The white butterfly is dancing madly outside the newly painted display windows of the Cambridge Writing Salon. The other women writers hunch over laptops around the edges of the room, cups of tea, water, cupcakes strewn in friendly careless clusters. I am sitting in the centre of it all. Aside from a creator of speech bubbles for illustrations, I am the only one old-fashioned enough for pens and notebook. (Fortunately no one has had a look at my notebook; it is perkily titled Silly Old Bear and each page has craftily woven images of Eeyore, Tigger and Pooh...).
Pooh and the butterfly notwithstanding, I still feel very Bloomsbury. A rather terrifying mannequin in the picture window, faceless in black velvet and mock Tudor ruff, maintains our dignity to the curious passers-by. How diligent we must all look!
Before the diligence, we were given a talk by the charming, effusive and gallant Tim Hayward, Guardian food critic, editor of Food and Knives - an incredibly literary food magazine, new owner of Fitzbillies Café in Cambridge, and father of delightful curly mopped Liberty (who I sweet talked into signing my Pooh notebook. Well, why should her father do all the autographing?).
According to Tim, the creative life of a writer unfurls most gloriously when we are open, flexible to changing our minds, and able to maintain some kind of balance between pride and humility. The humility lies in this: as an artist, what you are about to create does not yet exist. All that exists are the possibilities.
Pride came in spades at the end, when, sans Tim, we were all women again, and champagne was uncorked, more cupcakes (provided by Miss Sue Flay) were untidily scoffed, and a chummy sort of camaraderie sprang up, neither competitive nor wall flowerish. We were equals, the nine of us, and it was quite perfect.