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Chapter 1

Okay, time for a quick who’s me and what’s what…

I am 28 years old.  I am a graduate of The University of Manchester, with a 2.1 honours degree in English Literature, followed by a post-graduate diploma in Journalism.  I am 5’ 8” tall and weigh in at just under 10 stone.  I have blonde hair and grey-blue eyes.  I hate exercise.  I love chocolate.  Unfortunately as lack of the former precludes the latter, I attend a Body Combat class every week at my local leisure centre, which I loathe.  I actually got held back after class one night and given a special private lesson in how to punch properly.  Oh the shame.

I married the gorgeous Sam Fraser nine whole months ago.  It was the best day of my life.  Truly.  I never dreamed of a white wedding but walking down an aisle of my grinning friends towards my gorgeous fiancé, wearing a flowing ivory gown and a veil (a veil!) is something I shall never, never forget.

No kids, yet.  I’m not actually sure if we ever will, to be honest.  We both work full time and love that we can bob out for a pizza or disappear for the weekend with no more complications than arranging for a neighbour to feed the cat.

Oh yes, I have a cat.  His name is Needypuss. You guessed it.  It was Oedipuss, which I thought was dead clever but he turned out to have serious abandonment issues, so I renamed him.  Actually, I love that he velcros himself to me the moment I enter the house.  Not the bit where he fell in the bath twice before figuring out that just because he could see my legs it didn’t mean he could sit on them.  Or so much the bit where he slides under the bed covers and bites me should I be rude enough to move in my sleep.  But the rest is pretty cool.  He rides around on my shoulders and sits on my dressing table, chatting to me as I get ready.  He loves everything I do, say, wear and cook.  Perfect husband material, were I a cat.

Oops, more there about Needy than Sam!

Sam is 29.  He’s a chartered surveyor.  I think that’s something to do with house valuations, but last time I said that out loud he rolled his eyes and shook his head, so it may not be.  He is tall (6’ 2”), dark (his mum is Italian) and handsome, obvs.  He’s from Edinburgh and has the sexiest accent ever.  He doesn’t panic and scratch me to bits when he gets in the bath with me and he has never bitten me in bed.  Unless I ask.

You may wonder why I am still using my maiden name, Fitzwilliam.  It’s not a feminist statement, though it wouldn’t matter if it was.  It’s because for six years I built my career as a writer in Manchester and grew my reputation as Alex Fitzwilliam.  I am very happy where I am at the moment, but I need to remain visible to potential future employers and changing my name wouldn’t help with that, not in this digital age of LinkedIn and Google searches.  Sam doesn’t mind and we will give any children we might have his name anyway.

I’m from Altrincham, born and bred.  I went off to Uni at 18, came back at 20 and have never left.  I still live in Altrincham, which is often described as ‘sought after’ for its good schools, road and rail links and access to amenities.  Yep – I still have the estate agent’s details for when we bought our house!  It’s a two bedroom mid-terrace just a bit far away from the centre to comfortably walk.  Another half a mile closer and we’d not have been able to afford it.  It’s not my forever home, I know.  We’re saving for a bigger one, with a garden rather than a back yard and a driveway to park a car on.

I work in Manchester, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best cities in the world.  It’s small enough to be able to walk to all the best shops and bars if you want, but big enough to be crawling with Uber cabs.  There are a ridiculous number of very wealthy people living in and within a very short distance of the city, so the shopping is incredible. It’s filled with people who have inherited the grit and backbone of their ancestors, who took the city from provincial nothingness to national power in just a few generations during the Industrial Revolution and built a pride in the city and an independence from the capital that we still carry.  Manchester has gone through several reincarnations since the heady days of the cotton mills and the global trade we took a leading role in, but this sense of place, of belonging to something more than just a collection of buildings, is still very much there.  All in all, I count myself a Mancunian and proud of it.

Better go, I can see my boss Maggie looking meaningfully at me.   I’d better check my emails…

Should I Open My Emails?