Tuesday 20 April 2010

After the party.

‘I’ve been tricked into reading a Mills & Boon,’ said my mate Eoin in a text earlier today. ‘This book of yours is a love story about you and P.’ Without wanting to blow my own horn (actually, sod that; I’d happily toot the Trumpet Voluntary when it comes to my marriage) it’s not the first time I’ve heard it said. (Mind you, Eoin is the first bloke to have pointed it out, the big soft sod.) And to me, hearing my book called a love story is as much of a compliment as people saying they’ve enjoyed my writing.

I’ve been asked about P a lot in the interviews and conversations I’ve had since The C-Word launched, and rightly so – because as well as the lead male in my life, he’s also the lead male in my book. People have asked whether The Bullshit has made us stronger (I don’t think so; we were an impressively tight team in the first place), whether I’d have been able to do it all without him (yes, but purely because I’d have had no other choice) and what it is about me and P that works so well. That last question is a tougher one to answer. It’s like trying to pinpoint why Brian Clough and Peter Taylor made the perfect double-act, or why Lennon and McCartney were so prolific (yep – that is the high regard in which I hold my relationship). In truth, though, I am aware of at least one secret of our success: P has a rather brilliant way of telling me to shut the fuck up.

Now, I can be a bit of a bolshy cow at times. And generally, when there’s something niggling away in my mind, it tends to manifest itself in narkiness towards P before it actually makes its way out of my mouth in a more dignified fashion. Like before chemo, when I’d yawp at him for the way he read the newspaper, or prior to my last surgery, when I chewed at him for the way he shut the blinds. In fact, I was doing it even before I could use The Bullshit as an excuse – and never better than on the day after our wedding.

The morning following our nuptials was fine – lovely, in fact. Hand in hand, we headed down from the bridal suite as man and wife for a gorgeous breakfast, met by well wishes and knowing winks from our guests. (Little did they know, the bride had ruined the need for her sexy Rigby & Peller ensemble with a series of tequila shots bought by the groom’s mates. The way I see it, if you’re sober enough to consummate your marriage that night, you’ve not had enough fun at the wedding.) Later that day, we packed everyone off with a cupcake and a kiss and stayed at our beautiful venue for one more night with the plan of having a romantic evening in, drinking champagne in our Jacuzzi bath and reminiscing about The Best Day Of Our Lives over a lovely dinner. Only it didn’t quite work out like that. Because I, for reasons known only to myself, spoiled it by throwing an almighty strop.

It was a combination of factors (your honour). Brides of the future, be warned: the day after your wedding is one helluva comedown. The depressant qualities of booze play their part, I imagine. And there is, I suppose, an argument for brides not drinking whatever is thrust into their hand throughout the day. In reality, though, P and I were at the best party we’d ever been to, and we were damn well going to enjoy it as much as everyone else there. Then there’s the normal-clothes factor. I don’t care what outfit you’ve chosen to wear the day after your wedding – it could be a diamond-encrusted robe or a Gaga-esque bodysuit – compared to the exquisite gown of the day before, you’ll suddenly feel so ordinary that you might as well be wearing your pyjamas. And of course there’s the lack of sleep. Because however tired I felt after a day so exhaustingly fun that no amount of wedding planning could have prepped me for it, I went to bed so wired that I physically couldn’t shut my eyes. Add that to the simple fact that your wedding is o-v-e-r, and I’ll wager that I’m not the first bride to have thrown her tiara out of the marital bed 24 hours after saying ‘I do’. I’m less likely, however, to put money on all grooms handling it as well as mine did.

How poor P lasted through an afternoon of sporadic cartoon sobbing I’ll never know (perhaps his Blackberry-Googling was for annulment lawyers instead of cricket scores?) but by early evening he cracked. And I can remember the exact whinge that did it.
‘What the bloody hell is up with you, woman?’ he asked, his eyebrows furrowed so low they were practically a moustache.
‘My dress! I’ll never wear my dress again!’ I wailed.
‘Don’t be daft, you can try it on whenever you want.’
‘But I’m not the bride any more!’ I snivelled. ‘Now I’m just a wife with a credit-card bill!’
‘I’ll never be a bride again!’ I spluttered, ignoring his comeback.
‘You bloody will be if you keep this up,’ P barked. His lack of a jovial tone snapped me out of my melodrama with a Derren Brown finger-click, and my snivelling came to an immediate halt.
‘You,’ he shouted, ‘are being a fucking nightmare.’
He was right; I was. And so I stopped. Just like that. No further conversation necessary. No guilts, no soul-searching, no deconstructing, no clipped answers, no funny moods. Just shut up and move on. And I bloody love that about my husband.

It’s a tactic he had to call into play again last Friday night – the evening following The C-Word’s launch – which was funny, given that I’d told my folks over breakfast that it felt suspiciously like the day after mine and P’s wedding. There were undoubtedly parallels – my family were with me, I was wished luck, sent cards, given gifts, there were cupcakes… And it’s fair to say that I’d been looking forward to my book’s launch with almost as much excitement as our wedding. (Hell, The C-Word had been in the planning almost twice as long as our wedding.) And then, of course, there was the day-after comedown played out in front of P. Only this time it wasn’t sobbing that I needed to be told to shut up about, but panicking. Panicking that I’d not spent enough time talking to the friends who made it out to the launch. Panicking that I’d made a gin-fuelled tit of myself in front of my publishers. Panicking that The C-Word’s fanfare would fall flat on its face if it only went on to sell six copies. Panicking that those six people might not respond to it. Panicking about the looming pressure of the Difficult Second Book.

‘You need to pack this in,’ said P, thankfully less forcefully than he’d needed to after our wedding. ‘You need to enjoy it for what it is. Especially given how hard things have been for us over the last couple of years. And now the book’s out there, you need to be grateful for a bit of normality.’ That was the magic word to snap me out of my narkiness: normality.

It wouldn’t have worked the day after our wedding, mind. Sheesh, if P had told me back then to be grateful for a bit of normality, I dare say there’d have been death by bouquet in the bridal suite. But what I didn’t know as that naïve, overemotional bride – but did know as a first-time author – was that the normality that came next would be every bit as glorious as the fanfare that preceded it. And when it comes to a book launch as enjoyable and a wedding as spectacular as ours, that ain’t half saying something. Mills & Boon, eat your heart out.


Gabriel said...

I for one will be reading my copy of C-Word (freshly delivered from Amazon) on my commute into London tomorrow morning.

A massive congratulations to you.

Gabriel's Mummy

ClaireK said...

My copy finally arrived today. That's what I get for ordering from play.com and not amazon. Rookie mistake.

Congrats on the book. Starting it...now!

C x

Gill said...

I'm a third of the way through my copy...thank you for helping me prepare myself for my own treatment to rid myself of the Big C. I hope you've got your next book planned, I enjoy your style of writing.

Anonymous said...

As someone getting married later this year I read your comments with a wry smile.....i will try my best not to be awful (though i will challenge you to a stropiness competition any day of the week!!!) Amazing book, enjoy every moment of your achievement. Most of us dream of writing a book and never get there - you've done it (brilliantly) by the age of 30! xx

Anonymous said...

PS Gorgeous wedding pic, LOVE the dress!!! xx

Sarah Mia said...

I just finished my copy and it was bloody fantastic :) which is odd, when you consider it's a book about breast cancer in the first instance - fantastic isn't really a word you associate with it, is it?

I'm so glad you wrote it, Lisa - you're a great writer and it was such an insight. So enjoy your moment, lady. You've bloody well earnt it :)

Gabriel said...

Well, I am totally gripped!

Started my copy of your book on my train journey in to work this morning and was more than happy when First Capital Connect announced the train was delayed. Great - more reading time.

I am up to the bit in which ou describe what chemotherapy feels like. Thank you for that - for the first time my husband and I have an understanding as to what our little boy went through - at 2 years old he was just not able to explain to us what chemotherapy felt like - but thanks to you we now understand more. We have always been proud of Gabriel, but after reading your book so far, I am even more proud of him if that were at all possible.

Thank you Lisa,

Kind regards,

Gabriel's Mummy

Unknown said...

Cannot wait to read the book! Can I just say that I have read every single blog post, which ranks it up there with Corrie and Come Dine with Me as the only three things that I follow.


Anonymous said...

I'm saving starting your book until I am, ash permitting, on a plane next week to Florida! I've finished my treatment for BC now and am having a holiday to recharge the batteries. What better way to start the holiday with than a book written by someone who has been through the same as me and come out the other end too!
C x

Paula said...

I did exactly the same the day after they told me they had successfully removed the Yukky Lump with clear margins. I should have been celebrating being cancer free but it didn't work out like that.

The Book and Bun party looked great! Good luck ... still waiting to see you on This Morning ... ;)

P x

Lu said...

Just finished reading your book which was brilliant! I hadn't come across your blog, just bought it on reccomendation from a magazine and so glad I did.
My friend is going through chemo at the moment and it's really helped me to understand how crappy it is.
Love your style of writing and looking forward to your next book (no pressure)!