Monday 30 July 2012

"50" entrepreneurial ideas

I'll never make a fortune out of writing, and although I haven't read That Book, I have to admire anyone who can drum up that kind of success.

Sitting here, trying to recover from my injuries (sitting is not easy, given the location of The Bruise), I mused on the matter of making lots of money, and came up with the following:
1. A lighting shop: Fifty Shades
2. A kitchen shop: Fifty Blades
3. A brothel: Fifty Maids
4. Its sister company (cleaning consortium): Nifty Maids
5. An arboretum: Fifty Glades

What do you think? Any other ideas?

Sunday 29 July 2012

Magpie 128

Said the dog to the man,
"Can we go for a walk?"
Said the man to the dog,
"I'm too busy. I can't.
I must clean up that wall -
Someone's written in chalk."
Said the dog (in a huff),
"Time you watered that plant!"

With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture

Saturday 28 July 2012

I said it could never sleep on our bed...

It is not allowed on the bed. It's never been allowed on the bed. People let their cats, dogs, and sometimes babies sleep with them, but never me. I've always stood (lain?) firm. It lives downstairs. That's where it belongs. Downstairs. I'm a woman of my word. Right?

But there it was, sitting there, pleading. "You've had a nasty accident", it said. "You need me. You know you do. What with all the time you're spending up there. Lying down on your bed, moaning about the pain."

So I gave in. It's upstairs on the bed with me right now, helping me write this.

My lovely iPad.

Olympic opening ceremony....hmmm...

I am not particularly interested in sport, but I am a patriot. I love my country, am a great admirer of the Queen, queue patiently and grumble about the weather. That makes me a true Brit, right?

But. Am I the only person to have been utterly bewildered by last night's opening ceremony? It seemed to me a hotchpotch of maypoles and grassy banks and dancing nurses and ancient pop songs and...Well, you get my drift. I - and husband - were confused and very disappointed.

And if we didn't understand it, what on earth did did the billions watching it worldwide make of it? Can anyone offer explanations?

Friday 27 July 2012

A short story to celebrate the Olympics

A man sees another man walking down the road carrying a long pole.
First man: Are you a pole vaulter?
Second man: No. I am a German. How did you know my name was Walter?

Thursday 26 July 2012

Fifty shades of purple... the bruise on my back (well, more bottom, really, but back sounds better).

Titch (who is on the mend and allowed to walk and trot. This isn't always strictly adhered to) and I have had two horrible accidents this week

No.1: We suddenly came across thick brambles in a very narrow lane, and got caught up in them. He was frightened and wanted to career onwards, in which case we would have been shredded. As it was, I just managed to turn him round and go back the way we came, and only I was shredded. Okay. Badly scratched, then. There was a lot of blood, and we were both upset.

No.2: Next day, off we set again. Lovely day, sun shining, both of us cheerful. Suddenly a deer appeared, and Titch leapt in the air. So did I. Sadly, we parted company in mid-air and I landed on my back and hip. On concrete. Titch made off homewards and I lay on the ground wondering whether I'd been killed, as you do. Couldn't get signal on phone. Meanwhile, Titch reappeared to see what had happened to me (aaaaaaah!). "What are you doing down there?" he asked. I tried to explain. But he made his apologies and cantered off, muttering something about lunch time, and he was going home even if I wasn't.

To cut a long story short, I had a nice little journey in an ambulance and a night in hospital and Titch is okay. I'm very sore, can hardly walk, and have an amazing bruise (I have a picture of it, and will post it if you promise to buy my book). I shall also miss my lovely niece's wedding on Saturday.

So far, it has not been a good week.

Monday 23 July 2012

E-mail of the day

This is one of those "funny" emails that we can all have too many of, but I did like this one, which purports to be true (though it could do without the comment at the bottom). You will have to click on it as it has come out very small!

Sunday 22 July 2012

Magpie 127

"So that picture's a figure of eight?
Well, you could have fooled me," muttered Kate.
"More like handcuffs or doodles...
But no matter - they've oodles
Of pictures like that in the Tate."

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture)

Friday 20 July 2012

Downton Abbey revisited

...because I've posted about it before. But I see from today's paper that it's in the running for big prizes in the USA.

I simply do not understand the popularity of this series. The clunking prose, the predictable plot lines....what is the attraction? It it's period drama we want, the lets turn to Andrew Davies, who does it faultlessly.

Examples (plot): vengeful maid places bar of soap by the bath just before her ( pregnant) ladyship steps out. M'lady slips, loses baby,and guess what? That's right. It was a boy; the much wanted son and heir after a clutch of witless daughters. The theres our hero, who suddenly leaps to his feet after weeks in a wheelchair. Anyone who has ever been in that position knows it takes some time to regain the use of their legs. I've been there.

And for prose? My favourite has to be the immortal exchange between the Lovers, who are having a little dance around the drawing room ( as one does). She: Can you dance without your stick? He: you are my stick. And my lord, ever original, to the maid who he's been chatting up for at least a week: I love you with every fibre of my being! (original, or what?)

Why do we watch it? Good question. We watch it to see if it can get any worse. And it never disappoints.

I shall now prepare to be shot down in flames.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Soup and guns in London

Had a pleasant day in London yesterday. Lunch with a friend, dinner with a son, visited favourite picture in the National Gallery. I saw an oriental man trying to eat soup with a knife and fork ( it was chicken and mushroom. It was labelled as such. But he picked out all the mushroom). I left my umbrella in John Lewis. Got wet. Saw lots of policemen with guns. "Are those real?" husband asked. "No we got them in a cracker," one of them chortled. Well, he asked for that.

Travelled in the Quiet Carriage. I love the Quiet Carriage. Very peaceful, but everyone ready to pounce if there is a whisper of mobile phone or text. I love it when that happens; the sudden cocking of ears, newspapers put down, rolling eyes and Looks exchanged. Then - POW! Someone takes the initiative and tiptoes up to the culprit with the chilling words:,"do you realise that this is the "Quiet Carriage?" Then the breathless wait for the response. And the rest of us all feeling/looking sooooo smug.

It didn't happen yesterday.

Monday 16 July 2012

Bees in my bonnet

We all need bees in our bonnets. Not literally, of course (I've found that one bee in my hair is quite enough to deal with). But things that get us worked up, and that we really care about.

I have two major bees. The first is the current state of the nursing profession (I've just posted on my neglected Blog, Real Nurse Campaign, and that's made me feel a whole lot better.

The other, as anyone who reads this blog will probably know, is the death penalty, and especially the treatment of prisoners on some of America's death rows.

My prisoner correspondent writes fluently and heart-breakingly about how it feels no longer to be treated as human. He will probably never touch another humnan being again (prisoners aren't even allowed to hug their families before they die). He is just a number. In April, his best friend was executed, and he says that the following weeks were "hell on wheels". He (the executed man) had friends and a family. My penfriend (who has neither) wrote:

He had a life worth saving. I on the other hand have nothing. A bucket full of phantoms. Would I have traded places with him if it meant him living to be free? Yes. That doesn't make me noble in the least. But I would give him that.

He went without food for four days to write me that letter, because he couldn't afford the money for a stamp. I know this is true, because all prisoners' letters are censored. And he wasn't hinting for money, because when I sent him some, he was upset because he didn't want to be treated as a "charity". He asked me not to send any more.

I am not sentimental. I know that what he did (if indeed he did it) was very wrong. But condemning a man to year after year of solitary confinement, leading a totally useless life, followed by the awful ritual of the death chamber (sometimes after several last-minutes stays of execution) can hardly be the answer. Can it?

Sunday 15 July 2012

Magpie 126

She stands gazing out of the window of the flat they shared together. She is wearing the dress he loved; the ring he bought for her. He persuaded her to give up smoking, but she needs this last one, to help her to get through today. Just this last one.

Looking down into the street below, she sees that it is time to go.

The funeral cortege is waiting.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture)

Saturday 14 July 2012

True/untrue - a nurse's tale

There's lovely little story on the blog of Doctor FTSE, which he thinks is probably untrue.

I was exchanging true/untrue stories with a friend last night, and recalled this, which really is true.

I was a young staff nurse, and I overheard the following exchange between a young doctor and an elderly and very deaf femals patient:

Doctor: Do you have any trouble with your front passage?
Patient: What?

This was repeated several times. Then:

Patient: Only when my neigbour parks his bicycle in it.

Friday 13 July 2012

£350,000 advance

No. Not for me. It's for Pudsey. That's right. Pudsey the dog. Who won Britain's Got Talent. His autobiography.

Has the world gone mad? Who on earth is going to read the autobiography of a dog? Even a dancing dog (who, let's face it, doesn't need the money)?

But wait. Pudsey will need a ghost writer (unless he's added literacy to his CV). So if Pudsey's publishers are looking for a volunteer, please please let it be me.

It's got to pay more than I earn. And I'm happy to prostitute my art if the money's right. Even for a dog.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Happy birthday! Now choose your coffin.

Okay, so some people have to know my age. Car and holiday insurance, to name two. But now it seems I have a whole host of Big Brothers, who know everything about me (and furthermore, what they think is good for me).

When I reached a certain age, I was offered funeral plans, extra life insurance, and frumpy crimplene clothes. Great. The latest is an invitation to attend the opening of a 'Retirement Village'. Yes. A lovely new Retirement Village, into which I can totter when I can no longer manage these stairs (I've already been offered the stair lift). Worse still, they want me to RSVP if I CAN'T come! Dream on, Retirement Village. I'm not spending the price of a stamp on telling you I can't come to something I'm not interested in.

We old people know that a stamp now costs 12 shillings in old money. So there.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Amazon reviews

These are becoming increasingly important, to readers and writers alike, and this poses problems. For example, how many are genuine? How many are from camp followers, who may not even have read the book? Or maybe sometimes the bad ones are from people with an axe to grind? I try to be scrupulous, and don't even label the nice ones (about my books) as "helpful", as that doesn't seem fair, but does everyone play by the same rules?

As a reviewer for the Amazon Vine programme, I find the task can be difficult. If I love the book, that's great. Writing a glowing review is easy. But what if I hate it? No-one want to be unkind, but sometimes...

I am just reaching the end of a book which is tedious beyond belief. It is a second novel (the first, which I haven't read, was very successful, so I had quite high expectations), and I have been very disappointed. And while I don't mind speaking my mind (politely) about a book by an established author, is it fair to do so about the work of a relatively new one?

This novel has a boring plot, no tension, two-dimensional characters and many basic grammatical mistakes. While it is an unedited proof, I have a horrible feeling that the frequent uses of the first person "I" instead of "me" (when it is the object of a verb), and "sat" instead of "sitting", have already got past at least one editor. The style, too is irritating. In fact, I can't find a single positive thing to say about this novel.

And yet I must. Because the book hasn't yet received any Amazon reviews, and its author may be very hurt if I say what I feel.

Oh dear.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

I am not a proper woman

I have just had an eye-watering quote for two tiny pairs of curtains, and it's made me wish, yet again, that I could sew. But I HATE sewing. I can do a button. Just. And that's it.

When I was eleven, we had needlework lessons at school. We had to make an overall (why? I never did find out. I have never in my life worn an overall). It was blue gingham. Every time poor wretched Miss Campion picked mine up, the belt fell off. She despaired. I despaired. I never did get to take the damn thing home. The next term, I dropped needlework and took up Latin (no. Me neither).

I can't paint walls, either. I make a terrible mess. I have never in my life cleaned an oven. I hate ironing. Ditto dusting. I like to think I'm a Modern Woman. But no. I'm just an Inadequate Woman.

I think the weather's finally getting to me.

Monday 9 July 2012

Magpie 125

When John Constable painted "Hay Wain",
People asked, "could you do that again?"
"No problem!" he cried.
But however he tried
The result somehow wasn't the same.

(With thanks To Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture)

Thursday 5 July 2012

Fifty shades...

...well, you know the rest (unless you've spent the past few weeks in an insulated bubble). So. Have you read it? And if not, how many times have you been asked whether you have read it? I have been asked by numerous people, from son's girlfriend to the assistant in Sainsburys this afternoon. Because I write, there seems to be an assumption that I must have read this novel.

For the record, I haven't, and neither do I intend to. Not sour grapes ( well, hardly), but because I don't want to. Because its not really my kind of thing. A prospective agent once asked a colleague of mine whether she "wanted to win prizes or make money". Good question. Obviously, Fifty Shades belongs to the latter category.

So, two questions: have you read it? And would you prefer the prizes or the money?

PS I'd like both, but then I'm greedy.

Wednesday 4 July 2012


Today would have been my 42nd wedding anniversary. I've now had as many anniversaries without him as I had with him. It used to be our day; now it is just mine.

I always think of him on this day; of our beautiful wedding in a pretty Cambridge college chapel, the flower arrangement that collapsed just before the service, the sweet peas worn by all the men and in my bouquet, my then fifteen-year-old brother disappearing and finding a funfair, where he won a coconut.

Everyone else has moved on, more or less, and I am the only one who is remembering today. And that is how it should be.

But I shall always love him, and be grateful for the too-short time we had together. Always.

Monday 2 July 2012

New novel out today!

My new baby is out today (published by Thirst eDitions)! Long gestation, but that's (book) life.

And it's a girl (well, three girls); three very bad girls, in fact. It's available from Amazon now, at the weird price of £2.58 (but that's still a bargain. A small drink and a bag of crisps would probably cost you more, and not last nearly as long).

I am very bad at selling myself (ie my books), but please buy it! As it's on Kindle, I can't sell signed copies, but will have a cyber signing instead: my place, today. You can come in jeans if you like, and I'll provide lashings of cyber drink, plus smoked salmon and caviar for those who like it (I hate caviar. See? Aren't I generous?).

So do come, and please buy my book!

(I have tried, unsuccessfully, to provide an Amazon link. Probably my fault, but please don't let it deter you!)

Sunday 1 July 2012

Magpie 124

While Hamlet was courting Ophelia,
He dallied with Jane, and with Celia.
Poor Ophelia took
Her own life, in a brook.
Now he cooks for himself, using Delia.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture)