We told you how much we wuvved HA Ferdinand’s Mrs Tempest’s Marriage Bureau. Well here’s the new one and it’s just as weird and wonderful. It’s called The Baron and we caught up with HA herself to learn more about it.

WB: You say your books are comedies of manners. What does that mean?

HA: It means laughing at the stupid things certain people say and do.

WB: Isn’t that cruel?

HA: Is that a problem?

WB: Give us a summary of the plot.

HA: OK. Well, simply put, it’s about a mother and her very outspoken daughter and a young man they pick up, well he hangs on, only we don’t know why he hangs on, and they apply for a job at a stately home, although they’ve already got jobs but they thought it would be fun and an adventure, and when they get there they meet these people who are on a mission to save the world from itself, and she – that’s the mother – really likes them, only she doesn’t know…

WB: Hold on, hold on. It doesn’t seem that simple.

HA: No, it is really. All my books are.

WB: And they’re short. They’re all kind of short.

HA: Mercifully short, yes.

WB: Do you like writing them?

HA: Bloody love it.

WB: So, the characters in this one are just crazy. They’re like upper class commies. Does that happen a lot in the UK? I don’t think we get them in the States. Are they based on real people?

HA: Well you know how it is…you read things, you hear things, the next thing you know you’ve built a new fictional world and peopled it yourself.

WB: That’s a yes then.

HA: Can I just ask…you rated the last one “very wuvvly”. Does this one get the same rating or a “very, very wuvvly” or indeed a “very, very, very wuvvly”? What is the net worth of a wuvvly?

WB: It’s got a “very wuvvly”.

HA: Well thanks for that, I suppose.

WB: You really crack us up!


More hoedown than showdown.

They only went and sacked me.

I had it coming, to be honest. After all I did engineer it that my boss’s wife walked in on him and his mistress in mid-session in a conference room.

And I did write every detail of their sordid little office romance in my ebook A Sordid Little Office Romance which – thanks to my colleague, Amanda – managed to work its way around the entire law firm in less than forty seconds.

So much for the precious anonymity of Danby Houghton.

Cortez called me into his office and drew himself up into disciplining mode.

“You know you have to go, my darling,” he said.

I was a little taken aback at his tone but I should have known that he would do things his own extraordinary way.

“Yeah, I know. Sorry,” I said.

“You were very good. Very good.”

I smiled graciously.

“I was a legal secretary for years. I can do this job blindfold.”

“Oh not that, you great ape! I mean the book. So my marriage gets a knock – yawn, whatever – but I star in a book and, you know, Raphael is so me. That bit about the rucksack full of hand cream, underwear and French poetry. I mean, how did you know? Have you been peeking?”

“I…I…did I get that right then?”

He nodded vigorously.

“Well I never.”

“And my sexual prowess. I blushed, darling. Boys and girls. How did you know!”

“It’s just a bit of fiction,” I whined. “It doesn’t mean anything. I never intended to offend anyone. The whole thing was meant to remain anonymous.”

He leant across his desk and dropped his head dramatically on to it.

“Cortez Baignton doesn’t do anonymity,” he informed me, mumbling into the teak.

“I bet poor Mrs Baignton wishes he did.”

I don’t know how I had the gall to say something like that, but what did I have to lose? He couldn’t sack me twice.

Fortunately he slapped the desk top and gurgled a kind of laugh.

How does he get away with it? A man in his position. He must be really raking it in for his firm for them to turn a blind eye to his extravagant ways.

Laurence came in to help me collect my stuff. I didn’t ask him to. There was only a notebook and a plant and those were technically office property anyway but I refused to retreat empty-handed.

“So,” he said, catching sight of Cortez coming out of a meeting room. “This is the man who dropped you so abruptly, is it? Well. I. Never.”

“Laurence don’t!” I hissed.

But he seemed to be inflating his chest and pushing it in the direction of my baffled boss.

“Oh hello,” said Cortez coming over, his curiosity ignited. It was still sexual curiosity at this stage. It always is first thing with him.

“My God but I could lamp you for this,” said Laurence totally unexpectedly. I’ve never heard the like. Not from him.

Cortez raised his eyebrows. He took a swift glimpse of his vast gold watch.

“I’ve got a meeting,” he sighed and left us.

“That bloody told him,” said Laurence with mysterious satisfaction. “I’ve got a meeting my arse.”

“He has got a meeting. I handle his diary, remember. It’s with two clients and it’s in conference room three.”

“Yeah right.”

Oh what’s the point.

We left the building and I was glad actually that Laurence had come. Glad to be going back in the sealed isolation of a car at any rate.

I think I might miss going out to work. I hadn’t wanted to go back at first but once I was in that busy, brain-dead milieu it was a relief. And briefly I was part of the real world again, having some kind of minor impact on my society.

“God but I could have lamped him,” Laurence muttered once more as he swung the steering wheel with a degree of flamboyant recklessness.

I put a hand on his knee and understood that this was his moment now, not mine. And I prefer that really. I was never meant to be in the driving seat, will always feel more comfortable looking out through the passenger side window.



Tears and obscenities.

little Siskin2_chosenDesign            IP final cover

Nobody – not least my “friends” – could face another of my farcical book launches. Fortunately Roberta (remember her? The kind-of publisher at The Tempest Press) said she’d tag my new book onto the publicity she was doing for her find of a writer, Bibi Berki.

I soon learned that this other poor sap is about as shy of personal publicity as I am and so between us we didn’t present much of an author platform, as they say.

This is what Roberta said on her website:

“Bibi Berki’s new book, Little Siskin, makes you cry. H. A. Ferdinand’s, Intelligent People, is sort of amusing and contains a little too much swearing.”

I ask you! Is that any kind of way to get people to read them? Tears and obscenities! I know both books and I can tell you there’s an awful lot more to them than that.

But don’t take my word for it…


Always keep in with the secretary.


“OMG! Harriet is hideous.”

JaneyBee is astonished at the turnaround. That can’t be bad, can it?

Waspeater, my other regular commentator, is also a little exercised:

“Well I never saw that coming. She seemed so good. Suddenly Raphael is a victim, not a leading man at all. She’s deliciously shocking and so violent with it. I want to get him out of that poisonous situation.”

“Don’t we all,” I thought to myself. “Don’t we all.”


Cortez and Kate came back from their illicit weekend glowing with post-coital pleasure.

“That,” she told me triumphantly, “is how a woman should spend two days. I can barely walk.”

“Did a lot of sight-seeing, then?” I asked.

“What did you tell Geoff?”

“That your phone had fallen from a twelfth floor window into the outdoor jacuzzi.”

“How did you know about the hot tub?”

“Well we lonely, washed-up, middle-aged women can only dream about the kind of life you alpha people lead.”

She scowled at me impatiently.

“What did he say to that?”

“He said he hoped you were still using it as it fell.”

She eyed me a moment then chose to ignore my facetiousness. (Of course, he’d believed every word I’d told him and she knew it.)

“Geoff is a little like you. Unnaturally innocent,” she told me. “Some people prefer to live off others. It can be very draining.”

“Can I be moved to a different department?”

She shrugged as if to say: “What do I care?” and sauntered off to her corner of the office to rest her legs, presumably.




“I need someone new, someone we can believe in,” I told my colleague, Amanda, soon afterwards.

She’s been reading the instalments of A Sordid Little Office Romance on Chapter by Chapter and we discuss it most of our working day.

“I agree,” she said breathlessly. “I know, shall we bring Mrs Baignton into the picture?”

“What Cortez’s wife? Nah. That wouldn’t work…though actually…”

I slid instantly into a reverie. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t just introduce the wife this far into the plot, could I? Anyway, the slighted missus is always damaged goods, with the suggestion that she had it coming. How could I make her sympathetic enough?

Now this is the bit you won’t believe but it was only an hour later that who should come into the office but Mrs Baignton herself. I know! For a moment I had to wonder if Amanda was somehow not only controlling me and my book, but perhaps the entire world.

“Hello,” said out visitor. She was tall and ordinary and had the whiff of exhaustion you get off the parents of small children (though, interestingly, her husband doesn’t have it.) “Cortez in?”

“I’ll just check on my diary?” I told her and rapidly typed a message to Amanda: “Windyarse isn’t in the meeting room with the boss, is she?”

“Just a moment,” I smiled up at our visitor.

Eventually I got a message back: “’Course she bloody is. I can hear them from here.”

I hesitated, bit my lip, sought out her eyes from under their drooping lids for some sign of deeper understanding and I got it. She knew. She bloody well knew.

“Ah yes,” I said. “He’s in the meeting room. Please go through.”


Whatever next?

“So is Raphael straight or gay? I don’t get it. He’s lusted over everyone so far. Anyone got any views on this?”

To which I answered:

“It’s possible to fancy both men and women you know. Welcome to the 21st Century.”

“But in a romantic novel? I’ve never heard of a bi romantic lead?”

I was still composing my response when someone else suddenly chimed in.

“I like it. Give it a chance. It’s traditional that you don’t know whether the hero and heroine get it together at the end. This version is even more tantalising.”

They’re very articulate, the members of the Chapter by Chapter online community. I wonder why I haven’t considered writing like this before. When you know you have someone actually waiting for the next instalment, you like to surprise.

Then someone called JaneyBee chipped in: “Loving Harriet! She’s so proper and English and old-fashioned and such a contrast to Raphael. Two worlds colliding. Am I right?”

I couldn’t resist diving back in. (It’s all going to go wrong anyway. You and I both know that.)

“I’m so glad you like Harriet. I love her. She’s so good and moral and decent. I wanted to create someone who was genuinely, thoroughly likeable. Someone we can all get behind.”

“Are there really people as decent as Harriet in this world?” asked JaneyBee.

“God yeah!” I told her. “There really, really are.”


Kate Knorr-Windlass, the junior partner in the tax department, looking sweet and unaffected in a plain grey suit and red, polka dot silk scarf, came over to my desk and leant down so that her left cheek was almost flat against my right.

“We all think you’re a wonderful asset,” she told me, and she sounded thrilled to tell me so.

My heart was bursting. It meant so much from someone like her.

“Thanks very much,” I said.

“I’ve recommended you for a bonus.”

“That’s… that’s very kind. Wow.”

Her perfume was rather headier than I’d expected from such a sensible, down-to-earth kind of girl, rather sultry, far too much jasmine in it. It made my nose run.

She turned herself round so that she could face me and gave me a swift but huge and maternal hug.

“Excellent,” she said.

“Thanks,” I told her.

She didn’t move.

“Great, thanks,” I said, waiting. “Was there anything I could do for you?”

“Since you’re asking,” she said at once, before I’d even ended the ‘oo’ of ‘you’. “There is a job you could do for me and right now please.”

I watched the fascinating transformation of her expression. She didn’t seem so maternal any more.

“Fire away,” I said.

She was writing something on the pad beside my phone.

“Here’s the number for my partner Geoff’s work place. Ring him up right now and tell him that I’ve been called away urgently to finalise a deal abroad and can’t come home tonight. Then call him from your home tomorrow and tell him that you’ve just heard that my flight has been delayed and that I’m staying on an extra day.”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday,” I said.

“So? You can call from home can’t you?”

“But can’t you call him and tell him?”

“No I can’t. I want you to do it. You want that bonus, don’t you? Then the odd bit of work at the weekends is worth it.”

“I’d rather not have the bonus,” I told her.

“Yeah, right. Like someone in your position would turn down some cash. It’s not like you have much else going for you. I heard you live with your mother.”

“What do I tell him when he asks why you can’t call him?”

“Earn your bonus,” she said with crisp authority and was off.


The impossibly good Harriet is about to show her true colours.


Tax Affairs

My new boss is about six foot two, steel grey of hair, as finickity as a Dickensian clerk but in fact American and called Cortez Baignton. Isn’t that great? Cortez!

This morning he said to me:

“You in brown again? Didn’t anyone tell you the seventies are so OV-ER?”

“I like brown actually,” I told him (we get on ever so well). “It’s very forgiving with my skin tone.”

“Not on any chart I’m looking at, sister.”

He handles the tax affairs of immensely wealthy clients. I wonder if he comments on their colour choices, too. I wonder a lot about him during the day. He’s one of those people that gets on with absolutely everybody (the polar opposite of me, in other words). I think he may bat for both sides, what’s more.

I’m also beginning to think that he and one of the other partners in the department, a Kate Knorr-Windlass, are a little sweet on each other. She’s the only other solicitor in the whole place with whom he’s tongue-tied and awkward. (There’s a partner in property called Carmen Boynton who would be a much better match in name terms but love doesn’t work like that, does it.)

Both are married or at least in relationships their partners must assume are safely permanent. When they are in the same room, Cortez is very gallant and old-fashioned and asks her if she wants to sit down or bids me fetch coffee for her whether she wants it or not. Her eyes glow in his presence and she grins a lot at anyone who’ll receive it.

“It’s a sordid little office romance,” my colleague Amanda told me this lunchtime.

“Oh no!” I protested. “I’m sure that nothing has happened between them. It’s probably all so chaste. Why should that be sordid?”

“Office romances always are,” she huffed.

“Maybe no one will get hurt,” I tried. You see I’m very fond of Cortez already. He’s the only reason I’m sticking to this awful bloody job. He can do no wrong.

But all the way home I couldn’t get him and Kate Knorr-Windlass out of my mind, the innocence of all that shyness, the fun of it, the wonderful risk of utter disaster. That’s a spectator sport if ever there was one and it’s free! But also I thought: what if an office fling was presented as a huge romance? What if it was soaring rather than sordid?

Wouldn’t that be funny.

I sat down after dinner in the new-found silence of my home and clicked on to a site called Chapter by Chapter. I’ve never written like this before – for an immediate audience. It’s just not me. But then I wasn’t going to be me. I was going to be Danby Houghton (Male? Female? Who knows?) and I was going to set out the opening chapter of A Sordid Little Office Romance.



John is gone.


And just like that everything changes.


Four days after Christmas, John came up to me, his lovely little face dark with confusion.

“What does my mum look like again?” he asked, evidently struggling.

I answered before I gave myself time to think.


I shouldn’t have said that, though it did seem to end some doubts.

“Oh in that case, she’s been standing on the other side of the road for days.”

I rushed to the living room window and there indeed stood Justine, underdressed and quivering in a transparent raincoat over a purple velvet tunic. She was wearing those squashed caveman boots that are everywhere and a fair isle woollen hat with a bobble as big as her head.

She had come for her son, it turned out, and I called Peony down from her room for support as I made Justine repeat her garbled monologue about needing to start again as a mother and give it her all this time.

Peony took me aside and told me: “We have no choice, Mum. I’m only his guardian if she’s not capable and even then with her permission.”

“But his education? His life here with us? Me? What about me?”

She simply hugged me in answer and we packed his bags and said goodbye.

“For now,” I emphasised as I zipped up his jacket. “It’s goodbye for now. Remember that.”

He nodded solemnly and reached up for his mother’s claw…hand, sorry, hand.




Peony went with him to ease the shock of the change. She’s much wiser and certainly more caring than we give her credit for, my dear good girl. She has kept me posted on how things are working out – relatively well – and is there for him when he comes back each day from his new school. (I knew some good would come out of her constant state of unemployment.) Justine’s parents are once more bankrolling their daughter’s whims.

So I was left to mourn. Mother was quiet and tactful, bereft herself. Laurence was solicitous, calling round all the time to take me out to dinner and I went at first but then we both got bored with comfort eating and that stopped.

And then about two weeks ago the phone rang and it was Amanda Asquith. We used to work together.

“I know you got a redundancy package and everything but there’s been a sudden up-turn in work and it’s your old department and they wondered if you would come back, part-time and everything. Would you be interest… and everything?”

“Yes,” I said.

Just like that, as quick as smacking a mole with a mallet. Yes.

Never mind that when I left I left for good, that I said I’d never go back, that I told myself it was time to call myself a writer, a proper writer, and not a part-time anything.

“There are two new partners. One’s an American. He’s a man. And the other one’s a woman. Oh and that man one is American. Did I say that?

Can I work with Amanda again? Can I work at all – running around after a bunch of lawyers, picking up their pieces, sorting out their days?

Well we’ll soon find out. I start tomorrow.



The Venerable Mother.

A parsnip yesterday.

A parsnip yesterday.

The dentist yesterday morning patched up my threadbare molar and declared that the tooth was unlikely to last long.

“But it might see you through until… well… the end, as it were.”

“You appear to be telling me that I don’t have long to live,” I observed. “Funny, but I always expected to hear that from a doctor.”

“Oh don’t be like that,” she squealed as she hit me on the collar bone with her dental mirror. “We’re none of us getting any younger.”

“You can’t be more than twelve,” I told her.

“Oh just a little more,” she demurred, a tiny, twinkling crystal visible on a front tooth.


My mouth was a dripping tap of drool as I walked home and so I took the long route to avoid coming across someone I might know. The day was oppressively dark and layers of damp leaves slid apart under my feet as I walked. Of course it’s when you try to avoid people that they so maliciously appear and so there was Alfons, sitting on a bench, frowning at his phone.

He looked up just as I thought I’d made it past unseen.

“Dentist, is he?” he asked and I nodded, tissues still held to my jaw.

“Come and sit by me, old friend,” he said preposterously. He was clearly in a preposterous mood. “No, you’re no old friend. You are more like a mother to me. May I call you Mama?”

I couldn’t tear the tissue clump away fast enough.

“No, of course you bloody can’t,” I spat.

“You have spirit, isn’t she,” he exclaimed and he chatted a while about how mothers were the backbone of society and that we should venerate them. I cut him short when he got onto the “breasts that sag with the weight of so many children and lovers”.

“Why aren’t you at work?” I wanted to know.

“My writing life is over,” he announced, just like that, flatly and with no apparent sense of loss.

“What? What about Julius Pettigrain and Plankton and all the rest of it?”

“Oh don’t be coyful, please not,” he sighed. “You understand. Who reads us, the self-published? We are considered excrement. We are shunned.”

I couldn’t speak. I suddenly felt very low, trapped in a conversation I’d always dreaded.

He went on: “We struggle. We say we are independent. We say we don’t need nobody. We are artists. But maybe we are just all manure-makers.”

Oh where did that come from? A tear formed in the corner of my right eye. I raised the wad of spit-and-blood-soaked tissue and added the salt water to its foul contents.

There has to be some fight left. You want to survive. I needed to rise above him somehow, to crawl out of the manure.

“As a matter of interest, Alfons, how many books did you manage to sell?”


“Twelve hundred?”


“You wrote four of the bloody things.”

He didn’t seem quite as appalled as I did.

“I give it a good shooting,” he continued. “It is time to move me on.”

“On to what? What will you do?”

And without any inkling of humour anywhere about him, he informed me: “I am Nordic. I will go into crime-solving next.”


“I saw Alfons in the park today,” I told Peony later on. We were in the kitchen and I was trying to work myself up into boiling something. “He looks more and more like that chap holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy. You know the one. Are you still sleeping with him?”

“On and off,” she said as she continued to scrape parsnip shavings directly onto the kitchen floor. “Why?”

“I’d just hate him to beget a child by you,” I told her. “Or indeed, you by him.”

She froze and her eyes widened with fear and guilt.

“Ah…,” she managed.

“Peony! Oh surely not.”

And of course she bellowed with laughter at the sight of me.

“Oh don’t be ridiculous, Ma!” she howled. “Look at your face. It’s boss! Of course there’ s been no begetting. We don’t do that kind of sex.”

“Well how many kinds of sex are there?” I called after her as she and the parsnip departed for the hall.

“Mum. Honestly. What are you like?”

Well how many?

I’m only like this because another birthday has been and gone. I look back at the past year and of course it is still fallow.

Fallow with a good sprinkling of manure.

There’s a book launch in there somewhere.

I don’t want to talk about it.

The holiday, I mean.

Too much of it was spent filling out insurance forms in surgeries while listening to Mother weeping about ma vie misérable to the doctor in the next room. Charlton was absent at these points, having told me he needed a break from caring for her. He must care for her a lot more than anyone knew, because we never saw him in two weeks.

Like I say, I don’t want to talk about it. Because despite all the awfulness, all the complaints about cold, heat, poisonous cheeses and suppositories, I kept hold of the words Lyre had used to soothe me just before I left.

“I know good things await you,” she had said. “How to do you know?” I grumbled to myself every night as I lay awake listening to Mother’s high pitch whistle as she slept beside me. “You just said that to keep me going. How can you possibly predict good things? Eh? How?”

And yet there I was earlier today, putting the phone down from a most wonderful woman called Roberta who publishes – “well, it’s more like a beloved hobby than a business” – a select number of “little gems” and…well… this is what she said:

“It’s very funny, you see, your best-known book being called Mrs Tempest’s Marriage Bureau because my publishing business is called The Tempest Press and so I often accidentally came across your book but I only actually bothered reading it this weekend and oh my goodness but it’s a delight, a true delight.”

“Oh,” I said to her (I’m not good with compliments, never was, and could feel the defensive, negative stuff approaching). “It’s self-published you know. I thought everyone assumed self-published books were rubbish.”

“Oh far from it. Plenty are, of course. But there are some who labour away producing real quality and for whom independent publishing is just the thing. That’s what I do – discover the best of the independent market.

“I take pleasure in rootling out oddities and stuff that is outside the mainstream but still very good. I talk with the author and we either re-plublish or agree a marketing strategy. It’s all very tasteful and disastrously low key but there’s never any artistic compromise. Get that! In this industry. I’ve just published a fine little story called Your Most Avid Reader by Bibi Berki – crazy name! – have you read it?”

“No. But I will.”


And then, as though I’d handed her a script, she told me: “I’m all about great stories well told. Simple as that.”

“Me too! Me too! Oh that’s what I always say. What else is there?”

“A kindred spirit,” she said warmly. “I can’t promise you fame.”

“Don’t fancy fame much.”

“Bit vulgar and compromising, isn’t it.”

“I just want to have a point to what I’m doing.”

“Oh there’s point. Please reassure yourself there’s a point.”

And that’s possibly the kindest and best thing anyone has ever said to me.

So we agreed to talk a little more, over lunch, and I rang off with my heart beating at double speed. It’s not the prospect of recognition – not at all, far from it – it’s the lifting of the darkness of out there. There is someone out there.


And then this evening the phone rang again and when I answered, he said:

“I’m sorry.”

I couldn’t answer him. You see, Laurence’s naked ambition had seemed to eclipse what he felt for me and while I didn’t blame him for feeling that way, I was a little reluctant to put my head above the parapet once more.

He sheepishly filled the silence.

“I put my momentary flirtation with journalism above you. How could I have done that? It was a minute of madness. But you, you are what is above everything else. I must have hurt you terribly. I will never do that again.”

“They’re rejected you haven’t they.”

“Turns out I’m a better doctor than I am a writer.”

But I was feeling magnanimous. Poor sod. He must feel crushed. His writing career lasted about ten minutes.

“Fancy another go at going abroad?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said. “I’m done with abroad. How about a walk in the cemetery?”

You could hear the relief.

“Get the dog lead. I’m on my way.”

This is the last time. I mean it.

The cards remain in their pack.

The cards remain in their pack.

Connie is checking my pulse. Lyre has periodically leapt up from her chair to lay a hand against my brow. They are looking for signs of illness, fever, derangement.

We are in my garden, sitting around the little table where we normally play cards of a summer evening. The cards remain in their pack.

“It’s good for a person to have her dearest friends around her at a time like this,” I whimper.

Connie’s hand grips my wrist. I watch them exchange glances.

“I want you to remember me how I once was. Fit, healthy, easy-going, a lover of life, a woman with dreams and plans and ambitions. That’s still who I am essentially. Remember that. Underneath this horrendous weight, is a woman with a sunny disposish.”

Lyre talks like a woman in shock. “But how could this have happened? How did it sneak up on you?”

I can’t answer her because there is an enormous lump in my throat.

Sometimes our lives just take terrible turns for the worse.


All I’d said a week ago – and I’d said it to Peony by the by, while I was washing up and she was watching me doing it – was that I still had an open-ended car ferry ticket to France, given that Laurence was now busy with THREE commissions from newspapers and magazines, not to mention his rather relegated day job at the hospital.

“You wanna be careful who you say that kind of thing in front of, Ma,” she told me.

“Wha- ?” I looked up and heard, rather than saw, the scurrying of feet from the kitchen. Mother’s feet. We peered out of the window and saw her hurrying across the lawn to Charlton in the shed. She was skipping, as a matter of fact. And very possibly singing.

“Idiot,” said Peony.


And so here I am on the eve of a holiday with my mother and my brother, a prospect that filled me with despondency when it happened routinely in my childhood, let alone now in middle age. And that’s not even bearing in mind the hollowness I feel at being abandoned by a man I thought liked me but who would far rather knock out clichés about the future of the NHS than sign his name next to mine in the guest book of a little Brittany auberge.

What misery heaped on misery.

But my friends are here. That’s something isn’t it?

“You’ll see,” says Lyre in her caressing tone. “You’ll survive this ordeal and come back a stronger woman. Your luck will change, my dear, I promise you. I know good things await you. Your time will come.”

Connie is shaking her head tearfully.

“No human being should be asked to endure this amount of suffering.”

They are full of love and sympathy for me.

But their eyes say “idiot”.