Richard and Judy's Blog
Dancing on nerves
Wednesday 19 January 2011
Blimey, what a week this is turning into.
Firstly, I have NEVER had so much feedback on the street as I have for Chloe’s barnstorming debut on Dancing on Ice last Sunday night. Everywhere I go people of all ages rush up to tell me how proud Judy and I must be of her. And we are. Chloe could barely stand up on the ice a few weeks ago when Torvill and Dean marked her first stumbling efforts with a C minus, the lowest grade out of all the 16 hopefuls (now down to 12 for the proper start to the competition next weekend). Yet on Sunday she put all fear behind her and just went for it. We, and the audience, were totally blown away. She was amazing.
I caught a brief glimpse of her in training with her brilliant partner Michael, a French national skating champion, about five weeks ago. They had just started practicing the routine many of you saw on Sunday, and I thought back then that they looked pretty good together. Michael is a top guy; he treats Chloe like a slightly younger sister and is very demanding and very kind with her by turns. I’ve met him a few times now and really like him. Like a lot of Frenchmen, he’s exceptionally polite (punctilious, almost) but with a lot of warmth lying behind his formal good manners. That’s probably partly because he’s not from haughty old Paris (which I nevertheless love) but from Lyon down in the sunny south. They have an emotional pulse there.
Anyway, the pair got the second-highest judges’ scores on Sunday and viewers’ support to stay in the contest. That was a huge relief. I know it’s only telly, but it’s funny how passionate you get when it’s your own flesh and blood competing in such a high-profile competition (around 10m viewers watch the show, which is of course live. No pressure, then). And yes, Richard and I know how mad we both looked in the audience while Chloe was doing her stuff, yelling and clapping and high-fiving. We got carried away, I admit – but we don’t care if we looked like idiots. We were just incredibly proud of her, and couldn’t help it.
And Chloe is working SO hard to stay in it – you should see her when she gets home after a day on the ice (which is practically every day, for all the skaters). Absolutely drained, covered in bruises, drenched in perspiration, and sometimes despairing of learning her new moves.
We never ask people to just vote for her – we always qualify it by adding ‘if you think she deserves it’. She certainly deserved it on Sunday; as we write this she is grappling to get to grips with a totally new routine for the next show. She says she’s finding it very hard indeed, but if we know our daughter (one of the most determined people I can think of) she’ll come out on Sunday and give it all she’s got and like as not nail it. I don’t half love her; she always does her level best.
NOW... ‘The Postmistress’. Thanks to your support for and trust in the Richard and Judy Book Club, our first novel in the second, Spring Selection (of eight titles) is bobbing right up there at the very top of the best-seller charts, along with many others on our list. It’s a wonderful start not just for the club but more importantly the author, who is a first-time writer. Sarah Blake richly deserves her huge triumph: as you can see on this website, in both Judy’s and my review, and in our interview with Sarah, we both think she has produced a very, very fine novel of immense readability. It made a very strong story to kick off the new list with.
(By the way, ALL the eight books are on sale simultaneously in WHSmith; they are ALL on our dedicated bookstand in every store – when we say ‘first’ or ‘second’ or whatever on the list, what we mean is that that is the book currently reviewed here and in Woman’s Own, accompanied by our TV interview with the author. We update the website/magazine every fortnight with a fresh title, and what has already been posted stays there. That’s all).
Anyway, it’s very, very satisfying to see that because you liked the books we recommended from September to Christmas, you trust our new choices to be crackers too. They are selling really well, and deservedly so. As always, we are just thrilled for the authors, four of which are first-timers. Once again, on their collective behalf, THANK YOU.
And reason number three why this is turning into a rollercoaster of a week?
I am extremely limited in what I am allowed to write, but yesterday I started filming with BBC1 for my personal episode of Who Do You Think You Are.
It’s an absolutely fascinating experience. Working with the brilliant production team, you have to feel your way along your own ancestors’ time-lines, unearthing old records and resurrecting almost-forgotten stories. I am writing this from the seat of a plane heading for a destination I only learned of late yesterday. Talk about a magical mystery tour.
I’ve already unearthed a tantalising story about someone of whom I am a direct descendant but who I learned existed only yesterday, and am on my way to try and get to the bottom of it. I’m sure that won’t be the end of the story and I expect to be criss-crossing all over the place before we reach journey’s end next week, both physically and metaphorically. I wonder how far back in time we’ll get? We’ve already travelled a long way into the past.
I vowed to approach the whole thing with my journalistic hat on, but it’s fallen off already. This is deeply personal stuff, and you just have to go with the emotional flow. I can tell that already, and it’s only the start of day two. Just so long as I don’t bloody well cry...
Anyway, the only downside is that I might not be able to get to next Sunday’s Dancing on Ice, but there are plenty of others back at home with Judy to go with her to the rink to cheer Chloe on. And if she gets through, I’ll definitely be there for the next show.
If you voted for her last Sunday – thank you! And if you vote for her this Sunday – thank you! And as Richard said at the beginning of this blog – your comments and messages about her have been really kind and generous. As her mum and dad, we’re really touched by them.
Bye for now...
Richard & Judy