How I Got Here

In 2020, I had a fabulous first Covid lockdown in my beautiful little house in a quiet corner of coastal Almería. Well, not actually in my little house there, that for five years I’d been visiting whenever I could, but a similar house in a nearby village. Okay, I wasn’t actually in the house, bodily, but mentally escaping to it at every opportunity; I was writing a novel set there. In reality, I was cooped up in my Blighty home, taking the daily opportunity to stroll over the deserted local golf course, like everyone else.

It wasn’t my first novel; a small independent had taken on my women’s fiction – but they’d recently stopped trading. I’d lost heart with the writing, to be honest. Then along came lockdown, and pining for my Spanish village so re-inspired me that in just three months I’d written The Spanish House, with more love and lack of stress than any I’d ever written before. Also, writing it made me realise how much happier I was in Spain – that, ideally, I should be living there and visiting England, rather than the other way round.

At about the same time, one of my piano pupils, missing the lessons we were no longer able to have, encouraged me try teaching on Zoom using keyboard cameras. Half of my piano pupils were up for this, and it was soon going well. Then I was taken on by my wonderful literary agent, who was sure she would be able to find a publisher for The Spanish House, and asked me to get on with writing more ‘Destination Romances’ set in this unusual and gorgeous location. It was then I thought, hang on: I could now make a living writing and teaching piano in Spain.

I talked it over with my husband. Before lockdown, we were already spending nearly five months a year in Spain; I had my teaching holidays, and as a music producer, my husband had set up a mini studio and loved working there. Without Spanish, however, he wasn’t keen to make Spain his main home, so much to the horror of some family and friends, we made the decision to officially live in different countries. (It might sound weird, but I’ve since met or heard about several couples who’ve also done this successfully). As soon as flights became available again, I went over to Spain and started working with a Spanish lawyer on my Residencia. The card was finally in my hand in December, just weeks before Brexit would have made it impossible for me.

The following month, my agent secured me a three-book deal with Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus). All three books – The Spanish House, The Spanish Garden and The Spanish Cove – have been published in 2022, and I’m working on more, still feeling I’ll never stop being inspired by this beautiful region and the way of life here.  

My Spanish Working Day

I tend to write in the mornings – which here means until lunch at no earlier than three – because my rubbish filter works best then and, in Summer, the heat in the house hasn’t yet reached soporific level. Out of season, I might use a notebook on my patio, balcony, or roof terrace, but when it’s hot I retreat to my study at the cooler side of the house, where I have a desk and a chaise longue (aka the guest room’s single bed) with a view of the eucalyptus park. 

After lunch, both my husband and I tend to get ideas while going for a walk, paddle or swim – unless the heat has forced a siesta. Then, three days a week, I have two or three piano pupils, before returning to look at what I wrote in the morning. The days end with watching the sun setting, either from the roof terrace or while walking round the village.

My Spanish Village

San José is a village of about a thousand residents although, the area being a bit of a Spanish Cornwall, this doubles or triples in the height of the Summer. You’ll hear the odd French voice and a very occasional English one, but the vast majority of visitors and second homers are Spanish.

Temporary residents tend to live in the hills surrounding the village to get their sea view, but we prefer living with the locals in the centre of the village, next to the park, near shops, doctor, village square and – most importantly – three minutes’ flat walk to the soft-sand village beach. The other benefit of living with the locals is that you don’t spend most of the year in a deserted street – and it’s been wonderful for my Spanish. Or rather, my Andalusian; having been brought up by a half-Spanish mother, mine was already intermediate when I arrived, but I needed to get used to all the missing ‘s’s! You really do need a good level of Spanish to live here – or at least to live here in a meaningful, integrated way. Otherwise, you’re better off an hour down the dual carriageway in English-colonised Mojácar. In my case, my Spanish has made it possible to develop two really wonderful friendships; my living here wouldn’t be the same without our long Spanish chats while we go for walks, and our shared enjoyment of classical and flamenco concerts.

Is this Paradise?

Well, there’s nowhere else I’d rather live, but here’s a little list of pros and a few cons.


No more Winter. ‘Winter’ here is like an English September – but with a riot of flowers. It’s usually T-shirt weather during the day, with trackies and a sweat top going on in the evening. The locals, of course, are all wrapped up in jackets and scarves; they have no idea what cold is! ‘Winter’ is the time for long drives on near-empty roads, exploring new hill walks, sunbathing with books on the roof terrace. Love it. Roll on ‘Winter’!

No more craving beach holidays. The natural park area I live in has all the unspoilt sandy coves I could want.

Outdoor living. We have the clearest skies in Europe.

Free parking and easy driving. For most of the year, going anywhere in the car feels like it might have done over fifty years ago in the UK.

The excellent Spanish National Health System. Much shorter waiting times – for appointments, and when you’re there at A&E or a clinic. They are also renowned for being very thorough. Mind you, we do pay a lot of Seguridad Social for it (the equivalent to National Insurance).

Lower fuel bills (sorry). Cheap butane gas bottles, and for two months of the year, we don’t need any hot water anyway. You can get fixed monthly electricity rates, based on previous usage, with a month free each year – mine is 62 euros.

The Almeríans. Friendly, laid back – almost without exception.



Distance from family and friends. Although I manage to spend as much time with many of them – such as our adult sons who both live a few hours away from us in England – as I did when I was living in the UK.

Just occasionally we get high winds that trap us (or timid ones like me) indoors.

The nearest Thai restaurant is an hour away, and there’s a lack of other foods which, once denied you, become an obsession: new potatoes, vegetarian sausages, scones, Battenberg cake, custard, Liquorice Allsorts…

All in all, for my writing and general well-being, I just wish I’d come out here sooner!

My novels give further realistic insights into embracing life in rural Almería, and are available from online stores such as Amazon or to order from book shops. Here they are plonked on my favourite local beach:


Juliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck. Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfils ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward. But little does Juliana realise that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbours’ – who include a ruggedly handsome and moody artist – may be harder than she thinks. 

1. Cultural Identity 🇪🇸🇬🇧

When the genes were handed down to her, they somehow managed to create a totally English woman trapped in a dark and incongruous Spanishness. A Spanishness that came from nowhere – or so it felt, having not seen Mama since the age of seven.  (Chapter 1)

‘I’m English and Spanish,’ Juliana replied, not thinking, but decided to adopt this from now on, in preference to the usual half this and half that description that made her sound both conflicted and cobbled together. (Chapter 27)

How does Juliana become so much more comfortable with her cultural identity? Did you sympathise with her feelings about this?

2. Arturo and the tomato 🍅

‘You are not an “extra” here in Spain. It’s not enough to just turn up; you have to start involving yourself – ripen from the inside out like the Raf. Only then will your time here be truly special – and the house become yours.’

As one reviewer remarked, Juliana goes from being an ‘extra’ – in both her working and personal life – to being the star of her own show. How did you feel about eccentric Uncle Arturo’s influence in her development? Would you like an Uncle Arturo in your life?

3. Mama in the cemetery 💐

Condition No. 4: Make a weekly visit to your mother Antoñita’s nicho in the cemetery. Talk to her.

I’ve read that Spaniards tend to believe that their deceased loved ones continue to live on in spirit and are still very much a part of the family. Certainly some of my Spanish friends in the village feel this way.

Did you feel Juliana’s growing ‘closeness’ with the memory of her mother helped her? Should the English have an annual ‘All Saints Day’ to visit family graves, like the Spanish and other countries do?


Early on, Josemi is rather unfairly described as a bit of a grumpy, bear-like creature. Would you have liked to hear his side of the story?

5. Almería 🏜

The sort of hills a child would pat into shape with their hands on a beach, or draw with a crayon and then cover with tufts of grass. That’s what these hills had – clumps of tough grass dotted over them, making distant and larger hills delightfully fuzzy in appearance.

I’d worried that my adored but barren, semi-desert Cabo de Gata Natural Park area of Almería wouldn’t go down well with readers, so I’ve been delighted to see how often reviewers have said how much they enjoyed ‘being here’. 

Did you feel the unusual setting contributed to the story? What place in the novel would you most like to visit (Níjar with its ceramics, rugs and Cactus Nursery; the arty ex-mining village of San Rafael (Rodalquilar, in real life); The Tabernas spaghetti-western film set; the wild volcanic beaches near San José?)

6. Spotify Music Playlist 🎵

Josemi started to play. A simple three-note tune, but developing, and achingly sad… it was ‘The Summer Knows’, theme to an old film she couldn’t remember. His eyes were almost closed, he was totally inside the music, swaying, fingers twitching sensitively.

Music is so important in the story, I couldn’t resist putting a Spotify list together so that readers could listen to the tracks during the chapters in which they occurred. Do you think all novels should have one?

7. More or less? 👍👎

Who – or what – would you like to have seen more (or less!) of in the story?


Were you happy with the ending? If not, what would you have liked to have happened?

9. Who would play the film roles? 🎬

If The Spanish House became a film, who could you imagine playing the roles? I’d suggest Javier Bardem and Pénelope Cruz in the lead roles, if we could timeslip them back 15 years.

10. Return to Almería! ☀️🌵🍅🦎🏖😌

Which minor characters in The Spanish House would you like to see appearing in my next two novels set in this unspoilt corner of Almería? Sign up to the website for news of these!

If you have enjoyed The Spanish House,  please let others know by leaving an online review on Amazon 🙏😊  

(See my ‘Write an Amazon Book Review – in 5 Minutes’ post, March 2018) 💻


Nannies, daughters-in-law and book covers – can they ever be good enough for your baby?

I was cautiously optimistic; even at the time of offering for the book, the publisher had shown me covers of other novels as examples of what they had in mind. Later, I’d been invited to send images of local houses and scenery. All this was reassuring, when I recalled the appalling stories of author friends: a heart-warming, beautifully written character-led story was given a cover she felt suggested erotic fiction; a thoughtful and moving memoir about some harsh realities of moving to the countryside was given a twee cover totally at odds with the book’s message. In comparison, I told myself I really had nothing to worry about. I just had to get used to the fact that my Spanish house was unlikely to look quite the same as I imagined, and not all my images – ‘essential’ Almerian semi-desert plants, locally specific ceramics, goats and a particular type of tasty but ugly tomato – were likely to be in it!

I was delighted when the first image arrived, except that they’d planted an Agave Americana right by the front door. It’s stunning and locally emblematic, but also a vicious invasive beast, with toxic sap giving agonising contact dermatitis! Luckily the publisher patiently let me do some re-planting.

So, here’s the final result – and I’m happy to say I really feel it does my baby proud.

You can now pre-order The Spanish House and its friendly pot plants on


Childbirth, Ikea, and submitting a novel to literary agents for representation: things I swore I’d never do again. Particularly the latter; if you’ve read MY POTHOLED PATH TO PUBLICATION, or ONE TO ONES, I’VE HAD A FEW, you know why. And those posts haven’t aged well; dear God, how smug I was, thinking I’d never need to run the agent gauntlet again!  But that was before my small friendly publisher decided to stop publishing fiction; unless I could somehow make my new novel into non-fiction – a bit of an ask, for a seventy-year family saga – I was back to square one. Un-agented, un-published and back in the muddier-than-ever submission trenches.

Out came the Writers’ Yearbook, the laptop and the sickening realisation that I was about to lose a sizeable chunk of writing time. Come back faffy postal submissions, all is forgiven. These days, most agents expect you to have Googled their client list, favourite novels, festival interviews, whacky Wish List (airport romance, anyone?) and their submission requirements designed to be just that bit different to that of whoever you last subbed. Honestly, it’s time to bring in some kind of UCAS-like process, rather than this fawning agent-fan fiasco; if they want new clients, how about they open a website and look for us, eh?!

Anyway. The new novel was the thing. I loved it, and wanted to give it the best possible start in life – which unfortunately meant going to the ‘publishing gatekeepers’.  Even though, after having gone through this process three times before, I felt a default loathing for these people. Once again, I rejigged the Submissions Spreadsheet of Shame, with its colour code highlighting of yellow for Submitted, orange for Full MS Requested, and a disgusting dark brown for Rejections. And once again, the spreadsheet soon started to look like a pile of poo.

But then the jolly orange Full MS Requests started to arrive. I got cocky and started subbing some of the Big Cheese agents I hadn’t bothered with – and a couple of them also turned (Red Leicester) orange. After a few months, I had 9 (NINE) Full MS requests; writing friends said I had it made, and I began to believe them. But the months started to pass, several agents asked for more time… and Doubt set in.

It was torture trying to get through more than half an hour without tapping the email button on my phone. I unsubscribed from nearly everything – even my darling White Stuff Clothing – to cut down on annoying non-agent-news notifications. There was that time I heard the whang of an email and was convinced, felt it in my bones, that it was going to be good news – only to find it was my son’s phone with a match on Bumble. Then a London number flashed up and I got The Agent Call – except it was an agent chasing up because their full MS request email had somehow bypassed my scrutiny and gone straight to junk mail.

Then the first rejections started to arrive. They were kindly and helpful, and I highlighted the agents in a sad but respectful grey. Maybe I should have coloured them a dawning-on-me pink, because what started to emerge is that I’d written a book they really liked but couldn’t sell. Eventually there was just one agent left on the wall, riddled with indecision, and I put her out of her misery with a little nudge. I submitted the novel to a few independent publishers, but they were similarly nonplussed.

It was very painful, this book bereavement, this need to put a whole world I’d created and lived in for two years in a digital drawer. I literally went through denial, anger and then acceptance – that it didn’t obey the insane but irrefutable marketing laws of genre. There was only one possible cure for me, and here in a nutshell is how I got my agent: I decided to write something new that did.

This coincided with the first lockdown and, missing my Spanish home, I got an idea for an escapist holiday read. But before I flew off with my usual obsessions, I spent a month reading similar books, to get the hang of what interested people who read this genre. The Spanish House was less literary than The Pier, but my heart was soon just as invested in it. With minimal wing-clipping, I soon had a new novel I loved and really believed in.

No Yearbook this time. I only sent ‘invitations to look’ to fifteen agents; anybody who hadn’t shown any interest at all in my beloved The Pier could go hang. Several weren’t looking for this genre or already had too much of it, but there were soon three Full MS requests, including a Big Cheese. Quite quickly this time, I got my answers: Big Cheese saw the novel going in a different direction; the second agent was overburdened, and once she asked about and approved of the agent who’d made me an offer, conceded. The third… was Kiran Kataria at Keane Kataria.

We didn’t have The Call, we had The Zoom – because it was August and I’d moved out to my own Spanish house and, going through the Spanish residency process, wouldn’t be in the UK for a while. Obviously, I’d already Twitter DM’d some of her authors – all of whom were ecstatic about her. But to finally hear somebody talk about the characters of your book as if they’re as real as they are to you, to have someone so believe in your writing that they’re happy and looking forward to working on the story and finding it a home… I’m still pinching myself, to be honest.

Six months on, and Kiran’s been everything I dreamt of in an agent: an insightful and painstaking editor; a calm but no-nonsense soother of my angsty author moments; and then a superb negotiator – of my three-book deal with Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus)! My only worry is she’ll see this and find too many I-don’t-think-this-is-the-word words.


lockdown blog pic

Book sales have soared as people jump into books to escape the pandemic. Love in the Time of Corona. The Non-Traveler’s Wife. A Tale of Two Metres. Even my Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, initially self-isolating in a lighthouse as it happens, has had an increase in fans. But how are writers coping, now we’re figuring out how to Zoom our day job, helping offspring yanked out of uni, dealing with a series of stress-related ailments we thought we’d grown out of, and worrying about loved ones, finances and loo rolls?

Twitter shows a full spectrum, from writers who now can’t write at all, to those who see little difference between this and the usual authorial lockdown as you try to meet a deadline. I’m closer to the latter extreme, probably helped by the fact that my work-in-progress features another protagonist coming from a state of isolation. If that sounds bleak, I should point out that it’s set in a quiet corner of sunny Andalucía, taking me and the protagonist somewhere no flight other than that of imagination can currently go. I’m never in a rush to return.

Today, however, is the second birthday of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, so I’ll be celebrating with a walk down to the sea, some cake, the instagram of my dry-throated interview at the book launch

and a listen to the novel’s Spotify song playlist, with Contigo en La Distancia (With You in the Distance) :-/ 

Keep distant (but friendly) and well!

If you’d like to lockdown with The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, you can get hold of it online or you could get a copy from matthew@urbanepublications (charging via paypal) or CBS at / 44 (0) 1892 837171.




Celebrating my book birthday today by er… making myself watch my book launch video 😬🤪🙈

If you like the sound of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, you can get it from any good bookshop or online e.g.



The transitional stage of labour has nothing on the final stages of writing a novel. 😫 I’m having my fourth (novel), but it’s no easier – or should I say, I’m no easier. I constantly shush my family; you’d think I was writing straight to Audio book. News of visitors coming  is met with screams of horror and finger counting of missed writing hours (including those needed to make the home and myself look non-deranged). At least I haven’t been as bad as during the final days of my first novel, when the family had me committed into the hotel down the road. 

So, what’s my problem? It’s taken more than a year to get here; I should be thrilled. But:

  1. The last five chapters always take five times as long as any others 😤
  2. I often have a favourite character dying at this point, and I’d rather not be seen crying about people in my invented world! 😥
  3. It’s scary that I soon won’t be able to keep this baby to myself. 🤰🏼 Not that I completely have: my partner has been dragged on and under piers, round the RNLI College, through a fifties penny arcade and seen all the photos of my paddle steamer trip. He’s also, over time, been told exactly when sherbet fountains, ‘99’ ice creams, answerphones, Sony Walkmans, pocket calculators, trolley bags and heaven knows what else became available (dates below, fyi 🤓). 

So, how does one finish a novel considerately? I’ve no idea. But you should probably atone somehow, when it’s all over. Unfortunately, I can’t promise it won’t happen again; most unfeasibly, I’ve already been implanted with an idea for the next novel. 🙄

My previous tantrums produced The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, published by Urbane Publications,  and you can get it from good bookshops or online e.g.  💡🌊📘

  • Sherbet Fountains – 1925
  • ‘99’ ice creams – 1930
  • Answerphones – 1960
  • Pocket calculators – 1971
  • Sony Walkmans – 1979
  • Trolley bags – 1991 



“A novel is like hacking at the rock face, working away to get the characters, the plot. It takes ages,” the wonderful Penelope Lively wrote. I love this – and the end results of her hacking – but recently I’ve felt there’s something missing from the comparison. Sculptors can see what they’ve done and what’s still to do at a glance; the novelist’s accumulating efforts are hidden among a weighty or scroll-marathon number of pages. If you’re not careful, you’ll have a lad on a 1965 pier in a shooting gallery that you converted into an amusement arcade back in 1959. A jolly boat trip on the day that was also that of the 1987 Great Storm. An uncle with a big nose he didn’t have ten years ago. Three women called Joan. How in hell do you keep track of it all? By having simultaneous hackings at supporting files, that’s how. Seat-of-your-pantsers will be horrifed, but I thought I’d share mine in case they help anybody.

(Note: I’m currently writing a multi-generational saga. People dealing with two characters over 24 hours – like I should be doing – may want to skip this).


The Three-Act Plan divvied into chapters – constantly changing, but there. I like to believe I know where I’m going. But as I do each chapter, I summarise it so I know where I’ve been. There’s the family tree, then 3 columns: Chapter number and month/year, Cast list with ages, and What Happens (colour-coded by character viewpoint). It’s a monumental drag, but so is flicking through when you can’t remember exactly when A last saw B. 📆🤔


Those character questionnaires novel-writing books tell you to do before you start – but I keep adding to mine, and think of them like scrap books. I copy-and-paste important dialogue from the novel, adding links to articles about his/her  beloved paddle steamer, moon landing, ladybirds etc.🚢🔭🐞


A spreadsheet of names I’ve used – including those of boats, bands etc. Bit nerdy about an even spreading over the alphabet 🔡🤓


Highlighted calendars of current events, films and pop music to check for each year. Doubles as writing block black hole 🚀 🎥 🎸…🕳


A spreadsheet with a running total, but to keep words down. I measure progress in terms of chapters. Speaking of which, I better get back to hacking one out! 🗻⛏📃

My last period of hacking at the rock face resulted in The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter (Urbane Publications), available from Waterstones and other good bookshops, as well as online e.g. at


bla bla 19 picPier painting by the wonderful Juan del Pozo 

The leap of faith needed to write a novel has to be as downright daft as the final shot in Finding Your Feet – but without the option of a musically enhanced freeze-frame to stop you falling between canal edge and barge.

Even writing my fourth, I’ve been purposefully not glancing down at the yawning gap between my dawdling MS and a physical book, because lurking in the swirling waters below are the following two familiar questions:

  1. WILL ANYBODY WANT TO READ IT? Specifically, who’s going to give a rat’s arse about a seaside pier? Even if you sometimes have top 60s bands playing on it, smash it with waves or set fire to it? 

A few months ago, this second question became impossible to ignore. It turns out there’s a reason why family sagas are chunky or in a series: unless you’re going to reduce some events in your 75-year story to mere bullet points, you just can’t cover it in my usual little 75K words. 

‘Be not afraid of going slowly,’ says a Chinese proverb, ‘be only afraid of standing still.’ Believe me, when something’s going at a rate of 1mm per month, and you then discover there’s going to be several kilometres added to your journey, you’d best be VERY afraid. 

So, here comes my top tip for getting a novel written. To have a chance of finishing it in my current lifetime, I started making myself WRITE A CHAPTER A WEEK. This game makes me grab writing time whenever I can – no more precious waiting for a whole free morning to get into the zone. Inessentials (laundry, tidying anything) don’t happen until I’ve done the chapter. Tuesday’s Bake Off marks the cake-fuelled half-way point, and I expect to be all done and smug for Saturday’s Strictly. I now feel that, unless I fall into a sinkhole or something, I WILL finish it. I even have a tentative date for that. NaNoWriMo freaks or bestselling cash-cow novelists would be appalled, but other writers might want to give this plan a go. You still don’t know if anyone will want to read it of course, but at least it shortens the gap between you and the barge or canal water.


My previous leap of faith landed me on a lighthouse. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter (Urbane Publications) is available from Waterstones and other good bookshops, as well as online e.g. at   









Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 13.00.20

Unfaithful friends, unresponsive companies, unbelievable bureaucracy, undelivered fridges… Sometimes the only way to not completely unravel it is to put the right music on.

I’m not going to add to the numerous lists of music to get furious to; songs like ‘I hate everything about you’ do nothing for me on any level.  I like to be positively pissed off, come out the better for it – but not without enjoying a bit of musical f**k-you in the process.

The Spotify playlist is here: and first up is…


1. YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE (New Radicals)  

Favourite lyric:

You’ve got the music in you,

Don’t let go…


Absolutely my go-to stompickmeup. Basically: I’ve got the music in me, so I’m immune to your crap – and anyway, karma is going to get you! Shopaphobes will enjoy the video.


2.  ALL RISE (Blue)

Favourite lyric:

And if you thought you had me fooled

I’m telling you now, objection overruled!


Oh yes: put that bastard in the witness box and see him go down! With the lovely Blue boys singing their hearts out in support.


3. THAT’S ALRIGHT (Laura Mvula)

Favourite lyric:

I will never be what you want and that’s alright


A musically delicious war dance against those people who want to control you. Go Laura.


4. GET IN LINE (Ron Sexsmith)

Favourite lyric:

If you intend on making me feel bad

You best get in line

Oh, it’s a long line

It’s a long line

It’s going out the door…


A bit obscure this one, a country ditty really, but perfect for those days of soul-sapping, life-eating, multi-source nagging, whinges, wind-ups and pointless tasks.


5. I LOVE YOU (Woodkid)

Favourite lyric:

Is there anything I could do  

Just to get some attention from you?


So, what’s positive about that, you ask; despite the thwacking rhythm, the lyrics are pure self-pity. But sometimes you’ve got to let yourself sink into that a bit before you move on – and talking about sinking, you have to watch the award-nominated video (Icelandic scenery, whales, sweetly suffering Russian chap… This one might just be about welcome distraction).


6. FEEL GOOD Inc (Gorillaz)

Favourite (and only comprehensible) lyric:

Feel good


Bit surreal and manic, but nearly does what it says on the label. For me, comes with bonus memory of a small son wearing out the living room carpet dancing to it.


7. GOODBYE MR A (The Hoosiers) 

Favourite lyric:

You had all the answers but no human touch

If life is subtraction, your number is up

Your love is a fraction, it’s not adding up


Musically emphatic sod-off for teacher, boss or the company not delivering your replacement fridge. Sing along with all the oh-oh, oh-ohs for extra relief.


8. COMO LA CORRIENTE (Estrella Morente) 

Favourite (and only makeoutable) lyric:



Great bit of self-affirming, clacking flamenco from this wonderful diva and her band of Ole-ing hombres hanging on her every word.




What’s your favourite song to get positively pissed off to?


My novel The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – which comes with its own Spotify playlist and, according to one reviewer, ‘very good swearing’ – is available from bookshops or online from various sources, including this exasperating bunch: