Monday, 13 February 2017

What a difference a day makes

We went up to Harrogate to visit my brother in law, he'd been ill for a while. We went up to his house sitting amongst the sheep strewn fields of Ripley, the lights were on, cosy and warm when we arrived. It's full of life's adventures to Australia, Tenerife, Spain. Photographs of holidays and grandchildren all over the walls next to antique porcelain and tribal figures in black wood with scary hair.

Then you hear it, the gentle click and sigh of the machine that is helping him breathe. A feint smell of medicine in the air. The wheelchair by the door, opened by the haunted faces of his wife and son who have spent the night awake with him as he cried out for help. Sometimes lucid, sometimes not.Sometimes funny, sometimes demanding.

My husband sat on the floor holding his brothers hand, not knowing what to say. I felt I didn't belong. An outsider, a Southerner in a close Northern family, so I didn't intrude on the few moments left to them. I was incredibly sad, I liked my brother in law, he was generous, kind and funny. He helped others even when he was very ill himself. He didn't let on as he would have said. He had even left his body to Leeds Hospital University. Generous to the last.

We left to meet our friends for lunch and get my brother in law a Cafe Nero Cappucino on the way back. He said he really fancied it, even gave orders that he didn't want Starbucks!

By the time we got back the family were frantically calling the NHS Pallative care nurse for help. She said she couldn't come she stopped work at 3.00. It was 2 o'clock. My brother in law was struggling to breathe, the family gave him some medicine and he calmed down enough to drink a couple of sips of his coffee and drink iced water. They phoned the NHS again and got the call centre who said they'd send someone. 

I waited watching for any car coming up the hill, that might have a nurse in it. "She's here."
I called opening the door. My sister in law raced past me.
"You're too late, he's gone." She shouted angrily, "He died crying for help."

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Agatha Christie

After visiting Agatha's Devon house last year and wandering through the rooms and artifacts, I decided to buy her autobiography and a couple of her books. Proudly stamped by the National Trust "bought at Greenaway."

I was surprised at her life, she was very priviledged but didn't really take it on.  She was eccentric, preferred to drink cream instead of tea. Knowledgeable about life in a way you would not expect from a lady of her age.

But then we all get old. She said she wished she'd made Poirot younger as she was still writing mysteries for him when he got to be 110!!   She had a good sense of humour, was adventurous, and was crossed in love.  

When her first husband left her he came into her office in a heat and pacing about the room said "This just won't do Agatha, I have to have a divorce." Then thundered out to his girlfriend, his secretary whom Agatha had befriended, waiting in the car.  She sat at her desk dumbstruck. "I was writing cheques to pay my bills," she wrote, "and I couldn't remember my name to sign it on the cheque."

This is her bedroom, the camp bed belongs to her second husband Max Mallowan. He was an archeologist, and got so used to sleeping in this camp bed, sometimes he would sleep in it when he was at home. He was 15 years younger than Agatha, something I have in common with her, my husband and my age difference is exactly the same.

I have some recordings of her, in old age, the voice speaking is cultured, wobbly, of it's time.
She couldn't cook but loved food, but was also offended when Max volunteered her to sit on cases to get them closed at the end of an expedition!

The more I read and learn about her work, the more surprised I am about how modern she was. She loved clothes, and her wardrobe is still intact.

She loved silk, bright colours, furs, she started her adult life as an Edwardian teenager and  by the time she died in 1976 she seen fashions change from uptight corsets through to the looser dresses of the Roaring Twenties, the elegant 30s, Wartime austerity in the 40s right up to the Swinging Sixties and mini skirts.

While I was writing the other day I remembered one of her tips for writing a good book.  Not so many red herrings that the reader gets confused.  She was a member of a Crime Writers Society, and strict rules were laid down on the construction of murder mystery novels. Agatha broke every one of them and was a best seller.

I hope she has an etherial smile at my efforts when it comes out in a couple of months.
Fingers crossed.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

Well Okay then.....

Writing new novel titled 1955. 

Getting lost in the plot as the characters go off in their own directions and I'm running trying to catch up.  They take me down blind alleys and try and trap me into corners.

Entered a couple of writing competitions to try and fund a very expensive "meet the Agent" seminar in London.

Ages ago, Susan Jeffers said in her book "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway":-

I'm paraphrasing here.

There are times when you feel that you are doing it all wrong, and you feel that the risks you are taking are not going to work, and the fear kicks in.  That's  when you KNOW you are absolutely doing the right thing, so "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway".

Her book kept me going through many difficult days. I had the priviledge of seeing her speak in person at a Women's Conference, held by the BBC at Broadcasting House, many years ago.  She has passed on now, but her sister continues her legacy.

I'd like to leave some sort of legacy.  I don't know what.

Hopefully my characters will lead this book into being the most successful of all.  I write fiction when I really want to write real history. Not historical fiction - that however well written - makes me cringe.

But writing follows fads and the 40s and 50s nostalgia are the way to go apparently.

Boris Johnson's dad Stanley, proudly announced he's going to win the Man Booker Prize this year for a fiction book on Brexit as it's going to be that good!

As for me, I shall keep plugging away, a tiny light in the darkness, waiting for the flame to glow brighter.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Every Nantwich is different!

That is the only thing they have in common.  This one certainly was for us. We went up to the school and helped with the guard duty. Registering Knotters so that they could go and collect their powder for their muskets and cannons. We started at tenish and finished at twelve, as we were leaving for our break there was a rush of people coming in.

We went back to the hotel for some lunch in our room, sat on the bed, had nice hot tea and a chicken sandwich, a bit of a regroup.

The my phone was ringing - where are you? they asked - you okay?

We fell asleep from one till 4.30, then had something to drink, and fell asleep again. We slept for 28 hours over two and a half days.

The only thing we did do was put some more books into the Nantwich Book Shop. We missed everything, the parade, the battle, the carousing. Spending all our time in the Land of Nod on our huge Hypnos bed!

The following day we went to visit some friends in Cheadle.  Nice visit, we felt happy and lively, until the car broke down and we had to call out Green Flag.  Which was fine, we had a lovely lunch with our friends and when the car was fixed was told to drive home without stopping or it may not start again.

We drove to the garage, got a new battery fixed for us and drove home

Devastation.  The cats had re-arranged the sofa cushions and "killed them" they (the cushions) obviously needed it. They had ripped apart a cocoanut mat in front of the door, pulled a cover off the bed, and the whole place was covered in tufts of fur where they had been having a rare old time doing things they are not allowed to do when we are around!

The feeders had been licked clean - and there was a raid on the catfood cupboard as soon as we walked in (their last feed was a 12 that day, we got in at 4.00pm)  Normally they wouldn't bother me until five, then they would show me how to open the cupboard door
as I'd obviously forgotten since lunchtime! 

We cleared up and hoovered and laundered and went to bed at 8.30 and slept till 6.30am!

Next year will be different again - hopefully more fun - and less sleep.
 Honestly - it wasn't me !!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Once more into the breeches dear friends....

It's that time again Holly Holy Day in Nantwich, time to sell my books, parade about the town following my regiment, the Kings Guard and watch them win the Rosebowl for the best drill (fingers crossed)!!

It is freezing cold and not likely to change - so under the 17thC kit we've got thermals this year! 

Not so lucky the real 17th Century people of Nantwich who were starving and freezing in their homes and waiting to be rescued.  Below is the link

& advertising for the event and my dear husband is firing on the front of last year's programme. (End left with goatee).

I haven't written anything for over a week. I've been meeting friends, going shopping, doing housework, cooking.  I needed some "brain off time".

Now the year really begins the fierst Knot of the Season. Tomorrow we will be back in time in 17th Century pubs with wood burning in the grate, the smell of meat and bread and beer,
Later going to the curry/chinese (banned from the Italian) for a meal with the regiment and then back to a nice warm hotel with a big bed and hot shower.



Thursday, 19 January 2017

Apologies to everyone!

Sorry sorry sorry - for sharing - for writing how I feel. Sorry for being down 75% of the time. Sorry for stressing, sorry for being toxic, for adding to your load. Sorry for being human, funny, sad, stressy, just plain sorry for being ME.

Actually I'm not, I have had over the past five years had my fair share of back luck, and I've let it consume me at times. I thank my good faithful friends who listen to me, and who I hope I listen to in turn so that I can give something back to. 

We're all stressed, Trump in the White House, Farage and Marie Penn on the move. Do we look good enough? Behave good/bad enough? Eat too much? Eat too little? Care? Don't care? Are we ill? Suffered loss? In love?  Out of love? Believe in a good God or a bad one? or none at all?

Overwhelming. We all need a shoulder to cry on. My blog has been that for me. Honed my writing skills, gave me a platform to shout from. I don't know who's listening, well I know a couple. Could be friends - could be enemies - I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Heart on my sleeve. Iago: ... Doing so, Iago says, soon leads to betrayal; when your heart is displayed so openly, as if upon your sleeve, the "daws" (jackdaws) will accept the invitation to peck away at it.

So true.... 

Hath not a Margaret hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as everyone else has? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

Sorry my dear Will Shakespeare to take and molest your words. 

I am exhausted and need a break, so be kind, not just to me, but to each other. There is so much anger that's unnecessary, so much hate unfounded.  

I have a temper as red as my hair and controlling it takes Herculaneum efforts, sometimes the words spill out uninvited like acid from a broken phial - but it is not meant and forgotten as soon as it leaves my mouth. But the hurt caused stays - and for that I truly do apologise.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

I'm having a Sad day

Yesterday I spent all day writing and sending my work off.  It was an admin day.  I felt absolutely swamped. I spoke to my really good friend for an hour - she timed it, and my sister for about the same time, who didn't. After what seemed like hours filling out and crafting forms for writing posts, the day had gone.

Today I could hardly get up and lethargy and sadness filled me from the inside out.  Woke up like it. Got up early made my husband's packed lunch in a zombie like state, so I hope he got something edible. Dragged myself into the shower and felt slightly better then thought I'd try out my new vacuum - lightweight - it said on the pack.  Oh no it isn't.  So an hour and a half later with one arm with muscles like Popeye I was still feeling low.

I phoned my friend Della to chat with her, she answered, "Margaret?" 
"Yes" I said. She slammed  the phone down.  Not as bad as you may think, she has been seriously ill for over two years and had countless operations, and sometimes she is not strong enough to talk. She usually says, not today, I'll ring you when I feel better. But this is the first time she'd ever done this.  But I understand.

Okay, I'll phone my friend Betty, she works Friday to Monday at a museum so should be off today, I rang her and exactly the same thing happened.  Okay, she's probably out and about and lost signal. I'll Facebook her. Except she isn't on my list of friends now.

Last time we spoke I was arranging for her to come for dinner. I don't understand.

I still feel ill and did the worst thing possible, looked up my symptoms on the net.
Now I feel worse.

Things have got to get better haven't they?  Haven't they?