I’m not a morning person. I’d be fine if a maid glided in with my breakfast on a tray, drew back the curtains and asked if there was anything else madam required. Then I could gently ease myself into each new day, rather than having it slammed against my forehead with all its bright, shiny light.
(I think I must have noble blood, because I genuinely feel this sort of lifestyle would really work for me. I’d particularly enjoy ringing for Cook, so we could discuss menus for the week ahead. )
I mention this because the other day I actually did manage to get up quite early. (It was like, I don’t know, 7am or something.) I had an appointment to see my publisher about my new novel, THE HYPNOTIST’S LOVE STORY (due out in Australia in October.) I was taking the baby and dropping my son off at preschool on the way. That meant I had to dress like a proper person. I had to cut up grapes to keep the baby distracted during the meeting. I had to move briskly and efficiently at a time when I really should have been stretching and yawning and calling for my lady-in-waiting.
But I did it! I left the house right on time, and after I dropped George off I started to fill quite chipper. Look at me juggling career and motherhood, why, I’m so early I could even stop and buy – and that’s when I realized I’d left my wallet at home. So, a tiny spanner in the works, because I needed to pay for parking, but I had time to spare! I drove back home and retrieved the wallet.
I made it into the city in good time, stopped at a red light, and waited. Tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. Waited… gosh, slow old traffic light… waited….hey, c’mon now! Those people have already had their turn!…Oh, for… The traffic light stayed red. It was a one-way street. There was no escape. People began to toot their horns, because that always helps. A taxi was the first to take action, ignoring the red light and pulling out decisively. The car in front of me wavered, still hoping for the green light that was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. I called out gentle words of encouragement. Finally he went. I did the same! Had imaginary conversations with the police. “What was I meant to do officer?’ Felt wild and exhilarated.
I got to the building where my publisher has their office and drove straight into an underground parking area I’d never noticed before. I drove round and round but every spot had an angry sign shouting that I must not under any circumstances park there. No public parking, no visitors parking. I couldn’t find any spots reserved for my publisher. I had to get out of there. I followed the exit signs down a ramp to find my way blocked by a barrier. There was an office but it was empty. There was no intercom. Once again, I was trapped. I was starting to do that manic, disbelieving laugh you do in these situations.
I reversed back up the ramp. There was a hideous screeeeeeech as I scraaaaaped my dear little Volkswagon Golf along the wall.
A friendly-faced ginger-bearded man walked by. I wound down the window and told him my life story. Well, certainly more than he needed to know. “Just park your car anywhere!” he said. (He had no official car park capacity. He just wanted me to stop talking.) I took his advice and parked in a spot STRICTLY RESERVED FOR COMPANY M STAFF ONLY.
As I put the baby in the stroller, she gave me a little pat on the face, as if to say, You really don’t cope well with actual life, do you, Mum? I wheeled the stroller up to the building foyer, checked the directory to see which floor my publisher was on… and there was no Pan Macmillan listed.
I didn’t understand. Was I…? Had I been transported to some sort of alternate reality? I called my sister. (We have the same publisher.) “Isn’t Pan Macmillan at 1 Margaret Street?” “That sounds right,” she said. “But I’ll look it up.” She looked it up. “It’s 1 Market Street,” she said, just as the battery on my mobile ran out.
My damaged car was now trapped in a strange car park and I was about six blocks away from where I was meant to be with no way of calling ahead.
I arrived at the meeting forty minutes late. Everyone was very kind. “We were just starting to get worried,” they said. Some lovely person went out and bought a packet of arrowroot biscuits for the baby because I’d left her grapes at home on the kitchen bench. Someone else bought me a coffee. I began to breathe normally again.
Nothing else went wrong. When I got back to the car park Company M hadn’t towed me away. Another nice stranger swiped their card to let me out of the car park. So, free parking in the city! Clever! The early bird really does catch the worm!
However, I learned a valuable lesson that day. Those of us with noble blood really can’t be expected to get about like ordinary commoners. Next time I shall call for the carriage. Or at least a taxi.
It has just occurred to me that I’ve only written a handful of blog entries over the past year and TWO of those entries are about me turning up at the wrong address. If this was a novel, my editor would write something like, “Do you really need this scene? It’s quite long and rambling and you’ve already demonstrated this character’s ineptitude. She’s in danger of becoming annoying and I’m not sure if it’s believable. Suggest cutting?’
She would be absolutely right, and if this was a novel, I’d hit delete and try not to think about how long I’d spent writing that scene, but you know what, it’s my blog!! So I’m keeping it! After all, I drive straight through red lights! I park in Company M’s parking spot and I get away with it! But that’s it. If I do anything like this again, you won’t be reading about it here.