I fully intended my next blog to be about my lovely Tuesday with the Surrey Libraries Children’s Book Festival: the adorable children of Ash and Frimley Green; Gillian my brilliant assistant; the boy who farted in the middle of my Animal Antics slide show; the child who asked, after my frankly hilarious presentation on The Clumsy Monkey: “Do you write any funny books?” But those delights will have to wait, as I have yet to be sent the photos by the kind teachers filming the occasions.
In the meantime, I invite you to enter the strange world of last night’s Peel Raffle Evening. Yes! A peel was being raffled! As if the evening out in a strange new place, free wine and grapes weren’t enough!
Imagine my disappointment as, instead of a bun fight over a nice zesty piece of mandarin, I was asked to put my name into a hat and wait in ghastly suspense to be told whether I’d won the right to have my face painted with acid and the surface of my 41-year-old skin burned away to reveal more 41-year-old skin underneath.
Now I’m down with the world of cosmetic surgery. I watched and enjoyed Footballers’ Wives. I once stood in the gateway of Dunstanburgh Castle while a force 8 gale blew my features into unrecognisable shapes. But being asked to partake was a whole new thing. I put my name in the hat (it was free, and although the wine was Chardonnay it only seemed polite) and prayed as I’ve never prayed before.
Oh, thank all the little Shetland ponies that gambol through the tussocky hills of Lerwick: the honour went to someone else. Now the writer in me could relax, stand on its hind legs and bay with joy at the magnificence of this material. The face of the salon owner looked like a waxed apple on the shelf at Waitrose. Her billowy orange chiffon assistant was as charming and expressionless as a freshly laid egg. The most beautiful woman there had no boobs, flat shoes and short grey hair. I learned that we over-exercise our faces in unforgivable ways. I discovered that if your muscles find themselves unable to frown, you actually can’t feel sad. I envisioned tiny skin gardeners pushing huge derma-rollers up and down crepey cleavages to create the kind of surface to make a spin-bowler weep. I rolled in unmentionable cheek-fillers like a happy dog. And I am refreshed, invigorated and utterly thrilled to think that I will never do any of these things to myself.