Monday, 18 August 2008

Almost Mrs Average meets Tracey Smith

"Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late!" I muttered, finding myself lost in Essex, feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

Getting lost in Essex is something I rarely do. Lost in France may be, or even Cardiff Bay, but I've never lost myself in Essex.

First there was the missing road sign, which meant I had to navigate by hope alone. I tried the stars, but it was a cloudy night, so I used my natural instinct along the windy roads in the Essex countryside. When I finally thought I'd reached my bethlehem, it turned out to be wrong house!

The Wrong House!

The email said no 1....but the lights were out and no-one was home.

So... lost in Essex, with no phone signal, I was wondering what to do next.

If it hadn't been for the kind lady at no.2 spotting me from her lounge and asking me who I was looking for I would have missed my slot...a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the Queen of Downshifting,... yes the one and only Tracey Smith...who just happened to be on holiday with her lovely family just a little further along the quiet idyllic road.

A very special lady, with a very special place in my heart.

I love Tracey. I love her warmth, her bubbliness and I adore the way she can laugh about things like solar powered vibrators without making me blush.

We first made contact three or four years ago with odd emails here and there about how an average woman can downshift. Then at the beginning of the year, things began to hot up with regular conversations, talking about nothing else but rubbish. How we laughed at some of my adventures in Zero Waste and how we celebrated the single plaster.

She also enjoyed talking trash with some of her fabulous friends as well as a whole bunch of celebrities including Brigit Strawbridge, Kim Wilde and Carl Honoré, whose latest book Under Pressure I enjoyed reading whilst in Switzerland. So you can see I felt very honoured to have enjoyed a slice of her time.

As an experienced broadcaster on Apple FM, she helped calm my nerves about the recordings for Woman's Hour. She did it again for my first live interview, but I'm not sure it worked on this demonstrated by my nervous shout of "sanitary towels" on Irish Radio when probed for the one thing that should never go to landfill.

Tracey's been a brick and what I love best about her is that she accepts me for who I am, not a downshifter as such but more of a "downhill-shifter", with one foot throughly enjoying the exciting speed of 21st Century living and the other trailing behind at snail's pace, inticing me to slow down. She's encouraged me to swap some of my Phase Eight luxuries for Charity Shop bargains and ditch the office for my living room.

She knows I won't go all the way, with my love for modernity, the mainstream and mobile technology, but we still meet at the crossroads and laugh!

And here she is, the gorgeous lady, beaming at me like a ray of sunshine, about to give me something very, very special.

It had been wrapped up and ready to send in the post, beautifully packaged in compostable brown paper and string...which apparently is an unwelcome guest in automated sorting offices (for reasons of getting tangled in machinery), but which is more than welcome to me.

So... in the words of Rolf Harris, "Can you tell what it is yet?"

If you need any clues at all, it's got something to do with her disappearing off the face of the planet for months on end, bent over at her desk under a single lamp in her pyjamas....

....tapping at her keyboard...


...she got all her thoughts off her chest and emailed the final manuscript to Alastair Sawday...or rather his editor...and revealed to the world

...the beautiful thing she created... shown here.

And it's not the compost bin...although that is a lovely sight in itself.

Yes Ladies & Gentlemen, I feel very privileged to be personally presented with one of the first preview copies of Tracey's fabulous new book...The Book of Rubbish Ideas, which comes with a special message, which I will treasure forever more.

Despite having very little free time on my hands, you can see that I couldn't wait to get cracking on it and settled myself down.

Okay, I confess, you've caught me out enjoying a moment of self-indulgence, reading the huge mention of The Rubbish Diet on page 105. And no better location eh, leaning comfortably against the compost bin, next to the slugs, for the beginning of an enjoyable read...

...allowing some time-out to flick through the rest of the content, a room-by-room guide, revealing a whole wealth of hints and tips about how you can reduce, reuse and recycle and even pull in the cash at the same time. There are even sample letters to encourage the silent but latent activists out there. It is the perfect addition to the Sawday's environmental range.

Of course, Tracey speedily pulled me up off the floor and we soon got back to our previous levels of excitement. Sitting in the front garden of her holiday home, on a sofa awaiting collection by a Freecycler, we cursed bars in Bury St Edmunds that don't recycle glass bottles, praised a company that vibrators...(oh, yes, see page 75)...and admired the bats that circled over our heads.

How surreal, being presented a book by Tracey with a message that reads "Get Writing Missus", at a time when she's finished her manuscript and I am enjoying the beginning of mine...just think 2009, we'll be doing the same again with The Rubbish Diet.

We've laughed before about being the Trinny and Susannah of bins, it's certainly beginning to feel that way...or is that Hinge and Bracket? (LOL...sorry Trace)

So join me in a toast to the lovely Tracey Smith, congratulating her on a major achievement, The Book of Rubbish Ideas, which can be bought for just half-price if you're quick and pre-register before it's published at the end of September.

As for me...I'm already dipping in...yes it's that type of book. So what are you waiting for? Come you go.



Anonymous said...

Wowee - how envious am I!? You get to meet the good lady herself AND get a sneak peek of her fabby book.

I'm surprised you had time to write your blog today!

Enjoy the read; I'm looking forward to reading it too :) And yours, next year.

How exciting for us all........

Almost Mrs Average said...

Oh Mrs G, I am still jumping about in excitement. She is something special and so normal too...if you get my drift. It really is the icing on the cake since I dropped in on you in May.

If Trace is the Queen of Downshifting, and you're the Queen of Green, how about we go off and play a came of Charlie's Angels...John C, could be Bosley and Mr G could be the mysterious voice of Charlie.

LOL...I think I may be getting a bit frivolous...the excitement is getting too much.

Anyway, am now off to blow-dry my my hair, with curls and flicks an'all.

Grab your water gun honey, it's time to clean those bins ;-D x

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs A,

You are on top form just now. I hope it lasts a long time. Tracey's book is certainly worth a look and I will certainly join those registering.

I have always fancied acting "To be or not to be......" Not bad, eh?

Carlotta said...

Tell you what Mrs A - have you thought about publishing your books as an ebook as well as in print? I'd happily pay for it but I'm loathe to buy another book printed on valuable paper. The Book of Rubbish Ideas looks awesome too - I may see if I can persuade my local library to buy it so it can be reused but I still get to read it!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi John...LOL, start exercising those vocal chords, I can see a script coming on.

...How about...The Scrap Merchant of Venice :-D

Hi Grignoter - so lovely to "meet" you and thank you so much for popping by. That's a really good point about the ebook, not sure what the exact plans are yet but will publish details nearer the time. Please do encourage your library to get Tracey's book and spread the word around your friends too, so they can pop in and borrow it after you. ;-D

Anonymous said...

Hi all - blimey, I knew I should have run a brush through that mop of hair!


Good grief missus, I'm blushing with all yer compliments and it was amazing to meet you too.

Remember when my husband too our photos, in the background was the BINS! What a couple of trashy old bags eh!

He he...

Thanks to everyone here for their support of my book too and I highly recommend nagging your library to stock copies! I don't know where I'd be without my local branch - I'm giving a reading there too at some point in the weeks ahead which should be a giggle...

Anyway, must be off, need to unpack, teaching breadmaking in the morning - lolol - and must remember to brush me mop...

Much love,

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Trace - You don't need to do anything with your barnet, you're just gorgeous as you are. Hadn't thought about it, but I haven't taken a brush to my hair in a while. Maybe there's a message there...not sure what.

You know what, I'm getting a funny feeling I am being stalked by bins, like the ones in that photo. Then as I was driving through those country lanes in the dark, they were everywhere. It's beginning to feel like another episode from Doctor Who.

Love to Mr S and family and yes people...keep nagging ;-D x

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