Today I’ve mostly been trying to get better. But I did go to the Metropolitan Opera House for a backstage tour and, possibly, made a massive error.

I was there because the protagonist in my third novel is going to go and work there briefly so I needed to spy on them. It was brilliant, actually; incredibly informative and useful. I was in heaven until a really lovely, well-heeled lady from Manhattan asked me why I was making so many notes.

I explained that I was a novelist. (I still feel like such a twonk saying this. I expect people to nod politely and say things like mmm, yes, of course you are!)

She was really excited that I was a novelist and asked if I had a business card. I produced one. My cards have an image of my first novel, The Greatest Love Story of All Time, on them. She asked me to sign the image. I did so, explaining that actually I was a nobody and that it would not get her anywhere in life having a Lucy Robinson signature on a business card.

But she ignored me and instead told me that she ran a book club and was going to get my book for the group to discuss.

And at this I blanched.

I don’t read reviews of my books on Amazon. I have skin like rice paper and am prone to suicidal behaviours if my book is described as anything less than ‘TRANSCENDENTALLY EXTRAORDINARY’ or ‘GRIPPING, MASTERFUL AND PEERLESS.’ However it was brought to my attention early on that there was a fair amount of Amazon reader criticism regarding my excessive swearing. And here’s a thing: I was astonished. I hadn’t even realised it was a potty-mouthed book. That’s how potty-mouthed I actually am. As in, full, post-breakfast, sit down and have a good old dump potty.

So you can imagine my horror when I gave this poor unsuspecting woman my card. She’s American! They hate cursing, let alone profanity! My book is riddled with phrases like ‘oh my flaming bollocking Jesus‘ and ‘I told God to go and fuck off’ in my novel!

This woman is not a good match for my book. And her book club is even less of a match. The very thought of them sitting in some upper West Side salon, stunned into collective silence as they scrabble around for one nice thing to say about my book, makes me want to weep. Or to break into their literary salon and create a diversion by pelting them all with canapes and stealing all copies of my book in the ensuing chaos.

They won’t find one nice thing to say about my book. It is not for them.

I spent the entire backstage tour planning a diplomatic speech outlining the book’s unsuitability for her book club; then when it came to an end she somehow vanished and I found myself sitting on a bog in the Lincoln Centre wondering if I could ban all exports of my book to the States.

A difficult moment.

Now, I also went to a Hip Hop church service today, but that’s another story for another time. I just wanted to end on a note that would re-fool you into thinking that I’m interesting and cool.

PS. No coffee picture today. In fact, no anything picture. I’m shit.

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  1. Bernie Lipsy says:

    I’m flattered that you found the backstage opera tour I led “incredibly informative and useful” but you were a bit hard on the woman who asked for your card (as did I). She and her husband are longtime friends of ours and her book club — to which my wife belongs — reads a lot of novels. Yes, the book club members are all in the 70s and a few in the 80s, but they’re very open-minded. Being grandmothers (and a few are great grandmothers) isn’t necessarily a guarantee that they’re prudes.

  2. Lucy Robinson says:

    Dear Bernie,

    Your tour was utterly wonderful and I’ve been telling everyone I’ve met to go on one. Thank you.

    I’m sorry if it sounded like I was being rude about your friend, who as I said was lovely. Please be clear that I’m criticising myself, not her! But you’re right – I probably did make assumptions about her taste in books. Thank you for your gentle reminder that it’s never wise to judge a book by its cover . . . .


  3. Marie says:

    As an American from the middle of the states (the “Bible belt,” to be specific) I loved all of your swearing in your book! You need not be so hard on yourself, you’re a fantastic and interesting writer who has one of the best senses of humor I’ve come across. It sounds like from the comment above that the woman will probably love your book, but even if she didn’t end up liking it, you’re Lucy Robinson! A really clever and witty writer! And from what I read of the reviews on Amazon, most people loved your book (for obvious reasons)!

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