Cambridge

One Night With Head Porter

There is nothing quite so good for the spirit as a proper old-fashioned catch up with those who know you best, not least when recent events of a friend’s death and an unexpected house fire weigh heavy on your mind. And so it was I found myself on Saturday evening piling through bottle after bottle of some nice fizzy stuff with everybody’s favourite Head Porter, Paul Butterworth, and his delightful better half, The Headmistress.  

It was a balmy evening in South Cambridgeshire and Paul greeted me with with open arms and that huge smile of his. He had an air of casual elegance about him, dressed as he was in a crisp white linen shirt and fashionably cut jeans. 

“You look great!” I exclaimed. “Did The Headmistress dress you?”

“Yes…” Paul replied, seemingly amazed I was able to guess this. 

We headed straight outside, through the managed tangle of wildflowers and crazy paving, to the small clearing at the bottom of the garden. Seating ourselves at the patio table that is only a little bit wobbly, Paul narrowly avoided smashing all three crystal glasses in his enthusiasm to pour drinks. 

After glossing over the minor incident of my home almost burning to the ground, we celebrated the successes of PorterGirl and discussed the future. Paul expressed great enthusiasm for donning his bowler hat once more and I assured him that the readers would be delighted. Especially as there is the continuing assumption that there is a romantic connection both on and off-screen – neither of which is true but no amount of assertion on my part can convince the readership otherwise. Paul is openly chuffed about this and The Headmistress gamely suggests we should ‘give the public what they want’. However, this would involve drastic alterations to the plot and the disappointment of other characters, so perhaps things are best left as they are.

Paul regaled me with his eclectic tales from the world of television and film, as well as recent adventures taken with The Headmistress. He recounted fondly how is son, Josh, has recently graduated from Manchester University with a degree in film making and was already making waves in the industry with his short films. My little heart burst with pride – for it was I who gave him his first ever paid directing job when he took the helm for the initial PorterGirl book trailer. 

As well as making me laugh until a bit of wee almost came out, Paul gave me sound advice about bringing PorterGirl to screen, not dating the wrong sort of chaps and how leaving Cambridge could be a wise move (more about that another time). But, for now, it’s back to work for me with renewed vigour.  The sudden and interesting developments to Project Britannia mean it absolutely must take priority right now, but with an evolution for PorterGirl in the pipeline and Who Shot Tony Blair? up in the air following the loss of our Chancellor of the Exchequer, this is perhaps for the best. Priorities, you see.

One of which is definitely drinking fizzy stuff with Paul, obviously.

Paul Butterworth in action…

A Little Bit Of What You Fancy

My Nan always says ‘A little bit of what you fancy does you good’. Mind you, she also says that you should put salt on slugs and sit back and watch them fizzle, but let’s not get into that. Her mantra extolling the benefits of self-indulgence from time to time is one upon which I have been musing ever more frequently. I know I do tend to bang on about the importance of working hard and making an effort but, well, a girl is only human, after all.

I can tell you right now what I don’t fancy. I don’t fancy sitting for endless hours at my laptop, surrounded by notes and paperwork and emails, wrestling with prose that becomes drier by the minute and politely arguing for weeks on end about what three words will grace the cover of my collected works, while outside the sun shines and Pimms is poured within punts that glide down the River Cam. No. I don’t much fancy that at all.

So bugger it, I’m not going to do it.

Books and work can wait a while as I seek out Pimms and punts and adventure. I shall visit my friends, who have surely forgotten what I look like by now, and descend upon family and eat all their food while wearing my best clothes and fanciest shoes. I shall hold my special ones in my arms and tell them I love them. I shall play cricket – quite a lot of cricket, actually. By Sunday I will have managed three matches in a week.

 

Because life is too short.

And a little bit of what you fancy does you good.

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Please note – if you are my publisher or an esteemed colleague from Middlesex University – Haha only joking! I’m working really hard on everything, honest.

Goodbye, My Friend

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It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my good friend and once neighbour, Ian Course. Some of you will, of course, know him as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Who Shot Tony Blair? and Cambridge-types will no doubt remember fondly his eccentric sartorial leanings, generous heart and absolutely lethal homemade damson gin.

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I lived next door to Ian for around seven years and we quickly became great friends. The wooden gate between our properties was always on the latch and (during the summer months, especially) one or the other of us would routinely trundle through, bearing gifts of the victual variety. I brewed wine and made jams from the fruits of Ian’s orchard and Ian shared his wares of the aforementioned damson gin and his own fiery brand of horseradish. I got used to his woolly menace of a dog, Bonkers, mounting regular invasions and gamely trying to make off with anything vaguely edible he could find. Once, Bonkers returned to Ian with a whole cooked joint of beef in his chops, but luckily it wasn’t mine.

Ian was well known for his love of classic Bentleys and delighted in ferrying friends and acquaintances around the South Cambridgeshire countryside, as well as touring around Europe, Monaco being a particular favourite destination.

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Convincing him to take the role of Chancellor was a masterstroke on my part, as he already had an extensive wardrobe that would dwarf that of any self-respecting eccentric political heavyweight. Whilst I could go on and on about the many attributes of Ian and the adventures undertaken, I shall say for now only how much I shall miss him as a dear friend and what a huge hole he has left in the Tony Blair team. With plans for the filming of the new book trailer well underway, I cannot yet bring myself to think about who might take his place on screen. Because there is certainly no one who could take his place off of it.

Goodbye, my friend. At least just for now.