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.