Friday, 15 May 2009

The country mouse goes to town

The country mouse is off to town tomorrow. I am booked into a travel writing workshop at the ITV Studios in London under an assumed name. I have been looking forward to this for some time, as it is run by travel writer Rory Maclean, of Magic Bus and Falling for Icarus fame, and the Guardian's Dea Birkett. I heard Rory Maclean give a talk once and his gentle, Canadian tones sent me into another world.

I have just found out who the guest editors are and I am working myself up to do a pitch. I am rubbish at selling myself so this afternoon I will be busy dusting off some things I did earlier in an attempt to make my sparkling prose speak for itself.

What is filling me with glee, however, is the prospect of staying the night with Curious Girl, my old flatmate I haven't seen for 10 years. We shared a house together when we were training as journalists in Plymouth nearly 30 years ago.

Her calmness, fashion sense and individuality always impressed me, a timid sheep who hid under a veil of kookiness. She looked like a woman. I looked like a boy. Her slight Westcountry tones sounded sophisticated. Mine just sounded stupid. Her knowledge of David Bowie and Iggy Pop was astounding. My knowledge was restricted to where milk comes from and being able to quote the introduction to Alias Smith and Jones verbatim.

Looks-wise, she was Geena Davies. I was Susan Sarandon. Partners in crime.

On Friday and Saturday nights , we'd glam up and sink a bottle of Concord wine before setting off on the top deck of the bus, down through Mutley Plain and into town for a night out at the Cooperage. I smoked Marlboro and she smoked Silk Cut. Thankfully, we are now off the dreaded weed.

Some of my fellow students went on to much better things, Curious Girl included. I had pressing attachments back home so I did not get the six week work experience on a national newspaper, enjoyed by other trainees such as political guru Alistair Campbell, Good Housekeeping editor Lindsay Nicholson and Guardian health editor Sarah Bosely. It's probably just as well, though. I would have been terrified.

These days, as well as sinking myself into village stuff, I am still interviewing the weird and wonderful and very local while Curious Girl is a high flying PR for an international company. Saying that, though, there is a homely side to this superwoman. She runs a crafting blog.

Now I am sorry Calico Kate, Cariad in Crete et al, I am not remotely crafty. I went along to do a piece on a knit and natter club this week and ended up crocheting an egg cosy because after 30-plus years I'd forgotten how to do corners on granny squares.

My dear friend Gail is the one who introduced me to blogging so has a lot to answer for. She gave me an award this week for intelligent and witty writing. I was bowled over. I was so pleased not to get the 'This blog is pucking fabulous' award because I'd worry my mother might see it.

So I am passing on the Renee Award, created by Bella in Japan in memory of her friend Renee, to Reasons to be Cheerful, 1,2,3 and Maternal Tales from the South Coast. Neither of you are strangers to awards so what's one more in a long line-up? And although laughing out loud is such an overused expression, that's what both of you make me do.

You give a sense of proportion to this too often pompous world of ours.

That's about it
Love Maddie x


  1. Oh have a fabulous time and good luck with the pitch. Bet you would have had a ball on the newspapers - my favourite time in journalism was on the dailies. Nowhere near as scary as mags really as just too focused on deadlines.
    Great to meet up with an old friend too. Eeek, yes, marlboros here too (feel a wheeze coming on just thinking about it).
    He he, if you get up the nerve, grab the F*** award from my place, why not indeed?

  2. Aah Maddie - that is just too wonderful. I can't speak (but that may be because I had one too many glasses of vin rouge hier soir)!! I'm totally touched and chuffed to be the recipient of the Renée award - I may even show my litte Renée herself and see if she knows what it says...I'm hoping she'll be able to since it's about the only word she can read!!

    Ooh how exciting for the weekend - I think you'll have a blast - meeting up with old friends and feeling all creative again. I could do with some of that!

    Enjoy yourself. Can't wait to hear all about it xx

  3. ha ha ha! And usually I go to that knitting/crochet group, but couldn't this week as I was trying to make sense of my 11 yr old daughters SATS revision card!
    ah well, hope you had fun!!
    Nicki x

    (And have a fab time in London...I'm going up next weekend to do some midwifing).

  4. Aw Maddie thank you very much indeed! And for your lovely comments here and on my blog posts.

    I bet you'll have a grand old time. Just don't go driving off any cliffs - from a selfish point of view, I'd miss your blog!! ;-)

    Have fun, we shall look forward to hearing all about it. ALL about it. xx

  5. Well that all sounds like fun! Who knows where this will end for you. Imagine all the free trips you could blag if you got a travel writing job?

  6. Was worrying about Mr Grigg being on his own and unable to cope, and even thinking of popping along with a hot pot when suddenly was blown away by your new photograph and entirely forgot Mr Grigg.

  7. Ooh very nice comments Maddie...though I must divulge that when we were trainees, I was envious of the way you whizzed round on a scooter (and then a Mini) while I was confined to buses, and at how cheeky and fun you were, particularly with your rather straight laced editor Mr Sampson.

  8. Well done on your awards Maddie - justly deserved.
    Sounds like you'll have a ball & very best of luck with your pitch -I'm sure you'll walk it.


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