I am not the first Ashford to be a published writer.
In her day Daisy Ashford was quite famous and sold a
lot of copies of her works. A lot more copies than I
ever will ! I guess I should get my
act together and become a bit more ambitious. My
publisher would like that.
Daisy Ashford wrote novelettes and most of my
stories are shorter than the full-length novel. I
can write and publish a story within a month,
sometimes in less time. I decided to write a new
story which would be a full-length novel THE BRIDGE
Daisy Ashford wrote using her real name, I write
using the pen name of Max Robinson. Robinson
is my mother's maiden name and Max a corruption of
Mack, the name of my
childhood pet dog.
The Bridge House was the name of the house where my
grandmother Lily grew up in the Staffordshire
village of Madeley. My story is centred round my
grandmother and uses so much of my family history
research but is not a biographical work, some of it
is fiction. I want to bring in story lines covering
events which were happening in Lily’s life but I
want to do more, I want
to help my readers to feel what life was like to
those times as well as simply take them through a
basic story line.
The story begins just after Lily's eleventh birthday, in
Queen Victoria died. It will end when my
daughter Rebekah was born in 1983. The whole story
looks forward to Rebekah and while she is not named
in the story until it reaches 1983 everything is
moving towards her.
Rebekah was the first Ashford girl to be born in our
family for one hundred years. Please take a look at
the WHO IS REBEKAH page within our website.
The picture used for the cover is not The Bridge
House and the person in the image is not Lily.
This is a picture that always hung on my
wall at home.
When she died I had the picture which
the family called The Lavender Lady in memory of my
grandmother. Rebekah had asked if she could inherit
the picture from
me and so it is in my will with the proviso it must
never leave the family. That, sadly, now has to be
So much of The Bridge House has Rebekah in it when
she passed away on Friday 19th May 2017 I
felt I simply could not go on writing. If I stopped
I would also stop my fifty year old hobby and would
not write anything again.
Rebekah did not think much of my
stories but I had hoped she would like The Bridge
House. I asked my wife, Maureen, what I should do
and she suggested I should write the story for
The picture below shows Lily, my Nan aged 93
holding baby Rebekah.
So now I started writing The Bridge House for my Beck.
She was already a part of the story as I have
explained but I am weaving into the text many other
things. The cakes we are had at her celebration
then taking to various special places from Beck’s
life are already in the story. Rebekah had invited
Maureen and I to tea on the Sunday following the day
she left us. She was going to give me an Andre Rieu
CD. I have that CD and am listening to it whenever I
can. One of the tracks is Santa Lucia, I love that
song and have woven it into the plot.
Another member of the Ashford family is William
Ashford the landscape painter.
Within my family tree notes I had this picture of
his painting at Charleville in Ireland. I have
woven that into the
story and made the bridge in the
picture part of The Bridge House.
wife has a book, an album of The Girls Own Paper
which dates back to the times of Chapter One. She
had wanted Rebekah to read it but that did not
happen. I have woven this book into the story.
Every day for a period of four weeks I either took Rebekah to a hospital clinic appointment or I went
to visit her in hospital. Much of the first chapter
was written while I sat in the waiting room at
Milton Keynes or Oxford's Churchill Hospital.
The first day off from my hospital duties with
Rebekah I took my grandson, Adam, to London
to look at Thomas Ashford's Victoria Cross on
display in The Tower of London.
It was Rebekah's idea that we should buy Adam a
camera for his birthday. The picture on the
right below shows Adam preparing to take a photograph of
the Thomas Ashford display.
Adam and I phoned Rebekah while we were in London
and told her all about our visit.
Thomas Ashford does not appear in The Bridge House
but mention of his Victoria Cross appears a number
A very dear friend of my Nan's was Violet McGurk. I
have changed her name in the story to Violet
McDonald and have given her a twin brother Ronald
Nan was not exactly a football supporter but she was
a great one for the football pools and often won
money. She was married at Holy Trinity Church in
Aston Birmingham, just down the road from Villa
Rebekah. of course, is a Sheffield Wednesday fan.
I have taken a Sheffield Wednesday player from my
Nan's generation and woven him into the story.
Sheffield Wednesday has done a lot to support
OurRebekah, I think as I edit the draft text I need
to make more of this subplot in the story.
It was not at all intentional but I found, certainly
in the first chapter of the book, that I am writing
in the style of Daisy Ashford.
When I write I never have a formal plan, it is
always held in my head. I did write a plan and a
schedule for The Bridge House but that has long
since been set aside.. This plan suggested
Chapter One should be 20,000 words long. It turned
out to be a little bit longer. It also required
me to finish the draft by Sunday 4th
June. It was finished and was ready by Rebekah’s
celebration on Tuesday 6th June. The plan,
required me to finish and publish the whole story on
Sunday 15th October.
That is not going to happen. The work I found myself
doing within the wider OurRebekah project pushed
aside The Bridge House. I made many promises to
myself that I would pick up the work and
writing. I broke every one of those promises.
There was a need for some self discipline, there was
a need to force myself to write and finish The
I visited Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham in
September. I had a wonderful day. I made a promise
to staff that I would finish the book. I am now
promising to you that I will have the book finished
by Saturday 19th May 2018, the anniversary of