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Emails to Henry VIII, from his Relate Relationship Counsellor

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Email sent to:

Your Majesty,

Thank you for your recent email detailing the issues you are having in your relationship. Reaching out is the first step to making a difference in your marriage. My apologies for the slight delay, it took me a while to put the Latin through Google translate.

Every relationship is unique, but I accept marrying your dead brother’s wife at the behest of your dying father in a bid to dynastically link England and Spain does create a certain amount of tension. How were family gatherings? As you say, your wife is six years your senior, and you feel she may have misled you about her level of sexual experience. Any anxiety about living up to the sexual performance of one’s older brother may limit your own levels of satisfaction, but why do you think this has led you to question the holy validity of your union? Seeking an annulment feels like a knee jerk response.

I also find it interesting you say you have acted as a good pious husband by only having three mistresses. You say your wife does not object, but you still seem disappointed in her. Have you considered this may be about your mother? It would be useful to talk to you and your wife together, but I appreciate this does not fit with Catherine of Aragon’s schedule since she’s currently banished from court.

At root I feel you’re not being honest with yourself about the real reasons you’re considering ending this relationship. Do let me know if you would like to talk further.

Kind regards,


Email to:

Your Grace,

Congratulations on your recent marriage to Anne Boleyn – and I’m sorry to hear it is already in difficulty. You write that Anne’s vivacity and intellect appealed to you during your courtship, but she now refuses to play the submissive wife. Have you spent much time in the American Bible belt?

You say there are no problems in the bedroom chamber, which is promising. But can you clarify what you meant by “that naughty thing she learnt to do in the French court”, and just how you feel she used that to trick you into marriage? I don’t understand what you mean by “wasting the divine king’s seed”. Have you been arguing about the Hampton Court Palace gardens?

I’m alarmed at your suspicions your wife may have had carnal relations with her brother. I can refer you to a therapist who specialises in incest if you wish? You also allege she is a practiser of witchcraft. These sound like extraordinary accusations. Is it possible something else is going on? I do not think your former wife Catherine of Aragon dying on the same day as Anne miscarried your child is concrete proof you have “pissed off god”. It seems to me you are dealing with many layers of emotion and may benefit from some form of anger management strategy. Have you considered Mindfulness, or jousting?

Do let me know if you would like to talk further.


Email to:

Your Excellency,

I was sorry to learn of the loss of your wife Jane Seymour, less than a year after the unfortunate decapitation accident that saw you lose your previous wife Anne. How much can one man take, indeed? I want to reassure you you are not the master of your own misfortune, though, obviously, you are the master of everything else. Nor are you being punished for, as you put it, the “whole religion thing”. Grief is a complex emotion. You say Jane was young and beautiful, and you married just ten days after Anne’s accident. Do you think you rebounded in a bid to assuage your heartache?

You also write of your close friend Thomas Cromwell’s warnings of threats both at home and abroad. Is it possible he has an ulterior motive? You say you have declared two of your children as illegitimate. Are you feeling any anxiety or paranoia? I would counsel against you taking any rash decisions during a time of emotional turmoil, they may have long lasting repercussions. Thinking about other more pleasant things may be helpful. Have you thought about joining an evening class or taking up a hobby? I hear invading France is very popular at this time of year.

I’m always happy to listen.


Email to:

Dear HRH,

I am sorry to learn your most recent marriage to Anne of Cleves has not worked out. I can see how publically calling her a ‘Flanders Mare’, ruined any chance of reconciliation. Though these posh girls are often horsey, I agree. I’m pleased that aside from this, you seem to have separated amicably. But I am concerned by the official title you have bestowed on your ex-wife. Calling her the ‘The King’s Sister’ returns us to the subject of incest. You seem somewhat fixated on inappropriate family members having sex – have you read much Freud?

And may I say how sorry I was to hear your friend Thomas Cromwell also passed away in a decapitation accident. Have you thought about introducing some Health & Safety legislation?

I’m always here to listen.


P.S. Thank you for the Youtube video of you playing Green Sleeves on the ukulele. It is indeed very catchy.

Email to:

Dear Henry,

I’m sorry to hear your recent partnership with Catherine Howard has come to an end. It must be hard to deal with the rejection of her having not one but two affairs behind your back. As you say, it’s not like she’s the man in the relationship and is allowed to behave like that. Silly girl: I can only assume she lost her head.

Do not feel downhearted. I know you can find true happiness; you just need to meet the right woman. Someone who is independently wealthy, say. Educated, perhaps with previous relationship experience to draw on, and, crucially, not likely to shag half of court. If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, try, and try again. Have you considered Tindr? That Holbein painting of you with the hipster ginger beard would definitely have the single ladies-in-waiting swiping right.



Email to:

Hey Big-Spender,

What a delight to finally meet in person. I don’t think your paintings do you justice. I like a meaty man: someone strong and powerful to look after me. And I think gout is a sign of refined and cultured taste. And no, the pus oozing sores didn’t bother me at all. I barely noticed them. Or the smell.

I confess I have been lonely since my husband passed away, and the chance of a new relationship has come as a pleasant surprise. Before we progress though, I think we should talk about Mary. And Elizabeth. I know things didn’t end well with their mothers, but they are still your children. Through my work with relationship counselling I’ve come to highly value the family unit. I think you should welcome them back into the fold. Such spirited girls. Elizabeth, in particular, could go far. And it’ll even up the numbers of women at the swan-eating feasts.

I look forward to taking our relationship public, but I feel it’s best we use my full name at functions. Catherine Parr sounds much more regal than Kate, don’t you think?

Yours until the day you die,



I first wrote and read emails to Henry VIII from his Relate relationship counsellor for Daisy letters of notBuchanan and Dale Shaw’s We Could Send Letters night – inspired by Dale’s fabulously funny book Letters of Not. Do follow them on Twitter to find out when the next night will be. There was nibbles.

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Can You Be a Writer and NOT Suffer From Anxiety?

| Playwriting, Uncategorized, Writing


I have found another similarity between writing a book and writing a play: the fear. I’ve reached the part in the process where I lose all faith in my words. I’m convinced everything I’ve written is utter crap. The play will fail. Everyone will hate it. It’s not good enough. What am I putting the poor actors and director through? Now I’m not only gambling with my reputation I’m gambling with theirs.

Most writers I know are anxious. It varies on a scale from distractedly chewing their nails, to those using tools like Mindfullness, medication, or having counselling to help. I myself have explored pretty much every step on that scale. Including that old favourite: wine. Of course you can suffer from anxiety and not be a writer, but I often ask myself (Carrie Bradshaw voice): can you be a writer and not suffer from anxiety?

Write what you know is the oft used tip. If you wish to write a novel set in 18th century St Petersburg then research the city, the era, the clothing, the language, everything: then you will write what you know. You will get it right. In the same way, you can’t write about a broken heart without knowing what a broken heart feels like. You have to draw on the part of you that suffered to make it convincing – even if it’s transferring that emotion to another’s story.

Writers are constantly rooting around in the dark places. Opening old wounds so they can feel the pain, the grief, the despair and, of course, the joy. Simply to drop those feelings into 18th century St Petersburg, like you would an architecture reference or a popular food. It’s hard to turn that off at the end of the day. I see the exhaustion in the actors’ faces when they’ve tapped into that same shadowy place, and I recognise it. It’s like a collapse. Inwards. They’re spent.

In order to write successfully you must make people feel. Of course writers are anxious: we never let our wounds fully heal over. We’re always picking at them. Anxiety and writing go hand in hand.

Will people like my play? Will the audience feel the emotion? I don’t know. But I know I need that fear, that anxiety to keep writing. Without it the words are empty and meaningless.


You can find out more about my debut play The Legacy, including how to attend rehearsed readings on the 16th & 17th December at the Tristan Bates Theatre, WC1 here.

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My Debut Play: The Legacy

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I’m ridiculously excited to announce my debut play:

The Legacy
A play by Angela Clarke
Directed by Michael Beigal
Starring Claira Watson Parr, Lucinda Westcar & Ray Bullock Jr

Rehearsed readings will be on the 16th and 17th December at 3pm at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Soho. Tickets are availble on their site here.

The producer is in discussions with a number of theatres who’ve expressed interest in The Legacy for their spring schedules, so cross your fingers and: watch this space!

Below you can find a sneak preview of what the play’s about:


Everything changed the day Esther took her mattress to class
Esther claims it was a performance arts protest. Rebecca and husband Adam say it was attention seeking. The estranged sisters are reunited at the reading of their father’s will, where the very presence of Esther unnerves Rebecca and Adam. Cracks appear. Tempers fray. And the truth about Esther’s disappearance a decade ago finally surfaces.
The Legacy is a darkly comic play about the squeezed middle (class), gender politics, and a mattress.

Photo credit: Ben Broomfield

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One Minute Critique: Waiting For Doggo, by Mark B. Mills

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This novel’s no shaggy dog story: it’s as compact and as sweet as it’s eponymous small canine hero: Doggo. Waiting for Doggo is told from the viewpoint of the human Daniel (Dan), and opens with a letter from his girlfriend Clara who’s done a bunk. The letter tells Dan she’s left him, and the dog she adopted from Battersea Dog’s Home three weeks before (in a bid to salvage their relationship). This is news to Dan: the bit about their relationship being in need of salvaging, not the bit about the distrustful Doggo staring at him in the corner.

Mills plunges you straight into the ratty-dog race that’s Dan’s life, right when things are looking pretty pawful (sorry). Jobless, girlfriendless, and lumbered with a dog ugly …er…dog, things for Dan are pretty shih tzu (I’ll stop soon). But on a wag and a prayer he and his hound turn things around. This is an endearing book that trots along at pace, punctuated with knowing humour and incites into urban living. We’ve had romance, and bromance, is Waiting For Doggo the dawn of domance? Here’s hoping. As a reader I easily invested in both Dan and Doggo, the latter reducing me to crying in public at one point (no spoilers).

The bound of the plot was so energetic; it felt briefly that Mills himself was caught off-guard by its abrupt ending. Swift paragraphs rounded off the various story strands, and had me wondering just who or what was the main focus of the tale? But only fleetingly. A writer as tight as Mills, and with his history of screenwriting, has surely allowed the narrative to continue. And I, for one, would vote for this Doggo to have another day. Sequel, please.

Waiting For Doggo, Mark B. Mills: A wonderful tail (ahem) 4/5

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Wharf Column: A UKIP anthem to the tune of Aqua’s Barbie Girl

| Journalism, Uncategorized


Following UKIP’s  “earthquake” of support in the recent European Elections, and their dismissal of “London’s metropolitan elite” who didn’t vote for them, I decided to write the political party a new theme tune to Aqua’s Barbie Girl. Because nothing says metropolitan elite like a nineties pop hit…

Read the theme tune here:

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Free Mentoring for Ladybro Writers

| Uncategorized, Writing


Are you female? Are you a writer? Do you feel you could benefit from the help of someone who’s successfully navigated the publishing industry already? Then do I have the thing for you! I am hugely proud to be part of The WoMentoring Project, which offers free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities. So proud I keep shouting out ‘lady writers’ like a teen intent on acting the cool class joker, when really they’re mega excited. LADY WRITERS! LADY WRITERS! (I was never any good at playing it cool).

My cringing enthusiasm aside, you should check out this amazing project. The full proper grown up details, courtesy of the talented Kerry Hudson who’s founded this organisation, are below:


The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project – from the project management to the website design to the PR support – is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.

Why do we need it?WoMentoringIllo2Web

Like many great ideas The WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers – largely writers, editors and agents – who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and all of our mentors are professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.


In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn’t possible so instead we’ve tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor’s discretion.

Please see the website for further details on applications:

With thanks to Sally Jane Thompson for the stunning illustrations.



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One Minute Critique: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

| One Minute Critique, One Minute Critique Books, Uncategorized


Are you fascinated by the creative process? Do you hunt out the ‘a day in a life’ features on authors, musicians and artists? I do! I do! I’ve always been enthralled by how others work. It’s part validation – Voltaire wrote in bed, I write in bed, it’s okay I write in bed! And part inspiration – perhaps somewhere in the minutiae of the daily grind of the great creatives is the key to joining their ranks? Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work, by Mason Currey is a dream for those like me who are obsessed by process.

In an expansion of what started as a blog, Currey details the charming, the amusing, and the sometime terrifying schedules of a whole host of composers, writers, and artists. Take Balzac, who ate at 6pm, went to sleep till 1am, rose, worked for seven hours, took a ninety minute nap, worked again for a further six and half hours and then took a bath, went for a walk and started the whole process up again. Exhausting.

I bought this book because as well as being fascinated by other’s working routines, I was also trying to reshape mine. Wrestling with the limitations of my health due to EDS III, I find myself going against the grain and designing a new way of working. As well as providing many pleasant distractions and dinner party anecdotes, this book has aided my focus on my own routine. There is something reassuring and reinforcing about reading a couple of daily schedules before launching your own. A great present for the creatives in your life, or anyone who is interested in how creatives lived and worked.

Daily Rituals, Mason Currey: ritually enjoyable 4/5. 

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Impulse Buy: Clarissa Hulse Double Duvet set from TK Maxx

| Impulse Buy, Uncategorized

 photo copy

For years one of the stylists I represented worked with TK Maxx, and they were always so friendly and upbeat to deal with as a company. But that’s not the reason why I hold this store dear to my heart. Oh no. I love TK Maxx because it is a crazy-assed barmy bargain jumble of a store. I love their frenetic collection of stock – designer frocks, man’s socks, coat hangers, cheese graters, herbal tea, Cornish fudge! It’s like Willy Wonka came to life, took a load of LSD, and was put in charge of buying for a national store. Walking through it is like playing the conveyor belt on the Generation Game. Cuddly toy! You can have hours of fun in there. I popped in for some knickers today, and what caught my eye? A beautiful patchwork (and usually £65.00) Clarissa Hulse double duvet set for £34.99. 100% Cotton Sateen. Sod the panties, this is perfect for my spare room. TK Maxx-ed out my card again.


I bought my Clarissa Hulse Double Duvet set for £34.99 from TK Maxx.


Shelf Help: How to Make Working from Home Work For You

| Journalism, Uncategorized

shapeimage_6Are you a full time, part time or ‘whenever I have free time’ writer? Chances are you work, or try to,  from home. This should be right up your hallway… Here’s a link to a guest post I wrote for the writing and self publishing site Shelf Help about how to make working from home work for you:

Good luck with your writing. Keep going!

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