A Proper Family Christmas – 2020

Sadly many of us are not going to have the Christmas we might have wished for this year. Now might be a good time to cheer oneself up with a book which takes one back to how they used to be, with a house filled with guests, everyone packed round the table for dinner, and charades and a visit from Santa afterwards. …Not that old William Shirburn’s Christmas is precisely idyllic. Virtually no one’s presence in his rambling mansion is there at his invitation, as he has no hesitation in informing them.

William really isn’t into Christmas, – all that jingly tinselly presenty stuff makes him feel queasy. He’d like to spend it alone with his cat. But Haseley House could be a gold-mine in the right hands, – and William’s relatives want to make sure it does end up in the right hands!

At home in London Hilary Watlington intends to ignore Christmas completely. With Daniel away, she won’t have to conceal how desperately she still misses Ben. But widows aren’t allowed to spend Christmas alone, – and everyone else seems to be going to Haseley.

Frances, the nanny employed by a grim academic couple in Oxford, was hoping for a break from spoilt little Tobias, but now she’s told they’re to stay with his eccentric grandfather in some spooky old house in the Cotswolds.

Can Hilary possibly be having feelings for another man? – And does she know the whole truth about the attractive Oliver Leafield?
Will Frances overcome the snobbery threatening to separate her and Daniel? Or learn which of his relatives it’s safe to trust?
And whose name is William going to put on that will they’re all so keen for him to sign?

This particular family Christmas is going to change everybody’s lives.

Stroud Short Stories

When I saw there was a local short story competition, I thought I should give it a go. I love writing short stories (the clue’s in the name), and this would be the first I’d done as a Gloucestershire, rather than an Oxford writer. What’s more, they were going to be judged anonymously, so there’d be no danger of being compared to one’s illustrious sister.  I thought it would be nice to give it a local theme and chose the most notable feature of the area: Stroud Alternative Culture. Only after submitting my story, which started with some witty line about Druids, did I read the biographies of the judges, and see that one had called her website Druid Life. – Ah well.
But the good news is that she didn’t take offence, even found it funny, and my story has been chosen as one of the ten best, to be read at a special event on April 24th. The bad news is that I have to do it, standing on a stage, with a microphone, watched by all those nice people my story was gently teasing… That’ll teach me.