A few days ago I made an impromptu visit to the seaside. It’s something I have to do regularly. The sea calls to me. It’s a three-hour trip from where I live, so you can see that the sea must call very loudly to be heard that far away. I was armed with an audio-book to listen to in my car that I was enjoying, so the time flew by. The book? Oh, it was ‘This Must be the Place,’ by Maggie O’Farrell, it had been recommended by Harriet Devine on her book blog site http://harrietdevine.typepad.com and a great recommendation it has turned out to be.
So before I knew it I was walking along the beach choosing a few stones to make it back with me. I had a lovely picnic in the sand dunes and I even used the little watercolour travelling set my husband had given me for our recent anniversary to do a little sketch of the grasses surrounding me in the dunes.
A great couple of hours, but what I needed now was a cup of tea. So, I scrambled back through the rough grasses of the dunes and headed back to my car.
My favourite bakery in the town is called ‘The Two Magpies’ so it was to this establishment that I made my way.
Many of you who have read my book ‘Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?’ have said what a great film it would make and that’s what I also have in mind for it. I imagine a great British film along the lines of ‘Love Actually’ or ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. In fact a great Richard Curtis movie. So, I’m standing at the counter in the bakery ordering my tea and coffee and walnut cake and a woman comes in behind me talking animatedly to a teenager and holding the cutest little ball of dog fluff under her arm. I recognise this woman as Emma Freud – the partner of Richard Curtis. Yikes!
I jokingly text my husband – ‘Shall I pitch my film to her,’ I ask, having explained to him who I have encountered. ‘Definitely,’comes the reply.
Well, somehow as she is being told the disappointing news that the focaccia is finished it doesn’t seem like the right moment. I take my seat at the long club table and open my book, this one being Edna O’Brien’s ‘The Little Red Chairs.’ What do you know? Emma Freud comes over, points to the chair next to me and asks if it’s free. I try not to look too keen and say nonchalantly ‘yes’, with a friendly but non-stalker smile.
My mind now goes into overdrive. She’ll sit down and we’ll exchange small talk over the Edna O’Brien book I’m reading. It will come out quite naturally that I’ve written a book. She’ll be intrigued by the unique storyline and I’ll promise to send her a copy. She’ll give me her address and one day on Desert Island Discs this will be quite an anecdote when Kirsty asks how come Richard Curtis made the film of ‘Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?’
Emma Freud returns to the counter having secured her seat and her future with me! But having chosen the ham and cheese toastie she turns round to find that her son, (he has now referred to her as ‘mum’) has chosen to sit on one of the uncomfortable stools at the other end of the bakery! No! She looks momentarily confused glancing from the more comfortable chair next to me and a guaranteed award winning film for her husband, (she may have been unaware of that bit) but makes her way to perch on the stool next to her son who has single handily, but I accept unwittingly, ruined both our futures.
I finish my tea and make my way out of the bakery only to find I’m being followed by Emma and her treacherous son across the road into the bookshop opposite. Who is stalking who now? While I browse she orders a book at the counter that necessitates giving her mobile number. I have the fleeting and immediately discarded thought of memorising this and using it to further my cause – but common decency prevails.
So not really a missed opportunity as the opportunity never really presented itself. I might go back to the bakery and leave a copy of my book ‘Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?’ near those stools in the off chance Emma will come back having acquired a taste for ham and cheese toasties or looking for a storyline for a new film.