Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Going Back To My Roots

I didn't dare tell my daughter I was going up to Manchester on the 'big train' - because this is something she requests we do on a daily basis (clearly not practical) and I'm pretty sure she would never have forgiven me for going without her.

But on the big train I was indeed, feeling slightly odd to be alone and pointing out the field of moo cows to the man sitting next to me instead (fortunately he was very nice about it).

The reason for my trip was the Northern launch of "Secret Diary", the venue a hall that was once my pre-school nursery and the very place I learned to read and write.

It was great to see familiar faces and to meet new ones. There were loads of smiles and lots of laughter. It was possibly (probably) the only event in my professional life that will ever begin with my mum telling me to hitch up my underskirt (and no - I don't actually own anything as 'grown-up' as an underskirt - mum had lent it to me because the dress was 'a bit clingy'!)

Given that I knew many of the audience I wasn't quite sure where to look when the evening's chair - someone I have also known since I was born - introduced me by reading the following passage from the book (which takes place at a meditation class)

"'Now close your eyes,’ intones our instructor. ‘I want you to get in touch with your vagina.’

I sneak a crafty peek, but apparently no one else in the class finds this as amusing as I do, and all appear to be communing with their nether regions without giggling or fretting over the logistics. I, however, can’t even work out how to get started. As far as I am aware, my vagina is not on email, nor does it have a postal address. And as no one else in the room is shouting, ‘Oy, you down there,’ apparently that’s not the way to go either...."

Once I'd recovered my composure I had a really lovely evening. The people who organised it were fantastic and although I'm pretty new to public speaking I'm actually starting to enjoy it.

And I'm already looking forward to going on the big train again at the end of March and doing the whole thing again just a few miles up the road.

But shhhh - no one tell the girl...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Ladies Who Launch

"I feel like the mother of the bride" said my mum.

And she had a point. The long-awaited launch party really did remind me of my wedding day: A frock. Tidy hair. Lots of smiling and photos. Being surrounded by my nearest and dearest (and barely time to have a proper conversation with anyone!) Lovely husband by my side. And cake.

I loved every minute.

This time I got to sign books rather than a register.

It was an evening with lots of lovely people to chat to.

Good friends.

A celebrity guest.


A first meeting with a dear Twitter chum who travelled almost 200 miles round trip to be there (and brought chocolate!)

Oh - and did I mention cake?!

Friday, 11 February 2011

And The Winners Are...

Too many entries to fit in small child's hat (below) so went high tech and used the random number generator instead.

So congratulations to Rebecca E Brown, Kelly Koya and Alison Moore. Signed copies of Secret Diary will be winging their way to you very shortly.

Once again huge thanks to everyone who took part. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the lovely comments and support.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lights, Camera, Action...

In my 'old' life as a TV producer I made over 600 chat shows... Wogan, Clive Anderson Talks Back, The Late Jonathan Ross...

I met so many amazing people, many of whom were appearing to talk about their books. And I can say, hand on heart, that not for one second did I ever think "one day that might be me".

And yet...

When I was invited to appear on Vanessa's talk show (on five) I was delighted but very nervous. How would it be on the 'other' side? More to the point, how would I cope, given I have frozen like a rabbit in the headlights every time my husband has ever pointed a video camera in my direction.

But actually it felt great to be back in the studio again - almost like turning the clock back to the days when I would stand in for my guests in dress rehearsals and pretend, for a few minutes, to be Robin Williams, Maureen Lipman, Brian Clough (or whoever else was appearing on the show that week).

I might even go so far as to say I quite enjoyed it. Though watching it back today was a more daunting prospect altogether!

For the next seven days you can watch it HERE

PS For everyone who asked...Vanessa was lovely!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Giveaway - Signed Books Up For Grabs!

Thanks to the lovely people at Ebury I have three signed copies of the book up for grabs.

All you need to do is:

a) RT one of the 'Giveaway' tweets on Twitter - and/or

b) Become a fan of my facebook page HERE - and/or

c) Become a follower of this blog

Simple eh? You can even do all three and get three entries in the hat (which, incidentally, I have stolen from the child. Shhh don't tell). Winners will be drawn at random. Closes 5pm Friday 11th Feb.

To tempt you further here's my favourite review so far:

"I laughed so much I almost wet myself (though I do have a urine infection)"

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Publication Day (part 2)

What a day it turned out to be. It's tricky to know where to start.

Julie Andrews was probably right when she sang something about the beginning being the place - so I shall heed her advice (although now, no doubt, I will also be humming Doh a Deer for the rest of the week)

So, first up radio interviews. Lots of radio interviews.Lots of fun as well. Even if I did nearly fall off my wheely chair halfway through one of them.

Wandering back towards the tube station from the BBC I passed the Oxford St (Plaza) branch of Waterstones and couldn't resist popping in. And there on a shelf, in all its glory, sat Secret Diary. I think that's probably the moment this whole thing became real. My book! In a real bookshop.

I got talking to the lovely Natalie who looks after that section and ended up signing all the copies they had in store. We all stood chatting at the counter and suddenly one of the sales assistants started gesticulating wildly in our direction. "Look!" she whispered "it's your book..."

And there, in the hands of the customer at the till, was indeed my book. Great excitement all round. And it would be fair to say that I danced the rest of the way home.

The day ended with the launch party, but I think that deserves a post all of its own. So more on that to follow. And in the meantime, thank you thank you lovely lady purchaser in the bookshop. You absolutely made my day.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Publication Day (part 1)

Dashing off to the Beeb for some radio interviews - but just time to let you know that today's post is being hosted by the lovely Ebury Publishing blog.

And you can read it right HERE

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Woman's Hour

I may have worked in TV (mostly) and radio (a bit) for most of my career - but there is still something special about entering the hallowed portals of BBC Broadcasting House.

I'm not sure whether it's the sense of broadcasting history or the thought of all the amazing people who have also crossed that threshold over the years...Either way I was delighted to be invited there today to appear on Woman's Hour and talk about the book and what seems to be the hot topic of the moment - the right time to have a baby.

There's a great sense of calm in the studio and I really enjoyed the discussion. But oh, it sped by so fast...

Which bit did I enjoy the most? It's difficult to say.

Was it sharing the Green Room with the legendary Fenella Fielding?

Jenni Murray declaring live on air that I look as though I keep fit (thank you thank you!)

Or having the chance to talk about the truth regarding 'older' motherhood - and why so many women really do end up having babies later than before.

The answer is probably 'all of the above' - though I must confess that an incident in M&S on the way home came close to trumping the lot.

"Hmmm, a bottle of wine" said the man on the check out. "You are over eighteen aren't you?"

Is it any wonder that I headed off to the station with a spring in my step?

Note - It wasn't actually a bottle of wine. It was balsamic vinegar. Which says a lot about his eyesight. Shame...

For the next seven days you can listen to the broadcast again here

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

You've Got Mail...

...The Daily Mail to be precise.

Last Saturday the paper featured a double page spread of extracts from the book. I thought that seeing it there in black and white (with photos) would finally finally make this all seem a bit more real. But I'm not sure it did..!

Older motherhood is a controversial subject and if one is to believe everything that one reads in the papers then it's hardly surprising. But dig beneath the headlines and actually you'll find a very different story - at least for most of us. And indeed one of the main reasons I wanted to write the book is to tell it like it really is.

It's very easy to make sweeping generalisations and it's very easy to talk about an ideal world. But how many people actually live in Perfects-ville? I think you'll find it's very few. And surely for the rest of us real life is about adapting to the real world, coping with all the ups and downs along the way and doing our best to make sure our children are as happy, healthy, secure and loved as possible.