Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Two Brief Moans.....

Added Sugar

It's everywhere, isn't it?  The other day I was looking at a small carton of supposedly 'healthy eating' beetroot and carrot salad in a supermarket.  On studying it carefully, I found that it contained nearly 300 calories.  How the hell did they manage to get 300 calories into a beetroot and carrot salad?  Of course, the sugar....  it was the same when I looked at many of the fruit juices.  You might as well eat a banana and a kiwi fruit and have a tablespoonful of sugar; at least you'd be getting the fibre from the fruit itself.  And don't get me started on the 'Innocent' smoothie range - you feel as if your teeth are falling out on the first mouthful....

It's a bit like the phrase 'all natural' - yeah, and so are cancerous growths.  Or that 'one of your 5-a-day' rubbish - I watched a documentary on this a while back and there's no legislation governing this claim at all - anyone can put it on anything, even if all it's got in it are a few over processed bits of spud.  

The Perfect Gift

Since about January 25th, everything was being flogged as 'the perfect gift for Valentine's Day'.  My husband had emails from Amazon trying to sell him everything from books to electrical items to garden tools, under the guise that they were just what she or he needed for that day that used to be about secret admirers declaring their love. Now it's the end of February, everything is 'the perfect gift for Mothers' Day' - cue ghastly compilation CDs by sundry crooners that will end up in record shops' bargain bins.  Next it will be Easter, then Fathers' Day, then they get a bit stuck, until Hallowe'en, I suppose.  

I'm thinking of buying a van load of umbrellas wholesale and flogging them as 'the perfect gift for St Swithin's Day'.  US readers, you'll have to look it up!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Very British Blog!!!

I've been invited by fellow Very British writer Clive Eaton to answer some Very British questions!  

Clive's post:

Each author named at the bottom of the page has been asked the same questions but the answers will obviously all be different. 

By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
For example...

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for TEA and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible. The list at the bottom the page is not a queue.
It is an invitation and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?
Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten Stuffy, class conscious, boring,
staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.

So, without further ado, here my answers:

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

A. I was born just outside Cambridge, and now live in the North East of England.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. Yes, I've hardly been abroad at all, alas.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. Like Clive, I cannot pick just one.  I lived in Norfolk for nine years, which is one of my favourite parts, but I also love Cornwall, parts of the North East, the Scottish Highlands, North Wales.  I prefer the rural areas; I am not much of a city or towny person.

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. Most of my books are set around East Anglia; You Wish is in Norfolk, Nobody's Fault mostly in Northampton (where I lived for most of my life), Dream On in a fictional fenland town.  The Other Side is set in London, the Scottish Highlands, and Suffolk.  Often I make up fictional places that are very much like certain real towns, or fictional streets/restaurants/pubs/shops etc in areas that really exist. 

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. Some of us like to think we're a bit more classy than yer average, I suppose!  I'm not sure about the idea of us suffering through hardship without moaning, in true 'Blitz Spirit'... I think we used to show less emotion generally, and maintain more reserve than, for instance, Americans or people from the Mediterranean countries.  Now, though, we seem to have got into this reveal all, huggy-kissy thing, too.  I find the huggy-kissy trend a bit too much, to be honest, and I certainly don't want to send virtual 'hugs' to people on social networking sites.  We've adopted the culture of encouragement, too, which I think is a tad unhealthy and not very traditionally British! I think we do 'snooty' pretty well, but then I'm only thinking of certain types of British people.  Sometimes the opposite is true; consider people such Katie Price, Kerry Katona and various other tell-alls; the stiff upper lip in those cases is of the botox variety only.

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. My characters range from the educated middle class to the lower middle class with pretensions (both social and intellectual), to the down to earth working class and happy to be so, to the occasional member of society's underclass.  I don't write about upper class or aristocratic people because I don't know any!

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A.  Soon, cross fingers, I will be bringing out my next novel, Full Circle.  It's finished!  Just the final read through, formatting, cover, etc to go now... it is the sequel to Dream On, though can be read as a stand alone.  Dream On is about musicians struggling for success, and Full Circle continues their story, though it is, in fact, more about the relationships between the characters: Dave, who dreams of being a rock star and has found himself with a family he never intended to have; his womanising friend Shane; the love of his life, Ariel, who was about to hit the big time at the end of Dream On ... and Janice, Dave's ex, who thought she had made the perfect marriage.  Full Circle takes up the story two years on.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I've just started my next one!  Well, I've written 'Chapter One' and saved the file!  Its working title is Head First.  I've written the basic plan; it's going to be about the self-obsessed flipside of deep insecurity, and complicated family dynamics ... and stalking.  I've touched upon stalking in a couple of other novels, but not in this way!  I hope it will be finished by about August or September. 

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. What, you mean that bit of the day when I'm not writing, keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, blogs, emails, Goodreads, reading and reviewing other indie books and doing domestic stuff like washing, shopping, ironing etc?  I sit/lie in bed and watch telly with my husband.  I like films, lots of films, and US series like Breaking Bad, The Shield, Lie To Me, Oz, Sons of Anarchy, etc, which I binge watch.  When I lived in Norfolk I used to go to the pub a lot and walk on the beach, but there's no beach here and I hardly drink anymore.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. Without doubt a global audience. I hope my books appeal to a wide audience around the World.  <  that was Clive's answer to the question, and I couldn't have put it better!

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A. Certainly. Just click on one of the Amazon links below.

Amazon UK Author Page Author Page



I have also tagged the following people in this, who will be doing their own VERY BRITISH blog posts!
As soon as the link is there, it means that their answers have been completed for you to read, too!

Geoffrey West

Maria Savva

Susan Buchanan

Bev Spicer

June Kearns

Alice Huskisson
HE Joyce

JM Leitch

Kevin Bennett

Andy Lucas

Rose Edmunds

Clive Johnson

Monday, 4 February 2013


 Forty is the old age of youth, and fifty is the youth of old age.  

It's not just that you haven't heard of any of the bands/acts in the Top 40, it's that you don't care that you haven't.  (Severe cases will still call it ‘The Hit Parade’) 

Remember these?

Similarly, you see strange words trending on Twitter, click on them to see what they are, and discover they're some band you've never heard of. They all look like children to you. You consider posting a Lou Reed video but don't get round to it... 

In order to get yourself going in the morning, you don’t just need a strong cup of coffee.  You need several - and a can of WD40. 

Remember when you used to hate staying in on a Saturday night?  Now, don’t you hate it if you have to go out?

...your idea of a good Saturday night is probably, like mine, a nice bath, clean bedclothes, and a jolly good film, watched in bed …

To think I used to go and do this sort of thing BY CHOICE....

(actually, thinking of a ‘nice bath’ as something of a treat is another tell-tale sign!) 

D'you remember about fifteen years ago when, if you’d put on a ‘few pounds’, you could just diet for a fortnight and it’d be gone?  Doesn’t work anymore, does it?

In your twenties, you and your friends have phone calls to discuss men and clothes.  In your thirties, it’s jobs, children, weight.  In your forties you discuss ‘life’.  In your fifties, you compare ailments … okay, you tell me about your cataracts, and then we’ll do my arthritic knee… 

The actors you fancy on telly have grey hair and laughter lines aplenty …

You probably speak your mind a bit more … perhaps you're becoming a bit of a dotty old bird, without realising it... this is me and my similarly old and peculiar sister - or is it Wayne's World??

You can now look at fresh-faced young women and admire their beauty, without feeling jealous; they're so far away from you that they might as well be another species.

Look - no sagging jowls!!  (me on the right, aged 30)

You find that you’re more accepted by older, straighter people.  The sort that used to look at you with a faint air of disapproval/envy/discomfort.  This is because you no longer appear edgy, hip, groovy and 'out there'.  Well, not on first impression, anyway....

However many early nights you have, however many AFDs (alcohol free days), you still don’t look as good as you did the morning after a whole weekend of debauchery ten years ago.

It’s so hard to find clothes that look nice without being too young for you or too middle aged, but that still disguise all those bits of you that aren’t as pretty as they once were.... 

You've probably been saying things like 'yes, well, life isn't fair' to your children/step-children/nieces and nephews for about ten years, now - you remember your father saying that to you? 

If you are lucky enough to have parents still alive, you worry about them in the way they worried about you when you were a child 

Do you remember the things your parents used to say when you watched Top Of The Pops?  Now, when you see the currently chart-popular on television, you say all those things, too.  "Why can't she just stand there and sing it without waving her arms around?"  "Why is he wearing that stupid hat?"

Your youth is a magic memory of long ago, when the world was so different, in so many ways...
... and you can bore for England talking about it, too ... 

Isn't it nice?  You take more pleasure in standing and staring; the light in the sky, the leaves rustling in the breeze ~ ~ ~  and you do things like taking pictures of your houseplants to put on Twitter.

Hangovers last days, not hours.  That’s if you can manage to get drunk enough to get one in the first place, without falling asleep half way through, or asking for a nice cup of tea. 

You find it frustrating that younger people don't take your advice.  You thought your dad didn't know what he was talking about as well, didn't you, eh?

Each birthday, you contemplate how old you are and think, how the hell did that happen?!

I'm the one in the white shawl - aged 10 days!

If you go to see your favourite old bands on their first tour for six years (or whatever), the audience is full of lots of grey haired people like you.

You probably look back on all your mistakes, sometimes. I bet you wouldn't change many of them, though, because they've made you the person you are now.  But you might still make mental lists of 'things I wish I'd known at 18'.  This used to be a regular feature in the Sunday Times when I was about 21.  I didn't understand it at the time; I read it, but of course I thought I was immortal, then, like all people of that age, and didn't realise that one day my whole life wouldn't be all stretched out in front of me, waiting to be filled.

When you were 20, you thought 40 was past it, didn't you?  When you're over 50, though, you realise that even 60 is still alive and kicking..!! 

The best bit about getting old, though, is the fact that you've got there at all.