Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Ooh, I'm all of a flutter today. After Son 2 had gone to school this morning I switched on the TV for a few minutes and guess who was a guest on GMTV? Donny Osmond, my first ever schoolgirl crush.

Anyone who was young in the early '70s will remember how the girls were divided into two camps, the fans of Donny and the fans of David (Cassidy). Well, we are all grown up now, but I have to say that Donny is still very cute and rather charming. It must be all that Mormon clean living. Anyway it was fun to watch Fiona Phillips going as gooey over him as I probably would!

Apparently he still has legions of loyal fans but what is really scary though, is that he is now a grandfather! Where has the time gone?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fillings and photocopies

Back to the dentist this morning to have two old and crumbling fillings replaced. My dentist is a very good dentist and a perfectionist, but my teeth do seem to cost me rather a lot of money. At least I didn't have to go to Superdentist!

Back at home I set up my new multifunction printer and got it working without any help from son 1. I then spent the afternoon using it for some of my voluntary work, as I had lots of paperwork to copy urgently.

So another day has passed without any writing time. Now I am off to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and relax in front of CSI. There's nothing like some crime and gore to entertain me!

Monday, February 26, 2007

No time to write

I'm pulling my hair out over my essay on personality disorders, Hubby is pushing me to get on with his bookkeeping and Son 1 decided to have a crisis today and seems to have rather given up on life.

My copy of Suite Francaise arrived in the post from Amazon and a friend who has just read it wants me to read it soon so we can discuss it. But when will I have time?

Oh and I need to lose weight, I have put on a lot since Son 1 became ill as I am much more confined to home and have frozen my gym membership. Not that I did anything too energetic there, but I did enjoy yoga and swimming. Diet and exercise is needed, along with less chocolate, I fear. It's always the damned chocolate which makes me put on weight. Oh well it's nearly time for my next monthly targets...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mobile madness

Last weekend son 1 finally decided which new mobile phone he wanted and we ordered it from the website of a well known mobile phone retailer, along with a new sim card, as a package deal. Phone duly arrived on Tuesday, but to Son 1's great disappointment it wouldn't work with the sim card or indeed with his old sim card from a different network. A flurry of emails to customer support did nothing to sort out the issue so I promised to take it back to the retail shop for him yesterday.

Fortunately that particular retailer has three branches in our local shopping area...I have no idea why. Anyway, I decided to go to the newest and least busy branch first. The staff there didn't seem to know what to do about it. By experimentation they found the handset would work with a T-Mobile card rather than the O2 card purchased with it. They suggested I went to the branch up the road as the computer said they had that model in stock, 'but don't tell them we sent you, they hate us'!

I duly went to the branch up the road. It was very crowded but eventually a girl greeter approached me and I explained the problem. She experimented a bit and asked a member of management who couldn't have cared less. He shrugged his shoulders and told me I would have to go to the O2 shop or send it back to the website, he couldn't do anything. I then queued in the O2 shop. The O2 shop assistant experimented and decided that it definitely wouldn't operate on O2 but the O2 card was not faulty, as that would work in her phone, so it was the problem of the first retailer.

Getting very fed up and knowing that son 1 desperately wanted the phone and was not going to be at all happy about further delay, I went to the T-Mobile shop. They experimented, agreed it would work on T-Mobile and said we must have been sent the wrong handset in error. I asked if they could unlock it but they couldn't, although I could go to some dodgy shop around the corner and pay to get it unlocked. I suggested that perhaps it would be easier just to buy a T-Mobile Sim card, as we do have an old O2 enabled phone at home so could use up the credit on the O2 Sim card. The nice T-Mobile girl quite rightly pointed out that I had retail rights and not to give up, even though by then I was tearing my hair out.

I decided to give up and walk round to the charity shops to browse at the books. Just up the road from the charity shops is yet another branch of the retailer whose website had sold us the phone. A couple of times recently I had passed the shop and seen a notice saying that their systems were down, but today it was open and busy. I queued yet again and by luck was served by the manager. He was absolutely charming, called up the order immediately on his computer and said it was no problem to replace it. He then found the right model of phone in the stockroom and got it working on the O2 card, did all the paperwork on the computer and gave me a new receipt.

If only I had gone to that shop first!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Personality disorders

Thank you so much to all of you who posted kind comments or emailed me yesterday.It is lovely to have so many fab friends in cyberspace!

Feeling a bit better today, so managed to not only do the big weekly shop at Tesco but also some studying. I have been granted a 7 day extension on my assignment so I can write it next week and the pressure is off a little. It is about personality disorders so I thought I would provide a topical quiz for you:

You May Be a Bit Borderline...

Your mood swings make a roller coaster look tame!
When you're up, you're a little bit crazy...
And when you're down, your whole world is crashing
Scary thing is, these moods can change by the minute!

Well that's what being hormonally challenged does to you!!

But please, if you do try the quiz, don't take it too seriously...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Self pity

I try not to indulge in self pity often. Our family circumstances might not be easy, but I know others are in an even worse position. I try to keep busy and not think about it too hard.

Sometimes, however, it does just hit me. After two weeks of full on caring and juggling during half term, I am exhausted. I have been suffering from frequent hand tremors so have cut down on caffeine. That has helped a little but I suspect it is medication, prescribed by my doctor, which is causing this. My head is woolly but is that the stress or just my hormones?

Yesterday my sister called. There is a big age gap between us and although we get on fine, we are not particularly close. After a long chat she said 'You never have it easy, do you?' which is exactly what a friend had said on the phone just a few weeks ago. I felt like crying.

Then today I was watching 'This Morning' about the lack of support for parents of disabled children and it hit home again. I'm going to spend the rest of the day wallowing in self pity and sod the work. Bring on the chocolate!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Having only just discovered the Wife in the North blog, I have been revisiting to catch up on previous posts. I am amazed at some of the vitriolic comments which have been posted on the most recent entries, ever since the Sunday Times exposure at the weekend. It seems that some bloggers are jealous of others whose writing talent leads to success in any way, as the blogs of other writers such as Rachel in North London have also been targeted.

I personally think Wife in the North is a very good blog. It is entertaining to read and well crafted and appears to be quite open in describing the traumas of her uprooted new life. Having myself moved from the depths of the country to the big city many moons ago, I know that such a major change is never going to be easy, and I did it in several stages!

Does the fact that its author used to be a journalist for the Sunday Times matter? Well, being a journalist will have helped develop her writing talent (though writing a book is another matter) and working for the Sunday Times probably led to the publicity of her deal in that paper. I bet she wishes now that she hadn't been exposed, but could just get on with writing her blog and book anonymously. After all she has three children and I have already written on my concerns about guarding the privacy of others.

Although having the right contacts can sometimes be very useful, I am starting to wonder it is quite as important as people have tended to think. After all, nowadays the only people who seem to be guaranteed a lucrative book deal are Z list celebrities. That is perhaps just a reflection of the celebrity cult and the superficial society we live in, where making a quick buck seem to have become more important than hard work and nurturing talent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


The highlight of this week so far has been giving Son 1 a haircut today. A number 3 if you really want to know. Son 2 has actually been to a playscheme for the last two days but I have been too knackered to take proper advantage of the relative peace and quiet, even to read. That is what school holidays and half terms do to me.

I should really have been working or studying for my OU course, I am way behind and have another assignment due in next week that I haven't started yet. But family must come first at these times, even if I sometimes have to stop to remind myself of the fact.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Publishing deal

No, not for me. Sadly.

But thanks to the Sunday Times today I have discovered another beautifully written blog, whose author has just landed a deal. Check out 'Wife in the North' here.

My own writing fortunes went in the opposite direction yesterday with the receipt of a rejection letter for a short story written during my course last year. That was not unexpected, but it has now been rejected by the two magazines to which I thought it was best suited, so I may try to rewrite it for another market.

However a trip into town was more fruitful, when a browse of one of the local charity shops unearthed copies of Diaries 1926-1957 by Antonia White and Collected Poems by Elizabeth Jennings, both in excellent condition and costing a total of £1.88! I remember reading Frost in May by Antonia White many years ago and I know she had a troubled life history, so I hope the diaries will be interesting to dip into. I'm not really familiar with Elizabeth Jennings or her poetry but a quick glance at the book in the shop drew me to it.

I've also had a few books purchased on the internet arrive this week and somehow a copy of The Night Watch by Sarah Waters just seemed to fall into my basket while shopping in Tesco on Wednesday. How could that have happened? This book buying obsession is getting out of hand!

Friday, February 16, 2007


Oh my God! I have done something I never thought I would do. I have sent off a poem to a website to be considered for publication...

To put this in context you have to understand I am really not a poet. I have studied poetry writing a little but it is still something of a mystery to me...whilst I can tell what works and what doesn't work in prose, my poetry is still very hit and miss.

Soon after finishing my Creative Writing course last year I wrote a very personal poem that I thought was better than most I previously had written. I put it past a few other writers, chopped it around a little and then left it, wondering what to do with it. Until, that is, I discovered the Literary Mama website which seemed like the perfect market try for this particular poem. So it has gone. They can only say no.

I have also sent off a piece to the website Tea, Friends and Chocolate. Anything I write for there is going to be anonymous, but I couldn't miss the chance to plug the website for the lovely Sue!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


One of the dubious benefits of putting a hit counter on your blog is that you can see how many people visit each day and sometimes where they have come from, if it is not a direct hit.

I'm always fascinated by this. Sometimes it is obvious why a particular day attracts more than the average number of hits...perhaps I have written on something very topical that would show up in search engines or perhaps a new link to my blog has been posted somewhere.

But why did I get 114% more than the average number of first time visitors yesterday? Was it the words torture, rape and murder? The mind boggles!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Failing children

So the UK is accused by UNICEF of failing its children . For anyone who has ever watched the Jeremy Kyle Show, or has personal experience of social services or urban mainstream schooling, this will come as no surprise. Services for children are regulated to an extent never seen before, yet the system continues to fail, badly.

Two particularly horrific stories have hit the news in the last couple of weeks. A disabled preschool child returned to her parents by social services, only to be systematically tortured. A two year old found dead in her own home, her uncle charged with her rape and murder. Sickening.

On a happier note, I received a parcel from Amazon today which included eight books from the Picador Shots series. Tiny little volumes each containing one short story, perfect to slip into a pocket or handbag for a short journey or a waiting room. I'm looking forward to discovering some authors new to me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A better day today

I wish this virus would decide whether to get really bad or go away completely! At the moment it seems to revisit me about once a week and then clear up as quickly as it came. When I woke up this morning my head and sinuses were clearer and I was no longer sneezing. Surely one dose of paracetamol last night can't have chased it all away?

To improve my mood even further, my Open University assignment finally came back in the post. I was quite pleased with the mark which leaves me in a quandary. Yesterday I had decided that if the mark was bad I would effectively give up on the course...I want to continue reading to the end for what I am learning but I would not worry too much over the assignments and would not attend the final exam, which would automatically fail me.

Not that I want to fail of course, but I have enough stress in my life right now without a subject I am studying primarily for 'fun' causing me even more grief. Ho hum. I guess I will carry on trying hard for now.

Keep your eye on my novel word count, it is still creeping slowly up!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Feeling sick

Not a good day today. I had been feeling a bit rough all weekend but woke up this morning with a head like cotton wool and a stomach that was complaining about something. Not good when I had an important meeting at school at 9am.

The outcome of the meeting was not what I had hoped, so by the time I got home I felt even worse. I am also having problems with my current OU course and am in two minds whether to give it up.

Luckily Hubby had the day off to help out at home so I have been able to spend the afternoon relaxing in front of my computer, feeling fragile. I have started to sneeze ominously and am using copious tissues. Great timing for half term. But at least my wordcount has increased a little!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A success story

A busy and unexceptional weekend has been brightened by very good news today.

The talented Anne Brooke, one of my MySpace friends, has a new book, 'A Dangerous Man' out later this week and it is available right now from the Flame Books website.

Congratulations to Anne, and if you haven't already discovered her blog, do take a look either here or on MySpace. It's one of my must reads every day!

Friday, February 09, 2007

The word count creeps up slowly

I have actually written a little more of the novel today. At the moment I seem to only be able to do a few hundred words at a time, but that is better than nothing.

Although it is half term now, surprisingly I may even get more than usual written because I won't be able to do any of my other work or even go out shopping. I write on my laptop which is currently perched on the coffee table, so whilst the kids are amusing themselves I can try to write. It will probably be rubbish and need a lot of editing later, but just to get more words down at this stage would be good. I also hope to actually do some more reading for fun, as I haven't had much time for that recently

The snow is melting away quite fast now so I will have no excuse not to go to Tesco tomorrow (anyway we are running out of food, teenage boys have huge appetites!)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow. Not.

It has finally stopped here, but we must have had at least three or four inches. The gardens and houses look pretty, but the roads and pavements are becoming treacherous. Hubby did drive to work with few problems, but who knows how it will be later.

My biggest worry in this weather, as you may remember, is always Son 2's journey to school. Today the school bus did not run at all, so I had to keep him home and I have just had a phone call to say that school will also be closed tomorrow. So, no worries about transport. But ( and why is there always a but? ), next week is half term. Added on to the end of half term they have three staff training days in a row, so a one week half term has just turned into a two week half term. Great.

Speaking of snow, the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book of the Year Award has been won by a snowy covered debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney , for the first time since Kate Atkinson's debut won it in 1995. So maybe there is still some hope for us wannabes!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I have been writing this blog for a few months now and following other peoples blogs for longer but I still find it difficult to decide how much personal information to include. Any readers who know me in real life or even have an email friendship with me will know that there is a lot that I don't put into this public domain, mainly out of respect for the privacy of my family and friends. Then again, is putting personal information on a blog read by a tiny number of people each day any worse than offloading on a members-only forum which could potentially have hundreds or even thousands of members?

As a reader, I find those blogs which offer slices of the writer's life, such as petite anglaise, the most entertaining to read. But how vulnerable does even an anonymous blogger become when sharing intimate details and thoughts with other bloggers they have probably never met except online? Does the blogging world (and that of sites like MySpace) encourage false expectations of friendship and loyalty? How much of what is written on blogs is embellished or fictional and does it matter?

The more blogs I read, the less I know the answer.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February targets

Better late than never! It is a short month containing a half term, so I dare not be too ambitious.

1. Complete reading and next assignment for my OU course.

2. Continue trying to write some of novel at least every other day and write regularly on here.

3. Do some catching up on my paid accountancy work (for hubby's business so very flexible, but still...)

4. Try to catch up with the financial part of my voluntary work.

5. Tidy out my wardrobe ( not highest priority but really does need doing...)

Like last month I will report back on my progress. As you can see many of the targets are very similar to last month. Its not that I didn't achieve anything in January, but the same things will inevitably come up time and time again. Perhaps next month I will actually have time to include something fun...?!

Monday, February 05, 2007

French songs

It must be the linguist in me that makes me still fascinated with the way that some languages are more expressive and poetic than others. Why do songs sung in French or Italian somehow sound better than songs in English or German, for example? Apart from the fact that much German popular music is rubbish, that is....

One French song which always send tingles down my spine is 'Ne me quitte pas' by Jacques Brel.There is a much-recorded English version, the words of which bear little resemblance to the original French, but after Googling it one day I found this translation, which is so much closer. It is just a shame that Jacques Brel doesn't exactly meet my fantasy of a romantic Frenchman! OK, I know he was a French-speaking Belgian anyway, but he did live in France...

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I used to think MySpace was just for teenagers. As part of my parental duties I thought I should investigate further and I discovered that many writers, both published and aspiring, now have pages on the site in the way that established and new musicians do.

I couldn't resist setting up my own page at Christmas, much to the disgust, I think, of Son 1. More recently I have added a music track and today, a new layout theme. I am getting more and more into the whole thing!

I also discovered today that a talented new band called AMO, two-thirds of which are the daughter and husband of a friend, are also on MySpace. Go check them out!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saturday tutorial

I've been into London today for the second tutorial on my current OU course. One and a half hours on personality disorders, which is quite complicated stuff.

The journey there involves two changes of tube train. One of these is at Bond Street which is the station I used to go to every day when I worked in the West End almost twenty years ago. I was on such autopilot this morning that I ended up actually exiting the station instead of changing lines and had to go straight back in! As a result I got to the LSE where the tutorial was being held with just a couple of minutes to spare..

I went to Oxford Street afterwards to do a little shopping and have a coffee and sandwich before heading homewards and then stopping off at our local shopping centre for more odds and ends.

Home by five and then out for a brisk walk with Son 1 so now I'm tired, but actually quite relaxed after a day out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How did I do?

Time to revisit my targets for January:

1.OU assignment...done, still awaiting the result.

2.Tax return...done (couldn't afford the fine if I didn't!)

3.Voluntary work...have done quite a lot but not necessarily what I set out to do!

4.Novel writing...prologue and chapter one finished, chapter two started. Not as much as I'd hoped but better than nothing. Also first 1000 words edited thoroughly and sent off to a competition.

5.Wardrobe tidying... not even started. Oh dear.

Not too bad though. Now I must set my targets for February. I'll have a think and try to post them up tomorrow.

My virus never developed into anything too much, so perhaps it was just the tail end of a tummy bug we have all had. I'm glad as I'm actually going out to dinner this evening, a ladies night out (I would say girls, but some of those going are definitely no longer girls!) with a special needs support group I attend.

Today I also had my six monthly check at the dentist and of course, he found a very old filling that needs replacing. He has to make money somehow! But it is not desperately urgent so I am leaving it until after half term.

I finished 'Something Beginning With' by Sarah Salway a couple of days ago. I enjoyed it...a quick and easy read, but well written in prose which conveys hidden depths beneath a seemingly superficial surface.