I’m just stopping by to let you know who won the competition to win a copy of The Girl. Thank you so much to everybody who entered. I was blown away by the response. I wish everyone could be a winner, but alas I don’t have zillions of copies! So with that in mind, congratulations to Suzie Dawkins, who wrote a beautiful story about spending the day with Marilyn in Blackpool, England.
Here’s my video, announcing the winner, and below you will find Suzie’s entry.
Here is Suzie Dawkins’ story:
“It was a rainy July morning in 2018. I was standing at Waterloo Station ready for a day out in Blackpool. I hadn’t visited since I was a child and thought it would be nice to reminisce, however it was a typical British summer day – dark skies and rain, but I was determined to make the most of it. My train had been delayed, so I sat on a bench and dozed off.
I soon awoke to a Guard’s whistle and an overwhelming smell of steam. As I rubbed my eyes I noticed the sun blazing in and people dressed in the most extraordinary outfits. It was as if I had woken up in a different world. The men were all in suits and the ladies in dresses with full skirts. I walked over to a newspaper stand and noticed the date: 8th August, 1956. I had always dreamed of going back to the 1950’s and now it was really happening! I couldn’t believe my luck and would do my utmost to blend in. I boarded the train for sunny Blackpool and managed to hide when the conductor came for the tickets, as I only had 21st century money in my handbag. It was going to be a day of ice creams, chips and mushy peas – all of which are timeless, I thought! As I boarded the train, I noticed a familiar face opposite me. The blonde hair was striking and the face was partially obscured by sunglasses, but there was no mistaking – it was Marilyn Monroe! I froze! “Dare I speak to her?” I whispered to myself. I took a deep breath and left my seat to wander over. I said a nervous “hello” and told Marilyn how much I loved her and her films. She seemed embarrassed, but explained she had crept out of her house at Englewood Green that morning to escape the hustle and bustle of London. I told her I was off to Blackpool for a day at the seaside. Surprisingly, Marilyn sounded rather excited at the thought of mushy peas which I must have made sound like some sort of delicacy! Marilyn asked me if I would mind her coming along. I couldn’t believe it, but told her it would be wonderful if she could join me for the day.
When we arrived in Blackpool we found a women’s clothes shop selling the most beautiful Horrockses dresses. I had always dreamed of owning one of these gorgeous outfits and there were so many to choose from. I tried on a pink floral patterned dress with a tight bodice and gathered skirt. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. Marilyn was more daring and picked out a bright yellow dress with abstract paintings on it. Marilyn asked the shop assistant if we could keep the outfits on and she would settle the bill. I was so touched by her generosity, as we had only met a few hours earlier. Marilyn said it was nice to wear a full skirt as the studio often insisted she wear figure hugging dresses that were extremely tight. We both left the shop with smiles on our faces and the sea breeze blowing round our ankles.
As we walked down the promenade every head turned to look at Marilyn. We heard people saying “That girl looks just like Marilyn Monroe”; others rubbished the idea: “No that girl is a proper English rose” said one lady, much to Marilyn’s amusement. We strolled through the Winter Gardens and back onto the promenade for an authentic Italian ice cream. Marilyn loved the beach and we decided to set up some deckchairs and watch the endless parade of Donkey rides and children bringing buckets of water from the sea to fill moats they had built around their sandcastles. Men were in their Sunday best with hankies knotted on their heads – something Marilyn found very amusing. The sounds of waves and seagulls were so relaxing. Suddenly, Marilyn ran off for a paddle in the sea, giggling as she skipped barefoot through the sand. She frolicked in the waves and got some patches of her dress wet. I had a waited years to own a dress as beautiful as this one, so there was no way I was going to join her in the water! However, it was fun to see her enjoying herself so much. When Marilyn came back she was hungry, so we stopped by a cafe for chips and mushy peas with lashings of salt and vinegar.
As we strolled along the promenade we came to Blackpool Tower. I asked Marilyn if she wanted to go inside and look at the grand ballroom, but she explained she loved the outdoors and was happy to stay on the seafront and listen to the waves crashing in. In the distance, a beauty contest took place. Imagine if the organisers had known Marilyn Monroe was standing just a few feet away! I noticed Marilyn looking around and taking everything in: the seagulls, the arguing families, the smell of chips and blobs of melted ice cream on the floor. She looked at her watch and said sadly ” It’s another world, but I need to get back now. I’ve got a full day filming tomorrow, but this has been great fun”. I was still star struck. “Ok,” I replied “but there’s one thing we need to do first”. We dodged the trams and ran across the road to a shop selling sticks of rock. We both had a bright pink strawberry flavour stick of authentic Blackpool rock – as well as a giggle about the cheeky George Formby song ‘With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock’. Marilyn and I decided to sing the song as we walked along the promenade and headed to the station in fits of laughter. We got some strange looks, but didn’t care!
We boarded different trains and went our separate ways. As soon as I reached my seat, I dozed off and awoke to the sound of a mobile phone ringtone and the sound of rain hitting the carriage roof. As I looked around people were dressed in jeans, T shirts and jogging bottoms. Half asleep, I reached into my pocket for my train ticket, but instead pulled out a crumpled up wrapper – the kind used on sticks of rock! I realised that day, I had not met Marilyn Monroe, But Norma Jeane.”
Thanks once again to everyone who took part. I really do appreciate your support!! The book is out on 8 May in the USA and 31 May in the UK. It can be pre-ordered at all good bookshops and the publisher’s website.
Until next time,