Thursday, May 31, 2007
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I've decided it's the scales that cause the problem in my dieting so I've hidden them away.
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Good news for a change! The people who run the cake-baking website that I wrote for liked my articles so they've asked me to do another site, Kids and Cooking. I shall have to put aside my deepset prejudice against the word 'kids', but I'm willing to do that for money.
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Which reminds me of my uncle. He and two lady friends were going to Germany, crossing by ferry. When he phoned to book one twin and one single room for the overnight crossing, he was told that it was £200 cheaper to book a deluxe family room for five. He asked the ladies if they would mind sharing with him; both of them separately replied, 'For £200, I'm anybody's.'
My uncle is 81 and the ladies are in their seventies.
They're going to France next.
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Harvey thinks I am getting too serious in my posts. He says that I am more concerned about attracting readers than I am about being true to myself. Harvey is very perceptive. By the end of today this site should have received 10,000 visits. That is an awful lot. Not by some people's standards but it is for me when I say it aloud. Ten thousand. Gosh, and all over the world. I know some people come by regularly, and some people I consider friends, but lots come by Google's very strange referral system. Today's include 'lenny henry cat flaps'. Now why that would have led them to me is a - well, what do you know? A dog just came in and pooped in our garden! The little ratbag! - where was I? Ah, yes, Lenny Henry. Now I've lost my train of thought.
Oh, yes, referrals. Another one is to the Native Intelligence site. Let's look there. Good heavens, they've used one of my posts as an example of Nature (as in nature v nurture) but I'm not entirely sure I understand why. I obviously don't have a lot of native intelligence.
I wonder who will be the 10,000th visitor. The time it's taking me to write this post, what with invading dogs and getting distracted googling, he/she could have been and gone by now.
I am writing for myself, Harvey, but I'm also writing for readers because that's what writers want: to be read.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I'm only one step away from marmite-topped cake. (If you saw the Vicar of Dibley repeat on Sunday evening, you'll know what I mean.)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
As I said, we have several quilting groups that meet at Linden. Swansea Quilters recently won first prize in a national competition, for a group entry, which is now hanging on the wall inside the church building. It's a collection of individual quilted 'postcards' from Swansea and Gower, so come, take a tour of our beautiufl area.
It was nearly the end of the game and Wales were one point ahead; we had the ball and we were in Australia's half. All we had to do was hang onto the ball for 50 seconds. And GARETH COOPER KICKED IT TO AUSTRALIA! Who went on to score.
After the slating the Australian press gave the Welsh team before the game, morally it was our victory. But that's not will go down in the record books. I have been whimpering quietly to myself all day. And I've had to buy an enormous bag of Maltesers.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I posted a story to them on Tuesday; as I drove home from work this afternoon I decided that their reply would probably be waiting for me at home. And it was. 'Thank you but no.'
But at least there was a bit of an explanation why not, and that's more than I usually get, so it was almost as good as an acceptance. (I am telling myself.) It means I can work some more on it to improve it and submit it again or elsewhere.
Also this afternoon I received an email saying I hadn't won the short story contest I entered on Monday. I'd already decided it was a bit gloomy. I do gloom, depression, madness and death well; unfortunately that is not the stuff of popular magazine fiction. It's strange because I am a cheery person. Which is just as well otherwise I would be suicidal by now.
Friday, May 25, 2007
With a Costa or Starbucks on every corner, coffee-lovers can take their choice. Even in other cafes, they’re able to choose between latte, espresso and anything in-between. But ask for tea and you get a mug of hot water with a tea-bag dangling in it, accompanied by a pot of UHT milk and a straw of sugar.
How has this happened? Brits are renowned for tea-drinking. In an emergency no one ever says, ‘What you need is a nice hot, sweet cup of coffee.’ But it wasn’t always thus.
It was actually in a coffee house in London in 1657 that tea went on sale for the first time. Thomas Garway, the merchant selling it, claimed it was “wholesome, preserving perfect health until extreme old age, good for clearing the sight.” He also said that it cured “gripping of the guts, cold, dropsies, scurveys” as well as helping to “make the body active and lusty”.
A lot of people must have believed him because by the end of the seventeenth century, tea was being sold in more than 500 coffee houses in London.
However, for a long time, it was only men, who frequented the coffee houses, or the rich who could enjoy this expensive luxury: tea was considered so precious that it was often stored in a locked caddy with the only key being kept by the lady of the house.
But then in 1864 the manageress of a bread shop began to serve refreshments. Soon people were flocking into her shop to buy the tea she was dispensing. From here the teashop grew in popularity, but somewhere on the way to the twenty-first century, it disappeared from our major cities.
So come on, Tony, do something for which we can remember you fondly: crusade for proper tea!
INTERESTING TEA FACTS
The winner of the Top Tea Place 2007 award is Peacocks Tearoom in Ely, Cambridgeshire, with the Dorchester winning the Top London Tea award.
In an on-line Pet-Lovers Tea-Drinkers' Survey, when asked who they would invite to their dream tea party, most people chose Rolf Harris, followed by Johnny Depp, then The Queen.
Experts have found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack and that, contrary to popular belief, tea is not dehydrating.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It's all down to God's wonderful, overflowing, abundant love for us. Giving us what we don't deserve instead of giving us what we do deserve.
All we have to do, as with any gift, is reach out and take it.
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Christine's doctor has changed her medication (her happy pills). The new ones don't help her to sleep. After a few sleepless nights she took two instead of the prescribed one; that didn't help. The next night she washed them down with vodka; that made her to sleep. But the doctor was very cross.
If anyone who has the ability to make me a granny is reading this, please take note.
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Now if you're thinking of conducting an experiment let me save you the trouble. I can tell you with no shadow of a doubt that imitation suntan is a lot harder to get off carpets than it is to wear off skin.
Who on earth chose pale carpets for our bedroom anyway?
Yesterday afternoon, having spent the entire afternoon writing previously-mentioned short story, when tea time came, it was a case of 'what's in the freezer, I wonder?'
The answer was 'not a lot.' Apart from ice cream, peas and chillis, the best I could come up with was a packet of chicken pieces. A rummage in the pantry led me to some jars I'd bought for just such an emergency. I dusted the top of the first one and discovered its sell-by date was April 2004. The other two weren't so bad: they were January 2005.
Scrapping the chicken idea, I moved on to the pantry itself. A tin of corned beef and baked potatoes. That would do. Except the corned beef was 18 months out of date and only one of the potatoes wasn't mouldy.
I really must sort out the pantry.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
For a time I feared that might be the end of my blogging days - if I have to wait for something memorable to occur - but what do you know? Here I am again.
This time with a tale of tragedy into glory!
Late this morning, with my new-found determination, I visited a website that my writing magazine (this month's) assured me was running a monthly competition for stories to appear in a magazine. They give the first line and you write the story. Okay, that's a start. Except the closing date for the current competition was ... today.
Hence my prospective post under the title Thwarted.
I was bemoaning this fact to Elder Son via Messenger and he said, 'well, write one today.'
'Don't be silly; I can't sit down and write a story just like that.'
'Well I can't.'
'Yes you can. Go on.'
So I did. A 1,500 word story completed and emailed off to the competition.
It is probably complete rubbish but that doesn't matter. What matters is that I did it. For me to write 1,500 words in one day is pretty amazing; for me to write 1,500 words of fiction in a story I hadn't even thought of before today, when I've not written any fiction for ages is totally amazing. I am quite delighted.
And a fitting 1,000th post, even if I say it myself.
Monday, May 21, 2007
And they're not really to do with outside me but inside me.
I am feeling and behaving like a fat flighty butterfly, not settling anywhere or with anything, while grumbling about it all the time. It's probably my hormones - most things are, or should be - but that can't keep on being the excuse.
I want to write; I have days supposedly dedicated to writing but at the end of them I have nothing to show for it. Except an excessive amount of blogging.
So what is the path forward?
Okay. Taking the advice of yesterday's speaker, i shall put down 'the novel'. It's been rejected by enough people; it's suffering from low self-esteem (and one of us with that is bad enough); and feelings of failure. It's time to allow it to retire gracefully.
But what instead?
I have a new novel brewing in my head, just between the question of whether it's too soon to make another cup of tea, and the words of 'Guide me O thou great Jehovah'. But, let's be honest, what I would really really like is to earn some money from writing. Beginning a new novel isn't going to do that. First I need to earn - in my own mind - the right to spend time on it.
Feature articles I could try but I'm fed up of being ignored by editors.
Short stories for the women's magazine market: that has to be the target. I've had literary stories published in literary anthologies and magazines; I've submitted loads of stories to women's weeklies and all have been rejected. I'd like to think that means I'm just too clever for that market but the fact is that I can't crack the secret.
My stories seem to fit the criteria they ask for in their guidelines but I must be doing something wrong. That must be my aim: to write to fit.
So this is my plan.
I will concentrate on writing short stories aimed at the popular market. (Actually writing any fiction will be something of a challenge as I've not written anything of late.) I will study the magazines, take advice and give this a serious chance.
In between times, I'll make notes in hand-writing for my new novel.
I will also, when I have a chance, investigate markets for my collection of Christian monologues (at a time when publishers say there is no market for monologues unless your name is Alan Bennett).
The last two I'll do instead of playing Solitaire.
This all sounds awfully challenging. But I've blogged it in the hope that it will act as a reminder to me of what I want to achieve.
And now it really is time for a cup of tea.
Although I bought the book - complete with CD - for 50p in a charity shop; that rather suggests that the previous owner didn't think much of it. Then again perhaps it worked so miraculously that he/she no longer needs it and wants everyone to benefit from it. Then again, the fact that it looks unread is less promising.
I'll let you know.
When I get round to reading it.
Put 12 oz sultanas in a pan with 2 oz margarine and about 13 fl oz hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, then allow to cool a little.
Sieve 13 oz self-raising flour together with ½ a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda. Mix in 9 oz sugar.
Stir the fruit mixture into the flour and add 2 beaten eggs. Mix all together well.
Put the mixture into a greased and lined large loaf tin and cook in the oven at 180 C or gas mark 4 for about 50 - 60 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If it looks as if it's getting too brown, cover with foil.
Turn out to cool and serve sliced and spread with butter - there's only a little fat in the mixture so you can feel justified in having it thickly spread!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Husband is going to support Man U while I will cheer on Chelsea. Younger Son, an Arsenal fan, is also supporting Chelsea - as the lesser of two evils - for complicated footballing reasons. My reason is simple: Sir Alex Ferguson chews gum with his mouth open. And he wasn't nice to David Beckham.
It's quite possible that Mourinho chews open-mouthed as well - it is a football manager cliché - but I haven't seen him so that is justification enough for me.
Of course, I might just fall asleep.
There is no clue as to who Freedom Television is; the only information about it on the letter is the address, which is in East Grinstead. Which, strangely enough, is also the UK home of the Church of Scientology.
Friday, May 18, 2007
P.S. It occurred to me that I might have been alone in hearing the news report about our Tone in Washington. Apparently, on a radio show he was bemoaning the inability of people abroad to make a proper cup of tea. A fact with which I agree wholeheartedly.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
So, I made a plan. First thing I was going to do was to send off my children's story to a competition I'd seen advertised in my writing magazine.
I thought I'd better check the rules so I went to the website: the competition closed last October. I'd been reading an old mag.
So, on to Plan B. Um.
Stunned into silence, he stared at me, then got up and walked into the hall. In the doorway he turned and gave me this reproachful look. 'How could you? I thought you were my friend.'
Is there anything worse than a look from a reproachful dog?
P.S. You'll notice the decorating in the hall isn't finished yet. I've resigned myself to living like this until autumn at least. Well, you can't decorate when the sun is shining.
I was fed-up of trying to write and not succeeding; fed-up of trying to diet and not succeeding; fed-up of wanting to diet; and fed-up of the silly snuffles that are hanging around after my cold.
Then it came to me: the answer.
The answer that every woman is born knowing, an unspoken truth that is passed from mother to daughter through the generations, that is written in our chromosomes for eternity.
I went and bought some chocolate.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
It was 2001 before a new statue – with the right face - was unveiled (thanks to the efforts of the Historical Diving Society).
Yes, I know YS should be doing it himself but he doesn't and I can't stand it much longer. In fact the source of my long-living cold/ear infection is probably his room.
The alternative is to start to write a story. I haven't written a story for a very long time and I am scared. Scared I won't be able to do it, scared it will be rubbish.
Why is writing so frightening? Why would I rather do anything than attempt it? I get the ideas in my head but then there's this horror at the thought of putting them on paper, where they will be shown up for what they are. While they stay in my head, they're safe - they have promise. They're still could-bes: could be great; could be amazing; could be wonderful. Or could be disasters.
I'll need at least one black sack for the rubbish.
I am not consistent: sometimes I write 2 and sometimes I write two. I should decide on my house style and stick with it. But then again, when it's written as the numeral (2), does it have more impact? If it's the number that's important perhaps that is what is needed; but if the number involved is one of the less important aspects - which it was in my first sentence - then maybe I should write the word (two). Perhaps that should be my house style.
It's only 10.30 and so many difficult decisions already. Must be an indication that a cup of tea is needed.
I haven't seen Panorama for ages, certainly not in its 30-minute format, and if last night's show was a typical example of its reporting, then I won't be watching again for ages. There was nothing new; it proved nothing; it was just nonsense.
I decided to watch it because a few years ago I was asked to consider ghost-writing a book by a woman who had come out of Scientology. It was just after my ghost-written 'autobiography' of a New York cop was published, when my editor at Hodder asked me to go to meet this lady.
I spent some time with her and her husband and she and I got on well. I suspect it was her husband, with whom I didn't click, that led to me not being asked to do the book in the end. I think he wanted to do it himself but, as far as I know, Hodder never published it.
One of the things this lady asked, was, would I be prepared to have my life, and anything I'd ever done wrong, be made public as that was how the Church of Scientology would be likely to respond, by trying to discredit me as well as her. At the time I said it wouldn't worry me, but would that have been foolish or brave?
Actually they wouldn't have to look very far. Just reading my blog would give them enough to discredit me!
Monday, May 14, 2007
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier each day in order to do one household chore to keep on top of those niggly little jobs.
2. Invest in a dimmer switch - it's the greatest sex and beauty aid known to woman.
Now, let me think: which one shall I do?
He's given me antibiotic pills and spray for my left ear and sodium bicarbonate spray for my right. Last time he gave me sodium chloride spray: I wonder what household chemical they will suggest next time. Bleach maybe.
He asked if I do a lot of surfing; I said, 'Well, yes, I do actually. Does that make a difference?'
'You can pick up a lot of viruses like that.'
'I didn't realise they could affect me.'
'Like earworms I suppose.'
P.S. That last bit didn't happen although he did ask if I surfed.
near Carmarthen in South Wales.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Last Friday I tried to get Youtube to put my video, The Quiet Canary, up on my blog. It wasn't working so I eventually managed how to embed it myself - it was quite easy actually.
This morning I checked into my blog and at the top was The Quiet Canary. Not once but three times. Youtube must have done what it was supposed to do - eventually.
I've deleted them so as not to confuse you ... or me.
So, I've been tagged by Mauigirl with this meme. This was rather a nice one to do. Made me think a little.
1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
To make people laugh occasionally. If there is something I would want to accomplish as such, that would be it. If the question means ‘why do you blog?’ then it’s a different answer.
I started blogging about 18 months ago having been introduced to it by my son, and I am now totally addicted – just ask Husband! I am a wannabe writer and – if you've read much of my blog you’ll know about my prodigious rejection rate - this is a way of getting my writing read by others. It’s also a way of emptying my brain when I get little thoughts that won’t go away in my head.
Of course what I would really like is to be noticed by an agent/publisher, be made an offer I can’t refuse, and become rich and famous on the back of my blog.
2. Are you a spiritual person?
Hmm, I suppose the answer is yes. I don’t spend a lot of time meditating and wandering around in a long white robe scattering petals as I walk, which is what I sort of think of as a ‘spiritual person’.
I believe in the Trinity.
I believe in the creator God who is everywhere in everything around me. I only have to look at the variety of grasses on a tiny piece of wild land to see God.
I believe in Jesus, God and man, who through his death and resurrection made it possible for me to know forgiveness.
I believe in the Holy Spirit of God, who is in me and in the world, and working in me - and what a hard job he has!
I talk to God as I would to a person at any time and in any place. I chat, I scream, I laugh, I am grateful.
I don’t know if all that makes me spiritual …
3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?
In the eyes of many people, dogs count as things, so I’ll have Harvey (is that cheating?)
A proper flushing toilet
Brother of the More Famous Jack, book by Barbara Trapido and one of my absolute favourites, to read on said toilet
4. What's your favourite childhood memory?
Jumping off the top of my slide and trying desperately to fly.
5. Is this your first meme?
No, I've done 'What's weird about you?' and probably others.
Now I'll tag Ageis and Furtheron. I know I'm supposed to tag 5 but I've tagged people before and don't want to be a pest!
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
At least in the time of snail mail, there would be at least a few days between posting off a query or submission, and getting a rejection. A few days of hope. Now hopes can be raised and dashed in minutes. Hey ho.
On a different note, do you know what similarity there is between a woman's cleavage and a man's moustache?
Both can gather tasty titbits that can be eaten later.
Note to self: must stop eating handfuls of dry Frosties straight from the box.
"There's a new face in Zac's (new to me anyway). He's of slight build, wearing a red coat, and with alcohol on his breath. He sits at a table and his eyes are focused somewhere way beyond the confines of the room. I guess that he has stumbled across the place and is grateful for somewhere warm indoors to spend an evening; I think he will be asleep before long.
"We're continuing in the run-up to Christmas with a look at Mary. Redcoat isn't asleep but is following intently. Several times he interrupts and in a rambling, drawn-out fashion - the pauses typical, I think, of a drunk getting his thoughts together - makes a point. Given the chance, I would exchange knowing smiles with someone. If I had been in charge I would have been tempted to step in, in one of the pauses, and carry on with what I was saying, hoping he would get the message, but Sean waits patiently until he is sure he has finished. Others speak up and acknowledge the truth of what he is saying, giving him respect.
"Then Sean asks me to read. At the end of my reading the first person to come and speak to me is Redcoat. 'That was incredible,' he says. I am humbled."
Last night I was amazed at the difference. He still has a slight air of not being quite with it - but I think that's just him. He was really very alert. He has a job labouring and in the evenings, he gets home and works on the house he and his partner are doing up. He's part of a local church and has come on so far from where he was back in November. He remembers that time and says he was struggling then. He is an inspiration.
Dee, who is usually very quiet, also spoke up last night. Very honestly she recounted her battle with depression. It took a lot for her to say it but as Sean said, it demonstrated the trust and unity of the community that is Zac's.
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I am in prison next Sunday. Yesterday I saw Trevor, who has been in with us on one occasion, and he asked if he could go in again next Sunday.
After his previous visit, the feedback I received was that the chaplain wasn't happy because he had been dressed very scruffily, in a t-shirt full of holes. Now we might not necessarily agree with the chaplain's rules, but the prison is his domain and he has the yay or nay on whether we can go in or not. And sometimes he has very good reasons for his rules. So I tried to suggest tactfully to Trevor that he might want to make an effort to dress respectably. To which he replied, 'I shall wear whatever God tells me to wear. And if they don't let me in so be it.'
I rather suspect that Trevor has his own agenda for wanting to go in so maybe it's best if he doesn't come with us! Pray for me: I am going to have to deal with this issue this week.
Husband suggested telling him that when God said 'holey t-shirt', he meant 'holy t-shirt'.
One with this motto on it maybe.
Or perhaps he'd prefer this holy thong.
(It's amazing what you can find on the internet.)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Two of the main characters were priests. One was young, good-looking and part of the Vatican's MI5 equivalent; the other was an elderly, traditionalist priest in a tiny little parish in Seville.
The Vatican priest saw himself as a soldier: there to follow rules and obey orders. The Spanish priest thought his role was to help those who needed help.
Neither of them acknowledged the need for God - or faith in him - in their vocations. For the man from Rome, it was enough that he had signed up, committed himself to this life; for the priest in Seville, the faith that his parishioners had was enough.
I know this is fiction but I can't help wondering, from this and from statements various Anglican clerics have made over the years, whether belief in God is necessary for a clergyman, or whether it has become - or is becoming - as much of a secular job as that of social worker.
I don't have a lot of knowledge about Catholicism (or anything really!) but there are a couple of points in particular I am curious about.
1) Why do Roman Catholics pray to the saints and, in particular, to the Virgin Mary? We have the same God and the same Bible and I can't see where that comes from. Jesus himself told us to pray to Our Father.
2) Why do people have to confess to a priest? Only God can forgive sins. But I was thinking about this question in the shower this morning, and actually confessing in the presence of someone else can be a good thing, especially if the sin being confessed is an ongoing problem/addiction. If the other person is good and trustworthy and is willing to act as support - even doing spot checks to keep you on your toes! - then that's good. I know I am far more embarrassed to be caught doing something wrong by a friend than by God (who knows what I am doing anyway!)
Most of my knowledge of confession is garnered from novels and films where it seems to be the case of confessing, being forgiven, and then going straight out and doing the same thing again.
True confession should surely mean repentance - a turning away from. That's the difficult bit. Easy to say sorry; hard to change.
But it's a good book. Highly recommended.