Conference 2012 - What a way to earn a living
Report published 21 July 2012
Following the excesses of Saturday evening, this session with Jane Wenham Jones was just what we needed to gently prepare us for the more serious sessions to come. At the start, many of the audience, me included, sat with notebooks open and pens at the ready, but I doubt many notes were taken as we were all too busy laughing at Jane’s anecdotes and antics. Her transformation into an old tramp in pursuit of a Rolls Royce was positively scary – and all without the use of props. Unfortunately, as I was blissfully unaware that I would later be dragooned into... sorry, invited to report on Jane’s session, my notes consisted solely of the words: lovely way to spend an hour; very funny. However, those words do accurately sum up the experience.
Jane entertained us with many tales of her life as a journalist and author, including a disturbing number that involved nudity – usually hers. I shall never look at yoghurt and cucumber in quite the same way again, although perhaps I should clarify (for those not present) it’s actually not what you’re thinking – minds out of the gutter, please! Suffice it to say: never book a massage involving yoghurt if there is no shower handy.
We were treated to an impression of shoppers assiduously avoiding the hapless author’s eye at a book signing event and a hilarious account of an appearance on Kilroy as an expert on why women have affairs. Poor Jane was taken completely unawares as she was verbally harangued on live TV by members of the audience. One woman, who had been particularly vitriolic, stomped towards her after the recording of the show, causing Jane to fear she was about to be assaulted. However, the woman threw her arms around Jane, telling her she’d been marvellous. ‘But I thought you hated me for what I was saying?’ Jane said. ‘Not a bit of it, love,’ replied the woman. ‘I just wanted to get me face on the telly.’
Hints and tips for writers abounded, including sage advice for those of us fortunate enough to be in need of a publicity photograph. Jane reminded us that, if it is a bad one, it will haunt you for years to come. Her advice is this: stomach in, chest out, chin up (to avoid a double chin), but not too far (or your neck will look too wide) and, most important of all, keep your arms away from your body, or your arm will look like it belongs on a sumo wrestler.
There were, however, serious messages underlying the humour: anything and everything that happens to you in life can be used in your writing; never turn down any opportunity, no matter how small; never take yourself too seriously; always retain your sense of humour and, preferably, keep your clothes on!
Thank you, Jane, for a refreshing insight into your world.
Written by Janice Preston