“Off to Cornwall!”

The Abbey, Penzance

The Abbey, Penzance

Monday 21 July. Dr Samantha Callan, stayed overnight. She’s an anthropologist and a director of the Centre for Social Justice. She says that staying with me is “like going home to mum”. I try to give her breakfast in bed when she stays, but she starts work at 5am!

Samantha is a joy to work with and worked with me on Money Stuff. Samantha was the first person I contacted – I was interested to understanding body language. I would take her to meetings with ministers. Before we went in she would tell me what physical signs to look for, to see if they were interested. At the first meeting I almost collapsed with laughter as the minister did everything she told me!

Tuesday 22 July. Caitlin Moran generously gave me and a friend free tickets to her last gig at Union Chapel in Islington. Caitlin was her usual amazing self. She held the stage for two hours, and was very funny. It was such an impressive performance. I felt privileged to be there in the second row. Afterwards, the queue for her book signing went round the church and outside.

Wednesday 23 July. I had my monthly talk with my M.E. mentor, Alex Howard. He has had M.E. since he was 18. When you have M.E. you have to do what the virus wants you to do. It’s always unexpected and no one can predict where it will strike you or when. My life, at the moment, is on a danger line – after the Money Stuff launch I had to deal with huge amounts of attention, plus talk to education people. There was no question of putting it off.

Friday 25 July. Treat of the week was lunch with Antonia Fraser who has recently been made a dame. I said that it was a pity that Harold wasn’t here to see this, and she replied that she didn’t think Harold would care but her mother would have. I wish my mother could have seen Money Stuff.

Antonia was looking very pretty in mauve, an Edwardian colour that has fallen out of fashion, but it was very flattering. We talked about what authors generally talk about: agents, tours, publishers. But also online publicity, which is just as important these days.

Saturday 26 July. Conference call with Caroline Shott, Chair of the Learning Skills Foundation. The Foundation is working to introduce teachers to scientists who are making discoveries in the brain. Neuroscientists can work with teachers to look at ways to make learning better geared to their needs. It sound boring but it explains why teenagers – previously normal human beings – can’t get up before 11am.

I’ve booked my yearly trip to The Abbey in Penzance, run by international beauty Jean Shrimpton. She has exquisite taste and the hotel is beautiful with views of Penzance Harbour on one side, and the blue walled garden with its privet hedges on the other.

Also visited Sophie Conran’s charming new website. I see Sophie as a more-sophisticated Cath Kidston. Sophie has wonderful taste – I ordered some raspberry linen napkins, knowing that they would be the right shade of raspberry. (My connection with Sophie is that she’s the half-sister of my sons, Sebastian and Jasper.)

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