The Right Writers

‘So you’re going to go into a room full of strangers and read a piece of your writing to them?’ said Cyberspouse, aghast, with no idea of what I would read.

‘I guess it’s like Alcoholics Anonymous’ I replied.

I had found a phone number in the local arts directory; at last we were living somewhere that actually had an arts directory. The only piece of new writing I possessed was the article written for the local newspaper’s annual competition be a journalist for a day. It was titled The Oldest Profession in the World, which actually referred to being a stay at home mother. The tutor at the writing group said The Echo probably was not ready for my sense of humour and little wonder I was not one of the five chosen for a week of guest reporters.

The group met weekly except for a summer and Christmas break and at each meeting we read our work and handed it in for a short written critique to be received the following week; a simple formula that spurred me on to start writing short stories. This is the group I still go to, same tutor, a few of us who have belonged for over a decade and lots of interesting characters who have come and gone for a variety of reasons including final departures. Along the way it was suggested I try a novel…

There have been other groups I have tried, looking to broaden my outlook and find out more about publishing. One group met in a coffee shop; the other writers were varied and interesting, but the woman who ran it spent a lot of time talking about herself, the coffee shop was noisy and she expected us to give her £5 for the privilege.

A good while ago a creative hub was started very near to where I live, the altruistic landlords charging a peppercorn rent. I imagined meeting all sorts of creative people, perhaps somebody with their own publishing company – all writers can dream. The woman who ran this group read her own work, which wasn’t very good, then one day decamped from the hub, taking half the group with her and telling one of the remainers she could run it. We carried on and we’re still going, a tiny core of enduring members. Along the way we were thrown out of the original building when the admin person’s ‘issues’ came to the fore, met at each other’s houses, then disbanded and reformed at the library to be rid of an obnoxious member. We have had some very strange people over the years, some only coming once or coming too often. But there have been good writers we were sorry to lose.


One of my local writer friends has never set foot in a group and prefers to stay home writing; he has written a lot of books. But most writers seem to enjoy meeting others; it is energising and a good way to get feedback.

Some groups produce their own anthologies and run competitions, alas not ours. There is so much great writing I have heard and novels unfinished that I was looking forward to reading; proof indeed how important it is to preserve your writing, self publish or print and keep it safe, but don’t abandon it.

We all belong to a big global writing group, WordPress and other on line worlds, but do you find it helpful to meet up with real people locally at groups and conferences, or do you avoid them like the plague?

Most of my short stories were inspired by topics given at writers’ group. I have published four collections of  short fiction.


Silly Saturday – Unaward Winning Wildlife Photography

It can be dangerous for the wildlife photographer out in the New Forest far from civilisation.


And the camera crew may spend weeks on location letting the wild creatures get used to their presence.


Any suggestion that some shots are not genuine is strongly refuted.







When animals have young to protect there is a great risk they will attack the photographer.


A rare sighting thought to be unique.


A camerman may spend hours waiting patiently for a shot of a rare bird.


Police have issued a new picture of the bird feeder vandal.


The crow family are so intelligent they take their own selfies.


The team travelled to South America to get pictures of guinea pigs in their natural habitat.


For more of the photographer’s work visit the gallery.

Friday Flash Fiction – 390 – Customers

The shop was so quiet I wondered if I had made a mistake moving to a market town. I didn’t mind the minimum wage, there was nothing to spend money on around here, but it was the boredom I couldn’t take.


Suddenly a loud voice bellowed from the aisle, but it was just a son taking his deaf elderly mother shopping. The only other customers were on the other side of the shop, a screaming toddler strapped in a buggy pushed by her great granny, or perhaps a great great granny. The little old lady was trying to reach the disposable nappies on the top shelf. I could not leave the till and the other staff were in the stock room coping with the delivery.

And then he walked in. Tall and broad shouldered with burnished copper curly hair. He stared at me with a supercilious expression then wandered down the centre aisle, his shoulder brushing against a stack of toilet rolls, sending them to the floor. He turned into the next aisle and the mother and son moved aside for him. No one spoke. As he walked, a tower of tins came crashing down. I pressed the help button, without much hope of help coming.

As he walked back towards me the look in his eyes had turned to anger. I could not move out of his way and I was sure he intended to stab me.

At last the silence was broken as a new customer came in.

‘There’s a bull in the shop!’

The eye level horns veered away from me and he trotted down the third aisle. His head swayed and the tip of his horn caught the disposable nappies, a large packet dropped into the grateful arms of the great granny. The toddler stopped crying and called out excitedly ‘Doggy’.


My finger was still pressed on the help button, but it seemed my colleagues had decided to stay locked in the store room.

Now through the door came a hunky young man with ruddy cheeks, chestnut wavy hair and a beard to match. He strode forward whistling, a hefty rope strung over his shoulder.

‘Come on Birtie, you’ve spent all your pocket money.’

Bertie did a three point turn, demolishing all the shelves. Then he lowered his head and charged towards his fleeing master.






Cause Without a Rebel

Cyberspouse says he will put on my gravestone…

‘She voted to Remain, but now she has Exit.’

In a previous incarnation, new in the area, making friends with a mother who had a little boy the same age as mine, she mentioned her husband was always out at meetings because he was on the local council. Which party? I innocently asked. Conservative she replied, shocked that I would need to ask. I have never aligned myself to any political party; I always vote, but I’m often still trying to decide who for on the walk to the polling station. Will my vote be wasted on the Too Good to be True party, should I vote for the independent candidate or for Big Party B to stop Safe Seat Party A getting in?

A referendum on leaving the European Union was talked about for so long I didn’t think it would really happen. Then suddenly it was happening so fast that nobody was ready and there certainly was not a plan for leaving. But this time I knew for sure what I would vote – Remain. I have never run a business, been a farmer or a fisherman and was not qualified to hand out my informed opinions, but I still knew I was right!


We were never very good at being European, we never had EU flags fluttering proudly on all our buildings, many of us don’t bother to learn anyone else’s language, not all ex pats integrate.  But a straw poll of our immediate family adds up to fifteen different EU countries visited, often numerous times. Over the years journeys have ranged from school trips to Euro Disney, charity, visiting friends, holidays, training and work; so we and many other families are European in mindset and in DNA. Britons are also inclusive, even people who have never left these shores will be working, travelling and socialising with people from all over Europe and the rest of the world. No country is perfect but why would we dump friendships with some of the most civilised countries in the world and pal up with regimes that are at best undemocratic, and at worst evil? The sharing of defence, policing, science, environmental issues, industry, the arts and humane standards has developed over the decades, hand in hand with the promotion of peace.


If I had known we would lose the referendum, I would have been blogging and Facebooking  frantically back in 2016…  even if no one was listening. If nothing else the whole Brexit fiasco has been such a waste of time and money when the planet needs saving and world problems sorting. Could it all have been avoided?

Have we all been riven apart? Families, friends, couples did vote differently, I don’t personally know of enduring feuds, perhaps we’re all united in our disgust at the behaviour and disloyalty of politicians to each other and their country. The Leavers had many different reasons. People did rightly feel forgotten by the government and saw it as their chance to be heard, others read the ‘wrong newspaper’ or ‘believed the lies’– but plenty of Leavers are intelligent and genuine and if they have any regrets it is over the way it has been handled, not because they admit to being wrong in the first place!

What happens next? I have no idea…

The Game of Life – 22-1-19

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.


 The Waiting Game

General outpatients is a pleasant place, light colours, sometimes quiet, today busy. Our oncologist is here and not at the Jigsaw building because she is from the other hospital. A mute television with subtitles is playing afternoon programmes and we are just in time for Doctors! We already  know one result from last week’s scan, Cyberspouse had a couple of blood clots so will have to have daily injections for six months; a choice  between a district nurse and DIY propelled him to have a go and it’s quite simple.

We progress to the chairs outside the little rooms, all the chairs are full. As he has been well and eating well we are feeling positive and prepared to be positive whatever. Results are mixed, different chemotherapy, but as his health is good he can start immediately.

At the Jigsaw it is always jolly, the reception desk has a friendly greeting for everyone and the whole place is very calm, we never seem to wait long. Each patient has their own bay with low walls, there is background music.



The Retirement Game

Life goes on for Cyberspouse much the same as it has since he retired not that long ago, recycled teenager days. Out with the chaps or out and about with other couples ( the cosy world that not all get to enjoy ). Can you spend a whole day  at Ikea? Yes. ‘Did you get the two for one voucher for fish and chips?’ Yes…



The Number Game

Everybody seems to be talking about the nineties, not the 1990’s but the tenth decade that some reach. My mother is the same age as The Queen, though she doesn’t get out and about as much, her mind and hearing are as sharp as Her Majesty’s. A lot of bloggers have been talking about their mothers of a similar age, my friend is a full time carer for hers. On our RVS Books on Wheels round we have four visits, five very different folk but all in their tenth decade. Mr. and Mrs are in a tiny retirement flat, different taste in books. Our next lady reads a book a day; we take twenty library books every three weeks and she only likes murder mystery. She lives by herself, has had times in hospitals, but ignored their warnings of dire consequences if she didn’t have this or that done and in her early nineties has outlived a daughter and a son-in-law.  She says she is never lonely, happy by herself. Our gentleman lives in a nursing home, the sort made of houses stuck together, where you fall down sloping corridors and trip where the houses have been joined up, but the staff are friendly, it feels homely. He is completely blind and has talking books, always has a story to tell about when he was a barrister in the House of Lords. This week one of the staff told us he had gone downhill since Christmas, not because of shingles, but because a clairvoyant once told him he would die when he was 96, his age now. For a very educated man this seems odd, but when we see him he has certainly changed.


Ninety Seven is the age of the Duke of Edinburgh, in the news this week, knocking Brexit off the agenda for a few hours, after his miraculous escape unhurt after a car crash. Not on the Sandringham estate, but out on a busy A road. A little while back when Cyberspouse was in Windsor, strolling up the Long Walk with his camera near the castle, along came a carriage and fine black horses driven by the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke called out ‘Can’t you find anything better to bloody photograph?’ Cyberspouse replied that he was only snapping the horses.  The girl grooms on the back laughed. When I heard the story I was surprised the duke was still carriage driving, while other people of his age are on their mobility scooters or housebound,  it seems he does not intend to stop driving of any sort yet. There has been fervoured discussion as to what age people should be compelled to give up; whatever the cause of the accident, it was every parent’s and grandparent’s nightmare as there was a baby in the back of the other car, luckily unhurt. Public indignation increased when a new Landrover was delivered the next day ( a gift perhaps, as the publicity was a gift to Landrover, how safe the vehicle must be to roll over and not harm the driver ) the duke was soon driving again and being cautioned by the police for not wearing a seat belt. For some, life goes on…



Brexit – Neither Divorce Nor Car Deal

I was pondering writing about Brexit, but could not think how. Frank has explained better than I can what it feels like to be a Remainer and what it means for the whole country.

Frank Parker's author site

In the debate over Brexit many people have tried to come up with suitable analogies. Among the oldest is the idea of the divorce – the withdrawal bill and the £39 billion payment of outstanding budget commitments is even referred to as the “divorce settlement”. More recently some have sought to liken the search for a “deal” to the kind of arrangement you might come to with your local car dealership. Over the weekend I began thinking about both.

Let’s begin by looking at the stages in a marriage at which a divorce may be contemplated. You’ve been together for less than 5 years, both of you are a good deal more mature than when you married. There are no children, neither of you gets on with the in-laws, you have few mutual friends. You live in an apartment block where you hardly ever encounter your neighbours. You come to…

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Silly Saturday – No News


We were hoping to go over to our correspondent… somewhere, but apparently there is no news today. However we will bring you an update as soon as there is some news.


Now we go over to Sally for the weather… oh, I’m just hearing there is no weather today… If you’ve just joined us we’re receiving reports that there is no news today. Those of you who are following us on Twitter please let us know what is not happening in your area and send us your pictures.

adult blur business indoors

Tributes are pouring in for a writer who didn’t become a household name, but her husband thought it would be nice if she heard some plaudits for her work while she was still alive.


Reports that Stonehenge had turned into fudge overnight turned out to be pure fudge.


Traffic delays are not expected anywhere today


and reports are coming in that nothing is happening in many places.


Meetings were to be held, but there’s no point now.


No one was called to 10, Downing Street.


Businesses also reported a slump.











Join us again for the lunchtime news when we hope to bring you some, in the meantime viewers have been sending in pictures of their pets.




If you like looking at photos instead of the news there are pictures aplenty at my website.

Friday Flash Fiction – Go

When my agent called I was hoping it would be good news, or any news.

I’ve got you on a programme Brian.

‘Brilliant,’ I replied ‘is it the Review Show’?


‘The Book Programme?’


‘The Literary Quiz?’


‘I don’t mind doing Brain of Britain.’

We tried that already.

‘Round Britain Quiz?’

No, they had a long waiting list remember… it’s a series about writers.

‘A Good Read? Who else is on it?’

It’s a new programme, not sure who’s been approached, Hilary said it wasn’t really her thing and Sebastian is too busy.

‘Radio or television?’

It would only work on television.

‘Will I get to talk to Kirsty Wark?’

I think we’re talking more Steve Redgrave, John Inverdale…

‘Okay, you’ve lost me now.’

The basic premise is that the author gets to act out the role of their leading character.

‘Oh that sounds fun, how about the scene where the poet seduces Lady Antonia?’

That is not quite what they had in mind.

‘Well I certainly don’t want to do his suicide scene, can’t stand the sight of blood for one thing ha ha.’

No, they were thinking of your thriller novels, not the literary ones.

‘Hmmm, the scene where Hammond Steele seduces Natalia Komenski?’

An action scene, they have half a dozen escapes or rescues they think would be ideal, several of them quite topical.

adventure blue mountains climb clouds
Photo by Terje Sollie on

In ‘Snow Diamonds’ Hammond Steele visits South Korea and a week later I too was in South Korea, dressed well against the biting wind, feet clad suitably for the snow, knowing I should never have agreed to this programme.

Other authors manage to sell thriller novels by the million without even leaving their computer. We were doing the scene where Hammond has to escape his pursuers; they must not get their hands on the precious package, even if it means forfeiting his own life.

At the very top my instructor was giving me last minute instructions, I braced my knees; I could hardly feel what my hands were gripping in the thick gloves I was wearing. He was telling me to watch the light, wait for the amber, wait for his command and the green light…

Why oh why had I made Hammond Steele escape the villains by pretending to be a participant in the 2018 Winter Olympics… Men’s ski jump, soar in the air and ski swiftly away down a valley into the woods. The light turned green, someone shouted GO.

Game of Stones

I am not the only person in the world who has not seen Game of Thrones, there is at least one other person; I know that because I saw their post on Facebook. With the worldwide plethora of channels and other means of watching programmes there are not enough hours in the day to watch everything and we don’t all have legal access to much of the output. Neither lack of hours nor technical and legal barriers affect some viewers, who seem to have seen everything – three times over.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it, though I prefer drama set in this world, but I fear it is too late to catch up; boxed sets, whether real or ethereal do not appeal. I enjoy watching serials one episode at a time. What I have finally caught up with is ‘Outlander’, a series involving time travel, so it is touching that we are only able to watch it with that prehistoric tool, a fire stick. This particular magic tool is an Amazon Firestick, acquired when Cyberspouse accidentally joined Amazon Prime via my account and obtained lots of toys. Now we are watching in real time and have to wait till Monday for episode 12 of series four, so I decided to find out more, especially as I have not read any of the books.

Diana Gabaldon is the author; she started writing the story in the eighties and there are nine in the series; with only five filmed so far that means plenty to look forward to and reassuringly genuine, not ‘based on characters created by’.

When I read these words     There is one more addition to the OUTLANDER series— THE EXILE, a graphic novel,  I thought she had written an edition with even more sex,  but it’s okay – For those unfamiliar with the term, a graphic novel is—in essence—a comic book for grown-ups.

Diana and I have a few things in common, born in the same decade and we both write about time travel…    ‘Outlander’ starts with our heroine Claire on holiday in the highlands of Scotland, reunited with her husband after being separated during the second world war. Wandering, she finds ‘The Stones’, touches them and falls into 1743. Adventure, love and lots of history follows.


I imagine it is easier to write about time travel than actually survive if you found yourself back in the past. Perhaps you think you would use your future knowledge, it may give you a useful guide as to what happens next, unless you were not very good at history, but could you recreate modern inventions or modern medicine? Claire has the advantage of medical knowledge, but not the right implements and drugs. Few of us would be able to build a car from scratch,  install electricity in our peasant hut or offer to install hot running water in the laird’s castle. Few of us understand how the structures and infastructures that surround us are made, but if we ended up in the past we wouldn’t know how to make a wattle and daub hut either.


On the other hand we might be delighted to get away from the world as it is and discover the past was better.

If you want to get ahead and read my trilogy before Amazon, Netflix or Sky snap it up to turn into a blockbuster, you can read the first book for only 99 pence or us$1.26