Horse chestnuts and match-making

When I was a teenager I loved the ad. for Badedas. It featured a photo of a woman wearing a towel – after a bath I suppose. She was gazing out a window at a handsome man with a horse.’Things happen after a Badedas bath’ the ad explained seductively. ‘Perhaps it’s something to do with the horse chestnuts.’

Since I was living in a large rectory at the end of a long drive in the middle of the Irish countryside Badedas seemed like a wonderful, though improbable , match-maker. And the fact that the man might turn up with a horse was immensely appealing. My first great love was a pony called Merrylegs.

On the subject of match-making, I’ve recently enjoyed some programmes on the telly about a woman who gets families and pals to search for a ‘suitable’ partner for a friend or relative. Ava, a character in my novel ‘Ready or Not?’ would certainly approve. She is the mother of the book’s main character, Caddy. Ava is bossy and opinionated and has very high standards with regard to housework. When she first turned up in the novel I didn’t like her. However in her forthright way she firmly explained to me that she was far more complex than I suspected. And she also very much wanted her daughter to marry a man called Dan. She’d done her research and she approved of him.

I grew very fond of Ava…her vulnerabilities and her sturdiness. At one point she ends up eating snails in France with a man she met on a train, though she is ‘not that sort of woman’…or maybe she is. She goes on quite an adventure! I felt particularly tender towards her secret sorrows. She has so much love in her. She just needs to learn how to show it.

I bought a bunch of Christmas cards yesterday. Dear Ava would probably have many of her cards ready for the post by now. She would of course have a list. She would walk to the post office in the country town near her home and have a little chat with the postmistress. Then she would go into Sally’s cafe and gently mention that the tea leaked out of the stainless steel teapot as she poured it…it is an ‘issue’ that she feels needs to be addressed.Then she would munch her cream bun and ponder on some of life’s mysteries….including why people went on so much about sex when, in her experience, it was like watching fireworks in another city. Her husband certainly enjoyed it anyway. And who was going to buy the awful amateur art up on the cafe’s walls? And why oh why did her daughter read self help books that made finding love sound like quantum physics? Then she would start wondering about Christmas presents. Caddy would need some more tasteful accessories for her dinner parties. The fact that Caddy does not actually host dinner parties is a fact that has slid off her. Napkins…perhaps she needs more napkins.

Yes, you can see why Caddy might find Ava very irritating. But for some reason I am enormously fond of her.

Love and light,


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