Sunday, 18 July 2010

After Dad Rattled the Skeletons in our Cupboard

This evening I went for a run with my friend who is in her sixties. She runs half-marathons and rings around me. I have always adhered to the theory that if one works hard enough then anything can be achieved. This rule does apply to running where the time and distance can be improved on (if only fractionally) week by week. If only this theory applied to writing, then Rob's book 'The Spaniard's Wife' would be an enormous success and quite rightly so. It seems, however, that unless you are Jordan or Peter Mandelson - a combination that makes me grimace - that a magic ingredient must be found to achieve this success; maybe a twist in the tale, an unusual story, a controversial topic, catching the right wave, or a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust. Rob has several of these assets, certainly the twist in the tale, an unusual story and the controversial topic of corrupt politicians. I just hope that he has a good supply of fairy dust with which to enchant a publisher because such a polished book deserves to be published.

As an enticement to the reader to buy and read his book, Rob has submitted a short piece for The Guardian Family called 'After Dad Rattled the Skeletons in our Cupboard'. He shared this latest offering with his fellow Severn Valley Authors last week at The Arches. With Parliament as a backdrop, Annie wittily suggested changing the title to 'Skeletons in the Cabinet' which we all applauded. Chris and Tony suggested using this piece as an introduction to 'The Spaniard's Wife', which I thought was a good idea because I found the current introduction rather confusing. We had a discussion about the use of 'may' and 'might' and decided that 'may have become Prime Minister' should have read 'might have become Prime Minister' because he didn't, eg. 'you may have a biscuit' as opposed to 'you might have a biscuit' - if I decide to offer you one!

My grandfather had local celebrity status for growing the largest marrow and producing the best rhubarb champagne for the village show - he even had his photograph in the local newspaper. This all seems rather small fry in comparison to Rob's possible pedigree. My grandmother, like the Spaniard's wife was dark and tiny (4'10") and as neat as a button. She was a softly spoken woman who lived for her family. Mary Ireland was a firebrand, a strong politically minded woman who sacrificed her family for the love of John Wheatley and his politics. This happened before women had the vote and when such adulterous behaviour was seriously frowned upon, especially among the working classes. John and Mary had both fought their way out of poverty and improved their lot, and certainly couldn't be described as the average couple.

What if Rob's grandfather had been John Wheatley, the cabinet minister who could have become Prime Minister but for his scandalous life, rather than the Spaniard described as 'a drunkard and a waster'? Had this been the case, we probably wouldn't have been sitting in the pub with him discussing the hard road to recognition. The magic ingredient would have been his birthright; with wealth and notoriety, who needs fairy dust?