Is this the image of a twenty-first century romance writer in Britain? The Daily Mail certainly seems to think so. Blue rinse, support tights, twin-set, pearls . . . and oh, let's not forget the rain bonnet and perms! Goodness, let me think, what other stereotype can I throw in there?
All around me are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights. They look like the kind of ladies you’d find working in charity shops or arranging the church flowers — can they really be penning the sort of racy novels that would make a convent girl like me blush?
How about women tootling around for fun, only to top up their pensions?
You can imagine my chagrin when, early Saturday morning, I checked out The Daily Mail, looking for the promised piece on the Romantic Novelists' Association Summer Party . . . only to see this screaming at me: The Blue Rinse and Bodice Rippers: In twin-sets and pearls, meet the ladies behind Britain's steamiest novels.
Sadly, it was all downhill from there. An incredulous laugh bubbled out of me as I scanned the first few paragraphs.
My mouth actually dropped open. No, really. I know because Mr TR asked me why the hell I was displaying my half-eaten toast.
After snapping closed my mandibles, I decided to double-check the reporter was writing about the RNA Party; the same swanky do -- chock full of glam young things with funky shoes -- I'd been attending. I hadn't made a habit of scrutinising my fellow writers' guts, but I was pretty sure no-one sported support tights. And Lord, please give this momma a rain bonnet, because I'd have given anything to have protected my fine hair from frizz that night. Pearls? True, my chunky gold necklace could have been mistaken for pearls -- if the reporter had been smoking crack an hour before the event.
Maybe she had. Maybe that could be the explanation for all ageist, sexist statements that followed. Because surely now, with the collective experience of the recent past behind us, we all know better than that.
You can see the real RNA Summer Party here.