Doesn’t that look cute?
It’s one side of my business card. Hugo designed it and there’s a reason why I’m telling you this.
My first book was published at the beginning May 2012. And although it was an event that thrilled, it also terrified the bejesus out of me. It was a leap into the unknown, a bit like giving birth to my first child.
My immediate family obviously know I’m a romance writer but they tend to keep it quiet and that’s fine.
My youngest daughter mentioned it to her pals and they laughed and said, ‘Are the books like that Fifty Shades of Grey woman?’ As I’ve said before, I get that all the time. And she said, ‘No. They’re better.’ Bless her little heart, how’s that for mother love?
My son just gives me the look which says, ‘As if!’ when I ask him if he’s told his pals.
Fair enough, boys are sensitive, I get it.
Anyway, No 1 daughter has kept the fact her mother is a romance author a carefully guarded secret.
Why she’s suddenly found the need to spread the word in our town I’ve no idea – might have something to do with the fact that her mother’s books were all in the top 100 in iTunes over the festive period. I know, it stunned me too.
So the Thursday before Christmas I was doing the usual female thing of having my hair done at Toni & Guy (shameless plug – Sumin is THE best) and Sumin told me about the fabulous deal for Christmas toilet paper in Marks & Spencer (upmarket supermarket) three packs for the price of two.
Well, I had to have it! I mean, who could resist?
But here’s the thing, it was raining (no surprises there, this is the UK and the way things are going the country is going to float into the Atlantic) and since I’m always prepared, I wore a waxed peak cap to protect the ‘doo (a sleek blonde bob, which comes just above my shoulders for anyone who’s remotely interested).
So, grabbing a basket I surfed through the food section of Marks & Spencer, picked up a few luxury items, including the toilet paper and headed for the check-out. I absolutely refuse to use the self-service check-outs because I prefer dealing with a human. Although after the trauma of what happened next I might change my mind.
Now working at the check-out was a girl I hadn’t seen in ages. She’s lovely and always chats to me, and my daughters when they go in for the odd thing.
As she finished serving the lady in front of me, she looked up and her eyes went really big.
‘Well, helloooooooo you!’ she cried in a very high voice.
What a sweetie.
‘Hello to you too,’ I said. ‘Merry Christmas.’
She stood, leaned over the till and grabbed my hand and squeezed tight. ‘It’s sooooo amazing to see you!! You look fabulous.’
I do? Gosh, I thought, I must come in here more often.
‘Your daughter’s told me all about you!’
‘Did she? Which one?’
‘I can never tell them apart, they’re so gorgeous!’
I grinned again flushed with maternal pride.
By this time there were about six ladies behind me. I glanced at them and gave a nervous laugh.
After all it’s Christmas and like most women they all looked in a hurry and a bit wild-eyed.
‘Thank you,’ I said and tried to take my hand from hers.
She clung on like a limpet and there was a sort of crazy gleam in her eye.
She smiled at the ladies in the queue. ‘This!’ she announced and held up my hand, ‘Is a best-selling author.’
I swear my heart stopped.
A hot flash burned up my neck into my cheeks.
Every woman within twenty yards all turned to stare. I’m telling you I PRAYED for the floor to open up and take me.
‘No, no, I’m not a best seller,’ I whimpered.
‘What do you write?’ piped up a very smart lady in her sixties.
‘Romance,’ I said in a voice that didn’t sound anything like me.
‘Ahh,’ said another woman. ‘Like Fifty Shades of Grey?’
‘Noooo,’ cried the girl serving me. ‘She’s much better.’
‘I do like a good sex scene,’ the lady in her sixties informed the entire store without a blush.
‘So do I,’ said another check-out girl behind mine. She didn’t turn round, she just kept serving a man who looked as if he’d rather be anywhere else except in Marks & Spencer listening to a group of over-sexed women.
During all this my toilet paper was winging its way through the scanner.
Still beaming at me, my check-out girl looked at the queue who were all watching me.
I nodded, gave them big eyes and smiled.
‘We have quite a lot of authors in this town,’ the woman in her sixties cocked her head to watch me hand over my bank card. I keyed in my pin. Her mouth kept flapping, ‘You should do a talk at the library.’
‘Good idea. I’d come to that,’ another woman said.
By this time I was trying really hard not to laugh like a lunatic and was putting the card in my purse.
‘Do you have a business card?’ The woman in her sixties asked.
‘I do,’ I said. And handed her one.
‘Please will you autograph one for me,’ my check-out girl begged.
By this time I was pledging never, ever to set foot in the store for as long as I live.
‘Sure.’ I signed it, grabbed my bags.
‘Oh look, she’s wearing a hat! She’s travelling incognito!’ the check-out girl from hell cried.
‘No, no. I’ve had my hair done and it’s raining. Seriously. Can I just say that you’re totally insane?’ I told her.
She just laughed, stood up and grabbed me in a big hug.
‘I’m going to spread the word, tell all my family and my friends.’
I bit down really hard on my bottom lip. ‘You’re very kind,’ I said.
As I hightailed it through the store towards the exit, I couldn’t help it. I cried laughing.
And do you know that three people stopped me to ask if I was alright?
Who says kindness is dead?
I haven’t been back. Not yet. But when I do its dark glasses and a ski cap with a muffler for me, or maybe I’ll use the self-service check-out. Might be safer.
Have you ever been mortified by someone in your life?
Come and share it with us, knowing you lot there’ll be lots of good ones!