Thursday, 30 May 2013

British Hunting Grounds

London has more crescents, closes, gardens, lanes, squares, ends, circuses and crosses teaming with more Shebug opportunities than construction jobs in China and Dubai combined. The slippery gold digger who has done her homework knows that the British market can be broken down into four main target categories depending upon the type of millionaire/billionaire the poisonous predator is gunning for.

Let us begin with the blue-blood category: The Royals. Alpha Shebugs possess tunnel vision when it comes to snapping up one of these bloodlines to leach off of. Snapping up an aristo-with-mula allows her to flip any Park Avenue Princess the proverbial bird. Shebugs thrive on competition.

Ginger-top Harry ranks as Numero Uno—and not only for Shebugs, but for most mothers with eligible daughters. (They’ll deny it, but let’s face it: for one’s daughter to have a lifetime position with THE FIRM, I wouldn’t put up too much of a stink. I would, however, pack up and move overseas to protect my privacy: a photo adjusting a wedgie on the Kings Road or puffing on a Cuban cigar at Annabel’s might get me dragged off to some remote tower in Wales by order of the Queen herself…)

Royal hangouts: boogying at Boujis or the dipping into the Dover Street Arts Club. Come springtime, the polo fields are teaming with royal targets --and green-eyed blonde Shebugs in push-up bras panting at the bit.

Next in order of importance are the Hedge Fund Managers, aka gods in this stinking economy - although they could not be more opposite the Almighty…

Demanding and showy, this ego-centric prefers movie stars and models as his arm candy. The Shebug with her eyes set on his lifestyle is the exercise fanatic along side you at the gym who complains about living a punishing diet. And why? Because she also knows that the Hedge Fund Manager’s soon-to-be ex-wife is anorexic, so will his subsequent ones. You can spot this Shebug swinging from the Gherkin to the Shard tracking potential marks in the City. 

The Landowner calls himself a farmer. But Farmer Joe, he ain’t. His total acreage could be the size of an archipelago squeezed together, let alone the size of Indiana. They abound at the Royal Agricultural College halls and are known to take their pints and their pleasures at the Wheatsheaf in Northleach, also in Gloucestershire. Wheatsheaf might look low-key from the outside but the beautiful interior (and its infamous zinc tubs) speaks volumes. 

In his verdant turf, the Shebug tries to blend in wearing Wellington boots and a Barbour. No matter how much she might hate mucking about in the mud and being driven around in a bird stained ten-year old Range Rover with a broken heating system, if the tweedy landowner has the goods she’s after, she’ll never let on…until she nails him.

And last, but not least, is the Techie Geek. America might have Silicon Valley, but it’s cheaper for domestic Shebugs to simply circle round the Silicon Roundabout to fish for minnow-size millionaires. Unlike its stellar Californian competitor, the lay of the land can be memorized in a day. 

The candidate she’s scouting for texts more than he speaks and when he does open his mouth, she’ll have to either respond in techie-talk or nod her head and look on adoringly. The Techie Geek remains pure cliché: bad haircut, baseball cap, sloped shouldered, and spectacles the thickness of bottle ends. And he probably will look like he needs a bath. Mind you, he could have gold taps installed in his pricey loft but prefers to spend his spare change elsewhere, like at the bi-annual Le Web conference.

If you think Le Web is a menagerie of worm-face techies, you have been living on another planet: think high tech version of the G8. Last year, the likes of Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister attended the Paris Le Web. So, unless a hungry Shebug is invited or steals a ticket, she’ll have to cough up the full £1590 to enter this big fish watering hole.

By the way, did I mention London is the host to Le Web next week?


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Earl versus the Countess

What does a New York-based DJ with a heavily tattooed forearm have in common with an ultra-marathon British runner with more steel in his once broken spine than the Millennium Bridge? And what is the connection between Dorset and the French Riviera?  How about the thread that bonds an Swedish ex, a German vet and a Dowager Countess?

The villain in this Shebug story is a French national born of Tunisian parents. Her name, Jamila, means ‘pretty’ in Arabic. In her case, it is best used outside  the domain of aesthetics and more in colloquial terms, like ‘pretty outrageous’ or ‘pretty shady’. Her abbreviated curriculum vitae reads something like this:  prostitute, Riviera call girl, Dowager Countess; the more complete version includes murderer and jailbird.

The new countess is the German vet, married to a dashing reedy athlete with an admirable zen-like disposition despite the trials and tribulations he has had to endure in his thirty-three years. His name is Nick Ashley-Cooper, also known as the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury.

The DJ living it up in Manhattan is also Nick-only six years earlier, before a maelstrom of novelesque proportions descended upon his young shoulders…The Swedish ex is his mother; Nick's father was Anthony,  10th Earl of Shaftesbury. 

When Nick’s great-grandfather died in 1961, his father, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, became the 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, Baron Ashely of Wimborne St Giles and Baron Cooper of Pawlett, lord and master of St Giles, the Dorset family pile dating back to the 17th century. 

Anthony was in his twenties at the time, living in an era where stately homes were not used as venues. (God forbid a family estate be sullied by commerce in order to keep the estate up and running...) Bled slowly by death duties and decades of constant costly renovations, the Earl chopped off parts of St Giles in an effort to downsize.

The money-pit and overburden drove him to drinking and divorce. He bolted off to the Riviera and effectively distanced himself from the responsibilities  of his crumbling ancestral estate.  And family.

The glitter of the Riviera and the over-indulgence of its nightlife offered Jamila M’Barek the ideal conditions in which to carry out the tricks of her trade. Smelling as much money on his breath as alcohol Jamila worked on the older, weakened lonely man and pressured him into marriage under the pretense of falling pregnant.

The family braced themselves when their father and his new bride returned home. But what the trollop saw was not what she had envisioned: St Giles stood in a state of decay, its once elegant interiors infected by dry rot.

Shortly after the union, the marriage had begun to unravel; divorce hung in the air like the sword of Damoclese. Before her sugar daddy stopped the flow of funds, Jamila calculated the value of every single salvageable item in an effort to pocket as much as she could. She would have made off with the masterpieces on the walls had it not been for the trusts in place for his children.

Before the odd couple returned to Cannes, however, she learned that the Earl had a sizeable widow’s pension. And it had her name all over it...

The Shebug lost little time and recruited her brother, Mohamed, to do the unthinkable.  Assured a cut of the booty, he did her bidding: Mohamed dismembered his brother-in-law, and with Jamila’s help, flung the Earl’s body down a ravine at the mercy of wolves.

Nick and his family were notified of the Earl’s disappearance in Cannes in November 2004. But it was not till the spring that the truth surfaced. Jamila ranted to the police during a nervous breakdown and informed them of the whereabouts of her husband's body.

Six weeks later, when Nick and his family thought things couldn’t get any worse, his eldest brother, Anthony, died unexpectedly leaving him the in charge of the crumbling remains of St Giles. At this point, the spiky haired ultra-marathoner boarded a flight home as a DJ Nick AC only to land as a very somber 12th Earl of Shaftesbury.

His first port of call was London Business School where he earned an MBA. To his credit, he has put everything towards renovating the Grade 1 listed manor house. Nick now hosts marathons and food festivals on the extensive grounds of St Giles and the venue is rapidly being booked for weddings and even yoga retreats. (

Jamila has been on parade of late asking his family for forgiveness and recently sold her story to the Sunday Times. Nick hopes to somehow strip his wicked stepmother of the Dowager Countess of Shaftsbury title.

Meanwhile, Jamila’s brother, Mohamed, is doing life in prison. But the duplicitous Dowager is coming up for parole.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Confused and Contrary

People are all different. So are Shebugs. Swarms of this annoying breed feel as restless and as confused as many of us. But, leave it to a Shebug to kick and scream, shock and steal the headlines when at sea without a compass.

Back in the news is ex-broadcaster, ex-journalist, ex-Christian, ex-reality television survivor, Lauren Booth. Her sister, Cherie, is married to ex-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Cherie is actually her half sister-so not much of a sibling resemblance there.

Lauren is not one to live in anybody’s shadow least of all Cherie’s. Whilst her sibling resided at 10 Downing Street, Lauren went from reporting news to becoming a reality television contestant on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Outta Here.

A year after Blair became a Catholic like his wife, the divorced mother of two made a bigger splash: she swapped her spiffy hat for a jihab and converted to Islam. This time, Lauren has morphed into a peace activist, a public speaker and a champion for Muslim Women’s rights.

No sooner did the dust settle,  Ms Booth posted an entry on her Facebook page indicating that she was on the prowl: 

I’ll give her 10/10 on originality, 7/10 for wit. Posting a husband-hunting ad smacks of desperation enough; to pen a soppy one would be positively ineffectual…

Amusingly, Ms Booth’s Facebook ad yielded fruit after all. His name is Sohale Ahmed.

That Lauren’s new husband is already married and has three children was not an issue; Islam allows a man four wives. But Islamic law also states that a first wife be informed about subsequent unions. Mrs Faiza Ahmed, aka wife Number One, claims that she was the last to know of Sohale's recent marriage to the poaching peace pacifist. And not just face-to-face, but via text...

By the way, did I forget to mention that Lauren Booth’s mother was Jewish?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Queen of Memphis

A man living in Greece during the height of the Athenian rule would have enjoyed a golden era—unless, of course, he was a slave by birth or through capture.

Free women, however, did not enjoy the same privileges.  Athenian society was organized around a man’s world. Women were expected to run their households, prepare their meals--and stay out of sight. After the age of six, girls stayed at home with their mothers whilst boys were given a proper education. Pericles believed a woman’s place was in the home and said ‘…the greatest glory of a women is to be least talked about by men.’  Her house might have been her domain to run, but public life was off bounds . Whether or not you had one or 100 slaves, the glass ceiling was painfully thick and low enough to asphyxiate any spark of possibilities.

But not all women played by those rules. Unless you had no problem entering into a pre-arranged marriage  or slaving your life away for a capricious master, the other option was to become a hetaera.

Think of a hetaera as a courtesan, the original crafty-out-of-necessity Shebug. Unlike a prostitute, or pornai, a hetaera was educated. Intellectually, she was the man’s equal. Though beautiful and well maintained, her under-the-belt skills were not her main attraction. This Greek Shebug was able to dance, to sing, to play music and recite poetry. Her educated opinions were sought after. She was independent, amassed her own wealth and even paid taxes.  

Thais, a famous hetaera kicked up her share of dust during the reign of Alexander the Great.  Born more with a thirst for adventure than swapping hummus recipes, Thais travelled to Asia Minor with the dishy conqueror himself.  It is said that Alexander burned down Persepolis on a whim of hers; fortunately, the people were allowed to evacuate before fire was set to the palace.

After Alexander’s death two years later, Thais married Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s most trusted generals, who in return for his services, was given the land known as Egypt and, thus, became Ptolemy I.

To end up ruling as the Queen of Memphis is no small feat. No wonder this Athenian Shebug remains alive to this day in art, literature and music and on the stage.

Friday, 3 May 2013

SHEBUG Origin: England

Book 3
SHEBUG Origin: England

Lazy to the core, the opportunist secretary trawling for an affluent solicitor knows a golden prospect when she sees one--even if her target is an American.  Miranda Mellor’s plumy British accent and whippet thin physique are not the only aces in her deck of dirty cards…
Behind her comely face lies a cunning and dangerous hunter. However, in Brandon Brocklehurst III’s eyes, the pale face, doting English girl is the cure to his broken heart.
What Miranda does not bank on is Brandon’s twin sister, Brenda, an Alpha Female with x-ray vision and a taste for adventure.
The endurance of the women’s patience for one another gets put to the test when they all gather for a family holiday at the Brocklehurst’s stunning hacienda in Mexico.
It goes to show that a man can be smart, yet not smart enough!

SHEBUG Origin: England is the third novel in the Shebug Stories series.
Available now on Kindle, Amazon and iTunes!