Today I am helping to close the relaunch tour for Jaenni’s book – Not Having It All. I am loving the new cover! Jenni has kindly given me an excerpt for me to share with you! But first, what is the book all about?Not Having It All by Jenni Ensor
on January 15 2021
This is the story of four middle-aged people who are definitely NOT having it all. Meet Bea, Kurt, Maddie and Colin.
Senior lecturer Bea Hudson juggles her job at the ‘Psycho Lab’ with looking after her demanding five-year-old daughter, badly-behaved dog and next-to-useless au pair. When her chief exec husband is sent overseas and she’s left without childcare, Bea turns to best friend Maddie for help.
Kurt, downing whiskies in his hotel room as he imagines what his wife is up to, is convinced that Bea is becoming a little too friendly with Maddie. With characteristic obsession he enlists his neighbour’s help in a secret surveillance operation.
Found-object artist Maddie longs for a child of her own with a man she can trust – and he must love cats.
Divorced, risk-averse Colin is a senior manager at ‘the nation’s number one pussy insurer’. When he meets Maddie in a lift he’s smitten, and resolves to displace Maddie’s feline companions on her sofa. But he starts to fear that Maddie sees him only as ‘a handy stud with a fat wallet’.
Can Bea and Kurt find happiness again? Can Maddie and Colin risk falling in love?
A story about love, relationships and second chances, perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jojo Moyes, and anyone who loved Bridget Jones’ Diary or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If you enjoy novels with depth, heart and laugh-out-loud humour, you’ll love this razor-sharp romantic comedy like no other.
Sounds like fun!
Background information: Allie, Bea’s best friend, meets therapist Mr Rowley for the first time.
7 June, Session 1, 4pm
MG: Hello, I’m Madeleine Geen.
A regional accent loiters behind the clearly enunciated vowels. An actress? Cabaret singer?
NR: Good afternoon, Miss Geen. I’m Mr Rowley.
MG: Please, call me Madeleine. Or Ms Geen, if you prefer. I hate being called Miss Geen, it makes me think I’ve turned into a primary school teacher.
NR: I’m sorry, Ms Geen. I’ll try to remember.
Invite patient to sit. Explain that I like to get the money part over with first.
Miss Geen looks at me and the empty armchair suspiciously then perches herself on it, placing a voluminous bag on the coffee table – more of a shopping bag than a handbag, though these days it’s hard to tell the difference. After a long grope, a small fringed purse is extracted.
MG: It always gets stuck down at the bottom. (Smiles unapologetically.) Your secretary said I could pay you £30 as I’m not working at the moment.
Inform her that this is quite all right. (Note:Remind Jane to be stricter with middle-aged women. In future we should charge them all £50 minimum, whatever their circumstances.)
Miss G hands me three wrinkled notes. Nails short, unvarnished. Flecks of green (paint?) on her hands. Long fingers.
Obtain permission to record the session.
MG: I’d better be careful what I say then, hadn’t I?
Explain my role and methods as Jungian therapist, and how the therapy requires the patient to talk freely.
Miss G nods dubiously.
Explain re questions on personal circumstances, how the information is to help me assess how I can best help the patient.
Miss G nods, even more dubiously.
MG: Why do you need to know that?
Explain that it is a standard question.
MG: I’m forty-four.
NR: Single, never married?
MG: That’s right.
NR: Living arrangements?
MG: Excuse me?
MG: I live in a one-bed garden flat with two cats, Giblet and Mungo.
NR: Any current significant relationships?
MG: Apart from with my cats, you mean? Hmm. I don’t know if you’d call them significant, but I’m still friendly with one or two of my ex’s – does that count?
MG: I’m an artist, I make sculptures from found objects.
NR: Is this a regular source of income?
MG: Not exactly. I sell something maybe three or four times a year. I do casual work from time to time… I’ve been an extra in six films.
NR: Do you have any family?
MG: My mother died ten years ago. My Dad lives in Nottingham – I go over when I can and help him with his place, his health isn’t too good. My sister and I had a blazing row one Christmas, I haven’t seen her in three years.
NR: How would you describe your childhood?
MG: Not so good. My parents hated each other. My father was violent and my mother was addicted to everything in the bathroom cabinet.
NR: I see. And how is your health, in general?
MG: I look after myself as best I can. Yoga, acupuncture, healthy food. (Smile.) I try to avoid doctors.
NR: Have you ever been diagnosed with any psychiatric condition or mental health issue?
MG: No, I’m pretty sure I haven’t.
NR: Have you ever had any counselling or therapeutic help of any kind?
MG: I was sent to a child psychologist because I pinned up my painting of the headteacher in the corridor. She confiscated the painting–
NR: Have you ever had any therapy as an adult?
MG: My GP suggested I see someone once, but I didn’t want to. (Smile.) I don’t have much faith in therapists, I’m afraid.
NR: What did you come to see me about?
MG: I thought I ought to talk to someone. Something’s been on my mind lately.
The patient’s gaze wanders from the owl painting to my desk, now behind me as Jane advised, though I’m not sure it makes me seem any less formidable to patients. I suspect that this one would have given anything not to have been sitting in that chair with only a coffee table between us. My smile only seems to increase her alarm. Her hands clasp each other as she appraises the newly polished chandelier, substantial collection of framed accreditations and carefully arranged bookshelves.
MG: You read a lot, do you?
NR: I have every significant work on psychoanalytic theory on those shelves, Miss Geen. They help to enhance one’s aura of wisdom and mystique, I find.
I smile brightly to signal my attempt at humour, which I hope might relax the patient. She looks at me stonily.
MG: My friend has a daughter, Fran – I’m her godmother. I have these thoughts about taking her away and bringing her up as my own daughter.
Obsessive jealousy? Delusional? Can I possibly do anything to help?
NR: I see. And what happens to your friend?
MG: She gets put in prison or has to go to hospital, something like that. Or she gets lost in South America, or is taken away by a sect…
I suppress my urge to laugh.
NR: Is that all?
MG: Isn’t that enough?
NR: Do you ever think about harming your friend?
MG: Absolutely not! I could never hurt her. But sometimes I cringe at what she does with Fran.
NR: What does she do?
MG: I know it’s difficult for Bea. Her husband works long hours and she has a full-on job at uni. But once she left Fran with a car park attendant for two hours because she couldn’t get childcare and she had to give a talk about her research… And sometimes she forgets to pick up Fran from preschool. Then there was the time she had an idea for an experiment on the train and didn’t realise where she was till she was nearly in Portsmouth. Kurt was in America and the au pair was on the way to Gatwick for her flight to Poland so Fran was left on her own at home. (Laughs.) I sound like a right old biddy, don’t I? Who am I to judge, I haven’t even got kids.
NR: Have you shared your opinions with your friend, may I ask?
MG: Of course not! Well, just a few things, once in a while. I told Bea how lucky she was to have a daughter and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to spend more time with her. She said I sounded just like her husband.
NR: So, you would like to rescue Fran from your friend?
MG: I wouldn’t put it quite like that. Bea means well… She isn’t that bad a mother, she’s just so all over the place. I’m not sure that I’d be any better at it. I’d probably get so wrapped up in my sculpture I’d forget about everything else, too.
NR: Have you ever thought about having children yourself?
MG: I did, once. But it’s not going to happen now – it would take a miracle, at my age.
NR: Did you always want to have children?
MG: I always wanted to, yes. But the men I loved either left me or made me leave them. It wouldn’t have been fair on a child.
NR: And now you regret your lack of children and you want to take another woman’s child?
MG: You have a way with words, don’t you?
Ten second silence.
MG: I know it’s not right, imagining all these things. But I get these thoughts more than ever, lately. Ever since Fran made me a card for my birthday, a few weeks ago. She drew a picture of me in a green mini and purple platforms with yellow hair down to my waist – God knows when she saw me dressed like that. Underneath she wrote, ‘My number 1 Auntie’. It sounds soppy but it really got to me. (Long sigh.) Sometimes when I visit, I feel so torn up with longing. It’s driving me mad. Bea’s such a good friend, I don’t want to lose her. But if she knew half of what went through my head, she’d never to speak to me again – are you listening?
NR: Of course, Miss Geen. Why do you ask?
MG: It looks like you’re doodling.
NR: I make notes on all of my patients. Does it bother you?
MG: Is your memory bad, Mr Rowley?
NR: I don’t believe so. Why do you ask?
MG: Because I asked you not to call me Miss Geen! Ms is fine, or Madeleine.
NR: I humbly beg your pardon – Miz – Muz – Madeleine. Have you ever suffered from delusions or paranoia, may I ask?
MG: Not unless you count occasionally feeling paranoid about a man with a balaclava over his face looking over my shoulder while I’m using a cash machine. And sometimes when I’m talking to elderly men in dark blue blazers with neat grey beards, I get the strong impression I’m trying to communicate with an alien who’s never seen a human being before.
Inform the patient that, unfortunately, we have run out of time. I would be extremely pleased to take her on to work with her to address her concerns; however, I can guarantee nothing, etc.
Miss G hoists her bag onto her lap and fiddles with its strap for an excessive length of time.
MG: OK, why not? What have I got to lose? (Radiant smile.) Except my mind, of course.
NR: The standard minimum is ten sessions.
MG: Can’t we just see how it goes? I’m not sure if my budget can stretch that far. Giblet is already on a no-biscuits diet.
NR: I’m afraid not, Miss – Madeleine. The rules are important, though they might seem pedantic to some.
MG: Put me down for ten sessions then. I guess in for a penny, in for a pound.
Well doesn’t that sound pretty awesome!
Until next time xxx