Thursday, 30 December 2010

To-witter or not

Twitter. Must be the buzz word of the year beating  Kindle or I-pod hands down.
I am trying it, though I can't for the life of me see the point. Another time wasting tool/activity almost certainly, but I am perfectly capable of doing that without another "application" to get to grips with.
Would I be any worse off if I don't Twitter ? Probably not and probably in my case better off as I am renowned for letting information overload get to me.

I am judging Writer's Talkback's One Word Challenge Competition this month - first time as joint judge so I could do with getting on with that instead of looking out for news on who's doing what, to arrive. I have somehow managed to be "following" Alistair Campbell (??) and I haven't the slightest interest in what he has to say. I expect the feeling's mutual but I may have to tweet something to him anyway, just for the hell of it.

Still no resolutions in mind.
Give another day and I might have "prioritise" as number one.
Feel that this one has been hanging around too long...
Suggestions welcome - via blog, text, Facebook, Email or that Twitter thing.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

On the fourth day of Christmas

It's that strange time in between Christmas and New Year where I feel I am in limbo - but I don't know what I am waiting for. 
It's officially the fourth day of Christmas, according to the song anyway. No one has given me any calling birds yet but I didn't get a partridge or any doves or  hens over the past few days either. And I am certainly not expecting any gold rings tomorrow.
With three and a bit more days to go till New Year, I suppose I could be waiting for that, if only sub -consciously. But if that's the case then I might have to think about making resolutions, and that seems a bit like putting myself under pressure to achieve something. If I don't achieve what I intended to, then this time next year I will be feeling a complete failure and I don't fancy that again !

So, no resolutions (yet) and no particular plans for the near future (yet). To be able to take each day at a time is a precious thing. At this moment that is all I hope to do. I hope it's enough.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Write-Place Blog Spot: Keeping the Peace

Write-Place Blog Spot: Keeping the Peace: "Seems like The Police have recently seen sense in the way they interpret the law - Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, to be precis..."

Keeping the Peace

Seems like The Police have recently seen sense in the way they interpret the law - Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, to be precise.

Quite rightly of course, this part of the act makes it an offence to utter ‘threatening, abusive’ words ‘to cause harassment, alarm or distress’, but new guidelines say that police officers need to be a bit more thick skinned to carry out their job effectively.
A street preacher was arrested, held for seven hours and charged with a public-order offence after he told a gay PCSO that he believed homosexuals were acting against the “word of God”. The charges have now been dropped and he has been awarded £7,000 plus legal costs in compensation and will get an apology in person from the Chief Constable.

The right to free speech allows people to express unpopular view as long as their behaviour is not unreasonable or violent so it’s about time that beliefs can be expressed which provoke debate rather than be an offence. The police bank account could have been saved a good deal too which could have been used for something more useful to the community.

         I don’t believe what the preacher said is true, but then I don’t believe in the phenomenon of “the word of God” either. We all have the right to say what we do or don’t believe, it’s when we force a belief on others that the trouble starts.

I wish everyone a happy Christmas time, whatever our beliefs and hope that the Christmas message of love and peace reaches us and stays with us - those of all religions and none.

Happy Christmas 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010


"What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do. "  

I had an email today from Sheffield Museums with this quote on it by John Ruskin. I posted it as my status on Facebook (rather rashly, maybe) and now feel I should elaborate on the sentiments. If I don’t, then I could be guilty of dwelling on things of little consequence simply by not doing something. Or would I?
My initial reaction was that yes, the “doing” is the most important thing. But on second thoughts, as most things, one is no good without the other. Doing something without believing in it or believing without thinking first, is definitely not the way to go. I must think, then decide what I believe and then base my actions on this. The results of my actions will then reflect on my future thinking and beliefs. Everything goes full circle.

And considering this, I wait with anticipation for the consequence of this blog post.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

One thing leads to another

Someone on Writer's Talkback yesterday, made a post about running out of milk. 
People got talking about substitutes and how they liked to have their tea or coffee. This lead onto a 'discussion' on who loves hot milk, who hates Marmite and who dunks toast in coffee. Funny how one thing leads to another.

Today I have made pasta bake and there's rather a lot left over. I wondered if the person who had ran out milk yesterday could suggest anything, rather than throwing it out.The suggestions ranged from passing it their way to freezing it. So I have searched out a plastic pot that has a reasonably fitting lid (funnily enough -  see another blog on plastic containers) I have then looked in the freezer and found a number of tubs and plastic bags containing unidentifiable concoctions. Possibly one of these was once pasta bake in another era.
So these have been removed to the bin and the new pasta bake installed. No doubt in the future it will be replaced by another tub of something.
 I have found some rhubarb though, which is well due for making into a crumble or pudding but I have run out of flour so it will have to wait. Perhaps someone could suggest a substitute for flour ? Goodness knows what a discussion that could lead to ... 

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Police officers are being ordered to send text messages instead of speaking on their radios. The police communications network, Airwave Solutions, is becoming too expensive to use and texting is apparently much cheaper. 
Great. I can just see it now - PC PLOD HERE. I AM OK BUT M8 IS DED. PLS FONE 999 !
A sign of the times, maybe. I'm all for cutting costs for the tax payer.

Reminded me of something I wrote a good few years back, published in TES. So am indulging myself by posting the link here :

Enjoy !

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lost and Found

I thought I'd lost it forever. But today I have found it and the best thing about it is I can't remember writing a lot of it, so it's like reading something that someone else has written. And you know something -  I'm quite impressed.

What am I on about ? 5,200 and odd words of a novel I am writing that went AWOL about a year and a half ago. It wasn't actually the text that went absent, rather that compartment of my memory that was incorrectly labelled and badly filed. So it's been a bit exciting reading and editing my own stuff. It's also given me a boost to think that maybe there's all sorts of other literary masterpieces of mine hidden away on my computer's hard drive and probably on my own too. Thanks NaNo WriMo. I might not have got far with  a new novel, but I'm happy I found the old one.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Know thyself ... and start on the second day.

I have found myself the ultimate "get yourself moving and write" site. Well, I thought I had yesterday. 
This year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has begun. The theory : begin writing on November 1st with a goal to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.        Simples.  

Or rather, not at simple as I thought.

I had all good intentions this morning. Even knowing that I had "other"  things to do, I was certain that I would have a good few hundred words written. I ought to know myself better. Of course, the site itself has been working so slow that I haven't even managed to upload the novel title yet (I 'm sure it does have a title) and of course I had to write this blog and chat about writing on other forums first. I have also had to read how other people are getting on with their own NaNoWriMo entries, find out who my buddies are and make supportive comments and the like. 

So there we have it. I shall be participating in NaNoWriMo 2010. I will finish by 30th November. And I will begin on the second day ...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010



Write-Place Blog Spot: Practice Gigs for Writers

Write-Place Blog Spot: Practice Gigs for Writers: "I have just been listening to the comedian Michael Mcintyre talking about his On The Road tours. He has gone from selling one ticket at Edin..."

Practice Gigs for Writers

I have just been listening to the comedian Michael Mcintyre talking about his On The Road tours. He has gone from selling one ticket at Edinburgh to sell out performances with audiences of thousands. Getting to where his career is today and preparing for these shows obviously takes a lot of work and knockbacks and hasn't been easy.
So how do you present your work to so many people in the hope that at least the majority appreciate it ?
Mackintyre does practice gigs, starting with as little as 15 people and working up to larger audiences until he has a show he is happy with  and knows is worth putting out to "the masses".

I wonder if this is feasible for writers and if it's any different from asking for critiques from "professionals". There are book and poetry readings but these are usually after the book/poetry is complete.  And listening to something read aloud is very different to reading it yourself. Maybe if we had audiences reading during the process of our writing we might have a better sense of what works and what doesn't. 

I am starting small. 
I have an audience of two dogs for this morning's jottings and it's going well, so far. Think I might do the gig tomorrow with an increase in readership - next door but one's cat is looking attentively at me as I write. 
Watch this space - which hopefully won't stay a space for too long.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Too private, too public or just right ?

"I could write a biography about me. But all the things I 'liked' and all the groups I joined already told my story "

Someone just sent me this from a website called "Likelicious", where people post a little piece about what they like (hence the name ) The posts are anonymous.
Made me think that yes, that could almost be me yet I do enjoy this "networking " game, time wasting/consuming though it is. I am a talker - whether verbally or written (though on a bad day I am more comprehensible when writing than talking and on a really bad day I am just completely incomprehensible!)
I am the person who you tell your life story to during twenty minutes in the doctors waiting room - and you will hear a good bit about mine too, though we will probably never meet again.
Good or bad for me ? Good or bad for you ? Where do you fit onto this scale of public v private ?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Write-Place Blog Spot: Catching the Mood

Write-Place Blog Spot: Catching the Mood: "I've done more writing on doing anything but writing than your average procrastinator but this is a final one (for now) before I get started..."

Catching the Mood

I've done more writing on doing anything but writing than your average procrastinator but this is a final one (for now) before I get started, as there's not much of the day left (but I have been thinking) I am planning to catch the mood - that is, mine and the subject's. I have been chasing "the mood" for months now but somehow today it seems to have decelerated in it's escape and I HAVE IT.

The project is this : to write using Stewart's work as a base. It is not an original idea to use one art form as a base for another (if it is I copyright it here and now) but it is unique to me in that I know the artist personally. I have written stuff and used his artwork as a background on paper but not as yet, for the inspiration. We have all been expected at some time in school to paint from a still life set up or a "famous" artist's print. Good for technique and practising using materials I would think, though I am not and never will be skilled at drawing. But most artist's say that working from real life models is more satisfying and productive than from pictures or photographs ( I am interested to know what you artists out there think on that) My interpretation of mixed media.

So, my theory is that if I write from the immediate, which I have seen being produced, then the result will be more realistic. That's the idea anyway. 
Don't send thoughts on a postcard or I will be tempted to write not about the picture on it, but about the person who sent it and why they chose it. Send them to this blog - but check first to see if I am in the right mood.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Arts Council's misuse of funds ?

Fine Arts lecturer Mark McGowan has produced a show "The Re-enactment of the Assassination of Raoul Moat " and has been funded by four public bodies including the Arts Council which distributes Lotto Cash

He has refused to say how much he got, as has the Arts Council, who say that every application for funds is judged on it's own merit. Merit ? What merit is there in writing and performing a "play"about a maniac killer portraying him as the victim, 11 weeks after the awful event ? To suggest that Moat is a victim is an appalling insult to the bereaved and wounded.  

The only other victims in this are the people who provide the Arts Councils with their money - the tax payers.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Internet is changing our thought processes ...

 The debate over how prolonged internet use is affecting our brain is on again. The ‘mind change’ brought about by using the internet needs urgent research to work out its long-term effects - so says Professor Susan Greenfield.
She fears that technologies are “ infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment “
I know what she means. My mind seems to be completely infantilised and my attention span is mostly lower than the average 2 year olds (as I often comment on) Whether this is due to the internet or not of course, needs researching too.
Search engines are “driving us to distraction” and technology is moving faster than neuroscience can monitor its effect on our brains. In simple speak I think that means we don’t know what it is doing to our thought processes. I know that advert about search engines that's on the telly lately drives me to distraction – drives me straight away from the tv back to the computer actually.
I agree with what the professor says, and most of us would say that too much internet use is as bad for our health as eating too many chips or drinking too much red wine. But the “powers that be” don’t half encourage it. Many things now are only able to be done online and it’s cheaper and stuff – banking, shopping etc etc  We of course do still have the self control switch, but if pressure on life makes us go online more than we think is necessary, well it’s not all our fault, is it ?

Friend has just this morning had new broadband line fitted, so am away to provide my valuable tekky support on installing the router. See if I can get my thought processes around that one.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Pyjamas are only jeans with patterns on

Where is the boundary line between what is classed as pyjamas and what are day clothes ? And, how do I decide at what time of day/night I should wear them?
This is my latest “dilemma” which brought about the statement from my friend which is the title here. It’s not that I am so clothes conscious that I am bothered whether my jeans look like pyjamas or my pj’s look like jeans though. It’s more the time of day of wearing either.

What time is it reasonable to put on your pyjamas ? In the winter time that’s easy – as soon as it starts to get dark, in my book it’s perfectly acceptable to get a nice warm bath and wear pyjamas till bedtime. Of course, I then have to contend with anyone who operates “normal” hours - deliveries, newspapers, leaflets etc (this is mainly because my gate is broken so when anyone tries to get in the garden I have to go out and make sure they are not flattened by it in the process of posting something)

Likewise in the morning. It’s ok to still be in pyjamas late in the morning as it’s fairly dark most of the day. But in Summer the pyjama thing becomes more of a problem for me as I feel positively slovenly when the sun is shining in and I am not dressed (I also feel slovenly when the sun shines in as it tends to show up all the dust and finger marks everywhere) As we know, it stays light quite late in Summer too, so it’s a bit of a nuisance hanging around waiting for the sun to go down completely before the comfy attire comes out. When I am ill, it’s not so much of a problem as I am feeling too bad to care about anything, but on the verge of recovering a little it’s not conducive to health to do all this clock and wardrobe watching.
So, it is 10.30am, the sun is shining a bit but there’s a lot of black cloud. I am feeling quite tired and I am wearing cotton checked “bottoms” and a tee shirt. That seems like a few good reasons to stay as I am until …er… later? I reckon so. Have a good day.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Plain and simple for me

An online friend has blogged about changing the coffee that she usually drinks and the place that she drinks it. She feels like she has cheated 
Good luck to her, I say. Change the place you drink your coffee every day and tell me when you find somewhere that serves coffee - just that ... plain and simple coffee. I know I'm speaking in the vein of the "grumpy old women" here but it is a fact of life that you can not go into a cafe these days, ask for a cup of coffee and get it without a barrage of questions about the type you want. I can handle Cappucino and Espresso and Latte. I think I even know what an Americano is. But when they start on Doppio and Macchiato and Frappe then my mind wanders. They even seem to have little biscuits that go with the coffee that you are having. They ought to have a list of what goes with what because I like those stick ones with the chocolate inside but am not so keen on the wafery ones. 
Then they ask you what size cup you want. This can vary from a glass the size of an egg cup to an extra large soup bowl with the diameter of a car wheel so that the coffee's cold before you can lift the cup to your mouth. 
And regular always used to mean normal or usual or often. Now it means small - only the small that I think of must be called miniscule as regular always seems too large to be small.
Am off to put the kettle on to make a cup of tea. Ringtons actually.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Something about the sea

Pittenweem Harbour - Original Pastel by Stewart Platt (inspired by a photo by Julie Broom)

There's something about boats and the sea that sends even the least literary of us into wistful and poetic musings at the sight and the visual artist is in her/his element to be able to observe and produce images that stir. In sunshine the slant and sparkle of reflections on water can lighten our mood while in stormy conditions our darker thoughts are often portrayed in the rain loaded cloud changing the colours of the sea in an instant.
 I think myself lucky to live on an island here in Britain - even inland, it is  only a few hours travelling distance of the coast. Much of my teenage angst was silently screamed at the sea and in middle age it still feels like home to be near it, regardless of the weather. The squall of the gulls, the thundering of the waves , the slap of the boats ropes on the masts.
" I must go down to the sea again ... ... ... "

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Warning - Don't go and live in a "soap" street

After the "Bias in Eastenders" talk yesterday, I have been reading a study by the British Medical Journal (like you do ! ) who's objective was "To measure mortality among characters in British soap operas on television. "

(with thanks to the Ugley Vicar blogspot for discussing the subject and the BMJ )

I am finding the subject of people's responses to soap operas quite fascinating and thought you might be interested in the Key Messages from the analysis.

"Characters in soap operas lead very dangerous lives
Their lives are more dangerous even than those of Formula One racing drivers or bomb disposal experts
People suffering from many forms of cancer and other serious diseases have better five year survival rates than do these characters
Could the exaggerated portrayal of these violent and dangerous lives be contributing to our distorted national perceptions about violent crime and death? "

It seems that the best way to get viewers to watch soaps is for them to show issues that are as violent, depressing and upsetting as possible. Is this what we now class as "entertainment" or are our perceptions becoming distorted as the question suggests? With the Raoul Moat situation following his death and the Facebook pages, it seems that society is becoming more "disturbed" than ever.
Is it ?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Bias on Eastenders ?

There's been "complaints" that Eastenders shows an "anti Christian bias". The BBC has had to defend a storyline after viewers accusations.The plotline in question shows a Christian Pentecostal pastor, as a mad killer whose actions are motivated by his Christian faith.
And now over 100 viewers have written to the BBC saying that they find the storyline deeply offensive.
Years ago whenever Eastenders started my children were "banned" by me from watching it after having seen a bit of an episode when someone got hit on the head with a chair on the Christmas Day episode, I think it was. I didn't think it was suitable viewing for me as an adult never mind my impressionable offspring.
Now they accuse me of hypocrisy (jokingly, I think) as about 6 months ago I started watching it and now follow it regularly. My children are grown up enough now to choose if they wish to watch or not - most of the time they are too busy with their own children to have time to. I haven't changed my views on the content of the programme,only that now I see it as more of a satire on "perceived" East London life. Certainly there are murders, adulteries, thefts, suicides and the rest in London as in any town or city but it is the concentration of such things within one small area that makes the whole thing unreal and, to me, humorous though black humour I should say. To suggest then that there is an "anti-Christian bias" or any other bias in the programme just seems like complaining for complaining's sake.

Perhaps it's the people who watch the "soaps" who have the problem as a lot really think they are a true portrayal of real life. Or maybe it's the writers fault who will write anything that is likely to be sensationalist just to get viewers. Then we could argue the "on/off switch" on the TV theory.
The reception on my TV is currently quite poor - must be the weather or something.So luckily it's Saturday and there are no soaps on.
Then again, I could always watch repeats online.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Never holiday with kids or dogs

Yesterday I was reading how a fellow blogger was bemoaning the prices of child care so that parents can work and also the ridiculous increase in prices for package holidays and flights during the school holidays. I agreed and sympathised with her. I never understood that business of "if everyone wants something then it's more expensive". To me if the demand is high then whatever it is should be cheaper. (Of course, I didn't fail my Economics O'level for nothing)

However I felt I had a solution for her and now today having assessed the situation further, I am sure of it.
I have been to look at boarding kennels for my 2 dogs while I go away for a few days. The cost of a small dog is £10.50 a day, a medium dog £11 per day. Luckily for me they decided that mine are both small and so I get a 10% discount for taking two. The kennels are great. There are regular walks and treats for good behaviour, all food is provided, there are games to play etc etc.
So.. how about all you people with kids put them in the kennels (cheaper than day care)and then the holiday for adults will be cheaper too (and no ice creams to buy and stuff). I am convinced this is the way forward for the future. I have told my dogs about their upcoming holiday and they are already looking for things to pack - though I have told them that all they need is a blanket.
Let me know how your holidays go if you try out this idea. I wish I had thought of it when my offspring were children ...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Empty Rooms

Not much topical, intellectual or discussable stuff in my mind at the moment (well, not that I can blog about anyway )so here's a piece to keep the blog on a "writing" theme. The title could be substituted for "Empty Brain" if wanted.Empty Rooms

In the silence of another sleepless night
with shadows from the moon’s pale light
Blues and blacks shine through the window pane
Like shadows calling out your name.

And did you ever know
That although you said that you would go
I never thought it would be so

I watch the moonlight in the place
where colours once bathed around your face
And fragrant flowers are in the air
The scent is here though you’re not there.

And I wonder if you know
That I never thought you’d go
But you did and I’m alone.

Morning goes with more regret
of the evening and memories I can't forget.
Empty rooms and I climb the stairs
where clothes lie draped on empty chairs.

And I wonder if you knew
how I always understood
that although you said you'd go
I never thought you would.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Save water - shower with a friend

Well, here we are seven days into July and some parts of the country are starting with hose pipe bans.
Now I know we must not waste water, after all it's one of the most precious natural things we have available to us - after air, and maybe the sun (and no doubt a few more things)
Anyway, it's precious, we know that. And my tomato plants not only have black fly - which is probably caused by being too dry - but they are all shrivelled too and so are the beans and the potatoes are not looking too clever. But I won't worry - I shall use the dirty washing up water on them, which I understand will kill the blackfly and water them at the same time. (It's the washing up liquid the blackfly hate, not the grease and bits of food)

But come on. We are an island. You can't travel much further than 50 or 60 miles and you reach water. Salted yes, but didn't someone invent something to get rid of the salt for drinking? I am no expert (on anything at all) but even I know you can collect water to drink when you are lost at sea in your dinghy by collecting condensation on a piece of plastic or metal. Now if I know that, there's got to be some clever brains out there to work on this.
As for washing, I read somewhere that it's better to only bathe twice a week. I suppose some people carry this through to the extreme.

So - apparently we are short of water again. Places like Spain which are usually "hot" don't seem to have this problem. They water their perfectly groomed green lawns almost 24 hours a day and I never heard of hose pipe bans there.
No doubt I will get aspersions cast on my ignorance about climate change and all that stuff, but this is the way I say it from the "man in the street" 's point of view. When it rains, save some. When it doesn't, use that which you saved before. Where's the problem.

(Just need to point out that the title of this blog is taken from an incident when I was twelve and my RE teacher sent me to the Headmaster for having it written on the from of my notebook. Thanks Mr Tarn, you saved me a lot of thinking time there ! )

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Invasion of Plastic Lids

It's true. Plastic lids - those that tightly enclose your leftover beans and other such delicacies in a pot - are multiplying.
I appreciate that this must sound like the most inane comment I have come out with recently but I can back up this statement with clear evidence.I used to think that it was only my kitchen cupboards that had endless supplies of lids which fit nothing at all but other members of my family have the same thing happening.I assume from this that it's happening in kitchens all over the country and probably in other countries too. This is not a local problem.
The signs of this happening start first with you only being able to find the pot and no lid to fit it. If you are lucky you may have a few empty chinese takeaway dishes but it is unlikely that the selection of lids will fit the one with your portion of decaying chilli in it. The problem then escalates to finding lids which you can not remember ever having a pot to go with it - sometimes in colours that you know that you would never dream of buying.The worrying thing is you just can't bear to throw them away What if you throw out the lid and the very next day a pot to fit turns up ? Then you have a pot with no lid and have to resort to covering it with cling film or foil (and we all know that it then leaks)
While packing up to move houses, I only this week put a number of multi coloured lids into a box and unpacked them at the new house, knowing full well I have never seen pots to go with them They are now stored safely in a kitchen drawer especially for "plastic stuff"

I think I have a solution for these disturbing occurrences. Stop putting all those bits of leftover meals in the fridge, put it straight into the bin. You know you are only going to throw it away a week later when you haven't any space left to put the new weekly shop and you will then have another lidless pot to wash up. That meal was never worth a second chasnce anyway.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A Book Too Far

"Massacre in Cumbria" by Clare Leigh will be published in paperback on 30th July, priced £7.99, published by John Blake. He says that some of the profits will be donated to the charity Victim Support as
“We feel it’s a very raw subject so we don’t want to seem like we’re exploiting the dreadful murders." He reckons they have a moral obligation to do this.
Yeah Right.

Some of the profits ? Why not all, if this has to be done at all and by an outsider ? But does it ? And so soon after the awful events ?

The author is apparently an experienced journalist.Hmm - not experienced enough to know about insensitivity it seems. Or perhaps I am being too sensitive.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

21 day marketing plan

Just received this email from and find it interesting especially after me going on about information overload etc in my last 2 blogs.
I might pledge a couple of the suggestions (not saying which though- someone might try and hold me to it ! )

"They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Marketing your book shouldn’t be a task you dread. It should be a habit that comes to you easily. Pledge to do the following 7 steps everyday for the next 21 days, and form a habit that is going to strengthen your online presence and create a community around yourself and your book that will continue to grow over time and ultimately help you get in the habit of selling books.
21 Day Book Marketing Pledge

1.) I pledge to give one book away to a charity, friend, or organization. The book I give away will be signed by me with all my online contact information and a handwritten invitation to review the book on Amazon.
2.) I pledge to write an entry for my blog.
3.) I pledge to follow 10 people on Twitter.
4.) I pledge to find 1 person to send a Facebook Friend request to.
5.) I pledge to update my Twitter and Facebook accounts with a link to my new blog entry.
6.) I pledge to find a blog on that is relevant to my book’s genre or subject matter and place their link on my blog, and attempt to contact the blog owner.
7.) I pledge to reach out to another author, and offer them the opportunity to write about their book for my blog "

I suggest that whatever field you are in, you substitute the word "book" for your area.
Happy next 3 weeks ...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Re wiring the mind

An article in today’s Daily Mail suggests that the internet is making us less able to concentrate. We read fewer books of the paper variety as anything we want is available at a click and there is a mind blowing supply of information constantly at hand. All knowledge that there ever was can be in anyone’s mind.
But not only is the information permanently available, it seems that the internet is actually “blowing our minds” as the process of using the net is “subverting the very process of intellectual inquiry”. Doing research in a library involves us in deciding which step to take next to further the enquiry – the internet does that for us by providing a hyperlink.

We all know that the internet has been blamed for all ills in society and done by mankind, but I have to agree that in this instance the suggestions ring true with me.
I say this as I write this while half watching the Matthew Wright show on television and half reading the newspapers on the internet (on second thoughts, that fraction should probably be a third … though it doesn’t read properly )

As per my last blog, I am constantly trying to think about or do so many things at one time - the classic “stressmaker” in today’s world. Bombarded with information, answers to all questions at my fingertips and minute by minute updates on millions of peoples everyday actions – if I so choose – yet still wondering if I am richer for this.
Obviously, it is a free choice.
So as I have the choice, just to let you know that I am now going to make a cup of coffee, before I update my facebook page, tweet a few lines and check out some forums to see what people are talking about behind my back. What about you ?

(addendum – the internet can also make you paranoid)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Art

"The art really is in isolating yourself and letting as few things into your head as possible. To only admit those things into your head that come from a direction where no one else ever looks. That is the difficult thing."
W.G. Sebald

This is a very profound thought - or maybe it just seems profound to me because of a particular state of mind at a particular time. Sebald speaks of "the art" but does not specify the art of what. We can assume that he means the art of living, but this can also be narrowed down to specifics - writing of course comes straight to my mind,or anything creative. But surely knowing the art of living must be one of the most amazing things to be able to get to grips with. Sebald admits it's difficult. I will do my best to try.

Friday, 14 May 2010

The BNP - Another 2 years on

I came across the article I wrote two years ago about the BNP reposted on the net this week and thought would respond in a sort of update on what has happened - or not - since.
Two years down the line and I can report that not a lot has changed here in Maltby (suprise, suprise).Many people appear to be tactically voting just to get Labour out (which has happened nationally but never locally here!) I think what concerns people about "Independents" is that it is almost impoossible to define what an Indpedent is. In fact here in Rotherham, despite many claims that it was not going to happen it has resulted in a "Rotherham Independents Group" - note "group" not party.

Still VERY worrying I feel that in a town of around 17,000, the BNP got 810 votes. Granted these were no doubt by the people that "anonymous" speaks of that are basically ignorant thugs - not sure they are even really fascist - and hang around causing bother for bother's sake. Incidentally the pub anon speaks of is now boarded up completely - set alight and vandalised too many times by it's patrons for anyone to risk money on it.
Will Blair still spouts the same old stuff - he is not racist etc etc...just get jobs for the "whites" before giving them to snyone else. His main thing at the moment seems to be campagining for more parking in the town, which is good, but nigh on impossible.Mr Burke , Cllr Blair's side kick, didn't have a manifesto or a leaflet giving his opinion, not that I saw. But Will Blair did manage to slide some photocopied lesflets spouting the usual hatred and ignorant theories into some newsagents asking them to put them inside newspapers.Luckily not many did, but they did manage to get out into the community.
Maltby is a good place to live. I wouldn't be here otherwise. I am proud of the way my children and grandchildren are growing up to be. If only we could guarantee this in the future.

What will happen now, who is to say? Perhaps we now wait in anticipation for the squabbling to start within this new coalition government- or maybe we will have a fruitful, peaceful one. God willing.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Theological thoughts or morbid musings

What to think about or comment on today ? A hung parliament? Think we have that up to our necks and more. The situation in Greece? That night work it’s way around to the Euro Parliament and the same sort of thing. So…..

What about funerals ? Ok, so it’s not the most uplifting of topics – but it’s a fact of life. As I get older, my mind keeps changing on what I want to happen when I die. I know for a fact I don’t want to be buried. (Have threatened to haunt anyone who does that) I was brought up in a family with very strong Christian beliefs. I went through the stages of doing as I was told, then rebelling, just for the sake of it. As I had my own children my views changed again and I studied as many religions as I could manage (or maybe it was theological ideas more than religions) Some ideas seem very logical to me, others just plain unpalatable. And yet I can still not say I am 100% Atheist. It might be easy if I could. To believe (or not believe) 100% in a point of view. I don’t usually have a problem with my beliefs and views in this way – just with this one.
Is it because of my upbringing – that bit of ingrained dogma that I can not –or am afraid to- lose completely? The time will come when all will be clear (er…I think that’s a Freudian slip of a Bible quote)

Anyway, do what you will with my body. I hope that something good from me lives on in what I leave behind , and if there is a funeral with music for me, please play Paul McCartney’s Long and Winding Road and Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Pantomime season starts early again at Maltby Town Council

Well, here we go. This blog that wasn't going to be particularly political has turned out to be political again ..even if just for this week up to the elction. I have posted on Politics in the Rother Valley about the latest round of leflets/non leaflets. I really think we must be being persuaded by the big 3 and the TV.
Anyway - Maltby Town Council.
What can one say.
Thursday was the finance meeting where things like er,,finance were supposed to be discussed.
It was difficult to work out who was who and who was campainging for what amidst the noise and rumpus coming from cllrs and public alike. A prospective Independant candidate was shouting across the table to tell councillors what to say whilst haveing converstion with 2 PCSO's regarding some councillors personal finance ! You seem very open and transparent Mr Independent not - dont think I will vote for you.
As for the rest of the meting - the chair mumbles into a so called microphone that no one can understand what on earth is being discussed. What a waste of time and space.
The only positive that seemed to come out of the meeting is that the lamp from the Crossley Memorial is to be renovated. We'll see.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

BNP "policies" ?

Got my leaflet from BNP yesterday. Nothing new there really. Will Blair for Rother Valley says he is campaigning on local issues of crime and anti social behaviour and that the BNP would stop all benefits and free housing to “asylum seekers” – his inverted commas as if he doesn’t believe there are any such people seeking legal asylum. Take a trip to Somalia, Turkey, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe – and then think about why people might want to leave these countries. Charity begins at home as they say, but as a lady on the BNP leaflet states “the BNP protects our Christian values”. Check out Matthew 22:39 BNP

Actually, I rather object to the “our Christian values” bit stated as such. Who is the “our” referring to? Seems like the BNP recognise 2 categories of people – Islamic extremists and Christians. I don’t fit into either of those…what a dilemma !
(Since the “illegal” BNP propoganda being distributed in Maltby, I have less faith in their beliefs than before – and that was kind of zilch.

Incidentally – appears we have a Liberal candidate by the name of Wesley Paxton. Anyone heard of him ? He tells me that he ” looks forward to hearing the moslem community in UK speaking out against forced marriage esp of girls, but I am not holding my breath……”
I think he might have mailed me this because of my surname. Don’t worry Wesley – no one is going to force me to get married, I would just like to know what other policies you have as I haven't had any literature from you.

Sponsored not to procrastinate

It is generally accepted amongst my friends and colleagues who “write” that writers are the best – or worst depending on how you look at it – procrastinators around.
Procrastinate: a fancy word for doing anything at all other than what you are supposed to be or intended doing. (Words like lazy, idle, tardy do not come into my descriptive list for this)
I don’t know how or when I acquired this trait. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I do – in fact I am writing constantly in my head. Even as I type this I am writing the next piece that I am going to do. It’s just the actual getting it onto the paper or the computer. I wake up each morning with great intentions of getting so many thousand words of my novel written, or the poetry anthology completed or the six short stories that I have on the go finished or the many competitions that I have plans to enter. And then somehow I end up washing up (which could easily wait) vacuuming (which doesn’t need doing as I did it yesterday) washing (which could be left till there’s a load instead of doing 4 socks and 2 T shirts) and once I get in the garden.. well there’s the day gone.

Anyway, my partner has come up with the most brilliant plan.
He is “sponsoring” me for various writing that I am doing. So I have to do it – or I have to pay the money back – and that’s the best incentive yet !

Now I must get off this blog. I am sponsored a fiver to do a 250 word story. And I just need to go and water the tomatoes, feed the fish, plant some Lobelia …

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Thanks to " Politics in the Rother Valley"

Just a quick thanks to Politics in the Rother Valley blog - found at
Have been away from Maltby Town Council watching for a while - but am back !
Just need to correct the tense of the statement of the dissaray of MTC - it is STILL in dissaray and continuing to be so, just under the guise of a different Chairperson who couldn't run a chimps tea party (and believe me, that's usually what an MTC meeting seems like, minus the bananas)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter, the egg or the chocolate ?

Which came first – Easter, the egg or the chocolate ?
The egg has long been a symbol of renewal and rebirth. Though the feast is a moveable one it falls in the springtime season when baby animals such as lambs, bunnies and chickens are foremost in our minds and the buds plant life are showing that re-growth is all around us.
Easter is a Christian celebration but has been adapted from pagan traditions. Symbols of rebirth, and traditional religious sacrifice coming from the Norsemen’s, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all involving the time of the growing sun and new birth.
Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, so the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for centuries. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction of rabbits.
But what of the chocolate ?
Painted and decorated eggs have been given as gifts during this festival by all cultures and races but the first chocolate egg didn’t appear until the early 1800’s in Germany and France. In UK the first chocolate egg was produced by (strangely enough) a company called Fry (now owned by Cadbury) Dark chocolate eggs filled with sweets soon evolved into milk chocolate ones and since the 1960’s have been the favourite treat or gift for Easter.

I am not a “chocolate person”. I like a piece now and then but can’t imagine myself having to resist the temptation to eat mounds of it – as I have discussed with self confessed “chocoholics”. Anyway, no one appears to have bought me a chocolate egg this year – I have decorated wooden ones instead, which are much prettier … and last a lot longer.

Whatever your taste, religion or reason for celebrating – have a Happy and peaceful Easter.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Could you recommend a book ?

Recommendations. Can you resist them ?
I think I have an innate inability to NOT resist when something is recommended to me, no matter who is the recommender. Well, not everything. Films, TV programmes, music, restaurants, holiday destinations, shops – with these I can listen to someone extolling the virtues of the item or place in question then forget about what they have said, but with books … no chance. Suggest that I would like a particular book or that you like it yourself, and regardless of whether we have anything in common or not, I am likely to seek it out. If not actually buying the book then certainly searching the library for it.

Needless to say this has resulted in me reading and owning a multitude of books that I may not necessarily have chosen myself, but feel obliged to read because someone suggested it. Of course, sometimes this is a great blessing as I might have otherwise missed out on a great read, but sometimes it seems like a mania that I have.

Amazon (though it’s very useful) often makes things worse. They have daily recommendations for me, supposedly based on what I have bought before. Today, James Kelman, Martin Amis, Muriel Spark, Irvine Welsh and Monica Ali novels based on me buying “Lanark” by Alasdair Gray. This book hasn’t arrived yet so I am not sure if the style of the writings are the same, the themes similar or if the authors are from the same place or what. I know I have never read Martin Amis or Irvine Welsh at all. I have read and own Monica Ali books – but I didn’t get them from Amazon so how do they know? Them recommending a book by the same author as one that I have bought from them makes sense; I can see the logic there. But I have been known to buy a book for a relative and their taste in reading is certainly not mine.
Never mind. At least it saves me from thinking too much on what I could read next. I usually have about four books “on the go” at once, so the recommendations list does get used.

Is anyone else like this? And if so, could you recommend a book on the subject ?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Happy Spring Solstice

Today, in astronomical terms, is the beginning of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere - 22 September in the Southern Hemisphere. This is when the sun crosses the equator on its journey toward the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn. Spring lasts until the start of summer at the summer solstice.
Apparently the moment when spring begins does not correlate exactly with changes in weather which we usually take as the change of seasons. Temperatures in the daytime lag behind the energy delivered to earth by the sun by several weeks as the earth and sea take time to warm up. (thanks and reference to Wikipedia for my apparent scientific knowledge on this)
It’s a good feeling to know that the days are now lighter for longer and that we can look forward to some sunshine soon, even if not right now at the official beginning of Spring. Today in my part of the country the sun is struggling to get through cloud and the ground is soaked after a day of rain yesterday. (I was told that it was frosty at 5am but I can not vouch for that ) My garden, adjoining marshland is, by its nature a semi-bog. The so called “lawn” resembles a paddy field and the poor crocuses and miniature daffodils have raised their heads more than once above ground... and gone below again.
I got a clay chiminea the other day. Today I will warm myself by this , drinking tea and coffee while watching my partner erect a fence and lay a new patio. This is the life. Happy Spring Solstice !

Saturday, 20 March 2010

May I renew these books, please ?

I have just been reading a news article about a library book that has been returned after 45 years. "Quatermass and the Pit" was borrowed from Dinnington library in 1965 and posted back just this month. There's clearly some interesting story behind where the book has been all this time and I hope the "returner" gets in touch with the library to explain.

This made me think of my library book borrowing habits and of how easily I could in fact have a book on loan for 45 years - with no interesting story behind it. It's not that I let them get overdue on purpose.It's more likely because I have so many books "on the go" at once. This must be something to do with having a short memory span or plain lack of concentration - it's certainly not that I am super good at multi-tasking. I am only happy if I have a pile of books on the bedside table, on the floor beside the bed and in various other piles on tables and other places around the house. Perhaps it's a security "thing" that I need enough books so that if someone decided there was never going to be any more books printed, I would still have a good supply of unread stuff to keep me going - library books and books that I have bought included.
Whatever the reason,not returning books on time has cost me. Not only financially, but in anxiety that I may not be allowed to borrow anymore !
More than once I have paid the full price of the book at the library rather than the fine - granted one of these times was because the new dog had decided to eat the cover (yes, I know, irresponsible and all that, but like I say, I like to have books easily accessible and if they are for me, then they are even more so for the dog)
I have to say that my local library is exceptional in supporting me in this bad trait that I admit too. They even didn't charge me when I borrowed a book from the hospital library during a stay there, brought it home and returned it about 3 months later (no charge, they said, you were poorly at the time - and no they were not humouring me, at least I don't think they were)
Ok, I am off to check what I have for bedtime reading tonight. Whatever it is, it will be a selection of genres. And I will check dates as soon as I remember to.

(my HTML seems to be still on the blink - so apologies for however this text turns out on the blog page)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Gremlins in the blog system or have I lost some HTML?

I am not sure what has happened to the font on the posts on this blog. I am not even sure whether it's my computer that's showing some text to be extra large and some extra small, some black, some blue etc. I suppose that it's excusable that I don't know if it's only my computer that's showing this as one does not normally read one's own blog on someone else's computer - unless one is editing it or purely narcissistic (must spell check that)
Anyway, for whatever reason, I apologise and would be grateful if anyone would let me know if this is a blog problem or computer problem. I read on a blog the other day that the reason the text had changed on that one was that some HTML had been lost. This is rather scary as I would have no idea where to look if I found that I had lost some of mine !
Been losing my memory for years and now it's seems my blog is losing it's.
Ah well, close friends always share things...

Sunday, 28 February 2010

"The Cult of Celebrity ..."

“The cult of celebrity is destroying today’s children…” says Sharon Osbourne, a woman who has spent years helping to create it.
Sharon’s life and career appears to have been created around attention seeking, traits which she has passed on to two of her children. Their appearances on television have shown their behaviour to be less than what the average parent would want for their children and yet they flaunt it at every opportunity.
She and her husband have encouraged their children in this “cult” so it’s a bit rich to announce that today’s children are being destroyed by it. None of us are perfect parents (if there is such a thing) and I put my hand up first to admit failures. But surely Sharon Osbourne’s comments can only be classed as hypocritical.

Of course she does have a new book coming out soon…..

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tossers Ban on Running

Running in the traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake race was banned by St Albans Council (Lib Dem – whether that’s significant or not) yesterday. This was on health and safety grounds on account of the road being wet and for fear of the “odd person” slipping and falling as has apparently happened in previous years.

In my home town “odd” people go slipping and sliding about all the time – mostly due to the pot holes in the roads and paths, the dog crap on the pavements and “green spaces” and the general unkemptness around public areas that we pay to be maintained out of our council taxes.
In fact you don’t really have to be odd. The odd ones are RMBC who don’t seem to feel that there is a problem or if they concede that there is, throw a bit of tarmac down which lasts till it rains again and spray the weeds at the edges of the paths about once a year.

Mind you, at least St Albans had the community spirit to organise what turned out to be a walking event with pancakes in pans, though some people are now banned for life from entering for breaking the walking rule. Council’s seem to do this – give you something with one hand and take it away with the other.
Been used before but can't resist saying....Tossers.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Always room for some poetry

A number of days (weeks, months ?) since I have had anything to say worth letting out of my mouth let alone put online. But as I have just been reading about the literally millions of people around the world who do a blog, I reckon no one's going to bother much about this, and after all this blog is supposed to be connected to www.write-place which is about...writing. I can't afford a therapist and the person who it is written for knows who he is.

Draw Me

Draw me a place where the sun shines all day
And the night is so warm we sleep under the sky.
Show me the warmth of the ground that we lie on
And people around us go just passing by.

Paint me a place where the air is so cold
that all water is frozen and snow falls soft to the ground.
Make it a dark sky with stars as our light
Make it as though the moon we have found.

Carve me a story that tells of us two
and only us two in a world of so much.
Cut into the wood as you cut into my soul
Turning the wood as I turn with your touch.

Sculpt me an island, a place of our own
with the beauty of animals, trees smelling sweet
Make it our place where people may visit
But mainly a place where your heart I can meet.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Rotherham Politics Blog

A plug for this blog today

" of interest to all those actively engaged in or interested in practical politics in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham."

Very concerning post about a Mr Caven Vines of Kimberworth who is a UKIP candidate for the next elections and has some very alarming views. Then there's Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who leads UKIP's 13 MEPs in Brussels, who wants to ban the wearing of the burkha in Britain (here we go on this one again !)

My comments on this below :

SCARY !! (I counted 56 mistakes in the post by the way taking into account grammar,spelling and punctuation - but perhaps this is a little harsh as maybe the erratic capital letters are for effect)This man's views are very worrying and as you say, clearly will alienate much of Rotherham's electorate. It doesn't take much brain to see that Mr Vines is inciting hatred himself - though he must believe that he is being "fair".I imagine that even the BNP would be a little concerned if he was campaigning for them with this garbage.God help Rotherham ... and Happy New Year to EVERYONE, whether you are fighting elections or just wanting the best for our town and people.
17 January 2010 11:20

Re: Stop Press

Nigel Farage says that the burkha is a symbol of an "increasingly divided Britain". Maybe. Therefore lose Mr Vines and UKIP will already be on the way to losing some divisive "thinking" (I use the word loosely)
Perhaos UKIP could follow Nicolas Sarkozy's line that the wearing of the burkha is "not welcome" in France but he is not going to ban it. In other words he will sit on the fence as there is no clear cut solution to this issue.
I wait with bated breath to hear what Lord Pearson's legal advice about this situation is, when he gets it.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Diaries & Calendars - Happy 2010

And here we are at the start of another “new year” or just a new month, week or day depending on how we look at it. After all we are told by many exceptional scientists that time is only relevant to a particular space or situation and possibly or even probably is not linear at all.
So why does my mind always think of January at the left hand side with the year working it’s way across to December at the right hand side? Is it because most diaries start at January at the beginning of the book and work through to December at the end? Or is it more to do with my limited ingrained knowledge of Pope Gregory’s calendar – though I believe that’s more to do with the calculation of dates of festivals like Easter than the actual lay out of the months.

Some calendars are quite straight forward in their lay out of how the year runs. Those spiral bound ones with a page for each month with an appropriate picture on it and the dates of the days in a box underneath. They are usually ok for me – until you come to when you need to work out how many weeks from the second of one month to the second of the next. Now this would be easy if all months started on the same day – it wouldn’t matter which day, just the same one – but they don’t. The 1st January 2010 (today) is a Friday and the 1st of July is a Thursday. So if I book my holiday for the 1st July, I have to count all those numbered days in between then divide it by seven to see how many weeks till I go away. Well, my maths was always poor and this is not a fail safe method for me.

Of course I can hear you saying, “You count the weeks themselves, numbskull” (you might not call me numbskull but some such thing) But there’s another problem for me – the days of the week don’t begin on the same date either. How they came up with this idea beats me. I don’t know why we don’t now go decimal and just have ten months in a year, ten weeks in a month, ten hours in a day (maybe that could run to twenty for those busy people)

Then there’s some calendars that try to confuse you completely by having all the months on one page only they go around the picture, usually clockwise – why clockwise ? If time is not linear they could go anywhere on the page, but maybe that would be even more confusing. I once asked an Arabic friend if she thought of the year as going left to right as she reads from right to left - back of the book to the front in my terms. However, our discussion never came to a real conclusion due to neither of us quite understanding what the other was on about.

Anyway, my new 2010 diary which I must begin to write in today starts with January 1st on the first page and ends with December 31st on the last page so I reckon I’ll stick with the linear thing. If it turns out that we should be working some other way around, then I am sure we will be able to cope with the changes – they managed it in 1582 and we are supposed to be a lot more advanced since then.

Happy 2010 (and you may say those numbers any way you wish ! )