Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A cautionary tale

I buy a lot of things on line, and frequently send them back. This is not least because I am (as wonderful Chris, who runs a lovely gift shop in Devizes, and is incredibly helpful, says)  “trying to find the perfect present”.  When I receive it, it’s no longer so perfect, so quite often, back it goes.

But there are pitfalls, and this morning I have fallen into  every single one.

1. Forgetting to fill in the form properly; the one that has to go INSDE the parcel.
2. Forgetting to copy the order number from that form onto the return label (which is now inside the parcel).
3. Forgetting to include the form at all. Having packed everything else up, and congratulated myself on doing it so well, I look round, only to see the form still sitting smugly OUTSIDE the parcel.
4. Wondering whether I’ve filled in the form properly after all. This involves opening up the parcel again, just to make sure.

I had to reopen one parcel FOUR times this morning.....I’m still wondering whether I got it right 🤔

(And before anyone tells me that I should buy from proper shops, I do whenever I can.)

Monday, 3 December 2018

A small boast...

I hate people who boast, but today, I’m going to do it myself (I rarely have cause, so don’t worry; it won’t happen often). My novel Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles has been overall no. 71 in Australian Amazon kindle sales, and no.1 in all three of its categories.

That’s all. 😀

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Visit to a medium

Last week, my daughter  visited a fairly prestigious medium. She wanted some answers, and she also wanted to hear from her father.

I know, I know. It’s not an especially wise thing to do, and I wouldn’t do it myself, but I have to confess to being quite excited to think that she might hear from my late husband (a close friend of hers had visited the same man about her sister, who’d died of cancer, and she was much comforted by what he said).

Anyway, the meeting was not a success. Part of it went a bit like this:
Medium: I think your mum is very anxious about Christmas, and where she’s going  to go.
Daughter: no.
Medium: I’m getting a William  - he’s a William - or perhaps a Bill? Does that mean anything to you?
Daughter: no
Medium: there’s a Sanders, or possibly Sanderson. Did you know anyone with that name?
Daughter: no.
Medium: when you were a child, did your father bring you back a teddy, or perhaps a doll?
Daughter: no.

This man aso told her that she and I were going to “cross swords” within the next fortnight. Well, we have never, ever had a row (well, not since the one occasion when she played knock and run in the village where we lived, and that was a very very long time ago.

We’ve got a week to go before that fortnight  is up, and we’re watching what we say very carefully.

(Btw, her father sent his love, but didn’t want to talk to us. Make of that what you will!)

Saturday, 24 November 2018

My funeral

Travelling to a friend's funeral this week set me thinking.

We haven't seen this friend for a year or two, and yet we travelled to her funeral. It was less than two and a half hours' journey; why had we left it so long? And then I thought of all the other people I love but whom I haven't seen for a while. A couple of days ago,  I was speaking to a close friend I haven't seen for about two years, and we both agreed that we would certainly go to each other's funerals.
So why leave it until then? I have resolved to see more of my friends as soon as possible. While we're all still alive.

 As for my own funeral, I'd like to hold it now. While I'm still around to enjoy it. A kind of pre-funeral; putting the fun back into funerals. Why not? I could even start a business....

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Remembrance

This music by Mark Blatchly is the very moving piece which St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir used to sing in the Royal Albert Hall on Remembrance Day. My son is the boy on the right in the first row of four, tho it’s hard to recognise him at all, never mind nearly forty years on. I love this piece, and it’s my rather late tribute to the very special day that was last Sunday.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Gone visiting...

Rosemary Gemmell has very kindly hosted me on her blog this Week. I’m sure you’ve all heard quite enough about me already on my blog, but I’m very grateful to Rosemary for inviting me 🙂

Thank you, Rosemary!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

”What was the name?”

....said the assistant when I collected my prescription this morning.

This logically would expect me to say:
“Who’s name?”
To which she might say, “your name”. (Ah. That’s better.) And I could go on to tell her:
“Well, the name was Browne with an e. Then it was Garrood. Does that help?”
It wouldn’t. Help, I mean.
And then there was the second question:
“What was the address?”
Logical answer:
“Well, the address was Bleak House, Coppenhall, Stafford.”
And that wouldn’t help, either.

Because my legal name isn’t Garrood any more, and neither do I live in Staffordshire. So why don’t they ask me what my name and address ARE?

That’s all. As the meerkat says: simples.

(I know this is common usage nowadays, but I just want to know why. That’s all.)

Friday, 26 October 2018

Waste some time. You’re worth it.

This is quite fun, if you want to waste a few seconds...

Monday, 22 October 2018

Money or prizes?

A writer colleague of mine was asked by a prospective agent whether he wanted to write to earn lots of money or win prizes. Apparently, the two tend to be mutually exclusive (to a degree, anyway), and I can understand that. Prize winning novels don’t seem to sell in huge numbers, while best sellers tend not to win prizes (although there are, of course, exceptions. The wonderful Eleanor Olliphant is an example). I’ve read some dire Booker prize winners, and some magnificent novels that would never win prizes.

To any writers reading this: which would you prefer (prizes or riches)? As for me, I’ve long since given up thoughts of either (though what I do earn is very welcome). What I most want is for people to read my books and enjoy them. And that’s the truth 😊

Thursday, 18 October 2018

“Laugh out loud funny”...

...is the one description that really puts me off a book. It’s the literary equivalent of canned laughter, and is guaranteed to make me fail to find any amusement in a book. Humour is totally subjective. You either find a book, or a joke, funny, or you don’t, but you shouldn’t have to be told in advance. You need to find out for yourself. A funny passage in a book (for me) comes as a kind of delightful surprise, and being told that it’s going to be funny spoils that surprise. As for LOL at the end of messages, don’t get me started....

We Don’t all find the same things funny,  just as we don’t  all love the same pieces of music or even the same sunset. A few years ago, I read the funniest book I think I’ve ever read, and was literally howling with laughter most of the way through. I’ve no idea why that particular  books has stayed with me, but it hit a big funny bone, and I remember it with great pleasure (and gratitude towards the author). But I won’t tell you the title, because if you were to read it in the future, I would already have spoilt it for you.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

How to ruin a mobile phone

1. Drop it down the loo.
2. Give it a bath (well, you have to, don’t you?).
3. Dry it, then put it in your bed.
4. Turn the electric blanket on high (it will get astonishingly hot. You’d be surprised).
5. Google the problem (if you want the phone to recover, miss out 1-4 and do this immediately).
6. Ignore all advice to steep it in dry rice, as this might just rescue the situation.

Voila! Job done. Next step: down to the phone shop. Do not on any account tell them the above, or your phone cred will be in ruins.

(PS I hate my new phone, but am stuck with it 😫.)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Contentment

There’s a man in this area, perhaps around forty years old, who collects car numbers. All day every day, rain or shine, he can be seen with his pencil and his notebooks, carefully writing them all down. I stopped and chatted to him today, and he told me he’d been doing this for twenty-four years (“twenty five next year”). On my way home it set me thinking.

Here is a man who it seems is perfectly happy. He appears to have no ambition, apart from more car numbers (and goodness knows, there are plenty of those, even though he must count some of them many times over). He probably gets up every day, looking forward to another day of....collecting car numbers, enjoys what he does, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t sleep well at night. He doesn’t engage easily in conversation, but seems happy to be on his own, and while no doubt he has at some point been labelled as “special needs”, he appears to need very little.

Obviously someone somewhere is paying for his everyday, not so special needs, but somehow here is a man who seems to have it all. I for one could learn a lesson or two from him...

Friday, 5 October 2018

The ridiculous business of confidentiality

This has been an appalling week, but I’ll spare you the details. The final straw for me was when I phoned the hospital to find out how my suddenly-struck-down husband was, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m phoning to find out how John Stott is.
Very Unfriendly Receptionist (after some scuffling): he’s being transferred to the ward.
Me: but how is he?
VUR: oh, I can’t tell you that.
Me: but I’m his wife!
VUR: I’m afraid I still can’t tell you that; it’s a matter of confidentiality.
Me: well is he okay?
VUR: I can’t tell you that, either.
Me (after more protestations): IS HE ALIVE?
Pause.
VUR: yes.

Phew! But I’m seething. Confidentiality is all very well, but this is ridiculous. Would it be so unethical just to say someone is okay? Or to use hospital-speak (which I hate) comfortable? Apparently it would. In my day as a nurse, we always informed next of kin how a patient was. Not any more. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but there was no compassion or understanding. People in A&E departments are frightened and anxious, and so are their relatives. They deserve better than this.

(Btw he’s on the mend now, but we’ve had the week from hell. And it was his birthday!)

Monday, 1 October 2018

Missing....

There’s  a phenomenon which seems to recur in various areas of life. I call it the Just One Missing pehenomenom. It goes thus.:

If you get out an old jigsaw puzzle out and do it, there will be one - just one - piece missing. The same applies to old playing cards, Scrabble letters, anything really that has a lot of bits. Always, just one missing. This doesn’t matter so much with the Scrabble letters (in this case, playing yesterday with a grandson*, it was the x, which is a nice high scoring letter) as you can still play, but with playing cards it’s infuriating. My theory is that all these  pieces have joined the great missing sock party in a parallel universe somewhere...

*Grandson won. I hate being beaten at Scrabble.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Taking your ferret on holiday?

I’ve just  heard a bewildering snippet on the news, saying that if we want to take cats, dogs or ferrets over to Europe after Brexit we’ll have to see a vet several months ahead. Cats and dogs I can understand (though I’ve yet to meet a cat that would appreciate being conveyed abroad for a fortnight), but ferrets? Really?

I confess that I know little about ferrets (apart from what I’ve gleaned from the Archers, and hearing about people with a predilection for putting them up their trousers; why on God’s good earth would anyone in their right mind want to do that?), but does anyone, ever, take their ferret with them on holiday?

Any ferret-lovers reading this - please enlighten me. I’d really love to know.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The other royal wedding

Next month, Princess Eugenie is marrying somebody or other (does anyone reading this know his name? No? I thought not. You may not even know who Princess E is, either), and her parents* are upset because the BBC are, quite rightly, refusing to televise the wedding. The couple intend to do (part of) the tour of Windsor that Meghan and Harry did, in a horse drawn carriage. The policing of this event is going to cost the taxpayer 2 million pounds.

I don’t blame the couple - they are young and...well, young. But what are the parents thinking of? Why are the authorities sanctioning this exorbitant cost? Surely someone somewhere should have said no? And who is going to bother to watch, either on TV or on the streets of Windsor? Those who do are probably more likely to be looking out for Kate and William and Meghan and Harry et al rather than the happy couple.

For the record, I am a royalist. I love the fact that we have an apolitical head of state, and the queen has done her job all these years with exemplary forbearance and charm. But this is going too far, isn't it?

Well, isn’t it?

*Prince Andrew and Fergie. Wouldn’t you know it?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

An interesting surprise


Well, this was a bit of a surprise! Dead Ernest (last night - it's been deposed now) was Amazon no.1 in Christian romantic fiction. I'd no idea there was such a thing, and the link in this novel is a bit tenuous (an almost-adulterous vicar), but I'm not knocking it. I'd hate the book to be considered churchy or prudish, but at least its being considered! (Still available on Kindle for only 99p. Just
saying…)

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

How old is your heart?





This is a popular quiz doing the rounds at the moment. I did it here and was told that my heart is four years older than I am! All my readings, history etc were more or less normal, I had no risk factors, and I was the ideal weight for my height. The quiz doesn't mention lifestyle (drinking habits, exercise, diet - all of mine are healthy), so why add four years to my heart's age? I'm mystified.

As a nurse, I'm not at all worried about this; just annoyed. But I can see the "worried well" thronging to surgeries and clinics if similar verdicts to the one I received are dished out.

Out of interest, do take the test, and let me know how much older (or younger) than you your heart is supposed to be. You don't have to reveal your age!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Birthday treat?

How does this grab you for part of a menu?

STARTERS

DIVED SCALLOPS WITH BABY SQUID,
CROWN PRINCE PUMPKIN PURÉE, SQUID INK SAUCE

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE,
PEAR AND SORREL (£7.50 supplement)

SEARED CURED MACKEREL, MACKEREL TARTARE, CUCUMBER, AVOCADO AND LEMON GRASS PURÉE, WASABI

RABBIT LOIN, RILLETTE AND PARFAIT, HERITAGE CARROTS,
CARROT AND MUSCAT JELLY

PIGS TROTTER STUFFED WITH SNAILS AND OX TONGUE,
ROASTED GARLIC CREAM

TERRINE OF GUINEA FOWL, HAM HOCK AND
SALT BAKED CELERIAC, QUINCE, HIBISCUS SYRUP


Not my bag, I’m afraid, but the menu chosen by John  for his birthday treat. I  like simple food; food I understand; food that doesn’t have to be translated or explained (by a waiter with one hand tied behind his back. Why do they do that?). And hibiscus syrup? Did someone once think to himself: hm. Pretty flowers. I bet they’d make a nice syrup to go with guinea foul. And pigs trotter stuffed with snails. Really? Who actually has these ideas in the first place?

I think I shall take a picnic 😋

 

 

 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Of kids and carrots



Smallest grandson: Granny, why you don't  got any kids?
Me: I've got four, but they're all grown up. (I tell him that his father, his aunt and two of his uncles are my "kids".)
SG: Where was I? (when they were born).
Me: (sensing problems) You didn't exist.
SG: How did I get here?  (I was right)

There follows a euphemistic discussion about seeds.*

SG: Like Daddy's carrots?
Me; Yes! Just like Daddy's carrots! (Phew)

Those are Daddy's carrots in the photo above, as posted on Facebook. I'm glad to say that his children are better formed than his vegetables. He has some way to go in the horticultural department.

*I'd like to add that I have no problem discussing the provenance of babies, but as a grandmother, I know my place.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

What your dog can do for you 🙂

Dogs are soooo relaxing to have around, if you don’t believe me, do watch this

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Mugs


I read in the paper that you can tell a lot about someone from their mugs. Apparently, posh people have mis-matched mugs, whereas middle class people have nice, matching mugs. Above is a photo of some of our mugs. We must be posh 😀

Some of our mugs are very old; some not so old. And we each  have our favourites. When they've just come out of the dishwasher, we have a lovely wide choice. But as their numbers dwindle, we're down to the nasty thick football one (sorry, Joe) and the faded Welsh one (circa 1985 - why has this unpleasant mug lasted so long?). My favourite is the flowery one in the middle (a present from a friend), and we both love the one on the extreme right, although it's chipped.

Life is much more exciting with a variety of mugs. What do your mugs say about you?

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The complicated way to close a window

1 Make sure it’s a recalcitrant sash window. This is important.
2 For this to work, it has to be the lower half that needs closing.
3 Place your fingers over the edge of the window, and push down. You may need to push hard.
4 If you do this properly, your fingers will now be firmly jammed between the two edges of window. This will hurt. A lot.
5 Phone* the neighbours, who need to be out for this to work.
6 Phone the fire brigade.
7 Wait. This will also hurt. Try not to cry (I’m afraid I cried).
8 After a while, two burly firemen will arrive. With a fire engine. Although they don’t need the fire engine.
9 They will release the trapped fingers.
10 Voila! The window is now closed.

*you will need an accomplice for this, unless you have a phone on you.


Saturday, 11 August 2018

For your last hot holiday...


This ad has been banned by London Transport, but I’m afraid it made me laugh (just for the record, I plan to be buried. I’m not a fan of extreme heat).

Thursday, 9 August 2018

And another one....

....courtesy of my granddaughter:

Is water wet?

(I’m not mentioning the fact that it’s publication day for
Ruth Robinson today, as I’ve talked about it quite enough recently.)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A question/dilemma/riddle

No.1 son posed this question last week:

If you’re totally immersed in water, are you wet?

Think about it (I did). It’s not as easy as it looks!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Just a snippet...

My new novel - Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles - is out on Thursday. The Kindle version is still available at 99p, but will go up after that. There will also be a paperback. Just in case you're interested (please be interested!), I thought I'd give you a taster. Once again, apologies for the advertising. But how else do we get our books out there? Ideas, anyone?
 

                                                 PROLOGUE

 

My Uncle Eric is telephoning the zoo to ask how many Thompson’s gazelles a lion can eat in a fortnight.

 Uncle Silas is stuffing a weasel on the kitchen table by candlelight (we have a power cut).

A respectful knock at the front door heralds the arrival of yet another minibus full of pilgrims hoping for a miracle.

Outside it is raining - a typical, nasty, dank November drizzle - and a piglet is trying to get in through the cat flap.

In the midst of all this, I am trying to cobble together something for our supper (the weasel is being prepared for posterity rather than for consumption).

I pause to take stock.

Six months ago, I had a regular job, a monthly salary and a comfortable flat to go home to.

How on earth have I got into all this?
 
 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

What is it about knickers?


Official definition/derivation: "The word drawers was invented because underwear for women was drawn on. However in Britain women's underwear were soon called knickerbockers too. In the late 19th century the word was shortened to knickers. In the USA knickers are called panties, which is obviously derived from the word pants (American for trousers)."

How boring is that? However, my most-read posts are the ones with knickers in the heading (closely followed, bewilderingly,  by window cleaners). My most popular of all was "K is for Knickers" (written for the April A to Z challenge in the days when I had time-wasting down to a fine art).

"Pants" isn't nearly as amusing, and as for "panties", that's a word I personally can't stand (I've no idea why).

But why are knickers considered so funny/ fascinating/entertaining?

Just wondering...

Thursday, 19 July 2018

I have a problem with issues

I know I've said it before, but where have all the problems gone? They've all turned magically into "issues". No one has problems any more; just issues. When I have a problem, it's a problem. Are we all in denial? People have knee issues and hip issues and back issues, and teenage children issues. No, no, no! If you have an issue with your knee, it hurts. It's not an issue. It's a problem. And if you have an issue with a teenager, then that's definitely a problem.

Well, isn't it?

(This unimportant post was written to ensure a new password works. If you're not reading it, then the password hasn't worked. I have a big problem - yes, PROBLEM-  with passwords.)

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Pink or blue babies


What I want to know is, why? I see babies in the town every day, and they are invariably dressed in pink or blue. I even saw a pink baby wearing pink clothes travelling in a pink pram*. It's almost as though the parents need reminding whether they have a boy or a girl.

I dressed my own babies in either colour (not so much pink. I'm not a fan of pink). I didn't need to colour code them. I knew who/what they were. (Both sexes looked great in navy; it matches babies' eyes.)  Grown men and women don't go around in pink or blue; why do it for babies?

Where do you stand on pink/blue? And does it really matter (no. I'll answer that one myself).

*What if they have a boy next time? New pram?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

One of my greatest achievements!

After about thirty years of people patiently explaining, I finally understand the off-side rule, just in time for the big match tomorrow! My helpers have, over the years, tried to explain,  usually using salt and pepper pots to demonstrate who stands where when whatever it is happens, but until today  it has remained a mystery. But no more!

If anyone would like me to explain, just bring your own salt and pepper and I'll be more than happy to help. I'll even give you a cup of coffee.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Bargain!

Today is the last day for purchasing Women Behaving Badly for 99p on Kindle. The link is   here .

That really is all. No more commercials for a while. I'm sure you hate reading them as much as I hate writing them. Next time, I'll write something hugely entertaining and not about my books at all. How much easier it is to advertise someone else rahter than oneself....

Monday, 2 July 2018

Arrival of Ruth Robinson

Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles is now up on Amazon for preorder here  (Kindle version only. Paperback on release date) and is out on August 9th.

Just thought I'd say... 😀

Thursday, 28 June 2018

New novel, new novel, new novel...


Some time ago, I wrote a mad romp of a novel*, but it was so off-the-wall that I stuck it in the famous cyber drawer and forgot about it. But more recently, I dug it out and  sent it to a writer friend, and she absolutely loved it. So does my publisher. It comes out for the first time on pre-order soon, and I'm really excited about it.

As I've said before, I hate, hate, hate self-promotion, and I'm terrible at it. I've only told one or two of my friends about this novel. But here on my blog I feel I can say, please give it a try when it comes out. It will be only 99p on pre-order on Kindle (August in paperback), and I'd love it if you would buy it. Please?

And if you don't buy it, thank you anyway for reading this.

* Original title: The Virgin of the Hen House (hence the chickens), but I was firmly persuaded that that was a bad idea. I think they were right.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Things I've learnt recently

1. The Heimlich manoeuvre really works. I tried it on my husband when a pill got stuck in his throat, and the pill just flew out. I can't wait to try it again!

2. People are either born tidy or they're not. I've tried and tried, but the trouble is, I just don't care enough. So it's silly to envy tidy people (which I do) because theoretically I should be able to change...

3. My horse hates cows that walk towards him. Two of us had a horrible cow experience last Monday, and we both nearly fell off.

4. You can get bored with grey knickers (I bought some because I thought that since they always end up grey, they might as well start off grey. Now I long for sparkling new white ones but I'm too mean to throw the grey ones away).

5. Looking after grandchildren who are at school all day give me time to write pointless blog posts. (I have tidied and made the beds, so I'm not a complete slob.)

6. Dijon mustard two years past its sell by date is not nice, but it is edible. Just.

7. Anthony Trollope really is my favourite author.


Saturday, 2 June 2018

Do we need to scream more?


This week, I read of a young teenager who was severely  depressed. Anti-depressants hadn't worked, and in the end she went to a place in the country where people like her were treated. There, she was encouraged to go out into the nearby woods (safely) and scream her pain. It worked. She still takes medication, but she is much better for her screaming.

When my first husband died, the pain was so bad that I felt like screaming, but of course I didn't. Well we don't, do we? During the funeral, I wished we were of a culture where screaming was allowed; even encouraged. Where people throng round a funeral pyre and yell their anguish uninhibitedly. But we all wept quietly. Weeping quietly is acceptable; even expected.

Then, one evening, things came to a head. I think I'd had some trivial disagreement with one of the children about PE kit (or something equally unimportant). I got in the car, and drove a short distance down the road and up a country lane. And I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed. I screamed so much and so loudly that I was hoarse for a week afterwards, but it helped. I got some of that anguish out; I was able to vocalise how I felt. Not by the quiet weeping that I'd been doing for the last couple of weeks, but with a full-on explosion of pain.

It's odd that it's fine to scream at a pop concert (provided you're young enough) or in extreme danger, but not when assailed by one of the worse pains of all: bereavement. It's just not British.

It doesn't even feel quite right writing it here; after all, I am British. But I'm going to, anyway....

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Parrots with rhythm...

Here is something for a wet Sunday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

If you have ever felt the death penalty is justified...

...do watch this gruelling BBC documentary. Made in the eighties, it follows a young man through the
last fourteen days of his life, leading up to his execution in the gas chamber of Mississippi's Death Row (he was later proved to be innocent). This film shows the sheer brutality of his execution, and the dreadful punishment it inflicted on him, his family and the officers around him who believed in his innocence. Please watch it if you can spare the time. I saw it when it came out, and have just watched it again, and I have rarely been so moved or so enraged by a documentary.

Monday, 21 May 2018

God is like the royal family...


...in that if you don't believe in/support him, you don't have to have anything to do with him. And yet people continue to knock them both.

As a supporter of both, I simply don't get it. I know at least two people who are so strongly atheist that they have to keep mentioning it. Why? They need to get over themselves. You don't believe in
God. I get it. Now let's talk about something else.

Ditto the royal family. As anti-royalist friends disappeared with their picnic lunch to find a "wedding free zone" on Saturday, muttering darkly about the expense etc.etc., we settled down to a glorious wedding fest with a neighbour and a bottle of Prosecco. And we loved every minute. The bride, that Dress, the groom, the horses, the wonderfully dignified and beautiful mother of the bride...it was all superb. Apparently our royal family cost us each fifty pence a year, and simple souls like us get so much pleasure from occasions such as that wedding. Anti royalists, you can switch off your sets and go on your picnics. Let the rest of us have our bit of Brexit free fun!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

A book and a pair of royal blue knickers

I know I've been banging on about my books, but needs must. I'm terrible at publicity, but just in case anyone reading this (a) is interested and (b) hasn't read this book, it's out in its new edition on Thursday (cue trumpet voluntary).

A bit about the book*. It started off with leaves falling off a tree - no more - and ended up being partly autobiographical (absolutely not intended). I never plan (not good). I'm a seat of the pants writer. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. But I think this is my best novel, and I also think this is because it's partly written from my own experience. The mad mother in the novel is based on my eccentric mum, the bereavement in the middle is based on my own bereavement, and it was my sons who showed me how to blow up cowpats (thanks, boys). As for the royal blue knickers (one reviewer said this couldn't possibly be credible), those were mine.

At school we had to wear navy knickers for PE, but my mother bought me royal blue ones. To this day, I don't know where she found them, but wear them I had to, and I was mortified. I dreamed of navy knickers; of looking like everyone else. And in the end she bought me some sort of navy briefs, which were even worse (PE knickers had to be bloomer rather than brief). But I forgave her, for as I wrote in the dedication, she took me out of school to pick primroses. Who wouldn't love a mother who did that?

So - please buy my book. It's currently still only 99p on Kindle. You can do this by clicking on the image in the side bar. After all, what else can you buy for 99p?

*Previously the Birds, the Bees and Other Secrets

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Your perfect dinner party

John and I were discussing this last night - who would comprise your perfect dinner party?
I would have:

 Desmond Tutu (for his wonderful smile, and the fact that he summed up his life thus: "I have laughed and I have loved". Perfect.)

Dame Edna Everidge  (because I think he/she is one of the funniest people on this planet).

Judi Dench (just because she is wonderful).

David Nott (an amazing doctor who has spent much of his time working without pay in some of the worse war zones. That man is a saint).

Who would you have? Still living, if possible, and preferably people you haven't met.(Yes, I should be working, but I'm having a break.)

Monday, 23 April 2018

Breaking news - not Princess Alice, then...

...as I thought it would be, but a boy (no name yet). But congratulations to them anyway. I'm delighted for them.

It isn't cool to be a supporter of the royal family, but I think we're incredibly fortunate to have an apolitical head of state, and I am a great fan of the Queen. You only have to see the crowds outside St. Mary's Hospital (where, incidentally, I trained) today  to know how much pleasure the royal family give to so many people. As for those who don't like them, well, they can just ignore them can't they?

Any guesses as to the name of the new prince?

Friday, 13 April 2018

Of mathematical limericks

Graham has posted a very clever - far too clever for me - mathematical limerick on his blog. I thought the limerick would be something like this:

A man from the island of Skye
Bad at maths, but determined to try,
Realised all of his fears -
After forty-five years
He still can't tell his log from his pi.

How wrong can you be 😩

Feel free to have a go yourself - either kind will be welcome!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The problem of titles

Do you have problems choosing titles for your books or stories? Or problems remembering the titles of books you've read? I've recently had problems with both. Two of my novels have recently had to have new titles (the old titles were too misleading), and this has proved problematic to say the least, one at least being a compromise. I have just read a brilliant novel,  wonderfully written, and for the life of me I cannot remember its title. It just isn't memorable, and  I can't believe I'm the only reader who's had this problem with this particular title. On the other hand, some titles stay in the mind for ever. Who can forget "The hundred year old man who jumped out of the window and disappeared"? A long title, certainly, but not one that's easily forgotten.

 Choosing short story titles doesn't seem to matter so much as the reader will probably read the story once, and then move on, especially if it's a magazine story. But a novel takes its name on a long journey (you hope!), so it has to be a title that stays in the mind of the reader. Otherwise how can he recommend it to anyone else?

Do you have trouble thinking up or remembering titles? I'd love to know.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Lion...


This is a picture by my talented granddaughter. She did NOT get her ability from me!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Look where you're going!

Am I the only person who is disturbed when drivers in films turn to speak to their passengers for far longer than is safe? I find myself screaming at them to look at the road. I know it's all done in a studio, but they could at least add a bit of verisimilitude to the action.

And then there are the actors who run from the kitchen (to kiss somebody or shoot somebody) leaving a pan on the cooker, leaving me shouting :"the chips! You've forgotten the chips!"

And my third gripe is those who emerge from the loo and dash straight out, leaving me shouting:"you've forgotten to wash your hands!"

Does anyone else feel the same? Or am I being too fussy?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Dead Ernest resurrected...


The new edition of Dead Ernest comes out today, and looks really stylish! If you haven't read it (and I know that some of you have, and I'm really grateful) please, please do! It's only £2.99 on Kindle - not much more than the price of a cup of coffee.

You can buy the new edition here from Amazon.



Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A letter to Siberia

Dear Siberia

Apparently it's you who have kindly sent us the Weather we're currently having. Now, I'm sure it's well meant (after all, we get on with you as a country don't  we?), and it's always a pain sending things (wrapping it, queueing at the post office, wondering whether it's arrived, waiting for a thank you note etc.), so I really appreciate that. Thank you.

But. We are different from you. We are not ready for this kind of Weather. We don't have those furry hats and boots and the nice warm houses I'm sure you must have. In short, we are cold. I went riding yesterday, and I haven't been that cold since I was turfed off the school bus into a snow drift aged about twelve ( the bus has broken down, and I had to walk a couple of miles to get home).

So please, please take this Weather back. It's not that we're not grateful; we're just not ready. I've just visited an elderly neighbour (I too am an elderly neighbour, come to that), and she is cold too. We had coffee huddled round her gas fire;  me in coat, gloves, scarf and hideous but wonderful Uggs; she in an assortment of layers.

But in the course of our chat, I did come up,with a wonderful book title: Sunbathing in Siberia. What do you think? Now all I've got to do is write it. If it's published, I promise I'll dedicate it to you. Provided you take back your Weather 😰

Sunday, 25 February 2018

A poem I wish I'd written....


I find the poem Forgetfulness deeply reassuring. Funny, and oh, how true! It's four minutes into this clip.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Me Too campaign

But not me, I'm afraid. Am I alone in being sick and tired of all these "celebrities" whinging about a pat on the knee? Soon, a man won't be able even accidentally to touch a female back or shoulder without being labelled a "sex pest" (awful tabloid-speak). I've had my fair share, and some of it was unpleasant, but I've lived to tell the tale.

I've counselled many people who were victims of sexual abuse, and it destroys lives and families. Some of the tales I've heard beggar belief, and I've wept over at least one. It is appalling, and I would be the first to condemn it. But these protestors in their posh black frocks diminish the severity of real sex crimes by putting themselves in the same category. Some of them may have suffered genuine abuse, so this doesn't apply to them, but for the most part, these experiences sound relatively trivial.

Come on, girls! Whatever happens to real, stand-up-for-yourself feminism? A slap or a kick where it hurts should sort the monster out. And as for you guys, I feel sorry for you, as from now on you really are going to have to watch yourselves in case you find that you're accused of something you are completely unaware of.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

A whinge about crusts

You know those tiny crusts on the ends of sliced loaves? The odds are, they won't get eaten, as they're too small to be of any use. This infuriates me.

So I phoned Hovis, a major offender, and complained to them about the ridiculous size of their crusts.  I was told that as the loaf had to be exactly 27 slices (or something) that was the only way it would work. In vain did I tell them about waste, lack of foresight etc. My words fell on stony (or in this case, stoneground) ground. They can manage a good size with their multi seed loaf, so why not with others? I hate waste, and there are just so many breadcrumbs you can use.

What do you do with your crusts, apart from feed the birds? Now, be honest...

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Valentine's day and surprises

Valentine's day has for many years been what my late mother called "a commercial racket". Today, the shops are full of pink/red cards and those red roses that flop as soon as you get them home (do men now KNOW this? And they'll be way past their best by Wednesday, even if they don't flop).

But the prize goes to my beloved son-in-law.

"So, do you want flowers on Valentine's day?" he asked my daughter. To which she (reasonably) replied: "you don't ASK me! THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT!"

 As she later explained to me, not only has be spoilt any surprise, but now she looks greedy if she says yes, and won't get any if she says no. He's put her in a lose-lose position.

And my own dear husband? Well, he's just told me, joyously, that a son is planning a "surprise" visit on my birthday.

I am FURIOUS!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Old book, new look...



This is the new look for what used to be THE BIRDS, THE BEES AND OTHER SECRETS, which comes out later this year. I was sorry to have to abandon the title, but it was attracting the wrong sort of attention...The publisher and I have spent ages trying to come up with something better, and we've ended up with a compromise (title).  I like the clean, clear look, and just hope potential readers will too...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Writers' displacement activities...

...or rather, mine. So far this morning I have done the following (rather than write):

Necessary:
Shop for lunch.
Buy two birthday cards
Wrap two presents
Put on a wash
Email publisher

Not so necessary:
Have coffee
Buy daffodils
Phone a friend (she was out 🙁)
Chat to husband

Unnecessary:
Arrange daffodils (above) in a time consuming way
Remove ALL the fluff from the tumble drier filter with a small knife
Check emails 15 times
Chat to husband again
Write this

I have succeeded in doing no writing at all. I'd call that successful displacement 😀



Thursday, 25 January 2018

No flowers by request...

...look like this, and I think it's terribly sad. People speak of "wasted money", but buying beautiful flowers for a funeral are the last thing friends and family can do for the dead person. In a way, many of us need to do just that; to express our feelings in this way. I'm all for charitable donations, but they can be given in addition - why not? At my late husband's funeral, we had mountains of flowers, and they meant so much. At my mother's, we had lots of sprays and bouquets, and everyone took some home.

So, at my funeral - lots of flowers, please (no wreaths. if you don't mind), and please take some home when you go.

(I was put in mind of this while attending a funeral last week. The coffin was a woven  one, with lots of flowers interwoven along the edge, and a huge bouquet on top. I'd like to go to my Maker in a basket, too. It was beautiful, and much less bleak than a coffin.)

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

A subtle platform for bullying...

...is the art of choosing teams. This was alive and well when I was a kid, and needless to say, I was always picked last. And I haven't forgotten it.*

But it still happens. In an age when the PC brigade have declared that there must be  "no winners or losers" on sports days, picking teams still goes on in games and PE lessons. A child I know, who is being bullied and left off party invitations (that's another thing. What kind of parent allows his child to invite all the children in the class to a party, except one?), and  who is actually good at games, is always last to be picked for a team. And he minds, very much.  Why can't teachers just divide the class themselves, rather than leaving it to the children to decide? Of course  the least popular will be left until last. It's a no-brainer, isn't it?

It's hard to police bullying, for kids are subtle and clever, and a lot goes on out of sight. But surely, in a class situation, where there is an adult in charge, teams at least can be left to that adult, and not to the kids themselves.

*I was actually appalling at games. My instinct when confronted with a ball has always been "missile! Duck or run". But that's another story.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Late Christmas present idea....

I have found a lovely last minute gift here. It's never too late to please someone you love 🐱

Monday, 8 January 2018

Lovely reviews

We writers are very bad at promoting ourselves. It's so hard to tell people how wonderful your books are, but that's what you have to do if you want to sell them. This time around, with three of my books being relaunched, and the publicity people working like mad, I feel I have to do my bit. So - some readers on Goodreads have been sent review copies of Dead Ernest, and I've had some lovely reviews, which you cans see here

That's all. And thank you for reading this. I know that the writers among you will understand!

Monday, 1 January 2018

George's homework



The above is my 10-year-old grandson's recent  maths homework. That boy will go far, (If you can't read the teacher's comment, it is "this is not necessary, George". Hm.)