Turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book.
That was Marshall McLuhan’s advice anyway. Over the next few Wednesdays, I invite readers to submit their own or other works (pg. 69 only of course!) via the Contact Form here.
Kings and Queens by Terry TylerGenre: Romantic drama (history re-imagined)
Page 69 Excerpt pub. April 24, 2014“KINGS AND QUEENS” tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester, which just happen to mirror the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in modern times.Harry’s realm is his South of England property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the equally intriguing Annette Hever, and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risqué past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon. On page 69, Harry (Henry)’s best friend Will (Charles) Brandon meets the Hever (Boleyn) family for the first time.
The member of the Hever family he talked about most, though, was Annette, the younger sister. Reading between the lines, I could tell that she’d honoured him with a brief fling and he’d hankered after her ever since, and I wondered, idly, if she was as eminently shaggable as Mary.
“She makes Mary look like a cross-eyed leper with the clap,” I was reliably informed by Mr Wyatt.
I had eyes for no-one but Dahlia, but I was still intrigued.
Jason Carey and Mary Hever threw a big party for their engagement in April 1985, and Harry replied to the invitation by saying that he presumed it would be a long engagement, as she couldn’t be looking forward to being called Mary Carey. Mary thought this was hilarious, though her fiancé was less impressed. Anyway, I went along with Dahlia and Harry. I don’t need to tell you that Cathy didn’t go; though she’d never confronted Harry about Mary, he said he could hardly expect her to attend her party.
“I don’t know that she even minds that much, as long as she’s got Izzy and the house and her social position as my wife,” he said, which made me realise that he didn’t really know her at all.
Being an engagement do, the guests comprised a mixture of friends and family, and it was there that we met Mary’s father Milton Hever, and Greg and Annette, for the first time.
Mary was a sweet girl, give or take screwing other women’s husbands, and Greg was amenable, chatty and rather affected (gay, I thought at first, until I heard he was seeing Sally Rochford, a friend of Mary’s at the office), but Milton and Annette were a
One Summer in France by Bev SpicerGenre: humorous memoir
Page 69 Excerpt (pub November 10, 2013)The summer of 1979 was the best summer ever! Pretty, blonde and dangerously impetuous, Bev and Carol head for the sun, lucky beneficiaries of a generous university grant. They are full of enthusiasm and the dazzling spirit of adventure that only seems possible when we are young. Essential swimwear is selected and Lipton’s vegetable oil is perfumed with patchouli for the perfect tan. They end up in Argelès-sur-mer, on a campsite close to the coast and not far from the border with Spain. Every day brings new challenges: how to hold a meaningful conversation on a naturist beach, what to do about a precocious teenage stalker, how to transport a gallon of port on a moped… all of which they meet head-on, with dubious philosophy and irrepressible optimism. ‘One Summer in France’ is a humorous tale based on a three-month study break the author took as part of her languages degree course at Keele University in 1979. ‘Would you do it all again?’ asked Carol. ‘Like a shot!’ I said. And I would.
The German girl turned out to be Swiss. She had spoken to Anna on reception and had managed to get herself booked in on our emplacement, assuring Anna that we would not mind in the least.
When we got back, she was brewing tea. She’d had a shower and washed out her clothes, which were hanging on our makeshift washing line. She didn’t appear to have a tent.
‘Hallo!’ she said, again.
‘Hi, Ingrid,’ said Carol, chucking her bag down and squatting next to our new lodger. ‘What’s in the pot?’
It turned out to be tea with cinnamon, which I can testify without mitigation to being the vilest concoction known to Man. I would rather have swallowed sea water from the Med, than cinnamon tea.
Carol loved it.
Ingrid was only fifteen and was travelling round Europe on her own. In my world, these two facts were mutually exclusive, so it took me a while to adapt to such new and outrageous parameters. I had been brought up on horrific tales of murder, rape (not specifically mentioned, of course) and enforced servitude by malevolent captors who preyed on young women who found themselves alone, more often than not in a dark alley, and almost certainly wearing a mini skirt; I had been raised with the idea that women were only safe when accompanied by a responsible adult, preferably male, and should avoid going out at night altogether, let alone sticking on a giant rucksack and wandering around Europe. Add to this, precautionary tales in books I had read such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and more or less anything by Enid Blyton, and you will understand my genetically and environmentally inherited concern for Ingrid’s safety.
It was apparent that Ingrid herself was not only unafraid of the world but also interesting, resourceful and devoid of cynicism. She was irresistible. She stayed with us only two nights, but I would say that she made an impression on me that would last, well, forever. She told us mainly of the kindness of strangers, which she professed to be universal and of the friends she had made along the way.
She had little money and only basic equipment in her enormous backpack. However, she had travelled through Germany and Austria, Norway, Finland and Sweden, and was making her way across France and into Spain before getting a ferry to Italy and returning home across the Alps. She didn’t have a tent, but she had a state-of-the-art sleeping bag that was waterproof, snakeproof, insectproof and presumably manproof. Apart from the ferry, which was booked on an open ticket, purchased by her father (she had parents, it seemed), she relied on lifts and subsistence provided by people she encountered en route, some of whom she did not have the language to converse with on any meaningful level.
Meeting Ingrid was like gazing up at the biggest and best firework display you could ever see. She was full of dazzle and blast, lighting up her surroundings and attracting an audience wherever she went.
We bought food and she cooked it in the most surprising ways, we watched her drink Fanta while we guzzled wine, and we listened to her stories, all positive, all told with fun and laughter. When she left us, I felt as though I had encountered someone special, an unspoiled soul, a rare and genuinely natural being.
‘Fuck me!’ said Carol, as we waved goodbye too soon. ‘Her parents ought to be locked up.’
And, although I felt the crassness of my dear friend’s sentiments, I could not help but see her point.
I would really love to feature your Page 69! Use Contact Form here to submit your favorite Pg 69 (your own or other’s work) or tweet #Pg69