Category Archives: fashion


Kate Middleton wears a fascinatorPhil: From Chapter 2 of our book – She knew there was something missing though. All her friends were loved up – she had more wedding fascinators languishing in her bottom drawer than Accessorise.

From Wikipedia- A fascinator is a headpiece, a style of millinery The word originally referred to a fine, lacy head covering akin to a shawl and made from wool or lace.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how I was able to watch the coverage of last weeks royal wedding and not say “What’s a fascinator ?” to the general derision of the fashion cognoscenti present. Indeed I can show my modern man credentials by making a stab at telling the difference between a collection of feather’n’stuff nailed to someones head, and a hat which is being worn at a crazy angle. Obviously I don’t want to appear too camp so I get it wrong from time to time. Deliberately obviously…

Up to the point I received this bit of text from Candice, obviously I had no more idea what one of these was, or why anyone would have a drawer full of them,  than I would expect my co-author to identify the component parts from the front suspension of a Volkswagen. Or understand why I have a garage full of them. Now, I am a true renascence man as I can do both. A regular Leonardo de Vinci.

Which goes to show that writing, especially with someone else, can be educational as well as fun. In many ways we’ve treated this like the sort of project you find yourself involved with at work. Each brings our own strengths to the job and sometimes we disagree over the direction the plot is taking. Weirdly, since the beginning and ends of the book were planned out pretty early in the process, it’s more a “discussion” over the route to betaken between the two points and the interesting places to visit along the way. So it’s like arguing in a car then. And you don’t get satnav for writing fiction.

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tea and cakePhil: As I sit here trying enjoying some delicious orange cake made by my sister, I take time from trying to format query letters for literary agents (procrastinating ? Me ?) to consider the things I have learned while writing this book.

For instance, MBT’s

As far as I can tell, these are funny soled shoes that tone your nether regions as you walk. With my intake of confectionary while at the keyboard, this seems like a very good idea, although you do have to walk around for them to work apparently. The acronym stands for Makes Bums Tiny-er apparently…

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What is a peplum frill ?

Phil: You know how it is; after years of writing about proper blokes subjects like boats and trains and greasy car maintenance, you get stuck into producing a novel and find you have fallen into the pink, fluffy, pit of chick-lit.

I don’t really know how this happened. When we first talked about the book, in my head there was something Tom Sharpe-ish going on. A bit less pervy stuff maybe, but definitely lots of funny set-pieces and preposterous ideas. Laugh out loud funny stuff.

The thing about working with someone else though is that your ideas get an immediate editing. The sort of thing that all writers ideas get, but instead of this happening at the end of the process when the manuscript is complete, they take a beating straight away. This is good as they never grow from mere acorns into sacred cows but you can find things eveloving in directions you didn’t expect. Quite exciting really.

Gradually, as e-mails pinged back and forth and lunchtime chats fleshed out the plans, Kate took over. Kate Smith, the main character that is. To put it in a nerdy way, she is Darth Vader in our Star Wars story but with better clothes, less space ships and no breathing issues.

In fact the clothes became more and more central to the story. Kate’s wardrobe defines her. It’s not just about appearance but (and this is where it gets chick-lit) her moods and personality are summed up by the contents of her wardrobe. It would be going too far to suggest that clothes are all that matter to her but she does use them in a way a male character wouldn’t. Not just her either, once you get into this stuff, everyone gets the treatment.

All this is fine but it leaves me marooned. I mean, I can understand why I don’t need a spanner suitable for Whitworth threaded bolts but am lost when it comes to outfits. For example, apparently different brands of jeans fit differently. Who knew ? I thought they just fitted or didn’t and if they didn’t then you picked a bigger waist size or longer legs.

All this means it’s a good job I have a co-writer. Now when I need to know what someone is wearing, I send an e-mail “Candice, what shoes are required for walking around a field in the summer ?”. I’d guessed “old ones” but apparently the correct answer is “Gladiator sandals or wedges”. Also, when I fire a block of text over, the next time I see it the paragraphs have added brand names. Chick-lit it seems should read like a shopping list.

Which brings me to peplum frills.

One of our minor characters wears a jacket with one and my first response was “What the hell is one of those ?”

Tentatively looking on teh interweb, I find it is “a flared ruffle attached to the waistline of a dress, jacket, or blouse”

That wasn’t much help. So, emboldened by the knowledge that I wasn’t about to inadvertently surf porn at work, I looked at the pictures. This helped, it’s the frilly bit at the bottom of a womans jacket. To my eye, an extraneous bit of detail stuck on by designers hoping to persuade gullible customers that they need a new jacket even when the current one hasn’t worn out yet.

I enquired further. According to Candice, you might wear a jacket with a peplum frill to distract the eye from a “fat arse”.

Genius. Without describing the person, you are saying that she cares about her appearance but is a little heavier than she would like to be. That’s why I need a colleague. Mind you, with all these cup cakes we are eating now I’m wondering if there are any blokes jackets with the same feature…


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Pole dancing in the office?

Candice: Yes really, we were pole dancing in the office, it was a very progressive place, this quango.

No, seriously, back in the time line of how this little beauty of a book  came about there were some very weird situations. 

Once we got in the flow of writing, ideas came thick and fast, some of them autobiographical and some I have no idea where they came from but they just popped into my head. 

So Phil and I would be writing chapters at home and then emailing them to work for the other to critique.  Sometimes, due to the fact the company was closing down and work was getting thin on the ground, we could crack on with editing and doing some writing in the office.  Being a progressive company we were allowed to wear iPods, and once the Pod went on I’d disappear into the world of KOD never to be seen again.  In fact the number of times an email came in to do some work and I’d be like, “Hang on, I’m right in the middle of something, and now you want me to do some WORK!”

So imagine the surrealness, sat in an open plan office of about 40 people, who are in differing states of depression due to the fact they have just been given their marching orders, and you are chortling in the corner because you’ve written a cracking line or Phil’s sent a suggestion over.

The number of times I had to pretend I had something stuck in my throat, “No I’m not laughing, honest!”

So, we come to the pole dancing.  To create tension, Kate has a love interest, Dave, her old university flame; but a co-worker takes a fancy to him too.  Now imagine Tracey, we all have one in the office; office flirt, likes to wear minimal clothing what ever the weather or situation, and if you see a man you like, she wants him too!   But our Tracey has a taste for clothes from net a porter, due to her inheritance, and for tequila.  One too many and she’s pole dancing for Dave. 

So I’m busily writing this situation and around me people are making tea, discussing office politics and getting more documents printed.  Too bizarre for words!

Of course there would be cake too – as that always helped the creative processes.  Today’s representation is from yumm in Zellig at the Custard Factory – topped with a red nose to celebrate comic relief.

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