Newsletter one hundred and twenty eight

Almost midsummer! I know of people who gleefully say on June 22nd that the nights will now draw in all the way to Christmas. Let’s ignore them.


Have been training school governors the last two days, so what little brain I have is diminished even further. I deliver this course every year and the 2013 version inspired Horns and Haloes.

I based “Mrs Bossyboots”, who was delivering the training in the story, on me. I wonder whether any of the delegates realised they’d inspired me, and been quoted, to boot?


Jamie didn’t think he had a guardian angel. If he did, the so-and-so had been noticeably slacking on the job over the last few years, especially regarding hitching him up with a decent bloke. So the fact that he’d been put on the same practice interview panel as Alex—therefore could legitimately spend the next day and a half of the course working alongside him—must just have been good luck.
Or maybe bad. A day and a half of trying not to make it obvious that he fancied the pants off the bloke. Why did nice things always seem to come on the horns of a dilemma?
Chatting over coffee break was fine—the whole of his table had congregated together, the six of them looking a bit nervous at what they’d let themselves in for. Inevitably the conversation had drifted off into matters February the fourteenth-related, at which point Jamie had tried to look interested, although he’d dreaded the seemingly inevitable, “What surprise have you got lined up for your girlfriend?”
“I can’t stand all this Valentine’s nonsense,” one of the blokes in the group said, the one whom Jamie had nicknamed “Mr. Daft Ideas”—although not to his face—because of the answers he’d come up to for the quiz.
“What does your wife think of that?” Sandra, the panel leader—elected because she’d smiled and nodded at the wrong time—asked.
“The same as me,” he replied, as if there couldn’t be any other answer. “It’s just another way of conning people out of their money.”
“I’d agree with you on that.” Alex broke his biscuit—a custard cream, Jamie noted, with approval—made as if to dunk it then clearly thought better of the manoeuvre, as if he was weighing up every word and every movement. “And it always seems so cruel.”
Jamie sipped his coffee, intrigued. Something about the day clearly made Alex feel uncomfortable, maybe at a deeper level than, “I never got any cards when I was a spotty teenager.”
“Oh, Jamie, you’ll have to be the one to stand up for your gender,” Sandra said, tapping the table with an elegant, pink painted nail. “Surely you’ve got a romantic streak in you.”
“I have,” Jamie said, looking anywhere except at Alex, “but I’m not sure Valentine’s Day really has much to do with romance. Sorry to be a disappointment, but…” He shrugged.
“You’ll be in trouble with your—”

And finally…

Has to be my favourite island.



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