I’ve reached that time of my life when I keep starting off conversations with the words…
‘I remember when…’
It’s so rich, I even make myself laugh because I can’t remember where I left my car keys 5 minutes ago.
So how come I can remember what my homework was when I was eleven and, having found my car keys, I can’t remember which floor of the multi-story car park I left it?
Decreased blood flow to the brain, apparently. I used to be able to stand on my head. Perhaps I should try again now, to precipitate a rush of blood to my brains.
This sad state of affairs is telling me that I have, unwittingly, joined the Craft Club.
I remember when…. I heard about the Craft Club for the first time. I was earwigging a conversation between my late step-father and one of his oldest friends, telling him he had joined the Craft Club. I thought it was unlikely that someone as macho as my step-father would be signing up to master the art of crocheting or mashing up pieces of paper with starch to make unidentifiable papier-mâché shapes. But, whatever club he had just joined, it was the source of much amusement.
Then, one of my gorgeous older friends, who always made quick work of the Times General Knowledge crossword, became frustrated when she started taking much longer to finish it.
‘I know all the answers,’ she grumbled, ‘I just can’t remember them.’
If you don’t know already know, you will have worked out that the Craft in Craft Club stands for Can’t Remember an F’ing Thing Club.
So I’m off to see if I can remember how to stand on my head, failing that I’m going to improvise and hang upside down in a chair… possibly.
Exercise helps, so I will be stepping up my exercise regime with immediate effect, although perhaps not today.
Taking vitamins A, B, and Iron supplements are also part of my plan, as well as drinking more. No, not my usual Pinot Grigio grape juice , but delicious aqua pura, AKAH2O. Cheers.
I was delighted when Abigail agreed to be interviewed about Colette: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Meand to discuss the very personal emotional journey that led her to write it. I really enjoyed getting to know one of the most openly honest people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.
I write my characters as real people. They love, laugh, fight, and swear (yes, they even use the F word sometimes.)Abigail Summer
TESSA: Abigail, welcome to Lost Blogs. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
ABIGAIL: Yes and no. As a teenager living and working in Guernsey, I wrote poetry for my own enjoyment and composed songs for a band I was involved with. Writing a novel never entered my head until many years later.
TESSA: As a teenager, I was obsessed with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind and I saw the film 3 times… in the same week! What book most influenced your life?
ABIGAIL: I was privileged to be nineteen in 1967, the Summer of Love. I’ve never read the book, but I went to see To Sir with Love several times, it’s still one of my favorite films. I was probably the only boy who ever fell in love with both Sidney Poitier and Lulu at the same time, (yes, I was a boy then) and I desperately wanted to be like Judy Geeson.
TESSA: When did you first decide that you wanted to write a book?
ABIGAIL: While in hospital in the late nineties, I spent many pleasant hours reminiscing with a lovely woman of around my age. At that time, I was a very private person, but I found myself opening up to her in a way that I’d not done with anyone for years. As I was about to leave the ward, she suggested that one day I should write my life story.
During the next three years, I mulled it over and jotted down some of my teenage memories. I decided that I could not write my own story, but gradually an idea for a book took shape. In 2002 I drafted the first six chapters, then life got in the way and I didn’t revisit my manuscript until sixteen years later. There’s a lot of me in Colette, but I leave it to the reader to figure out what.
TESSA: During my first attempt at writing a novel, I just let rip, letting the story unfold as I wrote it, and my characters developed as I went along. I have been more organized with my current project, having got to know my characters before I started, with a clear idea about where I’m taking them. How do you develop your plots and characters?
ABIGAIL: When my husband and I took early retirement in 2004 and moved to France, we developed a network of English and French friends. During one of our get-togethers, someone suggested putting on a pantomime. (a comedy stage show based on a children’s fairy tale) With help from our newly formed drama group, we converted one of our barns into a Little Theatre. I was ‘volunteered’ to write and direct Cinderella, the first of many shows over the years. I quickly learned how to develop characters and plot, and write compelling dialogue.
I always write what I call a ‘roadmap’ with points along the way that I must reach in a story. My characters are mostly based on people I have known. As the saying goes; their names are changed to protect the guilty! While writing the first draft, my plot thickens and my characters often head off in a direction different to that which I’d intended. But that’s OK, life is like that too.
ABIGAIL: Colin is a shy, introverted nineteen-year-old boatbuilder and musician with a secret. When he starts a new job in Guernsey, his employer’s wife, Leanne, detects the female inside him and supports his transition into Colette.
While encouraging Colette to explore her sexuality, Leanne questions her own physical needs. Together the pair embark on a rollercoaster journey of sex, love, and rock ‘n’ roll.
Then Colette falls for fellow boatbuilder, George, and both women’s lives are turned upside down. Torn between Leanne and George, an unexpected turn of events forces Colette to choose.
TESSA: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
ABIGAIL: I wasn’t prepared for the emotional turmoil. Many of the things that Colette endured were my own experiences. Two scenes were particularly hard to write. The first is when Colin opens up to Leanne about his childhood; at an early age, he couldn’t understand why he was dressed as a boy when he identified as a girl. The bullying at school, and the loneliness of his early teenage years.
The second hardest part to write was when Colette witnessed a female rival giving birth, she knew she’d never experience such a wonderful thing as childbirth herself. I admit to shedding a tear or two when I wrote those scenes.
TESSA: What is your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
ABIGAIL: There are two parts that come immediately to mind. I’m fond of sailing, so Colette’s trip to the neighboring island of Sark on George’s boat was a joy to write. It’s also the chapter where he accepts her difference from other girls.
The other enjoyable part was writing George’s mum, Beth. She’s a muddleheaded woman who has the gift of perception. In her own way, she is the key to how this part of Colette’s story ends.
TESSA: Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
ABIGAIL: Are you kidding? I learned a huge amount. Remember, I had no idea how to write a novel. I count myself very lucky that I have a good friend in Jackie Ley. A multi-published successful author herself, she encouraged me to write Colette’s story. Not only that, but she critiqued every chapter for me and guided me when I lost my way. An amazing woman who I am so very lucky to have as a friend.
To be fair, I should also pay tribute to my wonderful husband, Alex, for his unwavering support. Also, to my longtime friend, Kay Ashton, for the countless hours on messenger beta reading.
TESSA: I understand that you are currently writing books 2 and 3, which will be part of the Colette trilogy. Without giving too much away, are these books focused on the continuation of your main character’s journey?
ABIGAIL: Book two is set mainly at a boatyard on the Norfolk Broads. It continues the timeline with new and existing characters. Colette joins an all-girl rock band. Do they become famous? A new relationship perhaps? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until it’s published to find out.
Sorry, I can’t tell you what happens in book three. Except to say that it is set nineteen years in the future. Anyone who reads chapters fifteen and the final chapter of book one may guess why 1987 is an important year for both Colettes. Now there’s a teaser for you!
TESSA: Indeed! Thank you, Abigail, for taking the time to talk to us and giving us a fascinating insight into what must have been an emotional rollercoaster ride for you whilst writing Colette: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Meand we wish you every success.
Before you go, what is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, etc.)
ABIGAIL: I’m always thrilled when readers take the trouble to get in touch. I try to respond promptly. The easiest way to contact me is to leave a message on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SunsetOverLihou/or use my email address in the author’s bio at the back of the book.
I’d also like to include my appreciation to you, Tessa, for devoting some of your precious time to publishing your blog. I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts, especially those introducing your author friends. I hope my small contribution is as interesting for your followers.
TESSA: Writing about people is my favourite thing! And, I’ve enjoyed meeting you, Abigail and, after books 2 and 3 are in print, we should reconvene! In the meantime, I leave our readers with the book trailer for Colette: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
It features art, music, and film produced by both John and Yoko, as well as interviews with family following John’s untimely death in 1980. There is so much to take in and, without hesitation, I would go and see it again.
“Everything was made out of love. We found that we were both very strongly interested in world peace. I feel John and I are still working together. I always feel his warmth next to me.”
Yoko Ono Lennon
As a visitor to Liverpool, you should take a ferry trip. Where to? Across the Mersey, of course.
The song Ferry Cross the Mersey was made famous by Gerry and the Pacemakers but, on 25th August 1961, the Fab Four made the first of four appearances aboard the MV Iris, AKA the Fish and Chip Boat.
These gigs were known as Riverboat Shuffles and were promoted by the then owner of The Cavern, Ray McFall, and featured a wide range of performers, including Acker Bilk, trad jazz clarinetist, and his Paramount Jazz Band.
There are various ferry cruises available, including evening cruises with live music. The daytime cruises stop at Seacombe, the home of Spaceport, where you can experience ‘life beyond the stars’ and at Woodside, where you can ‘view the amazing life on board a real German U-boat at the U-Boat Story.’
A ferry trip is also a great opportunity to see this magnificent city from another prospective, in all its iconic glory.
“NOT SINCE THE HEADY DAYS OF THE SIXTIES HAS MERSEYSIDE BUZZED LIKE IT DOES NOW.”
In 2012, a new landing stage for the ferries at Pier Head was opened to replace the original which sank in 2006. The total cost was £8 Million and, it is interesting to note, that a contribution of £3.8 Million came from the European Regional Development Fund. Remind me again why we are leaving the EU?
As morning blurred into mid-afternoon we drifted back to Aether at Liverpool One and tucked into Yu Donut’s uber-delicious duck with Cantonese noodles and prawn toast, washed down with a fine Blush. We will return!
It was the perfect meal to set us up for my long awaited mind-blowing experience. The Eagles in concert at the M and S Bank Arena.
Liverpudlians celebrating in 2008, kicking off a year-long celebration and signalling the culmination of a decade of regeneration in the city.
Plans to develop the underused site at Liverpool’s Kings Dock emerged in 2000 and the M and S Bank Arena (formerly The Echo Arena) with its 11,000 capacity, opened its doors on 12th January 2008.
Would you believe that £50 Million of this £160 Million M and S Arena project came from the EU? Please remind me, again, why we are leaving?
When you want to see the Eagles, but you haven’t got a ticket…
When the house lights dimmed, the packed M and S Bank Arena fell silent, the air wired with excited anticipation. You know the band has silently slipped on to the stage, but only their silhouettes are visible. Then they launch into acapella mode and the stage becomes alive with a kaleidoscope of light as they kicked off what turned out to be a two and a half hour concert (without a break) with Seven Bridges Road.
I have been back at home for four days after a whirlwind weekend in Liverpool. Since returning home I have been walking around in a psychedelic haze. Nothing to do with mind-altering drugs but the buzz I left Liverpool with, which is slow to wear off.
Knocking things off your Bucket List is a pleasurable experience and, in some cases, a mind-blowing one. As of Friday 28th June 2019, I was finally able to take Liverpool off my list and there is no doubt that I will go back. My mind-blowing experience, however, didn’t happen until last Sunday night.
We arrived late afternoon on Friday and settled into the Travelodge on the Strand.
Albert Docks from The Travelodge
Traveller Tip 1 – Travelodge The Strand, Liverpool is really central. If you go, ask for a room that overlooks Albert Docks. Unfortunately, all the family rooms face an office block at the back.
For me, there was one place I had to go before exploring the multitude of places and things to do in Liverpool… 10 Mathew Street, the home of The Cavern.
Beatles music was a huge part of my childhood, the cartoon film Yellow Submarine far surpassed anything Disney had to offer in 1968.
I confess I haven’t listened to any Beatles music for years, but after spending time in the Mathew Street area, I was word perfect again. We started off with a drink in the Turtle Bay, where we made friends with some of the locals and then had an excellent meal at the Festival Bar and Grill, right opposite The Cavern Club, before descending to the intimate, brick vaulted hallowed cellars.
These days, The Cavern Club hosts live tribute acts all day and night. As you can see… I was in awe… I don’t get out much these days… or maybe it was something to do with the strength of the Liverpool Pinot Grigio Blush, either way, my attempts at videoing wasn’t up to much.
Losing track of time in The Cavern Club was easy, so I’m not quite sure what time we fell into bed at the Travelodge, but I knew as soon as my head hit the pillow that falling in love with Liverpool was easy too.
I am in boho mode. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I see are a pair of brown legs. As I drowsily come too, I realise they are attached to me.
These are not my legs, sadly…they are similar though… but mine are quite a bit shorter and a tad rounder…
I am in a small corner of the EU that I know and love and feel I should be pretending that I am a cosmopolitan woman and not Breetish, for fear of being ridiculed.
Although I am not really British anymore per se, as I decamped and moved to Jersey around the time that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was bumbling around taking his degree in Oxford. However, I am very proud of my Yorkshire roots and can’t help wondering what the Brontë sisters might have said about the B Brexit shenanigans.
“I’m mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!” (Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights)
The British prime ministerial race has largely passed me by here, since drowning myself in Reguengos after outsider Rory Stewart got his boy band stool knocked out from underneath him.
Ahh, well I console myself watching the great sunset tonight and I will be another degree boho-er in the morning… with browner Yorkshire legs. Legs that are in no way mortally sorry that they love being a part of the EU.
Today I was on the same beach I frolicked on almost 30 years ago.
Those heady, carefree days I spent topless, chasing a frisbee, unaware that my pert little orbs were flying free.
My svelte, flawless, bronzed body, glided across the ochre coloured sands and dived effortlessly into the Atlantic rollers. Occasionally, I would lie down and luxuriate on my beach towel spread across the hot sand, which felt as soft as a duck down mattress. Those were the days.
Today, I’m perched on an upright deckchair, with a sinking feeling… the soft sand is capsizing under my weight. The alternative, lying down splayed out on my towel, is not a happy alternative as it causes more than just a degree of discomfort, especially when getting up… and, the sand gets in every orifice, rubbing and crunching against my skin.
The refreshing briny spray from the Atlantic Ocean rollers thundering down on the beach refreshes my blotchy, red skin, but I’m reluctant to hurl myself into surf for fear of being knocked over.
But I love it… not the getting older part, but the warmth of the sun and the invigorating sea-spray frolicking on my skin.
I’m part way through Ruby Wax’s book How To Be Human and many things have already resonated with me, apart from enjoying the fluid, funny and fulfilling way she writes when tackling sensitive subjects.
Chapter 3, Emotions has really drawn me in. I have always been fascinated by our emotions and how they work. Through experience I have realised how important it is for us to vent our emotions from time to time. I bottled mine up for way too long.
As a child, I rarely cried in public. I was brought up in the era of stiff upper lips, instilled with the knowledge that children should be seen and not heard. Although everyone in the neighbourhood heard after I fell headlong into a clump of grandfather stinging nettles, aged five.
During my awkward teenage years, the time when your hormones rage, I sucked up all my fears, grief, rage and anxieties and tried to process them internally, before humping all my emotional insecurities into my adult life.
If you don’t vent your emotions from time to time, you’re going to end up totally screwed. You have to let them go.
Interesting article on bodily maps of emotions https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3896150/
I was about 21 when I first let rip, my blocked emotional dam spilled out from the limbic system of my brain, gushing out of my temporal lobe like Niagara Falls.
I went to a 21st party at the house I used to live in as a child. When the party was in full swing, I slipped away away to revisit my old bedroom. The decor had changed, it was no longer a child’s bedroom, but the old wooden flooring still creaked. A sound that triggered the memories and brought back a whole gamut of emotions. The raised voices of my constantly warring parents and the image of me as a child struggling to control my emotions. I left the party, without saying goodbye to my hosts and drove unsteadily home.
I’ve waxed lyrical about how Qigong has helped me process my emotions in more recent years. I don’t dwell on the past anymore. What has gone has gone. You cannot go back and change it.
You need to live for the now because, in this fragile world, you never know what is round the corner.
Share your fears, grief, rage and anxieties with the people you’re closest to and do the same for them. Be a shoulder, tell them that you care, listen and commiserate.
Tell the people you love, you love them. Don’t internalise you emotions. Let them fly. You’ll be much happier for it.
Yesterday was a day for making new friends and saving a life.
After a lazy morning getting my teeth into Ruby Wax’s words of wisdom we headed out for a, very, late lunch and found a note sellotaped to our hire car.
We stopped, listened and the voice of a, very, small cat was coming from underneath the bonnet.
Given that the temperature was around 25C, we launched ourselves into emergency rescue mode, grovelling around in the footwell of the car trying to work out which knob released the bonnet.
Once found, we peered inside the bonnet with a degree of trepidation as to what we might find.
Lying, quite calmly (given the circumstances) on the cylinder head cover, was an extremely grubby ginger and white kitten.
Lunch, on hold we took him back to the apartment to administer TLC and water. He quickly showed his appreciation by rolling on his back and purring, making it easy for us to confirm that our new baby was indeed a boy.
As we were all beginning to think about how to get around the impracticalities of adopting a kitten in a foreign country, I rang the lady who had left note.
She was adamant she wanted to give our baby a home and, she as only lives a couple of doors down, we have been granted custodial visiting rights to see our boy regularly.
Our baby used one of his nine lives yesterday and the moral of this story is to always make sure that you have no stowaways concealed under you bonnet before you set off. I for one, will be forever vigilant.
You never know what you might find underneath your car’s bonnet
We finally got to gorge on chicken Piri Piri and share a sundowner together whilst our boy was tucked up with his new forever family.