An open letter from the absent Deidre to the members of The Writer’s Circle.
Just a short note to apologise for my absence from this week’s meeting. I had truly intended to return to the fold this evening if it were not for the receipt of a far better offer. I am certain that you are all, by now, aware of the circumstances pertaining to my recent nonattendances – why I have not been there – as I swore Francis to secrecy and, after a week in his company, I know how untrustworthy he really is. (On a side note, I would say to any of you, that if you are ever in trouble Francis is the man to call – a true rock, a steady head and an unwavering guardian – although you might find it wise to fill the biscuit barrel first.) I am sure that you all have a certain vision of me: a lonely, ageing spinster – and I cannot deny that, the facts are there. I have learned a great deal about myself over the past few weeks; most importantly that I do not need to be lonely – I just need to be less picky about the friends I choose. I would be proud to call any of you ‘friend’ – although I would be grateful if you did not bandy that around in the kind of circles within which I tend to circulate. (If we’re honest, that’s not entirely likely, is it?) I must endeavour not to crave the friends that I deserve, but to accept the ones that I have. Class strictures are not what they once were and I believe that mixing with those from a lower stratum is now probably viewed as a virtue. (A special nod to Billy: I won’t tell if you don’t!) I look forward to broadening my horizons in this effect within the next few weeks, although I will draw the line at tripe and cockles, and I refuse to wear any clothing that has not been starched and ironed to within an inch of its life – and yes, Phillip, that does include my underwear.
I know that Francis has given you all my new telephone number and it was a joy to hear from you all – especially since I now know how easy it will be to change the number again in the future.
As you will all be aware, I am not a great one for hiding my light under a bushel – my thanks to Vanessa for enlightening me on the nature of my bushel and for furnishing me with the phone number for Weight Watchers – but my darkest hour has, in fact, been accompanied by a gratifying degree of bushel-illumination, in that this week sees the release of my latest novel – I will allow myself the use of that word, and not the one that Terry suggested as I am sure that they are never released in hardback – and I have made the shortlist for Richard and Judy’s Book of the Month. Consequently I am currently ensconced within a very swish London hotel awaiting the private car that will whisk me away to my interview at Television Centre and therefore unable to bother myself with you lot. I have, of course, already loaded my handbag with shower gels, shampoos and conditioners – all, allegedly, smelling of hyacinth – as well as sachets of cheap instant coffee and bags of what PG claims to be tea, as nobody in their right mind ever uses a hotel kettle. I have not packed the Rich Tea biscuits as not even Francis will eat those. Nor have I put the complimentary shower cap in my ‘swag-bag’ as it is currently covering the TV remote, so that I don’t have to touch it. I do not know whether I will be interviewed by Mr Madeley himself, but I have made it quite clear that I will not be examining him for lumps regardless of the circumstances. I mention this, of course, not only by way of an explanation for my absence from this evening’s meeting, but also to remind you all of how successful I actually am. Whilst I know that in the future, many of you will achieve similar success, I would like it noted that I was the first!
I would love to read you all a chapter or two of my new book at next week’s meeting, but I am sure that you will have all read it yourselves by then – especially since it is on Special Offer at W H Smiths. (Although not – yet – in the bargain bin.) I will return next week, when I will accept your praise and congratulations with my usual degree of grace and humility – as long as nobody overloads with empathy – and I will be happy to autograph anything that is not flesh. Hopefully, thereafter, following a week of understandable adulation and fawning, we can return to the normal routine of petty squabbling and back-biting, of which we have all grown so fond. Most importantly, we can once again agree that I am in charge.
I am, yours truly
Lingua in maxillam – do what I did, look it up.
P.S. If I have learned just one thing from these past few weeks – and only time will tell just how much I have learned – it is that life in general, and I in particular (like the grammar in this sentence) is not to be taken too seriously…
N.B. Richard Madeley is a daytime TV ‘star’ in the UK who once famously chaired the first live ‘testicular cancer’ check on UK television – although I should point out that it was not in fact he himself who had his old danglers massaged by the rubber-gloved TV doctor. Books chosen to appear on Richard and Judy’s (his wife and co-presenter – it was also not her old danglers that were massaged by the rubber-gloved TV doctor) Book Club traditionally benefit from a huge surge in sales and almost automatically become ‘best sellers’.