Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bah humbug

People never cease to amaze me.
The festive season is supposed to be a time of goodwill, a time when we think kindly about others. (Although it would be wonderful if people could do this all year round – the world would be a much nicer place).
So I was horrified to read today that a couple of fathers got into a fight at their children’s nativity play in South Shields. During the brawl one man bit the other man’s finger off and spat it out – yuck!!!
Thankfully the children did not witness this appalling spectacle of blood and gore. The brawlers were carted off to the hospital / police station adding to the festive work load for medics and others.

What a pair of …well, words fail me – feel free to add your own.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Silly season

It must be the effect of the heat because we seem to be in the throws of a belated silly season.
Why - because the government is contemplating increasing the speed limit on motorways to 80 (i.e. most people will do 90) thus scaring the s*** out of us poor nervous lady drivers. There are enough maniacs on the roads and this move will only lead to more accidents and chaos. What about the environment!!!!
I guess the ConDems want people to buy more petrol to boost the economy and don’t give a stuff people’s welfare.

As for the mooted weekly bin collection at great expense – most of us are now heavily into recycling and it seems like an ill-thought out and ridiculous waste of money.

Friday, 23 September 2011


A piece of space junk is due to hit earth tonight. I hope it does not land on you. Here is another scary thing to ponder over the week end.

Prof Brian Cox explores the possibility that the World may end in 2012 at the end of the Mayan Long Count.

This is really scary - I’m talking about his driving!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Miracles of Life

The reading list for my MA is colossal (as I mentioned in a previous post), but I am diligently working my way through it. So far the books have all been well written, but some, which shall remain nameless, have been a boring and failed to grip my imagination.
For the last two days, however, I have been engrossed in J.G Ballard’s autobiography, Miracles of Life. It deals with his childhood in Shanghai, his experience of a Japanese POW camp, his life as a student, marriage, and becoming a single father after his wife’s death. It is a fascinating insight into the experiences that shaped his novels and short stories and his development as a writer and a human being.
It is stunning and very moving. I’ve just finished reading it and had to have a good cry.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wee, piss, urine and piddle

Ugghhhhhhhhh…Why do people have to wee all over toilet seats!!!!!

This phenomenon seems to have appeared over the last few years and is becoming an epidemic.
As you can see I am very annoyed about it.
It does not matter where I go in the UK it seems to be a problem everywhere.

What is wrong with people – why are you all doing it – I would be very grateful if someone could explain why we have to put up with this appalling behaviour.

I wish someone would start a protest movement for better standards in communal lavatories.

I bet all you phantom piddlers don’t do this in your own homes!!!!!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Shoddy clothes

Is it just my imagination or is the quality of clothes deteriorating whilst the price is increasing.

Years ago one could purchase items of clothing form a certain high street store that were so robust that they seemed to last forever – now the same establishment produces stuff that fades, bobbles and disintegrates rapidly after purchase.

The fabric that clothes are made from also seems to be thinner and a lot of items are almost ‘see-through’.

Do people prefer a rapid turnover of disintegrating clothes these days?

Are we being exploited by the clothing industry?

Sadly, even buying more expensive items is not a guarantee of longevity – I bought a lovely jumper ‘for best’ and was horrified to see holes appearing in it and the knitting unraveling…. Grrrrrrr

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Which character are you?

Good morning dear reader, I hope you are well.

Do you ever find yourself identifying with characters in books?

I’ve empathazised with some very strange characters at times.
When I was working I felt like Boxer from Animal Farm. Boxer’s fate still has the capacity to reduce me to tears when I re read it. Unlike poor Boxer, I’ve escaped and I’m off to pastures new.

When I left my husband my Aunt gave me a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - it was a great comfort to know I was not alone in the dreadful experience I had been through, and the book helped me make some sense of my own predicament.

Have any fictional characters helped you to make sense of your life?

Are there any characters that you identify with?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Yesterday was a full moon – a time of endings.
A group of us met in our university coffee shop. It felt like it would be the last time we would all be there together.
It was strange and sad to see the freshers clutching their welcome packs and getting their photos and computer passwords sorted out.
We felt like unwanted old chicks tossed out of the nest to make way for the new ones.
We don’t want this to be the final goodbye so our plan is to set up an informal group for people interested in books and writing. We will meet when we can, jobs and postgrad degrees permitting, in our university town to discuss things that we have read and support each other with our writing.
We still need to identify a venue that serves coffee and caters for groups of literary enthusiasts.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Happy Birthday to me

It is my birthday again and it is probably the saddest day in the year to have a birthday. I’ve not felt like celebrating since 9/11 but today I’m being dragged out for lunch by my parents and children.

My birthday wish for me is that one day I will write something worth publishing – sadly I’ve had no success so far with short story competitions – but I’m not going to give up.

I wish you all a happy year and may your dreams come true.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Valete Omnes

It was my graduation yesterday and it was one of the happiest days of my life. My family came to watch my two minutes of fame and my short-lived career on the stage.
I was very lucky to study at Wolverhampton University and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is the most student- friendly and nurturing university in the UK and has the best and most inspiring lecturers.
(I can say this with the benefit of having a previous degree in an unrelated subject form a red-brick Russell group institution where the lectures were boring and nobody gave a s*** about the students).
The learning experience at Wolverhampton was brilliant and the university deserves to be rewarded and acknowledged for the good work it does.
Positions on league tables and ‘prestigiousness’ do not necessarily mean ‘better’ in my opinion.

Friday, 2 September 2011

A good time was had by all

A group of us went to Candi’s book launch last night and we had a great time. Candi looked stunning in a slinky dress and high heels. She read from her new novel Kalahari Passage and told us about the research she had undertaken in Africa.
The venue was Waterstone’s in New Street, Birmingham. The book displays had been cleared away in the front entrance and replaced by rows of chairs. The shop has a beautiful ceiling with a stained glass roof, which I had never noticed before.
We queued to get our copies signed and Candi wrote individual things for each of us that we shall treasure.
I began reading my copy on the train home and nearly missed my stop because I was so engrossed.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Candi’s book launch

Just to let you all know, Tindal Street Press is hosting a book launch for Candi Miller’s latest book, Kalahari Passage.

It is taking place at Waterstone’s book shop, 128 New Street , Birmingham at 7pm, on Thursday, 1st of September.

If you would like to go along please could you contact Rikhi Ubhi on 0121 773 8157.

Or e-mail Rikhi -

Saturday, 27 August 2011


I read an article the other day that said that women’s’ waistlines were now on average 6 inches bigger than in the 1950s. I can well believe that is true - If you watch films from the post-war era people looked a lot shorter and thinner than they do now. This was because the population had suffered communal food deprivation. The effects of rationing meant that people did not have a lot to eat and fat and sugar were rare treats.

We now have abundance and easy access to tasty food in mammoth quantities. The result is that we have become a nation of gluttons, encouraged by the food industry and supermarkets. If people were suffering rationing now there would not be an obesity epidemic – so it is all down to availability and portions sizes.

Helping people not to become obese is a challenge. I think that there needs to be a radical shift in society to make the food industry downsize our ‘portions’ and offer realistic ones rather than jumbo supersize things. (I bet George Osborne would love to levy a ‘fat’ tax on people who are overweight – he could rake in millions).
Smaller plates and bowls might help.
So might education in schools - teaching children how to cook proper food and not rely on microwave convenience food and the chip shop.

Yes – I’m a glutton too and guilty of living to eat, so I sympathize with anyone who loves food too much and has an expanding waste line.

What do you think – should people be allowed to get fatter and fatter?
Is obesity a matter of our own personal responsibility?
Or do we need a radical shift as a society in our attitude to food?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I’ve spent the last few weeks grappling with the concept of what constitutes a good short story. This is in preparation for my forthcoming MA as short stories seem to be a major component of the modules I’ve chosen.

I’m still bogged down by the mammoth reading list and finding some of the short stories challenging to say the least because they are not the sort of thing I enjoy or would read by choice. (I prefer to read light-weight chick lit and escapist stuff with happy endings and my writing style probably reflects my innate superficial proclivities).

Jackie Kay said in Mslexia that the best short stories should be ‘unnerving’ – but at this stage in my writing career I can’t say that I am drawn to ‘the unnerving’ and I’m still suffering the toxic after-effects of William Burroughs’s psychotic snippets in Naked Lunch.

Do you agree with Jackie Kay - should short stories be unnerving?

What do you think a ‘good’ short story should be like??

What is your favourite short story and why???

In my research on the subject of short stories I came across these suggestions on the link below – and you can access the podcasts too.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rail fares

Just to add to our general misery, there are plans to increase rail fares. How will we ever have a decent public transport system and get cars off the roads if the average person cannot afford to travel by rail?

I was in Belgium recently and was impressed by the clean, frequent and cheap bus service. Their rail service was also exemplary – the trains were clean and on time, and there were plenty of seats for everybody. So why have we in the UK got to put up with over-priced, overcrowded, dirty trains with stinking bogs occupied by a constant stream of fare dodgers. Our trains can never be guaranteed to run on time because of the thousand and one excuses that are trotted out like 'cows on the line' or 'signalling failure'.

If you are fed up with all this then there is a petition you can sign – link below, and there will also be a rally on Tuesday morning 16th August in London out side Waterloo station.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What can society do?

People are asking themselves what has gone wrong with our society to spark the riots we have seen over the past few days.
I was horrified by the total callousness of these 'rioters' who stole from an injured man and left him there. They reminded me of the worst type of school bully -  showing no compassion for others and swaggering off with their cronies. What has caused their lack of morals and compassion?

Do these people come from homes where parents have abused or neglected them, and this is all they know – or are they just psychopaths?
What can be done to stop the rot??

Any suggestions???

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Progress report

I’ve made a start on the reading list for my MA, having had a massive cull to make space for the 80+ books I’ve ordered. I’m a very slow reader (because I like to linger over words – no, I’m really a bit thick and I have to read slowly to make sure I’ve grasped the gist of things). Also, I’ve had to shelve any delusions about writing novel number two this holiday because of the frightening volume of reading I need to do.

It is my own fault – I got side tracked by Mr. Wroe’s Virgins and Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber and I’m looking longingly at Neil Gaiman’s oeuvres that I would rather be reading.

I have read three and a half books so far. I enjoyed James Kelman’s gritty Scottish Selected Stories, and Helen Simpson’s Hey Yeah Right Get a Life. I struggled with Jim Crace’s Quarantine – it was well written, but I found it unsettling because its content thwarted my assumptions and was unpleasant in parts – I won’t spoil the ending in case anyone plans to read it.

The best one so far is Tim Winton’s The Turning – it is excellent. His writing is superb, precise and concise, his characters are compelling and the setting (Perth, Australia) is wonderful.

I’m impressed with the reading list so far.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


I was shocked to learn today that one of my childhood heroes has become a violent thug. The villain in question threw a pizza at Paul Daniels.

Paul Daniels ended up being hospitalized due to an eye injury and had to cancel his gigs.

Who committed this dreadful act – yes, it was Sooty!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Reading list for MA

I promised my friends at uni that I would let them know, via my blog, what happens on an MA course in creative writing. Well – here is the reading list. I’ve just spent a fortune at Amazon and have had to rearrange my home to accommodate the mammoth delivey of books that I am now expecting.
I was warned there was a lot of reading to do – they weren’t joking!
Never mind, I enjoy a challenge, and having read nothing but set texts or chick-lit for ages this lot will make a refreshing change and broaden my outlook on life. I am ashamed to say that I have only read two books off the list before – so I’m in for a very busy summer.
Fiction Workshop I
Borges, Jorge Luis, Labyrinths, 2000
Calvino, Italo, Invisible Cities, 2002
Carver, Raymond, Cathedral, 1999
Crace, Jim, Continent/Quarantine, 1987
Ford, Richard, The Granta Book of the American Long Story, 1999
Ford, Richard, ed The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, 2007
Kelman, James, Selected Stories, 2001
McEwan, Ian, First Love, Last Rites, 2006
Messud, Clare, Hunters, 2001
Munro, Alice, Selected Stories, 1997
Plimpton, George, ed., Beat Writers at Work: the Paris Review Interviews, 1999
Plimpton, George, ed., Women Writers at Work: the Paris Review Interviews, 2003
Rushdie, Salman, East, West, 1994
Simpson, Helen, Hey Yeah Right Get a Life, 2001
Elisabeth Taylor, The Blush, 1958
Richard Yates, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, 1962
Tim Winton, The Turning, 2005
Booker, Christopher, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, 2005
James Wood, How Fiction Works, Jonathan Cape 2008
Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead, Virago 2007
Morley, David, The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing, Cambridge University Press 2007
Mullan, John, How Novels Work, Oxford University Press, 2006
Lodge, David, Consciousness and the Novel, Harvard University Press, 2002
Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer; Haper Perennial 2007
JA Baker’s The Peregrine
Journals by other writers, e.g. Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Dorothy Wordsworth, Gerald Manley Hopkins, John Fowles, etc.
The Paris Review Interviews, vol 1-4
The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Nikos Kazantzakis, The Life and Times of Alexei Zorba / Zorba the Greek
Maureen Freely, Enlightenment
Alexander McMasters, Stuart: A Life Backwar
Jim Crace, The Devil’s Larder
Lynda Barry, What It Is
Peter Blegvad, Leviathan
J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition
J.G. Ballard, Miracles of Life
Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners
James Kelman, How Late it Was, How Late
Damion Searls, ; The Whale
Damion Searls, What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going
[Juan Gabriel Vasquez, The Secret History of Costaguana]
Margaret Atwood, Negotiating the with Dead
[Lorca on duende and darkness vs. Elytis on the mystery of light]
Lewis Hyde, The Gift
Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart, 2001
Ballard, JG, Supercannes
Baldwin, James, Giovanni’s Room, 1990
Barnes, Julian, Arthur and George, 2006
Coe, Jonathan, The House of Sleep, 1998
Danticat, Edwige, The Dew Breaker, 2004
Delillo, Don, White Noise, 1985
Greene, Graham, The Quiet American, 1955
Ishiguro, Kazuo, An Artist of the Flying World, 1999
McEwan, Ian, On Chesil Beach, 2007
Mitchell, David, Cloud Atlas, 2005
Morrison, Toni, Beloved, 1997
Sinclair, Ian, Downriver, 1991
Vargas Llosa, Mario, The Feast of the Goat, 2003.
McGahern, John, Amongst Women, 1990
Moore, Brian, Lies of Silence, 1992
Kennedy, A.L., Day, 2007
Michaels, Ann, Fugitive Pieces, 1998
Coetzee, JM, Disgrace, 1999
Roth, Philip, American Pastoral, 1998
Mistry, Rohinton, A Fine Balance, 1997
Pamuk, Orhan, The Black Book, 2006
Gordimer, Nadine, The Pickup, 2002
Smiley, Jane A Thousand Acres, 1992
George Orwell, Why I write (Penguin, 2004)
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Philip Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that…
Ivan Klima, My Golden Trades
Kevin Toolis, Rebel Hearts
Yashar Kemal, Memed, my Hawk
Francisco Goldman, The Art of Political Murder
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
Agee, James, and Evans, Walker, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Arendt, Hannah; Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time
Cercas, Javier; The Anatomy of a Moment
Duras, Marguerite, The War
Feitlowitz, Marguerite; A Lexicon of terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture
Gelhorn, Martha; The Face of War
Gourevitch, Philip and Morris, Errol; Standard Operating Procedure: A War Story
Hersey, John; Hiroshima
Levi, Primo, The Drowned and the Saved
Moorehead, Caroline; Human Cargo
Roy, Arundhati, The Algebra of Infinite Justice
Toolis, Kevin, Rebel Hearts
Verbitsky, Horacio; Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior
Vuillamy, Ed; Amexica: War along the Borderline
Zephania, Benjamin, Too Black, Too Strong
Baldwin, James, Go Tell it on the Mountain
Ben Jelloun, Tahar, This Blinding Absence of Light
Brink, Andre, A Dry White Season
Ellison, Ralph, The Invisible Man
Figeras, Marcelo, Kamchatka
Hamid, Mohsin, The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Haviaras, Stratis, The Heroic Age
Klima, Ivan, My Golden Trades
Kundera, Milan, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Llosa, Mario Vargas, The Feast of the Goat
Pamuk, Orhan, Snow
Steinbeck, John, The Grapes of Wrath
Tsirkas, Stratis, Drifting Cities
Ugresic, Dubravka, The Ministry of Pain

Friday, 15 July 2011

Fish and chips

Do you like going to the seaside?

There is nothing nicer that eating fish and chips smothered in salt and vinegar at the seaside, but your bliss may be short –lived if a seagull spots you.
I’ve had many a chip nicked at Llandudno, and it is very entertaining to watch the cunning birds swoop down and help themselves to people’s snacks and ice creams as they try to enjoy the sea view.
The problem must be rife in seaside towns - a chip shop owner in Bridlington has had to put up signs warning people about chip stealing seagulls because his profits have dwindled through people demanding reimbursement.

So, just be careful if you eat in front of seagulls – they can be quite vicious!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Short Story Competition

Here is some information about a short story competition. The maximum length for the stories is 3000 words and the competition rules do not state a theme or a genre – so it seems open to all tastes and styles.

The judge is Dr. Paul McDonald from the University of Wolverhampton.

The successful stories will be published in an anthology, and for those of you who like cash incentives, the first prize is £500.

Get writing!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

RIP Curney (21.5.1996 – 7.7.2011)

My dog died this week. I am heartbroken.
He was the best dog in the world. He was loyal and devoted. He was always ready for a walk, wagging his tail and standing there all excited. He always ate what I gave him and was grateful and very affectionate. He followed me everywhere in the house and garden, like a constant shadow, or one of Philip Pullman’s daemons.
The house is so strange without him. I keep thinking he is just behind the sofa or outside….

Shakespeare sums up death better than I can

Fear no more the heat o’the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done…

Cymbeline, (IV.ii.260-262)

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Rude number plates

Would you find this number plate offensive?

I personally think it is hilarious and it would be entertaining to see this number plate out on the road.
The DVLA, however, took a dim view of the number plate, and ordered Alan Clarke to remove it (the police must have reported him).
But, Mr. Clarke had bought the number plate in good faith for £399 from the DVLA in the first place, so what is going on here?
Had the DVLA failed to spot the potential of the number plate to upset some people?

Do you think that smutty number plates would brighten up our roads or do you agree with the DVLA?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


What does a handbag say about its owner? What sort of person would own a handbag like the one in this picture?

Do you think that the style and contents of your handbag reflects your personality?
According to Kathryn Eisman, they do. She spent two years researching the subject and came up with the following

These women are the envy of others. Any woman who can make do with a small bag carrying only their necessities – wallet, keys, phone and glasses – has mastered the art of organization and never has to wade through a pile of sweet wrappers or old receipts to find their mobile phone.

Not quite as clutter free, but still practical and focused, this woman is extremely well-organized and carries items which are sensible and practical. She likes to be prepared for every eventuality. Be it tissues or toothbrush, hair accessories or phone charger, every item in this bag has a purpose. Women who fit into this category very rarely swap bags, according to Eisman, and are likely to choose neutral colors and classic cuts which will never go out of style.

According to Eisman’s research the creative woman has a free spirit and “tends to rebel against conformity.” Their bag is most likely to be a treasure trove or a bottomless pit. However, the contents are still relatively organized – full but functional, even though it may appear chaotic to the casual observer. Household bills, medicines, food wrappers and other assortments of random items can be found lurking at the bottom of this purse. The Creative spirit likes handbags in bright colors, showing others that she is fun and approachable, says Eisman.

The Florence Nightingale
These women are caring and sensitive and carry a multitude of items which are useful to others. Medicines, band aids, mints, chewing gum, perfume, tissues, safety pins and other practical items. Expressive personalities also tend to carry sentimental trinkets, photos of loved ones and a book or magazine which they can lose themselves in. Often appearing shy, don’t be fooled by this woman’s exterior, according to Eisman, there is a wild side just waiting to be unleashed!

Not only can the style of handbag give away your personality type but your color choice is also an indication. According to Eisman, women who go for bright colors tend to be fun loving, friendly and approachable. These are women who will happily strike up a conversation with a stranger, in an elevator or a train compartment.

Colour Neutral, classic colors such as black and brown means that the owner may be more reserved and appear less approachable. Sometimes coming across as shy, these women are confident and are often down-to-earth.

I have one black (very tidy) bag that I’ve used for years and one very large red bag crammed with stuff that I use for uni...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Happy Smurf Day

Do you like the smurfs?
Are you celebrating Smurf Day today?

I love the smurfs – they don’t do politics and live in a happy communal village where everyone is kind and helps everyone else. The smurfs don’t use money and are not troubled by greedy bankers or exploited by their employers. Everything they do is for the good of the community.

Professor Ellis Cashmore, a sociologist from Staffordshire University thinks that the smurfs embody the ethos of the Big Society. He said: ‘Cameron is asking people to get organized with their local community, have organic collectivity and work for each other, like we used to before industrialization came along and fragmented society.’

Other people believe that their creator, Peyo, used them as a metaphor for socialism.

For those of you who have been scarred for life by psycho exes the idea of peaceful communal harmony could be very tempting as the smurfs don’t seem to go in for one to one relationships.

Perhaps we could learn a lot about how to organize a fair and tolerant society from the smurfs – what do you think?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Politics and the English language

I’ve just been reading a fascinating essay by George Orwell on the use of hackneyed euphemisms in political-speak. It was written in 1946, but it still applies today.
Orwell says that ‘politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia’. I don’t agree with the last bit, but the other comments seem accurate and I get really annoyed when politicians and the media use cosy phrases to describe awful things with the aim of attenuating them and making them more 'acceptable'.
Orwell’s essay argues that writers should make their meaning clear and not used clichés.
He offers the following tips for writers – (politicians don’t seem to follow Orwell’s advice - I wonder why!!!!)
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Sadly I have to leave my lovely university with its superb lecturers and head off to pastures new. I now have my degree classification and thankfully I have managed to fulfil my conditional offer - so I’m off to do an MA in creative writing at another university in the Midlands. I just wish that I could have stayed at my current university, but it does not offer an MA course in my chosen subject.
I thought people might be interested in what it is like to attend an MA course in creative writing, so I will be posting things on my blog about my experiences. It might be useful for anybody thinking of applying for an MA in creative writing, and may vicariously help those who don’t have time to.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Blood red moon

There will be a total lunar eclipse tonight – so if you have nothing better to do go outside at approximately 9pm and stare at the sky for an hour.

If it is clear night you may see the moon turn blood red!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Bank Holiday boredom

It is the Bank Holiday and it is raining. If you have nothing better to do then have a go at this Myer Briggs personality test. It will tell you what job you should consider.
I’ve just had a go at it and it says that I should consider teaching as a career.

Death by cucumber

No. this is not the joke about the naughty nuns in the vegetable patch, but a scary story about infected cucumbers entering the food chain and killing people. Several people have died in Germany as a result of imported Spanish organic cucumbers infected with E.coli. So far ten people have died from kidney failure in the Hamburg area.
I don’t know if any infected cucumbers have reached the UK, but if you are off to Hamburg don’t eat any cucumber.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Is waiting for results worse than doing the assignments?

I can’t believe that my three years at university have finished. The time has whizzed past in a blur of assignments, as if life has been stuck on fast-forward. Now I have the nerve-wracking wait for my results, and in some ways I’d rather do a hundred essays than hang around in a constant state of nauseated nervous anxiety worrying about my grades.

Advice to any first and second years reading this blog: when you get into the third year try and work consistently throughout the year on your year-long projects/ dissertation because everything implodes on top of you in the last semester – even if you have brilliant time-management skills.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

End of the world?

I thought it was the end of the world this week because I could not access my blog and kept getting an error message. Thanks to advice from plashing vole normal service has been resumed.
I’ve not been able to blog for ages because I’ve had too much uni work to do, and needed to prioritize it over blogging and entering writing competitions. Then when I did have time to blog I could not get into my Google account or blogger dashboard.
I think a lot of fellow bloggers have been busy with uni work too. How did you cope with your dissertations?
The only thing that got me through the mountain of assignments and the dissertation was chocolate. On the worst day I managed to get through three Toblerones. Needless to say, I have emerged fat and unhealthy after the experience. I never want to see chocolate again – well, not until the next dissertation!

Are you all doing anything special to mark the end of the world?

I’m not, because it is a load of twaddle – although the skies over Telford are now an oppressive apocalyptic grey....
In case you have not heard about the end of the world forecasts they are the work of 89 year old Harold Camping - a retired civil engineer form Oakland, California, who spreads his messages of gloom via the Family Radio Network. He came up with this prediction after some mind boggling calculations.

Have a nice week-end!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Competition Time

Sorry it is short notice, but if you like writing competitions Woman and Home is offering a £1000 prize and a set of the 20 shortlisted books for the Costa Book Awards for 2011, for the best short story.
The closing date is this Friday.
You need to write 2500 words on the theme of ‘the secret’, but the title is up to you.
You will need the entry coupon from the May issue of W&H

Friday, 29 April 2011

Wishing you every happiness Kate and William

Here is a tribute form Kate’s thwarted admirers.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Do you like French films?

I do – I did French at school and I like to try and watch French films when I get the chance.
I came across Spiral by accident last night on BBC 4 and was hooked.
It is a French murder investigation series set in Paris and last night there were two episodes of ‘The Butcher of La Villette’
I got totally engrossed in it and can’t wait for the next two episodes on Saturday. It was nothing like Midsomer Murders, Morse or Miss Marple – it was more like a good Zola novel with a lot of dodgy police practices and covert brutality - Enjoy!
(It has sub-titles in English)

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Do you like going to the dentist?

Well, a dentist in Shropshire got into trouble recently.
No – it was not for killing people or for fondling his patients - but for gassing them!

So what you might think, but Matthew Walton, the dentist is question, apparently thought it was hilarious to belch and fart in front of staff and patients at his dental surgery, and he rounded off his melodious eructations by flourishing a few V signs behind his departing patients’ backs.

After reading this you won’t be able to keep a straight face if the dentist offers you ‘gas’ next time you go for a filling.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

World Book Night

Our lecturer today reminded us that it is World Book Night on Saturday. To mark the occasion she is distributing copies of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to our class for us to share and pass round. This is her favourite book. I think that it is wonderful that she is sharing this with us, and I can’t wait to read it.

Sadly, I have not come across a book so far that has had that sort of life changing or profound effect on me, but that is probably because I only get time to read university set books with the odd bit of chick-lit as escapism, but I’m up for new book experiences so all suggestions are welcome.

Have you ever been so moved emotionally by a book that you would like to share it with other people – and if so what is it?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Behave your self at the cinema!

Do you get annoyed at the cinema when people talk all through the film, bleep away on their mobile phones, gobble crunchy crisps and rustle sweet wrappers?

Well, in Latvia things turned very nasty yesterday at a showing of ‘Black Swan’. Nikolajs Zikovs shot forty- three- year- old banker, Aigers Egle because he had been stuffing himself noisily with popcorn during the film - at least he waited until the film ended before shooting the banker.

I thought this is really scary and just shows how intolerant people are becoming.

Or perhaps you think that people who spoil films are a menace and this incident was just a matter of time.

Perhaps it would be better to ban phones, food and drinks in cinemas on health and safety grounds – but then cinemas are struggling financially and the disgusting array of unhealthy, obesity –inducing ‘food’ substances they offer are a source of income for them.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Marylebone - Wrexham service

I was very upset to hear today that the Wrexham Marylebone train service is to close. The service was superb and it was like stepping back in time to a more peaceful, civilized era, not the horrible, standing room only situation on the other services from Shropshire, with smelly wet toilets and constant battles between the ticket persons and fare dodgers.
I wish someone out there could rescue this service and keep its old fashioned values. It will be missed.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Life isn’t fair

I have not blogged for a while because I’m suffering from third year syndrome – too much work to do - (any first or second year university students reading this post take note – the work increases exponentially each year).
Also the stuff that is going on in the country since the ConDems appeared is making me very worried. Normally I like to poke fun at politicians – but this lot just aren’t funny.
I’ve been very annoyed about bankers' bonuses – nothing has been done, but everyone else is suffering.
I was even more annoyed today when I read that university vice-chancellors' pay went up astronomically last year, but students will have to bear harsh tuition fees.
I suspect we will see increasing unrest in the land as people realize they are being massively ripped off and conned and finally get fed up with it.
A decent and fair society should have free top quality health and education - we pay enough in taxes for it – so where is all the money going?????????????

Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

The new year marks a turning point and a symbolic opportunity to change old behaviour patterns and habits.
New year TV adverts are usually full of celebrity exercise videos, diet clubs, and quit smoking treatments, exhorting people to get fit and healthy by making them feel guilty. Gym membership peaks in the first few weeks of January as people feel they should be doing something about their festive podge.

As the old year fades away what are you planning to do in the new year?
Have you got a list of resolutions that you feel you ought to be doing?
Have you got some exciting goals that you want to achieve?
Do you think resolutions are a good thing or doomed to failure?

I’m aiming to do more exercise as my new year’s resolution.

Wishing you every success with whatever you decide to do for your new year – even if it is not to make new year’s resolutions.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

The shops are shut. The turkey is well and truly stuffed and Christmas is here.
It only seems like five minutes since last Christmas.
I hope Santa brought you what you wanted, and if he didn’t then you can demand a refund or roast his reindeer.
I hope your relatives all behave themselves, and that Christmas passes without any festive punch-ups – verbal or otherwise.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

£250 for a Christmas pudding???

Waitrose sold Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas puddings for £13.99. They went like hot cakes, so to speak. Now punters on eBay are charging £250 for the puds.
Some people must be mad if they are prepared to blow £13.99 on a Christmas pudding, let alone £250!!!!
I made mine for a few pounds - a gluten free one for my sister and a traditional one for the rest of the family.
Christmas pudding is very easy to make, the only drawback is the eight hours simmering, but the house smells wonderful and Christmassy. I must confess to being rather partial to the hot brandy sauce that accompanies the pudding.

I bet mine tastes nicer than yours Heston!!!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Beware - Google can see your knickers

A Japanese woman from Fukuoka is trying to sue Google for showing her underwear on Street View.
The woman, who has not been named, is reported to be after 600,000 yen (£4,588) from Google, after claiming she suffered psychological distress as a result of her washing line being featured on the Street View function.
According to Japan's Mainichi newspaper, the woman told a court hearing, that she was frightened that she would become the victim of sex crime after Google showed her knickers drying outside.
The name of the town sounds like something from a Carry On film, so may be she has grounds to fear the rampant passions of the locals.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Happy Birthday to Jane Austen

Many of my blog readers are avid Jane Austen fans. Some are even doing their dissertations on her novels.
If I had to choose one book to take to a desert island, it would be Pride and Prejudice. I must confess to hating it when I had to read it at school for O level. Years later I was mesmerized when Colin Firth emerged from the lake at Pemberley and became the quintessential Darcy in his dripping white shirt…swoon.
I read Pride and Prejudice again and became hooked. No matter how many times I read it, I get more out of it. It is the classic chick-lit love story.
I also love Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility ( I think the latter had something to do with Dominic Cooper in the BBC production).

Which is you favourite Austen novel???

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Telford is famous at last!

Have you ever been to Telford?
When I first came to Telford, I thought the place was a confusing collection of roundabouts and housing estates – with more roundabouts. It took me ages to find my way around.
Myth has it that the design for Telford came from the planners' tea cup stains on their blueprint for the place. If you’ve ever tried to drive round Telford then you will know what I'm on about.

Telford’s roundabouts featured on Have I Got News For You, last week.

Guest presenter Miranda Hart asked: "Telford's roundabouts created what?"
Comedian Greg Davies replied: "A vortex that sucked in anything picturesque and all sense of hope."

In 2005, the Roundabout Appreciation Society produced a calendar of Telford’s magnificent roundabouts, but I doubt many people bought it.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Writing Competition

Hello Writers – how are things with you?
If you are in the third year then you probably don’t have any spare time due to the volume of work.
Just in case you need a break from the grind, could do with £2,000 , a one-week writing retreat at Chawton House Library and a day with a Virago editor then have a go at the Mslexia Short Story Competition.
The closing date is 24th January 2011, and the judge is Jackie Kay.
2,200 words max, on any subject you like.

It does say ‘Women’s Short Story Competition’, so although I think this is sexist and unfair, it is for ladies only.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Missing Snowman

Are you enjoying the snow boys and girls?
It has caused chaos all over the country, and put a strain on the emergency services.
I bet the police in Kent were annoyed when a woman rang 999 to report her snowman had gone missing. Here is a transcript of the call:

“I haven't been out to check on him for five hours but I went outside for a fag (cigarette) and he's gone," said the female caller.
When the operator asked who had gone she replied: "My snowman. I thought that with it being icy and there not being anybody about he'd be safe.
"It ain't a nice road but you don't expect anybody to nick your snowman," she added.

The Police were not amused – no wonder one in ten of the police force is off sick according to today’s figures.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Free Books!

Hello fellow readers and writers – you might be interested in World Book Night which starts on Saturday 5th Match 2011. It is a celebration of reading and 1 million books will be given away by 20,000 readers to people across the UK.

From 2 December 2010, members of the public are invited to apply to be one of the 20,000 givers of 48 copies of their favourite book chosen from a carefully selected list of 25 titles. Most givers are expected to be passionate readers who will take pleasure in recommending a book they love to other readers. However, World Book Night will also encourage givers to pass the books on to others who either may be reluctant readers or who are part of communities with less access to books, bookshops and libraries. 960,000 books will be distributed by givers and a further 40,000 will be distributed by WBN to people who might not otherwise be able to participate.

The link for the World Book Night is below if you are interested.

Monday, 22 November 2010

How do you cook?

I’ve had some fascinating conversations with people about cooking. It seems that some people are really organized and slavishly follow recipes. They buy all the ingredients specially, and are heavily into experimentation. They have books by all the TV chefs and try different menus every day.
Then you get the other sort of people who make concoctions out of random things, based on what needs using up, or what is left in the fridge and cupboards. It can lead to some fabulous meals or awful disasters.

I wonder if ‘scientific’ types are into the former method of cooking and ‘artistic’ types favour the latter.

And last but not least are the sad lot who can’t cook at all – shame on you!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kate’s Ring

Are you excited about the royal wedding? I think Kate and William seem like a well matched couple.
The only thing that bothers me is that she has been given Princess Diana’s ring.
I don’t know what you think, but I think wearing the ring of someone’s dead mother is a bit creepy. I’d rather have a ring that someone had chosen specially for me even if it only cost £5, rather than a ring chosen for someone else originally.
Or perhaps they are being mindful of hard times and recycling.

What do you think?

Monday, 15 November 2010

How happy are you?

Did you know that the government is planning to measure how happy we are?
The Office for National Statistics is going to devise a household survey that will test people’s happiness levels quarterly.

Bet you can’t wait to take part.

This is the brain child of ‘Dave’ who reckons that money isn’t everything.

What will the government do with the findings?

Will they impose a tax on people who are grumpy?
Will they put Prozac into the water supply so that we don’t care anymore that we are all paying for the greedy bankers gambling habits?

What would make you happy?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Communing with nature

What do people in rural locations do to pass the time?
Well, I woke up this morning to find that a phantom graffiti artist has paid a visit to my neighbourhood in the night.
I live in a semi rural location that has woods and lakes. It is a beautiful, peaceful place with lots of wild life. People sometimes put posters of their missing pussies on the lampposts, but nothing else detracts from the tranquil idyll.
Now thanks to ‘Liam Ball’ (? the graffiti artist’s real name) the footpaths have been ‘decorated’ with phallic symbols - lots of them.

Is young master Ball in some sort of cult advocating ancient fertility rights? Or was he just off his head on solvents and spray paint last night? If ‘Liam Ball’ is his real name then he was a bit silly to sign his handiwork.
Anyway, the place looks very strange today with all these phalluses.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

24th November

Here is a very important date for your diaries fellow students.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is planning a day of action on Wednesday 24th November. There will be mass walkouts at universities across the country.
Hope you can all support it.
There is a site on facebook for our university if you want to add your support to the fight fees campaign.