SHE’S INCOGNITO!

2013 card reverse 500dpi

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.

Until recently.

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.

I grinned.

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.

Omigod!

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.’

Omigod!

‘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.’

No chance.

‘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.

Omigod!

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!

Big Hug,

Christine x

SHE’S HERE AND SHE’S BAD

 

A wise man once said,

 ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it…..’ 

Pastry chef Rosemary Gordon had worked hard her whole life to be successful… Now the wedding cake business she runs with best friend Bronte was winning awards life should be perfect…

But Rosie has a deep, dark secret…

And the steadily bubbling chemistry with Bronte’s brother, Alexander Ludlow, has suddenly become way too hot to ignore…

 

009 Rosie

 

On Amazon & Smashwords

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of you will know that I’ve been sweating slaving away editing, revising, editing, revising Run Rosie Run.

Well as of about three hours ago, she’s gone out into the sticky fingers of my readers.

Strangely enough you might think this is a time for euphoric joy and relief. But not for me. I’m feeling sort of sad and bereft, even though I’ll be working on her and the other characters in the first three books over the rest of the series.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to explore the relationships in Reckless Nights In Rome,  A Stormy Spring and Rosie as they progress. In Run Rosie Run I return to Bronte and Nico from the first book in the series and see how their relationship is coping with life’s little challenges.

So it’s not as if I’ll never see Rosie again. But gosh, I’m going to miss her crazy, zany personality.

Do you guys have fictional characters you’d like to meet again?

If so, who are they?

Share them with us, you know I adore hearing from you.

And going forward we’re celebrating Christmas on this blog!

Christine X

 

 

HAIRLARIOUS

 

 

Oh Boy!

Do I have a treat for you guys!

Since I’ve been up the wall with editing Run Rosie Run, my very good and dear friend the crazy and insane, the lovely Lynn Kelley sent me a message offering to do a guest post on Fizz & Fangs. And never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I said YES!

Now, I feel I should warn you all now that Lynn is one of those special people who makes people smile just by looking at her and there’s a very good reason for that as you will see.

Take it away, Lynn!

Photo by Rilla Jaggia

Hello, Christine.

Thanks so much for inviting me to guest post today. I thought it might be fun to talk about the real life incident that sparked the idea for Curse of the Double Digits, my children’s chapter book for ages 7 to 10.

My niece was about six and her bangs were way too long to look presentable for a family event. My sister-in-law tried to trim them, but the scissors were blunt, so my brother had a light bulb moment and grabbed his electric razor. . .

To avoid a spoiler here, let’s just say the event made me wonder how a ten-year-old would react. And of course I left the parents out of the scene and had Becky, the main character, ask her best friend Jenna to do the trimming with the electric razor.

It seems everyone has a disastrous hair story, which supplied me with endless possibilities for scenes in Curse of the Double Digits. Hair problems are just one issue Becky has to deal with during a string of bad luck that begins on her magical birthday. Now that the book is published, more people have shared bad hair day stories with me.

Here are a few:

From Cindy Howland-Hodson (Hobo Annie Rambles): “I was camping with a group of friends up in Big Bear, and as we stood around in the woods listening to a campfire speaker, I leaned against a big ol’ pine tree. When I stepped away, my hair was stuck to the trunk!

“Turns out the sticky icky sap had been dripping into my long locks the whole time! It was a gooey mess! Fortunately my McGyver hubby knew enough to coat the mess with MAYONAISE, which softened and removed it! Unfortunately, I smelled like a sandwich for the rest of the weekend!”

 Hobo Annie!  You can see her hair is super duper long!

From Rhonda Hopkins: “When I was about 8, my aunt decided to trim my bangs. Not only were they nearly to the top of my scalp but they were cut at an angle. I cried and cried. Once my nieces were old enough to understand I’d tell them, “If Aunt Dell ever tries to cut your hair, run screaming and tell another adult.” One day, I heard this yelling and my oldest niece came running and jumped in my lap screaming that Aunt Dell was trying to cut her bangs. I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing so hard. Good thing my aunt has a sense of humor.

The following is more of a strange hair story than a disaster hairdo. The saying, “To each his own” definitely applies here:

From Nancy O’Connor: “My nephew, Sean, came to visit one fall. I hadn’t seen him for a while, so I was a bit surprised to see his new hair style. Although he was a quiet and polite kid, he was very proud of his red and blond spikes, which made him look like a punk Statue of Liberty! To make the long spikes nice and stiff, he used Elmer’s glue.

“When I asked him how he ever washed his hair, he patiently explained that when he took a bath, he leaned back into the water and went, ‘Crick, crick, crick, crick,’ bending the spikes back and forth until the water softened the glue enough to shampoo his hair. Then, once it was clean and dry, he started the process over again. When he started looking for a job, he had the audacity to comment on the narrow-minded employers who judged his abilities by his hair style.”

Elmer’s Glue! Who woulda thunk? I think I’ll use some the next time I try a crazy do like this one for my YouTube videos:

 

Do you have a hairlarious story you’d like to share?

 

Children’s author Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four children. Her first chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits, for ages 7 to 10, debuted on October 10, 2012.

Here’s the blurb:

Becky turns 10 on the 10th day of the 10th month!

She expects it to be magical.

 The whole class is invited to her party, including Chad, the cutest boy in the fifth grade. So is Darlenie-the-Meanie.

 Becky wants to look cute for her big day, but all her plans go wrong. Really wrong. The magic of turning ten disappears before she even has a chance to blow out her birthday candles.

 Things get so bad, she refuses to go to her own party. Becky wonders if the Curse of the Double Digits will jinx her forever.

 

Lynn also coauthors the spooky, fun Monster Moon mystery series for ages 8 to 12 under the pen name BBH McChiller. The highlight of her life are days spent with her grandchildren. Most of her time involves books: either writing books, reading books, or making altered art books. She tries her best to keep her overactive imagination in check.

To buy your copy of Curse of the Double Digits:

Amazon U.S  – Paperback and eBook

Amazon UK – Paperback and eBook

Barnes & Noble – eBook $2.99

Smashwords (formats for all eReaders)

Hope you’ll visit Lynn’s WEBSITE and follow her BLOG if you don’t already.

 

Haha! Thank you very much, Lynn!

You can come back anytime!

Christine X

 

RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE FAMOUS

 

 

This is the wonderful Diane Capri – best-selling legal thriller author extraordinaire with the terribly sexy Lee Child. (That’s a name drop, so shoot me.)

It’s not often I rub shoulders with the famous who rub shoulders with the famous.

In fact I can’t really think of one famous person I’ve rubbed shoulders with, unless you count the ballerina Darcy Bussell years ago in Zimbabwe. But that’s another story.

Diane writes intelligent legal thrillers with intellectually kick-ass heroines. However, she’s really hit the big time with ‘Don’t know Jack’ a homage, in many respects, to the character Lee Child’s created, Jack Reacher. As you can see Lee loves Diane and all the girls love Lee.  Diane cleverly analysed the impact on the people Jack left behind, what happened to them and why after Jack touched their lives. The thing about Diane is that she understands the human condition. Might have something to do with the fact that she was a lawyer – see a wonderful interview with Karen McFarland here.

But I digress, Diane has me on her blog today, revealing me HERE. Omigod! One of the things she insisted or else requested was a real-time photograph of what I look like now. Omigod!

Can I just say in my defence, that I’m the one in the yellow T-shirt with the silver pompoms dancing on top of the moving float? And the other one with the bleached hair was after treatment when my hairdresser wanted a new look and I actually (must have been the drugs) said yes?

It’s not often I ask you guys to man up and help me, but please stop by on Diane’s blog and comment or she’ll kill me or worse.

And for those of you wondering about Run Rosie Run, she’s in edits and I’m wondering why the hell Alexander Ludlow wants her, seriously.

 

WHY MEN NEED HELP

Hello, my lovelies.

This was taken in the lovely Cheshire town of Wilmslow last week. I’m a regular visitor, usually with one or both of my daughters where we enjoy a coffee at a French cafe people watching before surfing through Benetton. We’ve shopped at the Benetton store in Wilmslow for over twenty years. And if you just happen to be passing feel free to pop in and say hello because the people who run it deserve a big gold star for customer service and buying choices. The stock is always fantastic. Awesomesauce.

Speaking of sartorial choices, a recent survey came to my attention a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, and this is true, fifty per cent of the men responding to the survey admitted to being dressed by their wife, partner or significant other. For example, ‘helping them choose which tie went with which shirt.’

Hmm. I can hear many of you sputtering over your coffee, ‘Nonsense!’ I hear you cry.

Well, I’ve got news for you. I don’t let mine out of the door unless I’ve cast a wary eye over what he’s wearing. You see mine likes to wear his ‘favourite’ shirt/jeans/cords/shoes etc., until they’re threadbare which is fine as long as I’m not with him. BUT when I go out with him, he’d better be polished, coordinated and a picture of sartorial elegance and that includes zipping up his fly.

Why is it a man can forget to zip up his fly? I remember once walking down the high street in our town and out of the corner of my eye I realised his gate was open. ‘ZIP!’ I hissed and walked in front of him so that he could do it unobtrusively. Can’t call me a passive-aggressive – I’m aggressive all the way.

Anyway, I asked my good friend Mags about this. Mags is a card carrying feminist. Did she dress her husband? I wondered.  She rolled her eyes and said, ‘Of course I do. I’ve better things to do with my time than argue with him about choices. I make it easy and don’t give him a choice. If I left it up to him he’d look like reject from Oxfam.’

‘That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?’ I said. Her husband’s a big pussy cat and lovely.

She snorted. ‘I draw the line at matching anoraks. Those woollen hats with a pompom irritate the hell out of me too.’

Oookay. Since I’ve been giving the survey much thought (instead of editing the hard bits of Run, Rosie, Run) I reckon being married is why men can’t be bothered. Once they’ve snared won the woman of their heart’s desire, most married men care about their clothes the way they might look after bird seed: with a total lack of care and attention.

However, there is one part of Hugo’s wardrobe that certainly claims his attention. Gilets and cargo pants. He has duck down gilets, quilted, cotton, waterproof and many more and in many colour ways and the reason for that is they have plenty of pockets. It’s the pockets that do it for him. A pocket for his cell phone. A pocket for his keys. A pocket for his wallet. A pocket for loose change. A special pocket for pens. A pocket for his camera lens. A pocket for his glasses. A secret pocket for his secret cigars. (Supposed to have kicked that habit, darling.)

I blame David Beckham for the unfortunate rise in popularity of the woollen cardigan among middle-aged men who should know better. It is not a good look, guys. David is built like Adonis and as much as it pains me to tell you this. You do not.

So, guys, do you allow your wife to dress you?

Girls, do you dress your husband?

You know I adore hearing from you!

Christine

PS Reckless Nights In Rome is at varying levels in the top twenty in iTunes across many countries and sales of A Stormy Spring are rocking too. Click on the iTunes link on the top right hand corner of the blog to get your free copy of Reckless! Enjoy!

RUN ROSIE RUN

 

 

 

 

 

Think Easy Virtue meets No Reservations

 …She’d wasted enough of her life madly in love with a man she could never have…

Perhaps it was time to give another man a chance…

But now Rosie has two men who want her and will stop at nothing to win her heart…

Which one will she choose…

 

 

Hello my darlings,

Just to let you know that Run Rosie Run will be delayed due to revisions/edits/copy edits. The work is technically finished, but I wasn’t happy with a couple of issues and I suspect my target was a leetle bit unrealistic.

But I’ve been receiving so many emails asking where she is that I thought I’d better do a post and humbly prostrate myself before you.

I’m looking at the end of November.

And it’s my wedding anniversary tomorrow – I’m being wined and dined by H.

And have you guys seen this? It is hilarious. A little girl (nearly five) tells her brother how to behave after he’s been very naughty. Reminds me of my eldest daughter when she was five – those were the days!

 

 

NORSE GOD WITH A BIG HAMMER

 


 Find him at Debra Kristi’s blog here: http://debrakristi.wordpress.com/

 

Knew that would get your attention!

How can it possibly be back-to-school week already? I mean, I don’t know about you lot but where the hell was summer? I feel really, really hard done by.  And you’ll never guess what that epoch of consumer must-haves (Marks & Spencer) has in their stores? Christmas cards – Christmasssssss caaaaards!  I can’t bear it, seriously.

In the UK we’ve had the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics and now we’re back to our humdrum lives of too early starts, lunchboxes (try getting them to eat quinoa instead of pasta – go on, you try it!) Buying new shoes that I want them to have with thick soles and laces (not ballet slippers, darling.)  Then the morning school run, sigh. I’ve promised not to drive them to school in my pj’s in case ‘I have an accident and some of their friends see me.’ I’m an owl, not a lark. And I’m back to smelly gym kits and remembering tae Kwando classes and taking ground beef out of the freezer, as I’m doing laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher. AND the dark nights are already coming in and I didn’t have a proper summer – did I mention summer?

So here’s the thing. About six weeks ago my friend Debra Kristi put out a call for some of her blogging buddies (of which I am one) to help her host a blog tour. Now at first sight Debra appears to be perfectly normal and, err, sane if you know what I’m say’n?

I mean, she’s a wonderful wife, the most amazing mom and a writer who lives in her own little world of mythology has an awesome imagination. And Debra happens to have the hots for Thor, the God of Thunder.

Anyway, after saying of course I would be deeeeelighted to host her on my blog I forgot all about it happy in the knowledge that the wonderfully organized Debra would send me her post and I’d put it on my blog and that would be that. Sorted.

But no, dear friends, because two weeks ago I received a face book message from crazy the lovely Debra saying that Thor was going on a tour and since I was his first stop could she please have my postal address. Hmmmmm. Wracking my small brain I tried to recall just what it was I’d agreed to and nothing dinged. So I went back and said ‘Run this past me again, Debra, what is it you want me to do?’

Apparently the God of Thunder was going on a personal tour and coming to my house in leafy Cheshire, England, first. What??? How could this be? Chris Helmsworth is coming to my house. Surely she jests! I was trying to think where I could stash Hugo somewhere far, far away. When I re-read her message and realized the Sex God of Thunder was not the drool worthy Chris, but a plastic action figure.

That’ll teach me to read the small print before I say yes to anything.

Anyhow, last Wednesday a cardboard box was delivered from the United States of America. (Immediately Hugo demanded to know ‘what the hell I’d bought now.’ Cheek.) And since my son was eating bacon rolls at the time, he demanded to know what was in the box. So I opened it and out came Thor, God of Thunder, with a big hammer. When you squeeze his legs together his hammer goes up and down. I will not tell you what the ribald comments were because this is a G rated blog (most of the time.)

Can I just say at this point that I write romance and if I was writing about a Norse hunk with a big hammer, well, I’m sure you don’t need me to paint you a picture.

After howls of gleeful laughter the males in my family went on a hunt for a beast for Thor to conquer before he embarks on the next leg of his journey.

So, here are a couple of photos of Thor in my back garden. And the boys have titled them – Thor’s Rumble In The Jungle.

It’s not often I’m speechless, but Debra’s done what no one has done before. Not only that, to take those photos I had to lie on my back in wet grass holding my breath that Thor and the dinosaur didn’t topple over and then discovered I’d lain in duck poop. Thanks Debra!

Thor’s next stop is the zany Lisa Hall-Wilson in Canada. This boy’s getting about! I’m hoping that Thor finds lurrrrve, but that’s just me. (Shame I didn’t have any Barbie or Cindy dolls, now that would have been fun!)

Do you guys have crazy friends?

Have they ever asked you to do something insane – and did you do it?

And what were your favorite action figure toys?

Mine was Cindy.

You know I adore hearing from you – and this should be a doozy!

WE NEED TO WITTER ON TWITTER

To my nearly seven hundred followers on twitter, I say, hello my lovelies. How are you?

The reason I opened a twitter account was because every writer in the twitterverse was doing it and I didn’t want to get left behind or thought a Luddite because I wasn’t embracing social networking.

But I do wonder if twitter is beyond me. Does anyone really want to know what I have for breakfast – protein shake/yoghurt/berries/seeds – why on earth would they want to know this? Twitter is a brilliant tool if a tornado is about to hit the state of Texas but is telling everyone you’ve just had a leg wax interesting?

According to Stephen Randall in the Los Angeles Times, ‘We live in an era when it’s important to have opinions – not necessarily original or good ones, just strong ones, and plenty of them’. Well, okay, but opinions on what? Whether Prince Harry should be plastered all over the front pages, nekid?

Everyone feels the need to engage and I get that, I do, and I adore re-tweeting and supporting writing friends. But sometimes I don’t have anything to say. I heard those gasps of disbelief from the back of the room. Stop it, you know what I mean, 140 characters is simply not enough for the flow of my creative brain. It’s too much pressure to be instantly funny, unforgettable, current, and just a little bit zany (look how many words that took?) It’s the limiting of language that’s so hard for someone with a big mouth, like me.

But celebrities love it – it keeps the fans happy while retaining their privacy. It’s like giving them a glimpse of their under arm hair to keep them titillated and engaged while keeping their deepest secrets intact.

What I hate, detest and drives me crazy is the SPAM on twitter with peeps I don’t know and never met asking me to ‘like’ their blog/book/buy their product etc. And the great Kristen Lamb has been posting about etiquette on twitter Here. What I do like about twitter is the direct messaging part of the deal. Love it. People come onto me and chatter away about all sorts of stuff and you can get to know a person really well. And I’ve made some excellent friends on twitter who appear to care a great deal about me as a person rather than as a writer which is cool. And real, honest to goodness fans have come on too, which was a big thrill and made my day. Not had a critic yet but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point.

The Queen’s grand daughter, the lovely Zara Phillips, said recently about social networking sites, ‘I’d rather just pick up the phone.’ And I totally sympathised with her point of view.

But what I want to know is how to connect with people who are readers on there without spamming them about my books. Any ideas anyone? I know the plan is to engage and be nice and lovely and helpful. I am all that and more – just say’in – but I’m not finding it as easy a place to engage with people as I do on facebook for example.

What I think people who are really good at connecting on twitter is they manage to give a little piece of their heart and a little bit of their soul on there. Not easy to do in 140 characters, but I shall not be deterred and will try much harder to do better.

How do you guys use twitter?

What works for you?

And what do you dislike about it?

You know I adore hearing from you, so shout out from the back!

 

Christine xx

LET’S TALK SEX

Knew the title would get you going.

Do you guys remember the fabulous book ‘A Child is Born’ by Lars Hamberger and Lennart Nilssen? It was published over forty years ago. I’ve had a copy for about twenty years and it has the most amazing photos of what happens inside the female body from conception through to delivery.

There is a very good reason I’m telling you this, by the way, and it’s got to do with sex education so please bear with me.

Now, as many of you already know, I am a mother of three, two girls and a boy. The boy came along when my youngest daughter was ten and no he was not a mistake and yes, Hugo is the father of all three. We battled hard to have our boy, but that story’s for another day.

Anyway, the thing about kids is that as a parent you need to keep your eyes and ears open so that when a ‘right’ moment to discuss a tricky issue raises its head, you go for it.  The right moment for my daughters to discuss sex happened when I was lying in bed feeding their brother and they were watching him like hawks. He was about six days old and the novelty of him hadn’t yet worn off. My eldest daughter was lounging in a chair and my youngest was sprawled over the bottom of the bed.

‘Mum?’ said the eldest in a tone that made my intuition twitch so I gave her a sharp look.

‘Hmm?’ I said.

‘Boys at school were filling up condoms with water and throwing them at us,’ she said.

‘That’s disgusting,’ said my youngest. Then she frowned and added, ‘How do condoms work? What do they do with them?’

And there, right there, was my moment.

‘Didn’t they cover condoms in sex education?’

Two sets of big blue eyes stared vacantly into mine and I knew that the British education system had let me down. However, I’ve never been a coward so I smiled and continued, ‘When two people make love and they don’t want to have a child, the man wears a condom to catch his sperm.’

My youngest sat up at this point and looked puzzled. ‘We know that,’ she said as if talking to an imbecile. ‘What we don’t know is how they work. How do they put a condom on?’

Aha! Ever wished you had a handy banana to hand? Then I remembered a slim can of  hair mousse which would be just the very thing!  And I just happened to have right next to me in my bedside table a condom. So I opened the pack and held a slick piece of latex. ‘This!’ I said, ‘Is a condom and I know this is a can of hair mousse, but just go with the flow.’ So I held the tip of the condom and rolled it down the can of hair mousse and explained to my daughters that the sex act is something not to be taken lightly, to wait for the right man, blah blah blah. And at that very moment Hugo strolled into the bedroom from work. His eyes bugged out of his head and he put his hands up in a no way in hell am I going there gesture. ‘I don’t want to know,’ he growled and backed out of the room. Coward.

‘Goodness me,’ said my eldest in an awed voice. ‘Is a man usually that big?’

I have no excuse for what followed but I couldn’t help it. ‘Only if you’re very lucky, darling,’ I purred and heard my husband howl.

‘I cannot believe you just said that,’ Hugo roared on his way down the stairs.

Ah well, the loss of innocence for a father of two daughters is too hard to bear for some men. Bless him.

But back to the book!  As I said I’ve a copy of A Child Is Born and it’s travelled with me all over the world. Years ago we were seconded to that beautiful African country Zimbabwe and my son at the age of six went to the International School in Harare which had about sixty nationalities. Anyway, I was unpacking boxes in the garage and a little voice piped up, ‘This is totally gross.’ The little darling had in his hands A Child Is Born and was staring in utter disgust at a picture of a child being born in glorious, gory Technicolor. Ah well, strike while the iron is hot I always say, but on this occasion I let him lead the way. (That’s him above at six.)

Big blue eyes stared up at me and he said, ‘I thought babies were cut out?’

‘Sometimes mummy’s need to have an operation, but most times this is how a baby is born,’ I said.

His eyes went even bigger. ‘Was that how I was born?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Did it hurt?’

‘A little bit,’ I lied through my teeth since I didn’t want to traumatize him for life. ‘But you were worth it.’

He shook his head in disbelief and placed his little hand on my shoulder and looked me dead in the eye. ‘All I can say is I’m glad I’m a boy.’ Then he stood up and wandered off, probably to watch Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles.

So feeling pretty pleased with myself at getting off the hook so lightly, I thought no more about it.

Until…  My son’s teacher at the International School was a wonderful Irish girl called Mrs Breathnough (pronounced bunok) and I absolutely adored her. It hadn’t taken her long to suss out my son’s tricky ways with maths (he’s got a photographic memory and had fooled many teachers in the past). So a couple of days after the scene in the garage, she grabbed me at the school gates.

‘Christine, a few of the mothers have asked me if I’ve been teaching sex education.’

I knew exactly where this was going and whose mouth had been flapping. ‘Oh God,’ I said and explained how the little sod had found the book. ‘What on earth has he been saying? I bet he put the fear of God into those poor wee things.’

‘Not at all,’ she said. ‘He did a much better job of it than me! He got a gold star! One of the boys said it couldn’t possibly be true that babies were born that way because his daddy told him that there was a magic zip in his mummy’s tummy (stupid man). Your wonderful son’s growled response was ‘He lied’  it was priceless.’

You know I adore hearing your comments (can’t wait for these) so come on and share your stories.

How did your parents tell you how condoms work – keep them as clean as possible please – and how did you tell your children about the birds and the bees? Tell me you didn’t use rabbits! I remember being shown a film about rabbits when I was at school and I’m still confused.

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE BOYS…?

 

So, here’s the thing.

It was my son’s birthday yesterday and all the family including my two daughters were all here celebrating in our very green garden. He doesn’t want me to name him or say how old he is in case some of his friends twig that I am his mother.  Of course they know that I am his mother but they don’t know that, and he said this in a voice of utter mortification, ‘His mother has published two steamy romantic novels with ‘good’ bits in them.’ Or that she’s in the process of writing even more romantic stories. Excuse me?

He won’t be saying that when we’re sunning ourselves in Fiji on a beach of sugar white sand sipping cocktails while Sven’s cleaning our sunglasses and serving us fresh fruit. Anyway, I got my own back by reminding him of the twenty-eight hours of labour I went through to bring him into the world. He was three weeks late (started life as he obviously means to go on) and almost ten pounds. I can actually feel all the women reading this wince in feminine solidarity. Thanks girls.

Now I’m used to him treating me like a taxi service, and a portable cash machine. But he’s fine with what I do when it suits him to treat me like a newsagent ‘Do you have the latest edition of GQ?’ And I’m a library, ‘Do you happen to have that copy of A Game of Thrones?’ And new technology disappears into the jungle of detritus that is his bedroom. And he’s actually building a new computer with his friend, so you’d think he’d be helpful with my new Mac. But not a bit of it, ‘This technology is wasted on you.’ I was told in a voice edged with utter disdain. (I should point out that he made the comment because I was having trouble switching it on.)

Why is it that derision and goading comes as naturally as teething and nappy rash used to. There’s nothing my son likes to do more than tell me what to do. Just recently he had a go because I used the word ‘cool’ on twitter. Apparently I’m no longer permitted to use the word ‘wicked’ either. Then his sisters’ got in on the act reminiscing about the time I used to teach Dance Fit and would start to boogie in Gap when a Madonna song came on and ‘totally mortified them all the time in public.’

Hugo just grinned (traitor) and reminded me of a time I really embarrassed myself on a bus when my eldest was a toddler in the days when I didn’t get out much. I was pregnant with my second daughter, (apparently you lose 30% of your brain capacity when pregnant – that’s my excuse) anyway, the toddler was being babysat by the daughter of a friend and I was alone on a bus going to meet Hugo when he finished work for an early dinner with friends. It was a lovely summer evening and since we lived in the country the fields were alive with cows and sheep and fields ready to be harvested. So I was sort of daydreaming and totally forgot I didn’t have the toddler with me. ‘Oh look!’ I cried in a high chirpy voice. ‘Cows! Tell me, what do cows do?’ And I swear to God I will never, ever live this down, at least twenty people on the bus all cried ‘Moooooo.’ They did, along with roaring with laughter.

So a good time was had by all yesterday as my family basically took the mickey. But I got my own back, I asked my son, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ Hinting that the time was fast approaching when he’d need to start fending for himself. But he just batted the question right back to us. Hugo said he’d wanted to join the army or the police but his eyesight let him down. ‘When I was twelve I decided I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor,’ I said, scooping up a spoonful of birthday cake and thinking nothing of it.

‘Really?’ said my son without an ounce of derision. ‘So what you’re really saying, mother, is that you had more ambition as a child than you did as an adult.’

The sooner he moves into a flea-bitten tiny apartment, living on tins of baked beans and doing his own laundry, the better.

So come on guys and girls. Tell me, have your parents ever embarrassed you? Or have you ever embarrassed them?

Which birthday was THE best one ever?

Share it with us, you know I love to hear from you.

Oh, and the pictures above are of my garden. We’ve actually had three whole days of summer, but clouds are gathering so it might not last. And The Olympic ceremony starts tonight so I’ll put good money on it we get thunderstorms and fat rain over the next few weeks.