Saturday, June 30, 2007

Books and Bombshells

It’s been a couple of busy days with exciting news late today.

When I awoke yesterday morning and heard that police had found a bomb in Haymarket, I wasn’t that keen on going to meet my friend, Pam, in London. In addition, the rain was pouring down. As I didn’t hear anything from her, I went anyway. Unbelievably, by 10.15, the sun was blazing down; that at least was good news.

Stupidly, I didn’t prepare something to write or read for my journey. My current book for the reading circle is Pride and Prejudice. I am reading a hardback edition, which I’ve had probably since I was ten or eleven. That means it’s too heavy to carry around an art gallery. I’m also reading Middlemarch for the first time; paperback, but also heavy. I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm for my previous unfinished book, The Emigrants. What was worse was that I didn’t look up the Writers’ News ( competitions to see if I could get started on a new story and I didn’t check back to my novel to see if I could take it on a bit further.

Train journeys are little oases in time when you can’t sort out the washing/ironing/paperwork, etc. And it’s a great shame to waste them.

They were very hot on security on the train. At one point, the guard announced they had found an empty shoebox and requested the owner to come and reclaim it. There is obviously a heightened sense of fear. And today’s news from Glasgow Airport will do nothing to diminish it.

Pam and I met up at the National Portrait Gallery and had lunch there before viewing the BP competition for portrait painters. It used to be for young artists, but now any age can take part. As a result it was less innovative, but always worth a look. We go regularly every year.

Red’n’Ritten have contacted me again to say they want to take copies of The Fruit of the Tree and turn it into an e-book too. Unlike A Bottle of Plonk, The Fruit of the Tree does fit into their particular market and I’m glad for them to take it on.

Today, Jennifer, Irene ( and I went to the Winchester Writers’ Conference, (, where we had a stand selling Goldenford books ( Anne ( was attending the conference – courses, interviews, etc. and had been at the stand most of yesterday. Consequently, a lot of people knew her from there or from other writer events. We had quite a successful couple of days and sold a variety of our books.

Although I hadn’t booked for the conference itself, I submitted some entries for their competitions, including my unpublished novel, Tainted Tree, to the First Three Pages of a Novel competition, to be judged by the publishers, Piatkus. I thought it would be beneficial to have the Piatkus critique – Irene had told me it was very useful to her last year. Also, the short story I submitted to Winchester last year came back to me with a useful critique and I worked on it and submitted it to Radio Southern Counties, and was one of the twenty prize-winners who were broadcast on the station.

When I arrived, I was delighted to see that both Anne and I had been shortlisted in the Novel competition, me under my one-off pseudonym, Lady Macbeth. But the best news came when I was back home, this evening. Anne – still at the conference – telephoned me to tell me I had come second. What a lovely thing for Anne to do to take the trouble to ring me.

I was quite thrown by the news. I started walking round and round in circles around the house, like Dougal in The Magic Roundabout. It took me an hour before I could get down to making a meal – pasta, which we haven’t long finished. I’ll let you know when I hear anything official. But in the meantime, YIPPEE.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rude prose and rude awakenings

I spent a large part of yesterday afternoon updating the Goldenford site, to include the new entries on The Gawain Quest. I made a few errors and had to call on Mike to help me. It’s now there, though, together with front cover and rather steamy introduction. Check it out under ‘Books’. At the weekend we at Goldenford are manning (probably should say womanning) a sales stand at the Writers’ Conference at Winchester. Perhaps I’ll see some of you, my readership, there.

I have been in correspondence with Red’n’Ritten ( a site that promotes publications containing no explicit sex and no gratuitous violence. I had originally offered them my autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree, which does qualify ( which they may sell from their virtual or actual shop. However, on looking at my novella, A Bottle of Plonk, they’ve decided against it. Apparently, it wouldn’t pass the censors.

Virtual Tales ( are have a month of special offers to celebrate their birthday. You can get two stories for one, etc. and other offers during June.
I’ve been to the optician today, and all’s well. There’s always a potential problem with someone with two very diverse eyes, apparently, and that’s that the really bad one will get more short-sighted and the not so bad one will improve. Although my good one is marginally less short-sighted, it’s not enough to matter or increase the differential between the two eyes dramatically.
My mini-piano (see above) has finally gone. I put it on Irene’s Ebay site some time ago, and a woman and her 14 year old daughter came to visit. The daughter was very taken with it, but then someone in the Midlands outbid them. Almost immediately, the Midland lady’s husband broke his leg and the piano stayed with me for three months or so, until finally, she said that she had better not take it. I offered it to the original lady, who was absolutely delighted. We have been waiting for a convenient day and for someone to transport it and he, Kevin, telephoned yesterday. I arranged that he should come at about ten o’clock, but later I heard M say to him, ‘Come any time. Come 6.30 a.m. if you want to.’ Why do men, or should I say, why does M make these outrageous statements?

At 7.00 a.m., we were woken up by a ring at the door. In our groggy state, we thought it was Friday, and the milkman was ringing for his money. Eventually, we remembered and let Kevin and his partner in, and made tea for everyone. They told us they had telephoned at 5.50 a.m. Fortunately, we had the bedroom telephone switched off. I’d rather have a rude awakening at 7 o’clock than at six.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Profit and loss

Nothing like a bit of office work to bring you down to earth. I’ve just printed out a quotation, which took up some of the afternoon. That’s the problem with having the boss on the premises. Work can occur at any time of night and on any weekend. And my particular hate is taking dictation. M reminds me of the panellists on I’m sorry I haven’t a Clue when they are playing the game which requires them not to finish a sentence. Just as I’ve put in a full stop, he comes up with another clause in the never-ending piece of prose.

And you know what came in the post, yesterday? A warning from the VATman. Because of my lateness in submitting the return. All sorts of advice along with the warning of future fines – but how do you programme the visit of a five year old granddaughter into that equation?

More work on the shower base today, which is still saturated and needs drying out. In the meantime, there is no soap tray in the other shower (in the bath), and whilst under it today, M had to locate the slippery soap on the hand basin. It shot out of his hand, landing in the bath, and M promptly skidded on it and took a nose dive into the bath himself. This prompted us to fit a magnetic soap holder which I’ve had in the house for certainly five years, awaiting the right moment. Ill wind, as they say…

The Gawain book launch went very well yesterday. The Abbots Hospital, in Guildford High Street, was picturesque, see above, and the rain held off most of the time. The reading was well received and sales were excellent, mainly of The Gawain Quest but a few of our others – including mine – in addition. I was delighted to be told by a couple of the guests that they’d enjoyed A Bottle of Plonk. The Gawain Quest is now on sale at our website, and follow the link to books.

With half an hour to go before closing time, I dragged an unwilling husband to Clarke’s to buy some shoes and sandals to replace the antiquated ones he couldn’t bear to throw away. He hates shopping, but with the car parked and us right in the centre of the shops, it was an opportunity to good to be missed. The good news – it was the first day of the sale and we saved around £35 on our two purchases.

Alas, as we returned to the car, which M had refused to park in the car park, as a matter of some incomprehensible principle, we spotted two parking attendants on patrol, obviously hoping to catch those people who park at 5.45, trying to get away with a bit of free parking. M had parked in a spot unmarked by lines and had got away with it on previous occasions. This time he didn’t. So the bad news - a parking fine of £60. The good news – if we pay up straight away, it’s reduced to £30. So with the benefits of the shoe sale, you could say we almost broke even on the day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ants, Hills and Glasses

After a day of tackling paperwork and the washing/ironing, I was out on Tuesday, giving a talk on self-publishing my book, The Fruit of the Tree, at a writers’ workshop. The tutor there taught at my first ever writing class at the Guildford Institute, where it still takes place. It seemed to go well and I sold a few books. Then we went out to lunch with a poet from the group – also one of the very early members. I also did a little shopping before returning home. Guildford has a lot of atmosphere, and I like shopping there, but it’s on the North Downs, so going up and down the High Street is very tiring if you’re not very fit. And living in a bungalow means my legs are not used to climbing.

I used a different contact lens, with not so much correction of my short sight, in my left eye. This enables me to read without glasses, which is useful on an occasion like this, when I’m referring to notes. Ny normal vision, of course, is not quite so good, so I had to wear glasses for driving. In fact I own so many different sorts of glasses, as well as my contacts, I should have a filing cabinet for them. Apart from the driving glasses and the ordinary glasses, for when I’m not wearing contacts, there’s also the sun glasses with prescription lenses and the ordinary sun glasses. Then there’s the several pairs of reading glasses, dotted around the house, and finally, a pair of reading sun glasses. This is a sop to my son, who can’t bear to see me wearing reading glasses underneath my sunglasses.

When I got home, I was delighted to find that M had removed the shower tray and the glass doors and side. I was dreading being the plumber’s mate in that job. The glass is heavy and M is very short of patience when he thinks you should know what he wants you to do, which of course I don’t, because if I’d wanted a practical career, I would have set out to have one. So I could see me dropping the doors, when he shouted, ‘Hold that.’ Or alternatively, him dropping the doors on me, because I got in the way. So one half of the job’s done. Now I only have the other half to dread - the reinstating of the shower cabinet. The whole area is saturated and has to dry out before we can do anything. When M smashed out the tray, he found an ant colony underneath, which is no surprise to me at all, but apparently was to him. He said he’d never seen so many eggs, and of course the ants (red ones and black ones) were charging all over the place, trying to protect the nest. He was completely unprepared and had to rush to find the spray, while the things were climbing all over him and all over the bathroom. The earth and stuff that he removed took a couple of dustbin bags. I must say when I heard this sorry tale, I was thankful all over again that I hadn’t been around at the time.

My Bottle of Plonk cover, details at my website,, is in a competition at: Please, if you feel so inclined, go and vote for it. It’s No. 11. There are no prizes; it’s just a matter of raising the profile of my book.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Kids, ants and leaks

The family have come and gone, leaving us old dears exhausted as ever. GD1 never stops talking, and GD3 is a dab hand at teasing. Yesterday they had fun and games on the swing, etc. in the garden, and today, the family took us out to lunch in honour of the Old Man’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. We chose the Chinese, because the girls like it. They do a buffet lunch and the girls trot backwards and forwards having a bit of this and a bit of that. The ability to leave the table at every conceivable opportunity is the best part for them. Then to the children’s playground near the car park. All well until an injury was sustained, and then lots of tears. Earlier in the day, we watched a ‘fashion parade’ in which GD1 was the main commentator of events, while GD3 did a wiggle along an imaginary cat walk in her fairy dress with wings. GD1 also dressed up in my clothes, which are still sufficiently long on her to qualify as ‘dressing up’.

After recovery time, we needed to address the problem of the leak under the shower. Now that the family have gone and are not due back for a few weeks, M needs to take out the old shower tray and replace it. It’s going to be a horrible job, but as a temporary measure tonight, we took out the old towel wedged underneath and replaced with another one. The towel was covered in earth – that means the dreaded ants are nesting under there again. (They come back every year – flying ants, red ants and ordinary ones.) M got out the industrial vacuum cleaner and cleared up as much of the mess as possible. Then I noticed a leak in the pipe that runs through the broom cupboard (back of shower.) Maybe this has been causing the problem all along and we didn’t need a new shower tray. M deal with that too, and while we were doing horrid jobs, I cleaned the Dyson out too. Not sure bagless vacuum cleaners are all they’re cracked up to be. At least with the old Hoover, I didn’t get covered in dust every time I removed the bag. Not sure I’ll buy another one, when this one goes.

In the brief additional time available, I had a look at my talk on Self Publishing, as I shall be giving a talk in Guildford this week, based on my experience with The Fruit of the Tree, details at my website, And next weekend is the launch of The Gawain Quest, see the Goldenford site.

I just remembered, after months of puzzling why I was shown as a Gemini, I've discovered you have to put the month first instead of the day. So now I'm a Scorpio.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Home and Away

After making some progress on Tuesday, another day out on Wednesday. M’s aunt wanted him to look at a minor fault on her central heating, but we made it into a social visit. She said she would take us out to lunch to an Italian restaurant, which I thought would be a pasta and pizza type place. But it turned out to be really posh, with a lovely meal and desserts that M & I averted our eyes from. (he’s been told to lose a stone in weight.) Quite a long trip though – to Marlow on the Thames, so I didn’t fit anything else into the day. Oh managed to watch The Apprentice in the evening and the follow up on BBC Two. I really thought Christina should have won, but I could see it was a difficult choice. Christina will almost certainly attract favourable attention to her, in any case. She scored points for not dishing the dirt on Katie, the ‘pantomime villain’ as K described herself. She had only herself to blame, for she certainly made some catty remarks. However, like Christina, I felt sorry for her, particularly as, if Cathy’s blog ( is correct, she has lost her current job. For anyone not watching The Apprentice, you can carry on reading now.

This evening ten members of the reading circle came to me. I opened up cakes and crisps, but they didn’t consume much of them, so we will be polishing them off no doubt. So much for the diet. We discussed ‘The Emigrants’ and I had to own up to being a lowbrow as far as books are concerned, and liking things with plots. Bit like the stories I write myself, actually. Talking of which, I got a telephone call a couple of days ago, saying that I had been shortlisted in the Frome Festival story competition. Another piece of good news to put on my CV. Tomorrow, another day of catching up before my son and his tribe arrive for the weekend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lost babies

M has gone off to my cousin in N. London by train and I’m trying to deal with the paper mountain on my desk. I declined the invitation to go with him and have lunch with my cousin and husband, because I really needed this opportunity to deal with some of the post left over from our holiday. M is hoping to solve a technical problem for them, and I’m always best out of that. In fact I saw my cousin on Sunday at the Diamond Wedding lunch, which was most enjoyable. Unfortunately, M decided to mix business with pleasure then, and we went back from Ilford via Croydon, where he wanted to call in on some restaurants who are installing extraction systems. I can’t tell you how long and boring the journey was. We went via ten thousand traffic lights, and when we eventually stopped at the customer and I tried to read my current Reading Group book (The Emigrants), I found that pretty boring too. (Sorry Mr Sebald – unbroken text, with no interruption for dialogue, or quote marks – however worthy and literary the book is, it’s not for me.) I spent yesterday, tired and stiff from sitting in the car, and generally cross all day.

They are talking a great deal about abortion at the moment, and strong views are held on either side. I find myself very divided on the topic. Although (as I’ve said before) I’m not a died in the wool feminist, for example, I don’t mind the fact that M and I divide our roles in the household along fairly traditional lines, I nevertheless, am sympathetic to the principle that women should have control over their bodies. But when I hear it said that women don’t have abortions lightly – it’s a serious decision – I find it difficult to believe that one can generalise about this. I think for many women, abortion’s there as an option; the option after birth control – or even possibly instead of birth control. I have no right to say this, based on gut feeling, rather than serious research, but I can’t believe that this many abortions would be occurring each year if legal abortion were not a possibility. My judgement is coloured by the fact that I have lost two babies through miscarriage as well as having a cot death. I can remember, when I miscarried, how angry I felt at the lack of funds going into research into miscarriage, and how vocal were the women who wanted the right to abort their babies. At that stage of life, one’s sympathy is tempered with bitterness at the many women who want to lose perfectly healthy babies, when one is desperately trying to have and to keep another child oneself.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Failures in design

Maybe I should take up design instead of writing. When I was in Guildford yesterday, I examined the range of tankinis on saleat M and S and Debenhams. A tankini, in case you don’t know, is similar to a bikini, but has a little extra material attached to the top, suitable (in my case) for hiding an unwanted tummy. Perhaps it looks different on someone taller than me, but when I saw them last year, I thought it was a brilliant idea. But having bought one, I’m disappointed. It has a halter neck and this drags and is uncomfortable, and on our recent holiday, I reverted to a full length swimsuit, most of the time. So yesterday, I hunted for a tankini that had what are known as ‘straight straps’. Loads and loads of styles, but all halter necks. There was a notable exception – a designer who produced a range for er – large – ladies. Women with Fs and G-cups – I never knew such things existed – well they had straight straps. But what about the rest of us – the less well endowed? We need our comfort too, particularly those of us over a certain age. And PS, where did the name tankini come from? Does it mean it’s for women built like a tank?

I’m also very disappointed in my new toaster. I bought this some time ago, because I thought the one in use was failing, but that managed to recover and carried on toasting for a considerable time, before finally giving up the ghost last week. Until it did, I was very happy with it. It’s a Tefal and, like my Tefal iron, seemed very reliable. The new one (if I say its name, will they sue me for libel?) has so far only produced burnt toast, despite many tiny adjustments. What’s more, it leaves part of the bread blank at the edge, and doesn’t taste cooked through, despite being burnt. The problem is I bought it so long ago, (in a local shop, where a Tefal one was not available) I’m not sure I can legitimately return it. I hate to waste things; normally I only chuck things when there’s no spark of life left in them (including my clothes), but I can see that this might not be endured for the whole of its natural life.

I’m shortly off for a walk to deal with yesterday’s letters. And I’ve cleared yet another batch of ironing. Is there no end to it? Still, I dealt with the end of month statements yesterday and posted them off, so things are progressing. Next, I have to produce some food as my bro-in-law is coming for dinner tonight. Writing and reading my book for the reading group are at the bottom of the heap still, but I’m sure I will still turn the corner.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Meeting of ageing graduates

I’ve done it again. It’s not the 6th July that Goldenford ( are selling books at Farnham. It’s the 7th July. All those in the area, please take note. And while we’re on the subject, Irene ( brought to Guildford Writers ( last the proof copy of our next publication, ‘Sold to the Lady with the Limegreen Laptop’. Anyone interested in selling on E-bay should snap this up. Check it out at her site. We’ll soon get it onto the Goldenford site too.

In spite of the backlog, I spent much of today in Guildford. Firstly to meet up with my fellow graduates from Surrey University. We are a group that carried out a modular degree with the department tactfully known as the Department of Continuing Education, i.e. for those who didn’t manage to do such things at the right time in their lives, when they could combine it with getting drunk, associating with the opposite sex and any other vices you care to mention. The majority of us have not used our degree to further any career, but it was stimulating and fun while we were doing it. We meet for lunch at the Guildford Institute which has excellent vegetarian lunches and fantastic desserts, although I abstained today. Both M & I are worried about our respective weights, particularly since M went to the doctor and discovered that our scales are 5lb too low.

Later I scoured Guildford for a suitable book to take to my cousin’s Diamond Wedding lunch at the weekend. (Must make sure we go on the right day.) I got one at a shop where they sell remaindered glossy books. It wasn’t because I was looking for something cheap, but I particularly wanted a photographic record of the 20th century – something that you could dip into, and this book seemed ideal. It’s called, ‘Where were you when …’ by Ian Harrison. It starts with the war years, so it’s nearer 60 years than a century, but that seems very appropriate. But it seemed so heavy when I walked back up the hill to my car; possibly I am a complete wimp, but Guildford’s ups and downs are so tiring. I fell asleep after our meal tonight, but nevertheless managed to take a letter and alter a quotation. And I did another batch of ironing last night while watching The Apprentice, when Katie fell on her sword. That was a surprise to all, wasn’t it?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An offer you can't refuse

Virtual Tales ( is doing a special offer this month to coincide with their anniversary. So if you ever had any idea of reading my novella (A Bottle of Plonk) on line, why not go to their website and you can get two for the price of one. A Bottle of Plonk on-line is very cheap any way, less than 4 dollars – which is about £2 or £3, isn’t it? You can read the first chapter for nothing, there or at the Goldenford ( site. It’s a bit of fun – not to be taken too seriously – about a bottle of wine which moves from one character – and one situation – to another – without being consumed. Not a lot to do with drink.

While I’m on the subject, another lapse of memory. Goodness, what’s happening to me? I was convinced we (Goldenford) were going to Farnham this Thursday to sell books. It turns out I’m a month early. It’s really 6th July. Good in one respect. I’ll be able to join my fellow graduates from Surrey University for lunch in Guildford.

Last night was Guildford Writers. A really good turnout - about a dozen people, though it did mean that not everyone could read their stuff. I was able to read an extract of my current novel, Innocent Bystanders (working title only) that I’d written on holiday. My dialogue had them laughing in the aisles (though actually it’s supposed to be a bit of a thriller, not a comedy). Anne ( had written an excellent article about us at Goldenford, for the Guildford Times, and someone brought me a copy to look at.

Today, more catch up. I finally finished the VAT and paid it in at the bank today. I normally finish it at the end of the relevant month. This time, circumstances made me a week late. Let’s hope they don’t fine me. Next is the end of month (last month) statements. And the next lot of washing is on the line and the shirts from the last lot waiting to be ironed. Tonight I’ll put my feet up and watch The Apprentice. It’s M’s birthday today, so I ought to think of something special to cook. Hmm. Unlikely though. It’s 4.50 already, so it has to be something quickly defrostable. And the doc has told him to lose weight, so no creamy desert. Oh and I went back to the dentist today for the replacement filling. When he finished he said it was in God’s hands now. It didn’t sound like a vote of confidence in himself. The last filling lasted three weeks, and I am worried that this will have the same fate. Alas the Spanish dentist started quoting me things about pressure per square metre (never was any good at Physics) in order to explain to me why a filling was no good in this situation. I’ll just have to wait and hope.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Major Senior Moment

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I planned to do deal with the ironing from two washes (half of which was still in the tumble drier) and get the next load moving. It was nice to contemplate visiting my cousin in N. London on Sunday, where my other cousin and spouse would also be present. So a day of catching up to be followed by a day of relaxation. I washed my hair, which always looks better the day after, having deliberately left it the previous day. Our arrangements had been made hurriedly by email, after the holiday and during the time when the family were with me.

I was still tired and didn’t make much progress. I even had a sleep in the afternoon. Waking up somewhat brighter, I remembered we must ring M’s aunt who wanted us to come over. I’d given her a copy of my novella, A Bottle of Plonk, for her birthday, so I asked her how she liked it. ‘I thought it was wonderful,’ she said. (Cheers.) I’m going to loan it to D (other nephew) but this time, I’ll ask him to return it to me. He never gave me back the copy of your other book.’ (Groans.) ‘Tell him to buy his own copy,’ I said, somewhat sharply. When are people going to realise that if they don’t buy books, there is no financial reason for anyone to publish them.

In order to arrange a meeting, I fetched the calendar. As soon as I looked at it, I realised that the visit to my cousin was that very day, not Sunday. We dropped poor Auntie speedily, got changed in record time and charged off down the motorway. Fortunately, our invite was not for lunch but for afternoon and a meal in the evening. We were still 3 hours later than we meant to be, but managed to sit out in the garden for a couple of hours, before the meal was served and it ended up a really nice day. We got home finally at half past midnight.

After the Lord Mayor’s Show - Sunday, I did the ironing. In spite of watching one and half hour of Frasier on Sky, to accompany it, nothing could mitigate the boredom. I was also miffed that instead of recording last week’s Apprentice, I accidentally recorded Jeremy Paxman interviewing the potential Labour deputy leaders. (So that’s two senior moments.) I managed to reduce the contents of the washing basket, but I still have to strip the beds in the spare room and the granddaughter room. And the VAT remains unfinished.

I listened to Anthony Horowitz this morning talking about the dilemma of writers these days, who must be so careful to avoid accusations of racism, etc., that they are hamstrung when describing their villains. I also heard the other day that Disney were being accused of making children think that all elderly people were horrible because of images of Cruella de Ville and wicked stepmothers, etc. No wonder Americans use English people as their villains in films; it’s almost the only way to avoid being described as racist. In a way, it’s good when any particular race or minority group can get through the period when they are being over-protected and move to being able to be a criminal or any sort of unpleasant person, without cries of protest.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Selling our books

Today, perfect peace for the first time since our return from holiday. Even M was out at a job, but wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t really get down to the work mountain. The main reason – I went to bed too late last night and I’ve been sleepy all day long. Must reform tonight. However, I’ve just walked to the post box and posted two important letters (thus combining two jobs – dealing with paperwork and walking.)

Yesterday evening, Jennifer, Irene ( and I had a stall at a charity function on behalf of Goldenford ( . It was surprisingly successful for a small gathering and many people were interested in and bought copies of our books. We made a donation to the charity concerned – The Diabetic Association ( – as payment for the stand.

When I’ve finished the jobs here (chance will be a fine thing, but let’s say finished the urgent jobs) I have to type into the computer the writing I did on holiday. First I worked on the first three chapters of my novel, Tainted Tree, having taken with me the critique I got from Writers’ News ( I dealt with it as best I could. It’s never possible to do exactly what other people recommend – it stops being your own writing. I have a hard time remembering to describe people and places – the latter because I don’t notice them myself and the former, because I think it’s difficult describing people. Things like ‘he had a long upper lip’ are meaningless to me. I find myself stopping in the middle of a story to work out what they mean. So I don’t put them in. I’m more likely to concentrate on what people do, what they say and what they think. If I’m forced to include description, it invariably sounds wooden and boring. Anyway, I’ve had a go. I’ll read it again myself when I type it. (If you’re wondering, I didn’t have a lap top as I lay beneath my sunshade, looking out on to the bay of Palma, I just used the old fashioned idea of pen and paper.) I also wrote 3,000 words of my new novel, working title, Innocent Bystanders. It should keep me supplied with readings for the writers’ circle ( for the remainder of the term.