The Blurb! The Elevator Pitch!

Coco Pinchard The Consequences Of Love And Sex is now complete. I’m always a bit sad to finish a book. Starting one is so exciting, and as you hurtle towards the final draft, all the fun you’ve had trying out ideas, and creating new characters with limitless possibilities has to be set in stone. There has to be a final draft. It has to end. Of course, it’s not the end, just the beginning, as the real work begins; promotion and book release!

The cover is now complete (I’ll be doing a cover reveal very shortly). I now need to write the book description, the blurb. The snippet that entices readers. This is the bit I’m hopeless at, boiling down my story into two hundred words or less.

A few years ago we moved to Los Angeles for a year, to work and experience life in Hollywood. When we arrived I was armed with a pile of Television pilots I’d written, plus a screenplay (which ended up becoming my novel, Lost In Crazytown).

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A nice sunday stroll to the Hollywood Sign

 

In Hollywood, pitching your work is almost more important than writing it. My husband Ján reminded me that I had to get out there and start promoting myself. I had to perfect my pitch. With scripts, you don’t write a blurb, you need a pitch. I think it’s called a pitch because there is so much competition in Hollywood. Like a baseball pitcher you have to lob your idea at someone fast and grab their attention. You also need an ‘Elevator Pitch’ which is an even shorter, super-fast summing up of your TV pilot/screenplay, that you can blurt out at someone influential if you happen upon a chance meeting. It needn’t be an elevator, you could bump into them anywhere, but you have to be concise as they may only listen to you for ten seconds – or the time it takes to reach their destination in the elevator.

Through a miracle chance meeting, a rather wobbly pitch, and my husband Ján doing a lot of the talking, I landed a job working for the actress Jennifer Coolidge, writing additional material for her US stand up show (I think she found my stuttering Britishness quite endearing). It was a great gig, and we got to know her quite well, so when her birthday came around she invited us to a party at her house.

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Me & Ján with the fabulous Jennifer Coolidge, after a long day of writing comedy…

Jennifer lives in the Hollywood Hills in a beautiful house surrounded by palm trees, exotic flowers, and a view of the Hollywood sign. When we arrived, it was chock full with friends and industry people, actors, writers, and one very famous writer Michael Patrick-King, writer/producer/director of Sex And The City.

Ján nudged me excitedly, and I realised with sweaty palms that this was an amazing opportunity to pitch.  I was in the same room as Michael Patrick King. When would that happen again? I could give him my elevator pitch. I might even get to do the full pitch.

For the rest of the evening I was in a blind panic. In Los Angeles everyone is always hustling, selling, doing deals. I could see that Michael Patrick King wasn’t working the room, rather the room was working itself around him. I stayed sat at the table with Ján, nibbling at the Thai food buffet.

‘Go and introduce yourself,’ said Ján.

‘I’ll just have another drink,’ I said, trembling. Halfway through the evening, a huge birthday cake emerged and we all sang to Jennifer, then Ján got up to get a drink and Michael Patrick King came and sat next to me! I grinned at him. He smiled politely. I picked at some peanut chicken.

Speak! I thought Say something! The silence went on as we watched the birthday cake being cut. Then Ján came back and hovered behind me, willing me to start talking. His stare turned to a glare TALK TO HIM! PITCH BITCH! I gulped and nodded. Michael Patrick King turned to get some cake, and I looked at the back of his head. It was right next to me. I thought about all the things that had come out of that head, all the ideas… The Sex And The City episodes… Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha… Carrie!

Ján rolled his eyes.

Okay, I mouthed. I had thought of something to say, could you pass me a piece of cake please?  It’s a perfect conversation opener! I swallowed and went to speak, but Michael Patrick King saw a friend across the room, and excusing himself, got up to say hello. He was gone. The moment to pitch had passed, and it had been far longer than just a mere elevator ride.

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Don’t Emmy awards make marvellous ornaments? Our neighbour opposite, who had five on his windowsill.

I have always regretted not talking to him. But maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe in the future we’ll meet again. Maybe he’ll remember the mute British guy with peanut sauce on his face who didn’t hassle him at a private party.

I wish I’d told him how much I enjoy Sex And The City. How it inspired me, and gave me the confidence to write from the female perspective. And I really wish I’d tried out my elevator pitch on him… What might have happened?

Anyhow. Life is full of fantastic second chances and after a fun year in Los Angeles we came back to Europe with my pile of scripts and a dog-eared little bunch of papers called  The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard… Since then I’ve been lucky enough to write full time,  and complete three more books of Coco’s adventures. Which reminds me, back to Coco Pinchard, The Consequences Of Love And Sex.  One blurb, coming right up.

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How to design a Kindle cover – Coco Pinchard style

The next installment of Coco Pinchard’s adventures is now complete! After going through several changes of title, it will be called, drum roll…

Coco Pinchard, The Consequences Of Love And Sex. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here

I can’t wait for it to be published, and in my readers’ hands! We are aiming for a release towards the end of April. I will keep you posted with the date and cover reveal.

Cover design is the most important element in publishing. Of course, you need to write a great book, but you first need to entice readers with a professional, well-designed and engaging cover. A cover that most accurately represents what your book is about.

We were looking back at the Coco Pinchard covers for inspiration, and I thought I would share with you the story of the Coco covers, starting with…

 The first ever Coco Pinchard Cover. Designed by: Me!

When I finished The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard, back in 2010, a friend suggested I upload it to Authonomy. To do this I needed a cover. I knew nothing about publishing, and my design process involved cutting out chunks of colour from an issue of Grazia Magazine. I then glued everything onto a piece of A4 and scanned it into my computer. Voila…

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Authonomy was a valuable experience, and I had some great feedback which led to re-writes and improvements. Authonomy readers loved Coco’s adventures, and propelled it high in the chart, so I decided to take the plunge. Together with my partner Ján we uploaded The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

2nd Coco Pinchard Cover for Amazon. Designed by: Veronika Licakova.

We still knew no one in publishing! So one Saturday we scoured our local bookshops here in Nitra. We found Veronika’s name in the back of a novel, with a cover design we loved. Through the magic of LinkedIn we tracked her down, and she came up with this iPhone design.

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We loved this cover, but after feedback we realised readers had to be steered more toward the humour genre. Another thing we’d learned is that your design has to be simple. An indie author doesn’t have the luxury of being in supermarkets and bookshops. The only place your book will be seen is a computer, tablet or Kindle. So it’s not so much a book cover, but a thumbnail. It needs to be just as clear and eye-catching when it’s a tiny image.

So, over to Dan…

3rd Coco Pinchard Cover for Amazon Designed by: Dan Bramall aka The Scribbler

This was a fun process, Dan quickly found the signature style that we’ve continued throughout the Coco Pinchard series.

At first the cover was green, and had hands!

Coco1_Kindle_CoverfingersLook at those fingernails!

It then became a lighter green… Spearmint you might say

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Before we settled on red.

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This cover is beautiful and simple. It stands out from the crowd, and we love the tiny but important elements which stop it just being a load of words on a block of colour. The @ symbol in Em@ils, the hint of a computer key for the S in ‘So’.

And the covers have continued in this style…

Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding Designed By: Dan Bramall

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We loved this first one, but it needed to be simpler to work as a thumbnail

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This was the one…

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We love all the elements on this, the dog, the black cab… Coco’s smalls on the washing line!

And finally A Very Coco Christmas…

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The colours on this cover are just beautiful. And if you’ve read it, you’ll know the significance of the bauble with ‘Coco’ written on – and the Turkey!

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So we’re excitedly waiting on the new cover for Coco Pinchard, The Consequences Of Love And Sex

 If you’ve read all the Coco books, and you still need a fix, you can keep up to date with Coco on her new Twitter page. You can follow her here  http://twitter.com/CocoPinchard

All opinions are Coco’s own… and some of Ethel’s too.

Rob x

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My fantasy casting for Coco Pinchard: The Movie

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I often think, what if the Coco Pinchard books were made into films? Here is my list of actors who’d play the characters… my fantasy casting!

Kate Winslet  (Coco Pinchard) I’ve loved Winslet ever since I saw her in Sense And Sensibility. She can be funny and serious, she’s sexy and also an everywoman, much like Coco.

Helen Mirren  (Ethel Pinchard) I’m a huge fan of Dame Helen’s film and television work. I was even lucky enough to see her on stage in The Queen in London last year. I think the time is ripe for her to play a truly funny evil old bag like Ethel!

Jeremy Piven (Daniel Pinchard) I love Jeremy Piven in Entourage. He switches between ego- maniac and loser, and elicits such sympathy too. I think these qualities are perfect for Daniel. I’d also love to see Jeremy Piven play a British character.

Josh Hutcherson (Rosencrantz Pinchard) Rosencrantz is a difficult one, he’s only nineteen in the first book but he needs to be sure of himself and have depth beyond his years. Josh is great as Peeta in The Hunger Games movies, but it was his role as Lazer in The Kids Are Alright which made me think of him as Rosencrantz.

Idris Elba (Adam Rickard) Idris Elba has such a great range as an actor, he can be stern and scary, sweet and vulnerable. He is also very sexy. I think it’s all these qualities which attract Coco to Adam.

Rose Byrne  (Marika Rolincova) I am a Damages addict, but it wasn’t until Bridesmaids when Rose Byrne played the spoilt Helen that I realised just how amazing her range is as an actress. I’d love to see what she makes of a no-nonsense Eastern European character like Marika.

Dominic West (Chris Cheshire) Again I think Dominic West is a very good actor.  I thought he was amazing as Richard Burton. He’s handsome without knowing it too much, and a can be a bit vulnerable. Perfect for Chris.

Doon Mackichan (Meryl Watson) American fans of the Coco Pinchard books might not be familiar with Doon. She has been in many great British comedy shows including The Day Today, and Smack The Pony. She is so original and funny and I think she could capture perfectly the surreal middle-class madness of Meryl.

John Nettles (Tony Watson) I have a guilty pleasure… Midsomer Murders.  I know it’s kind of naff, but I find it funny and quite addictive. I watch it mainly for John Nettles who I think is brilliant. He manages to somehow play it seriously as Inspector Barnaby, yet remind us all how silly it all is. Again, I think he is also a brilliant actor and I’d love to see him play against type as the sleazy bug-eyed Tony.

Celia Imrie (Regina Battenberg) I’ve loved Celia Imrie since her Victoria Wood days and of course as Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques. (Again, I had the thrill of seeing her on stage in London in Acorn Antiques: The Musical). The part that made me think of her for Regina Battenberg is Mrs. Selma Quickly in Nanny McPhee (the money grabbing old boot who almost marries Colin Firth) posh and yet awfully common at the same time!

Kathy Burke / Kristin Scott Thomas (Angie Langford)  I’m torn between Kathy Burke and Kristin Scott Thomas for Angie. As Coco’s literary agent, she’s tough and loyal and very funny.  I love them both for different reasons so, for now, I’ll put both.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on fantasy casting for the Coco Pinchard movie!

Rob x

PS  - If you are new to the Coco Pinchard books, you can find out more about them here

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Help! My new phone is making me feel old…

I’ve just bought a new phone, a Blackberry Q5, and as my mother would say, it’s very swish. I found myself biting back the same words when I opened the box. ‘It’s very swis… It’s very cool!’ I drifted further towards middle age when I popped on my glasses to peruse the instructions, and insert my SIM card. But my SIM card wouldn’t fit. It was too big. I checked the box, had I been sent a foreign Blackberry? No. Was it really unlocked for any SIM card? Yes. So why didn’t it fit?

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Through the magic of Google, I discovered, there are now three sizes of SIM card. Did you, dear blog reader, know there are now three different sizes of SIM card?

The iPhone 5 and some iPad’s take a Nano SIM, newer Smartphones need a Micro SIM and the really ancient phones like mine (23 months old) take, just SIM’s. With a further Google I found I could invest in a special little cutting device, which I could pop in my old SIM, and it would be snipped and re-born into a Micro SIM. But the cutting device had to be ordered from America, and just sounded too fiddly and awkward, like trying to trim a trolley token down so it can be used at both Lidl and Tesco.

I had no choice but to visit a mobile phone shop.

I hate mobile phone shops. I like to think things over and there is always a pressure to sign that contract. I was once conned into an expensive eighteen month contract which included a very swish… cool… handset and WAP access. The salesman in the shiny suit insisted that I have WAP, and told me all the amazing things I could do with WAP, none of which I can remember now.  In fact I can’t really remember what WAP was? I do remember that on the way out of the mobile phone shop, which was in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, the actress who played Mrs Warboys in One Foot In The Grave walked past, but WAP… nothing.

Since then I’ve steered clear of mobile phone contracts, mobile phone shops, and mobile phone sales people. I bought an unlocked Samsung phone, and a pay as you go SIM card with plenty of minutes and Internet access. Every few weeks, I go to the newsagent, I buy the newspaper, some fags for my mother-in-law and €20 phone credit. Perfect.

My SIM is a T – Mobile SIM, which is now T-Com in Slovakia, so I went with Ján to the T-Com Store. It was a blaze of colour and choice, with giant video screens, loads of pink plastic decor, phones the size of shoe boxes, and queues. Long queues. Even the queuing system was confusing. You had to first visit a touch screen and choose a reason why you wanted to speak to a person. Were you buying, browsing, or just there for a free pen? When you’d decided, a ticket popped out with a number. Mine was AOO1724, but the woman behind us wasn’t AOO1725, she was something like BOO2345. It made no sense, like the numbers auditionees get for The X Factor. Huge screens hung above the long counter with these long incomprehensible numbers flashing up.

We waited for 45 minutes. During this time I studied the other customers. We all had a look on our faces, much like Pit Ponies when they emerge from the mines, confused at all these bright lights and options.

It never used to be like this. I got my first mobile phone in 1999. I could choose from 3 handsets. I plumped for the Nokia 3310. It made calls, it had a black and white screen for texting and it had one of the most awesome addictive games: Space Impact.

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I can’t remember why I got a mobile phone. It wasn’t so I could use it for work, or even really to keep in contact with anyone. I was at University at the time, and if I wanted to get in contact with anyone, I’d pop to the pub. In fact during the first few months of my new Nokia 3310 I just played Space Impact and make crank calls to the landline in the house I shared with friends, impersonating the heads of their degree courses saying their essay deadlines had been moved forward.

To be fair to T-Com, after the 45 minute wait, the sales guy was very helpful. I had all my details and number transferred to a new Micro SIM within minutes – he even gave me a free pen. I just feel like technology has galloped away from me. I used to think I was pretty tech savvy, now I’m clueless.

My new Blackberry Q5 is great, I can work from anywhere, Blackberry messaging is brilliant and the Blackberry Hub puts all my emails, texts and social media in one place. However, there is still a part of me who’d love to turn back the clock, and just meet people down the pub, and play one more game of Space Impact…

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Share your crazy pregnancy cravings and WIN signed paperbacks!

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Calling all ladies! I would LOVE to hear about any crazy cravings you might have had when you or a friend was pregnant? And you can WIN some signed paperbacks too!

I am in the final drafts of my new book, Coco Pinchard: Love, Sex And Babies and as you’ve probably guessed from the title – one of the things it deals with is pregnancy.

What did you crave? Pickled cucumbers? Haggis? Roll-mop herrings? Chocolate ice cream with jalapeños? Or did you crave something truly bizarre? Whatever it is, I’d LOVE to hear about it!

There are signed copies of The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard & Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding up for grabs. Your craving could even make it into Coco Pinchard: Love, Sex And Babies!

To enter – head on over to my Facebook Page and tell me about your pregnancy craving, or even a crazy craving you’ve heard about.

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#shelfie #selfie

I woke up yesterday morning very excited. It was publication day for the Slovak edition of Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding.

In the UK I am a self-published author, and self publishing has been an incredible ride. My books have become bestsellers in the UK and the USA. I’ve signed with a fantastic literary agency on the back of this, and I’ve been involved in every aspect of my books; pricing, the cover design, the ebook formatting, the paperback trim size – even the font (yes, you don’t usually think about the font in a paperback, but when you have to make a choice, it becomes an obsession. We once nearly missed a flight when I got lost in font-appreciation in WH Smith Stanstead) In short, I’ve have full creative control. Well that’s what I call it. Ján has another word which I can’t really repeat…

So was yesterday exciting? Yes. Thrilling to see my book in the major bookshops? You bet. It’s just, well, I didn’t have to do much. Ikar has produced a beautiful book, created online advertising banners, they’ve issued press releases, the books are in the shops on the front table. And now with the advent of social media, there isn’t much an author needs to do in person. I have some book signings going on, but that’s not for a while. What do I do?

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Larking about in office when I should be writing… The book in Slovak is called Láska ako Prekážka.

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Blimey, in the Top 100 with Stephen King!

And then I realised. I have time to write. Self publishing does drain the time away when you have to self-promote.

I’m in the final stages of finishing the third Coco Pinchard book (fourth if you count the novella A Very Coco Christmas, and if you haven’t got your copy yet, do so now, it will shortly vanish from Amazon, and won’t be back ’til next Christmas)! I’m at that lovely point where I don’t want it to finish. I will, of course, but I’m enjoying writing it so much. I’m aiming for it to be on sale at the end of March beginning of April, so keep your eyes peeled. If you don’t fancy keeping them peeled you can sign up to my mailing list HERE. I won’t share your email address with anyone and you’ll be the first to hear about all my new releases.

Right that’s all for now, have a lovely day and I’ll see you again soon!

Rob xx

 

PS Have you entered The Huge Coco Pinchard Giveaway? Lots of amazing prizes are up for grabs plus signed copies of all my books. Competition closes at 11.59 GMT on Monday 3rd Feb 2014. Good luck!

 

 

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It’s Giveaway Time Again!

After the huge success of the last Huge Coco Pinchard Giveaway – I’ve decided to do it all again!

The second Huge Coco Pinchard Giveaway has even more  awesome Coco-themed prizes up for grabs… drum roll…

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1st Prize is a 100ml bottle of Coco Mademoiselle Eau De Parfum  +  signed paperback copies of The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding PLUS the brand new Christmas novella A Very Coco Christmas.

2nd Prize is a box of Hotel Chocolat Signature Dark chocolates + a signed paperback copies of A Very Coco Christmas and my dark Hollywood comedy novel, Lost In Crazytown.

The competition closes at 11.59 GMT on Monday 3rd February 2014 when we’ll draw the two lucky winners! You can enter below with the rafflecopter widget! Best of luck :)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Coco Pinchard’s interview with Ethel

Back in October, I ran The Huge Coco Pinchard Giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered, especially those who used the ‘Ask Ethel A Question’ option on the Rafflecopter widget.

I finally managed to track Coco down, and give her a selection of the best questions. She emailed me back yesterday with the transcript of her interview with Ethel.

Robert Bryndza x

 

Monday 30th December  16.31

TO: robertbryndza@gmail.com

Dear Robert Bryndza,

I finally got Ethel to answer those questions for you. We met yesterday in The Stage Door Cafe behind the Broadway Theatre in Catford. It was full of bohemian types sheltering from the rain outside, which was pouring down the glass plate window. Ethel turned up with her friend Irene who’d brought along a tape recorder.

‘Is it alright love if I tape the interview?’ said Irene. She had an air of Fagin about her with her long winter coat and fingerless gloves… Although Fagin never wore an X-Factor branded bobble hat. Ethel was dressed in her ‘new best’. One of the more glamorous old ladies at their nursing home died last week, and Ethel made it her mission to ‘follow her boxes’ and find out which charity shop all her clothes ended up in. She’s now got an endless supply of black high heels, little black dresses and those funeral hats with the black lace veil which half covers the face. She kept the veil on for the whole interview. Even sipping her tea through it.

The interview wasn’t taped in the end, because none of us could get the cellophane off the cassette Irene had brought. So, here are the answers, as best as I can remember them.

COCO: Right the first question is from Wendy, she asks, What hairdresser to you use?

ETHEL: We ave a mobile girl who comes round to our Nursing Home. She’s nice. The old boys like ‘er too.

COCO: Is she pretty?

ETHEL: Ooh no! Poor thing. Beaten by the ugly stick at birth, she was.

IRENE: More like fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!

(I thought it was a bit rich coming from Irene who makes Nanny McPhee look like a beauty queen.)

ETHEL: The old boys like ‘er cos she don’t mind doing some extras…

COCO: Extras?

IRENE: They slip her a few quid, everyone’s happy.

COCO: That doesn’t sound very appropriate, sounds illegal.

ETHEL: Not those kind of extras. Ear and nose hair. She don’t mind trimming that too. Long nose hair during cold and flu season aint pretty.

(At this point I lost all interest in my buttered tea cake).

COCO: OK, next question is from John, he asks Are you still looking for the right guy?

ETHEL: Gawd no! Gave up on all that years ago. My Wilf, me late ‘usband, was me one an’ only. Irene ‘ere is looking for a man tho.

IRENE: Yes. E’s gotta ave ‘is own teeth, a top of the range toupee, and a decent bus stop near where ‘e lives… And not a request stop!

ETHEL: Those bastard bus drivers always zoom right past.

COCO: Ok, another one from Paul. What do you think of the fact that a government survey has identified seven new types of class in 21st Century Britain?

ETHEL: Ave they? Well I never.

(At this point I got my laptop out and found the ‘class calculator’ on the BBC website).

COCO: So now we need to work out if we are, Elite, Established middle class, Technical middle class, New affluent workers, Traditional working class, Emergent service workers or Precariat.

ETHEL: Blimey!

IRENE: Who came up with this?

COCO: A cultural scientist.

ETHEL: Which one puts brown sauce on everything? I’m that one.

IRENE: And which says ‘tea’ instead of ‘supper’? I’m that one.

COCO: It’s much more complex now.

ETHEL: Coco says ‘supper.’

IRENE: ‘ere I think we’ve found you Ethel, ‘effluent worker’ cos you shovelled all that shit when you worked down the nick in Catford.

ETHEL: Ooh yes the amount of prisoners who went on dirty protest! I definitely worked that effluent. Never got a word of thanks neither.

IRENE: So what are you Coco?

COCO: (Sheepishly) I was Elite… but only because of the house, and that I’m friends with Chris and he’s from an Aristocratic family.

ETHEL: (rolls her eyes) Well that definitely makes us effluent.

IRENE: Effluent and proud.

COCO: It’s much more scientific, there’s questions about income, housing, friendship networks, internet habits. For example being active online could bump you up to Technical middle class.

IRENE: So if I every now and again I upload a picture of a fruitcake on Pinterest that makes me lady of the manor? Do me a favour.

ETHEL: Oh Coco, we all get bogged down in this class rubbish, we’re all people. Kids don’t know about class. I once asked Rosencrantz, when he was little, what class he thought he was in, ‘e said, ‘Mrs Johnson’s, she lets us paint!’ 

(I thought it best to move on, any talk of social class is always awkward.)

COCO: Ok, next question from Lorraine, what was your best sexual experience?

ETHEL: For me it was always good when it was over at least twenty minutes before The Generation Game started. Then there was still time to open the salmon and make the sandwiches.

IRENE: (Nodding in agreement) Ooh, shut that door. I love Bruce Forsyth.

ETHEL: That was Larry Grayson. Bruce is, nice to see you to see you nice!

COCO: Okay there are just a couple more. This is from Ján, Where is the best place to wear perfume?

ETHEL: On the bus.

IRENE: Yes. You never know who you’ll run into.

(By now the tea was drunk and I could see they were getting fidgety).

COCO: Ok the final question. This is from Kate, What are you most proud of?

IRENE: That fact I was born a bastard with nothing, and I’m still here. Eighty years on. I survived.

( I winced a little)

ETHEL: Coco, let’s call it what it is. Irene was born a bastard.

COCO: A little baby is born innocent, they shouldn’t be given such a title.

IRENE: Look up bastard in the dictionary. It says illegitimate child.

COCO: Which is much better than bastard. In fact, look up bastard in the dictionary and it also says, scoundrel, villain, rogue, miscreant… good-for-nothing!

(We were getting looks from the girl behind the coffee machine so I asked Ethel the same question.)

ETHEL: I’m most proud of my Danny. Now I know Coco, ‘e cheated on you, an ‘e divorced you, ‘e doesn’t have a proper job, his hair is too long. An’ I don’t like that new girl Claire he’s seeing. But big things are round the corner for him in 2013. ‘e’s a late bloomer. My pride and joy.

IRENE: Claire is she the fat one?

ETHEL: Yes. She’s a right pain when she comes over for tea. She can’t ‘ave this, can’t ‘ave that. She’s been on Weight Watchers for two years and she’s still the size of a house. I say, why do you stick with it love? She says she’s dyslexic and keeps mis counting.

COCO: I heard Weight Watchers is very good.

ETHEL: If you do it properly.

COCO: Yes, lots of celebs have done it. Jennifer Hudson lost loads on Weight Watchers. She looks beautiful.

IRENE: (Snorting) Didn’t someone shoot ‘er whole family? You think that would put you off snacking!

(They both started cackling.)

COCO: That’s not funny!

(They both laughed even louder, wiping the tears from their eyes.)

COCO: I’m serious. You two are horrible. You shouldn’t be allowed to say things like that.

ETHEL: (still laughing) Says who? We laughed, so therefore it’s funny. You gonna tell us a joke from your Elite social class? Come on, tell us a posh joke?

( I tried to think of something to come back with but they had me stumped)

ETHEL: Cos humour don’t have class, do it Coco? We all laugh at a fart, whether we’re the Queen or a pauper.

(I was really mad now.)

COCO: I wasn’t going to tell you this, but Daniel did the class calculator.

ETHEL: Did ‘e? What did ‘e come out as?

COCO: Precariat, the poorest, most deprived class who score low economically, socially and culturally.

(ETHEL stopped in her tracks. She grabbed her coat)

ETHEL: Come on Irene. We’re going to see Danny.

COCO: I thought he was your pride and joy? A late bloomer?

ETHEL: That was until I ‘eard ‘e  was scum.

COCO: Not scum. Precariat.

ETHEL: Sounds like scum to me! Come on Irene. I’m gonna stick my boot up ‘is backside. I didn’t work my arse off all me life to give birth to a Precariat!

(With that they marched off to the train station to find poor Daniel and give him a class upgrade).

As usual, time spent with Ethel has left me confused, irritated and angry. Despite all of this I hear she is hugely popular with your readership. A question I will never quite understand the answer to…

Coco Pinchard x

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If you would like to read more of  Coco Pinchard’s adventures, you can look her up at Amazon HERE.

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I’m still searching for the perfect hairdresser.

I really don’t enjoy getting my haircut. I don’t have a phobia of the actual cutting, it’s the palaver, which seems to surround getting a haircut that I loathe. If I had the choice, I’d shave my head, at home, with clippers. The only problem with that is I look a bit of a thug. I remember the last time I shaved my head. I was living in South London, in Brockley. I got on the train to work and asked a woman if the seat next to her was free. She looked terrified at the prospect of a skinhead sitting next to her. She actually clutched her bag to her chest. Now, I don’t want people to think I’m a nasty thug so I choose to grow my hair, and have it cut at a decent hairdresser. The only problem is I’ve never been able to find that perfect hairdresser, the one who really gets to know you, and more importantly, gets to know your hair.

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My first hairdressing experience wasn’t great. I was a little boy, and my father took me to the barber’s shop. It was full of old geezers and young geezers who were having short back and sides and buying ‘something for the weekend’ with a sly wink. After a few brusque snips, a clump of hair fell in my eye and I started to cry. Admittedly, my histrionics were a bit over the top, but I was only six, and the barber, a man who had a whiff of the Krays about him, shouted, pull yourself together and be a man!

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Stung by having my masculinity challenged at such a young age, I opted to rebel and accompany my mum, sister and nanna to Barbara’s, a rather kitsch ladies hair salon near the beach. I was seen by Barbara herself, a glamour-puss with a cackling laugh. She listened seriously to my little monologue about wanting it short without losing too much volume, and cut it accordingly without a scrap of hair falling in my eye. No one seemed bothered that I was a little boy having my haircut at a ladies hair salon. However, when I hit my teens, I could sense the unspoken curiosity. Still, nothing was said. Although my nanna did once have a fit when I casually picked up a copy of Family Circle and looked at the recipe page. That book is for women! she roared (she calls all magazines ‘books’) yanking it out of my hand, and replacing it with a copy of Readers Digest reserved for the husbands to peruse whilst they waited for their wives perms to set.

I stopped visiting Barbara’s when I was sixteen. I’d seen a picture of Anthony Kleidis from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I decided I wanted long hair like his. After 18 months I had a thick unruly shoulder length mane, it turned out a little more Kate Bush than Anthony Kleidis, but I was happy. Then I went off to University, where along with friends on my drama course, I experimented with hair dye, bleach and hacked bits off with the kitchen scissors, until finally there was nothing left but a dry bristle, so I shaved my head to look like Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3.

In the 15 years since I graduated, I have flirted with all sorts of hairdressing establishments and never found anyone as good as Barbara. I tried a hideously overpriced salon in Cardiff, a poky little bohemian place in Guildford with beads across the door, a quirkily named one in Newport called Herr Kutz, and scores of establishments in London. In Los Angeles I was a hair model in Santa Monica, at the Vidal Sassoon Academy no less, where a little trainee called Raul, who had a touch of the Rain Man about him, spent four hours pruning my hair like a rare orchid then accidentally sliced a piece of my ear off.

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When we moved to Slovakia, I thought I had finally found somewhere I liked. Schwarzkopf was reasonably priced, they cut my hair nicely, but I think I became complacent. Having never been to the same place twice (apart from Barbara who is a distant memory) I broke the unwritten rule, which says you should always remain loyal to the same hairdresser.

I had been seeing Eva who speaks a little English, but she went off on holiday, so I saw Veronika. Veronika was slightly better than Eva so I booked to see her again, only to bump into Eva! She was not happy, ignored me completely when I said hello, and continued to glower at me over some lowlights. No worries, I thought, I’ve got Veronika. She then went on holiday, and decided it was so much fun that she never came back. Eva didn’t want to know, so I was recommended to Peter, a rising star in the salon who I was told has been cutting hair since he was eight, his first customers being his sisters Barbie dolls – this is true.

However, I found a haircut with Peter a bit of a roller coaster ride. He tends to ignore what you’ve asked for and cut it how he wants. He turns up late, or goes AWOL for a cigarette leaving you stranded in the chair for half an hour with hair combed over your face. I could just about cope with this, until my last visit. Just as I was about to take my seat, a very grand old lady arrived and demanded to been seen by Peter. This woman is one of his most loyal and high paying customers, and Peter didn’t hide his annoyance, so much that he took out his anger on my hair, giving me a terrible five minute cut with chunks left long and a sort of step, as if he’d stuck a bowl on my head and cut round it. Of course, I should have said something but hair salons are very intimidating places. So I skulked out – I even tipped him! It looks like I am back to looking for a new hairdresser.

I dream of finding that perfect hairdresser. One who I’ll see for years, who will know just what I want… Or maybe I’ll just shave my head and go and scare the crap out of them at the Schwarzkopf salon.

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Me with a shaved head in 2004!

 

 

 

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The first day of advent.

I woke up this morning, so excited, because it’s the first day of advent. I hate October and November, they always seem to grotty and dark. So, I love when December swings round and there is an excuse to start Christmas.

There was much excitement this morning when we opened the first door on the advent calendars – the dogs too have a calendar each, stuffed with dog chews. This year I have a Kinder advent calendar, Ján has a Haribo advent calendar, which I’m rather jealous of, especially when he found behind his first door a miniature bag of cola bottles.

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Me and the pups, about to open the advent calendars

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Opening the first door, supervised by Ricky

What did you find in your advent calendar?

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