The People’s Friend

A dear friend, A, recently sent me a copy of the People’s Friend. She has written a short story for it. The People’s Friend is “a fictional magazine for women of all ages” and it accepts “serials (60,000-70,000 words) and complete stories (1500-3000 words) of strong romantic and emotional appeal.” College Dog or Dining Room Nutjob would be perfect for them, once written.

I say that my dear friend A (who refuses to tell me her full name*) has written for them, but that’s only partly true. She had sent off a short story, and they liked it, but the editor said that “a bit more dialogue” was needed to really make it sing. I say that the editor “said” that, but she probably didn’t. She probably “demanded” it, or “tersely stated it” or “sighed” it. You see, in the short stories (and serials) that they publish, no-one just says things: they whisper or shriek or muse them. I don’t know if I can bring myself to write like that. Along with “knitting and cookery”, they love an adverb over at the PF. Also, I’m not sure I can write convincing dialogue.

“Yes you can,” murmured my brother, when I mentioned this the other day.

“Really? Because I’m really not sure I can.” I replied, convincingly.

“I’ve seen some of it – some of the stuff you’ve done. It’s good.” He thundered, heroically.

“Have you?” I cried, massively.

“Yeah, all the time.” He contested, wonderfully, whilst putting on his coat.

“When? What on earth are you talking about?” I countered, brilliantly.

“Well, this, for example.” He parped.

This?” I parped back harder.

“Isn’t this dialogue?” He parped and honked back.

“No, this is just me messing around.” I half-parped/half-honked back seamlessly.

Of course none of this happened. Not like that, anyway. But it seems that I can indeed write suitable dialogue for the People’s Friend. And although it may seem that I’m gently mocking – actually, I’m in the mood. This reminds me of a conversation I was having with my best friend Gary Sams the other day. The other blustery day.

“Are you gently mocking the People’s Friend?” Asked Gary, menacingly, whilst flicking the hair out of and then back into his eyes.

“Yeah. No. I don’t know. I’d like to write for them. It’s nice and gentle – I could do with more nice and gentle in my life right now. And if I did write for them my Nan would be happy. And if my Nan is happy, then I’m happy. Plus I’d get paid for it. Ooh, let’s get one of those. Have you got a light too? Ta. I’d get paid for it, plus it would be one more off the list.” I hollered, enigmatically.

“The list?” Gary ventured, looking like a forlorn dog that has just gone back to college.

“Pitching the World. My blog. I’ve been doing it twenty months. I go on about it all the time. It’s won awards, you know.” I threatened, scarily.

“Oh, actually, yeah. Yeah!”

“You don’t know what it is, do you?”

“Is it the thing you do where you write to newspapers or something?”

“Fuck this, I’m off.” I said, and then fucked off.

The End

Of course none of this happened either. Not like that, anyway. But there are lessons. Regular readers will know that there are always lessons. I’m stumped if I know what they are though. Perhaps you can hunt for them and tell me. I think one lesson might be: If you’re going to write a short story about a dog going to college, be prepared to get a little heady.

* Joke courtesy of Woody Allen. 


13 responses to “The People’s Friend

  1. Pitchy, I reckon you should write for them, I really do. Maybe you could write a nice, gentle little piece about a group of girls who join a cult. They worship a squirrel-God, live in underground burrows, wear only leaves and go around eating nuts. Fruit’n’Nut Dairy Milk is ok as it has nuts. As is Nutella. You can describe beautifully how perfectly ordinary women effectively, turn nuts. PF readers will love the constant reference to chocolate and..nuts. I know you can do this.

  2. Cults are all the rage this week!

    I recently joined one that focusses on touching Stonehenge so much on the equinoxes (with a sheep’s head and a lamb lambwich) that it will eventually fit in our pockets.

    Only fifty thousand grand to join (in any currency).

    Once you get your first PF payment I’ll send you the application form.

  3. Pitchboy? I screeched, Commando one day, Peoples’ Friend another?

    I can just hear the conversation, ten years time in Oldbloke’s local, among Oldbloke’s gang* –
    “Yeah, I remember him, what was ‘is name? Pitchthing?”
    “Somethin’ like that, wrote such realism in Commando, you’d fink he’d been there”
    “Didn’t he go on to write for Peoples’ Friend? You know ‘How to make jam and knit a cardigan’?”
    .”Fancy anuvver Becks?”
    * Oldbloke’s mates are not referred to as Posse, Crew or Massive. Our screen idols at Saturday matinee were in gangs . . . . what was good for Audey Murphy is good for us.

  4. Oi, DFC, i’m pretty sure the lamb lambwich is copywrited. You’d better have a good cult solicitor

  5. It was copyrighted, but some idiot swapped it for a hat.

    It may still be copywrited, but I don’t know what that means, Dork.

  6. It’s definitely copywrited, but on reflection I’m not sure what that means either.
    The hat was stolen from under my nose.
    (I wasn’t wearing it at the time.)
    And I’m working hard on a replacement. I honestly spent 4 or 5 minutes in a hat shop in Camden the other day.

  7. “Er…yes it did happen. Exactly like that.” countered PTW’s brother, both thundering and intoning – heroically. PTW’s brother always does things heroically.

    By the way – anyone heard my joke about the King of Quick Wit and Repartee and his twin brother?

  8. Moretti & Run – this isn’t the place, I’m afraid, to be talking nonsense about hats and lamb lambwiches.* But thanks for popping by.
    Old B – Am I going to die in the next 10 years then? I can’t believe it. Lovely stuff however. I’d love a Becks right now.
    Bro – You’re right, you are a hero. My hero anyway. You’ll be a bit less of a hero if you tell that joke though as it takes about two fucking days.
    Marge – Your story idea has turned me into a sexual deviant. Thank you.

    *It is really

  9. No, no, no, good grief no Pichboy.
    The fictional memorial chat in a pub is not about the late PTW. It’s about the excitement that was the pen of PTW before he sold his soul to PF

  10. Got you OB. Thanks for watching my back.

  11. I know how we can shut Marge up with her random squirrel-god comments, let’s talk some more about the cult that is ‘e-burger’. I seem to recall that some 4 months ago, you promised me a slogan but it seems that you have more important things to do, like contemplate writing for gems such as The People’s Friend, tsk.

    Better dash, Marge has just walked through the fly-screen (again) this time in a nut finding frenzy.

    Here’s some ’emotional appeal’ for you, where is my fucking slogan?!

  12. Emily! How splendid to hear from you. Ridiculously, I’d forgotten about our cash cow that is E-Burger. I’ll get sloganeering immediately.*

    * Note: this probably won’t happen.

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