Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Even as you are reading this, 2015 is slinking shamefacedly off, and a New Year is wedging its feet firmly into the door. Looking back, I am astonished at how much Little G and I have accomplished together over the past year.
She has progressed from crawling to walking, running and dancing. I have progressed from kicking the Purple Buggy With A Mind Of Its Own to actually being able to put bits of it together, (OK, I have to ring You must be mad for verbal instructions first, but at least I can do it).
We are now a known entity. As we progress round town, people in shops wave to us (well, her). In our usual eateries, Little G gets the sort of service most of you can only dream of - how long does it take you to get your crayons and drawing paper brought to your table? Thought so.
I have passed through various pain barriers and come out the other side. I no longer fall asleep in the bath after a day of our adventures, though I am still mainlining prosecco. I can sometimes attempt whole sentences. Soon, they may even begin to make sense.
But the main development has been the creation of 'brand Little G & me'. We are now close friends, allies against a world of strangeness and incomprehensibility. We move through the universe at our own pace, finding pleasure and fascination in the mundane, daft and insignificant.
We love each other completely. We forgive each other unconditionally. And at the end of the day, that's all we need to make the magic that is us work.
To be continued ... .....
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Tattooed Mummy's Randoms: Wordy Wednesday with Carol Hedges: Hello Wordy Wednesday fans, this week I have a more mature writer to introduce to you, a fun tweeter and quite prolific writer. Carol Hedg...
Monday, 21 December 2015
Last year Little G was far too young to comprehend the wonder that is Christmas - I remember much of the time was spent trying to stop her crawling into the tree or eating the needles off the carpet. This year, two months off her second birthday, she has grasped that it is a special time and special things are going to happen.
Her appreciation is still a bit fluid though. Christmas means visiting her favourite arcade and dancing to the piped music on her special spot by the Christmas tree with the red swirly lazer lights display. Christmas means pressing our noses to shop windows and rating the decorations. Christmas means a babyccino in her favourite local coffee place, where they know her name.
She has helped to decorate two trees - You must be mad's tasteful one with themed colours, and the one here, which has luridly grinning robots and random baubles. Under the tree is a solitary packet of cat biscuits - her Christmas present to the long-suffering cat who probably deserves a whole artic-load for her tolerance.
There are now three stockings hanging up over Little G's fireplace, but I'm not sure she knows why. And a wreath on her door. Tonight we are all going to the Service of Lessons & Carols at the cathedral where she was christened but I have told her that we won't be singing 'Father Christmas Had a Sleigh, Ho Ho Ho Ho' - our current favourite, sung to the tune of 'Old Macdonald'. She sees no reason why we can't.
However I have also told her that on Christmas Day she will come over to my house, where there will be some new toys to play with, after which she will sit down to a lovely special big roast dinner with lots of her favourite things to eat. There will be crackers that go bang, but not in a worrying way, and round the table will be her family who all love her to bits. I think she understood that part completely.
From Little G and me: A very Happy Christmas to you all.
To be continued ... ...
Saturday, 19 December 2015
What is Christmas without a P*A*R*T*Y? So step inside the writing garret, gentle reader, and help yourself to a party hat, a handful of poppers and a tinsel wreath. This party is for all of you - 2015 has been a momentous year for many reasons, and it is time to celebrate!
Ah, you found the box of crackers. No, I don't know what Vampires sing on New Year's Eve..... ''Auld Fang's Syne''. Haha - love it. OK, while you're attacking the sausage rolls, grabbing a drink and introducing yourself to the other guests, I'll just run through some of the events that made this year so special for me. Please share your special events later.
In March I started minding Little G when her mother (my daughter) returned to work. We have had a lot of fun and adventures over the past ten months. And I started The Adventures of L-Plate Gran to tell you all about them. You can read the very first post HERE
The PINK SOFA has played host to some lovely guests over the year, including Seumas Gallacher, Shani Struthers, Stewart Bint, Vivienne Tuffnell, Terry Tyler, Nancy Jardine, Catherine Curzon, Beryl Kingston , Rosalind Adam and Lesley Cookman.
The MOST popular blog post, with nearly 3 thousand views so far was this one.
The third Victorian Detectives book, Death & Dominion was published in October and has been on several eminent book bloggers' Best of 2015 Book Lists, including @terryTyler4 and @cathyRy
I'd also like to thank everybody who reads and comments on my blogs, and chats to me on Facebook and Twitter. You know who you are. I know who you are. In the dark times when staring at a blank computer screen and wondering why I have the effrontery to call myself a writer, YOU have encouraged and cheered me on. Especial affection for all my mad fellow #thearchers Tweetalong mates and my best friend +Lynn Gerrard who also celebrated this year by publishing her first volume of poems.
Ah - I see Ralph the Marvellous Performing Dog, Star of all my Facebook Book Launches and In His Own Write, has arrived with the music. And the staff have got a tray of lovely cocktails. Peter Wareing's all ready to recite us a Christmas poem and John Jackson is poised at the piano. So if someone would just like to push the PINK SOFA over against the wall, let the festivities begin!
A Very Happy Christmas to You All!
Monday, 14 December 2015
Absence makes ... something do something else, they say. Little G and I have been on a break from each other as You must be mad's husband has been spending some deserved quality time with her. Initially this announcement was received as somewhat of a relief: Two consecutive days of eleven hour shifts are fun but exhausting, and I welcomed it as a chance to recharge run-down batteries.
It is only when you are NOT with a very little child that you realise how enmeshed you are in their small world. Walking the same routes that we usually do together, I find myself in possession of two redundant arms as I am no longer required to push the Purple Buggy With A Will Of Its Own. I stand at traffic lights, waiting patiently for the green man because that's what happens with a child-in-crossing-roads training.
The running monologue is currently surplus to requirements. It still goes on in my head though. Occasionally it escapes back into the public domain, bringing funny looks from passers by. Life loses its sparkle. The delight in finding a WHOLE unpeeled satsuma on the pavement is diminished as there is no small accomplice to delight in it with me.
Everything is run on an 'I bet Little G would like this' basis. I now realise that far from being the knowledgeable adult in the relationship, I have actually learned so much from her: how to slow down, take my time, see the smaller picture. Next week, normal service will be resumed.
I'm counting down the days.
To be continued ... ....
Saturday, 12 December 2015
I see blogging has been in the cybernews again. Various bloggers have come out publicly and announced that they've abandoned theirs, as the effort and energy put into them doesn't seem worth it. Others have thrown their metaphorical hats into the ring and admitted that they have reduced their blog posts from regular to intermittent, and that they don't follow, read or comment upon other writers' blogs any more as they no longer have the time.
I posted my first blog on May 5th 2012, so obviously, I am not in no position to comment, but equally obviously, that has never stopped me in the past: I like blogs. I write this one, The Adventures of L-Plate Gran one, I host interesting guests on The Pink Sofa, and I read and comment on other blogs too.
A blog is a way of getting instant feedback and staying connected to the world beyond one's mentally enclosed writing space. For those who don't want to tackle a whole book, a blog is a satisfying outlet for their writing talents. For the marvellous poets whose blogs I read, I guess it is the only way to reach readers, as poetry is an even more restricted field than prose.
I also value the discipline of having to produce two complete pieces of writing nearly every week. As a procrastinator who, if they ever made it an Olympic sport, would be up there on the winner's rostrum, it is a good way to stay focused. And I freely confess that I have learned practically all of what I know about blogging and social media from reading other people's blogs.
Interestingly, several of my Yr 13 students have reported being told at University visits that a blog would be an asset to mention on their personal statements (Art and Design, and English and Creative Writing seem to be the courses that like them). Never happened before, and speaks volumes about the status blogging has achieved in the mainstream academic world. Students are also being asked to write blog posts on GCSE English Language papers too.
So I'm carrying on blogging. If for no other reason than it took me ages to lug The Pink Sofa up three flights of stairs to the tiny garret at the top of Hedges Towers, where I write. And I've just finished assembling the white birch coffee table, which I had to do in Swedish as they sent the wrong instructions.
How about you, though? Blogphile, or blogphobe? Feel free to share your thoughts...
Monday, 7 December 2015
Christmas time. Mistletoe and wine. Shops are full of sparkle and shine. Suddenly it doesn't matter how frequently You must be mad has dinned it into us that naff is not good, Little G and I find ourselves at the same end of an opposite spectrum - she's too young to know better and I'm too old to care. My. Oh. My. We. Love. Glitter. Like a pair of inadequate glazed-eyed moths we are drawn to the bright and baubly, the sparkly and sequinned.
On our way into town we always pass a dress shop full of party dresses that must have used up the entire contents of at least two diamante mines.We pause and stare enraptured. ''Mummy'' says Little G pointing to the sparkliest dress in the window. And I agree. You must be mad would look amazing in it, and they'd probably be able to use her to guide night flights into Luton airport too.
We have also become Christmas jumper cognoscenti. Give us sequinned reindeer, shiny silver snowflakes, snowmen with humungous noses, or robins with impossibly sparkly red breasts and you can keep your pastel cashmere cardigans. Hey, we know what we like and it is loud, glittery, gorgeous and totally OTT.
It's the same with Christmas decorations. If it flashes on and off, we give it our seal of approval. Especially if it's blue. We like BIG shiny gold baubles, and BIG shiny fake trees. You want advice on how to sparkle this Christmas season? Check in with Little G and me. We've sourced it, we've viewed it, and we've rated it, because WE are the Glitterati and this is our time. Blingtastic!
To be continued ... .....
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Shani is one of the talented Crooked Cat writers whom I have had the privilege of getting to know in the last few years. She writes scary books. She doesn't look like the sort of person to do so, but she does. Oh yes. Very scary. The PINK SOFA is currently hiding behind itself until she leaves.
''Thank you for hosting me on your blog today! My new book, Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story launches on the 24th November on Amazon and is the prequel to the popular Psychic Surveys series. Featuring two of the Psychic Surveys team – Theo Lawson and Vanessa Patterson – it’s set between 1899 and 1999 and is loosely inspired by a true event.
In my fictional re-telling, Theo and Ness are asked to investigate a town weighed down by the sorrow of what happened 100 years before…
What do you do when a whole town is haunted?
In 1899, in the North Yorkshire market town of Thorpe Morton, a tragedy occurred; 59 people died at the market hall whilst celebrating Christmas Eve, many of them children. One hundred years on and the spirits of the deceased are restless still, ‘haunting’ the community, refusing to let them forget.
In 1999, psychic investigators Theo Lawson and Ness Patterson are called in to help, sensing immediately on arrival how weighed down the town is. Quickly they discover there’s no safe haven. The past taints everything.
Hurtling towards the anniversary as well as a new millennium, their aim is to move the spirits on, to cleanse the atmosphere so everyone – the living and the dead – can start again. But the spirits prove resistant and soon Theo and Ness are caught up in battle, fighting against something that knows their deepest fears and can twist them in the most dangerous of ways.
They’ll need all their courage to succeed and the help of a little girl too – a spirit who didn’t die at the hall, who shouldn’t even be there…''
As Theo turned round to face the double doors, she had a feeling that someone - something - was rushing at her, as fleetingly as whatever had been in Adelaide's house. Refusing to let fear get a stranglehold, she turned back, her aim to confront it. A black wisp of a shape, like wood smoke, sideswiped her, before fading into nothing. Staring after it, wondering what it was, something else caught her attention. At the far end of the second room was something more substantial: a little girl, staring at her.
Theo's eyes widened. "Oh darling, darling," she whispered. She took a step forwards, tried to remember the names of the children on the list from earlier: Alice, Helen, Bessie, Adelaide's ancestor, Ellen Corsby perhaps. Which one was she?
She inched closer still. "Darling, your name, tell me what it is."
The little girl's arms moved upwards, she stretched them out, her manner beseeching although she remained mute. Theo tried again, told the child her own name.
"It's short for Theodora. I bet you're called something pretty."
The girl had a dress on; long, brownish, a course material - linen perhaps? Nothing special but if it was her party dress then maybe it was special to her. Her boots were brown too - lace ups, sturdy looking. She was around eight or nine but it was hard to tell. She could have been older just small for her age. Her hair was brown and tangled; she had a mane of it. Everything about her seemed to be brown or sepia, maybe sepia was the right word, as though she'd stepped out of an old photograph.
"I'm here now, sweetheart, I've come to help. You've been here for such a long time. Too long. You need to go to the light, go home, rest awhile."
Up closer, Theo could read her eyes. The longing in them stirred her pity.
"Let me help you," Theo persisted, her voice catching in her throat. As glorious as the other side might be, she still felt it unfair to be felled at such a young age. Often this was a good existence too and it deserved to be experienced fully.
She was close now, so close and still her arms were outstretched.
Harriet - the name presented itself whole in her mind.
"Your name's Harriet. Is that correct? It's lovely, it suits you."
Was that a smile on the child's lips, the beginnings of trust? Soon she'd be able to reach out and touch her. What would she feel like? Cold? Ethereal?
"Darling, I'm here," she repeated, no more than a foot between them. "I'm here."
Joy surged - one spirit had come forward - it was an encouraging start.
Just before their hands touched everything changed. Hope and joy were replaced with confusion as something sour - fetid almost - rose up, making her feel nauseous.
"Don't be afraid," Theo implored. Yet there was nothing but fear in her eyes now. No, not fear, that was too tame a word - terror.
"I'm not here to harm you," she continued. "I'm here to help."
As the words left her mouth, other hands appeared behind the child, a whole sea of them - disembodied hands that clawed at her, forcing her backwards.
"No!" Theo shouted. "Stop it. Leave her alone!"
But it was no use. Her words faded as the girl did. She'd been torn away, recaptured; the one who'd dared to step forward. Theo could feel sweat break out on her forehead, her hands were clammy. She clutched at her chest, her breathing difficult suddenly, laboured. Her heart had been problematic of late, a result of the pounds she'd piled on. She must go to the doctor to get some medication.
Struggling to gain control, it took a few moments, perhaps a full minute, before her heart stopped hammering. And when it did, she remembered something else. The girl's eyes - her sweet, brown, trusting eyes - when the expression changed in them they hadn't been looking at her, they'd been looking beyond her. Was it at the thing that sideswiped her? Theo couldn't be certain. She wasn't certain either if that 'thing' was a spirit or much less than that - something with no soul, but with an appetite, an extreme appetite: a craving. Something, she feared, was insatiable.
Brighton-based author of paranormal fiction, including UK Amazon Bestseller, Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall. Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, is also available and due out in November 2015 is Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story - the prequel to the Psychic Surveys series. She is also the author of Jessamine, an atmospheric psychological romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and described as a 'Wuthering Heights for the 21st century.'
Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is in progress.
All events in her books are inspired by true life and events.
Catch up with Shani via her website www.shanistruthers.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9
Friday, 4 December 2015
English Historical Fiction Authors: Bluestockings: The Victorian Campaign for Female E...: by Carol Hedges In 1971 I graduated from Westfield College, University of London with a BA (Hons) in English & Archaeology. I took it ...