If There’s One Thing I Can’t Stand…

Anyone who knows me at all will know that there is certainly more than one thing I can’t stand. In fact, the list of things that give me the pip is quite extensive. But the one thing I especially can’t stand today is the promotion of one’s own work, specifically the PorterGirl trilogy which I believe is released today. Or maybe tomorrow. I’m past the point of caring, quite frankly.

I should be in Florida right now, personally extolling the virtues of the world of Old College to an eager international audience. Needless to say, I am not. I am here in Blighty, drinking tea at a rate of knots whilst looking at the clock and wondering whether or not it is a decent enough hour to be opening wine. It’s not like I haven’t already gone through this charade once already this year, with Sinister Dexter. The enthusiasm to go through it all again is none existent, and this comes from a girl whose capacity for mindless enthusiasm knows no bounds.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances offer to interview me, host me on their sites and radio shows and suggest all manner of lovely and brilliant ways to bring my latest tome to the masses. These people are wonderful and their faith in me touching, if misplaced. Which is why my polite refusals appear all the more ungrateful. Believe me, I am not ungrateful. It’s not you, it’s me.

The problem is, I really don’t want to talk about my books. I don’t want to talk about how or why I became a writer (but if you must know, I didn’t become a writer. I just am one). And it baffles me completely as to why anyone would be the remotest bit interested in my influences, where I get my inspiration or what I think about this, that, the other or even anything at all. There is not a single question any interviewer could possibly ask me right now that I would actually want to answer. Unless that question is ‘Do you fancy lunch?’

It is times like this that I question my ability – and even my desire – to be a professional writer. Don’t get me wrong, I can string together a sentence and, at times, express deep and profound things on the page that I could never hope to do in person. Writing for me is a compulsion, a kind of therapy and a source of great joy and amusement. But sometimes actually being a writer is depressing. I couldn’t tell you why, it is just how it is. What am I actually achieving, really? What good am I doing in the world? Is this really a worthy and fulfilling use of my time and skills? There is the gnawing thought that I should be applying myself to something far more worthwhile.

I imagine that over the next couple of days I shall have to put on my big girl pants and persevere with plastering on the sunny disposition for which I am so well known, joyfully announcing to anyone who will listen that I have another book out. It is what is expected of me and I am a stickler for honouring my obligations. Until then, I shall be playing music at an unsociable volume and wondering why when everything is going so right, everything feels anything but.

If you feel that this post is about more than a disgruntled reaction to literary commercialism, then you would be right. It’s okay to not always be okay. And even I am sometimes not okay. I mean, I’m okay, there’s no cause for concern. But behind the bowler hat and cheeky grin sits a real life person who occasionally has just had enough. I wrote this to get it out of my system and it helped enormously. I never intended to publish it, but I have – in case there are other people who have just had enough too, and I want those people to know that it’s okay.

I have disabled comments on this post because for once, I’d really rather not talk about it. Thank you.

Veni, Vidi, Portavi

I came, I saw, I portered*

The great Judge Judy once said, “I think that you’re supposed to know when it’s time to say goodbye”. As I prepare for my imminent departure from Cambridge, I like to see it less as a goodbye to the city I have come to love above all others, but more of a ‘hello’ to new adventures.

Coming to the University city changed my life beyond all recognition and, despite not being a scholar or academic of any kind, I was able to realise my dreams and reach a potential I never imagined possible within the strange and wonderful walls of this esoteric world. More than that, I have been lucky enough to have you all alongside me for what has been a most unexpected emprise. And, as far as unexpected emprises go, this is just the beginning, I assure you.

But now it is time to go. There are those I love even more than Cambridge, endeavours even more pertinent than PorterGirl. Without doubt, Cambridge will always be a part of me, but perhaps more importantly, I will always be a part of Cambridge.

*Relying on schoolgirl Latin as opposed to being a Classical scholar, I struggled to find a direct translation for ‘porter’ as either a noun or verb. So, seeing as our English word porter is derived from the Latin portātor, from past participle of portāre (to carry) I decided to go with that, as it’s a nice first conjugation word and easily popped into the singular perfect tense. I am sure far better educated chaps than my good self will have plenty to say about this pitiful translation but, quite frankly, bollocks to them.




A Very British Threesome*




*This was the original title I wanted to use for the PorterGirl trilogy, but my publisher point blank refused. So here we have Old College Diaries, which now appears to be available on Amazon, for some reason.

Apparently there will be some sort of official launch next month, probably while I am in the middle of Florida, knowing my luck. Did I mention my much-anticipated trip to the States? I plan on trying to civilise the place a little whilst I’m there, but it’s mostly a work trip to a writers’ conference.

But anyway. As you can probably tell by my unusually brusque tone, I am rather busy at the moment with one thing and another and a surprise book release is, quite frankly, the last thing I need. That said, it is an absolutely beautiful book and contains not only the three PorterGirl novels, but some rather charming and never-seen-before bonus material…

And, bizarrely, an in-character interview with Deputy Head Porter where she is asked about her views on Brexit, among other things.

You can get Old College Diaries here if you want it. Or wait for the official release, there will probably be giveaways of some description. Whatever. And while you’re at it, put the kettle on, there’s a good chap.