Evidence that Fran is looking forward to winter
I'm writing a short story called 'Heat'. I haven't finished it yet because I can't decide how it ends but it's about a couple in conflict and begins, 'They say domestic wrangles are usually about sex or money but whoever they are has overlooked thermostats.'
The story features two people who marry and move in with each other, never having shared a house with a partner before. They are about to find out that there are 'three of them in this marriage': the woman, the man, and a little white dial fixed to the kitchen wall.
categorically not based on personal experience the story of my whole life.
It's summer now, though, which is a welcome break from the thermostat friction between me and my spouse. Instead, we replace it with
light-hearted talk bitter confrontations about whether drawing all the curtains in the house, locking every window tight and sitting as silent and still as death in the eerie darkness really does keep you cooler than opening everything possible and letting the AIR, which God invented for this very PURPOSE and gave freely to the WHOLE world, circulate throughout the house.
My next short story will be called 'Ventilation'. In fact, right now I'm wondering about a whole series. Heat. Ventilation. The Washing Up Cloth. The Cutlery Drawer. Duvets. Crumbs in the Butter. Toothpaste on the Mirror.
|Fran and her husband calmly discussing how a washing up cloth should be hung up to dry|
Everyone's talking about the heat, though, in the UK. We've already had some screaming-hot days that punished us all with their fearsome UV rays and apparently there are more to come this week. I and my wardrobe are not prepared for this heat as I own 362 cardigans and 3 teeshirts. There's not one dress in there; I haven't worn a dress since about 2005 unless you count the one I tried on just before my daughter's wedding last May in an attempt to be conventional. It had frills and fripperies. I looked like a drag queen and took it off before anyone in the changing room saw me, took a photo, and uploaded it to TikTok captioned 'The New Seventh Wonder of the World'.
I am grateful, however, to be working from home now, because when I was teaching in schools, I often, in heatwave temperatures, had to do 'corridor duty' at break or lunch time.
In one particular school, the corridor was a glass-roofed affair which, in other contexts, would have acted as a tropicarium, a sauna, or perhaps a giant saucepan whose contents bubbled and boiled, only in this case the contents were me and 300 girls queuing up for lunch and gradually melting like hot toffee and merging into each other. 'Behave yourselves!' I would shout impotently above the noise of hundreds of braised teenagers. 'You'll only make yourself hotter.' Meanwhile, my own body failed to recognise itself, dehydrating by the second, and my feet swelled like bread dough on a fast rise.
|Fran's tongue after lunch duty|
I've set my new novel (out next March with Legend Press - yay!) in 1976 which was a heatwave year for the UK, resulting in drought, hosepipe bans, communal taps in the street, and high profits for anyone who had shares in Ambre Solaire.
The novel features sibling rivalry in a foster care situation and explores what happens when the foster child turns out not to be the dysfunctional one in the household. The heat doesn't help as conflict increases within the family, as you can imagine. Here's a link to the press release about the novel in 'The Bookseller'. Soon, I'll be able to share the cover with you and I hope you'll look out for it and let me know what you think.
While I wait for the cover reveal and for proofs to be prepared, I should finish my 'Heat' story, once I can decide what will happen to them. I am tempted to melt the husband and have him re-formed into candles, I won't lie.
STOP PRESS: The title of my novel has been changed from 'Checking for Snipers' to 'Cuckoo in the Nest'.