Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Judy Astley Ran Away

Here's Judy's story...

I ran away the day the headmistress laughed and told me I was “Flying a bit high” when I asked if it would be OK to apply to Oxford university.  Humiliated, I stormed out of school at midday, raced home to change out and went up to the corner where the road heads for the M4 to start hitching a lift to visit my friend David at Magdalen college, Oxford for tea and sympathy.

We all hitch-hiked in the days before central locking meant no escape from the axe murderer.  Drivers were kind to a girl alone and I had a rule about lorries – not to get in. Today though, cars stopped but none were going more than a couple of miles.  So when the truck pulled up I thought, oh just this once - it’ll be fine. 

The driver was cheerful and friendly.  He gave me a telling off and said that he wouldn’t want a daughter of his risking her life by hitching so he’d take me all the way to Magdalen bridge, just to be sure I was safe.

Except – suddenly he was turning off the M4 at Slough This was NOT the way to Oxford.
He drove into a bleak industrial estate, parked outside the massive Mars confectionary warehouse and climbed out. I considered making a run for it but I found he’d locked the doors. I was going to be found naked and strangled in a ditch.  My poor mum.

Then he was back telling me to hop out and get in the car parked alongside. He’d finished his shift, was heading for home and he handed me a big box, saying, ‘Here, a souvenir.’ It was full of Mars bars, Milky Ways and Galaxy bars. I thanked him and the journey continued but I’d be lying if I said I relaxed.

 David and I munched our way through the box’s contents and he offered me his bed for the night.  I thought about it but… back then he risked being sent down for having a girl in his room. And it was freezing and the loo was down two flights of stairs and across a dark, wind-blown quadrangle. I started thinking a more modern university would have comfort-advantages…  So I said thanks but no.  And for once, I went home by train.

My 18th novel,‘In The Summertime’ will to be published in hardback by Bantam in early July.  The paperback will follow in June 2014.  It’s a return to the characters from my first book, Just For the Summer and has Miranda, twenty years on from when she was a teenager at her family’s holiday home in Chapel Creek in Cornwall, revisiting the village with her mother Clare and children Silva and Bo, to scatter the ashes of her step-father Jack on the estuary he’d loved.  She doesn’t expect to find there are still so many connections from the past in the place and is particularly surprised to find one in particular – someone she’s thought about many times over the years.

Coming July 4th Judy's nest book....and it's set in Cornwall!

It's twenty years since Miranda, then sixteen, holidayed in Cornwall and her life changed forever. Now she's back again - with her mother Clare and the ashes of her stepfather Jack, whose wish was to be scattered on the sea overlooked by their one-time holiday home.

The picturesque cove seems just the same as ever, but the people are different - more smart incomers,fewer locals, more luxury yachts in the harbour. But Miranda and Clare both find some strangely familiar faces, and revisit the emotions they both thought had disappeared.

You can find more about Judy and her books here.

No comments: