Poor old Jilly Cooper is becalmed on a sea of passion. Attentive readers will remember that last time we caught up with the queen of the bonkbuster she was in glorious full sail, planning her new magnum opus set in the world of education and enthusing about "her sexiest hero ever" - a worryingly priapic sounding African Caribbean schoolboy called "Feral Jackson" who was going to "clean up completely among the boarding school girls".
All the more shocking, then, to find the Diary's favourite novelist stuck in the Doldrums when we called on her this week. Her complaints sounded like something out of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: "It's so slow, so very slow. I think I should be told to hand my homework in on Friday. The problem with writing a novel is you have no deadlines. Feral is still feral but things are going so terribly slowly.
"The thing with writing about the riding set or the art world was that there was really not that much to keep abreast of. But education is such a huge field: there is so much to read every week. My head cheats in my book and then I find all these stories about heads cheating. Then there all these real stories of teachers getting off with pupils and such like. Every time I think of something I think might be new I find it all over the newspapers the next day," pouts a discouraged Jolly Super.
Any tales to inspire Jilly will be forwarded by the Diary.