20,000 leagues under a Melvyn Bragg

Related Topics
I bring you today the first extract from the new sex 'n' shipping novel `Woman Overboard' by Elsie Fairfax, soon to be a major paperback.

Part One: A Stranger Comes To Call.

Polly had now been at sea for 67 days and was beginning to get tired of baked beans. She had also begun to get tired of the endless sunshine of the Pacific Ocean, of the endless hissing of her radio, of endless grappling with sheets and sails, and of the novels of Melvyn Bragg.

"If only I had brought a book by some other author," she often thought, but she had really had no choice. When you get sponsorship from the Cumbrian Book Authority, you are contractually obliged to take only Melvyn Bragg's novels on board, and nobody else's, and each Melvyn Bragg book on loan has a built-in microchip so that they can monitor your progress by satellite from Carlisle Library and spot immediately if you have skipped a few pages or even thrown one overboard.

But what she missed more than anything else was a man. Not a special man, just ... a man. She had been 67 days at sea without seeing a man and she had got tired of Melvyn Bragg's photo on the back of his last novel round about day 14.

"Of course," she said out loud in a rather poor Afrikaans accent, "it's also 67 days since I last saw a woman, apart from my own reflection, so why don't I feel bad about being without a woman to talk to? Why do I miss men more?"

One of the few advantages of being alone at sea is that you can talk out loud as much as you want to. You can shout and rant or sing Gershwin or even practise accents that are notoriously hard to imitate, such as South African and Geordie, all without anyone listening or telling you to pipe down.

"What makes it so hard to take," she said, in a wavering Newcastle accent, "is round about sunset, when you want a man to come along and offer you a little aperitif to kick off the evening ..."

"Well," said a voice right behind her, "how about a gin and tonic or a small spritzer?"

Polly wheeled round in utter astonishment. There, not 10 feet away, was a large motor yacht which must have stolen up on her unawares, and standing in the stern quite the most handsome man she had ever seen.

"Were you listening to what I was saying just now?" said Polly.

"Couldn't help it," said the man, smiling a big, handsome smile that filled the horizon and her heart.

"Name's Jack Lancegood. Out for a cruise from Hobart way. Now, how's about that drink?"

Polly was just about to reply in the affirmative when there was an interruption. A woman appeared on the deck of the motor yacht holding a gun. She looked at the man. She looked at Polly. She looked pretty mad.

"So, Jack Lancegood, there is another woman, is there?" she said.

Then she levelled the gun at the man. "I told you what would happen if I ever caught you at it again!"

"Honest, sweetheart," said Jack, "I just happened to spot this lone mariner passing by and thought it was only polite to offer her a little something."

"Excuses, excuses, excuses!" said the woman. "You always have a good story and I always swallow it. Well, not this time!"

And to Polly's amazement she shot her companion, who fell groaning in the scuppers.

The woman then turned the gun on Polly.

"Look," said Polly," Don't shoot ... I really must be ... I have to ... there's a Melvyn Bragg novel I've got to ..."

To her great surprise and relief the woman lowered the gun and smiled.

"Men!" she said. "Aren't they the pits?

"Now let's tip him overboard and get on with that drink he promised you. I'm dying for one myself!"

Coming soon: Is Jack Lancegood really dead? What does this strange woman really want? Will Polly break the rules of the single-handed, round-the- world race if she leaves her own craft to cross to another boat for a quick drink and a passionate lesbian affair?

And what will the folk in Carlisle do when they realise that Polly hasn't turned a page of her current Melvyn Bragg novel in days?

Don't miss the next instalment of `Woman Overboard'!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The plan could lead to up to 15,000 people being operated on annually  

The obesity crisis affects the whole of Europe... apart from France

Rosie Millard
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'