About Mary J Howell

I am a writer living in Snowdonia National Park on the north West coast of Wales. The beauty of the countryside is inspirational, although I love to travel and write about that too. Murielle's Angel is a work of fiction inspired by walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2002. Honeymoon, a second novel, published 2017 and a short story is published by Honno in the anthology, Dancing with Mr Darcy. All are available to order from Amazon and bookshops and by request from the library.

Pristine New Year

A winter walk on a pristine beach as the day wanes might lead to feelings that all is well with the world.

Take a closer look and problems surface. At my feet with every step was plastic waste.

My hands were soon full. A couple with a dog offered me a poo bag. ‘We often do our bit. Collect plastic and rubbish when we’re walking the dog.’

That isn’t the point though, is it? Public spirited individuals trying to stem the tide of a global problem. If production of plastic were stopped dead tomorrow the problem would remain, but would make sense of picking up what remains.

A ten minute trawl.

Return to writing

Spread this far!

Rage at the duplicity of the government and the simplicity of people who follow them but do not see the suffering caused before our very eyes.

A gap of at least a year with not much written bar a few earnest letters to a new friend on death row. Suddenly the old urgency is back. Unfinished stories locked in the computer with far too much backlog altogether shake their cages.

Let’s hope some of them find freedom.

Epiphanies

An angel poking the three kings, don’t you just love this concept? To say nothing of the three Kings as bedfellows. Perhaps travelling together meant they had to rough it a bit. I wish an angel would poke the conscience of Theresa May and her bed fellows and open their eyes. ‘Oy you, leave it out!’

Comrade Egg and the Chicken of Tomorrow: art and activism

Comrade Egg and the Chicken of Tomorrow, about a woman trying to save the world one chicken at a time, is theatre to watch out for. Part of the Litmus Fest at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington, a festival designed to support the development of new work and new ways of making work.

Bronya Deutsch of Mother Bunch (www.motherbunch.co.uk) a graduate of the Lecoq School for physical theatre in Paris, is clown, artist and activist par excellence. The exposure of the iniquity of intensive chicken farming and the dire consequences to the mental health of the factory workers is bitingly funny and so effective I’m surprised all the audience have not immediately written to their MPs to demand conditions in the meat processing industry improve or, better still, desist forthwith.

For theatre with a message to do its work, it has to be excellent and Bronya Deutsch excels.

Don’t it always seem to go…

Today we dug up a tree by its roots, snapping mercilessly and chopping with dobbers. Not a large tree, and not a huge job to remove it, but having lost shape and beauty it had grown unsightly. We laid the tree on the grass denuded of its branches and Sunny Boy posed with the hammer like a game hunter standing by a trophy. A robin perched bewildered, like an old boy come to see a childhood home where once he’d been happy. Only then were we wistful too. It had only been to please me that Sunny Boy dug it up at all.

Real Refugees

We have come to Spitalfields. Descendants of Huguenot refugees who found respite in London fleeing death and discrimination in France. Thousands were murdered because they were protestants.

The area, as much as is preserved, draws us in and we could imagine ourselves living here as if we too were creative types, Gilbert and George, Jeanette Winterson and others who now have the wherewithal, or even refugees as our ancestors living several families to a room on Brick Lane.

Our family survived, made a life for themselves and subsequent generations. No one says it was easy but the onus was not on them to prove they were bone fide. They were not harried but able to follow their trade, enrich the pool of skills, languages, nations already struggling to survive.

It’s not only plastic in the oceans that will be the shame of our generation if we do nothing, but the wilful blindness to the plight of refugees.