Crawley Library as you can see is a rather splendid place, very new, spacious and well planned. But I rather blotted my copy book at the Local authors fair there last Saturday. For a start I arrived over an hour late, I’d eaten something on Friday which disagreed with me and it caught up with me in the middle of the night, so I was feeling distinctly weak and washed out at breakfast time and didn’t dare to eat anything but settled for a cup of black tea. I missed a train at Clapham Junction and had to wait for the next one and by the time I got to Crawley, I’d become such a wimp that I hired a cab to find the library for me.
The fair was held in an upstairs room and someone had very kindly set out my books on the table ready for me and I was greeted with some concern by Clair Stanton and Alan Goodman, the two organisers of the event, who rushed at once to provide coffee and cake to sustain me and settled me in at my post. I appreciated that very much, being a diabetic and by then rather in need of sustenance.
The event was already under way of course and extremely noisy. There were only two authors there who were published the old fashioned way, me and a lovely friendly lady called Sheila Rance (Hi there Sheila) who writes children’s books and is published by Orion. I knew two of the self published authors from the Chichester group which is called ‘Chindie’, but the others were unknown to me.
It was good to meet up with fans and talk to them, because I enjoy to talking to my fans but it was extremely difficult. 22 authors all talking at once to push their wares makes a heck of a row. There were times when I simply couldn’t hear what the people who’d come to see me were saying. The level of noise is a major problem at such events and I don’t know what the answer is. But I was treated kindly throughout and the two Chindie members drove me home for which I was extremely grateful, because by then I was beginning to feel like a piece of chewed string.
So thank you Rosemary Noble and Patricia Stoner. You’re dear kind friends.
I’ve always liked Tooting Library. It was a happy hunting ground for me when I was young and I like it even more now, because the evening I spent there last Friday was such fun.
It was a joy to meet up with so many Tootingites and to share memories with them. And what memories they were. We talked about ‘gro-ers’, ‘playing out’, where WW1 soldiers lived, what it was like to ride on a tram, what it was like in the tubes when they were used as shelters during the Blitz. So much and so detailed. My head was spinning like a happy top by the time the evening was over.
And of course, it hasn’t ended there. For ever since, new friends and old have been in touch and I’ve been invited back to take part in a torch-lit walk. It’s as if I have never moved away.
And the following morning I went to Crawley to an Authors book-fair there. Of which more in my next blog – or possibly the one after! Oh it’s all go!
Excitement is growing now. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and fans at Tooting library at 6pm on Friday the 13th of October and making new friends as I’m sure I shall. There’s so much to say about our Tooting. It has a long and fascinating history, I’ve looked out several photographs that might interest you, here’s a taste of some of them.
This one shows the back of the Holy Family convent in the High Street, where I was educated from 1938 to 1940. I sheltered from the daylight raids at the start of the Blitz, in the chapel there.
This one is Tooting Broadway looking north, trams and all.
And this one’s another shot of the Broadway, showing the old king standing on his pink plinth in front of the public lavatories.
And here is a third shot of the Broadway, showing the public baths.
But this one is the best of them all. This lovely lady was the template for my heroine in Everybody’s Somebody, sent out to work in a big house miles from home when she was twelve and from then on, working every day of her life until the day before she died. I loved her to bits.
And her husband Jesse was one of the three World War One soldiers I knew as a child and fed me all manner of tales about life in the trenches.
Oh we are going to have fun on Friday! See you there.
This blog is for friends, fans and local history scholars in South London and the Crawley area of West Sussex.
On Friday October 13th I shall be giving a talk in Tooting Public Library at 6 00 in the evening. I’m looking forward to it very much because I shall be going back to my roots in every sense of the words. I was born and bred in Tooting and still have links there, and knew and know it well. For some time, when I was a teenager, I lived in Mitcham Lane and Tooting Library was a happy home for me. So naturally, I have set part of my latest book ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ there. Or to be more accurate ‘there’ as it was during and after the First World War, when there was a military hospital in Church Lane, which became St Benedicts, and injured soldiers in their bright blue uniforms taking the air on the common or down in Mitcham Lane. Lots of memories of Tooting in the 30’s too which we can dip in to.
And next day Saturday October 14th , between 11 am and 200 pm, I shall be giving a talk in Crawley Library as part of their Authors’ Book Fair. ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ starts in Sussex in a very small village called Binderton, just north of Chichester in the year 1908 when my heroine is just twelve years old and is sent to work in Arundel Castle. The story takes her to London and later to Worthing during the 30s. Lots of local history in this one for local fans and some of it might surprise you.
If you live in the Tooting or Crawley area, I do hope you will come and meet me. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I promise we can have some fun together
Could I be really sneaky and ask you if you would rate the book for me when you’ve read it and if possible give it a review, which needn’t be more than a sentence. Amazon take books more seriously the more reviews and ratings they get. It would help me if they took this book seriously.
This is all so quick, I can barely get my head round it! One minute Endeavour Press are rescuing the novel and taking pains to ensure that they have the whole novel (which they do) and now here is the new cover with the Palladian Bridge, in Prior park in Bath behind my heroine.
I don’t think it will be long, given the speed at which Endeavour work, before the book itself is on Kindle and ready for you. When it’s out I’ll tell you something more about it, because it’s one of my plum puddings and full of goodies!