Sunday, May 15, 2016

A challenge - three beautiful things

I always enjoyed a blog called Three Beautiful Things. It’s closed now but I admired how the writer managed to find three beautiful things in her life every day. It’s not easy, especially when beset by problems or illness but when I read her daily blog I always managed to find three of my own beautiful things.

I only have to look out of my kitchen window at the view of the Severn Plain and the city of Worcester in the distance to know how beautiful this area is. I love the misty mornings (heat haze) when the spires of churches appear out of the mist.

The huge bunch of flowers a friend brought for me that was separated into four different vases. Each vase looked beautiful but I took time to really look at each flower. They are incredible works of art.

A cup of tea can be a beautiful thing, especially when it’s made by the LSO and carried upstairs to my desk. I will often sit and drink it mindfully. That means do nothing else but concentrate on drinking the tea, the taste of it, the warmth of the mug, the steam on my face.

I think you need to be mindful – the new buzzword – to appreciate anything. What’s the use of being in front of an amazing view if you’re texting at the same time? What’s the point of being with friends if you’re messing about on some bit of technology?

I throw out a challenge for anyone reading this. How about, once in a while, you post three beautiful things on your blog, or leave them in the comments here now.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Oops! A broken end.

A friend arrived carrying a cactus. She’d seen the collection I had growing in a beautiful bowl (part of a jug and basin set but the jug was broken) and thought I’d like another to add to it. The new arrival was three feet tall and was slightly bent at the top. It must have taken years to grow. I sat it on the floor in the porch ready to be re-potted but two days later as the LSO took his coat off the hook it hit the cactus and broke the end off. There was still a bit attached. My friend must have had it for years. Within two days we’d wrecked it. But all is not lost. A cocktail stick (no pun intended) was inserted between the two broken halves and it was secured together. Once re-potted it leaned to the left so it’s now being supported by a cane. Send it some love so that it will heal. I’ve called it Phallus Giganticus Eerectii.

There's the bowl and, at the back, to the right of the cane, is the PGE.

And here's the top end of it. Rather bent. And I really must look for a thinner cane. The cactus needs support until it's put down roots in its new home.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Writing Weather

It’s been perfect writing weather. We’ve had high winds, snow, sleet and hail. In-between there’s been some cold sunshine. Great weather for sitting at my desk, central heating on and getting on with some work.
I’m a lucky writer because I get a regular income from my columns, or features as Anita Loughrey prefers now. A column sounds just that – a column. A feature will cover a whole page, or even two. I’m now selling stories again too. Three in the past fortnight.
Years ago, an editor from a D C Thomson magazine phoned me to ask if I had any stories for him. He was short of them. I was out of breath when I answered the phone and he asked if I’d run in from the garden. I told him no. I’d run upstairs. Then he told me that he got fewer stories in summer because most of his writers were part-timers or hobby writers and were out in the garden during the summer months. There’s a tip for you – send off some stories this summer.

Q.  Where would you expect to see those words and what do they mean to you?

A.  They were on a M&S till receipt and they were short for A Touch Of Butter.    

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lynne's secret diary - aged nine years and exactly one month

Editing wasn’t taught at school. I had to learn about it much later.
If I had edited this piece there would not have been that repetition in the second sentence – 
On the way we bought some sweets and ate them on the way.
And there’s another lesson for writers here. We’ll often write about what we know and assume everyone else knows too. Why would Miss Tipper know who Susan and David were? I should have added a few words to say they were my cousins and much younger than me.

My first thought was that this entry was a bit on the boring side but Auntie Beryl still lives in that house at Stourport. I clearly remember going to see those foundations. So this is a little bit of family history.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not writers' block. I get writers' jam.

I often think, What am I going to write today?
It must be lovely to be a crime writer and know that you are going to sit down and continue with the main plot, a red herring and a sub-plot. Or how about a romantic novelist who will switch on her computer knowing that her hero and heroine are waiting for her together with a complete cast of characters?         
Some days I wish I was a novelist. Instead I am a butterfly writer. I gave myself that label. It means that I flit from one thing to another.
A typical morning begins with me switching on the computer, staring at the screen and wondering what to write. Does that sound familiar? What I should do is decide the night before which tasks I am going to undertake the following day but the order of tasks is put off until the last minute. Why? Because of Writers’ Jam. Jam as in traffic jam. The ideas are queuing up in my head but where do I start?  My ideas are like an assortment of vehicles lining up, jostling for position.
My book, a magnificent (hopefully) Rolls Royce, revs its engine loudly. Choose me. A deep honk from a sturdy family saloon sounds urgently. That’ll be the host of emails that need replies. And then there’s a chorus of tiny beeps from a medley of Minis - the short story department.
This morning I heard a tiny splutter from an apologetic little Robin Reliant.  ‘Don’t forget me. I’m important too.’ Yes, you are. It’s my regular piece, Novel Ideas, for Writing Magazine and with the deadline looming I allow the little three-wheeler to manoeuvre its way to the front of the queue. It smirks up at the Rolls. ‘My turn,’ it says. 
I have managed to prioritise. Novel Ideas is first today. Prioritising is something I am always trying to perfect.

We hear too much about Writers’ Block, especially as it doesn’t exist. If you think you’re blocked go and do something else. You probably only need a change of scenery, a bit of stimulation. Writers’ Jam does exist. Perhaps it isn’t mentioned because it sounds rather pompous. ‘I’ve got so many ideas I don’t know where to begin.’ Believe me, Writers’ Jam is out there and a lot of writers don’t know how to cope with it. It is too easy to sit and wonder which project to work on and maybe flit from one to another. And that’s why I’m a butterfly. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Unintentionally funny or confusing writing

One of my annoying habits according to the LSO (I don’t believe I have any) is reading out the classified ads. Aloud! They can be so unintentionally funny and a lesson to all writers. Be careful how you choose your words.  What you write, or what you say, can be construed completely differently to how you meant it.
For example I once saw, in a Worcester newspaper  - ‘For sale. Very old black lady’s bicycle.’ I was so tempted to phone and ask how the very old black lady was.
Another favourite, remembered from years ago, was,  ‘Pensioner needs someone to cut parrot’s toenails’.  What a picture that conjures up, and there has to be a story in it too.  Why wasn’t the bird taken to the vet?  Why wouldn’t the vet come out to the bird?  Why couldn’t the pensioner do the job himself?
How about, ‘Ironing board.  Forced to sell due to house move.’ This one didn’t make sense at all to me, unless the seller was moving to a doll’s house, or perhaps the ad had been placed by the long suffering mother of six sons who all wore fresh shirts every day. In which case, I’d flog the ironing board too. 
There has to be a story in this one - ‘Rocking chair.  Cheap because dog chewed arms.’  I wonder what happened to the dog.  And I wonder why the rocking chair’s owner thought anyone else would want it in its chewed condition.
For years people have been describing articles for sale and prospective jobs, often in hilarious ways.  A friend once gave me a copy of an old poster which states - YOUNG GIRLS WANTED FOR PICKLING AND BOTTLING.  We all know what is meant by it.  Young girls are needed to help pickle and bottle fruit, onions etc. but what it actually says is something entirely different.  I always have visions of young girls, quite small ones, sealed inside enormous jars.  For some reason they blink at me through the pickling vinegar when they should have drowned in it.
And how confusing is ‘Pink basin with matching blue vanity unit’?

But what intrigued me the most must be, ‘Man with well-trimmed beard seeks woman for fun.’ What has a well-trimmed beard got to do with anything and, ooh, it’s too early in the morning to think about it, is the beard somehow involved in the fun? (Answers, not on a post card but in the comments please.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Books and depression

I’ve mentioned before about picking random books up when visiting the library. Just by going to a shelf and selecting a book – any book – I have found new authors and new favourites.
Not so this week. The two books I picked at random were about terrorism and torture. This is one of the reasons I left my book club. We had six depressing books in a row. Far too many for a sensitive soul like me to cope with.
Why, when the world is in so much turmoil, do writers insist on making things worse? Where’s the escapism? Who is going to give a brighter side to things, some hope for the future?
Why are doctors supposedly suggesting reading as a cure for depression? The book club’s offerings made me feel miserable. My random choices from the library made me feel the same. (Thank the Universe for Laurie Graham and those like her.)
As a short story writer I have judged competitions and found many depressing stories, often about what’s happening in the world at that time. I was a judge when Madeleine disappeared and half the entries were about abduction. Lately, judges have been complaining about the number of depressing stories. It would appear that the same doesn’t apply when it comes to novels. Make your reader unhappy, miserable. Show them the horrors of torture in graphic detail and sign your publishing contract.

I’m packing my bags and setting off to live in People’s Friend World. 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

All Story-ed Out

I don’t want this to be all about bragging - it's the bragging that made me leave Facebook - so I’ve used sub-titles to show you what you can learn from this.

Can’t write? Don’t worry.
All story-ed out is what I have been for the past few years. I’ve been writing and selling stories since 1981 so it was little wonder that my story ideas dried up. Did I worry? No. Did I miss story writing? Yes. But to fill in the gap I got busy with article writing and I have five regular columns to produce each month. Add to that the grindingly slow process of putting my cyclist’s life together and I wasn’t being exactly lazy. (see below) Now, suddenly, almost three years on, I’m getting story ideas again. Better still, I’m writing them. I remember Eileen Ramsay, the novelist, telling me about the fallow fields outside her home. She compared them to writing. It didn’t look as if anything was happening in those fields but things were busy underground and in the Spring… well, we all know what happens. Life (ideas) return.

Who told you that you were lazy, had a big nose, flat feet…?
Many of you know that, as a child, my mother told me I was lazy because she was always on the go and I was always curled up with a book or pen and paper. If you believe anything bad about yourself, ask who told you this and question it now you’re an adult.

Don’t let rejected stories fade away
I sold a couple of stories during those story-less years but they were old ones which had been turned down. Now they’ve sold. I often wish I’d kept count of the sold stories but I stopped not long after 400. Count your successes. Take another look at those rejections and see if they can be improved. Maybe they can be shortened or lengthened to suit a different market.

Aim for more and more
Last month, March, I sent out seven stories and four of those were brand new. I hope to beat that in April but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t. If you sent out one last month, try for two this month.

Personal experience makes it easier
I had joined in an online discussion about nightmare guests. Someone had written about a guest who arrived at 2am shouting up to the bedroom window, ‘Coo-e. I’m here at last.’  That was my opening line for a new story. I remembered a couple of sets of guests who had not exactly been delights and I was away. It took me just over an hour to write the story because personal experience always makes it easier. I worked on it later and again this morning, changing words, moving sentences around and now reckon it’s ready to go out. My confidence is returning.

A little help from your friends
Up until yesterday’s story I had been sending any new ones to Glynis Scrivens, my cyber-sister, asking if they were any good. I had grave doubts about all of them but she assured me they were fine. I’d lost my confidence during the fallow years. Every writer needs a writing friend who will tell them the truth.

Recently I’ve sold to My Weekly, The People’s Friend and The Weekly News but this week I got what I had been wanting – an acceptance from Take A Break’s Fiction Feast.

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?’

Saturday, February 27, 2016

His Life In A Box

The crock of gold at the end of the rainbow is now sitting in my writing room. And it’s all down to a mother.
I’m ghostwriting for an ex-professional cyclist. This is a project I have dreamed about for many years and recently, when we met up again, I asked if I could write his story. Ghosts usually get asked if they will take on a project and not the other way around.
I knew this would be a wonderful story but what I’d forgotten was my subject had, and always has had, a lousy memory. I may even call the book Forgotten. An apt title because if I ask him any questions he says he’s forgotten and the guy himself has been forgotten, in spite of his amazing career.
I was beginning to wonder if the book would ever get started, let alone finished. Explaining that I only had 3,000 words and needed another 77,000 didn’t bring forth a gush of stories and recollections. There had to be another way so I began interviewing some of his friends and family. The ghosting was turning into more of a biography. It was my subject’s father who told me he had some ‘stuff’ in the garage. I was welcome to keep it for as long as I needed it. The stuff turned out to be a huge plastic box filled with newspapers, magazines, photos, letters race sheets and information. My subject’s life in a box. This was all down to his mother who died six years ago. She had kept everything. And it was all filed in date order.

Bless you, Chris.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Deleting procrastination and gaining time

What have I done this week? I’ve turned out more work that I have for months. Would you like to know how I did this?
I closed my Facebook account.
Have I missed it? No.
Do I feel better? Yes.
I was getting sick of being told to share this, like that, here’s my dinner, here’s me on holiday (with the unwritten lines – be jealous, be very jealous). Politics and religion were being argued about all the time and the whole thing was making me miserable. In fact, there has been a psychological study done regarding Facebook and it was discovered that many people felt depressed or angry after being on the site for a while.
I’m not saying I’ll never return. Never say never, but for now I have plenty of work to do, under various names, and I am returning to short story writing after a long break. Turning to Facebook when the going gets tough is no longer an option and I deleted all games years ago.

I enjoy writing my blog and I keep in touch with friends via email or I actually - and you may think this is really quaint – meet up with them, face to face.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Random Books

I’ve written a series of six articles about inspiration for Writing Magazine. In the current issue (March) on page 25 it’s all about choosing random books to see what you can learn from them. Each time I visit the library I pick up a book at random and, so far, there hasn’t been a single one I’ve not read. There was one set in early Victorian times where a foundling, a baby girl, was brought up as a boy in order to be heir to an estate - a novel I can only describe as being slightly mad yet thoroughly enjoyable. (I wish I’d written these titles and authors’ names down.)
Then there was one about a young man who lost his love to Jack The Ripper and wanted to change time so that they could be reunited. It involved H G Wells’s time machine which was real and which HG kept in his attic. I’d say this one was steampunk and I shall be looking for more in the genre.
The latest, and one whose title and author I remember because the book hasn’t been returned yet, is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s described as a fantasy novel. Normally I would avoid fantasy. Apparently the author originally started it when entering NaNoWriMo. It’s all about a magical circus, which only opens after dark and where everything is in black or white – the tents, the entertainers clothes… This circus moves about, never advertises its whereabouts, everything about it is beautiful and magical and the place is a venue for a magical fight. Oh, and there’s a love story woven in too. This is a circus I would want to run away with. I’m not going to say any more because, if you decide to read it, then I’d hate to spoil it for you. The Night Circus is classed as fantasy. I don’t like fantasy, or at least I thought I didn’t. If you don’t like fantasy either I urge you to make this an exception. It’s weird and wonderful.

It’s surprising that when I approach a random shelf to pick out a random book, the weird ones leap into my hands.

Monday, February 08, 2016

15 steps to celebrating a 134th birthday

1.  You need to be born on the same day as your partner. (We were both born on February 6th.)
2.  Your ages need to add up to 134. (I told everyone he was 100. I was 34.)
3.  You invite friends and family to a drop-in day. ‘Drop in any time between 11am and 4pm,’ you tell everyone.
4.  You plan easy food – cheese and biscuits and drinks.
5.  You order a selection of cheeses from a deli. The expert behind the counter tells you how much you need for thirty to forty people. You decide you know better and double the amount.
6.  You tidy the house the day before.
7.  On the morning you lay the table and wonder if there’s enough cheese.
8.  From 11am to 11.30 you sit and worry whether anyone will turn up.
9.  Just after 11.30 guests start arriving. It’s time to relax.
10. You have a fantastic time and (hopefully) so does everyone else.
11.Someone decides it would be a good idea to end the day with a curry. A couple of guests say they’ll come with you.
12. By 5pm everyone has gone, except lovely daughter and great son-in-law who are staying the night. They help tidy up.
13. You realise the guy at the deli was right and wonder what to do with a barrow load of left-over cheese.
14. You laugh so much over curry that you need Rennies at bed-time.
15. The birthday couple (me and the Long Suffering One) go to sleep dreaming of our wonderful day and being grateful for all the good friends we have.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lynne's secret diary (farts censored) Aged 9 and 23 days

There are a few mysteries in this entry. I remember Ann. She lived in the next street and, after going to St John’s Junior School together, we went to grammar school together too. But who is Janette? I have no idea. I also don’t have a clue why David’s pushchair had to be returned. He must have been about a year old at this time.
This one is a bit of a boring entry. Perhaps I wasn’t feeling well and my imagination didn’t kick in. I always tried to keep the teacher amused. Or perhaps we did something we shouldn’t have on the way home. We’d have gone through the churchyard, using it as a short-cut. Ann always swore there was a grave there that had the inscription – ‘Fart free wherever you be, For the squeeze of a fart was the death of me’. I’d definitely have censored that bit. We never found that grave but if I returned there now I'd still search for it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why the LSO?

My husband of lifetimes is known to many as the Long Suffering One, or LSO. No-one has ever suggested that the name doesn’t suit him. Here are a few reasons why.

I was so disgusted after a stay in hospital that I wrote to the local paper. A reporter phoned me. I explained that the doctors and nurses were wonderful. I then went on to relate the story of the meals served up, describing the vegetable risotto as some cheap rice boiled in the water from the cleaner’s mop bucket, with a razor-thin slice of mushroom and a single pea added. The baked potato, I suggested, was something picked up off the floor of the operating theatre where someone had been castrated.
The following day the LSO and I were walking towards a newsagent’s when he spotted the A-frame board outside. On it were the words – Local Woman’s Hospital Nightmare.
‘I hope that’s not you,’ he said.
It was.

When the LSO had his heart attacks I wrote about them in one of my regular columns, sold a proposal for a book by using them – the editor said she didn’t usually laugh on a Friday afternoon – and then sold a story to one of the ‘psychic’ type of magazines because we’d both had the same dream about his father coming to visit him in the cardiac care ward. When a copy of the magazine arrived in the post I tried to hide it from him. On the front cover it said – Colin’s horror as dead dad comes to get him.

When I was on Deal or No Deal, not long after those heart attacks, the LSO was sitting in the audience holding hands with Anita Loughrey. It was a tense show – possibly for everyone except me. I was enjoying every second. When there was a break in filming, Noel Edmonds suggested we get some fresh air. When we were outside I told him about Colin’s brush with death – cardiac arrest and multiple heart attacks. ‘You’re enough to give him another one,’ he said as he rushed back into the studio to check on him.

Now, do you think the name suits?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Badly Behaved Clock - a history.

I saw the clock in a shop window. How come I’d never noticed the shop before. Anyway, the clock had a label on it saying – SALE! £100 OFF. How could I resist such a bargain?
            In I went, for a closer look. My grandparents used to have a very similar clock. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to it. When I was in my pre-school era Grandad would lift me up to watch the pendulum swing and I’d hold my breath, waiting for the hour or half-hour to chime.
            Gran had often been heard to say that Grandad would do anything for his grandchildren. ‘He’d give them the clock off the wall,’ she’d said. Such memories.
            When I left that shop the clock, all boxed up, was under my arm. The LSO (Long Suffering One) hung it on the living room wall that night. He attached the pendulum and I wound it with the big black key.
            When it struck for that very first time all we could do was stare at each other. ‘You’re taking that back tomorrow,’ said the LSO.

            ‘I am,’ I said. My ears were ringing. The chime had made the wall vibrate. It was deafening. The next morning I put the clock back in its box and set off for the shop. It wasn’t there.
            The place was boarded up and a sign across the front said CLOSED DOWN.
            The clock got taken home.
            We would stop the pendulum each night otherwise there was no chance of sleep. A neighbour, living 100 yards from us, asked us if we could hear a church clock chiming. The clock kept good time but, after a few weeks it began chiming erratically. Friends began phoning us just before the hour so that they could count the strikes. Three at ten-o’clock, six at four. I fell in love with this badly behaved timekeeper.
            When we moved house it settled down to striking an hour out. At mid-day we’d get eleven strikes. When we moved house again it pleased itself. Then it broke. That £100 I’d saved was the cost of fixing it. The repair man smiled. ‘Lovely clock and it’s fixed now.’
            Oh, the disappointment when the clock struck three at three, four at four. Boring! But there was no need to worry. It behaved for about a week and then, one morning, as I set the pendulum swinging – we still had to stop it at night in order to get any sleep – it struck thirteen. All day it pleased itself and it’s been doing so ever since.
            I’ve waited for thirteen to strike again. After all, shouldn’t something magical happen? No luck yet but, last week,  it struck fourteen times.

            I so love that clock.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Lynne's Secret diary - into reading, writing but not Meccano

Aged 9 years and 22 days

Miss Tipper and Miss Duignan were both inspiring teachers though even the amazing Miss Tipper couldn’t interest me in sewing. There’s a little sensible editing going on in this entry. When mentioning the sewing lesson I wrote – ‘We have not had it for a few weeks.’ What was omitted was a huge HURRAY! I really wanted to add this in enormous curly capitals, using a bright red pen.
As for The Mystery Of The Golden Earings, was this a book I began reading or could it have been a story I started writing? Either is possible but I can’t remember now though I still remember the book Miss Duignan sent me. It was about a group of children in a big empty house where there was a chest you could climb into and then open a trapdoor which led down to caves and the kids caught the smugglers without the help of police or any other adults.
The hospital stay mentioned was when I had ‘plastic surgery’ on my face. I’d made a complete mess of it in an accident. I’d mastered riding my bicycle with no hands on the handlebars and thought I could master an added extra. No hands on the bars plus no feet on the pedals. It was such a shame the road had been re-gravelled only the day before. That gravel came to the surface of my skin for over two years and then I had the op’ to cover a gash in the eyebrow, another from my nose to my mouth and then to open my left eye by lifting the lid which had been cut in half when I fell. Nothing was done about the hole I’d bitten right through my tongue. It now looks as if I opted out halfway through a piercing.
I no longer have The Young Detectives but I remember the words Miss Duignan had written inside the cover – ‘To Lynne, hoping you’ll soon be back, looking beautiful.’

As for the Meccano, I was as talented at that as I was at sewing.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Dream bigger

The following are Mike Dooley’s words that have been changed to become general. I wanted to share them with everyone. In the original of this daily message from the Universe my name appears so that it becomes personal. If you’d like a daily message sign up at

Here we go -

I want you to know that I've ordered up another year for you.
Think I'll call it 2016.
I'm going to put most of the same people from 2015 in it, since you all think so much alike. But there'll also be a few new, very cool cats coming to play - give them some time to grow up though.
And I'm going to have things start off pretty much exactly where they left off in 2015, for continuity's sake. Flips folks out too much when I don't.
All in all, 365 more days in paradise and only one request of you:

The Universe