Saturday 24 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: On Hampstead Heath - Marika Cobbold


On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold is a sparkling little gem of a book.  I had already posted my review when an invitation for the blog tour arrived in my inbox and I loved the book so much that I was keen to jump on board the tour bus.  I am delighted to share an extract from the book for my stop on the blog tour and you can also click here to read my review.



I grew up in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences.

‘Tell me.’

‘Tell you what?’

‘What you’re not telling me.’

‘Don’t be silly.’

‘Tell me!’ I shouted.

‘Rudeness will get you nowhere,’ they said. Then they sent me to my room.

‘My room is somewhere,’ I said.

These conversations never ended well.

People asked, as people do, ‘So, little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?’

‘I’d like to be God.’

I blame the vicar. He was the one who told us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.”’

All I wanted was to know.

Unsurprisingly, I did not grow up to be God. Instead, I became a journalist. A journalist is a seeker of Truth, its upholder and defender. Or so I thought.

Where lies go unopposed, democracy dies. A long time ago, when I first started out, I embroidered the words, badly, in cross stitch and hung the framed canvas above my bed, as a reminder, should I need one, of why I became a journalist. Now it hides, face to the wall, at the back of my wardrobe; a reminder, should I need one, that I’m a liar and a hypocrite.

I flicked through my clothes. What does a liar and a hypocrite wear on judgement day? It sounds like the start of a joke.

What does she wear?

Something light and loose, but not voluminous.

That won’t have them rolling in the aisles.

I’d asked him to meet me on Viaduct Bridge. It was where it all began; the place where, by some strange alchemy, I might yet turn fiction into reality.

It was early still, and overcast, but by the time I got to the Heath the sun was shining. I thought, it’s a bad omen, the sun always shines when something truly shitty happens in my life. It’s why I believe in a higher power. Chance does not do irony.

I stood on the bridge, looking down at the still water. What was it like, I wondered, down in that mirror-world of bridge and trees?

The minutes ticked by and turned into half an hour. I checked my phone but there were no messages. He wasn’t coming. I don’t know why I had imagined he would. Hope, I suppose; that prankster makes fools of us all.

Five more minutes, I told myself, no more.

I looked out across the pond. The mandarin duck was there, with his grey-feathered friends. It seemed their tranquil morning swim would not be disturbed after all.

But here he was, crossing the bridge towards me, his hair copper in the morning sun. But no halo – the halo would have been too much; he was splendid all the same.

I raised my hand in a wave. He didn’t wave back. I stuffed my hand in my trouser pocket.

‘Rose.’ He gave me a curt nod.

‘Thank you for coming.’


And there we were, two little people whose lives did not amount to a hill of beans in this vast, indifferent universe. Only there is a different universe, there always is: a tiny, selfimportant one, built by us, for us. A fool’s universe, if you like, but that’s OK, because in that universe, he and I, standing there on Viaduct Bridge, mattered a great deal.

‘What did you want to see me about?’

‘I was hoping to explain.’

He shrugged. ‘Fine, explain away.’

I opened my mouth but nothing came out. He glanced at his watch, shifted from foot to foot, like someone cornered by a talkative stranger. I lost my nerve.

‘I was drunk and on a deadline.’

‘You’re a journalist. That’s not an explanation, it’s an ordinary day at the office.’

Unfair, but this was not the time to argue.

‘I’d never planned for things to go as far as they did.’

His tone was brisk. ‘People never do.’

‘The story, it took on a life of its own, like Frankenstein’s monster. I was powerless to stop it.’

‘No, you weren’t.’

I took a step towards him and my hand, being just a limb, incapable of understanding, reached out for his. ‘Rufus, please.’

He took a step back.

I said, ‘You really can’t forgive me?’

He looked down at my hand, then back up at me.

‘No. No I don’t think I can.’ With that, he began to walk away.

The sun just kept on shining, bathing the bridge in golden light, turning the duckweed emerald.

‘But what will I do without you?’

He turned to look at me. ‘Work,’ he said. ‘Isn’t that what you do?’

I took the phone out of my pocket and put it down on the ground. I scrambled over the railings and onto the ledge, closed my eyes and jumped.

Doesn't it sound great?  You can buy a copy from:

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