Hazel McHaffie

Pride and prejudice

I do a fair amount of travelling by train nowadays, and it’s safe to say Birmingham New Street station is one of my least favourite haunts. Not only is it fearfully busy, but platforms aren’t revealed until close to leaving time, and literally-last-minute alterations occur with alarming frequency. Me, I like to be ready and waiting in plenty of time. Mad dashes from 8a to 9b with leaden cases through seething crowds of single-minded commuters do nothing for my health.

In all the years that I travelled regularly to the Westcountry, I went to great lengths to avoid changing in Birmingham, but these days I can’t avoid it, because my mother is now being cared for out in one of its leafy suburbs. Anyway, I was down there again this week, during the heatwave. Quietly melting on Moor Street station waiting for a connection, I noticed, across the track on the far platform, not one but eight massive posters – all identical. All advertising Kathy Reich’s latest book, 206 Bones.
A SHALLOW GRAVE; AN UNKNOWN VICTIM ran the heading. EIGHT times! Lots and lots of spooky black and white. All very tempting. And eloquent.

I was just comparing her marketing strategy … her sales figures … her royalties … with mine, in a fairly green-eyed, if-only, tone of thought, when my eye caught another message on a stand-alone poster:
Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD.

Brought me up with a jolt I can tell you. Back to being Ms Unknown Writer; and humble with it.

Sigh. I guess I’ll never know what world-wide acclaim would do to my character. But I can always blame my marketing team – or lack of!

Since that eureka moment, I’ve been admiring the huge range of gardens and exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show, and I’ve taken heart again. We can’t all be gold medallists. Very few of us will reach ‘Best in Show’. But there’s room in this world for us all.

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