Elaine Everest: Barking Mad!

This month the WMWP ladies are writing about themselves. We thought it would be good for our readers and followers to see what makes us tick and where we come from. We hope you enjoy what we have to say and if you do why not add a comment at the bottom of the blog posts and tell us all about your life?

Elaine, talking about herself!

I’m a Christmas baby, born in 1953 only twenty minute before Christmas Day. It kind of made me feel as though I’ve always just missed out on things. I missed out on having birthday parties on the proper day as everyone was too busy preparing for the main event. I never had a birthday cake as a child as back then they were made just like Christmas cakes and no one wants two of those half eaten and still in the pantry come January. I did once have an ice cream cake but it wasn’t a great success as we only had a fridge and it was a pile of slop come the party – three days before the actual event. However, I do have fiftygraphicwonderful memories of time spent alone with my dad on my birthday when we took the train from Slade Green to Woolwich to buy nuts and fruit in the market. I recall pointing out to Dad that a ‘funny man was falling between the stationary train and the platform’ – a drunk! To this day I make sure that I ‘mind the gap!’ I can also remember when we popped into the Railway Hotel on the way home and I announced to all and sundry that it was my birthday and I was five. Try explaining to Mum why I had a pocketful of shiny sixpences when we were supposed to have come straight home!

I had an average education at an average secondary modern school in the sixties. Again, just missing out for a place at Grammar school due to only being seven places available. I was number eleven of fourteen. It was explained, to my extremely annoyed mum, that I would get a chance to take the thirteen plus exam – they cancelled it when I was twelve. However, I was a quiet child (yes, really!) but I was a rebel. Not for me the job of nurse or secretary at the Woolwich Equitable which seemed to be the only advice the careers officer ever doled out, even to those in the top stream.

I decided not to stay at school for ‘A’ levels but sent myself off to Erith College of Technology to study accountancy and ‘business machines’ working as a Saturday girl at Woolworths in Dartford so as not to be a burden to my parents. It was also handy research for my novels even if I didn’t know it at the time! I had excellent grades from 5th year exams and secured a college place with ease. I now have many qualifications in business studies as well as accounting machines that can only be seen in museums these days. I am a proficient Comptometer operator with a diploma from Sumlock that BPCSumlomatic-797-IMG_2495-3states I can put the word ‘comp’ after my name and that I passed at 98%.  Never heard of them? Google the word and see how knowledgeable the operators had to be in Maths.  The training and work experience soon had me heading accounts departments and gradually moving on to office management. ‘Back then’ managers had to be able to do every task they set their staff and I pride myself in knowing, even today, how to undertake all accounts procedures manually.

I was born in Erith, brought up in Slade Green and moved to Erith when I married at the age of eighteen and we purchased our first home. We moved to Swanley 22 years ago when we built our own house. Looking into my ancestry I find I am typical of many generations of my family who never moved from Kent. My dream has always been to live in Cornwall. We almost bought a building plot in St Keverne on the Lizard Peninsular but changed our minds when my dad fell ill. Instead we built a house in Swanley – one of the biggest mistakes of our life.  I’ve written about why we chose not to have children which was something we decided upon quite early on.

_MG_9464_1000

 

Throughout our married life we’ve owned Old English Sheepdogs. Not just owned them but bred, exhibited, judged and also sat on canine committees often campaigning for the pedigree world. Dogs have always come first in our lives. At the moment we just have the one dog, Henry, a rather lovely chocolate brown Polish Lowland Sheepdog that we imported from France. We still exhibit and Henry is doing very well (Seen here being handled by our friend, Rachel). My activities in the dog world led me to start writing articles for year books and gave me the impetus to submit articles alongside fiction. Dog books followed as well as columns and broadcasting work.

 

If I could go back and chat to that shy sixteen year old girl I’d tell her not to worry about the pressure of exams as we make our own path in life and education isn’t everything. I’d tell her to be proud of the certificate she was awarded at speech night for creative writing and not hide it away afraid of taunts from fellow students. I’d tell her to make her mum go to see a doctor – don’t we all wish we could go back and do that? Most of all I’d tell her that she will meet and make the most marvellous friends through the world of dogs as well as in her writing life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Elaine Everest: Barking Mad!

  1. Lovely to be taken back to an era that is long gone but is remembered with respect and affection. Very interesting to read your article on why you chose not to have children – and sad that people are always so ready to aver that their way is the right way. Amazing that you manage to organise your life to be able to cope with TWO all-consuming activities – I won’t call dogs a hobby…they are a lifestyle choice, and writing is a full-time job. And thank you for the picture of Henry. He’s beautiful.

    • Thank you, Natalie. That Guardian article led onto interesting times. It was syndicated to another publication who took out all the interesting parts and made me look like a ‘mad dog lady who was leaving her money to her dogs’ and Jeremy Vine called me names on his radio show.On the plus side I did lots of radio interviews about dogs and the contacts I made have been useful for other projects.
      Dogs have always come first in my life with my writing a close second. I’m now at a time in my life when the worlds can clash: writing or a dog show – I try to do the two at the same time! My many friends in the dog world are also supportive of my books which is nice.
      Elaine x

  2. Lovely post! I lived in your neck of the woods for a few years in the 90s and know it well (Dartford, Woolwich and Eltham. Almost bought a house in Erith.)
    I’d like to know too how you came to start writing, and get an insight into your writing journey. Perhaps that’s for a future post?

    • Hi Kath,
      My writing life started with a Petit typrewriter and a (very) short novel entitled ‘Pip the Pixie’. Being unaware at that age of typing paper I simply tore pages from a drawing book and typed on those. As I came to the end of the page a taped another to the end. I’m not sure what happened to the ‘scroll’. In my adult life started writing short stories but only at the age of 45 (ish) as before then I didn’t have the confidence. At the same time I was helping my breed club produce a yearbook and started to write content. I decided that I mat as well pitch to magazines and my writing life really took off. Around then online writing groups were forming. I belonged to the (unpuvloished in fiction) Midland Eposure group not long before it folded and still have good friends fom those days. Then of course there was the infamous BBC forum where I made more friends…
      Elaine xx

      • Sorry for typos!
        We could have been neighbours! Erith has changes so much I no longer recognise it and now belong to group who just moan and wish for the good old days!
        Elaine x

    • Hi Moya,
      I’ve always been open about my life. I think it comes from being a writer. We dip into our lives to find interesting content for articles. If we don’t write we dont eat! Readers also want to know about the eprson behind the book. My books are either about dogs, so I have to prove I know something or the dog world will pounce, or novels set in Kent in which case other locals wish to share memories. I’ve never held back but I have more to say… Writing is a good life!
      Henry say’s thank you!
      Elaine x

  3. It’s so interesting to read what people choose to tell about themselves; emphasising some things and just touching on others that may perhaps be more revealing. Henry is beautiful.

  4. Very interesting. Much of what you say rings true for me – it was my era too, having been born just 10 days before you. Accounting machines, working with paper records instead of computers, the 11 plus exams, Woolworths… those were the days! And I’m sure dogs have brought you just as much love and fulfilment as a child would have done – without all the sleepless nights that come with babies and then the stress of living with stroppy teenagers.

    • The good old days – Today’s office workers have it easy!
      I’ve had plenty of stroppy dogs and a few sleepless nights but at least I could put mine into a kennel and close the door!
      Elaine x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s