Beyond the Beehive is about to make its first appearance into the world. It has been a long time coming but now it is really happening. I shall be reading the first chapter at Waterstones in Covent Garden on 2 September at 6 pm.
It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for most of my life, because it seems the world has not paid much attention to the lives of mod, working class girls, and I wanted to redress the balance. When I was about 10 I started to write a book about a girl who didn’t go to boarding school. Somehow, apart from the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton, there weren’t that many books around about children who went to day school. All those boarding school kids had to have their adventures in the long hot summer holidays, whereas in my world we were having adventures on weekdays and weekends. I say adventures – I mean writing the local newspaper, cooking ourselves little restaurant meals, putting on plays for the other kids in the street, and following someone on the estate we were convinced was a spy and noting his movements down in our notebooks (a spy with a very dull life, it turned out).
The problem grew more acute as I got older and became a mod. There were limitations with being a mod – if you weren’t interested in clothes and music and possibly scooters and if your mum and dad would not have let you go to Clacton or Margate on a Bank holiday, even if you’d wanted to, then there wasn’t much going on – but there was still a life, and one with a lot of action. The film Quadrophenia demonstrated that people were interested in mods, but the girls don’t get much of a look in, in the story.
So, out came the notebook and over the pages flew my pen, and then my word processor and then one computer after another.
I hope I’ve captured some of the essence of the excitement of Saturday nights, walking into a dance hall in time to the rhythm of Green Onions, or the smell of Wishing perfume by Avon, or seeing people you knew wearing parkas and leather coats, swooping along the road to park outside the mods’ coffee bar. It was a great time.
Beyond the Beehive is out on 26 September 2016.