Mickey Scantlebury is the pen-name
for an energetic and authoritative
43-year old, currently resident in
Manchester, England, home to the
most famous football team in the world
and original home town of that iconic
LA-based singer, Morrisey.
Of course, that's not where Mickey's story began.
Many of you will know that she started life in the wheat fields of Ontario, with a different name and another family.
It was only later, decamped and fleeing an abusive marriage, that she fetched up on the shores of the old country.
Still, she was writting, even then. In fact, that's where the romantic novel 'The Foam on the Breakers' first saw the light of day.
The Farley Family Saga has progressed in all sort of new directions too.
More on the 'Finished Novels' page and following.
New novels and more
There's always plenty going on in the world of Mickey Scantlebury.
Keep a note of this page and come back to it often.
You may be surprised the strange new directions that the normally staid field of romantic adventure is taking.
For Instance, here's a tale - - -
When THERENA FARLEY goes to visit her desperately poor younger sister SYLVIE in her scruffy high-rise Council flat, she is astonished to find a television crew there, headed up by the dashing NIC VAN VLEET, the hottest young producer that Channel 4 has to offer. It's Tuesday morning and Nic and his team are about to begin to record an edition of 'Urban Angels', the show that plays Fairy Godmother each week to someone in strained circumstances, and tries to permanently change their lives for the better. Sylvie has been nominated by a neighbour; she has three young children under five, no man in sight, no job or prospect of a job (with no qualifications), and lives in shabby gentility as best she can amidst the tension of her inner city estate.
Therena is pleased at her sister's good fortune, though her good wishes are tempered by a measure of suspicion at the TV folk and their motives. She is also crazily attracted to Nic the producer, and finally, guiltily jealous that no one has come to solve her own problems, for they are many. She has endured a terribly unhappy life. In her teens she was a devoted Christian and left school early and without taking exams to join a missionary expedition to West Africa. She stayed for two years, but left the group in confusion when she learned to her horror that the chief missionary she hero worshipped had been shamelessly exploiting the young women of the village for his own immoral ends. She went to live with a local family and fell in love with a local boy who she swiftly married. It was a dreadful mistake: the young man came from a completely different culture. He paid the missionary's church two pigs for Therena, and expected her to work from dawn to dusk and support first him, and later all the male members of his immediate family. She has to cook for them, clean their houses, wash their feet and earn money. They expect this, it seems, partly because she was the only person in the village capable of earning Western currency. Therena had discovered a gift for massage, and offered her services to tourists at the nearby coastal resort. At first she enjoyed this, practising a valued skill and seeing an immediate reward, but destiny dealt her another cruel blow, bringing her into contact with English men who misunderstood her intentions and expected more for their money. Her husband was unsympathetic: when he heard that she had turned down offers of rich reward, he beat her black and blue, and soon Therena found herself the object of contempt and derision from his whole family - from those who thought she took the money and sold her body, and those who laughed at her because she refused!
Lonely, confused, alone, Therena nursed an ambition to escape. She packs a small bag and keeps it hidden near the door, ready for travel. Though her husband insisted on taking all her earnings and wasting them, she invented ways of secreting small sums and over a year managed to accumulate enough savings to make a getaway: she presented herself at the airport with her bag and enough cash for a one way ticket home. Unfortunately, her welcome was slight; both her parents were now dead and her only relative, younger sister Sylvie, was reduced to living in a Council flat, and had blighted her life with a series of ill-advised liaisons with feckless young men who left her - usually with a baby. Therena was in no position to give advice, having endured such calamitous events herself, but stayed with her sister only long enough to get her own flat and find the best thing she could as a job: Clerical Manager and odd-job assistant at a local garage. The boss likes her but unfortunately is not in a position to pay her well, and expects her to work the same long hours as himself. Perhaps because of this, Therena falls prone to every infection going, and at the time Nic and the TV team arrive, she has been off sick for two months with an irritating cough and cold that refuse to be cured.
She is tired all the time, run down and feeling sorry for herself. It is not a good position to be in for observing what the 'Angels' are doing for Sylvie: they arrange a hairdressing session and a 'makeover' at a local salon, then go shopping for new clothes. They employ several Recruitment Agencies to line her up with job interviews, then bring in TV personalities to coach her, professionals to write her a CV, and lay on transport for the day. Meanwhile, they bring in TV pundits to advise on Benefits, budgeting, shopping and cooking on a low income. Sylvie is the centre of attention, and loves every minute of it. It is 'her' week and she is making the most of it. Nic, however, has noticed Therena, and though he won't allow her on camera, he is happy for her to tag along, fortify Sylvie with confidence when she needs it, and share the 'off-duty' amusements, drinks and meals. Therena finds herself passionate about the young man and desperately tries to fight it, knowing that he will leave at the end of the week and move on to another part of the country. Perhaps, she guesses, he has a girl in every town.
Still, he is an easy man to talk to, clever, witty, and not one to hog the limelight; while he stands back and lets his team work with Sylvie, he is happy to spend time with Therena. She finds herself confiding in him, sharing her horrible memories, and receives a sympathetic response. Unfortunately, he is a professional and can't resist offering Therena the kind of advice he gives his other clients: find a well-paying job, learn to budget, develop self-confidence etc. She is saddened by his well-meant but misguided advice: is he really seeing her at all? Does he know the real Therena, or is she just another 'challenge'? Driven to distraction, she snaps back a rude reply, angered by his smugness and worn down by her hacking cough and chest pain. Stung by her rebuke, he determines to show that he cares: on the Friday he drags her off to a health specialist, who confirms that she has a mild but recurring infection, probably picked up while in Africa. The doctor prescribes antibiotics and predicts long-term recovery. Therena is bouyant, but later that afternoon she comes crashing to earth: Nic offers her a job as one of his 'team', travelling the country, doing good works. It fits in with her missionary training, he says. Therena is staggered: if he had asked her to follow him to the ends of the earth, she would have said yes, she yells at him. But as a wife, not as a Secretary. She loves him, she confesses. Then marry me, he asks. She looks into his eyes and sees only pity, not passion. How can I marry you, she says, when I never got divorced in Ghana?
The next day, Saturday, Therena rises late. Strangely, she feels refreshed; the illness is receding and with it goes unhappiness. The 'Angels' too have left, since their week is up. Nic is gone, then; he was an infatuation, she decides. If he cared for me, his first thought would have been of love, not employment, she thinks ironically. There is a knock on the door. It's Nick. He comes hurrying in and throws some papers on the table. Sign this, he says, and you're a free woman. It is a divorce petition: Nic had phoned a lawyer in Lagos late last night, and the local man has found Therena's husband and got him to agree to a divorce. He wanted fifty quid, Nic tells her. Am I worth that much, she asks sarcastically? Are you trying to buy me, like all the other men in my life?
Distraught with anger, Nic plunges to his knees. I only offered you a job because I wanted you near me, he tells her. I only arranged your divorce because I want you to be happy. So now, you're free, you're divorced, so choose, he says. Where do you want to be? Therena feels tears welling in her eyes. I only want to be with you, she says. No, he says; not if you cook for me, or clean my house or massage other people. I've got a chef, and a cleaner. If you ever type a letter for me, I'll divorce you. Then, she says, if I don't, and you don't divorce me, we'll stay married for ever.
Pack a bag, he says: we're going. Therena walks towards the door. There's a bag already there. I've had it packed for a week, she says. For a quick escape.