I’m American, but I spent the past few years in London. One day, a couple of years ago, I was hurrying down Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in the city. It was rush hour and I was moving along the sidewalk with the stream of pedestrians when I noticed a perfectly normal-looking, sober-looking woman in a business suit squatting near one of the buildings. I did a double take but sure enough, she was “popping a squat” as evidenced by the stream of liquid that ran down the sloping pavement.
It utterly boggled my mind. I could tell she wasn’t drugged out or drunk out of her skull – she looked completely calm and, again, totally normal. Polished and professional, even. There was a Starbucks across the street and no less than three other Starbucks-type coffee shops within a one-block radius, so I couldn’t begin to imagine why she didn’t pop into one of them to do her business. Later, as I told my boyfriend at the time about the bizarre sighting, I remarked that if I ever had a bathroom emergency so dire I couldn’t get to one of the shops in time, I’d simply pee in my pants. His laughing response was, “you’re so middle class.”
He explained that posh people and “common” people – they readily use that term – have loads more in common with one another than they do with the middle classes. Apparently it’s the middle classes that own the fancy cars. Posh and common people will proudly drive around in dilapidated old cars with taped up windows. It’s the middle classes that like things to match (clothing, furniture or what have you) while posh and common people walk around in wildly mismatched clothing and might have a set of beat-up old 70’s vinyl chairs arranged around a gorgeous antique (if you’re posh) or faux-antique (if you’re not) dining table. And apparently it’s the middle classes that would wet their pants to avoid the above scenario while posh and common people dutifully answer Nature’s call, regardless of when or where she calls.
My novel, Fashioning a Romance, takes place in London, and the hero, John Harrington, is extremely posh. I had a lot of fun creating his character and giving him his own bizarre quirks, but I did have to pull back a little. I couldn’t make him too eccentric because obviously I want all my readers to fall in love with him. For example, I couldn’t dress him in the orange plaid pants I once saw on the poshest posh man in Cambridge.
One thing I knew for certain was that I wanted John to call Caitlyn, my heroine, by a pet name, and it’s common practice (no pun intended) among the posh to use the names of farmyard birds as terms of endearment. No joke. Posh Brits lovingly call one another Goose, Duck and Chicken. While I wouldn’t mind him calling her one of these names, I thought it might confound my readers – or at least those who aren’t British. Then I got it in my mind that he should call her Doll. Luckily I ran that one by my Brit friends first because it I was told “Doll is what East End Geezers call women.” Oops! In the end, I went with Kitten because it sounds a bit like Caitlyn and it did the job just fine.
I like to think that when one* reads my book it’s like stepping into an alternate world. A posh world composed of Estonian housekeepers who sing Lady Gaga while they dust and bedraggled CEOs who spout off poetry at random. In a way (because I didn’t know anyone that posh) it’s kind of a fantasy world, but Caitlyn, with her straightforward American persona is there to “keep it real”.
*Another posh-ism. Common people never use “one” in this way and middle class folks only use it if they’re trying to act posh.
by Libby Mercer
Available from Musa Publishing
Faced with a man so smooth he can charm the clouds from the sky, will Caitlyn be able to stick to her strict No Players policy?
Dedicated American fashion girl, Caitlyn Taylor, can’t stand players, and has successfully dodged them like enemy fire all her life. And then she meets fun-loving British
CEO, John Harrington. Not
only is he her boss’s brother, he’s the charismatic kind of womanizer that
nightmares are made of. Worse still: he’s exactly Caitlyn’s type. As if his
being the Superman of sex appeal isn’t enough, he’s also got that quirky
something-something that she adores. Not that she’s even considering falling
prey to his methods. No way.
John can’t fathom how Caitlyn can be impervious to his charms, given the extraordinary chemistry between them. The more she resists, the more determined he is to break down the walls she’s built up to keep him out. Forced to get creative, he orchestrates a “surprise” weekend in
for the two of them. Game on! Paris
About twenty minutes later, she was interrupted by the sound of a melodious, male voice. “Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied. Nathaniel Hawthorne.”
John was standing in the doorway with an irresistible grin and two steaming cups on saucers. “Tea break, Caitlyn?”
No. No, no, no, no, no.
But he was her boss’s brother. What choice did she have?
“Um… okay.” She set the dress aside while John crossed the room and placed the tray on the side table before taking a seat next to her on the sofa. She got a whiff of yummy soapy cleanness from him, and felt the blood forcing its way to the surface of her skin. He was sitting close – too close. His long, lean, muscular thigh was just inches away from hers. And she would almost swear that she could feel the heat radiating from him. Man, talk about a hot guy.
“Milk and one sugar, right?” He handed her one of the cups.
“Yes, thank you.” He’d obviously done his research. Yep, total player. No doubt about it. Caitlyn took a sip and counted to five before glancing up at John, who was beaming his million-watt smile down on her. The silence was too much to handle. “So…” She searched her brain for something to say. “What’s up with the quote? Are you like a
expert or something?” Hawthorne
He chuckled. “I’m afraid not. I must confess to calling upon the wonders of Google to impress you with a quotation that was both literary and relevant to your craft.”
She nodded her head slowly. Who was this guy? Yes he was posh, but so was Sophie, and she didn’t talk like she’d just stepped out of the pages of an Austen novel. Man, he was adorable. Adorably quirky. And although she hadn’t thought it possible, he looked even dreamier than before. Clean-shaven, the contours of his jaw were begging to be kissed, and the fitted blue shirt he was wearing gloriously showcased his lean, muscular chest.
Stop it, stop it, stop it.
She took another sip, looked away and reminded herself that he was the enemy. If she got too close, he would annihilate her.