I recently had a chance to chat with Ross Hemsworth on his UK web radio programme The Hammer Show and a good time was had by all! From the controversy surrounding my recent novelPride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and my work on Mitzi TV, to celebrity culture and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s animal cruelty involving his own dog – no subject is immune!
Tune in for some lively discussion and a perspective on the world from both Britain and America. Clink to listen to the replay of the interview at:
The proud mama with Teddy Tedaloo and his wife Ninny
What happens when you combine too many pints of Belgian Fruli strawberry beer with a gang of rowdy bears out on the town?
Answer: Complete chaos.
Yes, folks, it was the famous Teddy Tedaloo‘s glittering goodbye meet-up in London’s trendy Covent Garden. You see, Ted’s off to America for awhile and, being the popular bear that he is, his nearest and dearest mates wanted to give him a proper send off. (Luckily I was invited too.) So we convened at our usual haunt, The Porterhouse, home of beers guaranteed to send you sprawling onto the floor (after emptying out your wallet – this is London, after all!).
The afternoon kicked off in high style in the pouring rain about half past three, lasting till nearly 11pm, with most of that time spent at the pub. Mind you, considering that people and animals were either lost on public transport or coming from the office, we were definitely in it for the long haul.
Winston's mother doing god knows what
It was a very international turnout, including my international bear (Ted holds both American and British citizenship) and myself (the aforementioned nations being saddled with me as well); Ted’s little cutie of a wife Ninny (with Ted’s mother-in-law in tow); a gaggle of bears and other creatures (including two humans) who’d just arrived from Paris; Winston the dog and his parents (one of whom disgraced herself under the table); a trio of Italians, including an elephant that had so much to drink the poor bugger fell over into a plate of baba ghannouj; and a lass from Luton with some monkeys. Oh, yeah, and we had Ted’s Uncle Geoff (a regular cast member, since he always makes a point to attend any London events of merit); Ted’s recently acquired Uncle Paul (who let Ted drive his Mini the other weekend); and Ted’s newest uncles on the scene: Dave (who sneaked out early before things got too wild) and Chris (who forgot to bring his giraffe).
Mitzi Szereto drinks herself under the table
Lots of under-the-table activity was enjoyed by all, including Winston’s mother and, of course, yours truly. I think the former enjoyed it a bit more than was prudent, however.
Having said that, it wasn’t all about boozing and crawling around under tables and getting up to all sorts. There were tender moments to be had as well. Ted hadn’t seen his wife Ninny since their big Valentine’s wedding, and those of us gathered became quite teary-eyed at seeing the young lovers together again.
Ninny plants a big one on Ted
Okay, I’ll omit the fact that they spent most of the evening snogging, but they did have a lot of catching up to do.
Only when we had the last man (or rather bear) standing did we finally leave the joint and head for the tube station. Being the sharp-eyed lass that I am, I spotted a very interesting-looking ice cream parlour with some very interesting-looking ice cream in the display case, and we executed a quick beeline through the door. Turns out it was a “gay” themed ice cream parlour with plenty of rude posters on the walls, one of which pertained to the film “Brokeback Mountain” and warm bananas. Hey, they said it, not me! The young gent in charge of spooning out our ice cream was such a tasty dish that it was probably inevitable he didn’t swing toward the direction of the ladies in our party. (Always the way, innit?) But the ice cream more than made up for the heartache. In fact, a female member of our party commented that it was better than sex.
Errr… no surprise, that.
A grand day and evening out was had by all. Teddy even ended up with a spiffy new outfit (courtesy of the Italian elephant’s mother). As for me, I ended up with a Fruli hangover and a sore eye.
And I bet you thought my life was just spent writing steamy books!
For those of you who don’t follow society events, you’ll be kicking yourself that you missed the major event of the season, if not the century!
Teddy Tedaloo and his lovely bride Ninny
I refer to the recent Valentine’s Day wedding of my beloved bear and the co-star of Mitzi TV, the famous Teddy Tedaloo. Just about everyone who was anyone was in attendance (except for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who was not invited due to his species-ist beliefs and his continued inability to get the site functioning properly). All the socialite bears were there, not to mention HRH herself, Queen Elizabeth II. Man, there was so much bling in that church you needed sunglasses!
The Queen, sweet old dear that she is, gave a little speech after the Archbishop of Canterbury did the whole formal nuptials thing. (Judging from HRH’s expression, I’ve a suspicion she was hoping her grandson and future granddaughter’s wedding this spring would at least equal in prestige and grandeur that of Teddy and Ninny’s.) Liz is a huge fan of Ted’s and even has a paw-print autographed photo of him in her private quarters at Buckingham Palace, so of course she wouldn’t have missed his wedding for the world. And with a bit of tinkling of the ivories by that other famous queen Sir Elton John accompanied by the delightful tones of Kylie Minogue, how can anything possibly go wrong?
You just had to ask, eh? Well, the champagne was a-flowing and Ted was a-drinking… so much so, in fact, that he passed out in the coatroom just after the wedding cake was sliced up and consumed (he had three pieces). His bride thought he’d done a runner, only to discover that he’d fallen asleep! Apparently someone’s coat had fallen on him and – bears being bears – Ted thought it was time for hibernation. Poor Ninny was in a right state, until the groom resurfaced some time later, wanting to wrap up the evening as quickly as possible so that he could hurry home to change into his pajamas and watch Coronation Street featuring Leanne and Peter Barlow’s much-publicised “blessing.” (Unlike Teddy and Ninny, things didn’t turn out so great for Leanne and Peter.) Ninny, however, managed to convince Ted to take a quick spin around the dance floor first, though he still managed to get home and in his PJs in time for Corie.
Mitzi Szereto and her date Caramelo
To say it was a bittersweet moment for me, as a mum, would be understating the fact. You see, Ted’s an only bear, and to watch him taking his vows in front of all those people, well… I shed quite a few tears, believe you me. Thank heavens I had the comfort of my date, the very handsome Caramelo, who’d flown in all the way from Dubai to attend the wedding, along with his mum, who was Ninny’s Maid of Honour. Sure, it’s early days yet, but I think it’s safe to say that things with Caramelo and myself are progressing along quite nicely. I just hope that I’m not his rebound girl, because he was sort of interested in Ninny first.
As for the happy couple, the last I heard they were heading off to enjoy their honeymoon, which, if this glamour photo of the blushing bride is any indication, should be a red-hot one, indeed!
The recent Christmas and New Years holidays (along with the never-ending Bank Holiday Mondays we get here in ol’ Blighty) have got me thinking. Yes, I do this on occasion. Having worked through the holidays nonstop, including Christmas Day and News Years Day, I began to wonder about those such as myself who spend our lives toiling in alternative forms of labour – ie authors and other creative individuals who don’t take home a regular pay cheque or get requisite days off (let alone sick days). Wouldn’t it be nice if WE got a special day off?
Yeah, I know it’s a lot to hope for, but what’s life without a bit of hope?
You’re probably asking what I was so busy doing that I couldn’t even take a minute to myself. Okay, where should I start? There’s this little matter called a deadline that had to be dealt with. Publishers set them – and it’s your job to meet them. So I was correcting the galleys for my upcoming book Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts (going over them twice, I should add). In addition, I was putting together a book trailer and website for the title, while also working on my new anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe(which likewise has a looming deadline),reading material as it came in and working closely with writers whose material I was keen on (I mean, being an editor does require some actual… errr… editing!).In between all this, I had to keep myself fed and watered, attend to my social networking responsibilities (and they are massive), do housework, and look after a rambunctious young bear, who doesn’t like being neglected. There was also the issue of a new vacuum cleaner that needed attending to (the previous and now-famous one having died on me right after the warranty ran out). Oh, yeah, and I was busy fighting an annoying cold I’d picked up from some germy bugger on an overstuffed tube train in London one night when I was on my home from The Smoke. Imagine the footage you’ve seen of passengers in India clinging vicariously to the sides and roofs of train cars and you get the picture. Though at least the Indians don’t pay the equivalent of a London pub lunch for the price of a tube ticket.
Of course I realise that I’m not the only person in the world who has a ton of things to do and not enough time in which to do them. But when you actually have to force yourself not to send out rejection emails to hopeful short story contributors on Christmas and New Year’s day, fearing it would make you look like “Mrs. Scrooge the Anthology Editor,” you know it’s time for an official day off.
A Facebook friend of mine suggested that maybe two authors should get married and give us a public holiday, a la Will and Kate. Since that seems to work as far as adding to the British Bank Holiday curriculum vitae, I said yeah, good idea. So I thought we can play matchmaker between Salman Rushdie and Jilly Cooper (that should get some notice!). Whether either of them is already married is beside the point. They can always get a quickie divorce in Mexico and hurry back here in time for their wedding.
Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I mean, no one really gives a darn about us poor writers toiling away in our dark and dusty garrets. The public reads our books, but do they care about how we are? Hell no. If we need someone to make us chicken soup when we’re sick do they come running with the ingredients and a cooking pot? Hell no. When they see us on the street, do they drag us into Starbucks and treat us to a latte with extra whipped cream? Hell no. They just use us and forget us. (Hmm… kinda like men, eh?)
No, it seems we’re on our own in a big old scary world without a proper and legally recognised day off. The entire world goes off on holiday and there you are, still slaving away and seeing your life flash before your eyes. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Even my gym kept shutting early because no one wanted to work. Blimey.
So on behalf of all us poor overworked authors, will Salman Rushdie and Jilly Cooper please hurry up and get married and give us an official day off?
No, this isn’t the name of my new crime novel. Yes, I am writing a crime novel, but it’s nowhere near to completion for me to spill the beans about it. Worry not, however, for you’ll soon be hearing lots more about my raunchy and outrageous new novel Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts due out in spring!
As for the case of the missing glove, it is, in fact, a real case, and it takes place on the dark foggy streets of Londontown. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so foggy when it happened…
Teddy Tedaloo and his mate enjoy a pint of Fruli beer
The mystery all began thanks to my famous social butterfly and bon-vivant bear Teddy Tedaloo and his Christmas meet-up with a mate of his, who was coming down by train from “oop north.” Ted was in fine Christmas cheer attired in a dapper Santa suit, replete with hat, which ended up coming in quite handy for warding off the freezing Siberian cold that had draped itself like an old lady’s shawl over our little island. Of course no meet-up worth its weight in ale can kick off without first paying a visit to a favourite drinking establishment in Covent Garden – particularly one that serves Fruli strawberry beer. We were already halfway to the floor drinking our lunch when Ted’s Uncle Geoff turned up, at which point things began to lean a wee bit toward the surreal. Though frankly, I’ve become so used to surreal that if Salvador Dalí gave me a melting clock for Christmas, I’d likely not bat an eyelash. (The fact that he’s dead probably wouldn’t faze me either.)
Teddy Tedaloo on Thames River Christmas cruise
We set off down to the river, where we availed ourselves of a Christmas boat cruise on the Thames. Little did we expect to be entertained by a commentator who could have put any of the top British comedians to shame, he was that good. Alas, nearly all of his humorous jibes went over the heads of our mostly foreign sailing companions, who seemed more interested in speaking as loudly as possible and instigating their screaming children to do likewise. But hey, it added to the hilarity of the moment, as did the gingery fizzy cocktail we were served. I mean, we really needed a drink to sober up after all that Fruli!
Once we’d teetered off the boat, we sobered up even more in the Arctic blast and had a look at the Christmas market set up on the South Bank, which featured among all the sweet sellers and soap pushers a babushka lady selling religious icons and statues from Minsk, Belarus. Now I ask you, what else would you possibly expect to find on London’s South Bank but a babushka lady from a convent in Minsk? It’s the first thing you think of, right? I have a feeling that Ted’s uncle was rather taken with her, but he decided to play hard to get by going off to buy some sweets, which we later stole off him, afterward topping up our hunger with some roast pork and sage stuffing sandwiches, which we ate while standing up, our frigid fingers clinging to our food for dear life. We next got some rubberised French crepes that were a challenge to eat, particularly with a plastic fork. These were eaten to the accompaniment of a musician whose hands were so frozen he could barely get any sound out of his guitar. Yeah, baby, it was cold.
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo observe safely from the sidelines
We rounded off the evening by schlepping across the river yet again, this time to Somerset House to watch the ice skating, where we were joined by yet another mate of Ted’s. Enter the missing glove. Apparently somewhere between Waterloo Bridge and the ice rink Geoff discovered his right glove had gone missing. With no sign of Sherlock Holmes (Elementary, my dear Watson!), it was up to us to solve the mystery. A frantic search ensued, involving much harassment of the security people, neither of which yielded a result. We ended up inside the viewing galleries, warming up with tepid and obscenely overpriced cups of “hot” cider and dancing to some very peculiar Balkan-esque music being piped in, whereupon it was decided we’d find another pub once we’d escorted our out-of-towners safely to the tube station.
The pub never happened, which might, in retrospect, be a good thing. We were in the vicinity of Charing Cross station when our glove man, who was to catch us up after one more check with Somerset House’s lost-and-found, sent a text that he was returning back across the river to the South Bank to search for his glove. Had it been me, I’m not sure I would’ve gone to that much bother on a freezing cold night in a city that is exhausting even in the best of times. However, it was probably the temperature that drove him to seek out his glove rather than endure further torment.
Later that night when I got home, I texted Geoff to see if he’d found his errant glove. I didn’t receive a reply. My first thought was that he’d been mugged during his search or possibly even run off with the babushka lady. Indeed, perhaps his claim to return to hunt for his glove on the South Bank had been but a ruse to put us off the scent. I mean, you just never know with men.
The next morning I had an email informing me of the sad news: the black glove was never found. On the bright side, however, Geoff happened upon a right-handed green glove that some other poor soul had lost, thereby giving him a proper (albeit unmatched) pair. The last I heard, he was still wearing it!
So now you know what happens to all those lonely gloves you see scattered around London. They eventually find a new partner, and live happily ever after.
Everyone probably knows that I’m a big user of social media, so I guess it makes perfect sense that I’d be called upon to speak about this very same subject and how it works for those of us in the creative arts.
So for those of you who weren’t able to make it to the Social Media in Business 2010 conference in London earlier this year and are actually interested in hearing what I have to say on the topic, I invite you to sit back and relax, grab a beer from out of the fridge, and watch the replay!
“Hell is Where the Heart is”, a Mephistopheles-inspired tale of a woman who sells her soul to the devil to get back the man she loves, was originally published in Mitzi’s anthology of short stories entitled Getting Even: Revenge Stories.
Performed in the corridors of the Royal Festival Hall, London in autumn 2008. Produced and directed by Paul Atherton of Simple TV Productions.
(It’s a long ‘un, so be sure to let the video fully load before viewing! You might also get improved playback if you click the lower right corner to take you directly to the Vimeo site.)
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo (the "Norfolk Hayseeds")
My beloved sidekick Teddy Tedaloo and I are recently back from our first in what will hopefully be many visits to the wonderful county of Norfolk. When friends told me that things are a bit quirky in those parts, I knew it was the right place for us – and I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, I got a bit of ribbing about all the inbreeding and webbed hands and feet (the same kind of jokes you get about Wales, which is a beautiful place!), but I saw no webbed hands or feet (except on the ducks), and the locals I met were friendly, pleasant and helpful.
The plan was to soak up lots of local colour for a quirky novel I’m going to write, and soak it up I did in abundance! The quirkiness kicked off a few minutes before my train arrived at King’s Lynn, with my friend and hostess sending me a series of progressively panicked text messages informing me that she was stuck in the soap cycle at the car wash and could not get out. I ended up waiting outside by the taxis with some poor woman whose friend apparently forgot to collect her from the station, and we amused ourselves by watching the gulls deposit their waste onto parked vehicles until a car came skidding to a halt before me. My friend had arrived.
Well, I felt really let down, especially after all those text messages. I’d expected the car to be covered in soap suds like some giant bath sponge, but apparently my friend managed to make it into the rinse cycle, and hence to freedom. And off we went for a Magical Mystery Tour of Norfolk that lasted for several days and probably put a couple of pounds on me from all the eating I did (did someone say “pudding“?).
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at a Norfolk pub
Now there’s nothing Ted and I like better than country and village pubs, and we availed ourselves of plenty while there. My favourite pub was in a village straight out of Midsomer Murders, replete with a local vicar drinking there… only he wasn’t a local vicar as I soon found out. In fact, he was a Welsh vicar with a parish in Essex. You figure it out. Even he thought it was a scream. It was in this quaint old pub where I found the perfect inspiration for my novel – and I sketched out the entire plot on a scrap of paper in between exchanging quips with the vicar, who was a bit of a comedian. It seems his parish is very near the part of Essex where the ferries go to the continent, only he said his parish was for “the incontinent”. I kinda got the impression he wasn’t too crazy about Essex when he told me: “I love everybody, but I don’t have to like everybody.”
The Norfolk Broads
Welsh vicars from Essex aside, you haven’t lived till you’ve gone to a pub with a black labrador that’s in season. We’d all just come from a lovely walk on the beach, barely missing being swallowed up by high tide, and were in the mood for some real fish ‘n chips (not sure what the lab was in the mood for, but let’s not go there). Anyway, there was this smaller male dog at the bar giving her the eye and, well… let’s just say he was interested and leave the subject before it disintegrates into non-family content.
Actually, forget about the horny dogs. You haven’t lived till you’ve been on a boat in the Norfolk Broads piloted by Ted. He’s a pretty good driver for a bear, and, in fact, he was a damned sight better at driving our boat than my friend (who continues to assert that I ran over a swan when I took the helm). But I had to get to the Broads and at least see what David Bowie was singing about in “Life On Mars“.
Teddy Tedaloo piloting a boat through the Broads
The only thing actually wrong with Norfolk (and there isn’t much) are all the Londoners coming in and trying to change it into a smaller version of London. There are quite a few so-called “celebrities” and other assorted riff-raff with too much money and no sense who descend on the county in their requisite Sloan Square attire, poncing about and trying to be all country-ish and “bishy-barney-bee” as they shop at the London clone shops and eat in the London clone restaurants (lovely old pubs that have been bought out and destroyed by the gastro craze and certain “celebrity chefs” who fob off their overpriced kibble on you). I have suggested putting barbed wire up to keep these Londoners out, or better yet, an electrified fence. I mean, if you want Primrose Hill, then stay in Primrose Hill!
Of course, coming home is never without its own excellent adventure, particularly when the train driver can’t be bothered to stop at my stop, or indeed, two of the previous stops, when they are ALWAYS scheduled stops. Just one more great mystery brought to you by British Rail. I had been so elated that for my journey home I wouldn’t need to schlep my heavy suitcase up and down countless stairs as I had to on the way to Norfolk (resulting in a slightly sprained hand), but not only did I end up at the next town up from mine, I ended up having to deal with stairs when I was forced to make the reverse journey back to my town. Thankfully my plight was put to an end when a young gentleman intervened and took over suitcase duty. I have often said there are no gentlemen left in Britain (especially in the London area), and I continue to adhere to that statement, therefore it was a pleasant surprise to actually find one (the only ones still alive are usually walking with zimmer frames). Mind you, this particular gentleman (not surprisingly) was from out of town.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to getting a start on my new novel, and I might at some point need to pop back up Norfolk for an inspiration fix. And who knows, maybe I won’t leave!