Tuesday, 25 October 2016

An experiment in cliches

I thought I'd see how far I'd get writing something using mainly cliches. It's harder than I thought. If anyone would like to continue this sorry tale in the same vein, feel free.

Across the manicured lawn of their house in the leafy suburb of Codminster, a couple sat in companionable silence. Suddenly, they were disturbed by a sickening thud. It was every parent's worst nightmare!

Her parents were devastated.

"She was our beautiful baby girl,' they wept. 'So passionate about everything. She always gave a hundred and ten percent of herself, and now she's gone.'

'I'll go and put the kettle on,' said her mother. 'There's nothing like a nice cup of tea.'

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Limerick competition

With a limerick, try, if you can,
To ensure the appropriate scan.
If you write it like this,
I'm afraid you will miss
The wonderful prize I'm giving for the best Limerick.

I'm puzzled at the number or people who can't write limericks that scan properly (not my erudite readers, naturally), so I'm offering a small mystery prize for the best limerick on the subject of ...writing limericks. Winner to be chosen by the readers.

No rules, no fee. I'm just trying to make sure at least some of you waste some time, too. It'll make me feel better.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The things some people eat

The other day, someone (a son, possibly) mentioned "live frog sushi", and I thought,  surely not. There just cannot be such a thing....can there? Reader, I foolishly googled it.

 I stood it for about five seconds, and then switched off. But I cannot get out of my head the pathetic image of the severed top half of a poor wretched frog, waving its arms and gasping from its all-too-human-looking mouth on a bed of something weird on a serving plate.

I told my brother about this on the phone, but before I'd even said don't google this! he already had. I just hope he's now sleeping better than I am.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


I read this week that the writer Jilly Cooper has said that self-publishing is vanity publishing, and this set me thinking. After all, isn't all publishing vanity publishing, in a way? We write something,  and if we are reasonably happy with what we have written, we (or most of us) would like other people to read it. Does that make us vain?

Well, yes. A bit. If thinking we have created something that others would like to read is vanity, then we could be called vain. But I cannot see that that applies to one route (self-publishing) rather than the other (publishing by a conventional publishing house). I have used both routes, and on reflection, if I'm vain at all, I think being published is more  vanity-inducing than doing it myself. After all, it's lovely to have the imprimatur of a major publishing house, isn't it?

And yet most writers that I know are rather self-effacing and modest*; bad at self-publicity and terrible at book-signings. A paradox, perhaps.

What does anyone else think?

*Jeffrey Archer need not apply

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The best view from the best place

Mine is the one on the right, with the seriously bad hair (he says he likes it that way, and leave it alone; so I shall). .

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Advice to my (much) younger self

Apparently Victoria Beckham has published in Vogue advice to her 18-year-old self. This set me thinking. So here's some advice to my own young self (schooldays to early twenties, growing up in the sixties):

Just because no-one from the boys' grammar school wants to dance with you at the after-school ballroom dancing lessons does not mean that you are finished as a woman. You're not even started yet, (with your 32AA chest). Have faith.

Don't go to university just because you have the grades. (You were right when you said you'd hate it.)

That vein on the back of your leg that you stress endlessly about because you think you'll get varicose veins doesn't necessarily mean it will happen (it didn't).

Do try harder at tennis. Being relegated to the bottom of the playing field with two equally un-gifted friends to throw a discus will do you no good at all. Neither will making daisy chains and talking about boys. Tennis just might.

Getting your pet mice out in Miss B's scripture lesson is neither funny nor clever. You know the poor woman can't keep discipline - that's why you did it - and it isn't  kind.

Being kind is the most important thing of all; even more important than looking good in hot pants and mini-skirts. So: always try to be kind.

Notice old people. They may be more interesting than you think, and they're certainly more interesting than you are.

Ringing up a  boy you fancy to ask if you left your umbrella in his car isn't cool. You know and I know that you don't even own an umbrella.

And talking of  boys (still): when a boy says "see you around", he means just that. He's finished with you. Get over it.

And later on:  when at the end of an evening out a man asks you back for coffee, he does not, repeat not, mean coffee. He probably doesn't even like coffee. He has other things on his mind. If you like his brand of "coffee", then go for it. Otherwise decline politely and go home.

Lastly, be kind (again). Try to be happy and make others happy. Marry the right man (I did. Twice).

What single piece of advice would you give to your younger self? And did you follow it?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Please leave my grammar alone!

For many years I wrote magazine short stories, and I still write the odd one. I'm used to names, punctuation and other things being changed on publication, and I don't mind too much, but in a recent story "I" is printed instead of the accusative "me" ("she hated letting my brother and I...." was in the published version. Horrors!). This is an abuse I really hate. Okay, I'm a pedant. But even pedants must have some rights....haven't we?