A trick of the eye.

Today there are fewer cars; the start of Easter holidays, so that morning rush is absent and all is quiet . A good time to think and to write, to put thoughts in order as they hit the page, to read, flick through the newspaper and instantly forget the news, forget to worry for those in far places whose lives affect ours like butterfly wings.
Instead, to invent lives, imbue characters with joy and problems to surmount.

Soon the visitors will come streaming, a chilly season to camp by the sea.

 We see lambs frolic as if they are in the garden; a trick of the eye, as a wall and a road separate the farmer’s field from ours.

No wind rages, no rain falls, in spite of the forecast, so time in the garden is the order of the morning after all.To work on the latest patch to be laid to lawn , to have seed scattered and checked daily for signs of sprouting. Thus far, this year’s scattering is stubbornly dormant. No sign. Perhaps sewn too early or last year’s seed, or stoney ground.

Either way.
We keep thinking we should move away go somewhere with more life, somewhere that is nearer for family.
Perhaps we should but this oasis becomes our life now.



Writing daily is a joy, a ritual like yoga that clears the mind. Random thoughts, mere wisps, float like motes. By writing, the motes are somehow fixed. It slows their gentle descent to oblivion. Perhaps that is why writing is an essential.  Ironic that the motes are fixed on something as ephemeral and virtual as a blog and an iPad.

Mortality is very much in focus, not just the funeral of the late Richard 3, a process almost fabulous even including the relationship of Benedict Cumberbatch. I anticipated dying aged sixty. ‘Will you have achieved all you want by then?’  A friend, well past his 60th, asked when I voiced this.

I hadn’t thought in philosophical terms, or in any depth at all.

The Boxer, sometime feature of the blog, is coming up to 94 and this winter survived pneumonia with accompanying dip in kidney function.  She was, as medical parlance has it, ‘off her legs,’ for a while. In fact she was off everything.  Surprising what takes a dip, mobility, digestion, cognition.  The return to health is wonderful to see. She will never be fully on her feet of course, as she counts her laboured steps to the bathroom with the aid of her trusted Zimmer. ‘Only 59,’  She announces as if amazed by her achievement. (Hers is a tiny bungalow, the bathroom at most six strides from her chair in the living room.) Sadly, too she is delightfully vague, unable to account for hours of her day, unable truly to focus her once fearful intellect but intermittently her old self and still loving life.

I’m uncertain what it says of character, this will to achieve, to survive even at 94, or what my assumption that life for me will peter out soon, but would agree it needs contemplating.

As for writing, that too may peter out, but perhaps will be enjoyed whilst it is and I am still here.




A rather sweet fourteen year old started to follow my blog. I am out of touch with fourteen year olds; maybe I always was . When my children were of the age, I don’t think I had time or energy what with career, aged parents, menopause, to appreciate their freshness and joy. Unless I don’t remember well enough.

I am impressed by the brio, the energy, the verve and perhaps for a while I will follow her too.

There are blogs I like and may have mentioned to the point of being blocked. In many respects would agree parallels between social media and stalking. One prolifically blogs uplifting sayings, sometimes from people no one has heard of, several times a day, rather like tweeting I suppose. These I like. Perhaps there is a book of aphorisms that he plunders, I don’t know but the supply seems at present thankfully inexhaustible.

There are bloggers who simply publish photographs, often of flowers, that arrive like gifts and one who writes daily and optimistically about her book, her writing group and how to write. That too is uplifting, a tour de force. I imagine being her; I imagine her upbringing and her parents, aunts, uncles, whoever, who gave her such unshakable faith in herself but recognise that it is differences that make the world. That sounds like sour grapes; it isn’t truly, but that is why I don’t succumb to Twitter, for fear of blurting out something unpardonable that I would regret as soon as out there.

I take heart from this community, glad when people have looked at my blog, pushed the like button or taken time to write a comment.

Obligations: You Know it Makes Sense

Guardian editorial re blogged.

Oxfam calculates that on a pro-rata basis, the UK should be prepared to offer places to up to 10,000 Syrians. Such a gesture would send an important signal of support to Syria’s neighbours as they struggle to support their refugee populations without alienating their own citizens. It would tell Syrians themselves that they were not forgotten. And it would be a symbol of European solidarity.

It is also a moral obligation, one that Britain has recognised for more than 50 years. The corrosive nature of the discourse about migration fostered by Nigel Farage and Ukip – at it again in a Channel 4 interview with talk of a Muslim fifth column – cannot be allowed to stop Britain playing its part in an international effort to help at least some of the victims of Syria’s war.

The Field


The film of the play is set on the bleak coastal hillside on the West coast of Ireland.

The way of life depicted has all but disappeared, but one wonders if the sentiment remains, running through to the bone like turf down to barren rock: stark: bigoted, corrupt, inward looking, fixated on injustice, death and starvation. For the blood and bone of millions, starved and evicted, sank back into the land, or was shipped off to die far away from home.

And yet the father’s grief for a son who has committed suicide, the mother’s for the son denied a christian burial by the church as cruel and unforgiving as the land, the desperate need for survival and the bitter memory of the Great Hunger and inhumane treatment by foreign landlords, is all too poignant. The American looking for his roots, unable to marry the static old world with the thrusting new, spills his blood or has it spilt for him into the earth too.

My latest novel, (currently looking for a publishing home) is set on the West Coast from whence my ancestors emigrated, touches on more recent Irish history. It fails to capture the gut wrench emotion of The Field but does encapsulate the need for change, forgiveness and the all too English incomprehension of a people whom for hundreds of years they have tried and failed to subjugate.

The Hundred Year Old Man


The hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, is quite a title and quite a book.

A delightful concept that the hero should live through a century’s worth of major events and just happen to be involved in most of them. Many I had forgotten and found myself exclaiming out loud, oh ye-es, rather like a mini revision programme for a history test.

The hero Allan Karlsson’s  wry comment when events end in disaster, ‘things are as they are and what will be will be,’  is reminiscent of but less optimistic than Candide’s ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.’  It is laugh out loud funny in places and certain lines deserve to pass into general usage: ‘Nothing lasts forever, except perhaps general stupidity.’

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I suppose it challenges concepts of age, state intervention and the loss of rights.  The old man waiting for his hundredth birthday party does a bunk from the home he lives in, steps out of his (luckily) ground floor bedroom window and escapes the dragon who runs the home, Director Alice, having fallen foul of her in the first fifteen minutes of meeting her.

‘He was welcomed by Director Alice, who smiled a friendly smile, but who also sucked the joy out of Allan’s life in laying out for him all the rules of the home.’

Allan’s picaresque, improbable journey through the past century and on his last adventure is a good read. There were a few moments when the translation seemed problematic, but could have been simply style.



Fifty Shades of Grey



‘Fifty shades of grey? I suppose thats about hairdressers?’  the tool collector raised an eyebrow as I lingered over Jamie Dornan’s bare torso  that graces the reviews today.  He knew of course, but it raised a laugh on this wettest of wet Sunday mornings.

So far, I’ve only looked at the pictures and anyway don’t suppose the film will make it to this outpost any time soon should we  want to go.  Besides we have our own version of fifty shades of grey just looking out of the window.

‘The worst film I have ever seen,’ one woman’s verdict on  leaving a cinema after a screening even with Jamie Dornan’s absurdly good, good looks.


Border Crossing



Pat Barker’s Border Crossing is a satisfying read.  Not a policier or a mystery and yet the atmosphere is edgey and the writing pacey and it’s not possible to second guess if it will end badly, or for whom if it does. Thought provoking.

Several borders are crossed mostly metaphorical. From innocence to guilt, unhappiness to happiness, childhood to adulthood, dysfunctional to functional, professional to unprofessional. The theme is redemption, not wishing to give anything away.
Tom Seymour – child psychologist gave evidence at the trial of Danny Miller a child murderer that helped secure his conviction. Danny seeks him out years later after his release in to the community with a new name a new identity.
Walking with his wife along a canal tow path Tom witnesses a young man swallow a bottle of pills and throw himself into the water and dives in, with barely a second thought, in an attempt to rescue him. The young man is Danny Miller and the suicide attempt a calculated risk to make contact again.  Danny blames Tom for his conviction and maintains his innocence. The reader is uncertain of the truth and whether Danny wants help or retribution; herein lies the tension. Described as a’ boy capable of almost anything’, which would explain the risk taking. It seems anything could happen. Danny is not a one dimensional baddy; it is possible to feel sympathy for him although I’m not au fait with a criminally insane mind, one could imagine a deep desire to live like everyone else.

The suicide attempt and rescue  is a pivotal moment even though it happens first and the fallout of this apparently desperate act lingers through the story. It is perhaps the moment when Tom’s marriage turns from the tensions of trying for a baby to break up.

The failing marriage as backdrop to the drama adds an extra layer of uncertainty. Even the new love interest, Tom Seymour’s colleague Martha, Danny’s social worker, is not a safe bet. Tom describes his feelings for her, ‘like pulling on a comforting woolen jumper when it’s cold’, which would seem to the outsider just what the doctor ordered after a day battling with child murderers, yet it is whole chapters before he recognises his feelings.

Oh, I discover i signed up for 24 books for the good reads challenge which is a less dismal estimate.