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Kilted young men, a safe-house, a panic room, a trapped ‘thing,’…….and a fabulous wedding.

September 26, 2013

Those of you who have been kind enough to visit here often will have noticed that I have not been posting as frequently as previously.  Those of you who know me a little better will know that in December I tried to go down the stairs head first.  Not a good idea.  And those of you who know this also know that I am still suffering from a broken collar-bone and shoulder and that I am still awaiting three proposed operations – I have not given up hope – a black hole may well consume our planet by the time I am ‘seen to’.  It has meant that this year has been a lot slower and not exactly going according to my ‘master plan.’  But then what ever does!

I may not have been on here much but I have been busy.  Ms Birdsong has been on the back-burner unfortunately whilst I’ve struggled to type and complete two 10,000 word short stories for an anthology (in aid of a worthwhile charity in the UK) due out around the turn of the year – more details nearer the time.  I am really excited about this book and so very honoured to be part of it.  In the words of ‘Dixon of Dock Green,’ ‘Keep ’em peeled,’

Analalgue Recording to Digital Recording

Analogue Recording Tape to Digital DAT Tape Recording (c) Jane Risdon 2012

I will tell you that both stories were born out of my experiences ; one is about the Music Business and the other is loosely  based on my time amongst the ‘movers and  shakers’ in Hollywood with a dash of political dastardly deeds and involving a member of the American Secret Service.  My lips are sealed now, you will have to buy the book at Christmas to discover more.  These are works of fiction I might add, just in case anyone is about to call their attorney.

Looking out towards Hollywood (c) Jane Risdon 2003

Looking out towards Hollywood (c) Jane Risdon 2003

Morgen Bailey http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/   has kindly been publishing some of my short stories and flash fiction pieces on her writing blog, as well as reading them on  her pod-casts. So things have not been  a complete wash-out for me.

I have had one of my stories published in an online magazine which was lovely and thrilling.  And another two rejected by another online magazine, but that’s the way the mop flops I guess. 

Earlier in the summer I was approached by a publisher interested in Ms Birdsong Investigates and we are still in touch, though I’ve not managed to implement some of his suggestions yet, which funnily enough I had been toying with myself.  As soon as I can I shall be working on her again.  She is getting very impatient and since my visit to a very interesting house in July for a family wedding, she has been making her presence known in no uncertain terms.  I came away from the wedding full of all sorts of ideas for her and I am going to write a prequel to her arrival in Ampney Parva when she was with MI5….but that is way off in the future.

'Safe House' (c) Jane Risdon 2013

‘Safe House’ (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Ms B was far from my mind when I attended a niece’s wedding in July at a super-duper country pile deep in the countryside .  The wedding was amazing and so enjoyable and if my writer friend Lizzie Lamb had been a guest she would’ve thought she had died and gone to heaven; kilt heaven.  There were kilted young men everywhere and even a piper in full regalia.  I gather some of the photos had to be air-brushed before going on sale to the guests – something to do with several leaping kilted young men and a lack of a vital piece of underwear!  Trust me to be photographing the building at the time.

Kilts, Sporrans and trapped digits (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Kilts, Sporrans and trapped digits (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Kilted young bucks aside, the grounds and house where the event was held really got my imagination going.  6000 acres of farm land and wood and acres of beautiful garden and grounds, made me think of Romance writer Lizzie Lamb http://www.lizzielamb.co.uk/  and also of Beth Elliott http://regencytales.blogspot.com/   who writes Historical Romances; they would have been drooling and not just at the location. Not that I felt the urge to write romance you understand.  Just something was niggling in the back of my mind.

Rear of the 'Safe House' (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Rear of the ‘Safe House’ (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Before I had chance to really get into the idea that was lurking in the strange set of wiring which passes for my brain, something happened; something very co-incidental.

The morning after the wedding – yes, we got to stay in this fabulous pile – I had occasion to chat with the reception staff at the house.  Now, this is not a hotel, it is a private house which can be hired for special weddings and conferences (‘special’ conferences – all will be clear soon) and nothing else.  But there is staff just like in a normal hotel;  at least they appear to be normal.

Farm land and woodland afford security and privacy (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Farm land and woodland afford security and privacy (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Anyway, one step at a time.  The morning after the wedding I was having a giggle with one of the ladies on reception who was showing me the various items of clothing and such like, which had been found by staff following the late-night shenanigans  also known as ‘the celebration,’ of the nuptials.  There were several pairs of ‘Sex in the city,’ style six-inch heels, various items of ‘other female apparel,’ I am not saying a word! And there were pairs of sunglasses and cameras and mobile phones and a whole Scottish outfit complete with sporran and the little knife they wear in their sock, a skidoo I think it is called.  Now this was interesting because many of the Grooms-men and indeed, the Groom, were all decked out in full Highland gear, so someone had, ‘err, lost theirs sometime during the wee hours.

Parts go back to medieval times (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Parts go back to medieval times (c) Jane Risdon 2013

My receptionist friend told me there had been a ‘streaker,’ in the wee hours and speculated as to whom this might have been.  I shall keep that information to myself for obvious reasons!  I did wonder if he was the one I saw fall into the flower bed outside our bedroom window.  Oh, didn’t I mention it?  I shared a room with The Mater; enough said.  She was not amused at all the ‘partying’ that was going on.  Needless to say  she didn’t sleep a wink all night and guess what?  Neither did I, something to do with a continuous request for me to ‘see who that is’ and ‘who the hell is making all that noise?’ And ‘go and see what happened then…’ I think you get my drift.

Anyway, where were we?  Oh yes, the chat with the receptionist.  I had been looking around the house, parts of which date back to medieval times, and had noticed that there were lots of original oil paintings and works of art on the walls (bit silly if you ask me considering what was going on), by various ‘Masters,’ and all of them had a plaque which stated they were ‘on loan’ from HM Government Art Collection.  Now, this is when Big Ben went off in my head. This is what had been niggling me and I asked the young woman why there were such works of art on the walls of this house loaned by the Government.  Actually I had a good idea and I was not wrong.  I had seen similar works of art on display where I once worked many moons ago.

Imagine my delight when she told me that the house actually belonged to The Government.  That is when the penny dropped!

FCO London (c) Unknown

FCO London (c) Unknown

The house, contents and the land all belonged to HM Government and not only that….all the staff were Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff!!  Oh yes!  Now things were looking up.  We had a chat about me and the FCO and how things had changed since I was, well….anyway enough of that.  But, it transpired that the house was usually only hired out for weddings now and again and most of the time it was for Government conferences, you know the BIG ones with lots of overseas dignitaries and the odd number  or letter in the titles of the conferences (G something or other), hence the remote location.  I was just thinking it would make a great ‘Safe-house’, when she told me it was used for that and had I got the room and bathroom with the Panic Room?

Grand bedrooms hidden rooms?  (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Grand bedrooms hidden rooms? (c) Jane Risdon 2013

IMG_5034

Is there a Panic Room behind this door? (c) Jane Risdon 2013

  Ms Birdsong thumped me hard in the back and I almost fainted.  Yes!  This has got to be the location for her prequel.  MI5, FCO with spies and safe-rooms and panic-rooms; everything.  Right in front of me.   Needless to say my conversation, with the receptionist (not Ms B), though she kept shoving my back, went on for some time and we talked about the house and life in the FCO, postings, how the Diplomatic Service is these days….it was such fun and so interesting to meet someone working in the same business I used to be in, before Music that is. 

And that is why Ms B is undergoing a bit of a re-write so I can work her past into  this place; into ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates,’ and I can set up the plot and background for her prequel and start writing that when I get round to finishing Ms B Investigates.

Oh, I didn’t mention my little adventure on the dance floor.  I had a bit of a turn so to speak.  Earlier when the young men were leaping in the air, kilts lifting in convenient gust of wind and sporrans flapping, one of the young kilted lads managed to do himself a ‘mischief’ with his sporran, so was a little incapacitated for a while.  His ‘accident,’ obviously made him stand-out from the others and later that evening when I was tripping the light fandango with the mother of the bride and ‘jolly’ young male relative who actually did do a tango with me – this with all my injuries and a few vino-collapsos to deaden the pain – I came across the young chap again.

Acres of open land and glorious views (c) Jane Risdon 2013

Acres of open land and glorious views (c) Jane Risdon 2013

He was grabbing his sporran area provocatively as he swayed next to me.  He seemed to be ‘feeling,’ the music deeply, though his face was rather pale which I could see in spite of the disco lighting bouncing off his sweating brow.  I thought he had had too much to drink – and I think he had.

Anyway, he swayed up to me and his face contorted in what could have been lust but I am realistic enough to know it wasn’t; he seemed to be in pain.  I bent forward and asked if he was all right and he shook his balding head vigorously.  He pointed to his hand, holding the sporran tightly between his legs.  I shouted that the gent’s loo was in another area of the building and pointed in that direction.  He shook his head gasping and cringing over like he had an appendicitis.  Are you in pain I asked and he nodded yes.  Where does it hurt I asked…he pointed to the sporran.  I bent closer mindful of his accident with the sporran earlier and his lack of undies under his kilt.  He was obviously feeling the pain still.  Not sure what I could do for him, I am way past kissing anything better for anyone, I suggested he go and lie down and take a pain-killer.  He looked up at me and almost tearfully said he could not, but could I help him ‘get it out of the sporran,’ where ‘it’ had got stuck accidentally and was causing so much pain he was in danger of passing out. 

A lone piper entertains everyone (c) Jane Risdon 2013

A lone piper entertains everyone (c) Jane Risdon 2013

I glanced down at his sporran, a little area of white in the disco gloom, illuminated now and again by the sweeping coloured lights pulsating in time to the beat of ‘What a Feeling.’  I looked up at him and he nodded and pleaded with me to extricate his trapped appendage from the sporran. I felt so sorry for him but what would people think if I started grabbing his sporran and attempting to release his ‘whatever,’ from inside the clasp.  He kept wincing and the sweat was dripping off his face, so I reached down and in the deep gloom attempted to prise the clasp apart, then gradually it parted a little and I reached into his sporran, head bent close so I could see what I was doing, noting the curious, if not somewhat horrified faces of our fellow dancers as I pulled and tugged at the soft warm thing trapped inside. 

By this time my head was virtually level with his sporran which dangled low on his legs….one more gentle tug as he winced with pain and I managed to free his trapped swollen digit.  Bleeding he grasped his finger and thanked me with a nod before rushing from the dance floor.  I turned to see a group of shocked faces reflected in the colours of the disco lights.  I shrugged my good shoulder and straightened up.  ‘It was only his finger,’ I shouted, ‘It got caught in his sporran.’  I could tell they didn’t believe me.

I know why they have a Panic Room now……

I hope you like some of the photos I took that weekend.

I shall be back soon with more tales of what I have been up to this summer……with photos too.

I have no idea why I didn’t add Nicola Slade to those Historical writers who would have loved the kilts and the wedding, so here is her link, check her out too – you will not be disappointed. http://wp.me/2lots

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32 Comments
  1. sarigelin permalink

    Your adventures are a story in themself, Jane. How I laughed at the sporran event. I had no idea you managed to hurt yourself so badly, you’re marvellous to be writing at all with so much needing to be put right. Do remember that the people who make most fuss get seen to first, so complain and weep, and demand dates for treatment. And I’m another one waiting for Ms Birdsong to appear in print.
    PS – a few of those kilted leaping laddies would be a good addition to one of my tales, hmmm [thinks]

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    • Hahah. I thought it would amuse you Beth and the location and the young bucks immediately had me thinking of you. I could imagine you sitting thinking up a wonderful Regency Romance and with so many handsome young lads wandering around a la ‘commando,’ I just knew it would be too, too much. I can only imagine what the lady photographer must have thought as she had to air-brush a couple of the young lads in order to make them ‘decent’ for the guests to see. Trust me to be taking photos of the buildings and gardens and not concentrating on the flying kilts. I am coping thanks, just got a date for another appointment with Herr Professor end of October….no rush then. I guess I should weep and wail but no-one here to hear me and I am not the type really. I am a ‘make do and mend’ sort. Ms Birdsong is beginning to be the longest book on record….I will finish her I am sure before too long. I hope you are well and enjoying life. next time I am surrounded by kilted hunks I shall message you urgently!! 🙂

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  2. OMG I had no idea kilts and sporrans could be so dangerous! I do hope Lizzie comes by and checks this out. Great feature, and you have accomplished so much despite your ill health and continual pain. I am in awe. Here’s wishing you a FULL recovery really soon, and thanks for sharing your anecdotes. You’re an inspiration! XXX 🙂 BIG hugs!

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    • LOL…the alcohol helped Nicky. I would never have danced a tango, injured or otherwise without it! Glad you liked the story. 🙂

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      • Ha. *whispers* The great un-inhibitor. Nothing wrong with a glass of vino or three. XXX 😀

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        • I got carried away with the dancing and fun. Actually I didn’t get to drink that much; ‘she who must be obeyed’ was ever watchful…just in case I had too much fun!

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  3. So, it really was his finger then? It’s a good job he didn’t ask your mother to help him out. 🙂 Sounds like you had a great time and in a wonderful place. It sounds like you received plenty of ‘inspiration’ to write.
    Cheers
    Laurie

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    • Yep it was his finger, thankfully. I was worried with the lack of lights and me being short sighted! Poor darling! had a great time and the house was inspirational indeed. The brain was going into over-drive. Hope you are feeling better today, I will pop over at some point and see what else I have missed. 🙂

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      • I laughed reading it Jane, something straight out of 4 weddings and a funeral. 🙂 OMG! I’m no better infection wise, it’s a little swampy inside the old lungs. I managed to do some mowing on the ride on today. neck brace, respirator and hat I looked a sight. Always plenty to see here Jane. 😉

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        • I am happy I made you laugh…I laughed at the time. I had visions of ‘she who must be obeyed,’ safely tucked up in bed by this time, worrying about what everyone would think, my head in a strange man’s sporran and fiddling with it as well! She would never have been able to come down to breakfast ever again! I hope that you feel better today and have a mental picture of you on your ride complete with all your paraphernalia – a sight for sore eyes..lol 🙂

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  4. Jane – I really do hope that you’ll be seen to soon for your health. Chronic health issues are so enervating!!! Thank you for sharing those lovely ‘photos and telling us what you’ve been up to lately. I’m so happy for you that you got so much inspiration for Mrs. B. I really do so look forward to reading her story. As to your short stories…thank you :-). Folks, you are in for a treat!!

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    • Margot, how kind of you, thanks. I am a bit of a wreck but I cannot let it hold me back…so much to do, so little time comes to mind. People are worse off so I am not moaning, just a bit fed-up now and again. I did have a fun weekend, the views and area was gorgeous and the house had so much history. I am a history buff so this was heaven, plus opportunities for photographing was not to be missed. I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. Thanks so much for commenting, always welcome. Love to Joel!

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  5. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Indeed. I was so knocked out I wanted to stay there for weeks…beautiful place and such an interesting history and use. My mind was blown.

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  6. Some goodies to look forward to, Jane, thanks!
    Sending lots of healing and sympathy vibes your way; as you know I’m also ‘damaged goods’ from when I wantonly threw myself over backwards at the feet of several Scotsmen while I was doing a do-si-do! At least it only resulted in one operation, on the more badly broken of the two wrists. I’m mildly miffed that my metal plate doesn’t beep when going through airport security though a nice man in Australia obligingly ran his hand-held scanner over the scar. It beeped very satisfyingly too. x

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    • Gosh sounds nasty Nicola, so lots of healing on its way. I am supposed to get a plate eventually…we can go on our travels together and drive security nuts. I added your link into my story because I meant to earlier but today has been password hell for me on all sorts of page and sites and it went right out of my head…so I have added it now. I hope anyone reading my blog will be minded to pop across and check you out. Teach us both to trip the light…..me down the stairs and you dancing. What are we like!! xx

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