Squawk Radio

Friday, November 18, 2005

Life as The Queen

Hello All You TGIF Squawkers!

I was born in England, emigrated to Canada and married a Canadian, Arthur Henley in 1956, so next year we will have been married fifty years. We were high school sweethearts and went steady for five years, and then were engaged for a year and a half before we married, so we've been together a looong time.

When we married, we were the same age, Now, of course, I'm much younger. My husband is long-suffering. When we would take our two young sons out to dinner the waitresses often thought it was a man out with his three children.
In the 80's when we lived in Toronto, the IN place to be on Friday or Saturday evening was Yorkville. It was filled with posh boutiques, hippies, coffee houses, theaters, and people paraded up and down to "see" and "be seen."
On one visit I wore my new navy-blue cape with red epaulettes and brass buttons. An innocent youth about 12 or 13 (there were such things in those days) came up to me with an awed look on his face and asked, "Excuse me, Miss, are you royalty?"
Arthur and I had a good laugh and decided to go to the theater. In the lobby, the young usher looked me up and down, then looked at my husband and said, "Boy, did you get lucky!" From Princess to Prostitute in 3 blocks!

I have two sons, Sean and Adam, who are different as chalk from cheese. Sean, the elder is dark and short like me. He is my Celt. Adam is fair, 6ft. tall, long boned. He's my Norman. My younger son never said a curse word in his life, while the other one never said anything that wasn't irreverent.
I was a dedicated stay at home mother and waited until they were in their late teens before I began my writing career. By the time my first grandson was born, my career as an author had begun to pick up. So I put it to Sean this way: I can be a typical grandmother and babysit and bake cookies OR I can put my time into writing and try to have a successful career--you decide. Sean said, "Mom, fill them coffers!"

The life of a romance author is glamorous, but only occasionally. I sit in a room alone for an entire year, dressed in comfortable rags while I write a book. Then I have to metamorphosize like a butterfly, spread my wings and get as much attention as I possibly can for myself and my book. Then, as soon as I start to enjoy it, they shove me back in the room and say, WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.

I have had some glamorous trips, however. Most of them with Kathryn Falk, the owner of Romantic Times. We were both born on December 5th--two eccentric Sagittarians!
We went to the opening of the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, did wild dances in full highland dress and ate haggis on our birthday.
We went shopping at Harrod's in London, prowled the stalls of the silver market at dawn and admired the Elgin marbles at the British Museum.
In Tuscany, we went to the vineyards for wine tasting, in Rome we visited the Colosseum where the atmosphere gives you chills, and then threw coins into the Trevi Fountain. We gazed at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and toured the Vatican.
Then on to Venice--a city of my heart. The shops, the masques, the costumes, the palazzos--oh my!
The people on the tour had a private, romantic midnight gondola ride around the narrow back canals and each gondola had a musician who serenaded us with romantic Italian ballads.
I even took a speedboat out into the Adriatic Sea to visit the Island of Murato, where the fine Venetian crystal is made. I bought some bling that day!

Another glamorous excursion with Kathryn was the cruise: Tampa, New Orleans, Cozumel, Playa del (Somewhere or other). So the first night out I'm seated at the Captain's table with Heather Graham, Linda Lael Miller, and Violet Windspar, the lady who had written about a hundred books for Mills & Boon. Kathryn points to me, Heather & Linda and says to Violet, "These ladies earn a million dollars a book!"
I didn't want to make Kathryn a liar, but I didn't want Violet to have cardiac arrest (which seemed quite possible) so I said, "Well, I have a million dollar contract, but that's for more than one book, I'm afraid." The others kept their mouths shut. LOL!
The cruise had a Canadian Film Crew aboard who were doing a documentary. I agreed to do an interview and when they found out I was the only Canadian aboard, they followed me around that cruise every bloody nautical mile. I tried my best to avoid them, but they stalked me like they were the paparazzi. Each time I left my stateroom, I had my roommate Debbie Mainger go out to reconnoiter to make sure the coast was clear. They found me anyway. The end result turned out not too badly. I can watch parts of the film without cringing!

Another great part of my life is where I am able to live. I got my green card (which is pink) and moved from the frozen north to tropical Florida. I live on the Gulf of Mexico in a nice but unpretentious house with a dock, a boat and a caged swimming pool. But even Paradise has its downside.
A couple of years ago, I remember it was November 13, the weather was glorious and I had all the sliding glass doors open to the pool and I even had the cage door open so my dog (Lili the Schnauzer) could go in and out. She began barking like hell and I thought it was the mailman at the front door. She wasn't barking at the front door however. A snake, a three foot black racer had come into the house. Instead of going back out, it slithered into my old office. I have a desk, an old computer that I only use for email, bookcases and a pulldown sleeper couch. Across one wall I have two large closets packed with fancy clothes, I only ever get to wear at conferences.
So I closed the door that led back into the house and opened the sliding door of that room that led back out to the pool. I went to my new office on the other side of the house and carried on with my writing. Every once in awhile I would look to see if I could see the snake leave. Never saw that.
When Arthur came home that night he went in and searched. Told me the snake had gone.
Just to be certain I didn't get a nasty surprise I emptied the closet floors of about fifty pairs of shoes. Kept them out for a couple of weeks before I put them back.
Three weeks later, it was December 5th, my birthday and we were going out to dinner.
I changed clothes, got shoes from the closet and sat down on the couch to put on my shoes.
I stood up and looked down and saw something strange on the carpet. It looked like a melted chocolate with a soft creamy-yellow center. I wondered who the hell had dropped a chocolate on the carpet! I bent down, stuck my finger in it, brought it to my nose and sniffed. It was shit! And not just any shit! I knew immediately that it was too exotic to be anything but snake shit!
I called Arthur into the room and said, "That snake is still in here and it's under this couch that I've been sitting on for three weeks."
He told me I was nuts. I opened up the sleeper couch, and there it was coiled up and ready to strike at us. We chased it out even though it didn't want to leave. Poor old snake; I guess it was looking for a warm place to hibernate before the cold Florida winter set in.
I see him regularly in the garden now. He's grown quite a bit and I've gotten used to him.
When Art cuts the grass he moves from the backyard to the front yard. I'm glad he lives here because I know he'd chosen anyone else's garden he'd be dead by now.

So that's it, my squawky little chicks. It's been a slice of heaven.
Connie Brockway, 10:14 AM