing this.  I am going to cook and, furthermore I’m going to meet a man in the process.  My friend Georgie says it’s the ideal way to get your face out there as a singleton.  Nothing else has worked for me, so what have I got to lose?’

‘A few fingers as you chop your veg?  The kitchen when it goes up in flames?  A law suit when the other diners sue you for food poisoning?’ Alfie quipped back at me.

My withering look was enough to silence him and he offered an apologetic smile before continuing, ‘So Georgie’s part of the production team is she?’

‘Yes’, I nodded enthusiastically.  ‘She said it’s amazing how many of the contestants find love after appearing on the show - either with another guest or through viewers getting in touch when it goes on air.  It’s so exciting!’

‘How come she doesn’t go on it herself then?  She’s single, isn’t she?’ Alfie asked as he heaped more carrots onto Harry’s plate.

‘Oh no, she … you know … she’s not into men.’  I pulled a face at Alfie and tipped my head surreptitiously in Harry’s direction.

‘Is she a Thesbian?’ my son piped up.

Spluttering a mouthful of pasta across the table, I wiped my mouth and smiled.  ‘No darling, she’s not an actress - and it’s thespian, by the way.  No, she works on putting the show together.’

‘I know she’s not an actress,’ Harry spoke through a mouthful of food.  ‘I meant is she a lady who loves other ladies?’

‘Where on earth have you heard …’

Thankfully any further discussion was thwarted by the arrival of Ernest as he came through the back door, closing it behind him and wiping his feet on the mat.

‘Evening troops!’ he bellowed as he twiddled his handlebar moustache.  If you imagine the Major in Fawlty Towers, you’ve more or less got my paternal grandfather!

‘What fine looking tucker have you conjured up tonight, my good man?’ he asked Alfie as he slapped him heartily on the back.

‘There’s plenty of pasta bake and veg, Ernie.  Grab yourself a plate and join us,’ Alfie offered as he pulled out the chair next to him.

‘No no.  Can’t stop.  Just pour me a quick snifter and I’ll be off.  Got a date with a little dame.  Wouldn’t do to keep her waiting, eh?’

I loved my grandfather dearly but sometimes I just wished he’d slow down a little.  He was always out with a different woman, went to the gym with Justine and basically had a more eventful social life than I did.  With my parents also living in Hong Kong and seeing more of my ex-husband and his kids than they saw of me and Harry, I felt responsible for him and worried that he overdid it sometimes.

‘Hey!  Listen to this, Ernie.’  Alfie poured him a glass of red wine and continued, ‘Krista’s going on that cookery programme.  You know the one we watch at five on weekdays.  Can you believe it?’

Ernest’s laugh boomed out as he wheezed and wiped at his rheumy eyes with a silk hankie retrieved from the top pocket of his blazer.  ‘Heavens to Mergatroyd!  That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while. She cooked me a shepherd’s pie once.  On the karzie for days, I was!  Now if you’d told me she was going on that dancing programme, I might have understood.  But cooking?  Krista?’

‘Well I’m delighted that you all find the whole thing so amusing,’ I told them as I sat back and crossed my arms defensively.  ‘Yes.  It would be better if I’d been invited on that ballroom show but as I’m not a celebrity that’s never going to happen.  I’m doing this show, no matter what you may think.  And by the end of it, I’ll have a man.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have my dance class to go to - I’ll leave you all to have a jolly good gossip about my inadequacies while I’m out, shall I?’

As I left the kitchen, I heard Harry say, ‘Alfie?  If Mummy gets a new husband, what will happen to you?’

I didn’t stick around to hear the response because it had been a question that had been hovering unanswered in my head for a while.


Originally the dance classes had been Justine’s idea as a way for me to meet single men and for her to flirt with them while Rod was away.  What we didn’t know was that the class was filled with women with the same idea - and gay men.

We might not have continued had we not grown to love Paulo, our teacher, and I found that I had a real flair for dance.  After a stressful day in the office, I loved to simply let my hair down, put on a swishy skirt and some sexy shoes and just let rip on the dance floor.

Justine struggled a little, though.  Her curves and blatant sexiness were more suited to pole-dancing or burlesque but she persevered, partly from boredom at being stuck in a huge house alone and partly because we found we really enjoyed it.

‘Oooh!  Krista!  Loving the cleavage tonight, girlfriend.  Look at those tatas!’ Our friend Felix commented as he saw me practising my rumba with his boyfriend Neil.

‘She’s just been telling me she’s gonna be a TV star,’ Neil said, turning to his partner.  ‘Our Krista’s gonna nab herself a bloke on that dining programme.’

‘Sheesh!  Really?  The last time she tried to cook for us we were laid up in bed for a week!  Remember, Honey?’

As I strutted and sashayed, I found myself questioning my sanity.  Just what was I thinking of?  My friends and family were right - I couldn’t cook if my life depended on it.  Tea and toast were my speciality and once, when Alfie had been struck by a bad case of the flu, I’d even stuffed that up.  The toast was burnt on one side, still bread on the other and I’d even forgotten to put the teabag in the cup.

If the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach, I was destined to be single for the rest of my life.

But … as Felix swung me in to a sexy dip, the blood must have rushed to my brain and given me a light bulb moment.

There was still a week until the show started filming - and an extra four days after that until I was scheduled to host my own dinner party.  Alfie was a master in the kitchen - he was a trained chef, for heaven’s sake.  He could teach me everything he knew - well maybe not everything, that was a bit ambitious, but he could teach me enough to get me through the ordeal.

My housekeeper was going to help me cook my way to a man.