So…what’s your pet hate?
I find it easier to get to know my characters by understanding what they hate rather than what they like. In THE DIVORCE DOMINO, when one of my characters is choosing a new boyfriend, her deal breaker is cheap shoes - Timberlands or die. My brother would agree. The mere sight of me clumping about in my Crocs causes him to adopt a face like I’ve just stirred his tea with my big toe. Yes, yes, I do know that Crocs are not very elegant but when the chore of the day is combing the lawn for dog poo in our oft rainy country, teetering about in high heels spearing rogue dog turds isn’t a fetching look either.
One friend I know gets all in a twiddle if the nose gets cut off the Brie – apparently the pinnacle of bad manners. Personally I think pointing it out to the holder of the offending cheese knife with the sole purpose of embarrassing them is far ruder than the slovenly cheese chopping in the first place. For me at least, the shape of the cheese comes well after people hovering in my cooking space, peering into pans and dropping eye lashes or moustache bristles in the soup. Or forking more food onto their plates before they’ve finished what was cowering there already. Or weakly saying, ‘Can I do anything to help?’ while slopping another vat of pinot into their glass and corkscrewing their bottoms even more tightly to the chair. But most heinous of all – and sorry, it’s always the men - glugging so much wine that they sprinkle while they tinkle, requiring the hostess to get busy with the mop on the loo floor between courses.
So when I’m deciding which pet hates to give my characters, I think about the smorgasbord of things that irritate me. In the interests of brevity, I’ll confine it to the top five but it could easily be the top fifty. Husband thinks it’s awful to be me and have a right and wrong way for everything, even down to the acceptable size of mug for my morning tea. (On balance, it’s probably more awful to be him and have to live me.)
Hit parade of hideousness…
o Clothes bearing evidence of last night’s dinner. I read somewhere that the proof of how much you are loved is not how often someone says ‘I love you’ but how often someone says, ‘You’re not going out wearing that.’ So true.
o People who ‘don’t mind’ but brew up a steaming passive-aggressive sulk when you fail to mind-read….
o ‘Pacific’ when it’s nothing to do with oceans as in ‘I am looking for a pacific type of rice.’
o Offspring who knock over pints of blackcurrant squash into my new Mac.
o Lack of generosity of spirit. People who keep count of everything…play dates, lifts, cups of coffee, birthday presents, who phoned last…
Let me know your pet hates...can’t promise to use them in a book but I might become a better friend.