The Pear Affair

The Pear Affair

1. When I was 15 I had a perm and cried myself to sleep because I looked like an Oompa Loompa. There was worse to come. The hairdresser must have left the solution on for too long because that night a clump of hair fell out leaving me with a 50p-sized patch of stubble. Much later, after the hair had grown back, I found out that the whole school had nick-named me Bald Eagle.

2. On Tuesday nights I go tap dancing. I love it, even though my brain cannot seem to hold onto the routines from week to week.

3. When I was in Year 5 at primary school we had a maths test every day and I never scored more than 1 out of 20. I’m sad to say this gave me a life-long fear of maths.

4. I once sent my daughter to school with a 500g pack of cheddar cheese because it was wrapped in silver foil and I mistook it for her sandwiches. I shall never forget the feeling of pathos when she solemnly showed me the humungous block of cheese after school. She was only five and hadn’t told anyone and I could see her tiny teeth marks where she had attempted a few bites.

5. I have read Watership Down so many times I feel like I am good friends with Fiver, Bigwig and Hazel. Also, if I see ANYTHING fearsome – animal or human – I cannot resist making General Woundwort comparisons.

6. When I was at Fashion College I used to break into fashion shows. Me and my friend were expert at nipping past the guards when they were looking the other way. My hero was Jean Paul Gaultier and when I ended up working on a magazine I interviewed him in a really posh French restaurant. We shared a platter of fruits des mer and I was so star struck that I forgot all my words.

7. When I was 14 I was in a ‘Mates’ magazine photo story playing the jilted girlfriend. I was so embarrassed when it came out that I threw it away, an action I have regretted ever since.

8. We had three gerbils when we were growing up who always scrabbled extra loud during Top of the Pops. One day they were strangely silent. All dead, it turned out because my grandad had innocently fed them acorns.

On my Foundation course in Art I made a piece inspired by the pith of orange peel. It was the first and only time that the tutors singled me out for praise. Apparently I went bright red, then stark white, then red again. Thinking about it still makes me feel very proud.

10. When I was ten my favourite things to eat were tinned new potatoes, butterscotch instant whip and mille feuille – although back then I called it a cream slice. All these delicious foods can be found in the pages of my books.

The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle, and illustrated by Kim Geyer, is published 5th March 2020, in paperback, priced £7.99 (Faber)