The power of the ping

School breaks up one week today. My 3rd novel, A Thoroughly Modern Marriage is published in 6 days time. I have around 5 more days, or 30 hours, of child-free time when I can actually hope to be reasonably productive in doing all the things that need to be done to get a book out into the world. The pressure is on.

The stress is real, but the book cover looks good!

But will I actually get this time anyway? It is time I am desperately counting on, but whenever my phone pings a frisson of fear runs down my back. Three bubbles in my youngest’s primary school have popped within the last 24 hours. That is ninety families, more like a hundred, by the time you count the teachers and support staff, whose plans for the next ten days have just been ruined.

If one of my kids has to self-isolate right now I am going to be stressed out of my mind because I have so much I need to be doing that doesn’t involve being a 24/7 snacks-and-entertainment machine for ten days solid. If we get pinged next week I am going to be devastated because the we are due to go and stay with my brother and sister-in-law, who we haven’t seen for 11 months, and straight from there we are staying with my parents, who we have seen more recently, but not nearly as much as we would have liked over the last 16 months.

If we are trying to suppress Covid, protect the NHS and keep everyone safe by sending whole classes of children home, whether they test positive or not, then that is a policy I could get behind. But it is a policy directly contradicted by removing the requirement to wear masks and all restrictions on going to work and meeting up socially. But if we are saying that the pandemic is over and Covid is now something like flu we have to learn to live with, if people can go to Wembley or a nightclub, then why can’t a child go to school or to see their family just because someone else in their class tested positive?

I saw that many families are deciding to keep their children at home this week and next to prevent their holiday plans being spoiled by a ping. I have every sympathy, but after over a year of disruption and so much time at school missed I don’t feel like I can deprive them, particularly the 6yo, of this last few days with her friends and with a teacher she adores

The brilliant and hilarious Hurrah for Gin sums it up as usual

So for now I am trying to put the low level ping anxiety to the back of my mind and crack on with liaising with book bloggers, putting word out on social media about A Thoroughly Modern Marriage, and dealing with all the niggling queries and updates which are a part and parcel of the publication process. I can’t wait for the book to be ready to share!


  1. Hi Helen
    Feel for you over ‘the ping’. We finally got to see Iain and family after 18 months so hope you get to see your family.
    Looking forward to reading you new book if it out in print (I don’t do e books)
    Gill x


    • I’m so glad you got to see Iain and your grandchildren. My book definitely will be out in paperback, but probably not for another couple of weeks. I will be posting on here and on Facebook etc when it is out! x


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