The arctic blasts of the past few weeks, complete with cancellations, supermarket hoardings, and transportation delays, bring back memories of last year’s big freeze. So does news of the electrical malfunctions on the Eurostar caused by the cold. I was coming home from Paris on the Eurostar last year when the cold blast hit. And the train stopped.
As the carriage got darker and darker, as the canteen closed down and the apologies and updates from the conductor became fewer and farther between, we all secretly wondered if there was something we weren’t being told, possibly something a little more sinister going on… After a few hours in the dark, under the English Channel without food or liquid refreshment, people do get a bit tetchy.
Through it all, I couldn’t keep from eavesdropping on the two passengers sitting behind us. One of them was a young woman. The second was an elderly gentleman who was retired Royal Air Force. The woman was claustrophobic. The fear in her voice was palpable, though she did her best to keep panic at bay and maintain dignity.
I listened, off and on, for four and a half hours while the gentleman kept her in light conversation, asking all the right questions while regaling her with stories from his days in the military. Every time the panic reemerged in her voice, there was another interesting story, or another question about her job, or how she liked living in London, or what her hobbies were.
At last the train was mercifully towed out of the tunnel and into Ashford. Those of us who knew we weren’t going to get home even if we did make it on to London were given accommodations for what was left of the night at Eurostar’s expense. As my husband and I sat in our comfy room enjoying beer and chicken salad sandwiches, I wondered what other ways one might keep one’s mind off being in a pitch black train stalled under a bazillion gallons of water.
Of course the answer was obvious. Wouldn’t hot, hammering sex keep ones mind off these less than stellar circumstances? If so, what would that sex be like, with an unseen partner offering comfort in a sightless world completely dependent on the other senses. And Viola! The Initiation of Ms Holly was born. It was natural for a mythology buff like me to link the sightless grope-fest unfolding in my mind with the story of Psyche and Eros. How would our modern day Psyche pursue her hidden Eros, and what obstacles might she face if she lived in London and had to undergo initiation to gain access to a twenty-first century Mount Olympus in order to be with her Eros, in order to even see his face?
Big cotton knickers, white chocolate willies, trains stranded under the English Channel… Inspiration is often an ambush — full on, head-over-heals, rough and tumble leading to places a very long and convoluted way from where it all began.
The Initiation of Ms Holly will be published this fall by Xcite Books, at which time all that is hidden shall be revealed…