I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Freebie without strings

Below are three plot-obscure extracts from the Little Miss Monoglot sequel. The whole 5712-word Word doc comes as an email attachment if you comment Yup or communicate (secretly) via email. No need to react critically but, if you do, best tell me what’s wrong. If I haven’t got your email address then that will be your big decision. Mine is rodrob@globalnet.co.uk.. Fact is blogs aren’t suitable for fiction: the lines are too short, paras need to be line-spaced, no indents.

  THE DIGITAL clock and thermometer were from Barbara. Being un-French she ambushed Grégoire with surprises, with gifts that did more than meet a need. The electronic displays looked far too sleek for his wooden chest of drawers and he accepted them bemusedly. But now the hot nights kept him awake and as one numeral slid into the next (sometimes backwards with the thermometer) he pretended these changes were Barbara, in another form of life, observing him and approving.

He rolled over in his otherwise empty bed and dreamed of the word “purification” which stayed with him until the doorbell sounded at six o’clock. His rarely used dressing gown was not on its hook and instead he put on underpants. Passing the open door of the second bedroom he saw Philippe and Janine, sweatily asleep, flopped like wet bladderwrack on the shore. Neither had reacted to the bell.
Each had a ramekin straight from the refrigerator, the contents hidden by a hard yellow shell. “Buttered shrimp,” she explained. “In England the shrimp would be brown and very small, fiddly to peel. The best come from Morecambe Bay on the north-west coat. Hot butter poured over the shrimp, a touch of cinnamon, allspice and pepper. France, alas, lacks brown shrimp so I’ve made do with your so-called grey shrimp. A bit discouraging…”
  “Such a silly word in French. Culpabilité. As if there were blame. As if I’d want to think about guilt when you’re here. With your dahlias.”

“Are they dahlias? I didn’t know.” He explained their provenance, how the elderly couple had bustled on behalf of his promise. “Barbara please handle them. Put them somewhere. Let them not die.”

In fact she wasn’t at all prepared for flowers and they found a temporary home in a kitchen measuring jug. Seeing the stalks in water, visible through the glass, he felt childishly relieved.


  1. Oui, s'il vous plait.

    Por favor

    Per piaceri


  2. Sorry-minded pedant that I am, I feel compelled to say that this part of France at least does not lack brown shrimp; they are known as crevettes grises, are often available from our regular fishmonger, form a section of the 'retour de peche' plate that we often enjoy at the Cafe du Port at Dourduff-en-mer, and can be bought peeled and packaged from supermarkets, usually from the Dutch supplier Heiploeg. They are pretty much the only kind of shrimp or prawns I usually buy, since learning of the economic, social and ecological devastation wrought from Ecuador to Bangladesh by the production of those universally available big pink prawns; I always suspected that anything that cheap and succulent had to be some kind of devil's bargain. Except for chicken livers. And mussels.

    Potted shrimp, however, I have not come across, though there is a concoction known as 'beurre de crevette' but really it's just shrimp paste.

    Oh, and occasionally I take out a mortgage and buy a small portion of the locally caught, small cold-water
    prawns, or large shrimps, called 'bouquets'. They are only rarely found on sale, when there has been a very high tide. At those times my retired students were noticeably thin on the ground in class, the absentees being down on the rocks with their buckets and shrimp nets.

    All that (unnecessarily) said, a belated yup also.

  3. I read it last night and then let the story settle as I went about my daily chores. The 'invigilator scene' is a delight. Finally a non-Hollywood exchange between two adults. So rare these days.

    And the little details about Grégoire that the reader learns through his exchanges with Philippe and Mme. de Viguerie.

    And the way you have of pulling the reader into the story within the space of the initial paragraph. How do you do that?!

    Very enjoyable, RR! The characters have really grown on me.

  4. Lucy: We sorted this one out by diplomatic courier.

    RW (zS): A very professional compliment, and very much appreciated. The trick is to imply description rather than attach it in the form of labels, simultaneously making it interesting. I rarely like my male characters but I've ended liking - perhaps even loving - Grégoire.