Monday, 12 April 2010

Radio Times and Cafe Writing

Cafe Writing 001

There is a myth or tradition in the writing game to do with writing in cafes. I have written about it here. before but this is to show that I’m not a one trick pony and the cafe habit still continues.

On Saturday morning I attended an induction programme for our local community radio station Bishop FM to learn just how such a place works. This is because I have agreed to present a programme for them that I’m calling Writers Readers and Books. First programme is out in May and I’m learning a lot.

After the meeting I went to the Cafe on the Corner and made a few notes so I would remember the main points of the meeting. Then I took out my other newer notebook the one which is dedicated to my newest novel – as yetunnamed.

One way in which I like to start a novel is to get to know the people involved. These notes come in the form of a kind of chapter about that person – which might or might not end up in any part of the novel. Whatever happens, it helps me to know the person.

I have written four of these character/ chapter/fragments already. So, after scribbling my radio notes I wrote a thousand words or about on of my new characters, Anne Marie

…’Anne-Marie always travels light

- One pair of ventilated trainers. (She had paid too much for them, encouraged by her young friend Celine, who had more money than sense.

- Two pairs of serviceable canvas trousers . One pair is very old, bought in the Army and Navy Stories in 1975. They washed very well.

- One pair of very expensive slim sandals – again Celine having her say.

- The shirt blouses - Lands End – such good value!

- The usual Marks & Spencer’s knicker-stuff,

All these went into the bottom of her carry-on case. On top of these she pressed her vary fat notebook and a very slim laptop - a present from her agent when her seventieth birthday coincided with the publication of her thirtieth book. On top of all these she pressed copies of her two latest novels in case anyone didn’t believe her.

Beside them she squeezed in the ancient plastic bag that she bought in Harrods in 1950. Such quality then. Quality lasts, that what she always said.

Last but not least she pressed in her plastic box of ‘bobby pins’ . These magic clips have transformed her thick straight (once red, now white) hair into a cloud of curls every single day in her life since 1945 , when an American she met – who became her first her first husband – presented them to her, saying, ‘All the rage in the States , honey. My mom and my sister swear by them.

At first Anne Marie had been irritated when Celine got her involved with this French thing. ‘Just think of it AM.,’ she said .’Ten days in the sun! The company of writers! They’ll take care of you, cherish you, darling.’

Celine – first her editor, and then her dear friend - was always very keen to find people to take care of Ann Marie. She had never quite got to grips with the fact that Ann-Marie needed a friend like a fish needed the safety of nets.

But still, thought Ann Marie, Celine mean twell and that went a long way in terms of forgiveness. ….

Nots The Art of Retreating 001

And, sitting there at my corner table looking out on the market place I wrote more about the remarkable eighty year old Anne Marie and the journey on which she was about to embark. When I walked out of the cafe I knew a lot more about Anne Marie than when I went in. She has now found her place in my story.

Two more people to go, then I’ll start my new novel. Now I’m experiencing the real relish – even exultation - I feel when begin something very new.


Another aspect of exultation: if you like cooking as well as writing and reading check out my dear daughter’s blog called Love and A Licked Spoon at ( It has just been selected as one of the five best blogs by Psychologies Magazine. Hooray I say. I’m proud of my girl.

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