Less than three years ago I had the most amazing dream that consisted of three wishes, well, four really if you count my desperate desire to fit into the size 8 jeans I last wore in 1986. My wonderful jeans have sat in the third drawer down in the spare bedroom, forlornly waiting for the day my waist would measure the same as my left ankle, thus rendering them useful once again.
Sadly, both me and my anorexic jeans are still waiting for our moment of glory whilst I play Homer Simpson with the excess rolls of tummy flab that have slowly crept up on me since I hit my fifties.
So, back to wishes 1, 2 and 3.
Wish number 1. Write a book and get it published. Simples really if you say it really quickly. Being an ex-secretary I could type, I could spell and I knew some fabulous big words, although where I was going to fit supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into a chapter I had no idea.
Wish number 2. Well that sort of followed on from Wish number 1. If I managed to write a book AND get it published, I wanted to tread in the hallowed footsteps of Luca Veste, David Jackson and Jonathan Harvey by having my launch at the fantastic Waterstones in Liverpool One.
Sorry, just as a little diversion and to brag a bit, Luca Veste is my incredible nephew, David Jackson is my lovely neighbour and I spoke two words to Jonathan Harvey once AND I got a book signed by him. I think the two words were ‘Eee Rita’ but nevertheless, I was beside myself with joy and hero worship for weeks afterwards and I still sigh in awe when I see his name on the credits for Coronation Street.
Wish number 3. The potential for a ‘selfie moment’ in Liverpool John Lennon Airport with my book in the W H Smith Holiday shop. Not a pouty, duck-faced one, as old age has given me lips like the arse end of a cat, so unfortunately lipstick and gloss bleed into the wrinkles and then come to a grinding halt at my carefully tended moustache. The downside of my upper lip hair is my granddaughters now kiss the top of my head rather than suffer near fatal electric shocks from my bristles and nose hair.
After many months of frantic typing, coupled with copious amounts of biscuits, crisps and chocolate as I worked (ensuring those size 8’s would never, ever see the light of day or my chunky thighs again), Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong was born, followed by that email from Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications.
And the rest, as they say, is history!
This was the start of my amazing journey, a journey that has been made all the more special and magical by the lovely people I have met along the way.
I truly had no idea how fantastic the book world and Social Media could be to a novice writer. From authors, readers, bloggers and reviewers to Facebookers and Twitterati, they all excitedly encouraged and supported me. It’s a genuine support too, they love nothing more than seeing you succeed and helping to be part of that success.
I did worry what they would make of Mavis and her Humongously Large Thongs, I fretted over my own ‘likeability’ factor, I panicked about tweets/emojis/not tweeting/forgetting to tweet/saying thank you the right way/not saying thank you/retweeting/ballsing things up and finally the horrors of predictive text that could turn a simple name like Georgina into a dose of the clap.
I wasn’t sassy and self-assured and I certainly hadn’t written a literary masterpiece that would be hailed alongside the works of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. I was also pretty sure that neither Jane or Mary had the added pleasure of packing 120 pairs of size 18-20 knickers from Primark that had their respective protagonists face emblazoned on the front as a PR exercise! In the end, I plumped for being just me, accompanied by all of the above feck-ups.
To be honest, I don’t think Gonorrhoea Kirkham would be the same if she were sensible, full of her own self-importance and lost the ability to laugh at herself, do you?
It’s been a whirlwind of excitement, laughter, achievements and discovering new things about myself. I have realised that you never stop growing (there’s those damn jeans again), never stop learning, never stop finding the fun in life.
I also discovered that even though I’m fast approaching sixty, with arthritic knees and a bad hip, I could, in a moment of unbridled excitement, almost do a cartwheel or some other physically impossible action.
The cause of this geriatric excitement?
A completely unexpected nomination for The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2017 from the lovely Mark Mayes, a fellow Urbanite. If the nomination on its own wasn’t enough to send me into raptures, the fact it had come from Mark was the icing on the cake. Can you imagine how it feels to have someone you greatly admire and respect as a writer to believe in you. Forget the cartwheels, I cavorted like a retired lap dancer at a bus stop!
Two weeks later, once my hip had set itself back into the socket and I’d extricated my Thong from where the sun don’t shine, I had cause for another bout of elation. I had made the Long, Long LongList.
Now when The Guardian says ‘long’… it means long. If you hit the link below and keep scrolling, by tomorrow you might have found me, but to honest I couldn’t care less if I have to scroll off the end of the iPad…. I was there, Mavis Upton had made it to the List, and public voting had begun with earnest.
I’m under no illusions, there are so many wonderful and literary greats amongst those titles, and Mavis may be a little out of her depth, but I’d love to think she’s holding her own. The chances of her winning with Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is roughly the same as Cilla Black getting a straight answer on what it’s really all about from her mate Alfie but to have even the remotest possibility of reaching the shortlist is like having Wishes 5 through to 10 all at the same time.
The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2017
After gratefully accepting wishes number 1 and 2 as granted by my harassed, borderline-alcoholic Guardian Angel, the Not The Booker nomination and the added news this week that W H Smith holiday shops are to stock Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong from August, I am feeling untold joy and eternal gratitude to everyone who has done so much for me along the way.
I truly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So, as I wish you a fabulous Sunday, I’m sitting here with my tongue hanging out in concentration using my trusty dried up Sharpie pen to cross Wish Number 3 from my list, whilst happily having visions of me grinnning inanely holding my book in Liverpool Airport. The WH Smith sign is behind me as Loretta LoveHoney the blow-up doll on the front cover, bares her ginger ‘Dorrito’ to weary travellers and fellow holiday makers as I dance like there is no tomorrow hoping for a mention in the Liverpool Echo.
©Gina Kirkham 2017