Newsletter one hundred and seventeen

The temporarily empty nest is about to refill by tomorrow, one home from Exeter and one from Cardiff Universities. By Christmas eve we’ll be full to the gunwhales for the great sleepover. (As opposed to Boxing Day which tends to be the great hungover unless we hide the brandy.)


Plenty of chances to win stuff at the moment. Guess which book of mine this excerpt (with names crossed out) comes from, over at ZAM’s.

Or if you fancy an e-book from my back list, comment for a chance to win; you can read a short seasonal Jonty and Orlando story while you’re there. The follow up to which I posted, by demand, a couple of days later

Talking of which, here’s a little bit of the lads, appropriate to the time of year:


“I’ve decided to make a resolution, Orlando.” Jonty laid down both spectacles and Jane Austen, to show he was serious. “For the New Year.”

“Oh yes? Is it to rub manure on your head every night to see if you grow a brain?”

“No. I was actually going to give up being rude to you.”

“Oh.” Orlando felt horribly contrite about his little joke. “That would be lovely.” Wouldn’t it just? The peace and quiet. The absence of feeling that one always had to be on guard in case some little verbal barb came flying over the dinner table or across the lounge. “When does it start?”

“Now.” Jonty nodded his head then made a great pantomime of looking at his hunter watch. “Eight pip emma on the twenty eighth of January. A bit late, but still valid for the rest of the year.” He smiled beatifically. “Now, my dear friend, can I get Mrs. Ward to prepare us some cups of cocoa and a slice of Dundee cake?”

“Please,” Orlando sighed. The best part of a year of this. Heaven.

By January the thirtieth Orlando had revised his opinion. Jonty was still being sweet, not a word out of place nor a single whack to the shin. He’d fussed over Orlando, ensured his every whim was seen to, deferred to him on everything. Heaven? Purgatory at the very least, if not hell itself.

“I don’t like it.”

“What don’t you like, my sweet? Tell me and I’ll put it right for you.” Jonty smiled.

Orlando had always thought he would never regard that smile as cloying, but now it was sickly. “This whole ‘being nice to me’ thing. It makes me nervous.”

“Why, my lamb?” Jonty’s face was all concern; Orlando wanted to punch it.

“Because this simpering lump of sago pudding isn’t the sparky and snarky man I married!”

“I don’t think we actually did get married, my precious, although if you say we did, we must have done. I am truly contrite and will try to amend ways, but how can I do so and keep my resolution?”

“Sod your resolution, Take your resolution and stick it up a hippo’s arse.” Orlando couldn’t recall the last time he’d been so angry. “And if you dare say there aren’t any hippos for miles around but if I insist it must be done you’ll travel to the Zoological Gardens post haste I’ll…I’ll…”

“So you don’t want me to be nice all the time, my cherub?”

“No. I want my old Jonty back.” Orlando placed his hand over his heart. “I solemnly swear that I repent me of ever complaining about your sarcasm. I admit I miss the insults and the shin whacks. I confess I’d like you to be mean to me, on a fair usage basis.”

“Splendid!” Jonty leapt across the lounge and threw himself in his lover’s lap. “I’ll resist the temptation to dispense all the insults I’ve saved up these last two days all in one big lump. Suffice to say you’re a big daft pudding.”

“Daft? Because I want you back to normal?”

“No, daft because you fell for it. Now I have your solemn vow to bring up in evidence any time you say I’m getting out of line.” Jonty grinned and plonked a big kiss on Orlando’s lips. “Licence to be myself, in perpetuity. Heaven.”

Orlando groaned. Happy bloody new bloody year.



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