How to Go Up in the World in Just Four Steps

Now that Dan’s out, he’s on the up. going up in the worldFirst off, he needs to find work.  The snag?  How to explain away six years at Her Majesty’s pleasure.  Inventing a job abroad might fill that big gap on his CV.  Lucky he’s got a good imagination.  You don’t get very far without one, in his experience.

Dan is one of the characters from my novel One Night at the Jacaranda.  In this post I’m letting him out to share his current MO with you.

Dan needs to learn stuff.  That’s step two.  He reads a quality paper every day now. Cover to cover.  At the public library, if it hasn’t already been nicked.  Or he might find one in a bin.  Some days he has to pay for one.  newspapers

And he listens.  You can learn a lot from people, especially when they don’t even realise what they’re saying.  That’s when you discover things.

He chooses his own words carefully.  From a dictionary he got at the charity shop.  That’s step three: not sounding like a lag anymore.  Course, when you’re inside you want to sound like everyone else, because bad things are even more likely to happen when you don’t fit in.

Oxford Reference Dictionary

A lot of his new words are adjectives.  Easier to slip into conversation than nouns.  How the fuck would you shoe-horn a word like behemoth into a chat with the bint on the till at Iceland?  Yesterday he just about managed to use contiguous.

definition of contiguous

That was when the old biddy behind him pushed her shopping right up next to his on the belt.  He’d have let her go first, especially seeing as she only had a pint of milk and a packet of Rich Teas, but then he wouldn’t have been able to say contiguous. So he just put a divider up on the belt.

Today’s word of the day is egregious.  Means outstandingly bad, but so far he’s only managed to use it once, even though he waited an age for the 16 bus and when he got on it ponged of rotten fish.  Which is about as egregious as it can get.

Fourth and most important of all:  he’s looking for a woman.  Nobody said these four steps would be easy, but he’s got a good feeling in his bones.

Yep, there too. 

Mega Monday: We’re influential bloggers!

It’s lovely to have such an enthusiastic response to the Influential Blogger Award, as well as to my novel. Now I’m looking forward to discovering these new blogs.


most-influential-bloggerThank you to Carol Cooper who awarded this badge to the Write Romantics.  We already loved Carol for inviting us to review her wonderful novel, being interviewed for the blog and for agreeing to write the introduction to our anthology, but now we love her even more.

IOne Night at the Jacarandan case you didn’t know, Carol is a doctor, teacher, writer, broadcaster and mother, whose debut novel, One Night at the Jacaranda, has received a wealth of rave reviews on Amazon. Carol is also a successful writer of non-fiction books, mainly on child health and parenting, and is The Sun newspaper’s doctor. As well as being a great friend of the Write Romantics blog, Carol has a fab blog of her own. If you’ve been missing out on Carol’s beside manner up until now, then you really should check out her blog.

Now we’re passing on the award to ten other bloggers. They…

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Three Things I Learned This Week

I’m not a fast learner. It took me ages to memorise the 12 cranial nerves, and I only achieved it thanks to a dirty little mnemonic, much loved by medical students.   Maybe that’s why it took me a while to learn these three lessons.

1 Windscreen wipers work fine until it starts raining. windscreen wipers

Then you discover that they smear, they’re harbouring mouldy cherry blossom, they’re stuck in one position, or else they fall off without notice.  They only pull this last trick when you’re belting along a dual carriageway in torrential rain.  At night, when there’s no hope of finding them again. 

At least this time the inside of the windscreen was in good shape. In my VW Beetle, the interior misted up all the time.  Some advised me to rub the inside of the windscreen with a cut raw potato.  Lesson learned long ago: potato stops the glass misting up, but you still can’t see out.

2 If you look hard enough, there’s usually chocolate somewhere in the house.

Are you familiar with chocolate hunger?  You’ve consumed a 4000 Calorie meal, but there’s a little recess of your stomach that’s screaming for cocoa-based confectionery, and the noise gets louder until you appease it. 

You’re dreaming of Lindt 70% cocoa, or maybe Green & Black’s.

Green and Blacks


But the shops are shut.

Start searching and you’ll probably unearth some chocolate flakes in the back of the kitchen cupboard, or if you’re really lucky a milk chocolate Hob Nob.  What about raiding your child’s lunchbox?  You can stop off at the petrol station tomorrow on the way to school and replenish it.  Or there might be booty in the depths of the sofa (usually the caramel one from the Cadbury’s Roses that nobody wanted).  I once hit the jackpot in a coat pocket: a distressed packet of Maltesers from a visit to the cinema.

This time? Zilch. I’d even checked the car. Nothing but mints and empty wrappers.

Then I remembered.  Hadn’t one of my sons left a couple of things behind when he’d moved out?

cash cow

Yes, the expiry date was decades ago.  I said you can usually find chocolate. I didn’t say it would be edible.

3 Quizzes are nothing but ritual humiliation. 

I entered the village hall full of optimism.  A table of 8 middle-aged people, including one teacher and two doctors?  We were bound to scoop the big prize (a motley assortment of goodies including a jar of stuffed olives and a sleeping bag. No, I can’t explain it either). But we failed to identify one of Lady Gaga’s hits, and went downhill as the evening progressed.  Dressed in academic gown, the quiz master repeatedly tapped our table with his pointer. 

SaturnUnfortunately there were no questions on cranial nerves, just posers on chemistry, Nobel prizes, and astronomy. And why does someone always have to shout ‘Uranus’?  Especially when it isn’t.  

Our score was pitiful.  Sir threatened us with an after-school detention. 

Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. They have enough trouble remembering the old ones, especially since they sell bottles of wine at quizzes. But I quite fancied a sleeping bag.