Back in May I was honoured to be part of the cover reveal for this book. Now today I’m on the blog tour for The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore and am delighted to be able to share an extract with you…..
Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.
The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.
Lauren sat on the outbound platform waiting for the next train. She sipped a strong black coffee from a cardboard cup. The words of Les Westley were still ringing in her ears.
‘I think you’d better make your mind up. If you want to go running back to Wales, fine. Trust me – I’ve had worse disasters. Now I suggest you take a walk and think about it.’
She checked her watch. She looked at the magazine she had brought with her from Wales but couldn’t concentrate. She’d never been treated this shoddily. Just who the bloody hell did he think he was talking to? He’s just a washed up comic after all. He’d had his five minutes of fame years ago. Les bloody Westley? She’d never even heard of him. A total bloody nobody.
She took out her phone and rang her agent again. No response. Typical.
My bloody agent’s no use either, she thought. Said he’d get back to me and he hasn’t. Tosser. Happy to take my money when I did the arena tours, wasn’t he? You really get to know who your friends are, and that’s a fact.
She tidied her purse, and cleared some rubbish from her handbag to kill time. Then she took out her magazine and tried to concentrate.
It was not an attractive station. All vestiges of its heritage had disappeared, replaced by the utilitarian Network Rail look. There were a few pots with random shrubs strewn about the platform, attempting forlornly to lift the street scene. A couple of platforms and that was it. It was the end of the line. How appropriate, she thought.
She looked across at the small retail park opposite the station. An Argos store featured prominently alongside the usual suspects. She’d worked at Argos before her big break. Now it stood there, silently mocking her.
She fought back the tears, head down, sitting on the deserted station waiting for the train to take her back home. It was all over. Even the bench upon which she sat was the standard vandal proof design, reminding her of the one that awaited her in the job centre in Wales.
She became aware of a man walking nearby. He sat on the seat next to her, but at least at the opposite end of it. All she needed now was a pervert to deal with, she thought. She’d had one or two of those in the last couple of years. A couple of perverts and a stalker, she recalled. Don’t look up.
He took out a newspaper and began reading, then looked across and spoke.
‘Miss Evans, such a coincidence,’ he said.
Lauren looked up, ready to blow this guy off. She wasn’t in the mood. But she saw a friendly face.
‘Oh, hello. Cyril, isn’t it?’ she said
‘At your service, Madam,’ he replied gallantly.
Lauren looked at her magazine, ignoring him.
Cyril paid no attention to the fact that he was being ignored. He quite expected it, and this girl was clearly highly strung at the best of times. Instead he continued to read his paper.
He paused for a minute or two and then read from his paper out loud, to nobody in particular.
‘It says here that advanced tickets for the Summertime Special Show are selling fast. Someone’s pulling them in this year. Bumper sales as Lauren Evans takes town by storm, it says.’
Lauren heard but stayed silent, briefly looking up from her magazine. Cyril continued to look at his paper as if nothing had happened. He waited another minute or so. He spoke once more, while continuing to read.
‘You’re their big chance, love,’ he said.
‘What?’ snapped Lauren. She couldn’t help but turn towards him.
Cyril looked across. His dark brown eyes were looking at her kindly.
‘This town is struggling. The recession is deep and harsh. You can see that, surely?’
Lauren relaxed a little. ‘Well, yes, I suppose I can. It’s obvious really.’
Cyril resumed his paper reading.
‘It was another lousy year last year. The weather was awful. The banks won’t take it forever. We had two more hotels go into receivership over the winter.’
Lauren was thinking about where this was heading. Say nothing, she thought.
Cyril looked across at her, and spoke again. This time he was addressing her directly.
‘You will bounce back, you know. The great talents always do.’
Lauren thought for a moment. It was as if someone had tossed a lighted match into her heart.
‘How do you know? How could you possibly know?’ she stared at him, clearly upset.
Cyril remained calm as he replied.
‘Because I’ve been where you are now. A long time ago. You would only have been a little girl. You won’t recognise me.’
Cyril folded his newspaper and got up. The announcer’s voice declared that the arrival of the train to Norwich had been delayed by 10 minutes.
Cyril looked back at Lauren. She evaded his gaze, looking silently into space.
‘Just think about it, Lauren. I suspect you need them where you are today, and they certainly need you. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.’
He put his hand out and she shook it without comment. With that, he was gone.
One of my favourite scenes, at Cromer Station. Lauren is a small time woman who has lived her dream, but that dream is now fading. She is a great talent but riddled with self doubt, and now so far out of her comfort zone she heads for home. She was once an Argos checkout operator, so the Argos shop by the station taunts her.
Cyril is my favourite character. He is worldly wise, having seen it all in his long life. He is a kindly if sometimes irritable human being. He has been where Lauren has been, long, long ago, and loves the Cromer Pier Theatre. In this scene he acts to stop her doing something which she might regret, and which would be a disaster for his friends at the theatre.
Sometimes I get emotional when I write. This is one such time.
about the author
I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.
When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.
I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.
The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.
Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019. I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.
tour hosted by:
Thanks to Rachel for inviting me on to the tour, and a huge thanks to Martin and the Publisher for sharing an extract with us.
Have a great day all!