Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hitting the Airwaves

Yesterday I was a big brave Mummy Misfit and took part in my first radio interview with Jon Andrews at Radio Wey.  You can listen to my debut performance HERE.

Now you’d think, with my theatrical background, this would have been a doddle and I’d happily take it in my stride.  Not so, Grasshopper!  I was terrified!

As with everything, I guess it’s the fear of the unknown.  At least when I was an actress, lines had been rehearsed, moves planned and once the first few seconds of nerves departed, I’d become someone else for a couple of hours.  But this was something I’d never done before and I had to be me!  No hiding under the disguise of a fictitious character but Amanda Egan, author.

In my books Libby, the Mummy Misfit, constantly feels that she’s not good enough and that she doesn’t belong.  And that’s how I felt yesterday.  Why would people be interested in listening to me?  What if I totally stuffed up?  What if my tongue didn’t keep up with what my brain was telling it to say?

But I found that once the lovely (and very professional) Jon put me at ease and posed his questions, I began to relax - the brain and tongue seemed  to be working together and, actually, my story and background sounded quite interesting.

I quickly realised that eye contact is quite important when doing a radio interview - I could then figure out when the question had finished and when I should answer.  I found myself constantly looking for a glazed over expression in Jon’s eyes - my cue to shut up!

After listening to the recording of the interview I’ve had a couple of ‘cringe’ moments where I’ve thought “Oh why did I say that?!”

First off I talked about how our son was reading when he was three and then went on to describe the loud mouthed ‘Meemies’ in my books who brag about how bright their children are!!  Ooops, strike one!   I really wasn’t showing off, I was stating facts.  And I’m most definitely not a Meemie because I don’t talk too loud, own cupboards full of designer handbags or park by Braille!

Then when Jon asked why I’d chosen Tina Arena ‘Chains’ as a song request, I answered, “Ooh, I guess I just find it a bit saucy!”  Saucy!  What a stupid thing to say.  I admit I do find it sexy and a bit tortured … but …saucy?!  That was most definitely a “Watermelon Moment” (see previous post).

When it came to another song request, I’d chosen Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ - purely because it’s tradition to end our dinner parties with a couple of our friends with this track and I can relate to the feeling of angst and not belonging.  It wasn’t until we were part way through the track, I thought to ask if it was the ‘clean’ version!  After a quick panic from Jon and a check for any complaining email, I told him we were fine - Thom Yorke had just said ‘so very special’ - we were safe, the ‘F’ version hadn’t been winging its way down the airwaves!  Mummy Misfit strikes again.

So once I’d relaxed and controlled my sweaty palms, I think I did OK.  Not sure if I’m ready for the BBC yet but, then again, I’m not convinced they’d be ready for me either.  Saucy!

My song requests don’t feature on the podcast for copyright reasons but they can be found here with links and the reasons I chose them.

Copacabana - Barry Manilow
Mrs Sengupta in my books has an obsession with Bazzer.

Feel My Love - Adele
A unique voice and a very loving song.

Chains - Tina Arena
Saucy! And you have to stay with it for the slow, sexy build.

Creep - Radiohead.
Reasons explained in blog. [LANGUAGE ALERT!!!]

I also wanted Thin Lizzy ‘Still in Love With You’ or ‘Parisienne Walkways’ but Jon didn’t have copies. (shows my age!) I could well be in the audience on one of those YouTube Videos!

Diary of a Mummy Misfit and The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit can be bought at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mummy Misfit Comes Out

Well it looks like I’ve been outed.

It was only a matter of time I guess, and I knew the day would come, so I figure it’s time I set the record straight before I’m run out of Putney by designer handbag-wielding mummies.

Last night I hit the town with ‘Fenella’ (if you’re reading this blog and don’t know who Fenella is, shame on you - head off and buy my books now!).  When I began writing the first diary I knew I had to include this particular friend as Libby’s main partner in crime but I took parts of her and mixed her with Patsy from Ab Fab and Margo from The Good Life - thus Fenella was born.

A fictional character in a fictional book.

And I’m hoping that’s what the Putney mums will realise when they read my ‘Diary’ series.

Because last night ‘Fenella’ told me that she’d heard on the mummy grapevine that the book has hit their radar and questions are being asked.

Had I been published traditionally I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to hang on to my anonymity but going Indie meant that I could choose how much of myself I revealed.  I took the coward’s option, published in my maiden name and stayed undercover for as long as I could.

But my cover may have been blown and it’s time for me to speak up.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit and The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit are works of fiction loosely based on my experience at a London prep school.  The characters do not really exist - the nasty ones were thrown into a huge melting pot and came out in the exaggerated guises of ‘Gestapo’ and ‘The Gnome’. The nicer characters were born in the same way.

What is real are Libby’s feelings.  There were certain mummies who made me feel like I didn’t belong and that’s why I chose to write the book.  It wasn’t written out of spite or nastiness, I merely saw an opportunity to draw on my experiences and feelings and give them a humorous outlet.

The decent mums, teachers, school heads etc. will hopefully recognise themselves and see the book as it was intended - a tongue-in-cheek look at the chasm between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

This book was never intended to hurt and, from the comments and 5* reviews I’ve received, Libby’s feelings are echoed by women the world over - not just mums and not just those at private schools.

A comment has been passed on to me from a mum who knew me (one I liked!):  “I found it an uncomfortable read because I never knew Amanda was made to feel like that.”

I take that as a compliment as it means I did my job properly.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Because We're Worth It

I was doing the usual start of year diary update - birthdays, dinner dates, parties etc - when I realised that 2012 meant something less exciting.   

The dreaded smear test is due ...

Yes, three years have flown by and it’s time to assume the embarrassing position again.  At least with childbirth, we have something lovely to show for it after the indignity - but with a smear test we’re left with nothing but an agonisingly long wait for the results.

I was lucky enough to have a gynaecologist for many years, who was the spitting image of Father Christmas.  It was all I could do to stop myself sitting on his lap and telling him I wanted a new bike!  I never felt uncomfortable or uneasy with him; he just had the knack of putting his patients at ease.  He had me chuckling once when he told me how he would often sympathise with his wife on the hardships endured by womanhood.  Thinking he was referring to the procedure, I was surprised when he continued, “Oh yes,” the burden of having to match all those shoes with all those handbags!”

Sadly, he’s now retired and quite possibly gone to Gynaecology Heaven (not an image I want to entertain) but I will always have a little soft spot for him - that sounds ever so slightly wrong, but you get my drift I hope.

So do I get the deadly deed over and done with ASAP or do I put it off until the last minute?  It’s not like childbirth - I didn’t have the choice as to when I’d be legs akimbo, it just happened and there was no putting it off.  Smear tests can be avoided, though.

But I’m too sensible for that.  I’ll gird my loins (!) take a good book, sit and wait for what seems an eternity (this is the worst part) and get it over and done with.

I’m normally a firm believer of ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but cervical cancer is a silent killer and can so easily be prevented.  For the sake of a few minutes in the stirrups, lives can be saved.  I was never a huge fan of Jade Goody but, through her misfortune and subsequent campaigning, she helped to encourage thousands of women to take themselves off for this free and painless test.

Because, let’s face it ladies, it is painless isn’t it?  It’s just the thought of it and the fact that we have to reveal our lady-bits.  But we need to bear in mind that these professionals spend the majority of their time performing this procedure and they’ve seen it all - hairy ones, shaved ones and vajazzled ones and I dare say some that look like the labial equivalent of the trout pout - there is nothing to fear.

So here are Mummy Misfit’s top tips for surviving a smear test:

- Aim to reward yourself in some way when it’s over and done with.  Then you have something to look forward to.

- Take a good book for while you’re waiting - one of the Misfits should help to give you a giggle and take your mind off things!!

- Wear a long skirt and not jeans or leggings - that way you won’t feel quite so exposed.

- Breath, relax and breath again - it really is super-quick and should never be painful.

- If you’re really nervous, tell the practitioner - they’ll feel better for knowing and will be able to put you at ease.

- Imagine you’re a famous person - they all have to go through it you know!  Even the Queen at some point in her life!

- And if you really need a giggle to get through it, think about the gynaecologist who decorated his hallway … through the letter-box! (boom boom)

- Give yourself a happy pat on the back when it’s over.  You’ve been a responsible woman, taking control of your own health.

- Remember to make a note of your next test date as some surgeries don’t send reminders.

There, I’ve done my women’s health good deed for the year.  Now go and check out if your test is due and, if it is, you have me to thank!  Sorry but you know it makes sense.

My books are available on Kindle here and in paperback here.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, Old Feelings

Happy New Year to you all and welcome to Mummy Misfit’s post-Christmas whinge!

Go on, admit it, I bet you’re all feeling a bit ‘bleurgh’ too?  I’ve been told it’s the Christmas come-down and every year I swear it won’t get me but it always manages to sneak up and grab me from behind.

The decorations are down, the house looks sad and naked and the dark mornings drag us from our cosy beds.  Instead of being grateful for the lovely time we’ve had over the break we focus on the negatives - back to routine, the worst of the weather to come and no more late nights during the week.

So here’s my account of the typical Post-Christmas Crash in the Misfit household.

*      We’ll always need to return to a shop (or several) on the day after Boxing Day to replace the duff items.  This year resulted in a trip to Tesco with a faulty portable DVD player.  A solitary member of staff on the electrical counter meant a half hour queue - this resulted in ‘Cranky Mummy’.  We were then told that the DVD player was out of stock - one refund, one even crankier mummy and one stroppy teen later, we left the shop.

*      The Christmas decorations never fit back in the cupboard from whence they came.  EVER!  We always talk about discarding old baubles and tinsel but we never do - ‘you just never know when you might need them’.  Hence, jam-packed cupboard.  This year we mislaid our ‘wise chicken’ (a long story but one of our wise men went AWOL years ago and had to be replaced!) only to find said chicken up the fairy’s dress when we took the tree down.

*      I spend the whole of Christmas being really good and avoiding all the chocolates and biscuits in the house and then on the 2nd January I become like a woman possessed - no sweets are safe.  I then feel sick and annoyed with myself but by then my body has a taste for them and I’m out of control until the house is cleared.

*      I spend from the 2nd January as ‘naggy mummy’.  Son has enjoyed his break a little too much and homework is languishing in his dumped ruck sack.  I waver between ‘Oh just let him sort it out himself’ and ‘But I’m the mother, I’m meant to nag’.  Then I become as flippant as him.  Just yesterday, when he finally attempted a French essay, he found he was four words short of his target.  “Just end it with ‘ee-haw-ee-haw’” I told him in my best French accent, through a mouthful of Green and Blacks.

*      I find I’m so determined to enjoy the last of the Christmas hols that I can never seem to get myself to bed.  One more glass of wine, one more CD, one more daft game with hubbie or another song on Guitar Hero and before you know it, it’s 1 a.m.  This means we all sleep in and then I get annoyed because half the day’s gone.  Of course, this change in routine makes it even more difficult when the early mornings are upon us and I rise from my bed slug-like, cursing and moaning.

*      To lift myself from the doldrums, I begin to look ahead to my birthday in February.  A friend has already offered to host it for me so I have something to look forward to.  Then I think “Ugh, another year older, another year closer to 50!”  Trying to stay positive, I decide “Ooh, I’ll grow my hair, have a new style.”  This is always met with a “No” from hubbie.  He likes me just the way I am - this is touching but boring.  Then I decide I’ll go for a change of dress sense - I end up talking myself out of this one because I know, deep down, I’m a leggings/jeans and boots girl with an occasional dress for special events.  Boring, boring, boring!  Although I do plan to win the lottery and buy as many pairs of boots as is socially acceptable.

*      After the initial clean up of the house when the decorations come down, I vow to keep the chores up to date.  I’ll never be a Stepford wife but I’d like to get in to some sort of routine.  This falls into a heap by day two - I’m a Mummy Misfit, what more can I say?

*      I dabble with the idea of taking up a new hobby.  Ball room dancing?  (I will go on ‘Strictly’ one day).  Am-dram?  Then I think, “Who am I kidding, between writing/promoting, caring for my elderly mother and teenage son, being the perfect wife (!) and social butterfly, I don’t have time to scratch.”  Besides, it would interfere with the pile of books I plan to get through this week!

Really, deep down, I’m happy with my lot.  Spring is just around the corner and I think it will be an exciting year for me as a writer.  I can’t complain that I’ve nothing to keep me occupied and, if things get really miserable, there’s always next Christmas to look forward to!

Diary of a Mummy Misfit and The Darker side of Mummy Misfit can be bought at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.