The Return to Berkshire

Today I am experiencing a childish level of excitement. This is because I woke up this morning to find an email confirming that the review copies of my book will definitely be here by the end of the week! It was frankly the last thing I expected. So much so that as I started up the computer I said sarcastically to my mother “And what do you think the chances are of me having an email saying my review copies are on their way?” She didn’t respond because she was too busy disapproving of me using my computer before 4pm (the arbitrary time that she has plucked out of the air as being a suitable one to start using computers in the day. Just don’t say anything. I know.) So imagine my surprise when there was indeed an email from my publishers in my inbox, and imagine my further surprise when it did indeed confirm the arrival of my books for the end of the week. Finally I will get to meet my book! I’ve seen it in stages obviously; firstly I wrote the thing, then I saw the proofs, then the front cover. But no-one had put it together at that stage, the complete item did not exist, and I am nearly incandescent with excitement at the thought of seeing the finished product. However as I’m writing this it’s just occurred to me that they didn’t say the end of which week. But it’s terribly exciting nonetheless.

Wisely and sensibly, I am also reserving a little bit of excitement for when the books actually arrive. This to me is one of the most exciting bits of the process. I don’t know how they will arrive, or what in, but I envisage some form of box with copies of Things He Never Knew inside. Multiple copies. Hundreds of neat, freshly-printed pages full of my words. A box packed with my books is one of the most exciting things in the world that I can think of. I’d better not get my hopes up too high though because I know full well that I’m only receiving ten. And ten copies is not a lot when you are desperate to get reviews somehow. I do run the risk of sending them out to publications to be reviewed and not seeing hide nor hair of them ever again. I must choose my targets carefully. Very luckily a few kind – and influential – people have already agreed to review it for me and funnily enough, I am nervous. It feels like raising a child: I have written and nurtured this book, gently shaped it bit by bit, made it into what it is, and the minute it’s released I’m handing it over to be judged by the world. Well, hopefully the world. It’ll be like watching a toddler taking their first, few shaky steps. I will be just as anxious. But as a fellow writer pointed out to me last night, “There’s nothing you can do. You’ve written it and now you have to let it go.” Sink or swim type of thing. Well, OK, fine, I appreciate that, but you can rest assured I will be giving it flotation devices and giving it a good shove in the right direction.

I seem to have won the battle about being allowed to use my computer during the day here in Berkshire. Or Paley Street, to be precise. There is new rule this time though, and that is we are not allowed to drink tea out of mugs. It has to be teacups. And saucers. The last time I was here John Lewis had delivered the wrong cups and my mother was moaning about having to drink “half a pint” of tea. This time round, the correct cups are here and mugs are banned which is annoying because now you only get a tablespoon of tea. It’s no wonder I drink so much wine; if you’re drinking alcohol in this house any vessel will do. I could probably drink from my shoe and no-one would bat an eyelid. Incidentally it would be the only thing I could use my shoes for because stupidly I brought suede, lilac pumps and it’s rained so much I can’t wear them.

So it is nice being here, apart from all the 19th century rules that are enforced. I have worked hard not to bow to these pressures, and establish myself as a strong-minded, independent woman who dares to use her computer when the rules of the house forbid it, and eat her peas without crushing them with a fork first; apparently the only way to eat peas in polite society. I learned this from witnessing an argument between my mother and one of my brothers who foolishly let slip that at school he eats his peas with a spoon. This oversight earned him a lecture and lesson in pea-eating.

But last night I was sitting on the sofa, drinking half a pint of tea from a mug and thinking that it’s a very strange state of affairs indeed when doing this causes me to feel subversive. This was after my mother had gone to bed, incidentally, I didn’t dare do it in front of her. I don’t push my boundaries that far.

Next time: more of the all-consuming excitement of having my books arrive, I imagine. Time for the real work to begin……..

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4 Responses to “The Return to Berkshire”

  1. kim bushe says:

    oh that made me laugh!!! you describe our, sorry her, house so well!!! kimxxx

  2. sam Bithrey says:

    the peas was me!

  3. Sue says:

    Oh Yes Indeed ! Your mother is my oldest friend Jayne – you've painted the picture and I can hear her voice. Spot on. Love from Jayne's old friend Sue.xx

    • Sarah says:

      I know….so lovely to hear from you Sue! I'm positive that you'd be welcome at Paley Street for a glass of wine any time. Only Mummy won't fall down the stairs this time 🙂 x