I've followed Helen Simpson's career since she published Hey Yeah Right Get a Life in 2001. This collection includes my favourite story Burns and the Bankers about a career woman at the top of her game who is seething with irritation at having to attend a banking federation dinner on Burns Night which drags on forever when she would rather be spending time with the four children she rarely sees. Initially bored with all the toasts to Rabbie Burns as her male colleagues get steadily drunk she becomes interested when an academic makes a speech about the life and loves of Burns.
Heavy Weather is a highly amusing yet wretched account of the toll of bringing up small children:
In life before the children, she had read books on the bus, in the bathroom, while eating, through television, under radio noise, in cafes. Now, if she picked one up, Lorna shouted 'Stop reading, Mummy,' and pulled her by the nose until she was looking into her small cross face.I loved this account of a family holiday in Dorset with Frances trying to cope with a baby, a deeply jealous two-year old and a husband who cannot understand why she can no longer be spontaneous. I'm hoping that the elegant Russian gymnast Kseniia Afanaseva will win a gold medal in the floor exercise next week and that I'll be squeezing in a few more of Helen Simpson's wonderful stories.