Authors: Sue Watson
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Contemporary Fiction, #Humor & Satire, #General Humor
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by Rickshaw Publishing Ltd, 102 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 9PL
Copyright © Sue Watson 2011
The right of Sue Watson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
Cover designed by Richard Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Rickshaw Publishing.
I have lots of lovely family and friends who have supported me on this novel-writing journey and I’m grateful to them all – but I would like to say thank you to those who played a special part in the writing of this book.
To my teacher, friend and fellow writer Sue Johnson, thanks for spotting a tiny spark and encouraging me to light it. Thank you to everyone at Rickshaw for taking a chance on me, in particular my wonderful and talented editor, Jo Doyle, who guided me wisely and killed my ‘darlings’ with kindness – and strong editorial anaesthetic.
I am deeply indebted to Alastair Bell for his absolute fabulousness, overflowing font of TV and celebrity trivia and his profound knowledge of Gay Swimming.
Thanks to my great writing buddy and inspiration Jackie Dietrich and to Vanessa Jackson for her wise counsel and true friendship. Liz Cox also deserves a mention for her divine turn of phrase as does my dearest friend Lesley Mcloughlin who stayed up until 3am to help me with the ending over several bottles of red.
Thanks to Sir Terry Wogan for those Thursday afternoons at Clivedon making work seem like fun and for telling me I could write comedy. Love and thanks to my friends Nadia Sawalha and Sue Robinson for encouraging me to take the plunge on a hot afternoon in Hoxton and to Linda Robson, for sharing hilarious TV tales and wonderful advice.
A special thank you to James Martin for all the ‘cake porn,’ and the best chocolate mousse I ever tasted.
And to Colin Mcallister and Justin Ryan – thanks for all the fun and fabulousness – and yes, you two still blow my frock up!
The ladies of The Bodacious Book Club, The Worcestershire Wags and my friends at the BBC have all in their own special way contributed to this book. I enjoy and appreciate their friendship, encouragement and funny stories (some of which I have stolen shamelessly and included in this book).
Thanks to Nick Watson for his love and support and for making it possible for me to abandon the real world and write every day – I’m so lucky to have him in my life.
Finally, a special kiss for Eve Watson who always makes me feel like a star whatever I do, with those three little words, “well done mum!”
This is for my Mum, who told me
to look for the lace in the trees
“I need sex every day, luv,” said Denise, the vicar’s wife. I tried to stay calm and focus on the view of Rochdale by night. Las Vegas it wasn’t, but the little clusters of starry lights peeping through the driving rain were a comfort and made me think of people safe in their homes; I wished I was. “I have a very high sex drive you see,” Denise continued. The ‘high’ and ‘sex’ were mouthed exaggeratedly, almost soundlessly, as if to accentuate the
It was July, it was late evening and I was standing under a large umbrella in a vicarage garden in Lancashire with a wife of the cloth who, it seemed, had abandoned scones and sermons for sex. Her breath mingled with steam from the greenish tea she clutched to her bosom as she chatted. Sporting a disturbingly transparent crocheted dress, Denise did nothing to conceal a carnal desire for her fifteen minutes of fame. The phallic jewellery and sparkly heels were bizarre, but the TV-producer part of me knew they’d be great on camera. Not your stereotypical vicar’s wife, Denise wore a shock of pink hair and a vivid storyboard of tattoos telling of a life well-lived – and loved. “My Bernie’s a once-a-month missionary man,” she hissed at me in the darkness, referring to her husband,
. “It’s not enough for me. I have a big appetite – and it’s led me to seek pastures new, you see.”
I kept a permanently fixed smile on my face as she continued. “It took me a while to settle down at the vicarage, but I’m happy now I’ve found a group of ‘like-minded’ folk.” She paused and winked elaborately at me. I suddenly felt a bit panicky. Was she looking for some kind of sign? Did she think I was ‘like-minded-folk’? I shivered and looked away as she pulled hard on the herbal tea from her chipped mug, on which was printed, rather reassuringly, ‘God Will Forgive’.
I do hope so Denise
, I thought.
Claiming to be 52 (but I’d add five), Denise filled me in on her colourful past of banning the bomb, piercing her nipples and catching crabs on an apparently ‘long, hot Summer of Love’.
“Mmm, sounds idyllic,” I said, desperately trying to walk away, hoping she wouldn’t feel the need to elaborate (and also hoping that the catching crabs comment referred to the innocent summer pursuit of fishing in rock pools for crustaceans).
“Don’t be fooled Stella, in remote villages...people get lonely,” she added ominously.
“Oh, surely not
lovely village with its friendly community?” I asked, in what I hoped was my grown-up TV producer’s voice. “This place is picturesque
.” It’s on shortbread tins at Christmas, for God’s sake!
I was horrified (if perhaps also a teensy bit intrigued) at the idea that orgiastic activity was nestling in the grey Victorian stonework, tea shops and cobbled streets.
“Oh, this village is very, very friendly Stel. In fact, only last week I was walking through the village and felt a firm hand on my...” she began with a knowing smile.
“Gosh Denise, what a lovely shade of nail varnish!” I tried, desperate to change the subject, grabbing her hand and admiring the witchy, black talons.
“Sex in the dark, Stella...” she was off again.
“Denise, I was talking about the nail varnish.”
“So was I,” she answered, bemused. “It’s the name on the bottle, look, ‘Sex in the Dark’, they do a matching lipstick too. I’ve got it here somewhere…”
As she fumbled around in her tiny sequined bag for ‘Sex in the Dark’, I gathered myself together and took a good sidelong look at her through the steam and hot breath. I found myself mesmerised by the twists and turns of the now-damp crocheted dress. Then suddenly, like one of those Magic Eye pictures we all once loved, the truth emerged. In 3D, I began to see Denise in all her glory and looked away in horror. I was about to put this lady on TV in front of millions of people, and this vicar’s wife wasn’t wearing any knickers.