Friday, March 30, 2007

How to be a trendsetter

M brought home a new shower tray from one of his suppliers yesterday. This is because of a leak in the old one which occurred last autumn, or thereabouts. At one point the whole carpet was soaked through with water leaking out under the shower tray and staying on the concrete surface. We could never be quite sure where the water was coming from and the remedy in the end was to pack the area under the tray (accessible from the broom cupboard) with towels, which are replaced every – well, when we remember. Our shower tray was a special order, because it’s particularly large. I discovered many years ago, that when someone does dirty jobs, the nearer he is to the walls when he showers, the more difficult they are to clean. There’s another reason why it’s special and I hardly dare confess this. It’s green (or is it avocado, or savannah or pampas – it’s such an uncool colour that I can’t even remember the fancy name of the time.) When we built our house, many eons ago, savannah, or whatever it was, seemed so sophisticated, as before that, only blues and pinks were available. Now everyone’s into white, but our bathroom is still this colour, and short of buying a new bathroom suite, we’re stuck with it. Actually though, I think it’s so old-fashioned it must be due to make a come-back, like flared trousers.

It’s been a horrible day, but when I was out delivering M to the station today, there were masses of flowers around. I passed a glorious flowering cherry or peach, and in my garden we have lots of muscari – a beautiful blue – and lots of splashes of yellow and white polyanthus, as well as a few daffs. My sister-in-law popped round this afternoon for a chat, which cheered up this miserable afternoon.

What did I accomplish yesterday? I didn’t, but today, I have at least printed out three short stories for a competition. It’s some time since I sent anything off and the closing date is May, when I’m normally concentrating on VAT and holiday. I’ve also arranged to go into Jennifer’s office in a couple of weeks to try and sort out Goldenford’s filing and bookkeeping for the accountant. Now there’s a nice creative occupation.

Oh, I nearly forgot, Virtual Tales ( are doing a special offer of a free story which you can send to a friend for every copy you buy - I think that's the general idea - for April Fool's Day. Virtual Tales are the e-publisher of my novella, A Bottle of Plonk, in bothe-book and serial form. Visit them and have a look.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fact and fiction

I heard an interesting snippet on In our time on Radio 4, this morning. They were discussing anaesthetics and someone pointed out that writers, at one time at any rate, used to have their villains shoving a chloroform soaked pad over their victim’s face and then dragging him/her off in an unconscious state. He specifically mentioned John Fowles’s first novel The Collector in which the male protagonist imprisons a young girl – a very chilling tale, as I remember. At any rate, Fowles was inaccurate in this as it is impossible to do, according to the this morning’s experts.

I once got a small piece published in Writers’ News on this type of author error. William Golding was guilty of a similar one when he suggested that Piggy’s glasses could be used to start a fire in Lord of the Flies. In fact, it’s only magnifying glasses that can do that. With short sighted people, the lens doesn’t operate that way. Over a year or so, I earned £300 from Writers’ News, by sending them short pieces of this sort for ‘Nairn Notes’. Unfortunately, they now seem to do it all in house.

The last two mornings I have woken up with a bad back, so that it was agony to get into the right position for getting out of bed. As the day’s worn on, it’s gradually improved, though today, going to Sainsbury’s, followed straight away by doing tonight’s meal meant that it started playing up again. I took some aspirin in the morning, but I think taking some overnight might help me not to be so stiff in the morning. We are still waking up later than usual and haven’t adjusted to the hour’s difference properly.

I’m looking again at Tainted Tree but it’s so difficult to assess the advice given by my fellow writers. More explanation – less explanation and of course there’s all the other comment from the Writers’ News critique too. At the moment I’m having difficulty in getting down to things. Hardly anything is crossed off the list on my desk. I have to put my mind to doing one thing before I go to bed tonight and will let you know what I’ve succeeded in accomplishing tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

People not like me

Two nice days and I’ve managed to get out for a walk each day, though my poundage shows no sign of disappearing. Much more to do with my inability to give up chocolate, I suspect. Someone mentioned to me that one of the diet groups tells you you’re allowed a sin every day, in food terms, but I’m probably eating more than my allocation. Still I’m always better as the weather improves.

I finished Anne Brooke’s A Dangerous Man yesterday night. (It was very different from anything I’ve read before and quite difficult putting myself into the mind of a disturbed young gay man.) Anne’s hero, Michael, takes you on a journey into a twilight world and into an environment that most of us won’t have encountered. Nevertheless, any creative person can empathise with Michael’s desperate desire for success in his chosen field, and most readers will understand his longing for love and recognition. Anne has shown great insight, in stepping into the shoes of this dark and obsessive character, and in leading us through highs and lows to the book’s compelling climax. For those bloggers who haven’t heard of it – unlikely, I know - it can be found at:

The Apprentice is back on TV. I miss the old music, which I know is a classical piece, but can’t actually remember the name at this moment. Nevertheless, I find it great TV – all these amazingly confident people. I could never be anything like that. I’ve always hoped that I could be self deprecating and other people would sing my praises. Unfortunately, usually they don’t and often they take you at your word. I did reasonable job of selling myself when I was selling my book, The Fruit of the Tree, but it was hard work, and very much against the grain. On tonight’s episode, one team made a profit of £300 and spent £100 – the other team spent £300 and made a profit of £100. (All figures approximate.) It doesn’t take a genius to work out that their sales were pretty similar but one team spent far too much, and that’s why they lost.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Losing time

More jetlag today, due to the lost hour due to the change to British Summer Time. With the sun out today, and yesterday in Cambridge, where we spent the weekend, it felt quite summery.

We went on Saturday, and M drove with his foot hard down on the accelerator the entire journey. He’s a good driver, but that sort of driving always unnerves me. It’s no wonder that drivers become ‘back-seat drivers’ because, once we’ve learned to drive, we apply our own reflexes to the other person’s actions. Consequently, I am either clutching the seat, or putting my foot on an imaginary brake throughout the journey. It was better on the way home, because M was tired – he even took the wrong road out of Cambridge, on the way home, but it meant he dropped his speed and it was a pleasant journey. I didn’t offer to drive, because I’m too tense and nervous for motorways. I would make a mess of it, however, I did volunteer for about the last ten miles, but I’m not good at night driving either, and was relieved to get home.

We saw the family, including our two of our granddaughters and I helped with the creation of a tapestry with the GD senior. We went for a walk to the river yesterday, where the boatmen were trying to tempt people onto punts, fed the swans and went to the children’s play area.

When we got home, we watched Northanger Abbey. I forgot to record Casualty on Saturday night, but as my last attempt defeated me, I will need to study the instructions before having another go.

Pootled around today, being fairly useless. I had a look at some Guildford Writers’ comments on the first chapter of Tainted Tree. I need to get this very crucial part sorted out.

I managed to catch the tale end of The Write Stuff as I was making dinner. At the end they were asked to create a soap in the style of Tom Stoppard, and three out of four of the panellists chose The Archers, which just shows how important it is to listen to it, if you want to turn out like Sebastian Faulks.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Suspicious goings on

How did I get my figures yesterday. Let us say that 5,000 books are sold at £10 each, and the author gets a 10% royalty, this brings us back to £5,000, of which the agent may also get 10%, equivalent to £500. In reality, of course, if it’s a paperback, it will be sold for less than this figure – maybe £5.99 or so – and now, I understand, writers are sometimes having to accept a percentage based, not on the recommended retail price, but on the figure received by the publisher, although they may get a higher percentage than 10%. I don’t think the ending of the Net Book Agreement did us any favours. As for buying on the Internet, I suspect that many books which are sold as ‘almost brand new’ and discounted are recycled review copies provided by radio stations and newspapers. Bad news for us authors, who get no royalty on 2nd hand books.

I dropped M off at the station this morning and, as I was up late, had a shower and washed my hair on my return. I managed to catch the continuing story of Jack Rosenthal, playwright which I missed first time around. I had to make a choice, then, of listening to this interesting and amusing biography in play form, or to twenty stories read out on Radio Southern Counties, including Irene’s, Anne’s and my own, in roughly the same slot. You can still find mine, if you go to my website, (

M was on his way to a restaurant in Covent Garden, one of his regular customers. They had problems with their extract fan – too noisy, or not extracting enough – I don’t know the details. In order to go by train today and not have to worry about parking, he arranged to meet the proprietor after the close of the restaurant on Wednesday night, and left home at about 11.15 p.m. They then both toured round different bits of the motorway, each unable to work out where the other one was supposed to be, until ending up somewhere near Slough. M swapped the faulty extract fan for a different one, to be installed today, during the course of which the police arrived to find out what they were doing at midnight on a motorway bridge. I woke up when he got home, and haven’t quite returned to normality.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Reading, Writing and Parking

Another funeral on Tuesday. As in the case of the other ones, we weren’t important mourners and it was rather a courtesy visit. But it’s the fourth in probably as many weeks. By the time we got home, I only had to time to throw a quick meal together and get straight out to the writers’ circle ( By courtesy of the weather (it was very cold, with occasional snow or showers of sleet) and other circumstances, we were a small select group. Irene ( is still not ready to come out, while her arm continues to give her problems, Jennifer was on the way back from Rome and Anne ( was off to somewhere exotic and warm.

Because of the rush, I didn’t take my partly written story – Life was going nowhere. Instead I took along the first few pages of my novel, Tainted Tree. As I said before, I haven’t yet made the big decision as to whether to continue submitting my completed manuscript of 115,000 words to a mainstream publisher or agent. This is the real world. I’m not a potential Booker winner, although I believe that readers would regard this novel as ‘a good read’. Unfortunately, in this day of the mega authors who can command advances in hundreds of thousands of pounds, it’s not good enough to be on the mid-list. If an author sells 5,000 copies of a book in one year, an agent will make around £500 from it. That’s not worth him/her going to any trouble over that sort of writer, and consequently he won’t accept a book that is not highly individual and destined for the top. But Catch 22 is that the majority of mainstream publishers will not look at the slush pile – the unsolicited mss sent to them by unknown writers. They want only the books that the agents have first vetted. Where does that leave the rest of us hopefuls? Either self-publishing, or back with the small independents, of course, if we want our work read or heard. Which of course, we do.

I hadn’t taken any copies of my work and the others had to listen instead of reading my stuff, which we normally do. That meant that one or two of my fellow writers thought I hadn’t provided enough information in those first few pages, while another person disagreed with that. I had in addition brought along a critique which I’d obtained of the first three chapters. One of its suggestions was that I add in much more description – of my heroine; of her surroundings – the usual stuff, smell, touch, etc. etc. I find this very difficult. I don’t do description – I am more interested in what she’s feeling and saying. And I find that a couple of the critiques from the You Write On ( site, more or less telling me to stop explaining, stop describing the furniture, mahogany or otherwise, and cut to the chase, more or less echo my own feelings about it. This is not a dig at writers who include wonderful descriptions in their work – it just doesn’t suit my style of writing. Well, here I am again, with diverse opinions. Which way am I going to go?

A trip out to see Irene on Wednesday, and an opportunity to mull over these topics and others. I stopped at a garage to buy a plant for the invalid, and found myself incapable of parking in a sensible manner, as happens to me on bad days. I ended up jammed against a kerb near the exit, with the car at an acute angle to the paved edge. On arriving at her house, I had to negotiate bags of plaster, etc. for the new conservatory, and a builder’s board. I abandoned the car diagonally in her drive and then had to move it for her husband, when he went out, and again, for the plasterer, so he could move his materials. He did a lot of arm waving and shouting at me about turning the wheel in the wrong direction. There are certain days when I have no idea which way the wheel should be turning. This was one of them. Needless to say, I was once again in the way, when Irene’s spouse returned. He, by the way, thinks the bird featured in my last entry, could be a moorhen. Any other suggestions?

I awoke today with snow scattered all over the garden and a trip to the dentist in prospect. He took an X-ray of a troublesome tooth and invited me back for a drill and fill in a few weeks’ time. This put me off useful work for the rest of the day, except for a mandatory trip to Sainsbury’s (no bananas left – always an indication of the state of my larder.)

My copy of Anne’s A Dangerous Man arrived earlier in the week, but I’m reading 1984 for the reading circle. I’ll have to decide whether to hop backwards and forwards between them, or finish one and start the other.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Washday blues and birds

What strange weather today. This morning fine - three rabbits gambolling in the garden; pink blossom on the copper beech and other trees; more bulbs coming up, as well as the daffodils – little blue grape hyacinths (muscari) and other pink hycacinths we planted a couple of years ago, and lots of polyanthus dotted around. Then a blast of cold air surged through the house and I rushed to put the heating on. By the time M rang from the station half an hour later, the sun had come out again. Then there was some thunder and then hail. You can’t see it falling on the picture below, but you can see it on the garden, coupled with the blue sky and sunshine.

Two birds just wandered through, and I didn’t recognise them. I seized my camera and tried to get them through the office window, but I don’t know if they’re recognisable. They walked rather daintily and the expression goose stepping came into my mind. But I wouldn’t know if they were geese. They looked rather like pheasants to me, but without the colour – just black with a white stripe.

I have been a regular Goody Two-Shoes, a proper little housewife this morning, as I am about one day a week, before boredom sets in. Changed the sheets; emptied the tumble dryer; ironed some things; emptied the washing machine and hung up the clothes; loaded the machine with the next lot; put out a new dustbin bag. All so time consuming and unexciting.

After a call from SIL yesterday, currently in Liverpool on a visit, I’ve booked afternoon tea for 15 in a few weeks’ time. After our family dinner last week, when we were going to take out an aunt for a posh English tea on Sunday afternoon, but which didn’t happen, because SIL had a virus, various of the cousins want to join in, so we have been promoted to an Event, and I had to speak to the Events Manager. Should be fun. What will they give us? Cucumber sandwiches, do you think?

I got my ALCS payment a couple of days ago. Not a fortune, and only about half of what I got a year ago, but it’s always nice to receive writing income, however small – particularly when it means that people somewhere that I don’t know are picking up my work, reading it and wanting to photocopy it, for whatever reason. It's well worth finding out about it if you're a writer and have had something published, particularly non-fiction.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Art, life and death

A good day on Thursday – I dealt with a lot of stuff from my desk and posted numerous letters. Went on to the bank; and to Sainsbury’s, but didn’t do any more cleaning. Enough is enough for the moment. I’ll come back to it when I’m sure M is finished. There are still one or two drips. Thank goodness it’s dealt with though. Cold weather is forecast tomorrow.

Yesterday I went to London and this time, met my friend. It was a fine day and Trafalgar Square was full of people, though we didn’t go into the square. I didn’t even take a coat; just wore a trouser suit with a short jacket. We had hot chocolate at the National Gallery, and it was dreadful. What could they have done to it? It was thick and gloopy with a skin on top. I was suspicious that someone had added corn flour to it to make it appear luxuriously thick, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t finish it and I’m a chocolate lover.

We spent about two or three hours at the exhibition of Renoir landscapes – lovely. Even if the Impressionists were the modern artists of their time and were regarded with suspicion, you can still look at them and enjoy the paintings as aesthetically pleasing – unlike some of today’s monstrosities. But don’t get me onto that topic. Then we had lunch and a long chat at the Portrait Gallery.

I’ve just been for a walk to the post box. The deep puddles have dried up and I didn’t have to put on my new boots. It was still quite muddy in places, but the sun was shining brightly. It’s mild again today, and I wanted to get out before the weather changes. I counted 2,000 steps, which would be beneficial if I did the same walk every day, though it probably didn’t compensate for the chocolate buttons and cake I’d already consumed. You’re supposed to do 10,000 steps every day. If I did, maybe I’d get rid of my stomach and extra chin, and could still eat the chocolate.

I heard on the news, this morning, that Sally Clarke died yesterday, aged 42. Anyone who had a baby around that time will probably remember she was imprisoned for apparently killing her two little boys, originally regarded as cot deaths. After three years’ imprisonment, she was released on appeal. The memorable thing about her trial was Professor Roy Meadows saying that the chance of a second cot death occurring in a family was 73 million to 1. Any jury would pick up on that statement and be influenced by it. It was appalling that he was allowed to get away with saying something like that, based on a sort of premise that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. Any parent who has experienced a cot death would be thrilled with that statistic, though the truth is harder to face. The fact is that if you have had a cot death, you are statistically more likely to have a second one than another mother is to have a first one. The Daily Telegraph on its front page says it’s a one in 200 chance, which is nearer the truth, though they have a different statistic on their inside pages. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have two cot deaths. When I had a second miscarriage, I didn’t know how I could face it if things went wrong again, and when I had a cot death, I didn’t know if I could bear it, if I lost another baby. But imagine being in that state of bereavement and being imprisoned for three years. It seems completely unbearable, and though, at this stage, it’s not known how Sally Clarke died, maybe, in spite of her release, life had become unbearable for her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Men at work and women who publish

You can all breathe a sigh of relief; the heating’s on. What bliss to be able to go from room to room with an electric fire in tow, which still didn’t do the job properly. And if any of you are thinking I’m a wimp to need heating in this bright sunny weather, I can tell you that in our neck of the woods, the temperature drops by as much as 2 to 3 degrees on Guildford’s temperature, which is already lower than London, and last night there was a frost. Nevertheless, the forsythia is in bloom.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day cleaning. M is the messiest workman I know. Thank goodness, most of his work is in an industrial setting where they don’t mind a trail of oil, or dirty fingerprints. I’ve been sweeping, hoovering and wiping off marks, all over the house – and this is despite the fact that the new boiler was installed in the utility room. I still haven’t finished, but office work takes the priority this morning, as my desk is getting full. Thank goodness, one of M’s regulars called him out this morning; he couldn’t wait to get out of the house, not even pausing for a cuppa. And I have the house to myself for the first time in a week. What bliss.

Last week, I was happy to get out when I could. A speedily arranged trip to the hairdresser was a brief escape. (In any case, my hair looked an absolute mess, and is now somewhat improved.) I also went to London on Friday to meet my friend, Pam, although this didn’t turn out as planned. My friend had a call for an important medical procedure (a cancellation had occurred) just as she was leaving the house, and couldn’t reach me in time to cancel. I have to confess that I never have my mobile turned on, which probably gives an indication of my true age. I got to Charing Cross and only then, when a few moments had passed after our meeting time, did I switch it on and discover that I’d made the journey in vain. I immediately returned home, but the trip was not wasted, as I spent the journey writing a story for a Writers’ News ( competition. Title: Life was going nowhere.

Last night a Goldenford meeting with my fellow directors, Jennifer, Irene ( and Anne ( We discussed our future books.

I am still in a quandary about giving up on a mainstream publisher. Now I know that Anne has said - What’s the quandary? Why is it a bigger step to go with Goldenford than to try a well-known publisher. I have been published by a mainstream publisher and I have self published. I know that once I was in the hands of a mainstream publisher, I could relax and let them get on with the work, whereas when I was trying to get The Fruit of the Tree off the ground, it was a constant effort. I enjoyed being published by Thorsons, my first publisher. I enjoyed being passed from the commissioning editor to another editor; then when the book was published, put in the hands of the publicity department. I enjoyed the fact that I was sent to radio stations all over the country for a four week period and that press cuttings were sent to me for several months. We at Goldenford cannot command that sort of interest, and neither could I when I published Fruit. What’s more, I enjoyed receiving royalty statements from Thorsons and knowing, in the end, that several thousand copies of my book had been sold. Publishers are telling their authors these days that they must assist with marketing. And of course, I’m prepared to do that. But I don’t want to carry the whole weight on my shoulders. Neither do I want my favourite book (favourite of those I’ve written, I mean) to have a smaller readership than it deserves.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weathering the weather

We were remarkably lucky on Tuesday, in the end. The wind abated; the rains moved off to some other territory and we sat all day at our stall, undisturbed by weather problems. And we sold some copies of our Goldenford ( books too; On the Edge by Esmé Ashford; The Moon’s Complexion by Irene Black; A Bottle of Plonk by me - and Pink Champagne and Apple Juice by Anne Brooke, all achieved sales. M came to the stall at the beginning of the day, to try to help us assemble a borrowed gazebo. What we really needed was a child who was good at puzzles, as we tried to work out, without instructions, how the centre piece fitted into four No. 3s; and how they fitted into 7s, and when we would put the rainproof cover on. We did not, in the end, succeed. We abandoned the whole endeavour and sat out in the open, hoping not to get rained upon. And our wishes prevailed.

Our next door neighbour selling brushes and similar stuff told M that he’d recently had an order from Waterstone’s for about thirty brooms. These are not the sort you’d buy in the housewares department of a department store, but ‘witches’ brooms – and they were purchased specially for the launch of a new Harry Potter. What a great story.

M disappeared early on, to buy a new boiler. I hoped, when I arrived home that it would all be completed, but in fact, he’d carried out some work for someone else, and it wasn’t started. Thus began several days of work for him and discomfort for me. Despite some sunny, spring weather, the house temperature has never been more than 60ºF (or 16ºC), except in some rooms at some times, when we’ve taken in an electric fire. The kitchen has benefited from periodic use of the oven and an over-use of the gas hob, as a quick way of warming up. The bathroom has been particularly cold, with no towel rail, and it’s been necessary to scoot to the bedroom and stand over the electric fire to dry off after a shower via immersion heated water, while absorbing the worst of it with a damp, cold towel.

It’s difficult to believe that we lived here for six whole months without any form of electricity or laid-on gas, the only heat being a log fire, in the sixties, as described in my book, The Fruit of the Tree. Then we had no immersion heater, just saucepans of water heated on a propane gas hob; our newly built house was damp throughout and we never even achieved 60º until mid-morning. How did I put up with it?

Today, after roof work, pipe work and electrical work, the boiler is working, but alas, only providing hot water. Some air needs bleeding from the system, but not at this moment, as rugby’s on.
After an evening out with M’s sister and family, last night, I felt quite sleepy today. Otherwise, I might have gone for a walk in the sunshine. Daffodils are out and our camellia has nine blossoms, which may not be a great number, but is better than in any other year. Is this to do with maturity or last year’s weather conditions? Can anyone enlighten me?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Saturday and Monday - Ian and me

I finished reading Saturday by Ian McEwan today and was very impressed. This is definitely literary fiction and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it. When I saw how McEwan is describing in minute detail his fictional hero’s activities, (including washing and visiting the loo and a bit of brain surgery,) I was reminded of Virginia Woolf and how I struggled to get through all her changes of viewpoint and stream of consciousness style of writing. But Saturday wasn’t like that, first and foremost because we remained in Henry Perowne’s viewpoint throughout the book and from that position, were able to find out about the people most important to him, and get to know them. So the characterisation was good, and so was the structure. But I found it interesting how much the hero fits into the one day. On a purely practical level, he wakes in the early hours of Saturday, plays squash; visits his mother; goes to hear his son at a concert; cooks a meal for the family; goes to the hospital where he works; I've edited out the other crucial things that occur, in case anyone’s reading it, but basically he does a whole lot more in any one day than I'd be prepared to do.

Monday was a fairly full day, and I tried to imagine turning that into a novel. But would you be interested in how I showered and washed my hair and put on my pink underwear (courtesy of Michael’s new red pyjamas, which I washed in too hot a wash, with said underwear) changed the sheets, towels and pyjamas, took M to the station and visited Sainsbury’s, including having a sandwich there, which to my irritation, I discovered on opening it, was white, not wholemeal. Recycled my plastics and noted that there’s now a container for metal foil; came home and made a vegetarian nut terrine for the next visit of one of my children, froze it, and then made our own meal. Discovered, once the heat of the oven had died down that something was wrong with the heating and M investigated and took off the front panel, before deciding he couldn’t do anything about it. Prepared my books for the next day, when Jennifer and I would be having a Goldenford book sale at the Farmers’ Market, High Street, Guildford. The rain poured down and that night, when it had abated, a high wind blew. I buried myself in the bedclothes and anticipated the sale the next day with foreboding.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Parting from parents

A busy day yesterday. With the master at home, pacing and looking for something to do, I suggested we caught up with invoices. This is not my favourite occupation – frequently long-winded when we have to look up our incoming invoices for prices etc., but needs to be done, if only to justify M’s non-retirement. That took most of the afternoon, and prior to that, I knocked out the end of month statements, so that, where appropriate, they could go out together.

We had a quick evening meal and went to Yvonne Arnaud Theatre for a performance of Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. For those that don’t know, the kindertransport brought into the UK – with the authorities’ agreement - 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany and Austria, escaping from Nazi persecution, sometimes never to see their original families again. A friend who died in January, was one of those children who arrived here, in 1939, aged 15 with her younger siblings, to live with English foster parents. No further transports took place, once the war had started.

The play tried to compare the feelings of mothers sending their children away, knowing it was for their own good and attempting to hide their true feelings. The author therefore showed Evelyn packing up possessions to send her child to college, while at the same time, her mother was preparing Eva (Evelyn) to leave Germany for Britain. The two stories ran concurrently, while the foster mother – eventually adoptive mother of Eva/Evelyn – moved between the two stories.

In the foyer, we met the daughter of a neighbour, here with a school party studying drama, and she explained this structure before we started watching. (This was helpful because it took me a few moments to understand what was going on.) There was a huge block of young people, brought in by coach from various schools. A very good move, I thought, for the theatre and the schools to arrange this and give teenagers the chance of focusing on this piece of history.

Strangely enough there was a piece on the radio this morning about parenting, in which it was agreed that loving your children did not mean holding on to them, but attempting to send them out into the world to stand on their own feet. Sending children off to achieve their independence can never equate to sending your children away, believing not only that you will never see them again, but also that your own death is imminent and that their lives will be at risk if they do not go. Nevertheless, when your children leave you for the best of reasons, it's sometimes hard to face.