Hello, darlings! I have been nominated for the sunshine blogger award by Clara at Scribblings. Thank you so much. I first met Clara on the first day of the Historical Novel Society Conference in Oxford last year. I was feeling rather nervous since I didn’t know anyone and we walked into the conference together. She told me that she was going to pitch her book to two agents in the course of the conference. Clara is Italian. Since the idea of doing that in my own language would scare the living daylights out of me I decided that my nerves were misplaced and she had nerves of steel. Check out her blog here:

and you’ll find she writes better English than I do. So now I must answer her questions, nominate my own sunshine bloggers and set my own questions.

A little ray of sunshine. That is me and my blog!

Q. What is it you really can’t resist?

With the election about to happen here in the UK – Andrew Rawnsley’s political column in The Observer. Always interesting, thought provoking, well-written and entertaining. A good combination of historical context and insider info/gossip. I hate it when he goes on holiday. There is also William Keegan, also in The Observer, who writes about economics in a way that even I can understand which makes him a genius!

Q. Time machine – when, what, who, where, why?

I’m currently doing some research into the English Civil War. So it would be extremely convenient to be transported into the Blue Boar Inn in St Aldates, Oxford around the middle of January 1642. I’ve just been writing a scene there and I’d like a good look at the landlady and find out who is sleeping in ‘the Green Chamber’ of her inn.

Q. When might you be tempted to murder?

Other than Hitler before he came to power the couple who had the drunken argument on the pavement outside my flat a couple of nights ago. Oh, how people love to argue on corners and how incredibly boring they are when they’re drunk. And how wide awake I was by the time they fell into a cab.

Q. Who or what did you play at as a child?

OK, this is a bit odd. My earliest recollection involves a sort of Viking hat and a set of banisters. Then there was a nifty cowboy outfit I had, the trousers were made of thick orange corduroy and had plastic white tassels that stood out horizontally from the trousers. I thought I was the bees knees. There were toy guns that fired caps. They made quite an enjoyably loud bang. There were also some very beautiful boots that I never wore because they hurt my feet.

Q.The concert of my life?

It would have to be KD Lang and the Reclines at the Town and Country 2 in Kentish Town, London in the late eighties or early 90s. I think it was 1992. How those rhinestones dazzled. It was a small venue before she hit it big with Ingenue. I’ve still got the T-shirt although if I hold it up to the light I can see right through it. I absolutely refuse to turn it into dusters!

Q. My favourite weather – the one that makes my spirits soar?

First crisp day of autumn the one that gets me rummaging for my jumpers and discovering which have been saved from the moths.

Q. The ending of a book, film, play that you’ll never make peace with.

Now, Voyager – Oh Bette!!!!! you deserved the moon I’m sorry the stars were NOT enough and nor was that measly cigarette, not after you’d plucked your eyebrows so beautifully. I can’t watch it without crying.

Q. Ever got that ‘Oh, I’m inside a book feeling?’

Well, actually most days and usually it’s my work in progress, current title Fire and Brimstone, set during the English Civil War. At the moment I’m trying to generate female characters with a bit of agency without stretching historical credibility until it snaps and pings me in the eye.

Q. Let’s go with Proust – if you weren’t yourself who would you want to be?

Canadian director and actor Robert Lepage. I’ve just been to see 887 his one man show. It’s the perfect blend of the personal and the political. He’s so easy in his own skin on stage. He produces funny, original, arresting theatre. What can I say – I love him and  I could do with some of that performative ease sometimes, that playfulness. Well,  most days actually …

Q. One thing I have never done and would love to do?

Visit the Italian lakes. Como would be good.

Q. The moment when I would have stopped time.

The moment just before my partner got hit by a motorbike about a month ago. It would have saved us both a great deal of trouble. She’s fine now thanks.

Image result for sunshine blogger award logo

Now to my own nominees – Clara did four so I’m doing err, five:  – writer, traveller, broadcaster, fantastic writing on architecture, author of lovely book Loving Le Corbusier about Yvonne Gallis, the architect, Le Corbusier’s , wife … – beautiful writing on colour by painter Francesca Howard author of the wonderful Colour Potential … – gorgeous writing on nature, creative process – simply beautiful writing …  on the bonkers business of books – she’s very funny and informative on pretty much everything … – Keir and Louise Lusby and their life making everything you might ever have seen on TV or film including the Aztec medallion from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film …

And here are my eleven questions:

  1. Favourite building in the world?
  2. Have you ever walked out of a film/play/thrown a book down on the floor in a rage? If so which one?
  3. You’ve got a morning free in the town you live in/ nearest to where you live – what do you do?
  4. The subject at school that made you look out of the window and kick your heels and dream of freedom?
  5. You’re held hostage in solitary confinement – what film do you know well enough to roll through your mind while mouthing all the lines?
  6. What were you expected to be when you grew up? What happened?
  7. Asterix or Tintin? If neither what’s the first children’s book you loved?
  8. You can have a date with one of Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo OR Cary Grant or George Clooney which do you choose?
  9. If you had to save one film out of Casablanca, The Third Man and Notorious from the flames which would you choose?
  10. The place you have the strongest romantic associations with excluding your own home.
  11. Smell that is most redolent of childhood for you.

So there we are. Incidentally my ‘I am a hostage film’ has this line: ‘My name’s Dorothy – D-O-R-O-T-H-Y. Dorothy. Now Alan’s always Alan and John’s always John …’ Anyone who can tell me where that’s from will win a bonus point and my everlasting regard. And if anyone fancies answering any of the questions other than my nominees please pick and choose – be my guest.