Well I couldn't resist a little bit of name dropping today. The incredible Max Whitlock won yet another gold medal for his performance on the pommel horse at the Olympics today. Firstly - WELL DONE MAX!!!
He and my eldest son (also called Max!) trained together when my son was an elite gymnast and they also became good friends.
Max trains at South Essex Gymnastics Club and his lovely wife Leah also coaches there - it's where they first met. On one very rare occasion where the guys had a weekend off, Max and Leah came to stay with us and had - let's just say a good night out with our Max!
I can now reveal that my character Brooke in The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub was partly inspired by Leah Whitlock! She's one hell of an Essex girl that's for sure: as well as designing and running branded gymnastics programmes around Essex with Max, she is determined, ambitious and feisty - and glamorous of course! Let's hope their little girl Willow takes after her mother.
There has been a bit of an uproar in the news over the weekend too. All about accents. In my novel, the Essex accent - or Estuary English as linguists would call it - is a really important feature in the story. A bit like Digby Jones, the gentleman in the news ,who had criticised a TV sports presenter for her London accent, my character Lady Townsend is determined to change the way Brooke speaks. She believes it will hold her back in life.
And if the research is to be believed Lady Townsend is right! Apparently, The University of Essex study suggested that people with regional accents are perceived as less intelligent than others , that those from working class backgrounds were judged to be less trustworthy too and - horror of horrors - if the person was from Essex, the judgement was compounded!
How does that explain the highly successful Leah Whitlock?
Essex Girls Rule!