The title story of this collection came to me when I was in the changing rooms of my local swimming baths. There was a plastic crib there. A little boy pointed to it and asked his mother what it was for, and she replied: “It’s for changing babies.” His face went transparent, in that way small children’s faces do when they’re thinking something large and unsettling. She didn’t realize what she had said. A little while later Radio 4 asked me to write a Christmas story, so I linked the plastic crib to the birth of Jesus, all seen through a child’s confused eyes. Many of my stories start this way – two disparate images or ideas, that knock together and create a spark. Another story, “Stopping at the lights”, came about when I was trying to adapt my novel “Driving in the Dark” as a film, and it had gone dead on me – I knew it too well, it felt stale. So I took a character from it, a woman called Shirley who lived in a trailer park near Spalding, and gave her a story of her own. By giving her another life, the novel itself gained energy again, its characters started stirring and I could make them move again, into drama. Its like shaking up the molecules.
At the swimming pool, Duncan’s mother was drying her hair. In the corner of the changing room he saw something he hadn’t seen before: it was a big red plastic thing, on legs like a crib. He nudged his mum and pointed. What is that for? he shouted. She switched off the dryer, Whats what for? That. He pointed. Oh, it’s for changing babies, she said and she switched on the dryer again and Duncan is then convinced his parents want to swap him for a new one. This is one of the wonderful stories in a new collection of Deborah Moggach’s best, Chaning Babies, which will delight both die-hard fans and readers new to her. She writes of a woman who thinks she has found the perfect man until he becomes too mysterious for words, a rock star writing his memoirs who can’t remember a thing, life and times in a caravan park, harassed teenagers and harangued fathers. There are opera lovers, Belgian lovers, young lovers, and romance in Manicharo Apartments, courtesy of Sunspan Holidays, all in this collection of stories from the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
“Quirky, sassy and well crafted…this is Moggach at her best.”