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An insight into the happily chaotic mind of a writer

The Amazingly Astonishing Story is about my early years, long before I went on to be the creator of Soldier Soldier, Peak Practice, Bramwell, The Best Of Men, and many other TV and radio dramas. I left school at 17, after a stormy childhood, packed with conflict and excitement. I failed the 11-plus spectacularly and went on to dream during needlework lessons, eat during cookery lessons, and sleep during maths lessons at a Convent School in Bath. I woke up for English lessons and stayed awake long enough to cause the Bath City Centre floods of 1960. This story is a window on my internal, funny and touching childhood world, peopled by Hollywood, pop stars and comedians.
I was awarded an MBE for services to television drama in 1997. In 2000 I received the Women In Film and Television 'Contribution to the Medium' Award, in 2013 I won an RTS WofE award for Best Writer. In 2017 I won the WGGB Award for Best Radio Drama. My theatre plays have won the Richard Burton Drama Award, The Susan Smith Blackburn Award and The John Whiting Award. If you want some insight into what makes a prolific, driven and successful writer, this book might just be what you’re looking for. The child who finds a voice in this book had no voice in her world and very little affection, but there was life and love and fun careening around in her fat little head. She was an optimistic child, and never a victim, never a waif.
Millions watched Peak Practice, Soldier Soldier and Bramwell, and more millions all my later works. Often they seem intrigued to discover whether a writer's internal world is much the same as theirs, or completely and wildly different. My response? I haven't got a clue. Maybe, after reading this book, you will be able to piece some of my addled mind together and come up with an answer. But I doubt it.

Having left school at 17, I stumbled into a brief ‘career’ in the Military Police but spent most of my life working in social care and nursing. These were to be invaluable assets for my writing (I called on my Army experience when I created Soldier, Soldier and later made use of my nursing experience when creating Dawn French's first serious dramatic role in Tender Loving Care.)
At 39, newly returned from a few years in Durban, and broke, never having written before, I entered the Richard Burton Award for New Playwrights with my first play Keeping Tom Nice. It won £2,000 and gave me an attachment as writer-in-residence at the RSC.
In 1997 I was awarded an MBE for services to television drama.
In 2000 I received the Women In Film and Television Contribution to the Medium Award, in 2013 the RTS WofE award for Best Writer. In 2017 I won the WGGB Award for Best Radio Drama. My theatre plays have won the Richard Burton Drama Award, The Susan Smith Blackburn Award and The John Whiting Award.
"It’s no exaggeration to say that Lucy is one of the most successful dramatists in UK TV history " - Philip Shelley, script consultant.
"One of only a handful of screenwriters whose very name on a project is enough to ensure it is commissioned." - The Independent 1999

A NEW MUM

When they’ve gone, arm in arm, Harry Secombe and Princess Grace, walking away down the street to the bus and then to the train and then to Daddy's regiment and then to the church where they’re going to be married, I hop into the yard, and if I put my foot down they’ll miss their train and Dad won’t get her to the church in time which is one of his best songs, so I don’t put even a toe down. Aunty Nelly’s sitting on the step, with her big knees wide apart like Mr Chop The Butcher in Happy Families and she pats one fat leg and I flop onto it and we sit there, not saying anything for ages, Aunty Nelly stroking my hair, and breathing funny. My head is so full of so many words that I can’t pull any of them out at all but after a long time I say that Norah talks like the wireless and Aunty Nelly says she’s got marbles in her gob, but I know that’s not true because I saw her gold fillings. Gold. That’s how rich she is. Princess Grace of Morocco rich, which is where they wear fezzes and Daddy has one of those, brought back from Egypt, where I had a swing and we had a dog, left by a sergeant who'd gone back to England.

Kitty Lob comes to sit on Aunty Nelly’s other knee and we both stroke her, till she starts lashing her tail and sinks her teeth into my hand gentle and slow, with her eyes rolling. Aunty Nelly says ‘You bugger’ and shoves her off and she stalks away, murderous. Kitty Lob, not Aunty Nelly.

I try to tell everyone how beautiful Norah is, but they didn’t see her and I run out of words. I can’t believe not even one of them saw her when she was there for a whole afternoon. And then I remember that when the Queen Mother came to Scarborough and everyone lined the streets, me and Mammy were waiting bloody hours and there was no Queen Mum and no Queen Mum and no Queen Mum, and then I needed a wee but I’d already held it in for ages and I couldn’t hold it in any more and just as everyone was leaning into the road, at last, and there was a sort of rumble of happiness from the crowd, and down the street they started waving their flags and shouting, I had to tug on Mammy's arm, crossing my legs and dancing, ‘I can’t wait. I can’t.’ And Mammy looked bloody murderous and her teeth were together even when she was talking and she yanked me off to behind the hedge. And when we came back the Queen Mum had gone and everyone said she'd been a sea of blue. Remembering is good, and bad. The bad bit is Mammy talking through her teeth, and knowing that I ruined it all but the good bit is the two of us laughing on the way home and Mammy wiping her eyes and saying ‘Maybe she caught a glimpse of your bum.’ And maybe she did. Daddy said that made me ‘By Royal Appointment’ which is not at all like the dentist but something they write on syrup tins, next to the lion.

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