Jennifer Explains... Delilah & The Wedding Date

The 'Delilah Explains It All' blog is a fictional blog by the fictional Delilah James which was used as a tool to get to know my new character and brainstorm ideas. Delilah - and her story - evolved over several drafts and the editing process and became The Wedding Date, which is available now.

Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

The Wedding Date is available from Amazon here

Delilah Explains... Justin

No twelve-year-old wants to live with the knowledge that their parents have sex. And, apart from walking in on them in the act, there is no greater confirmation that they're not 'past all that' than the announcement of a brother or sister in the near future. So I was pretty disgusted when I learned of my mother's pregnancy. They'd sat Clara and I down one Saturday afternoon to share their news. Mum had the audacity to beam at us as Dad spoke the words, the palm of his hand resting where there would soon be a bump.

I was disgusted. Clara was mortified. As a fifteen-year-old, she didn't want to start all over again with a new sibling. She'd put up with my appearance, had barely tolerated sharing her parents with a squawking kid once before - and they expected her to do it again?

No way.

But it happened. Justin came along. And wasn't he just the sweetest little thing you'd ever seen? Shockingly, Clara and I fell for his chubby little cheeks and his podgy, dimpled knees. We couldn't get enough of his gummy smile and would fall about laughing every time he blew a raspberry.

I loved being a big sister. I loved Justin.

And then the teenage years struck and our sweet little Justin turned into a little shit. If you're worrying that he'll see this post dedicated to his awfulness, don't. Justin won't see this. The only websites he sees are of the mucky variety.

Justin is fifteen now. Gone are the chubby cheeks and podgy knees. There is no gummy smile and Justin is more likely to give you the finger than blow a raspberry. He hardly goes to school, except to attend art (which he loves and is actually really good at) and geography (because he fancies his teacher). He'd much rather sit in his bedroom with his mates, playing gun-shooty games and bragging about the girls he thinks he has a chance with.

Of course, Mum think he's an angel. She believes him when he says he's been to school and that his teachers are 'picking on him' when they give him bad reports. Annoyingly, Clara still sees him as the golden boy we once knew so it's only Dad and I who can see him for the gobshite he has become (of course Dad doesn't call him a gobshite. Mum would never stand for that).

Delilah Explains... The Office

I work at a biscuit factory, which isn't as yummy as it sounds. Back when I started working there, I foolishly thought I'd get to sample the biscuits and perhaps even take some home. Fat chance. I don't get to even sniff the biscuits (unless I've been sent down to the shop floor on an errand and the smell is in the air) and the only biscuits I get to eat are the bag of broken biscuits I receive at Christmas each year. But don't feel too sorry for me - that bag of broken biscuits comes complete with a shiny red festive ribbon.

I started working at the biscuit factory five years ago. Five long years ago. Back then I was just 22 and it was only my second job. This job was going to be the start of my career. I had a Level 2 NVQ behind me now, after all.

Except it didn't quite work out like that. I started off as an office junior and in those five years, I've jumped up to 'Office Administrator'. Which has the same role as the office junior but with a slight pay increase. The worst bit is, because I'm doing the jobs of the office junior (i.e. every crappy job going that nobody else wants to do), there was no need to hire a new junior and so I'm still on the bottom rung of the biscuit factory office.

The biscuit factory is a family-run business, with Neville Brinkley running the show as MD. Then there's his wife Denise who takes care of the accounts and the Brinkley offspring, Katey-Louise and Jasper. Then there's Neville's brother and his wife, George and Kim who take care of Sales & Marketing and Purchasing. Jasper is supposed to look after the IT while Katey-Louise is a bit of a floater (if you're picturing a turd floating in the toilet, you're spot on). Her duties include tweeting, catching up with friends on Facebook and wasting hours on Candy Crush.

I don't like Katey-Louise. Let's just get that out there now. She's a bitch. She wouldn't have the job if Daddy wasn't the MD. She's useless but that doesn't stop her acting superior. She knows she can't - or won't - be sacked so she spends her days being lazy and nasty. Being the only non-family member in the office, I seem to bear the brunt.

So the office isn't always the best place to be but I have to be grateful that I've got a job at all, I suppose. And I do have fun with the guys down on the shop floor (who don't like Katey-Louise either, which is hardly surprising when you learn she has nicknamed them 'The Oompa Loompas'). Whenever I'm bored (which is a lot) or Katey-Louise is doing my head in (which is even more often), I'll find an excuse to slip down to the shop floor and have a brew with the girls. They're a great bunch and I don't know how I'd get through the working day without them.

Delilah Explains... Bonfire Night

We usually go to the local park on Bonfire Night but, due to cutbacks, the annual bonfire and fireworks display had been cancelled.

'Never mind,' Mum said. She isn't a big fan of the park's bonfire festivities as she spends the whole evening clutching her handbag in case the local feral youths snatch her purse (I'm always telling her that they'll only toss it back when they realise it holds nothing more than a couple of quid in shrapnel).

'Never mind?' Dad had roared. 'Never mind? That isn't the attitude a member of the James family!'

It's exactly Mum's attitude, actually. The toaster is on the blink - never mind. The cat from across the road has scratched a chunk out of the doorframe - never mind. The wifi has gone down - never mind. Mum just doesn't get irate like the rest of us (unless she misses an episode of Coronation Street or we forget to pick towels up off the bathroom floor and then she throws a hissy fit party for one).

'Never mind? We can't miss out. It's Bonfire Night, for heaven's sake.' I'm not sure when Dad became so passionate about the day. He usually huddles into his coat, moaning that he's cold and his feet are aching whenever we go to the bonfire at the park. But passionate he was. 'We'll have our own. In the back garden. Dougie from across the road has just put a new fence up. I'll see if he still has the old panels. He owes after that damn cat destroyed the bloody front door.'

So Dad went on a mission and filled the garden with neighbours' bits of crappy old wood. I'd never seen him as happy as they day he strode into the house brandishing a pair of battered dining chairs.

'There's a skip around the corner. I'm going back for more. Give us a hand, Delilah.'

I'd declined of course but Dad managed to rope my little brother into helping (I suspect money was exchanged). Mum worried that he'd collected far too much wood that we'd never be able to burn it off and we'd end up having to hire a skip of our own, which Dad said was nonsense.

With the bonfire going and an assortment of fireworks waiting in an old biscuit tin, our little Bonfire Night Party began.

My little brother Justin had invited a few of his mates, I'd coerced Lauren and Ryan into joining me and my sister Clara and her boring boyfriend Graham had been talked into coming too. The bonfire had taken up most of the garden but we managed to squeeze around the edges at a reasonably safe distance from the flames.

'Does your Ryan want another jacket potato?' Mum asked me as she edged crab-like around the perimeter of the bonfire with a plate of luke-warm potatoes and congealed cheese. 'I've made far too many.'

'I think he's had enough. And I keep telling you he's not "my Ryan". We're not together.'

'I don't know why not. He's a handsome chap.'

Ryan, who had nipped inside to the loo, was making his way back out of the kitchen door. I thought about grabbing one of the potatoes and shoving it into Mum's gob but settled on a hiss to keep it quiet.

'I'm only saying.' Mum gave a sniff before she shuffled away, pointing her plate of potatoes in boring Graham's direction.

'That's bad for the environment, you know.'

Ryan groaned as his mother appeared at the garden fence, wrinkling her nose at the sight of the blazing bonfire.

'Excuse me?' Mum shoved the plate of potatoes into Graham's boring hands and leapt across the garden, disregarding any thoughts of fire safety in her haste to reach the fence.

'That.' Ryan's mother thrust a finger towards the bonfire. 'It's bad for the environment.'

Despite Ryan and I being best friends, our mothers had never got along. It all started when Ryan and his family moved in twenty-odd years ago and Ryan's mother snubbed us.

'How many cars do you have?' Mum knew the answer to this. Ryan's mother and father owned a car each.

'Two.' Ryan's mother was incredibly proud of the fact that she and her husband could afford to run a car each.

'And don't you think they're bad for the environment?' Mum didn't wait for an answer as she knew she was triumphant on this one. 'Well, Ken and I don't own a car between us so we're entitled to have one bonfire a year without having our ears chewed off about the environment, don't you think?'

Ryan's mother didn't bother to answer (again). She simply pursed her lips, stuck her chin in the air and flounced back inside.

'Right.' Mum clapped her hands together as she turned away from the fence. 'Who's going to finish off these potatoes?'

Delilah Explains... Clara's Halloween Party

I have done a very stupid thing. Extremely stupid and I can only assume there was a full moon this Halloween.

It all started when my sister Clara hosted a Halloween party. I usually avoid Clara's parties (they're usually dinner parties of the pretentious kind) but this one sounded fun, especially as it was fancy dress. I roped my best friends, Lauren and Ryan into coming with me (safety in numbers and all that) and off we went.

I was dressed as a vampire (and a rather sexy one at that, if I may say so), Lauren dressed up as a witch (a v. sexy witch) and Ryan went as a Frankenstein (no sexiness involved here. It'd be like describing my brother as sexy. Bleugh). All was going well. The three of us stuck together as planned and worked away at the booze and the nibbles (I have to say, Clara knows how to shop for canapés) and we even had a little boogie to The Monster Mash. It was proving to be quite fun.

And then disaster struck.

Patrick arrived.

Patrick is a friend of my sister. We've met on a couple of occasions when I haven't been able to wriggle out of Clara's dinner party invites and he's a complete sleaze. He has the personality of a chewed up tennis ball and he has a whiff of onions about him. And he doesn't even have good looks to help him out, the poor bastard.

Anyway, Patrick arrived so I obviously made a dash to the kitchen, hoping to find a convenient yet comfortable hiding place. There wasn't one. My sister lives in a flat with a kitchen the size of an unusually small postage stamp.

'Hide me,' I hissed at Lauren and Ryan, who were busily munching on mini spiced chicken skewers. 'Patrick's here.'

'Who?' Ryan didn't have a clue and so didn't react in time. Lauren had heard all about Patrick and his wandering hands and slobbery ways (so had Ryan but Lauren had actually had the grace to pay attention) so she jumped heroically in front of me, shielding me from the nasty onion-aroma-man.

Unfortunately, Lauren is a tiny woman who couldn't hide much more than a twig.

'Ah, Lilah! There you are!'

Nobody had ever called me Lilah before (it not being my name and everything) but Patrick had taken it upon himself to shorten my name upon our initial meeting. I'd told him not to but listening was clearly not his strong point.

'Yes, here I am. With my boyfriend.' I pulled a startled Ryan towards me, clinging onto his arm with a vice-like grip. If he attempted to dismiss my little white lie, I would snap his arm in two.

'Boyfriend? Clara never mentioned a boyfriend.' Patrick gave a little laugh. If Clara hadn't supplied him with the information, it couldn't be true.

'That's because Clara doesn't know. About us. Yet.' Bless Ryan. He was playing along! I wouldn't have to injure the boy! 'It's been a secret.'

'A secret?' There was Patrick's laugh again. 'Why would you keep it a secret?'

I looked at Ryan. Why would we keep it a secret? Was I going to have to hurt him after all? And I was so fond of him too.

'Because he was my boyfriend.' Lauren jumped to our rescue, dramatically whizzing around to face Ryan before slapping him across the chops. 'You complete shit! You've been cheating on me with my best friend? How could you?' With a sob, Lauren flounced from the room, pausing at the doorway to grin at me and Ryan behind Patrick's back.

'Well, Lilah. Who knew you were such a little minx, eh?'

So now Patrick thinks I'm seeing Ryan. And of course he had to tell Clara, who couldn't keep her gob shut and told the whole world. Including Mum, who thinks it's the best news since they brought back Family Fortunes (she has a bit of a thing for Vernon Kay). I've tried telling her it was nothing but a great big steaming lie but she won't have it. She's thrilled. Over the sodding moon.

'I couldn't ask for a better son-in-law,' she tells anybody who will listen. She thinks Ryan is the bee's pyjamas or whatever. He's lived next door to us for nearly 30 years but she's suddenly taken to calling him 'your Ryan'.

So now it looks like I've got a pretend boyfriend, which wouldn't be quite so sad if it wasn't Ryan.


Delilah Explains... Clara

Clara was four when I was born. Up until that point, she'd been an only child and resented the fact that she was no longer the centre of attention. Nobody has actually said those words out loud but I know it's true. The evidence is clear:

  • In every photo of me as a new born, Clara is scowling in the background
  • Clara had a notebook dedicated to the scrawling of 'I hat my babby sistur' and similar
  • I had to be taken to hospital when I was 11 months old after 'falling' down the stairs while playing with Clara
  • Clara called me 'it' (it wants a biscuit, it's crying, it fell, Mummy, I promise) until I was 7
So Clara and I have never been close as sisters. Clara pretended she was still an only child and I eventually gave up trying to earn her approval. When I was 14, Clara moved out. She'd got into a university close enough to home to commute but she wanted to live the full student life (eating Pot Noodles, not washing and sleeping in until lunchtime from the sounds of it). Mum had been distraught - how could her grown-up daughter leave home? I think she expected Clara to still be living at home when she was married and popping out babies (funny, she's quite vocal about the fact that I'm 27 and still at home).

So Clara moved out and the distance transformed our relationship. We would never be the kind of sisters who swapped clothes and shared secrets but at least now we can be half-way civil to one another. I don't necessarily like Clara (she's bossy, pretentious and thinks she oh so sophisticated since she bought her flat with her boring boyfriend) but I don't hate her and we can tolerate each other for short bursts of time.

Clara is an accountant. She met her accountant boyfriend (the dull Graham) at some sort of conference and they moved in together a year ago (Mum had still been harbouring hopes that she'd return to her bosom until they arranged the mortgage for their own flat). Since then, Clara has hosted a total of 14 dinner parties (I've thankfully only been invited to one), gutted the kitchen (she couldn't stand the 'dated' look) and replaced it with a shiny new one that hurts my eyes. She tried to get us to go over to her flat for Christmas (the ambience in her living room was much more festive, apparently) but Mum was having none of it. She'd had Christmas lunch around the kitchen table at our house for over thirty years and she'd continue to have Christmas lunch around our kitchen table as long as she was still breathing. I'm sure Clara will have another bash at persuading her this year too but I don't fancy her chances.

Delilah Explains... Best Friends Part 3

So I've told you about how I met my best friends, Lauren and Ryan. I've known Ryan since I was a toddler and Lauren since I was eleven but the three of us didn't become a threesome (not that in that sense, I hasten to add. I love my friends dearly but I wouldn't want to see either of them naked) until I was 14. Lauren and Ryan had met a few times (usually over the garden fence) but they'd never spent any real time together. I hung out with either Lauren or Ryan but never both - until my sister's 18th birthday party.

Clara was having a party in the function room above our local pub and Mum said I could invite a friend or two to keep me company (I think even Mum knew that Clara's friends were a bunch of up-their-own-arses stuck-up cows but she'd never say it out loud). So I invited Lauren and Ryan and the rest, as they say, is history. From then, the three of us would hang out together all the time, which was much easier for me as I no longer had to juggle my time between the two.

So the three of us are great friends but I'm still sort of in the middle. We all hang out or go to the pub or in town together and we regularly meet up at the café on the main road for breakfast, but I'm the glue that keeps us all together. I'll spend time alone with Lauren or with Ryan but they never spend time alone together. I would never walk into my local pub and find them chatting in a corner or phone Lauren and hear Ryan in the background. They might text each other or even talk on the phone to make plans for the evening but I don't think the two of them have ever met up without me.

I don't mind being in the middle. It's quite a nice place to be.

There are some things I only do with Lauren: our twice-weekly walks on the treadmill so Lauren can flutter her eyelashes at one of the fitness instructors, girly nights in watching Bridget Jones's Diary or Dirty Dancing or You've Got Mail (or all three) and shopping trips in town.

And there are things I only do with Ryan: hanging out in Ryan's bedroom, pretending we're 15 again by listening to early 2000s music and complaining about our mums (Ryan thinks mine is the best mum you could possibly wish for. We both think his mum is a nightmare), babysitting his niece (Ryan's little sister had a child before either of us. I'm not sure how to feel about this fact) and watching Ryan's students run around on a muddy field with a ball and a bunch of students from a rival school (Lauren has never been excluded from this activity - quite the opposite - but she refuses to stand in the cold on a Saturday morning watching a field full of spotty boys. She left those days behind when we left school, apparently).

And there are things that the three of us do together: the pub quiz on a Sunday (we never win. Not even close), other non-quiz nights in the pub, nights out in town and breakfast at the café on the main road. The café breakfast usually follows a heavy pub or town session. You can't beat a belly-buster breakfast when you're hungover.