I am just writing book 22 and needed the name for a café and I was pondering on this when my son announced that he was just off ‘to Vera’s café’ in Darton for a meal. I don’t know the name of the café these days but I’m sure it isn’t still Vera’s, but that’s what everyone still calls it, even kids like mine who never knew it as Vera’s in the glory days. And I smiled at that, because I love the idea that Vera Shorthouse (nee Boot), who had that café for many years, is still on people’s tongues.

She was a lovely woman who came to all my book signings and always had me write the date in the top right corner. And then one day she didn’t come around launch time and I saw the dreaded obituary in the paper and I remember feeling so incredibly sad. Even more so when her husband turned up and bought a book and wanted me to put the date in the top corner and sign it to Vera, for old time’s sake. So just like The White Bear will always be The Royal to me or that place on Church Street which I can only ever remember as Ashley Jackson’s shop. And my other half still calls the gym up Shambles Street ‘Simco’. Maybe because we have some treasured memories of these places. And I think to many Vera and her café were exactly that - treasured.

I recently went to a restaurant where the ultimate in mistakes was made on the menu and had it been a lesser place, I would never have gone back because of this major bloop. It is an essential that any restaurant offering cheesecake gets it right. I don’t want to go to a place and be presented with something that looks like an angel delight on a base so thin I needed a microscope to check it was actually present. A cheesecake should not wobble more than a blancmange.

I did that thing where the waitress comes over and asks if everything is all right and I said, ‘Yes it was lovely’ and the other half said ‘Yer what? You’ve done nothing but moan about the cheesecake since you got it.’ Thanks to his intervention we were refunded, but my god I felt cheated, because when you’ve saved space for a dessert, you want it filled with proper stuff. A dessert is the taste that sends you on your merry way and if it’s not right it blights the whole experience. Or is it just me taking it all way too seriously?

I am delighted that there will be a blue plaque erected to commemorate a place where George Orwell stayed in 1936 to be among us and see for himself how working class people lived. He stayed in Agnes Terrace, a small run of houses off Day Street. It was at the end of the street I used to live – Nursery Street – and used to be a lovely little area.

To think I caught the bus up to the top of the Common and must have trod in his footsteps many times. George wasn’t happy about the expense put into the town hall when housing was needed – sounds like a man of the people to me (and even though I do love the town hall very much, I see his point). The actual unveiling will take place there on Friday April 26th at approximately 2.30pm. And George Orwell’s son will be in attendance. Another positive on the map for us.