“We’ll do 1500 words on you.  Our last interviewees were Michael Morpurgo and David Owen,” says the journalist.

Hah! I’m going to be famous at last! Cover story of a highly influential and illustrious fortnightly newspaper called “The Moorlander”, bought by at least 550 people living across Dartmoor.

The publisher and editor, who’s also the photographer, turns out to be an old online date of mine – we met at The Two Bridges a few years ago and share numerous past acquaintances from our London days.

I am interviewed by a delightful young man called Ross, who was at school when I was living through the tragedy of Foot & Mouth. Ross told me that when they were informed about the outbreak, all his schoolmates put their feet into their mouths – ha ha; I’d never heard that one before.

Well he doesn’t really need to ask me anything, as I embark on two hours of talking about myself without pause for breath.

I’m finding that these days I’m washing my hair rather more often than usual, as I don’t like Him seeing me with hat-hair post horse-riding, and now I’ve really had to do it yet again for the photographs. I hope they’re good.  I have been looking my best ever, since I have become thin, tanned and happy, despite my great age.

“Could you wear anything but black?” requests Stephen, the photographer.

“No – I’ve been through that before with the Telegraph, so I wore grey and didn’t like it.  I gather that if you were the Daily Mail I would have to wear hideous bright primary colours.  But my signature colour is black,” I reply.

He hands me a current copy of the newspaper, which he established a couple of years ago because he was bored after retiring from Fleet Street.   It actually turns a healthy profit and has now reached a print-run of 9,000.

“Where do all your customers live?” I query. “Do sheep buy The Moorlander?

“Actually, thinking about it,  I need a plumber,” I continue. “Is there an ad for one in there? Now I understand its popularity,” as I reach for his copy, and discover, blow me down, that they’re planning three  pages on Moi, featuring a full page head shot.  Yikes!

It turns out that a couple of months ago they featured Faye’s godfather, who lives in Chagford and is one of my very best friends.  He was co-producer of Tubular Bells and is now one of the leading digital remastering engineers in the world, operating from his own studio based in central nowhere, working for some of the biggest names in the music business. Wow! Me and my ilk are beginning to come out of the woodwork now we’re retirement age!

I have to be fairly careful about what I say, as this thing is going to be read by an awful lot of people I know. I am probably going to annoy, as an over-privileged mad rich posh bird. Well I’m in the paper’s hands now, and there’s not a lot left I can do.

“Err – would you like me to write a column for you?” I suddenly burst out.  “Obviously you wouldn’t have to pay me!”

The publisher gently shows me the column they already run. It contains the same sort of stuff I’ve written here about vegans, only the paper’s writer is ruder. Bollocks.  I’m not sure I can compete with her.

But anyway.  The whole thing has given me a kick up the bum, and, after a month of severe romantic distraction, here I am, back writing again.






“Hello Beautiful”.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.



How wonderful to wake up to those words! Followed by frothy Nespresso coffee and osteoporosis-busting ReadyBrek in bed.

I have never been happier.  I haven’t felt like this for literally decades.  Butterflies, indigestion, beating heart, loss of appetite, too much booze and fags, amazement, disbelief, loud music, dancing, and singing. I’m astonished that my stomach ulcer hasn’t returned. A soul mate. Connections on every level. Siamese twins. Matching Lego bricks.  Kindred spirits.

I’m so up myself that I had become convinced I’d never, ever, manage to find anybody I rated more highly than me; whose company I would enjoy day after day, even more than that of my best girlfriends.

Least of all via the last-resort loser-world of online dating.  How thorough are those computers?!  It’s a miracle.


9 1/2 weeks looms. And after that, according to Google, thanks to changing chemicals in the brain my infatuation phase will end within three months, and our romance stage after one to two years.  How do I make all this stuff hurry up so I know where I am?

Just – eeek and ooer.

It’s a Non From Me!

I’ve just cancelled myself on First Dates.

It’s not fair.  This is the second time this has happened.  The first was when I met Ben, just as Love In the Countryside was confirming that I would be in its first series on BBC2, hosted by my idol, Sara Cox.  That would have provided a six hour window for me to bang on about my books and B&B on national TV. Ben lasted five months, and I have been kicking myself ever since.

“Never again, whatever else is happening, I will never, ever cancel a TV appearance which could launch me as a successful author,” I promised myself.

And now I’ve just done it for a second time.  Based on less than a week’s acquaintance with the new Him.

I spoke to somebody from the programme called Lily, whose call I’d failed to follow up for 36hrs as I made my mind up what to do.

I had discussed the problem with the new Him at length. He had actually urged me to go ahead for business reasons – said He would enjoy watching and laughing at me on the telly. So we agreed that I would (I had actually rather hoped that He wouldn’t want me to).

Then I slept on our decision. Or more accurately didn’t sleep. And then I thought I wouldn’t like myself if I took part in the programme.  It wouldn’t be kind to Him, nor to the bloke they set me up with; it would be dissembling and dishonourable, all for a couple of oblique references to my businesses, and the fun experience of working with the TV, enjoying a free visit to London and a dead good meal – in short, the experience of a lifetime. Agh!

In the morning I WhatsApped Him, telling Him I had decided not to do it whatever He said.  I am too keen on liking myself.

And now I have just put the phone down on Lily.

“The producers absolutely love you,” she trilled. “All we care about is that you’re happy!”

“Nonsense.  All you care about is making good telly, and I can guarantee I would have helped you with that. You lot love a mad posh bird,” I snorted back at her.

So Lily and I agreed – if everything between us goes wrong, as it always has for the past 59 years, there will always be another opportunity.   Next time, with a bit of luck, a free holiday at First Dates Hotel.

A Pea

Today I nearly did the nose trick with a pea.

Perhaps it was something Faye said.  Or maybe it was the sign hanging on the wall of the pub, just behind His right shoulder, which read “Careful what you do, or you may find yourself in my novel”.

Meet The Author – What Happened!

Well perhaps the best thing of all about the evening was that I found I could squeeze into my sparkly dress!  I’ve had that dress for longer than I’ve been a married/divorced woman.  It must be 25 years old.  It’s stretchy black lycra-stuff (probably from before lycra was invented) with tiger-stripes of sightly faded gold sequins. Mutton dressed as lamb but whatever.

And maybe the worst thing was that, as I was sitting down, I had a suspicion that the bottom bits of my Spanx were showing, as it’s too short.

Beautiful Nell asked each of the packed audience of six ladies and one man what they were reading at the moment (neither my potential date, nor the journalist-chap had shown).

“I’m a bit too busy to read at the moment,” replied two of the women.  Eh? I thought this was a Book Club!

“I’ve been recommended something called ‘You and Him’ or something,” said another.

Blimey! A book I’m familiar with!

“Perhaps you mean ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes I said, knowledgeably. “There’s a blockbuster film about it which you’ll have to be in the right mood to watch, because it will make you cry and cry.”

“I’m about to start Sapiens,” the fourth lady told us.

“Oh – the ironically titled ‘a brief history of humankind’ which is 900 pages long, and all the ladies on the beach in Spain were giving up on?” I responded.

No one laughed.

I was so grateful to my friend Karen, who, back in the day, was a deb who befriended Ex, when he was a ‘Deb’s Delight’ during his time at university in London, as she chatted away enthusiastically about the sort of literature that none of the rest of us will ever get anywhere near to.

Much as I enjoy the subject of ‘Moi’, in practice it was quite awkward not really being in a position to be able to engage with anyone attending about what interests them. There was not a great deal of reaction to anything I said, almost nobody had looked at my book, and I really don’t think they were there in order to find out more about what I have done.  It’s more of a social occasion – an excuse to  come out for a jolly evening, and possibly meet a bloke.

It was fun that the one chap there was most courteous to us all, and taller and weighed more than me.

All in all, an interesting, enjoyable and relaxing introduction to what it could be like if I were a proper author. Complete with exposed underwear.

First Dates Interview

“Ha ha – look at you!” chortled Will, as I tottered down our freezing rural staircase in nothing but my LBD, towering heels, and full make-up, at ten-thirty in the morning.

I’d dressed to impress for my Skype interview, as requested by the First Dates people, all prepared to show them moi in full evening finery, and take them on a tour of my home/B&B using the camera of my laptop.  Although I still had no idea how to work Skype.

“You have to turn it on,” Will said.

Well, blimey – at 11am on the dot my laptop juddered/rang.  It’s never done that before. I pressed a button and there I was, in a little square in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, so small that I couldn’t really see my saggy jowls and wrinkles; meanwhile a rather beautiful young girl flicking her long auburn hair, filled the rest of the screen.

I found the whole scenario most disconcerting, so much so that my verbal diarrhea dried up and I became boring.

“GO AWAY!!!” I yelled at Will a couple of times, when he popped his head through the door.

The ordeal was over after about fifty minutes.  She asked the same sort of questions that she’d asked previously.

“If we need you, might you be free in the last week of October, or the first week of November?” she queried.

“If they need me?” I thought to myself.  “Humm. That’s their get-out clause.  I was much too boring and haggard for them to want me.”  The girl hadn’t even asked to see my legs or my B&B or anything else, after all that.

“I was too boring,” I reported back to Will, glumly.

“No one else talks about enjoying swapping daily ECards with their stalker,” he replied cheerfully.

And blow me down – they’ve called back asking me to reserve the dates.  Eeeek!