Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Especially this one

Warning: this blog may be distressing to some readers – contains original thought, due to Covid induced bad mood.

What made the publishers of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series change the cover artwork so dramatically?

Bright colours, bold design – not an aga saga that’s for sure

I’ve been reading the Stephanie Plum books for over 20 years now (how can this be, I keep getting older and Janet stays the same age on her covers)  and you can spot a Plum from a mile away – bright colours, contemporary fonts, back cover blurb is fun and whets your whistle for what’s inside.  You know when you pick up a Plum you’re in for a rollocking good read.  Janet Evanovich writes a great caper; Stephanie, her bezzie Lula and Stephanie’s over energized Grandmother are the central characters with supporting roles from her two lovers!  Yes, two and sometimes in the same chapter!  And don’t forget Rex the hamster, who at over 24 has defied all cricetinae life expectancy and found the elixir of youth, maybe he could share one day?

Now this is a heroine I could have aspired to

This is not soppy chick lit, this is laugh out loud funny adventures as life does to Stephanie & Co what it does to us all – cover us in dog poop and bad body fluids – sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically.  Admittedly she’s had more cars explode than I’ve had hot dinners, just one exploding car would give me nervous diarrhea for weeks on end never mind tens of vehicles but that reinforces the fact that Evanovich & Plum = FUN.

Imagine my surprise when browsing in my local library I came across ‘a Plum’ that looked like this. 

And my reason to read the back blurb would be?

I would totally have overlooked it based on the jacket image and back cover copy, written I’d guess, by someone who has never read the book, or indeed taken any interest in the antics of Stephanie Plum.  It was dull with a capital D. 

Real life mirrors the world of publishing where the cover often belies what lies inside – oh that’s where the expression comes from.  Books I’ve often found over promise and under deliver, however this artwork does the total opposite – it’s the literary equivalent of mogadon.

Tnis is the real deal

I understand that in order to test the market publishers will use alternative cover artworks aimed at varied demographics to maximise reach and sales but what makes them move away from what I’d imagine to be a successful formula to this bland version? 

If anyone at Headline Publishing would like to let me know their rationale behind the design or are looking for a synopsis writer who promises to read the book please get in touch.

Do you read books based on the cover, author or recommendation – what makes you pick up a book?  Do you have a favourite author that you always pick up or do you like to try something new?

@janetevanovich please speak to the art department – Stephanie & Lula deserve full colour!


Words cannot espresso my sadness

So it’s finally happened.   My feminine charms are no longer enough to satisfy husband.  It was bound to happen sometime I guess and perhaps I’ve only myself to blame, why wasn’t I more attentive, more domesticated, more ….

Could he have bin any more hurtful?

She’s moved in on my territory, immaculately styled, sleek and chic – he’s quite besotted. 

The affectionate strokes and tender smiles as he walks past.  The expressions of delight ‘he’s never experienced anything like it’, ‘not sure how he’s gone all these years without her’.

She gurgles her response and obediently does what’s requested, to receive more simperings of encouragement and adulation.  Ungrudgingly complicit and calm with zero attitude and no propensity to talk back, disagree or throw a tantrum – now I say that it’s no wonder he’s in love.

I’ll be honest, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, and I’m trying to keep my resentment under wraps as she gets the attention that was once mine.

After all, It’s only a bean to cup coffee machine!

The lusty Latte Queen!

Beans heart Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

A week of prodding and a Party at the Palace

What a bloody week; I’ve had a tooth out, both ears syringed and an examination of my hooha – there’s hardly an orifice that health professionals haven’t show an interest in.

So it was quite a treat to settle down on Saturday night with a cup of tea, digestive and jumbo box of Nurofen Plus to watch Platinum Party at the Palace.  Did you watch it?  What you think? 

If you missed ‘the concert of the year’, here’s my round up.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has gotten very ‘theatrical’ and then proceeded to torture us with several songs from his musicals.  Jason Donovan appeared to have a giant flag pulled out of his backside (maybe the rumours are true), while the Phantom of the Opera cameo did nothing to dissuade me that it’s a bunch of screeching posh-o-s prancing around, dressed up as a fine art form.  I hadn’t regretted having my hearing restored until that came on the telly.

The six wives of Henry VIII appeared to be more Horrible Histories than Lloyd Webber, but I guess even he started to get thin on ideas, there’s not more than one way to skin a cat.

Rod Stewart strangled Sweet Caroline and appears to be having a career switch to hip-hop, Rapper Rod – perish the thought.

Rod has missed leg day for about 55 consecutive years

Tom Daly was on stage without a shirt, Olympians allegedly don’t get paid, but I thought he might be able to afford something with his endorsements, maybe he could have sold a knitting pattern?  Anything, even a Primani special would have been better than nothing – which was exactly what he wore. Next time you’re at a monarch’s Platinum Jubilee concert, make more of an effort please Tom.

Either too busy to put shirt on or didn’t give a shit

Alicia Keys’ boobs nearly gatecrashed the concert, husband was transfixed.  Little bit insensitive to sing this girl is on fire and then have a inferno projection onto BP – did the event organisers not remember what happened to Windsor Castle?  Poor woman is going to think she’s jinxed.

Duran Duran were a surprise; Simon Le Bon sounds like he’s been gargling porcupine turds and John Taylor’s interesting satorial choice was reminiscent of Iris Apfel.  Not quite the Wild Boys they once were, more like Old Gits.

Iris wears them better

Diana Ross sped through chain reaction, so fast it was almost as if she were lip syncing – and then launched into a couple of bangers, rightfully regaining her title as Queen of Motown.  That’s some hairdo she’s got going on there.

But let’s not be too cynical here there were some pretty cracking moments too:-

The Queen and Paddington Bear doing a double act – now we know what she really has in her handbag

Sir Elton performing a belting version of Your Song, I guess he owed it to her after singing at the daughter-in-law’s funeral

Fantastic light projections against BP that were mind-blowingly gorgeous

Watching Prince William sing along to Sweet Caroline

The Corgi and bone drone – cute

I was starting to feel a bit sorry for Queenie, considering she wasn’t feeling too chipper – the last thing a unwell nonagenarian needs is a rock concert outside their bedroom window – but apparently rather than have her sleep disturbed by 100,000 party goers, she cleared off to Windsor.

In hindsight I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have done the same.

You 4 boys on the naughty step – NOW!

What shenanigans we’ve been experiencing over the last 2 weeks.  It must have come as quite a shock to the quadrant of narcissists to realise they are not above the law. Let’s start at the beginning:-

  1. Novack dear, please don’t tell us you only did the interview because of your big hearted generosity in not wanting to let the journalist down.  I suspect it was your big and ever growing bank account that made you sit down and chat unmasked while knowing you were Covid positive.

Secondly it’s not very sportsmanlike to throw your agent under the bus and blame him for your visa mishap.  Ultimately it was your responsibility to report the truth. 

On the naughty step and stay there for 90 days from your positive test result.

2. Andrew I have a question; did it not seem strange that you were engaged in sexual relations with a young woman only 4 years older than your daughter?  At no point did you think that Beatrice would have had more in common with this teenager than you? I’m sure there were countless upper class, age-appropriate women who would have swallowed their tiaras to do the rude and bad with you.  But then she may not have been so easy to discard and forget.  I suggest you drop the false memory accusation; people in glass castles shouldn’t throw stones.

On the naughty step until you can treat women with respect, or Mum says you can come home.

Anfew’s Mum about to rip him a new one!

3. Mr Horta-Osorio, you may be in charge of a multi-billion dollar bank, and you may be an ardent tennis fan but that doesn’t mean you can flaunt the laws of our land and flounce around like Christopher Biggins in panto.  Yes, I understand quarantine is a pain but I’ll let you into a secret; there’s this virus going round the world killing people indiscriminately whether they’re rich or not and the people of GB would prefer it if you didn’t bring in another variant with your carry on.

Anyone for tennis?

On the naughty step until the Australian Open is over – as you’ve resigned your stay here will be the shortest. 

4.Boris darling, if you not sure whether you’re at a work meeting or at a party I can only think you’ve got the best job in the world or no life at all.  If a party looks like a work meeting; cushy job, nice touch.  But, if a work meeting looks like a party then that’s really sad I’m sure the people of England will be happy to explain the difference.

As for getting a staff member to conduct the investigation – genius move, like she’s ever going to risk her huge salary and great pension by pointing out that our Prime Minister is a total tool.  From now on you shall be known as Teflon Boris – cause nothing going to stick.

On the naughty step until you call learn to tell the truth.

Like the rest of the world, I am furious with the privelleged classes behaving as if they are above the law, their patronizing attitudes and constant lies. That we are so stupid we’ll believe every word that comes out of their mouths.    

Stop being so bloody pompous, else I’m going to set Scott Morrison on you.

Anyone else fancy living in Australia this week?

I dream of holidays

A girlfriend and I were messaging each other yesterday about holidays and sunshine – made all the more poignant as the leaden grey Dorset sky threatened to push every living breath out my lungs.  Death by dull weather disease – I’m not sure it’s a recognised medical condition but it should be.

The good old days

As we exchanged desires for blue skies and sandy beaches I realized with a sudden jolt that the furthest I would be going in 2022 was Clacton as my passport had expired.

Getting a passport renewed should be relatively simple thing to do in this age of digital photography – stand against wall, get husband to take picture of head and shoulders – job done.

I don’t like to consider myself vain, however I did take exception to the photos that appeared before me. I had taken on the appearance of a scraggy old hen who had recently experienced some very painful feather removal. 

One eyebrow appeared to be looking for an escape route from my face while my other eye and its brow was looking left for the bus!

Add to this an extremely pasty complexion and gravity defying hair I was the Mrs Potato Head of passport photos where random features had been crudely attached to my face and quite frankly it didn’t look like I should be travelling unaccompanied.

‘Is that the best you can do?’ I questioned.

‘I don’t look like that, dear God, tell me I don’t look like that?’

‘Well, you haven’t been very well lately’ he then went on to mumble about not blaming him considering the tools he had to work with but we’ll ignore that.

‘Haven’t been well’ I squawked, ‘I look like I’ve been on an embalmers bench for a fortnight, and it seems they don’t have a clue what to do with me either’.

‘Take it again.’

I could only dream of looking this chic

And again and again and again and still the result remained the same – a sickly looking, old boot was my imposter, it appeared impossible to get a decent photo.

Which means that for the next 10 years should I ever get the chance to travel I will have to do so looking like a cross between a career criminal and a corpse.

So, if you’re lucky enough to get abroad and during your journey through airport security you come across a woman with eyebrows going in the opposite direction, a lazy eye and a perpetual scowl, don’t offer to help, I’m quite fine as I am thanks.

I am Woman See Hear Me Pour

Apologies to Helen Reddy.

Hurrah! It’s the time of year when it’s perfectably acceptable to pour yourself a cheeky Baileys to accompany your mince pie elevenses.  I realise traditionally one should be waiting for the week in between Christmas and New Year before glugging hard tack with a mid-morning snack but I like to think I’m ahead of the curve and after the latest Covid news I see no reason not to have a large one.

Just about right size measure – 3/4 pint

I hazard a guess that since 23rd March 2019 a lot of us have adopted an ‘week between Christmas’ attitude towards booze, which may not be responsible but totally understandable as we catapult from one lockdown state to another thanks to this bloody virus.

At the moment I am loving a cocktail; my hard-earned cash has been converted into a veritable treasure trove of pretty coloured liqueurs, twinkling like jewels in the larder.  So much more fun than staring at packets of pasta.

There are many stories about the origins of the first cocktail, they appear to have come onto the scene around 1830 , and have been sipped ever since.  According to economists, cocktails experience an upsurgence in popularity during or immediately after financial crashes.  Ever since the 1920’s Wall Street disaster those who didn’t hurl themselves out of a 20th floor window hurled a Martini down their necks – I know which one I’d choose.  And looking back there appears to be a kernel of truth in this, around 2010 cocktails went from being a frothy umbrella decked joke to a sophisticated adult beverage.  You’d be hard pressed to find a decent bar without a cocktail menu these days.

I have no pretentions of sophistication but I do like mixing, shaking and drinking, especially the drinking.  Husband has wholeheartedly thrown himself into the position of chief cocktail taster, although it must be said that after the third he reckons they all taste delicious. He’s not wrong but he’s not particularly discriminating, I mean take a look at his lush of a wife!

Our current cocktail of choice is a Batiste – 2 parts spiced rum, one part Grand Marnier; it’s a little bit rummy and a little bit orangey and a whole lot of deliciousy. 

I do however, drink them with gusto and am reminded of a poem by the fabulous Dorothy Parker

I like to have a Martini,

Two at the very most

After three I’m under the table

After four I’m under my host.

Bottoms up darlings!


Unlucky for some

My first husband and I have been married for 13 years today.  I call him ‘my first husband’ to keep him on his toes; after all NOBODY is indispensable. Likewise, his life insurance policy doesn’t cover the full repayment of our mortgage, to quote ‘it will you keep you honest’, ensuring that upon his demise I still work my fingers to the bone, unable to embrace the lifestyle of the Merry Widow.

The number 13 is considered unlucky in several cultures across the world and you won’t find any hi-rise building with Floor No 13, next time you’re in a lift check it out. The likelihood of you sitting on Table No 13 at a swanky event will also be exceedingly rare, if you do – take bets with your fellow diners as to whom will be crucified the following day. No doubt that creepy bloke opposite you when his wife discovers he’s been to a swanky event without her.

I digress. I’ve had time to reflect over our past anniversaries and it doesn’t make for a romantic read.  I used to work with a woman who, on her wedding anniversary, shipped her kids off to a child minder, put on her wedding dress and cooked her husband the exact meal they had at their wedding breakfast – not necessarily in that order, nobody like a bride with gravy stains on her bodice.  I don’t have such a romantic attachment to the ’happiest day of my life’ (oh how I crack myself up) and in recollecting the years notched up together this became very apparent.

Year 1 : husband asks what’s the traditional gift for first year of marriage.  I answer “diamonds” he looks perplexed and mumbles something about ‘paper’ – my wish is not fulfilled.

The early years

Year 2 : husband working night shift – we only remember the following day we’d forgotten.  When I’m asked how could he make it up to me, my answer was “diamonds”, wish still not fulfilled

Year 3 : husband on business in Birmingham – anniversary dinner for 1, baked potato, cheese and coleslaw

The ultimate single persons’ tea

Year 4 : husband on business in Spain, client mortified he’s away for anniversary, sends him home with gifts … no diamonds

Year 5 : husband on business in Oman, mobile networks locked and no voip is operational – I had a date with Captain Birdseye – single life agreeing with me

The perfect dinner date

Year 6 : husband in Spain again, calls to rave about the tapas and lovely meal he’s eating, phone cuts out… seems to be fault on the line

Year 7 : Sardinia on a beach and sunshine … still no diamonds hhmmphh

Year 8 : husband home and delivers gifts and flowers, am little embarrassed as totally forgot, it’s a silent dinner that year

Marriage – expect little, forget plenty

Year 9 : Sardinia once more – spent afternoon at a wine farm, far as I remember (?) best anniversary ever

Year 10 : husband on business in Australia – left to single handily pack up house in prep for move to NZ.  Up to ears in bubble wrap and bad mood … didn’t hear phone ring.  

Year 11 : Camper van on South Island in winter, freezing cold, sleeping in clothes  – my Mum phones to congratulate us.  We drink wine but don’t kiss, we haven’t showered in 3 days!

Year 12 : Recently arrived home from NZ, day spent in lockdown shell shock

Year 13 : After all those hints about diamonds, maybe this year will be different and 13 won’t be so unlucky after all?

Curtains & Cocktails

We have recently moved house, which as anyone who has done the same knows can be somewhat stressful.  According to several reports commissioned by various mental health agencies, moving house is up there with divorce and death of a partner for elevated stress levels.

What the reports omit to mention is that during this time of solicitors, packing, never ending fees and arguing over what gets tossed vs what stays you find yourself thinking quite a lot about divorce and the peaceful conclusion it will give you as opposed to staying with your chosen partner and continuing the frenzied status quo in a new location. 

I have seen husband wistfully gazing into the distance over the past month and I don’t think for one second he was dreaming of our life together in our new house, more like how would he spend the insurance money if he was to prematurely become a widower. 

When the estate agents describe the picture of you house move

However, when it comes to painting it yourself, it looks more like ….

That crappy mug from your ex is NOT coming with us!

You hope your marriage, like the broken coffee machine, will magically repair itself once you’re in the new place

When moving to a new pozzie naturally you want to put your own stamp on the place and where better to look for ideas than the marvellous Brighton Pavillion.  The theatricality and sheer glorious kitschness of the place would even please the late, great Liberace and so that is where I dragged husband last week for some décor inspo. 

The Royal Pavilion Brighton A Prince’s Treasure From Buckingham Palace to the Royal Pavilion The Royal Collection Returns to Brighton 21 September 2019 to Autumn 2021 PICTURE BY JIM HOLDEN 07590 683036. Now this is a little bit of me!

To be honest he took it all in good humour although he drew the line at dragons over the curtain in our new lounge, apparently too outlandish for our restrained Dorset village and then got distracted by a young woman who was wandering around in a white diaphanous top.  Unfortunately, the poor dear had forgotten where she’d left her bra that morning and had to rely on the bulbous bug-eyed stares of every man in the place to try and jog her memory. While I was rhapsodising over an ornate, gilded chest so was husband, we were just looking in different places! I do so hope she managed to find her undergarment before she caused a multi-car pile up on seafront.

Chandelier with tear drop pendants and matching cocktail glasses

Getting settled has taken longer than I would have anticipated, curtains remain draped across the backs of chairs, ignored like the geeky girl at the Prom dance.  All our pictures are still in their protective bubble wrap jackets (in this heat, it must be a crime to art) littered around walls, the house looking more like the charity shop doorway on Monday morning rather than our dream home.

We’ll get there eventually, however in this heat I barely have the energy to change my mind let alone a light bulb so we will continue to tip toe around our homemade obstacle course, arguing over paint swatches and whether our last bit of savings should be spent on a coffee machine – total waste of money – or a dining room chandelier with tear drop pendants and matching cocktail glasses, an absolute essential.

Pictures courtesy of Royal Pavilion and thanks to their wonderful staff who were so knowledgeable and interesting. And to the guide who helped me come up with a title for this blog!

I’ve got a whiffy woofer!

Just over 2 weeks ago our wonderful girl had a catastrophic accident in the forest.  She was scampering through the woodland and hooked herself on the only broken tree stump in 40 acres.  I knew something had gone horribly wrong when I heard the greyhound scream of death (GSOD to the uninitiated) and as she limped towards me I could see the skin on her back leg flapping like a tattered pirate flag.

Pre-accident, in mountain goat mode … nothing to see here

How I didn’t pass out on the spot I’m not sure I’ll never know, in fact these past two weeks have been an exercise in containing the urge to faint/vomit/evacuate my bladder involuntarily as we have gone to the vets on a tri-weekly basis to get the wound dealt with. I still haven’t decided if that is because of severity of the injury or the cost of the treatment.

The skin has died and is liquefying

A week into the recovery period I tell husband the dog is starting to smell bad.  He gets closer for a sniff and then nearly passes out from the shock of the stench.  Back to the vets I go with the whiffy woofer. The vet walks into the room and says ‘ooh smelly dog, that’s because the flap of skin I stitched back is starting to liquefy’.

‘Excuse me?’ I squeak.

‘Look here where the skin has turned black it’s rotting away and liquefying’ at which point he stood back and encouraged me to have a closer examination.  Coincidentally it was the same time a hazy white fog descended in front of my eyes and the floor appeared to be made of jelly as it wobbled uncertainly under my feet. 

‘Ohhhhhmmmppppph’ was all I could manage, trying very, very hard not to regurgitate my breakfast.

‘I’ll operate on her tomorrow to remove the putrification – see you at 9am’ and then he strode into another room to deal with something less disgusting, maybe emptying a dog’s anal glands.

For more than two weeks we have contended with the world’s largest cone of shame, crashing into doors and walls, indentations on the back of our legs as we are buffeted along while she clears tables, the bookcase and shoe rack like a canine tsunami destroying everything in her path.  

Doing some gardening before the accident

I won’t lie, it’s been stressful and our nerves are shattered, the worry has been quite exhausting.  Looking at her doleful face as she peers out from the cover of her cone my heart breaks just a little bit more and I feel desperate – as life is miserable for her too at the moment.

I also mangled my leg when out having a good time as a teenager and the stress I must have caused my parents fills me with contrition and to them I am truly sorry for the anxiety I would have put them through.

On the plus side, the vet reckons the stitches can be out in 2 weeks and then life can slowly start returning to normal and it really can’t come soon enough.

One thing is for sure, having seen my dog’s flayed leg on the vet’s table (along with rest of the dog) it will be a cold day in hell before I fancy a leg of lamb for dinner!

On the road to recovery – human furniture is much better than my bed.

6 Days and counting

In just 144 hours I will finally have my long-awaited haircut.  It’s been over 4 months and to be perfectly frank it’s out of control.  It has more waves than the English Channel and is determined to grow outwards instead of downwards.  It has been a tricky time explaining to people that I don’t own a motorbike, and no that’s actually my hair, not a crash helmet on top of my head.

It cannot be tamed by product and when I put the straighteners on it, it made me look like the love child of Richard III and Olive from On the Buses – gormless with a slight hint of lunacy!

But in just 6 days I will be sporting the new ‘racing version’ of myself, short, pixie and back to manageable, my shampoo and conditioner expenditure will be reduced by around 80% saving me a quid or 10.

Yesterday I was trying to explain my excitement to husband, who A) being a boy doesn’t understand these things and B) is follically challenged and doesn’t care what he looks like.

Trawling through Pinterest, the 21st Century version of Hairdresser Weekly, I spent pointless energy in trying to engage him in my new look

‘What do you think of this one?’

‘Yeah, looks good’

‘What about this, do you like the fringe?’

‘Looks like the last one’

‘No it doesn’t, the last one has a short crown and longer fringe, this is a blunt cut’


‘I like your hair how it is now’

‘Whaaaaaaaat? Have you been in the garage sniffing the white spirit (again)’?

‘No, it’s good, you look like the Queen’

‘Excuse me, I look like a 94-year-old grieving widow?’

‘I like Queenie, she rocks a great look’

‘For a nonagenarian, yes, but surely not your wife’

Not the look I was going for, but I do fancy that tiara.

‘Alright then, not the Queen, but you like one of those middle-class horsey people, when their hair goes up and is combed back’

Husband available – will trade for wine

Experienced with toolbox

Committed royalist

Knows nothing about fashion