In 2006, The London Paper, with a circulation of 500,000, ran a competition looking for someone to write a weekly City Girl column, an anonymous non-fiction expose of working life in the City Of London. And yours truly was lucky enough to win!!
Yeayy… cue air guitar, gin and many tears of joy. At last, I was to become a proper published writer and get paid and all, only there was one teeny tiny detail that I’d manage to overlook… I didn’t actually work in the City. Oops! Yes, I’d worked in an office in London for what felt like forever, and within spitting distance of those shouty banker types that we all love to hate, but still, what to do? Wing it of course.
So, after doing a bit of research (read earwigging at parties and stuff) I wrote a weekly column about my ‘fictitious’ life as a banker in the City Of London… made the whole lot up, turned it into a spoof if you like. Week after week I managed to come up with a funny, satirical short story while panicking that this could be the week my cover got blown, but it never happened. Readers wrote in, saying I made them laugh, I made them cry, I knew exactly how they felt. Hell, one crazy even wrote in to inform me he’d reported me to the FBI for being anti-American, convinced I’d go to Guantanamo after I described his fellow countrymen as “tan tasselled loafer wearers” bellowing in to “cell” phones. Soo silly… I LOVE the Americans, especially as my sister is practically one, having lived there for twenty odd years.
Of course, two years later I had to give up the column as the paper started making noise about ‘exposing’ me. How would that work? They reveal City Girl, creating a mega-load of publicity for the paper in the process, only to find out that she’s not some high-flying undercover banker who’s been blowing the whistle every week on her obnoxious high-flying banker colleagues, prompting all kinds of damage limitation harrumphing (those private banks are very prickly about their, well… privacy, funnily enough). She was in fact a big bluffer in her pyjamas, lushing on the sofa scoffing Dime bars and watching Kerry Katona on You Tube. Whaat? Isn’t that what all writers do?
Anyway, it sure was fun! And that’s how I realised that perhaps I really could be a fiction writer.