Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book blog. Phil Rickman's Friends Of The Dusk

Have you ever visited the library, seen a book and wanted to hug it? This is what happened to me last week when I discovered Friends Of The Dusk, a new Merrily Watkins mystery was out. Merrily is Phil Rickman’s female vicar and Deliverance Consultant for the church of England. The story opens with a tree falling down near Hereford Cathedral. In the roots is an ancient body. Within minutes the head has disappeared. Not long after this there are two murders. How can they be linked to the ancient skeleton? Do you believe in possession? Can someone be possessed by evil? The police don’t think so but a local family do.
I love the mixture of crime and paranormal in this series. 
Good health and long life to Mr Rickman. I hope he continues to write about Merrily, Jane, Lol, Gomer, Frannie and Annie. I love being reunited with them every year.
If you’ve never read these books then do start with number 1 or 2. They are numbered on the spines. Personally I think the second book is better but Merrily wasn’t supposed to be the stuff of a series so Book 1 was intended to be a one-off. I’m so glad it wasn’t.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Dad, the gangster - from my secret diary (aged 9 yrs, 1 month and 11 days)

As you’ll see from this page of my school diary I hated to bore the teacher. I actually remember thinking, when I wrote this, whether it was suitable for Miss Tipper. She probably thought it was another of my ‘stories’ but it wasn’t. Dad did get that note. I was the one who found it when I went to see if we’d had any post. My maiden name (doesn’t that sound quaint – maiden?) was Butcher, hence Dad being addressed as Butch. I did a bit of sleuthing and think Slasher was my Uncle Ron who wasn’t an uncle but all Dad’s friends were uncles to me back then. Lizzie was the car and Tanser's tyres were well known in Kidderminster.

This gave me an easy picture to draw. Miss Tipper probably wondered why we didn't have any furniture in our 'front room'. We did but it was too difficult to draw.
And the the lady who told us to 'clear off'. I don't know who she was but I promise I didn't send Butch and Slasher round to sort her out. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday Book Blog - Perfect Meringues by Laurie Graham

In future I am going to blog each Wednesday about the book(s) I’ve read during the week. Last week’s was When We Were Alive by C J Fisher. You can see this two posts down.

This week I needed something lighter so I chose Laurie Graham’s Perfect Meringues  

You can always rely on Laurie Graham to entertain and her books are all so different from each other. She has to be my favourite author, along with Phil Rickman. 

So, the last three words on the first page are ‘shit for brains’. The main character, Lizzie, is talking about her daughter. Lizzie has lots of problems besides the daughter. She’s in her forties, divorced and is a cook on Midlands This Morning. Her dream is to hit the big time on television but it looks as if that is never going to happen. Add to that find a man, and the one she gets on really well with – until they have a massive fall-out – is gay.


I laughed out loud so many times when I was reading this. It’s a sheer joy. And the final chapter. It was so stunningly brilliant that I read it three times.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

News bulletin



Our house in Wales is for sale. You can see the link here – 


We left Wales six years ago and sold our motorhome to finance the move. We rented a place for two years and then met a lovely guy who told us we could get a buy-to-let mortgage on the Welsh house, which we were renting out by then. That enabled us to buy a house here, with another mortgage. So we had two mortgages and a tenant promising to buy our house once her divorce settlement came through. She didn’t. She wrecked the place and left us to find even more money to put it back to how it looks now. (Do take a look at the link and if you share it we’ll be grateful. The more people who see it, the more likely we are to get a sale.)
Our plan now is to sell both houses and get somewhere without a mortgage and – this is the dream – get a motorhome again and wander around when we feel like it.
So last Wednesday the LSO drove me 125 miles to Abercych. On the way we bumped over nineteen lots of roadworks, which meant nineteen sets of traffic lights. To make up for this we saw ten hundred thousand daffodils on the roadsides.
We checked the house – amazing job by Steve, our builder, met the estate agent, agreed a price and then the LSO drove us home.  We took a different route via Aberystwyth and the Elan Valley. It was too much mileage for my spine. I only have one lumbar disc remaining so I’m a bit like a car without any shock absorbers. I don’t usually moan about it but this week I hurt. It’s getting better now after plenty of rest.
Now, can you all please keep your fingers crossed for a quick sale for us.
Thank you.

Over and out.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When We Were Alive by C J Fisher

When We Were Alive by C J Fisher

When I read the blurb I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book. It mentions three people living in a world they are powerless to fix and anyone who knows me will also know that I don’t believe we cannot fix this world.
Bobby is a magician who falls in love with Rose when he is only 12.
William is a drunk until he meets Dawn.
Myles is adopted but writes long letters to his real mother.
In the end all three are linked.
There are lots of other memorable characters in this story. I almost cried for Montecore. Read it and you’ll find out why.
Anyway, the book. It kept me awake half the night and that wasn’t because I was reading it – it was because I had finished it and couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s one of those books that haunt you long after you’ve read it.
These three characters all think too deeply and are self-absorbed which, I find, always leads to depression. (I'm so glad I'm frivolous!) Cheerful or what? So how come it kept me reading? I wanted to know what happened to each of them. I hoped they’d find happiness and some did, fleetingly.
Would I recommend When We Were Alive? Yes, I would. I liked the twists and turns, the surprises and the exploration of insanity it held.
This is C J Fisher’s first novel. I wonder how she’s going to top it.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Overheard this week

I was in a café, standing at the counter trying to decide which cake to choose. There was plenty of choice including a good gluten-free selection. I’d narrowed my choices down to lemon drizzle or mocha when I heard the lady in front of me ask, ‘What flour do you use in the gluten-free cakes?’
And the assistant’s helpful answer was – (roll of drums here) -
‘Gluten-free flour.’

A little later, as I tried to leave this café I found the door blocked by two elderly ladies. The one was telling the other, ‘My knee is really bad. I can only bend it 90 degrees.’
I resisted asking whether that was forwards or backwards.

And that’s it because for the remainder of the time I’ve been at my desk. This week has been productive. I’ve written up a couple of interviews, started and finished two short stories and added 3000 words to the ghosting project. I’ve been working hard but I'm not bragging because I know this won’t last. My writing energy is erratic.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Things I've wondered about this week


I went out for lunch with my friend, Betty. On the menu was spice-rubbed sea bass and flat-ironed beef. So what have I been wondering? Who the hell would want to rub a sea bass and, even more confusing, who would iron beef? Betty and I agreed we only ever iron what is absolutely necessary. And, in case you are wondering, I had bulgar wheat with chickpeas, feta cheese, harissa and salad leaves. I wish I’d made a note of the description. The restaurant must employ a poet to write the menus.

I wonder why people change personalities on Facebook. One lady I know is an absolute delight when we meet in person but online she is the most dreadful hypochondriac.

When a stranger asked where they could get lunch I pointed out two independent cafés and wonder why I felt impelled to add, ‘Don’t go to Café Nero. They don’t pay their taxes.’

Remember the box I was talking about in my last post? Well, I found some love letters in it. They were written by a 12 year old to my subject when he was 17. (I’m ghosting his cycling career) Now I’m wondering how I didn’t know a thing about these letters until this week. I’m also wondering how my daughter got those past me when she was at such a tender age. And yes, it will make a good short story and I’m writing it so hands off!

If you are wondering whether I’ve told my daughter about my find, the answer is yes. The phone call to her went something like this – ‘I’ve come into possession of some incriminating documents which could be detrimental to your marriage. How much are you going to pay me to keep quiet about them?’