Today, the sun has climbed aboard his golden chariot, the sky is the celestial blue of a Renaissance painting, birds are flibberty-gibbeting in trees so lush they deserve a more original adjective. A day, one might think, to be happy and carefree, to dispense with the woes of whatever there is to be woeful about. A day to rejoice that one’s heart still beats, pulse still pulses and blood still Grand Prix’s it through ones veins. Unless you happen to be Son No. 2, whose face is currently so long, he bears more than a passing resemblance to Desert Orchid. Pour quois? Simples! He didn’t listen to his Mum, didn’t heed the warning that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, we are referring to an X-Box bought on Amazon, an amazing ‘knock-down’ bargain. What the vendor failed to specify is that the knock-down referred not to the price, but to the recipient, when they found no leads, battery pack or any of the associated paraphernalia one might expect to make it work was actually included. A salutary lesson learned the hard way. But, Son No. 2 is not the only one to have woken up and smelled the con-artist. I’ve learned a lesson too and that is not to bother dispensing any more pearls of wisdom. The fact is the only voice most people listen to is the voice of bitter experience. Their own experience! As a parent, of course, I felt it my bounden duty to try and instil the wisdom of Caveat Emptor in the fruit of my womb, if only to spare him the disappointment of X-Boxes sans accoutrements. But like said X-Box, it didn’t work. However, he will not make that mistake again. But, looking at the balance sheet, I suppose he’s gained more than he’s lost; in the debit column, £70.00 and scales lost from his eyes and, in the credit column, invaluable experience.
I am enjoying a break at the moment, hiding out in a lovely Grade 11 listed cottage in one of the many charming villages scattered round beautiful Somerset. The weather, if not brilliant, is at least pleasant, with only the odd scattering of rain chucked down by the powers that be as a sop to the farmers and gardeners who are revolting. (If childish humour is your thing, make your own joke here). In any case, here I am in the lovely rolling countryside of this cider-making county, loafing around and listening to the burr of the local birds, whilst dutifully mapping out the where-to-visit-today itinerary. On Sunday, it was off to Bristol to see Brunel’s HMS Great Britain and, let me tell you, judging by the size of the tiny bunks, anorexia is clearly not a modern-day phenomenon. In fact, so narrow were they, it would be difficult to lie two dry straws of spaghetti side by side. So much for the myth of the jolly fat sailor! For any naval history buffs, though, it’s worth the entrance fee.
The following day saw us spending a pleasant few hours in Bradford on Avon, a pretty Saxon town in Wiltshire. In true tourist fashion we ambled beside the Kennet and Avon canal admiring the picture-perfect narrow boats moored on each side, then popped along to have a look at the enormous 14th century Tithe Barn at Barton Grange Farm. As tourism is the mainstay of the area, there were a number of craft and souvenir shops close by and, like Pavlov’s dogs, I was soon salivating and champing at the bit, (which was a bit scary for onlookers!), desperate to go charging off into those Aladdin’s caves of . . .tat! Well, what else would you call six tin cans (I swear one still had a baked bean at the bottom) fashioned into a clunk-ugly cat? In disbelief, I turned my attention to a small mirror, the frame of which had been ‘distressed’ so badly, the poor thing was clearly distraught. ‘Shabby chic,’ the shop assistant told me with a ‘what would you know, ignorant peasant’ glare, as I took it over to point out the damage. Okay, so I may not be a member of MENSA (I can’t even spell it), but I figure there is something wrong when something that has been wilfully trashed (sorry, distressed) costs three times the price of said object in its ‘un-distressed’ state. I can’t help but feel the same about clothes that are worn out before ever you’ve worn them, threadbare hemlines (organic apparently), frayed, ripped and faded jeans that look as though some builder has left not only his bum in them, but half the building site too. And, okay, so I may be a woman d’un age certain, but I’m no fuddy duddy and certainly not averse to being conned. I have, indeed, been royally conned on several occasions (er . . . a dancing Mickey Mouse with no visible means of support). Not on this occasion, though. Replacing both tin-can cat and grief-stricken mirror and carefully eschewing the stuffed, ripped, patched-with-old-socks gingham rabbit (with cross-stitched eyes, only thirty quid!) I backed out like a vegetarian at a cannibal convention.
Today, we are off to Avebury to see the megalithic stones (more Hubby’s thing than mine – one megalithic stone is much the same as another). If there’s a souvenir shop lurking (with intent to con) in the vicinity, I promise I will just walk on by. Shabby chic? My foot! Shabby cheek!
First, though, I need to pack away the pink raffia heart-shaped cushion with the cutesy sayings stamped all over it I bought the day before. It will look just stunning in the living room, next to the tartan coal scuttle and the bulrush poker.
When I married my husband I didn’t realise he was part of a BOGOF offer and that I would get two for the price of one. The extra marital relation in question is my brother-in-law, or, the Philistine, as I like to call him. Yes, Kevin Moore, you know who you are. Worse still, our Kev cheerfully admits to this failing and positively revels in his ability to reduce me to a red-faced gibbering wreck in front of ‘them wot ‘ave a bit of culture’. Take our latest sortie to Pugin’s Grange in Ramsgate – the memory still has the power to bring the blood rushing to every extremity. Firstly, let me make it plain it wasn’t our intention to visit said establishment; we were, in fact, on our way to a local caff to sample the quality of the greasy spoon. But, and this is a rarity, the Grange was having an open day and, having lived for six years in the area, with nary the chance to poke my nose inside the door, I was in like Flynn. The problem is, our Kev was in behind me like Flynn’s hip replacement. Nevertheless, things got off to a reasonable start as I joined my oohing and aahing to that of a small, but select, group of Pugin aficionados. Happily, I craned and strained my neck to gaze at the wonders of the ornate ceilings. Reverently (when the guide wasn’t looking) I brushed my hand along the faithfully reproduced wallpaper (pretty garish, to tell you the truth, but who knew green and orange could work!). Overawed, almost to the point of tears, I gazed with longing at the Minton tiles (the tears were because mine are from Wicks and common as muck, as well as cracked). Still, all was going well and I was beginning to bask in that warm feeling of inclusion amongst your betters (a bit like when you were at school and the Head Girl let you polish her shoes with your tongue), but then we entered the dining room and things took a turn for the humiliating. A DVD recounting the story of Pugin’s life was playing in one corner, around which some of his more fanatical disciples, hungry to learn more of their master and hero, had gathered. I was hungry too (remember, we still hadn’t been to the caff), but hoping to milk my sense of cultural camaraderie, I was tentatively making my way to the edges of the worshippers when a sonic boom rang out.
‘Hey, babe, look at the size of this dining table. That would be perfect for doing my modelling or for making my jigsaws. Look, I could have a 25,000 piece one at each end. I could have my tools up this end . . .’
Believe me, had I not been dying of humiliation, I would have taken great pleasure in shoving his tools up whichever end he liked. Instead, my red face clashing horribly with the wallpaper, I slunk away, an outcast from cultural society, all thanks to my extra marital relation. Had I a bell, I would have rang it – unclean, unclean. Instead, I wended my weary way up into the bell-tower, figuring the panoramic view over lovely Thanet might go some way to restoring calm. Boy, was I was wrong! As I, and the small number of other asthmatic-sounding sightseers, excitedly looked for landmarks and gazed across the Channel to France, the sonic boom sounded once more, almost toppling us over the parapet.
‘Hey babe, this would be a great place to site a sniper rifle. You could set it up right here and bang, bang, bang . . .’
Cue gasps of outrage and and magenta faced as I schlepped all the way back down and into the Abbey next door. Even Kev, I figured, would have the grace to keep quiet in the sanctity of the church. Big mistake! Mega! As I left the side chapel, having duly admired a wonderful carved frieze depicting the Stations of the Cross, he called me back, his voice echoing up to the vault ceiling and reverberating off the stone walls making even the gargoyles cover their ears.
‘Hey babe, look at this. One of the soldiers is wearing an Italian helmet. It should be Roman. They didn’t have Italian helmets back in those days.’
I could hear the sound of Pugin swearing in his grave. That man has a gob the size of the Grand Canyon. Not Pugin!
So help me, I think there are times when murder is not only permitted, but essential – if only I had a sniper rifle or a large blunt object. Unfortunately, I did not have a sniper rifle and the nearest large blunt object, also known as Kevin’s head, was already attached to his body.
Had I known the day I got married, what I know now, I would have looked straight at my brother-in-law and shouted BOGOF! Instead, he was the best man.
PS. For those of you not afflicted by philistinic relations, the Grange and the Abbey are well worth a visit. It is owned by the Landmark Trust. You can find out more on: http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/visiting/opendays.htm
So far today, I have Googled, emailed, texted, Tweeted, Facebook’d, updated my website and blogged, all in the interests of furthering communication. What I have not done is to exchange one word with a living being. I did speak to the cat, but that was a pretty one-sided conversation and not much fun for either of us. (Summary: ‘Lizzie, did you poop in my herbs again?’. ‘Meow!’.)
Anyway, In order to cover all the bases, I have decided to sign up for classes in Morse code and Indian smoke signals, and if anybody can think of any other ‘platform’ I have missed, feel free to contact me – in whatever way you like. I’ll even consider old-fashioned, one-on-one speech.
Now, when a PR lady first decreed that I should have as many platforms as possible, I thought she was referring to footwear. I had a pair once back in the day, as the kids say between Neanderthal grunts, but one came to grief beneath a double-decker bus. My misty-eyed expression told her that she needed to disabuse me of that notion quick smart and wisen me up to the endless possibilities of technology, and how I could make use of it to promote me as a product.
Me, as a product? Surely, she meant my books? But no, these days it is simply not enough to leave the marketing side of one’s opus to others (even though they have ‘da knowledge’), one has to BECOME the product, BE THE BOOK! One has to emerge from one’s garret or the local pub blinking owlishly, suited, booted and coiffed, all ready to embark on ‘the publicity trail’.
But, as I smile winningly for another photograph (look, it’s as winning as I can make it – there are limits to how much you can pull your stomach in), dig deep for a new slant for an interview, press whatever flesh comes my way for pressing, I can’t help but wonder who really cares what I look like, or what my opinion is on the state of asparagus in the EU, or whether I have two Weetabix for my breakfast or none at all.
As a reader, the Litmus test for me has always been whether or not the author ‘gives good book’ (I love American expressions, they’re so vomitous!). Their personal attributes (or lack of the same), opinions, lifestyles etc, do not concern me one jot and I can’t help but feel that I’m in the majority camp on that one.
PS: I give good book!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about keeping hens. There is something very honest about a hen, something comforting like Prozac or warm chicken soup. Dogs and cats, I’ve noticed, all seem to have a side to them, a hidden agenda, a me, me, me mentality masquerading as loyal affection. Buster, the boss-eyed beagle, wants to be played with, praised endlessly for being a good doggy-woggy, taken for long scent-marking walks and fed large expensive meaty bowls of Growler several times a day. Tiddly Winks wants, nay, demands to be worshipped and cuddled for precisely no other reason than that she’s a cat and, therefore, superior to every other living creature. And what return do you get on your investment in these divas of the animal kingdom? A flea in the ear and often everywhere else too! Henny, on the other hand, plain little Henny Penny, with her beady little inquisitive eyes and ruffled pantaloon feathers is just herself, innately honest. She neither demands attention or affection. She doesn’t slobber, chew or scratch the furniture. She doesn’t hiss or spit. In return for a modest mess of pottage she amply rewards her benefactor with a regular supply of lovely fresh googy eggs. And Henny’s politics are green too – no yolk! (so much for swearing I wouldn’t make any puns in this blog). Note her Dyson-like ability to hoover up those smelly old veg parings that would otherwise fester in the bin, attracting flies and other undesirables like the local tramp. I know, I know, I’m coming over all broody, but I’m seriously beginning to feel like the sky might fall down if I don’t get my very own hen. Rhode Island Red, Golden Comet, Foghorn Leghorn – I’ve Googled and the choice is endless and confusing. Judicious consideration and weighing in the balance is what is required. So, I’ll think about it over dinner tonight. Nothing like a crisp bottle of Sauvignon and a nice bit of roast chicken to clear the mind.
I am a writer, something many people seem to think does not qualify as ‘real work’, and thus take advantage of my being at home to interrupt me any old time at all. This is especially true of cold callers who normally send me into a frenzy of rage, unless I’m feeling particularly mellow, when I like to engage in a bit of harmless fun.
Fun with Cold Callers – Part 1
Trrrng Trrng (very poor sound effect of phone ringing)
Me: (mellow version) – Yaws?
CC: Can I speak with Tara Moore?
Me: (tutting sympathetically) – Oh, dear, you’ve not heard then?
Me: We’re holding the wake now? Would you like to pass on your condolences?
CC. Uh . . . ah . . . (or Nigerian equivalent)
Me: Hang on, I’ll just fetch one of the rellies. Back in a mo.
CC: No. . .no . . um . . . I only wanted . . .
Me: To send flowers? How kind. Lilies were her favourite you know. Stargazers, in particular. Did you know the stamens are poisonous to cats? No? Well they are, so keep Dibbles away from the vase. And they stain your clothes too. Not cats. The stamens. Although your own personal cat might stain your clothes – it’s not for me to make accusations against the feline fraternity.
Me: Energy? My good man, the woman has no energy. She’s dead!
CC. (doing vowel wounds) aah, eee, iii, ooh, uuu . . . sorry to have troubled you.
Me: You can still send flowers
CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)
Fun with Cold Callers – Part 2
Trrrng Trrng (usual very poor sound effect of phone ringing)
Me: (officious) – Inspector (cough!), who’s speaking?
CC: (hesitant) Er . . .can I speak with Tara Moore?
Me: (snappy!) How do you know the deceased? Can you account for your movements between 5.00 p.m. yesterday and 7.00 a.m. this morning? Do you own a Samurai sword? Have you ever learned butchery? Stay where you are, we’re coming round.
CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)
The Granville Midsummer Ball is always an affair to remember. The who’s who of Irish society gather at Carrickross House – the rural family estate – for a night of revelry. But this year’s soiree is extra-special: matriarch Honoria is announcing her grandson Rossa’s engagement to Ashling Morrison. Ashling has been swept off her feet. Tall, dark and handsome, Rossa’s the perfect catch, but is he too good to be true? Why is Honoria so keen to make Ashling – stepdaughter of her life-long enemy Coppelia – part of the Granville clan? Can Rossa’s brother Carrick hold on to his position as rightful heir? And will ruthless Coppelia have her way? With the promise of distinguished company, drinking, dancing and murder…who could possibly refuse this invitation? Repondez s’il vous plait.
One of six children, was born in Kildare but spent her formative years in the Middle East. Tara always harboured a passion for writing but that was initially eclipsed by her passion for music, dancing and unsuitable boyfriends. She now lives in the beautiful harbour town of Ramsgate with her husband and two sons.
Contact her on: http://www.taramoore.com
Read an interview on: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/independent-woman/celebrity-news-gossip/calm-after-the-storm-2124745.html