I have a new book coming out on Friday, it's not a big thing, just a nice little feel-good story to make you feel all warm inside during the holiday season. So, I was going to make this post one of those 'BUYMYBOOKIT'SFAB' posts, but as I tried to get back to sleep at 5.30 this morning, Grumpy Author moved in and so this post is something a little different. And, believe me, I am grumpy.
It's a story about a jar of pickled artichoke hearts.
There's an unremarkable little village shop in an unremarkable little village. The village is too far from any big town to be of use to commuters, too far from any pretty places to be of interest to tourists. It's just a village. The village shop is just a shop, there's newspapers, bread, tins of beans, chocolate bars, pan scourers, and pork scratchings. But...there's also Mrs Packer's Prize Pickled Artichoke Hearts. You see, Mrs Smith, the shop's dogged owner, wanted something a little more interesting in her shop. She went to food fairs, trade shows, read the brochures, tasted the samples. She wanted her customers to enjoy something a little more with their cheese sandwiches, something more than sandwich pickles or mayonnaise or salad cream. She wanted Mrs Packer's Prize Pickled Products sparkling on her shelves. So Mrs Smith, bless her, took a leap in the dark and bought a modest selection in her first brave step to transform her village shop into a special place.
The customers adored the new pickled things. They bought the pickled onions, the sandwich relishes, the gherkins and, occasionally, someone would be terribly daring and buy a jar of pickled artichoke hearts. Mrs Billings, the vicar's wife, remembered having some on holiday in America once and snatched up a jar as a treat for her hubby. Mr Wilson, bored of the usual pickled fare with his evening sandwiches, spent some of his bingo winnings on a jar and that Ms Baxter--her that moved into the Old Dairy and turned it into a design studio--she bought a jar for her housewarming party, for all her trendy London friends.
Mrs Smith was very pleased that Mrs Packer's Prize Pickled Products were doing so well. The pickled onions were particularly popular, the sandwich relishes were a regular feature at the Village Book Club teas and the gherkins were loved by children who had them on their burgers. But, those poor Prize Pickled Artichoke Hearts soon lost their novelty value and Mrs Smith consigned the remaining two jars to the bargain shelves, where they sat with their lurid orange 'reduced price' labels, gathering dust alongside the packets of broken biscuits, out-of-date ketchup and seasonal chocolates.
So, what is the point of this story? Has Meade finally lost her tiny little mind? Well, no. Meade is just using the tale of Mrs Packer's Prize Pickled Artichoke Hearts to point out that sometimes it's good for readers to look past their usual favourites and try something a little different, to take a leap in the dark and try out an author they haven't read before. Go on, take that leap, buy those pickled artichoke hearts and make one of those authors on the shelf in the back of the shop happy. I promise, there are some great writers out there.
Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous, peaceful new year.