Diplomacy. Or possibly not.

Wow!  I’m having to steer a careful course through the shoals of diplomacy.  My book Tales from a Stone Cottage has released my stories of village life to a whole new audience – the actual villagers!  The ones who wouldn’t necessarily buy a copy of Country Living magazine to read the articles but have (after careful thought, because £15 is serious money) invested in a copy of Book to see what I’ve been going on about all these years.

The first distant rumbling came to me this morning, when I bounced into the post office full of the joys of Autumn.  Mr Addington was there, buying something difficult and healthy.  “I’ve seen your photograph in the newspaper,” he said disapprovingly.  “M’wife thought it was glamorous.”  This was not a compliment, the Addingtons don’t do glamorous.

I apologised and slunk around the back of the aisle selling bread and biscuits and met the proto type for Frank.  “I’ve bought a copy of your book,” he said.  “Yes I have.  It’s my second book.  I want to see what you’ve written in it.”  Oh great.  I told him I’d written about his ferrets, which cheered him up because he loves his ferrets.  I just hope that he’s OK with what I’ve written about somebody who is not him, but funnily enough has a great deal in common with him.  I’m sure I’ll find out soon what he makes of it, and if I’m still alive I’ll report back.

On my way out I met a very, very old lady who hardly ever comes out of her house.  “I have purchased a copy of your book,” she said in a distant and very old voice.  “Oh!  I do hope you liked it!”  The old lady stared at me wordlessly, and her carer gave me a warm smile.  “I’ve bought it too,” she said encouragingly, “and I thought it was very funny!”  There was a lot of emphasis on the ‘I’, inference being that the very old lady didn’t.  I looked at the door, which wasn’t far away – one bound and I would be free.  The very, very old lady skewered me with a gimlet stare.  “One thing I will say for you,” she said and stopped again.  I paused, nearly at the door but not quite.  “You write very nice English.”  That was all I was getting – I thanked her, finally reached the shop door and escaped into the wild.

I’ve always trodden so carefully with my neighbours (hi there if you’re a neighbour and reading this!)  Now I’m going to find out if I’ve trodden carefully enough.

4 thoughts on “Diplomacy. Or possibly not.

  1. Aly, no need to worry about the “shoals of diplomacy”. Your tales of life in a very small English village and the wonderful spirit of community therein say it all! Such CL columns as Parish Plan of the October 2011 issue or the responseof community knitters to a need for jumpers for Mrs. A’s rescue hens show villager’s “Love they neighbor” spirit. (if only that would be so in the world!) you often tell of much fun stuff going on. (Salsa dancing, scarecrow competition, croquet tournament etc.) All very positive. I suppose there will be always a few unhappy souls to find fault with the achievements of others!

    • Hi Marilynn, you cheer me up enormously! Actually I went to Harvest Festival on Sunday and was surrounded by villagers who love the stories, which was pleasing. Fingers crossed that Frank will be on side when he finally reads the book! Aly x

  2. Dear Aly:

    Think of Stephen Leacock and his Sunshine Sketches, which revealed much about the town of Orillia ,Ontario and its inhabitants; the 100th anniversary of the book’s publication was this year, and all stops were pulled out by the town’s current residents. From Toronto Review of Books:
    “How did Orillia react to his send-up of the town? Pretty well, actually. A review in the Orillia Packet said, “[T]here is no room for resentment, in fact Orillians are rather proud to think that Orillia is the “Little Town,” which has been immortalized as a type of Canadian life.” Others replied with humour: one local sent Leacock a tongue-in-cheek letter threatening a lawsuit.” Like Leacock’s, your humour is gentle.

    • Dear Mary Jane, that’s nice to hear. Yes, I’ve always aimed for gentle humour but still I am tip toeing on eggshells, and hoping beyond hope that everybody here is OK with it! So far all is harmonious. Fingers crossed. Best wishes, Aly

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