Looking Back & Moving Forward

I am currently ensconced in the noble endeavour of proofing the final copy for the forthcoming trilogy of PorterGirl novels, Old College Diaries. I’m not going to lie, it is not a task I relished and it is certainly sending my eyes peculiar, but it is not quite so much the onerous mission I thought it might be. For one thing, it’s a good opportunity to pick up on the many irritating typos missed by my hopeless editor the first time around, but what I wasn’t expecting was that I’m actually quite enjoying it. I realised that I hadn’t read First Lady of the Keys since it was released; I’ve dipped in and out to check references from the later novels but I haven’t cast a reader’s eye over it for quite some time. And reading through all three books one after the other is certainly an interest. 


As many of you know, large sections of the early parts of First Lady were written for this blog when I was still a Deputy Head Porter. When I first typed those initial, seemingly innocuous words – Late September, just before the start of Michaelmas Term… I could never have imagined the tumultuous  and unexpected paths along which they would eventually lead. Reading now the charming naivety of both Deputy Head Porter the character and my own writing stirs something of a nostalgic wonder in my now slightly more cynical soul. Large parts of the book – and, indeed, my experiences at the real Old College – had slipped from my memory and from a personal point of view, it has been quite the joy to revisit them.

Following our heroine through The Vanishing Lord and, most recently, Sinister Dexter, I can really see how she has developed and grown into her role and made it very much her own. The writing, too, has evolved with her and the differences between the first and third books are quite stark, to my eyes. In many ways, First Lady was the easiest to write. It was my first novel and I had no real idea about what writing a proper book entailed. I tapped away merrily at the keyboard until I was satisfied that my story was told and that was pretty much that. It certainly isn’t my strongest work, but that beautiful, unfettered freedom of writing when you have no idea what you are doing is evident throughout the book. It has a definite charm of unhindered ignorance. Much like DHP herself.


I won’t bore you with the processes that followed for the next two books, suffice to say I tackled the steep learning curve as ferociously as possible and, I think, improved with practice. I’m proud of my work and to see it all brought together in one volume is obviously pleasing, but also strangely prophetic. Old College Diaries sees the story of Old College told through the eyes of Deputy Head Porter, a literary device that will be abandoned for the forthcoming instalments. Fear not, though, PorterGirl purists – I am writing the fourth novel as we speak and I can assure you that none of DHP’s whimsical musings are lost at all. We now have the added benefit of other characters’ whimsical musings as well. But anyway. In this way at least, it is the end of an era for PorterGirl, but one that heralds a bold new approach and will, I hope, raise the bar for the books that follow.

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And this is prophetic because I myself am facing significant changes in both my personal and professional life which somehow mirror the purpose of Old College Diaries. A chance to move on, to raise the bar, to begin again with the benefit of experience, new-found enthusiasm and a few lessons under my belt. Final details are not entirely decided but final decisions most certainly are. All I need to do is make it happen. And making things happen is something at which I have become rather adept over recent years, so I am certain there will be updates of interest before very long.

There is a rather odd, Joycean, sense of things that everything has come full circle, only to begin again. Change is rarely predictable, but my optimism for the future is encouraged by an overwhelming feeling that this is very much a beginning, rather than ‘The End’.

I’ll keep you posted.

Lucy x

Who Shot Tony Blair? Website Is Live!

Come and join us in the year 2026, where democracy is optional and world leaders are treated with the healthy disrespect they deserve…

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Obviously, it is very early days for this site and new and exciting (maybe exciting) content will be added regularly. It might take a little time to work out a posting schedule, but I shall open proceedings with weekly episodes and updates and see how we get along. Thank you to my beloved Cabinet, who have been absolute bricks, but also to the many of you who have offered ideas and support along the way – I shower a thousand kisses upon you. Well, the ones of you that look like you’ve had a wash, at least.

So, come with me to the near future where we will reunite the Kingdom, win the war against Oxford and maybe bring a certain war criminal to justice…

… That’s the plan, anyway.

Who Shot Tony Blair? – It’s A Wrap!

Actually, it isn’t quite a wrap. There is a smattering of random footage I need to pull together yet, but I am pleased to say that the most important (not to mention convivial) scenes with the Cabinet have been completed with unprecedented success. That might be a little bit optimistic – it’s hardly Ben Hur – but it was without doubt a fabulous day of filming that  began when I finished writing the script (such as it was) at eighty thirty that morning, and ended a full twenty four hours later (really), when the cameraman and director finally decided to stop partying and go to bed. I think I had better explain…


After some initial confusion about the actual location of the shoot, our motley crew were soon assembled in our very own Cabinet office in central Cambridge. Fuelled with the traditional victuals of tea and biscuits (which eventually became consumable props, much Martin the continuity chap’s dismay), this happy band of waifs and strays miraculously morphed into a surprisingly competent Government. By the end of the first hour, we were utterly convinced that we could run the country.

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There is, of course, the unspoken rule of what happens on set, stays on set and I will not betray the confidences of my colleagues quite so readily. However, such highlights include but are not limited to:

Meeting Sam from Midsummer 365 Projects! We have been blogging friends for sometime now and she was good enough to make the epic 100 mile drive to take her place as Minister For Good Ideas & Gin. She didn’t know anyone and was a little nervous at first, but as luck would have it she was almost the identical twin of press-ganged cast member Edd and they bonded over a love of steampunk and excellent hats. By the time we hit the after party, her place in our hearts was forever assured and she is now firmly part of the gang with no chance of escape. Oh, and she can lift me up really easily, too.


Edd & Sam – stereo pensive. Apparently.

Hats – There were more hats on set than people, at one point.

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer’s trousers – Looking as if they had been freshly wrestled from the derriere of Michael Portillo, this eye-catching apparel drew admiring glances from men and ladies alike… although mainly the ladies, to be fair.

‘Concerned’ – A panned shot of the Cabinet looking concerned turned into something of a saga as the director continually asked for us to repeat the scene. Thinking our hopeless acting skills were pushing that Oscar further and further away, I later learned the truth of the matter when reviewing the footage. Our concerned faces were the very epitome of anxiety, however the camera was jittery for many of the passes and unusable. I thought it was strange – we managed ‘pensive’ in one take, and one person didn’t even know what pensive was.


I can’t remember if this was pensive or concerned…

Don’t look at the camera! I’m not looking at the camera! – It doesn’t matter how much you try not to look into the camera, invariably your eyes are drawn to it and you end up looking panicked and rather creepy on screen.

Boris, you bastard! – A line that required delivery at untold decibels. There must be a good number of smart Cambridge folk wondering who he is and why he is evidently such a massive bastard.


The PM receives bad news from Oxford…

Don’t mention the war – With three Germans in the cast and crew, plenty of Dad’s Army-esque banter abounds. On reflection, these scenes should not be used anywhere, ever – but will serve as a cheeky reminder of the fun we had that day.

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Back seat of the Bentley – The Chancellor of the Exchequer used his classic car to gain favour with the ladies, even including a nice teddy bear in the back seat to tempt us in. Dear reader, his ploy worked.

Tony, father of PorterGirl – Lens-wielding artiste and video & technical director for the day, Tony Colby is my photographer of choice and is quite rightly attributed with the birth of PorterGirl. Legend has it, that during one especially ribald discussion on social media, Tony came up with the suggestion that I start a blog about my bizarre new job at the University. He became quite insistent and I was in no mood for a battle. The very next day I wrote ‘The First Day’ and the rest, as they say, is history.


The PM consults with the President of the United States via video link

The After Party – Several hours of filming was all it took for a room full of people to fall instantly in love and decide to spend the following evening together behaving like absolute deviants. This impromptu decision resulted in the cavalcade decamping to rural Cambridgeshire, where I hastily threw together a banquet while the Chancellor entertained all and sundry with his trousers, fancy car and three large bottles of home brewed damson gin. There was much hugging, singing and trampolining, all observed in mild terror by Terry the cat. Things started to go a little awry after dark, but miraculously I managed to keep all my clothes on. Events thereafter get somewhat wispy, but Nicole and I decided to go to bed (not like that) after we realised we had spent far too much time obsessing over Tony Slattery from the 90s, and the chaps were deep in discussion about internet access in Africa, or something.


Tony Slattery from the 90s. Hello there…



Yep, still looking good… wonder what he looks like now…





Before I know it, dappled sunlight is falling across my face and an insistent paw is prodding at my nose. I am unsure as to what time I retired, but it feels all too recent. However, a hungry Terry is not to be dismissed, so I follow the furry bugger into the kitchen, only to find cameraman and director still in full flow of nonsense. I’m not sure what they are drinking, but it smells dreadful. The sight of me first thing in the morning is clearly enough to send them scurrying to some place of slumber and I am left to contemplate the fact that the day before, we had perhaps been making history.


What in buggery is Who Shot Tony Blair?


For your enjoyment, here is the climax of the Prime Minister’s first speech to her new Cabinet…