Welcome! You have found the home of 'Being Me', Fran Hill's blog. Please browse my posts and if you like what you read, you'll enjoy my book 'Being Miss' which you can order from my website or on Amazon. My next book 'Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?' will be published by SPCK Publishing in 2020. My website is at www.franhill.co.uk. Come and visit for more Fran info!
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Further evidence that every now and again Fran writes something more serious
I don’t know what Venice
is like. Once, I was as near as damn it,
on a ship, with the chance to disembark and laze on a gondola trailing my hand
in water, or sip coffee from a tiny white cup outside a café. But I was fourteen, and David was seventeen,
and we didn’t need what Venice
had to offer. We’d made our own romance.
that’s the way I prefer to remember it.
It was 1976. We were on the SS Uganda as part of a school
cruise around the Mediterranean. The night before, there’d been a disorderly evening
of storms, of portholes that showed no water, then all water, then no water. Everyone screeched with delight in the ship’s
common room as glasses slewed off tables and anxious teachers hovered, urging
us back to cabins. We pressed coins into
the jukebox and played ‘Rock the Boat’ by the Hues Corporation,
dancing without balance like badly-operated puppets.
David was with a group of
friends, throwing his blonde head backwards and laughing as the ship see-sawed. I was sure he hadn’t even noticed me; I was
small and dark-haired, not pretty, and he was muscled and over six feet tall: a
rugby player. But as many of our friends
sloped off holding their stomachs, he and I were among the few left in the
common room, and he held my gaze. By midnight,
he’d draped his arm round my shoulders and I was proud in front of his friends. I wasn’t the only one who thought he’d never
morning, in Venice, the storm’s mood had passed. Teachers gave us maps of the city and
warnings about timings. ‘Back by four.’
and I agreed – was it his idea or mine? - that we would hide somewhere on the
ship so that we could avoid the crowds and our teasing friends. Soon the ship had emptied itself of our school
group and the supervising teachers, all clutching their lira and white sunhats.
three hours before someone came to find us.
We nestled together in a corner on one of the decks, away from the glare
of the fervent sun and of the ship’s staff, and while everyone else explored
the waterways and the Venetian glass shops, we kissed. On and on, we kissed. His hands mapped the skin under my summer linens. I leaned back several times and searched his
blue eyes for a sign that he too was in love, but then just closed my own eyes
and gave myself up to the moment.
Mrs Drake's voice came sudden, like a slap. We stood
up at the teacher's command, clumsy with disappointment and the heat of the day, smoothing down our
clothes. David wouldn’t meet my eyes as
he mumbled ‘sorry’ while the diminutive Geography teacher lectured us. David was at least a foot taller than she. I’d expected him to be defiant, mutinous, defensive. But he stood, head bowed, hands at his side.
Still, I couldn’t
bring myself to care about punishment.
Nothing could hurt me now that I had David.
us, though, and I was left in a bland, beige sick room alone. I sat on the edge of an examination couch,
swinging my legs and flicking through leaflets about sea-sickness for hours. Then I was sent back to the dormitory and my
friends. I was a heroine for a time, and
they harangued me for every detail.
really wanted was to see David and to hear him say, ‘I don’t care. All I want is you.’ But, on the flight to England the following
day, a Friday, I was made to sit with a teacher and David was at the back of
the plane with another one.
England, I called his home number hourly.
His mother said he wasn’t in.
At school on the Monday, I saw David’s
blonde head, lofty above others across the dining room. He was surrounded, as always, by a group of friends.
I jostled my way out of the lunch queue to go and
speak to him, my throat dry with thoughts of a future.
As I neared his group, I realised he was holding hands with a girl in the
sixth-form, a lithe brunette called Lisa who nuzzled her head into his neck. 'Hi,' he said, his voice lazy with disinterest, and his eyes looking straight into mine as if to warn, 'Say nothing.'
know if I want to go back to Venice.
It’s meant to be a beautiful city. But I’ve never had the travelling urge like friends
who holiday in Rome or New York. I guess
David may have been to Venice
many times, perhaps with Lisa and a couple of blonde-haired boys. I wonder if, while he’s explored the Marciano
Museum, or a fruit market, he ever remembers me and the things he told me in
I picked up my new glasses this morning. Here's a Before and After comparison for you, whether you wanted it or not.
You have no idea how long that's taken me, to post those Before and After pictures. Every time I posted the After one, it hopped up the page and decided to appear before the Before. 'No,' I told it. 'I need you after the Before. If you go before the Before, people will think the Before is the After and the After is the Before.'
'And who will care?' the After photo said to me. 'Why do you think anyone's bothered about your new glasses anyway?'
I ignored its cheek and dragged it back down again. This time, it stayed.
It's true. Maybe no one is bothered. But it seems a dramatic change to me, and I felt very self-conscious, stepping out of the opticians into Leamington's main high street. What if I saw someone I knew? Would they do that is-it-isn't-it thing and decide not to speak to me? What if they hate the new loo…
Well, Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for following me during 2018 - your forbearance and long-suffering are much appreciated, as are all your comments. This year I'm meant to be writing and delivering to the publishers my diary-memoir 'Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?' Watch out for news.
I thought I'd write about fish pie as it's the start of the new year and there are many, many reasons I am not the right person to write a blog about new year resolutions ...
I made a fish pie last night for dinner because there was a packet of supermarket pastry in the fridge that never got converted into mince pies over Christmas.
Why didn't I make the mince pies? Mainly because I knew that no one would eat them over Christmas because they'd all be stuffed to perdition with other goodies. So, if I'd made 48, I would eat 47 of them and then my husband, who's not a major fan (of mince PIES, you at the back!!) would wander into the kitchen in mid-January …
This is a scene from a novel I hoped to get published. But I've moved on now and am writing another book which will be published in 2020. Watch this space!
I really like the scene, though. So I thought I'd let you read it, rather than having it fester on my laptop.
Enjoy! It's very much based on my personal experience, and it's a scene that's played out in real life in many, many classrooms across the country. And perhaps the world.
Setting: a secondary school classroom, England. Friday afternoon. Characters: an English teacher and her class
The pupils, as they did every
week at this time, drifted from all corners of the school, in spits and spots
like a gradual, hesitant build-up of rain. They
seemed weary, as did their end-of-the-week uniforms, which drooped and slouched
on their bodies as if drained of life.Indeed, some of their blazers had died and slidden off their bodies like
thin corpses, hanging now from the ends of their fingers. Several pupils had