Sunday, 1 May 2016

Free sample of my new book

If you'd like a taster of "Would Like to Meet", you can access a free sample by clicking here.

My new book (at long last).


Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? However, contrary to Greg's tactless insinuations, I haven't been sitting on my arse doing nothing since I last blogged here. 

I have been sitting on my arse, if I'm being honest – and that's become enormous as a result – but I certainly haven't been doing nothing. I've been writing a new book, one that hopefully runs less risk of getting me sacked than the last one did. 

The fact that that hasn't happened so far probably says more about The Boss's chauvinistic attitude to anything described as "chick-lit" (however erroneous that description may be), and less about how incandescent with rage he'd become if he found out I'd written about him in a less-than-dishonest way, for once.

Getting back to the point – which is my new book, rather than my expanded arse – it's finished, at long last. I almost had a nervous breakdown while writing it, but that's beside the point. 

It's out on June 30, and I really hope you'll all buy a copy and tell all your friends (unless The Boss is one of them) to buy a copy too. Then maybe I can finally tell him to stuff his job where the sun don't shine.

In the meantime, here's the cover which is being revealed for the first time today, and which I really hope you like. (Greg says the mugs look just like the ones we have at work.) If you'd like to read a free sample, you can access one by clicking here. 

Don't forget I'm also on Twitter at @Mid_WifeCrisis, and would love to have a chat and catch up on all the news I've missed while buried in Nervous Breakdown Land. You can find out more about that particular experience at my fancy new website at http://www.pollyjamesauthor.com.

Greg says the moving eyes are "seriously creepy", and remind him of how The Boss' eyes follow you everywhere when he's in a mood with you, but I think they make me look as if I have a sense of humour – which I obviously have, given what I've spent the last God knows how long doing for a living.

Hope you're all well, anyway, and that you'll comment either here or on my website, or join me on Twitter at some point.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Where to find me at the moment...

I haven't disappeared entirely, and will be returning to blogging here once I start writing the sequel to "Diary of an Unsmug Married".

In the meantime, you can keep up with what I'm doing now at http://www.pollyjamesauthor.com, though that's actually very little, other than panicking and swearing about the difficulties of writing my current book.

Monday, 24 November 2014

What it's really like, being an elf.


Apropos today's Twitter reports of parents complaining about a "Winter Wonderland" theme park which features smoking elves and reindeer who "look bored"(see randomly-chosen tweet containing link below), I thought I'd share with you the story of the only job I've ever had that was worse than working for an MP. 




I was fifteen, and it was my first taste of paid employment – as a Saturday girl, or rather as a Saturday elf – in Father Christmas’s grotto in my home town's main department store. 

I only applied because I stupidly thought it sounded fun. Also, I'd never before come close to exceeding the maximum height criteria for anything. (Someone no taller than five foot was required.)

Here's how every working day would go:

Elf (i.e. me) shows family group into cubicle No.1 to see Santa No.1, opening only the curtains to that particular cubicle. 

Elf waits outside the cubicle, while small child sits on Santa No.1’s knee and says what he would like for Christmas. Mum or Dad confirms that small child has been good all year (usually a filthy lie, which older sibling loses no time in pointing out). This is followed by small child having his photo taken with Santa, (who barely raises a smile, so bored has he become already). 

Elf continues to wait outside until family leaves the cubicle, the small child clutching a present chosen by Santa from one or other of the barrels marked “Boys” and “Girls”. (This stage most often goes wrong after Santa has treated himself to a liquid lunch. Santa No.3 was always the worst for that.)

Elf guides family towards the exit, while simultaneously manning the till, stopping fights breaking out in the queue, and answering questions about where the nearest toilet is. Elf becomes a little harassed.

While Elf’s attention is elsewhere, original small child (the one who earlier claimed to be well-behaved) spots the second set of curtains – and yanks them open before Elf can stop him. (Elf discovers on first day of employment that dead-legging a child isn’t allowed.)

The following conversation then takes place between small child and his mother (at full volume so everyone in the queue can hear it too):

“Mum! Mum! There are two different Santas! Why are there two of them?” 

“There aren’t, dear. Don’t be silly. You must be getting muddled up.” 

“I’m not! There are two. Look in here!” 

Small child opens both sets of curtains again, this time with a flourish, while Mum and Elf struggle to work out what to say.

“See? Two Santas! One in here...and one in there.” 

Elf and Mum remain in a state of paralysis, while small child spots third set of curtains and opens those as well.

“Oh, no! Here’s another, DIFFERENT Santa!”

Three Santas, one Elf and one mother all look at each other in a panic, while cynical older child says to curtain-opening sibling, 

“Well, if there are three Father Christmases, then none of them can be real – can they, stupid?”

Curtain-opening child then cries as if his heart will break, while Mum and all the Santas accuse Elf of gross incompetence. This complaint is repeated shortly afterwards by every parent waiting in the queue, accompanied by a demand for a full refund to compensate for their children’s belief in Father Christmas having been destroyed.

By the time this scenario has been repeated at least once an hour, every hour, for most of each day, Elf feels like crying too.

The job's got a lot more in common with working for an MP than I realised, now I come to think of it. 



Monday, 2 June 2014

Brace yourselves - I'm on TV tonight. (And apparently they can't edit out double chins, which is something that should be remedied urgently.)

Yes, that's right - I'm going to be on the TV tonight, talking about what it's really like to work for an MP. (As if regular readers of this blog didn't already know the answer to that.)

Anyway, the programme was filmed while I was in Wales a few weeks ago, during a fantastic visit to the Welsh Assembly, (which I'm intending to write about in full later on this week), and also features Peter Black AM, and his office manager, Nick Tregoning.

Peter and Nick are long-term supporters of this blog, as is the very lovely Adrian Masters, ITV Wales' Political Editor, who's interviewing us. (He really is lovely, and I'm not just sucking up to journalists like The Boss does, no matter what Greg may claim.)

I'd barely slept the night before filming, so I look knackered, and I was also a nervous wreck – partly due to being forced to ride up and down in the Welsh Assembly building in a glass-sided lift, and partly because I'd forgotten what soft Welsh water does to my hair  – so I probably don't make much sense at all, as well as looking as if I've been electrocuted. It turns out it's much easier to make sure your MP doesn't make an idiot of himself on the television, than it is to avoid making an idiot of yourself.

To prove the point about electrocution, here's a picture of the interview being edited, courtesy of Adrian Masters and Sharp End:

I'm not sure whether you can see the programme right across the UK, as it's on ITV Wales, but - if not - it should be available online, here.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Almost entirely lost for words.


I have just walked into the office, to find Greg wearing one of these:




He says it's working. Not for me, it isn't.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

In which there are calls for my book to be banned, and my dad is even more annoying than usual. (Possibly a minor exaggeration re the book.)

"The product information should warn that this contains politics," says Greg, reading from his computer screen.

"I quite agree," I say, only half-listening. I am otherwise engaged in reading an email from Dad, who's back in Thailand for the umpteenth time. In it,  he says he's split up with Porn-Poon but there's "no need to worry" as he's already fallen in love again. 

"With a much older woman this time," he adds, which is a big relief. Maybe he is capable of ageing with dignity, after all. 

I send a reply asking, "How old?" just to double-check. 

"You're not listening to me again, Molly," says Greg. "Which is particularly stupid on this occasion, given what I'm trying to draw your attention to. This review goes on to say that politics shouldn't be allowed in books. If you're not careful, you'll end up as the Salman Rushdie of chick-lit and all copies of your book will be burned in public."

"What?" I say, nearly having a heart attack. "What the hell are you talking about? Why would my book be burned – other than by The Boss, if he found out about it? And why are you reading the reviews anyway? I told you I didn't want to know about them in case they were terrible."

I walk over to Greg's desk, feeling slightly sick, and peer over his shoulder at the screen. 

"There," he says, jabbing his finger at a review that gives my book one star. One star! I've never even given a product that failed to arrive one paltry star, just in case it was the Post Office's fault and not the seller's. 

"Oh, my God," I say, sitting down heavily on the corner of Greg's desk and knocking his coffee over a letter to the Treasury. " I am doomed. And all my efforts have been for nothing."

"Don't be so dramatic," says Greg, dabbing ineffectually at the coffee stain and then putting the letter into an envelope anyway. "I'm only reading the worst reviews, as they're by far the funniest. Quite a lot of people really like the book, though I'd be tempted to assume they were all your friends and family, if I didn't know you hadn't told anyone about the book. So I suppose even the good reviews must be genuine, however unlikely that might seem."

"Thanks for that resounding vote of confidence," I say, heading for the corridor. I need a cigarette – and urgently. 

Honestly, how stressful is this book publishing business? It's worse than working for an MP, and that is really saying something. As if to prove that point, I'm still sitting on the wall outside the office, smoking and fretting, when Mr Beales shows up, looking even madder than usual. His glasses make his eyes look almost as large as his enormous ears.

"Hear about the police giving that nutter his shotguns back?" he says, by way of introduction. "He only went and shot his family with them, didn't he?"

"Allegedly," I say. Innocent until proven guilty, after all. That's the defence I'll be using if there are any more calls to burn my book.

"Pfft," says Mr Beales. "The police are bloody idiots. Only responsible people should be allowed to hold licences for guns. Talking of which, mine needs renewing. I'll leave the form with you, for Andrew to sign when he's next in the office."

I'm still so stressed about the book, that I just take the form without making any attempt at protest, which seems to surprise Mr Beales even more than it does me. Then I make things worse by rushing inside the building so fast that I accidentally let the door slam in his face. (I know it's only Mr Beales, but I'm not normally rude, even to him. I don't know what's wrong with me, which is exactly what Greg says when I finally arrive back in our office after walking up one too many flights of stairs and then having to walk back down again.)

"What did Big Ears Beales want?" he says, closing the window he's obviously been using to spy on me while I've been gone.

"He wants Andrew to sign his shotgun licence renewal form," I say. "I didn't have it in me to argue with him about it today."

"Are you mad?" says Greg. "It's MPs and their staff not handling this sort of thing properly that gets politics a bad name in the first place."

"Well, clearly the public don't care one way or the other," I say, "if they think politics is so irrelevant to their lives it should even be banned from being in books." 

"Now you're sulking," says Greg. "And all because of one little review. Don't be so pathetic, Mol. Imagine what Andrew's Amazon ratings would be like, if MPs ever got reviews."

"Well, abysmal, of course," I say. "But that wouldn't bother The Boss, would it? His ego's indestructible. Mine isn't. Think of a way to cheer me up, quick, if you want me back to my usual responsible self."

It takes Greg quite some time to come up with something, but finally he says he thinks he may have succeeded. 

"See this?" he says, gesturing at the video clip I took of the machine Clays the printers used to deal with the pallets on which my books were stacked. "Imagine this being installed above the entrances to MPs' constituency offices."

"Ye-es," I say, not entirely sure where he's going with this, but quite intrigued all the same. 

 "Well, then the machine just sits there, minding its own business – almost invisibly," says Greg, "until someone like Mr Beales walks in."

"And then what happens?" I say. It's still far from obvious to me where this is heading, but then I'm still distracted by the fear of being at the centre of a book-burning controversy.

"The automatic nutter sensor activates, of course," says Greg. "The one I'm going to design to make the machine suddenly drop down over the heads of the usual suspects – at which point this will happen:"


video


I feel much more cheerful now I've envisaged Mr Beales being silenced by a whirling roll of opaque plastic. Who cares if my book ends up being burned? Or that Dad replies to my email asking how old his new, "much older" woman is with this highly-complimentary response: 

"About the same age as you are, Molly." 

I shall just get Greg to programme the nutter sensor to shrink-wrap annoying fathers, as well as shotgun-wielding constituents. Then almost all my problems will be over.



********************


PS Thank you  – sincerely  – to everyone who has read and reviewed the book so far. I'm genuinely grateful to you (as long as you didn't call for my book to be banned). 

Greg says I should start "shamelessly posting good reviews, like other authors do", so I may take his advice, if I can get over my grandfather's no boasting rule. If the whole thing becomes too nauseating, do feel free to tell me to stop.






















Thursday, 13 February 2014

Peel me a grape, or how Greg plans the saddest book launch ever known to man – or woman, i.e. me.

God, I'm so stressed. It's publication day, and here I am – not luxuriating in a bubble bath and ordering minions to peel me grapes – but sitting at my desk and listening to Greg telling me how useless at book marketing I am.

(I don't know why I assume other authors lie in baths with grapes flying at them in all directions on the days their books are published, but I just do. That's exactly the sort of delusional thinking that got me into this mess.)

Anyway, now Greg's going on about what he calls my "utter failure" to organise a launch.

"How the hell can I have a book launch, when you're the only person who knows about the bloody book?" I say. "It'd be even more poorly attended than whatshername's was - you know, that poet you were in love with last year?"

"The name of that poet, as you call her," says Greg, glaring at me,"was Jessica, as you very well know. And she was an exceedingly good poet – and masseuse. Her particular form of poetry was just too specialised for the masses to appreciate."

That's one way of putting it – and Jess could be an excellent masseuse, for all I know – but she also encouraged Greg to write everything in rhyme for the six months they were together, so I shall never ever forgive her for that. I doubt any of the usual suspects will, either.

Anyway, I decide not to wind Greg up any more – on the basis that it's unwise to fall out with the only person who'd still be talking to me if news about my book ever got out – so I make him a coffee without being asked, in an attempt to maximise his loyalty.

I even make Joan a cup, as faffing about in the kitchen stops me fretting, for all of five minutes. I've been on tenterhooks ever since I woke up this morning, especially whenever an email or a text arrives – in case it's from Max.

It'd be just my luck if he suddenly decided to take up reading, and went to Waterstones at lunchtime  to browse for books. (Then he'd be bound to notice mine and go ballistic, not least at the suggestion that he'd ever wear pyjamas like the ones on the cover.)

Or The Boss might spot a copy in WH Smith when he buys today's papers (to check he's made it into all of them), and then he'd sack me on the spot – and mean it, too. And what about if Johnny sees it – or Dad? Or Dinah? Oh, my God.

I'm having one of those anxiety-fuelled hot flushes now. Honestly, if I keep this up, I shall be in a right state by the end of the day, even if no-one's found me out by then.

"You already look like a madwoman, " says Greg, when I tell him why I'm so agitated. "You need to calm down, and enjoy the experience of being a published author."

I raise my eyebrows at the total impossibility of that suggestion, but Greg just sips his coffee (which he hasn't even bothered to thank me for), and then adds:

"I know, we'll hold an event ourselves – just me and you. I'll phone the Star of India and see if they've forgiven us yet."

He's the only one they need to forgive, but they haven't, anyway – somewhat unsurprisingly, given what happened last time we went – so now we have a booking at the Jewel of the Orient, for 7:00pm.

I love Chinese food, but I bet I'll be starving again by the time I get home – that is, if I can go home. I could be the first MPs' staffer to live at the YWCA, if Max is the one who catches me out.

"Doesn't the "YW" stand for 'young women'?" says Greg, who urgently needs a refresher course in handling the vulnerable.

I can't get him a place on one today, though, despite the fact that it's an emergency – so now I'm going to swig Joan's entire bottle of Rescue Remedy and then have a lengthy lie down.

I'll be on the sofa in the Oprah Room if anyone wants me – anyone who doesn't want to talk about the book, that is. You can tell them I've left the country.