“Ne pas toucher!” yelled the 6′ octogenarian ex-model French bloke, who was showing us around his castle, as my mate prodded something calling itself a 100 yr old crocodile skin suitcase.
She looked up in mild surprise. She’d already annoyed our still rather gorgeous, arrogant tour guide by saying “I don’t understand a word” when he’d offered to translate his patter into English, not meaning to at all.
My friend has just celebrated her 60th birthday, closely escaped death in a horse accident last year, she’s not very tall, and has bad feet, so she’s currently looking a little lame, small, thin, pale and hunched.
Her interest in the crocodile skin is prompted by the fact that she is a Professor of Dermatology – Secretary of the Scottish Dermatological Society Skin Cancer Group, President of the British Society for Skin Care in Immunosuppressed Individuals, Chair of the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network for cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SIGN SCC), member of the NCRI non-melanoma skin cancer clinical studies group, member of the British Association of Dermatologists Skin Cancer Prevention Committee, Board member of Skin Care in Organ transplant Patients in Europe (SCOPE) and UK representative on the International Transplant Skin Cancer Collaboration (ITSCC).
She also had the same piano teacher as me til she was twelve.
And she was remarkably unjudgmental of my beautiful, deep, Summer 2018 tan. I surreptitiously hid my bottle of Piz Buin No 10 before rubbing Factor 50 onto her glowing white back.
Isn’t it surprising how many vegetarians are fat? It’s probably all those flapjacks and carob-brownies masquerading as health foods in Holland & Barrett.
Over the past four years increasing numbers of my B&B guests let me know beforehand that they’re veggie, or even vegan, prompting me to buy Linda McCartney’s revolting cardboard cylindrical Cumberland quorn sausages, and one of the myriad choices of dairy-free milk substitutes – almond, soya, oat? How can you tell which one they’ll prefer? I also offer Bertolli spread, oat creme fraiche and dairy-free fruit yogurt, and actually all of this is almost no trouble at all. But, at the end of the day – let them eat eggs (oops, not the vegans – can’t even put butter on their toast!)
I always expect non-meat-eaters to be weak, white and wan. I also worry about them clocking the hunting pictures which surround them in my dining room – their place-mats, coasters, and Lionel Edwards prints on the wall. Well I am now having to eat humble pie (a dish originally made from the innards of deer).
Last week a French mother-and-daughter couple proved our fittest couple yet. The Mum was celebrating her 65th birthday, walking in some borrowed Dunlop wellies; and the daughter is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Six foot tall, willowy gazelle-like slender, like the Russian girls gathered in the loos at Annabel’s – a different breed of human. Only this one is no dolly-bird – she’s developing a new kind of un-launderable money for the city. She’s the best advertisement for veganism that you could possibly dream up. Being French, highly intelligent and successful she doesn’t really do smiling, and knows exactly what she wants and likes, so she’s bloody scary, but over her stay, she thawed.
Anyhow – she has an app on her phone which proved that, crossing Dartmoor hills, bogs, rocks and gorse, this remarkable pair averaged 23km a day over four days. Phew.
“Are you sitting down?” I exclaim. “His grandmother taught me and everyone else I know the piano til we were twelve! She had blue hair!”
This is the result of my meeting with the MD of the Dating/Events company who’s asked me to speak at her ‘Author’s Talk’ in September. She appears to be more interested in matchmaking me than in my books which she hasn’t read.
She’d given me his name, and original family name, so obviously I stalked him on Google the minute she was out of the door, and top of the entries was an article he’d written in the Scottish Daily Mail about his famous composer grandfather, married to my ex-piano teacher.
She says he’s brainy and quirky – well I love all that; and shoots, so he understands my world.
I told her I’d give her a million quid if she found me the man of my dreams. But since then I’ve reduced my offer to a grand, as I don’t actually have a million. And now I’m worrying about how and when you can actually tell that this is finally ‘the one’. Perhaps there should be a scale of charges. Maybe thirty quid if you find yourself sharing a thoroughly enjoyable, stimulating meal together, that gets you all excited. A hundred quid if you sleep with them; three hundred if you’re still with them after three months; and a thousand if you marry them.
Meanwhile the 6′ willowy blonde vision of loveliness that comprises Nell, the agency owner, explains that the Author’s Evening will probably comprise only around eight people sitting in a circle in a very relaxed way, and I won’t need to have prepared a talk or anything. God – I could actually look forward to this. Two hours of talking about myself without stopping, to a rapt audience! Lovely jubbly!
I’m losing my nerve re going public with this blog malarky.
To do so, one of the things I suppose I’ll have to do is post about it on my Facebook page. My page currently boasts 268 so-called ‘friends’, most of whom I would imagine are Faye’s mates from the local pony club, and at the moment it’s listed under my maiden name – Mary Nicholson.
On the one hand, there’s boring close friends and foreigners witless with monosyllabic complacent me me me posts from my comfortable middle-class home, moaning on that I’m too broke to buy a new horse or something, and that none of my on-line dates feel comfortable discussing private schools, hunts, and yacht moorings.
But it’s rather different, putting yourself out there in front of people such as those following Rachaele Hambleton’s occasionally extremely dark posts – where women can’t actually afford to feed their own children; or are living in genuine fear of having their throats cut, or of their children getting stabbed to death by their abusive crazed fathers. Despite all her selfless campaigning, Rachaele still receives some unpleasant and very negative messages. Yet hers is a completely different scary alien world to the comfortable, privileged, easy, complacent, smug place that I inhabit – what on earth are these sorts of trolls going to say to me? Perhaps they’ll stick a bomb under my car? Do I really want to get involved, and be completely shafted as a result, by people who aren’t interested in reading jolly, life-enhancing, lightweight drivel about how posh people ‘live the life’, by chippy women who prefer to stick a pin into everything? My skin is not very thick. This might turn out all to be a very hurtful, self-indulgent, waste of time.
Since I told him I was on holiday, Stalker Gordon is now sending me daily eCards in Spanish.
I bet there is nobody else in the whole world who is lucky enough to be stalked by somebody so hysterically funny, clever, witty, warm, supportive and loyal. He regularly literally has me in tears of laughter.
He has moved on from signing cards addressed to ‘Lady Demelza’ from ‘Ross the Toss’; to ‘dama intoxicante’ from ‘Julio Iglesias’, and today it’s from ‘Julio Double-Glasias’. I’m still sniggering to myself.
I have never spoken to him, nor do I know what he looks like. But the producers of Channel 4’s ‘Four In A Bed’ know him all too well!
Yesterday this new blog of mine received its first ‘like’ and its first ‘follower’. Both came from a company that sells pencil cases called ‘Skool Dealz’. I hope its customers turn out to be better at spelling than its CEO is.
Well today, my very best mate of all in the entire universe, AngiePangiePooPlops, to whom I’ve dedicated my second book for her ongoing support of all things Mary Hadow-related; has become my second ever signed-up follower. To become one is a pain the arse, apparently, as you have to ‘join’ and all that crap. Urgh. I’ve promised Faye 1p for every ‘follower’ that she can produce, as I don’t really have a single clue what is going on with this whole thing.
I nice fellow-blogger called Leslie Nichole gave me my first ‘like’ before I’d even finished or titled the last blog – what’s that all about? There must be a whole load of extraordinary automatic things going on around this thing that I am totally unaware of.
In the meantime, I shall continue with my ‘Categories’ and ‘Tags’ and hope they make something happen. I want 20,000 followers, like the person had to get on Instagram in a book I’ve just finished called ‘One In A Million’, and designated for the waste paper basket. So I’ve got to learn how its all done if I’m to achieve my aim, and Faye is to make herself £2,000 by assisting me, using her limited knowledge of the dreaded Sew-sherll Meedja.
I mean honestly – if people are literally signing up to follow things like this, there’ll be no need for books anymore!
My 58-year-old brain is so full that I have only managed to learn one new word of Spanish during our week long sojourn here. It’s’Medusa’ – which I always thought was the name of that Greek monster-woman with live snakes in place of hair.
Yesterday Faye and I drove 15 minutes in the boiling sun on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road along an unknown route to a beach called Playa de la Cala el Canuelo, where I had to inch the unfamiliar car backwards along the side of a precipice lined on either side by other cars, even though I haven’t paid the extortionate extra-insurance fee they always charge you when you hire cars abroad; and I couldn’t find reverse gear in the Ford Fiesta as it got tangled up in my flimsy floaty top, and the clutch of the manual got stuck under my sparkly flip-flops.
We queued in the boiling sun to catch a minibus down a sheer cliff to the pretty beach below; and finally, I rushed into the cool welcoming water.
I had been stung on the ankle. I looked around. There were floaty red jellyfish happily bobbing along on the waves in every direction. No one else was swimming. They all knew better. And after all that effort to get here, too! No mention of anything like this in a single raving TripAdvisor post!
What to do now? Nothing. Keep on reading, and order yet another bottle of lovely cooling Cava. And learn that pesky word: Medusa.