Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Because They're Worth It

I had a slightly surreal day yesterday.

Firstly I visited a friend’s elderly mother in the same hospital ward my Mum was in last year.  Bad memories came flooding back as I once again saw the good, the bad and the ugly of the NHS, the hideousness of growing old and the way some members of the caring profession choose to treat the elderly.

From there I took my mum to say goodbye to her hairdresser of forty-five years - the end of an era as she retires.

Picture this … a tiny, slightly tired and dated hair salon which caters to the blue rinse and curly perm brigade - to the ladies of a certain age who like to be coiffed to within an inch of their lives and then attacked with a full tin of hairspray to keep their set in place for the week ahead.  A place where equally tiny and tired great grandmothers go to have their morale boosted as they are made to feel glam again.

As I sat, sipping my dry sherry in a 1920’s glass, I witnessed another side of caring.  My mother’s hairdresser is 72, sprightly and finishing a job she clearly adored.  She treated every lady with the same love and compassion.  As did the lovely and incredibly camp 60 year old shampooist as he shimmied and sashayed his way around the rollers and the 1950’s driers, a camouflaged man bag strapped diagonally across his chest.

I watched them manoeuvre a client of approximately 110 (!) in her wheelchair to the sink and then to the mirror to set her approximately 3 (!) yellow hairs on her head as her orange make-up and clogged mascara dripped down her tiny bird-like face.  They joked with her as her husband (also 110!) sat beside her wearing his wife’s string of pearls around his grubby blazer to keep them safe.  She giggled at their banter like a little girl, her voice sounding like she’d sucked all the helium out of a Minnie Mouse balloon.  She was being made to feel important, fussed over and, in her eyes, she would leave that salon looking like Marilyn Monroe.

I could have sat and watched forever.  She was clearly once a young vibrant woman, attractive in her day, and I began to weave stories of her past life in my head.

But it was the joy of watching people who care so much about what they do and the people they do it for.

I left the salon feeling saddened that my mother has had to say goodbye to her weekly confidante, but buoyed by seeing people doing a job they truly love.

Getting old is a horrible thing but, if we’re fortunate enough, we all go through it.  The nursing staff who don’t do their jobs with love in their hearts would do well to remember that and to take a leaf out of my mother’s hairdresser’s book.  OK, wiping bottoms isn’t as glamorous as titivating someone’s hair but it was the job they chose.

Happy 2015 to all those who care - and to those who don’t, your time will come.

Monday, 15 December 2014

2014 -The Year that I ...

I've been tagged by my writer buddy Jamie Dougan and been asked to share the highlights of my year.  You can read Jamie's blog here

Here goes ...

2014, the year that ...

*  I realised that I can live independently and survive without my husband.  But I didn't like it one bit!

*  I hit 50 and survived!

*  I got an eternity ring after 20 happy years of marriage.

*  I felt I could truly call myself an author as sales began to hit figures I'd only ever dreamed of.

* I saw my son turn in to a fine young man, holding down a job he loves and heading off to gigs that strike the fear of God into me!

*  My Canadian cousin and her husband visited and we had a blast.  I'm hoping 2015 sees them heading this way again.

*  I started a 'tin of good things' and every time we had a stroke of luck or something nice happened we scribbled it on a piece of paper and popped it in.  It's quite full now and we're looking forward to opening it on New Year's day and reflecting on our good fortune rather than focusing on the negatives.

So, there you go.  My year and its best bits.

Here's to 2015 and whatever it may bring.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Every Little Helps ...

What a funny old place Twitter can be.  I've made friends (who I've gone on to meet in real life), chatted, promoted my books, been taken for a ride by a lunatic and been given various promo gifts including chocolates, books, lightbulbs and a picture frame.

But this blog is about a totally unexpected Twitter twist which has left me grinning like a Cheshire cat all day.

Yesterday I tweeted that we'd lost one of the teen's Christmas presents.  It has since materialised but in the the meantime @Tesco tweeted me and asked if they could help in any way.  As this particular present was not something that Tesco stock, I knew that this was unlikely.

However they continued to DM me as their policy is to #Make_Christmas and they wanted to help make mine a happy one.

I'd just happened to see a coat in one of their stores and, as I really don't need another coat, decided to exercise some restraint, put it back on the rack and walk away.  Once I got home though, I realised how much I liked it and decided that if I could find an online discount code for it, I'd treat myself.

When I found that all the codes had expired, I DMd @Tesco again to see if they knew of any current discounts that I could use.  Imagine my surprise when they messaged me this:

What size and colour were you looking for? We're buying this for you for Christmas :-) What's your address?

My reply - after reading three times!- was 'What?  Buying?!'

And was then told by the lovely David:

Yes, a present from us to you.

After a few more exchanges - where we discovered that there were no coats in my size available online as it's popularity has been huge after it featured in the press - I set off to my local Tesco in the hope that the one I'd looked at was still there.

I am now the proud owner of a double breasted boyfriend coat and it didn't cost me a penny.

David from @Tesco really did #Make_Christmas for me and all because of a random Tweet about a misplaced present.

So ... a huge thank you to Tesco.  This is the way to do customer service and I will wear my coat with pride.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014


My next (EIGHTH!) full length novel is due for release on 10th December and will be available for pre-order from 1st December - that means, if you order 'LIFE AFTER SETH' on Amazon at the beginning of December it will be 'auto-magically' delivered to your Kindle the minute it goes 'live' on the 10th.  And hopefully shoot me to #1 in the charts.  Hey, a girl can dream can't she?!

So today I'm feeling a little Christmas joy and want to wave my wand of happiness in a shimmy-shaky fashion.  Not only am I going to give you a cover reveal, the blurb AND the first chapter of 'LIFE AFTER SETH'  but I'm also doing FIVE DAYS - yes, you heard me correctly - FIVE DAYS of both of my Christmas novellas for FREE!!!!

From Wednesday 26th November right up until the end of Sunday 30th November, you can grab both of my novellas for absolutely NOTHING on Amazon.  How good is that?  Let's call it my little Christmas present to you.

And, furthermore, if you're on Twitter and you Re-Tweet my #free posts or this blog, you can go in the MAGNIFICENT MISFIT MAGICAL MACHINE.

Now, this isn't ANY old machine. If you enter this stupendous place of wonder and get picked as a winner - you know, like on The X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing? - you get to pick any of my books to be delivered to your Kindle for your delight and delectation!  For no pennies whatsoever!

See?  I really am feeling the Festive Funk right now.  What have you got to lose?  Get your fingers poised, your RT button going and tell all your friends that there are FREEBIES on offer.  And if you leave me a review, I'll love you even more.

OK.  Ready for the cover reveal, the blurb and the first chapter?  Grab a drink and a packet of biscuits and prepare to meet 'LIFE AFTER SETH'.


Picture this …

A summer wedding booked in a beautiful English village surrounded by rolling hills and stunning countryside.

The guests are waiting, the bride is blushing and
the groom is … where?

Left to muddle through in a ramshackle cottage with half-naked builders, a selfish mother, a New Age sister who’s away with the fairies and a hormonal teenage nephew, Lizzie sees her world spiral into farce.

It may seem like a romcom that cinema goers giggle over as they chomp on their popcorn, but this is no laughing matter for Lizzie - it’s her life.

With Seth gone, there’s no shortage of men should she ever choose to love again.  But which one would she consider letting into her broken heart?

And will she find the happy ever after she’s
always dreamed of?

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

*   *   *   *   *


Chapter One

You know those daft dinner party games where the guests ask probing questions to find out more about one another?  The ones that start as a bit of fun and then end up turning into a full blown domestic between the loved-up couple at the end of the table or an epiphany for the closet gay who realises he really does want to sleep with the guy sitting to his left?  Those games.

Well, the next time I find myself at one of those ‘all jolly good, light hearted fun’ affairs and I’m asked the question ‘What was the worst day of your life?’, I can guarantee that no one will be able to top my answer and I’ll have the assembled guests in stunned - possibly embarrassed - silence.

Oh yeah, as bad days go, by anyone’s standards, it was a humdinger.

Of course it was meant to be the happiest day of my life but as I woke and stretched in the sunlight, cocooned in the cosiness of my childhood bed, I could never have imagined what the following few hours - indeed months - would bring.

If I’d had any idea, I would probably have rolled over and gone back to the dream that involved Daniel Craig and, intriguingly, a rather large jar of Nutella.

But no, silly old me jumped out of bed filled with thrilling anticipation, threw on my dressing gown, lovingly stroked my lace gown hanging on the wardrobe and then headed down to breakfast en famille.

Any normal family might have had Buck’s Fizz on ice and the tempting smell of a cooked breakfast floating on the air to greet the blushing bride-to-be, but not mine.

My father was nowhere to be seen and my mother was on the phone to best friend Glynis moaning about the lack of husband presence.   My sister was saluting the sun in the garden as she chanted and wailed in some sort of Tai Chi pose, and my nephew was sporting a tie-dye sarong while strumming a depressing tune on his guitar in the corner of the kitchen.

Rather than being showered with love or greeted with bubbling excitement, my arrival was ignored until my nephew decided to turn his attention to me with a lazy, ‘Yo, Auntie Lizzie.  Cool day, huh?’

‘Morning, Zeus.’ (I always cringed every time I said his name, but when your sister’s a happy-clappy hippie, what can you expect?)  ‘No, it’s not a cool day, it’s a pretty hot one actually but when you’re sixteen, without a care in the world, I guess every day is cool.’

Zeus shook his rasta dreadlocks - a little odd in ginger - and put down his guitar.  ‘Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong, Auntie Lizzie.  My head’s filled with worries, man.  Global warming.  Pollution.  The state of Palestine.  The banality of ‘X-Factor’.  It’s all going on in here, every minute of the day.’  He tapped his head and looked as if he had to sort the world of its problems before a bowl of muesli had passed his lips.

‘Yeah, well thanks for that Zeus but today’s my wedding day so I’d rather we stuck to light-hearted chat and left the major humanitarian issues until tomorrow if that’s OK with you.’

He stood and stretched, reaching for his pouch of tobacco.  ‘Pftt!  Marriage.  Society’s way of constraining the weak-minded and dictating who you share your bed with.  Not for me, dude.  My heart and spirit are too free to be shackled.’

His comments were best ignored.  It was like talking to a testosterone fuelled version of my sister Alice as he churned out the lines she’d been feeding him since birth, and it could only turn into a mega debate or heated argument.  I figured an offer of a bacon sandwich might lighten the mood a little - all teenage boys lived for their stomachs, didn’t they?

‘Gross!’  He looked ready to vomit.  ‘Pig!  Bacon is pig, Lizzie.  Packed with chemicals and crap.  How could you?’

‘And the foul smelling tobacco that you constantly puff on is packed with vitamins and minerals, is it?’ I countered back as I busied myself at the stove. 

His attempt at any wisecrack response was thwarted by the appearance of Alice, bangles jangling and ankle bells chiming.  ‘Good Morning, my little Lotus Blossoms!  What a glorious new day Mama Nature has bestowed upon us!  My chakras are flowing and my yin yang beautifully balanced.  A little shot of wheat-grass should see me ready to face the challenges destined for me.’

‘And a happy wedding day to you, darling sister of mine,’ I mumbled childishly under my breath before biting defiantly into my swine sandwich.

‘What are you grumbling about, Lizzie?  If you will insist on filling your body with dead animals, you can only expect your mood to be foul.  Get out of the wrong side of the bed, did you?  I told you that you should have slept in the tepee in the garden with me.’

My breakfast began to turn to sawdust in my mouth.  By pointing out that I was eating a little pink corpse, my sister had totally ruined my pleasure.

Most siblings would greet one another with a hug and some kind words on such a momentous day,’ I said.  ‘Most sisters would be over the moon and rushing about the house in a whirl of curling tongs and make up.  Most parents would be on hand to calm any nerves or pour drinks.  And what do I get?  An AWOL father, a whinging mother and a mini bloody Glastonbury in the back garden.  Let’s all have a joint and henna my hands shall we?’

‘Cool!’  Zeus was unable to do sarcasm.

Unlike his mother, who looked at me as if I’d eaten her last lentil burger as she turned on her Birkenstocks with an ‘Oh that’s just great!  Now my energies have been tinged with your toxic seepage and I’m going to have to cleanse myself all over again.  Thanks for that, Lizzie!  Just thanks!

Sisterly love!  The Nolans we most definitely weren’t.

As I chucked the remainder of my now unappealing breakfast in the bin I was reminded that my mother shared the same selfish trait as my sister.  Slamming the phone down, she huffed and puffed and then made her way towards me from the hallway.

‘Make me a coffee, Angel.  And throw a good slug of brandy in there.  Today is not going well.’

Flicking the switch on the kettle, I began idly humming ‘Going to the Chapel’ in my best Bette Midler warble.  If no one else could be happy for me, I’d have my own little celebration.

Because in less than four hours time, I’d be walking down the aisle to the gorgeous Seth - and I couldn’t believe my luck.

I was marrying the man of my dreams and escaping the confines of the Addams family.

Bring it on!


Growing up in the Addams household - yes, that really is our surname - was … how can I say? ... reasonably OK, would be the best way to sum it up.

Dad worked hard as a bank manager, Mum was involved with the Women’s Institute and charity work, and Alice in those days was just your average sister - annoying occasionally but mainly bearable.

Three years my senior, she never let me forget it.  Whether it was to boss me around, lecture me, protect me or look down her nose at my immaturity, I was never allowed to lose sight of the fact that she was the big sister.

Now of course, she’s ageless.  Children of the Universe don’t have a number to determine how many years they’ve been on this planet.  Every day is a ‘birth-day’ in Alice’s Wonderland and she’s been reborn, regressed or found herself so many times I’m surprised she recognises the person she looks at in the mirror - which incidentally isn’t very often because her face is merely ‘a hindrance’.  It’s the soul that counts.

A fairly run of the mill teenager until she hit sixteen, Alice fell for a boy during a fruit picking job in the summer holidays that determined she would never return to school.  Our village of Upper Moreton was conveniently situated for seasonal work and we were never short of odd jobs or ways to earn extra cash.  She could have worked in the local dress hire shop or in the coffee bar which served delicious pastries and scones.  But I guess her latent hippie was lurking somewhere even back then - the freedom of the fields and the sun on her back called and she strawberry picked with a song in her heart and a spring in her Jesus-sandal clad feet.

When the summer came to an end, she packed her rucksack and headed off to Greece with her first love, Reece.  At the time she’d believed he was for life.  She’d even had Mum and Dad convinced, so that they’d let her go with their blessing.  It didn’t last though and I think her current notch on the headboard (or tent pole) is around the three hundred mark.  Love is free, apparently, and she’s always shared as much of hers as possible.

So I became, to all intents and purposes, an only child.  At thirteen years of age, that had been thrilling and lonely in equal measures.  I didn’t have her moaning at me or sparking up arguments but I missed the company and the odd times that I did need her.  She had her uses and I found myself with no one to ask those all important questions.

‘Is this boob bigger than the other one?’

‘If Peter pulls my ponytail does it mean he likes me?’

‘Is this zit really noticeable?’

Of course her answers were never very tactful but at least I had somebody.  I couldn’t possibly ask my mum stuff like that.  She’d just twitter and bristle and then tell me to get the Delia book out and go and bake some nice shortbread.

How relieved was I when I returned to the autumn term at school to find that we had a new girl in our class - Nadia - and we instantly hit it off.  She had a brother, Ralph, but she longed for a sister, a confidante, a partner in crime.  From the first day we met we became inseparable, sharing our secrets, our worries, our dreams and our bedrooms.

Most weekends would see us sleeping at one or the other’s house and, for some reason, I always preferred it when I was invited to stay at hers.  Her mum and dad were a lovely couple and they were always laughing - a really happy family.  Ralph was fifteen, and quite good looking, and for a long while I had a bit of a secret crush on him.  To him though I was just his little sister’s friend, so it wouldn’t have been the done thing for him to see me in a romantic way but I bumped into him in London one day a few years later and he joked that the ugly duckling had turned into a bit of a swan.  Cheeky sod!

Now it’s not that my family were unhappy, it’s just that Dad was always wrapped up in the stress of work and Mum was just too busy being … Mum.  Everything had to revolve around her and Alice and I had grown up knowing what this meant.  So, if a colleague from the WI was diagnosed with a serious illness, all we’d hear about would be how it would increase my mother’s workload.  If someone wanted to tell her all about their Mediterranean cruise, she’d rush to the photo albums and talk about her own trip.  If I had a spot, she had a wrinkle and I’d be told, ‘Think yourself lucky you’ve still got youth on your side!’

So, time spent with Nadia was precious.  We played hard but worked harder - attending every party and always making sure we were up bright and early ready for homework or revision.  We both dreamed of becoming teachers and were determined that nothing would come in the way of that.  No boys or hangovers were worth it, although we had a few of both - we were only human.

Eventually we left Uni with a couple of degrees between us and placements in two local schools doing the jobs we’d worked so hard to get.  I’d opted to teach the younger age range with all its wide eyed innocence but she’d longed for the challenge of the back chat and gobby smart talk of a secondary school environment.

It was time to start looking for those dream men we’d envisaged as we lay in the darkness of our bedrooms, planning how our adult lives would pan out.

Four failed relationships later, Seth walked into my life …

*   *   *   *   *

I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview - If so, remember to pre-order from 1st December.

And don't forget to grab my Christmas novellas for FREE for five days from tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Finding your Happy Place.

People who know me and love me would say that I can sometimes be a bit of a control freak and can very often be black and white with my opinions.  I hold my hands up in surrender and admit to both of these accusations.

 My name is Amanda Egan and I am what I am.

There's nothing like life and experience to make you realise that there can come a time when you have to change your way of thinking - you can't always be in control of things that happen, you can't influence people and sometimes you have to 'roll with it' rather than drive yourself nuts.

Over the last few years there have been about four life changing issues that I've had to do battle with.  I won't go into details but, suffice it to say, I've realised that there's only so long you can give 'set in stone' situations any more head-space.

There are two routes:


Peace and acceptance.

I tried the first option and it didn't work for me.  Sleepless nights, constant inner turmoil, voicing worries/discussing with hubbie and/or friends - nothing changed.  The worries and problems remained as large as life, refusing to leave.

So ... I booted them out.  I didn't need them.  How were they enhancing my life?  And, if I was totally honest with myself, the misery I was putting myself through would never actually affect the future outcome.

I guess that's what my husband is so good at - being pragmatic.

Definition: dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Maybe a bit of the pragmatist has rubbed off on me (no euphemism intended) but once I learnt to let go, I felt a whole lot happier.

My energies are much better being channelled towards the characters who live in my head.  And that's not madness, that's a happy place!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Dancing on my Doorstep

Living in Putney, we're fortunate to be close to the City when we need to be yet also surrounded by enough greenery, parks and common areas to kid ourselves that we're in the country when we want.

One of our local pubs - a five minute walk along a leafy lane - calls itself  'A Country Pub in London' and last night we experienced what can only be described as 'one of those magical nights' as we were invited to their re-launch.

The Telegraph is a pub dear to my heart - a selection of wedding guests joined us to lunch there the day after we married twenty years ago and, as it's so close to us, we often head there on a sunny afternoon for a drink and a light lunch.

But last night was SOMETHING ELSE!

Recently under new management (MD Peter Linacre) we were invited to eat, drink and be merry - and boy did they deliver!

Regular readers will know that I'm a firm believer that I've either lived before or was born too late, so for me to be entertained by a live big band with some classic standards, while sipping on champagne and nibbling excellent food was like a dream come true.

My ex was part of a big band so it's a sound I'm familiar with and love - unlike our teen, who left just a little disgruntled after half an hour! It most definitely wasn't 'his thing' but when he chooses to listen to music that leaves me wanting to puke, with my ears bleeding, it's hardly surprising.

But for me 'The Mack Big Band' with their very talented singer (sheesh, he can hold a note!), Marshall Scott, it was a night made in heaven.

For the second half of the evening the pace was upped and the place erupted - every age group, from late teens to pushing a hundred hit the dance floor.  One very persistent, elderly gentleman kept beckoning me to dance with him and I spent a while declining.  Such perseverance should always be rewarded though, so I eventually joined him and was surprised to be proposed to!  He was a good sport when I told him I didn't think my husband would approve!

What more can I tell you?  The staff were friendly and chatty, the food was mouth-watering, original and plentiful and the refurb has been done to the highest spec.  We will definitely be returning there with friends and I urge anyone in the Putney vicinity to go there and check it out.

In our goodie bags (containing bottles of port and delicious chocolate fudge brownies) we were given promotional material which told us that they'll also be running various clubs and societies - wine appreciation, dining, pub quiz, film club, digestive club talks, theatre, comedy/open mic, book club.  Any locals, get yourselves there and help make this pub THE place to be.

So, a HUGE thank you to Peter and staff for a truly fantastic night.  I wish you well and hope that The Telegraph gets the success it deserves.

*This review is my opinion.  I was not asked to write it*

PLEASE head off and check out my books.  Putney author and proud!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thanks John Lewis!

There are milestones in any mum's life when you realise that your baby's not a baby anymore.  There are the obvious ones - those first steps, words, day at school, sleepover.  Then they move on to secondary school, heading off to Uni or work.  The list is endless.

Often these are joyous occasions, mixed with happy tears and at other times they can be heart-wrenching and those sobs aren't so easy to shed. It's all part of parenting and we wear our lines and wrinkles like a badge of honour.

You just never know when the next one is going to hit ...

This morning I had a face which would have been fit for Halloween as my mascara and eyeliner went southwards.  Yes, dear reader, I watched the new John Lewis Christmas advert just before heading off to do the weekly shop.  A bad move.  I'm convinced I frightened small children and old age pensioners as I pushed my trolley around in a daze. 

If you haven't seen it yet, have a little look and then I'll tell you why it moved me so much.

 Are you dry-eyed?  If so, stop reading!  Or maybe read on and see what caused me to sob.

My boy will always be my baby but he's now a fine young man who works hard and plays hard - despite the troubles he's had in the past. Stick with me and I'll give you the background to why this affected me so much.

When my baby was about two, he had an obsession with Pingu.  Remember him?  (Our female cat is even called Pinga - as in the sister).

Everyone we knew bought our son penguins in all shapes and sizes - his bedroom became a shrine to them.  But not one of them meant as much to him as 'Teeth' - a particularly mouthy looking specimen picked up at a car boot sale for 50p.  Teeth went EVERYWHERE with him.  The dentist would chuckle when she saw him in the chair and, on one occasion, I bumped into a lady at the college where I was teaching at the time. We stopped, assessed one another whilst trying to remember how we knew each another and she suddenly shouted, 'Teeth!' - it was my son's dental nurse! Yes, he was a well-known penguin, talked about around town!

The John Lewis ad became more poignant for me as Teeth too found a pal. Not a wife, but a side-kick in the shape of 'Gums'.

Hubbie was working in The City at the time and he called me on his way home from work to say that he'd seen Teeth's double attached to a lamppost on the side of the street.  It turned out he belonged to a tramp and was part of his patch.  I knew we had to have him, even though hubbie told me he was a fatter, fluffier version of Teeth (at this point Teeth had been in the washing machine a few times and lost a little weight).  A few quid to the tramp for some food and drink, and Gums was on the tube coming back to live with us.

As soon as hubbie appeared at the door with him, our wide-eyed son looked in awe and shouted, 'Teeth!'  And so they became two - who still live, in pride of place, on his bookshelf.

Watching this advert took me on a journey of being a mum and all Christmases past - that first Christmas Eve with a new baby, and all the joy and worries you know it will bring, and then moving on to the excitement of secrecy, stuffed stockings and those sneaky visits from Santa.

It's role reversal now as our son isn't asking for anything for Christmas.  He has a job that pays well - so what he wants, he buys.  Now, HE'S the one planning and plotting with excitement.  And that makes me happy/sad.

So, John Lewis, I know you only do this to make us flock to your shops and buy your products (I'm not stupid!) but your ad made me think about family, childhood, love, pride and cherishing every moment.

Thanks for wrecking my face!

By the way, I write books too!  Get your Kindle copies here. (In paperback at Lulu)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mummy Misfit Entertains

Regular followers of mine will know that I've been toying with the idea of a Mummy Misfit spin-off and, thanks to your hugely positive responses, I've decided to go ahead with 'Mummy Misfit Entertains' - parties for paupers.

Remember the Pippa Middleton book 'Celebrate' that hit the shelves last year and bombed?  Well it won't be like that!  Partly because I won't be fortunate enough to be lured by a £400,000 advance (oh, just let me dream for a moment!) but also because it won't filled with useless drivel about entertaining that, for the ordinary person on the street living through a recession and counting the pennies, isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Is it any wonder the book was a flop and the deal ended when Pippa decided to educate the masses with these words of wisdom?

• 'Because of their size, turkeys are perfect for feeding larger gatherings'
As my dear friend Fenella would say, 'No sh*t, Sherlock!'
So what do you think, Pippa?  Should we maybe have one at Christmas?  Oh, where would we be without you!

• 'For parties, wrap a small gift. Sit everyone in a circle and ask them to pass the parcel ...' 
Is there a name for this hugely original game? And would it be good to play with small children maybe?

• 'Store cupboards, drawers or boxes should be packed full of useful odds and ends.'
Ah, so that's what all the c*ap is!  It's good to know that the upper classes have drawers of string, fug, cracker innards and broken combs too.

From what I know of this book, I'm surprised she didn't include a few helpful tips along the lines of:

Remember to stock up on toilet tissue.  No one likes to resort to using The Tatler in an emergency - it leaves nasty print all over your 'oh so pert' little bottom.

If you run out of champers, be prepared to accept that no one will ever set foot in your house again.

Although the recipe for ice is very simple, the time it takes to set is rather lengthy. Far quicker to 'order in' (see back of book for recipe if you prefer homemade)

For decorations, pretty balloons and party fripperies simply nip to Mummy and Daddy's shop and help yourself.

I'm so sorry if I sound like I'm bitching.  But I am!  This book deal made me (and many other writers) cross.  Penguin only took a chance on her because of who she was related to.  Thankfully, their greed backfired.  Try taking a chance on some little nobodies, us Indies who slog our guts out day in and day out.  What would be so wrong with that?

So, that brings me to my book which won't be losing anyone any money.  I've been entertaining for years - on a budget.  Sometimes the budget has been bigger than others but it's certainly never been massive and I've always received compliments from my guests.

As Fenella always tells me, 'You have a talent for giving good table, good candle and good feeling.'

So watch this space as I begin work on 'Mummy Misfit Entertains'.  Unless I get offered a juicy advance from a canny publisher who's checked out my rather stonkering Amazon rankings, it won't be filled with glossy photos - just handy, practical and fun tips, recipes, themes and games.

Oh ... and it also won't include the recipe for ice either.  You'll have to Google that one for yourselves.

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Mixed Misfit Bag

It's been a busy week in the Misfit house.  The teen turned 19 and my cousin and her hubbie came to visit from Canada so there has been much fun and jollity.  Today saw me returning to the desk to chain myself up until my self-imposed 2K words for the day were written.

Here's a quick update on my week.  Oh, and be warned - it ends with a rant!


Oh boy!  What can I say?  The teen and Mr Misfit had a blast.  Me?  Well I simply tootled around the track, at an average of 16 miles an hour, like a nervous granny on her way to church. And the heat!  Dressed from head to toe in a rather unfetching BO-infused boiler suit, a beanie and a helmet, I was sweltering.  My only escape was putting myself in the Sin Bin so that I could remove the helmet and cool off.  The teen found himself covered in bruises as he has no flesh on his gangly bones and was thrown around in the kart as he swerved around corners. As each day passes the bruises grow and change.  We tell him it's the birthday gift that keeps giving!

 The teen pulling a daft pose.
Just as well this isn't a scratch and sniff photo!  The suits were ripe!

 His final lap


It's been 28 years since I last saw my cousin and her husband so it's been wonderful having them here.  They are both huge fans of my books and I was delighted to learn that I, at the grand old age of seven, had been the one to help my cousin's husband 'get' AA Milne.  He said it was the British accent that suddenly made it click for him.  Their lovely daughter is named after me and we keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter.  We were amazed at how many similarities there are between the two of us and also between her and the teen.  Families, can be spooky things!
On Saturday, our family got together at our place and a good time was had by all.

Sharing family memories.
My mum, me and my cousin.

On Friday night Mr Misfit and the teen came back from a late night walk and told me that there was an injured squirrel at the end of our cul de sac.  Being a bit of an animal nut, I headed off to see if he could be saved.  He was right in the middle of the road where he could have been squashed by any passing cars returning home or ripped apart by foxes (or our cats!) so we knew that we had to stay with him.  We managed to give him some Rescue Remedy (a herbal medicine) and for a while it looked like he might be perking up a bit. Sadly though, we suddenly realised that his leg was broken and there didn't seem to be much hopeAfter willing him to live, I found myself willing him to let go and drift off to squirrel Heaven.  We called him Faith as we told him that we had faith in him and that we would stick with him to the bitter end.  Watching him die was horrible.  He threw his little head back in a final spasm of pain and then he passed.  The teen then decided it would be cruel to just throw him in the bushes and insisted on a proper funeral (the second one we'd been to that day!)
A shoe box was duly found and Faith was laid to rest with a gladioli.
Sadly, Faith was dug up again two mornings later and then he disappeared.
This reminds me of the time we buried our goldfish in a Dove soapbox and the teen, then quite young, was concerned that when he got to Heaven God would be confused as the box said 'Dove' and not 'Goldfish'!


I had drinks with 'Fenella' last night and I found out that she'd had a falling out with a Putney mum who had been rather vocal about me and the way I'd dealt with the teen's school phobia.  I was livid!  This was a mother I'd known reasonably well and always got on with.  How dare she pass judgment on me and my life when she knows nothing about what we went through.  As any mother knows, if someone starts to pick holes in your child you become like a protective tigress.
When we went 'public' with the teen's problems, people fell into two camps - those who sympathised or had been through something similar and those who thought they knew everything and that the condition quite simply doesn't exist.  So there's no such thing as depression then?  Is that what I'm hearing?
So, to all you Putney mums who feel you know me oh so well, I hope your boring little lives where you have nothing better to do than discuss me at your dinner parties are never blighted by any mental health issues.  Oh the shame!  Enjoy your perfect children as they grow and head off in to the world and hope that you never have to stand by them in the way I stood by my son.  I, meanwhile, will be the one having the last laugh as I know who each and every one of you are in the Misfit books and my son has grown into a confident young man, doing a job that he loves. And, do me favour, if you do have an opinion, say it to my face so that I can educate you.  But then that would take bravery wouldn't it?

Rant over!  As you were.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

In Celebration of the Teen

The teen will turn 19 on Thursday, so last night saw us enjoying the first of many celebrations.  We got together with his best friend from primary school - before he heads back to Uni tomorrow - his parents and sister, an old family friend and another of the teen's pals from secondary school.

The theme was 'Curry & Games' and, as usual, we had a ball.

We'd just recently been given a John Lewis voucher for our anniversary so we splashed out on new china and cutlery.  I think our black and white themed table looks pretty glam.

Our dining table had to get ditched in the garden as it's not big enough for nine guests.
This is our ping pong table glammed up by a damask cloth my Dad acquired as an antique dealer.

I'm ready to party.
Still hating the new hair.

As the current obsession in the Misfit House is 'Breaking Bad'
we ordered a rice paper cake topper from eBay for his chocolate birthday cake.
The 'cooking' reference comes from the series!

He was pretty impressed.

Once the meal was over we started on the games.  The Misfits are well known for the daftness of our parties and, thankfully, our guests are always willing participants.

We started with 'A word from a Song' - this involved single words on a piece of paper, picked from a hat and then we each had to sing a line from a song containing that word.  E.g: LOVE - 'She Loves You' or 'Love, Love me Do.'  The aim of the game is to find as many as possible containing the word.

Then we moved on to 'Paper Art'  - we picked a category such as 'animals' or 'things you find in the kitchen' and we each had to tear a piece of A4 paper into the shape of our chosen object.  We were surprised at how many cats and giraffes we had.  Then we had the lazy man's effort of 'a puddle of milk' for 'found in the kitchen'!

Next was 'Alphabet Story'  - we began at a random point in the alphabet and told a story line by line with each person starting the next line with the next letter of the alphabet. E.g:  Amanda went shopping.  But the shops were closed. 'Can't think what to do,' she said.

The game we played for the longest was 'Keep it going' - the teen would find a well known song on his iPod and we would start to sing along with it.  One example was 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.  While we were singing, he would suddenly turn it down so that we were unable to hear it and we had to keep singing to see if we were at the same point on the track when he turned it back on.  Much fun and laughter was had by all, and I have to say we didn't do too badly.

This then led onto 'Joint Bongos' with the teen and his friend taking half a bongo each and bashing out tunes while we danced - quite a lot!

Action shot!
Their hands were moving so fast, they're a blur!

I can't believe that these are the two boys who used to camp on the floor.
Fine young men to be proud of and a joy to spend time with.

And from our boys, I gained a best friend.
(and also a Goddaughter - not pictured)
A sneaky ciggie in the snow, 13 years ago, and we're still going strong.
'You had me at the snow!'

The worst part of a dinner party - the clearing up.
Mr Misfit and other menfolk were at the party but we seem to be short on photos - which, when it came to the dancing, is probably just as well!
We had a fabulous time and were all feeling a little exhausted this morning.  Now ... on to his actual birthday on Thursday.  But first, sleep.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Getting the Chop

I made a pact with the Goddaughter and I stuck to it.  A glass of champagne too many on the Eve of 2013 saw me agreeing to grow my hair.

Now, over a year and a half later, I’m ready to stick a paper bag over my head.  In my dreams I saw myself with shoulder length locks, framing my face in bouncy curls.  In reality, I look like an unkempt mad woman in desperate need of help - from both a hairdresser and possibly a psychiatric nurse.

My hair doesn’t like to grow beyond a certain length.  It just doesn’t get it.  It panics and has no idea what it should be doing.  So during the transitional period, I’ve tried various taming techniques - a few long layers, a tidy up on the length, some very strong words in the mirror.  Nothing has worked.

Mr Misfit hasn’t been much help.  When I told him I was growing it, he frowned.  ‘I love the bob.  The bob is you.’  Now it’s longer he doesn’t want me to go back to the bob!  Men, huh?! But I think the main reason is that he wants to support my hair-brained aspirations and doesn't want to be responsible for a decision I might regret.

After a particularly Wayward Hair Day last week, I booked my hairdresser for this Saturday to do the deed. Now of course, I’m looking in the mirror and my hair’s decided to behave.  It’s the Dental Appointment Syndrome, isn’t it?  The minute the appointment’s made, the toothache magically disappears.

Why are we never happy with what we’ve got?  My hair is poker straight and I long for curls.  Other women with those bouncy locks I long for spend hours straightening the life out of them.  I just wish I could be like the Sindy (or possibly Tressy?) doll I used to play with, and with one press of my belly button, my hair could be either long or short depending on my mood.  Why can’t life be that simple?

I can almost guarantee that when I have my hair cut on Saturday, I’ll hate it.  Hubbie will probably like it because deep down I'm sure he’s always preferred the bob.  My mum will say it’s taken years off me because she hates my hair longer, and ‘Fenella’ will give me a good telling off because she thinks the longer look is ‘more youthful’!

But at the end of the day, I’ve made the decision now and I’m sure, once I get used to the ‘new, old me’ again, I’ll be fine.

If anyone should manage to invent the Belly-Button-Hair-Growing App before then please let me know as I’d happily be a willing tester.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Day after the Night before

I'm a little bit 'floopy' today.  After weeks of preparation we finally enjoyed our 20th wedding anniversary party last night and what a night it was!  My poor feet and legs are in complete shock as our resident DJ (read: The Teen) barely gave anyone time to grab a drink, his tracks were so varied and infectious.  In fact we danced SO much, the photos are a little thin on the ground as we were all too busy getting our groove on.  The teen got lots of video evidence but there's only so much I'm prepared to share!

Our theme was FUNKY FLORAL SUMMER and thankfully the weather delivered beautifully.  After heavy winds and cloud, the evening suddenly became almost tropical and we were able to enjoy using the marquee in the back garden to chill out and then (at 2 in the morning) our little patio area at the front.

Our marquee, complete with FUNKY FLORAL bunting - made from oilskin - and some pretty flower lights
We decided to take it easy on ourselves with the food as we knew how much we threw away after my 50th.  Some pre-cooking and freezing saw us come up with this selection of delicacies.

Salmon roulade, savoury muffins, mini quiches, Thai fishcakes.
What this photo doesn't reveal is that there's a heap of food on the other side of the kitchen!
We gave each of our 30 guests a nice little glow with some Bloody Mary Gazpacho shots too.

We decided to be brave and inventive with our 3 tiered cake.  I ordered the large base cake from Waitrose and then we iced and decorated 2 more tiers. We incorporated the FUNKY FLORAL theme and this is what we came up with. 

Great British Bake-Off eat your heart out!

As our guests arrived we had cocktail music playing in the background and a copy of our wedding video playing on mute.  Many of them found themselves lost in watching and laughing at how we've changed over the years.  We also put together a selection of photos for people to giggle at.

The teen was invaluable and helped with food, technical issues and being an all round good guy.  Here he is having a pre-party shuffle with his Nanny!

And looking pretty pleased with his DJing skills!

The marquee got quite packed at times after all that dancing.

And here's the happy couple with their baby boy!

We were delighted to welcome my Twitter buddy to our home again.  The beautiful @Nurseyjo boogied her little socks off and was the perfect party guest.

We look like we have rather extravagant head-dresses on - me with the peach and her with the pink.
We HAD just been shimmying to 'Copacabana' but no headgear was required.  Or maracas!

My good friend 'Fenella' started the entertaining with a couple of songs and then ended with audience participation in a singalong to 'Honey, Honey'.  From then on there was no stopping us!

Once again, everyone left saying what a fab time they'd had and I've had some pretty weary texts and calls today.

Who says you have to spend a fortune to have an absolute ball?  Cinderella and her Prince Charming of twenty years did it with style on a shoestring.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Twenty years ago today, I married my best friend and today I'm shouting it from the rooftops.  There was never any doubt that we'd make it this far - we're in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, richer and poorer (!)

My life without Mr Misfit would merely be an existence - I realised this when he went back to Oz to see his family in June and I went on the 'MY HUSBAND HAS GONE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD DIET'!  Hello Size 10 jeans and people saying, 'What's your secret?'

But I'd rather have a few extra pounds on me and have my soul-mate by my side.  Simple.

So, fetch your sick buckets because here's my tribute to the other half of my whole.


All the laughs.  Never a day goes by ...
The endless songs from the minute you open your eyes.
Supporting me and spurring me on.
Your patience.
Our gorgeous son - we did good.
Putting up with me.
Your calm logic.
Being the voice of reason in tricky times.
Making me a part of your lovely, accepting family.
Cherishing me and always making me feel special.
All the toasted sandwiches.
Never looking at me as if I'm mad - when deep down we both know I *may* have lost the plot.
Telling me if my bum looks big or if something doesn't suit me.
All the times you've told me, 'Well you didn't die last time so I don't think it's likely this time'.
And all the times you've told me, 'No the cat is definitely not dead - I'd say he's probably asleep under a bush'.
Loving my mum and all her foibles.
Making me feel complete.
Running with my stupid ideas - but having the courage to tell me when they're really stupid.
Wanting to spend as much time with me as I do with you and not getting bored with me.
But most of all for being the nicest, kindest most caring man I know.

20th August 1994 and married for 20 years.
I raise my glass to Mr and Mrs Misfit.
 A team to the bitter end.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Misfit's Macho Males

I've wanted a parrot for years and had great fun writing the character of Timothy in my romcom 'Tabby & Kat'.  We'll often go to pet shops and I could spend hours talking to the birds and looking into their beady eyes as I wonder what they're thinking.

So I guess the teen has got his love of them from me and he's always fascinated to hear the stories of the talking budgie that hubbie and I owned before we were married.  With the teen's new job coming up he's considering buying a parrot.  Now this will come with its problems as we have two cats, so it will need much thought/research and maybe we'll decide not to go ahead, but watch this space ...

The current animal discussions in the Misfit Household have led hubbie and me to laughing about the male creatures we've owned in our life together.  Our 'lady' beasts have been elegant and demure - one budgie and one cat - impeccable manners, no unsavoury habits and a little bit snobby.

But our males have been ... how shall I say? ... testosterone-led and a little bit randy!

Let's start with the talking budgie.  Jack had a rather fruity vocabulary - not taught by us, I hasten to add.  We replied to an advert from a young couple who were starting a family and needed to find a home for him as they didn't want their new baby to pick up his bad language!  He was a funny little thing and would keep us entertained for hours.  His long suffering 'wife' Mimi was constantly jumped on and when she eventually got to the point where she'd had enough, she'd throw him off with a weary wing and leave him to  ... 'finish himself' on the back bars of the cage.  We soon realised that it wasn't just his filthy little beak that had let his first family to re-home him.

Moving on to our rescue dog, Ralf.  We took him on when he was eleven and his owners decided that he was ready for the knacker's yard so that they could have a new puppy.  I know, nice huh?  Ralf was a cross-collie and we loved him with all our hearts for five happy years  What we didn't like was the fact that he hadn't been castrated and on hot days, when an old man's fancy turns to romance, his ENORMOUS donkey-sized appendage would pop out making it virtually impossible for him to walk.  He would literally shuffle around on his back legs dragging his goods around with him.  Needless to say, we did the responsible thing and had him 'seen to' - he was a much happier dog for it and we no longer had to hang our heads in shame as small children pointed at him in the park.

That then brings us to our current ginger tom.  His ginger nuts were removed as soon as possible after he developed a penchant for a fluffy toy belonging to our son and he'd spend many hours making Happy Time with Mrs Snaky. The Christmas morning we spent watching him in action with his Lady-Love on a black sack will stick in my memory forever.  A few months ago, Mrs Snaky was rediscovered in a cupboard. The cat showed instant recognition for her, became a little amorous and then clearly realised that he no longer had the tools for the job.  After a brief flash of embarrassment, he dropped her and moved on.

So ... what is it with male animals in our household and if we do go ahead and get a parrot, should we be opting for a female?  Just to be on the safe side!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Don't Mess With Me, O2 Mobile

It's a ranty blog I'm afraid but I'm standing up for the little people and all those who have been lied to by O2 Mobile.

At the beginning of the month, the teen's contract on his Blackberry was due to run out.  Now we're talking a young man who uses an extraordinary amount of data in a month so he knew he had to be very careful about the next deal he got himself into.

After endless calls to their 'advisers' and 'Gurus'- trust me, I am now using both terms VERY lightly - he was told in a black and white transcript on 'chat', later confirmed in an email, that he'd be allowed unlimited data but his speed would be slowed down to 15 kb/s, but not stopped, once he reached his allowance.  He also wouldn't have to pay any extra for this.  Their website also states (at time of writing):

If you don’t purchase additional data and continue to use the O2 network, your service will be slowed down.

So we weren't best pleased to find, two weeks into the new phone contract, that this was an out and out lie.  On reaching his limit today, his data allowance was stopped altogether.

I was not a happy Misfit when I found that, due to the fact that my son's phone is in my name, I had to spend the best part of an hour on the phone to be talked over, talked down to and eventually told by 'Matthew-I'm-Sorry-I-Can't-Give-You-My-Surname' that there was 'no one above him' (Oh, perlease!) and we had  clearly been 'misadvised'.

So that means that we had entered into a contract based on false information.  Fact.  So if I go and buy a car and the salesman tells me the brakes are fine but the first time I drive it, I find myself wrapped around a tree due to brake failure, my family would just have to console themselves with the fact that I'd been 'misadvised' would they?

By my reckoning, 'misadvising' is telling porky-pies - unless the 'adviser' hasn't been given up-to-date information - in which case they should at least check their facts when asked to clarify a specific point.  In any event, the company should stand by what clients are told by their representatives.

I was then offered the option of buying a 'bolt-on' to resolve the situation.  Excuse me?  My sausages and cauliflower cheese are burning in the oven while I try to sort the mess you've created and you expect me to pay extra for the privilege?  I don't think so.

At no point could I get 'Poor-Matthew-With-No-Surname' to admit that we were at a deadlock ('I'm not at liberty to answer that question') and that my only option would be to take our complaint to OFCOM - the one bit of training these so called 'Gurus' must have received  is to just keep talking over people until they roll over and die.

But I am The Misfit so I carried on regardless until I eventually spoke to someone above 'Poor-Matthew' - yes, such individuals do exist, you poor deluded man!  This gentleman was so helpful and so polite, he was even able to give me his surname - funny, that!  But he could still only admit that we had indeed been given false information and was actually surprised when I quoted his company's website info back at him.

'No.  That shouldn't still be on our webpage.'

More lies, I told him.

I was met with what I can only imagine was a panicked silence.  Eventually the deal that was put on the table to me was a fair one and one that I was prepared to accept.  But we can't be the only people having the wool pulled over our eyes by tricky words and back-tracking on deals, so I won't leave it at that - I once won a case for my mother over a £500 gas bill because they'd stopped sending her bills even though she'd alerted them to the fact!

Anyone that knows me will know that I won't be unfairly treated, lied to or 'misadvised' - that's a surefire way to get The Misfit's feathers ruffled.  And you don't want that!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

PUBLICATION DAY - 'The All or Nothing Girl'

It's an exciting day in the Misfit household - my SEVENTH full length novel has just hit the shelves and I can't quite believe the journey that I've been on as an Indie.

It's been a hard slog but one that I wouldn't change for the world.  The 5* reviews for my books far outweigh the occasional 1* review - and the latter are usually from people who have grabbed a freebie when it's not their usual genre anyway.  Yes, I've learned a lot - not least, to roll with the punches.

MASSIVE thanks to all my merry gang who have supported me along the way.  The majority of those, I had no idea existed until I started on this writing lark.  Social networking is a remarkable thing and I've met, not only online but in real life, some of the nicest people over the last three years.

One of those sharing my weekend of celebrations is the lovely @AuroraTherapy. We met on Twitter three years ago and instantly hit it off.  How much can two women have in common?  Alternative health, reading, humour, drag, gay men, Barry Manilow, parties, dressing up, old musicals, cheesecake, Marmite, dancing, wine and party planning.  We were a match made in heaven!  So tonight we'll be sharing a fondue, a bottle of vino, a cheesecake and no doubt listening to 'The Rocky Horror Show' followed by a sprinkle of the old Bazzer Mazzer!

On Friday I'll be celebrating with 'Fenella' and Co as usual - it seems only right.  It's where it all began.

So as I set another of my babies on its way, I cross my fingers that it will be well received and that the writing fairies continue to visit me for my December release.

Off to the dreaded dentist now before I start raising a glass or two - oh the glamour of a writer.

If you should like to grab a copy of 'The All or Nothing Girl' why not do it while I'm being tortured in the chair and I'll try a wonky smile when I get home and see my sales reports.  I may even dribble.

Here's the cover:

And the blurb:

What happens when your comfortable life
is suddenly denied you?
When the Chanel make up’s dried up,
the designer gear’s been flogged on eBay
and the Persian rug has been well and truly
pulled out from under you?

Meet Francesca Milton-Harris
as she realises that one ‘little mistake’
is going to change her life in ways she
could never have imagined. 

because sometimes you have to lose it all
to see how much more you can gain.