“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.





First Dates

I’m going to be on it! Well probably anyway – they’re going to call at 11am today and I’ve got to Skype myself in my best gear going about my business in my home, so that they can get a handle on my personality and interests.

The first problem, as you can imagine, was getting the Skype app onto my stone-age devices. The programme-makers can also use Facetime (which I don’t think I’ve got either), but they can’t Whatsapp, which is the only one I can manage.

My mobile downloaded the app OK, but it got stuck after that. I yelled upstairs for Will to sort it out, while I departed for a slap-up dinner at Prince Hall, courtesy my great mate, Richard.

I had found myself with verbal diarrhea, speaking on the phone to the programme’s assistant producer, Jane.

“What sort of person would you like to meet?” she asked.

“I don’t know – someone who’s stronger than me, and good company?” I said.

“Would it matter how tall they were? Would 70 be OK?” she said.

Aghh – they’ve got some dwarf old grandpa in mind for me.

“Well they need to weigh more than I do, which is easier now I’ve lost nearly two stone,” I replied, “but they’d have to be really really charming and nice if they were that old.  Seventy-year-olds have wrinkly saggy boobs.”

I am most excited – the timing is fantastic.  This is coinciding with my ‘Meet the Author’ evening and will give me the chance to bang on about the most expensive B&B on Dartmoor and, even more importantly, my non-burgeoning career as an aspiring author.

Well, now I’ve nearly finished breakfast, I’d better put on a face and find some cleanish glad rags!  How terrifying! This could result in me getting publicly rejected in front of millions! Eeek!

Doing a Katie Hopkins

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.

Part Time Working Mummy (PTWM)

Have I gone nice? Perhaps I’ve just got sunstroke.

Passing through the foyer of our hotel in the Costa del Sol yesterday, I picked up a book left and forgotten by some previous guest,  called “Part Time Working Mummy“, because it looked a bit like the sort of thing I’m trying to do.

And it made me cry. Proper tears. Me. Who has never cried at a book since they took Boxer away in Animal Farm over forty years ago.

This book is published by something I’ve never heard of called ‘Trapeze’, and it’s written in even more childlike pros than mine, but maybe, just maybe – unless I’m suffering from holiday-weirdness – it’s changed the next chunk of my life.

Somehow I have found myself glued to it for the past 24hrs.  Why had it passed me by?

Well, now I know. ‘Part Time Working Mummy’ was only published a month ago, and it currently lies second in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List.

It’s written by somebody called Rachaele Hambleton who lives down the road from Dartmoor in the Brixham/Paignton area, who wrote a facebook page a couple of years ago about a Mum she’d observed going to work every day in Shaldon, which suddenly, out of the blue, received 20,000 likes.

Rachaele’s blog now commands 420,000 followers, and her simple little book, clearly written straight from the not particularly well-educated heart, is doing better than all the other books listed on Amazon of similar ilk, eg “Why Mummy Drinks”, “Why Mummy Swears”, and “The UnMumsy Mum” (also written by a Devon-based blogger mother).

Racheale’s story of neglect and abuse is, quite simply, harrowing. She and I come from opposite ends of the spectrum. And yet here we are, both blogging away our day-to-day stories of life as a mother of teenagers in Devon.  Racheale has turned her new-found profile into a force for good, her main causes being the abused and the bullied.  Well I have recently been discussing with Will the sort of charity that I should be contributing to, and I think this could just be it. I probably wouldn’t even notice £10 p/m, but somebody else might.

I’m also thinking of setting up some organisation whereby the abused might enjoy a moment’s luxuriating in left-over B&B toileteries, and possibly using their old bedding. Maybe some of my colleagues might offer half-price rooms during low-season or something. Maybe I should foster a child or two, once mine have completely fled the nest.

I think I should meet this Rachaele woman and see how I can help.  I am fascinated by her world and feel I am in a place now, where I could become involved. Or maybe it’s all simply summer holiday fantasy land.

Whatever – I could invite over her new husband, ‘Bird Nerd Josh’, a policeman who has clearly, immensely bravely, rescued Rachaele, and whose greatest passion is rising at 3am in order to spot some rare bird or other on Dartmoor. No.  I don’t understand the attraction either.  But I could at least offer him a spare bed.

Just as I did to Dartmoor-lover Sara Cox from Radio 2, who still hasn’t got back to me, and almost certainly never will.


Create a Blog, she said.

“I’ve chosen to approach you personally because you share the unusual surname of an old mate of mine – he was in Dad’s house at Eton . His brother, Bob, once threw up all over me at some Exeter Uni party…”

At least this agent replied:

“Well, this definitely wins for original approach! Michael is a second cousin – he is married to another literary agent – unless there is more than one Michael.

I have also looked up your B&B, looks beyond fab.

Anyway, I find your writing hilarious, suited to a blog. You are v good at writing in excerpts / snippets. Do you use twitter? Basically you just need to get people following / liking / sharing and then further down the road when you have a proper blog following, you think about the book.”

So – three books already written and available on Amazon, and here I am. Back blogging.

I will become a successful (if not respected) author, if it kills me!