Five Things to Sing About

Really struggling to find enough things to be positive about this past week, which has been marred by headaches and insomnia. But as long as I have books, plays and music, it cannot be all bad, right?

  1. I tidied up my bedside tables and bookshelves, as the new purchases were interfering with my geographical shelving.
My Russians are now next to Persephone, for some reason…
This is the bedside table I use on a daily basis. It usually looks a lot more cluttered than this, but I tidied it up for the photo. It contains my current reading and library loans, my journal and my all-time favourite authors (Tove, Jane, Virginia, Shirley, Jean)

2. I donated a massive bag full of books to the local library, but I also bought books this week, so my balance is probably zero.

The Malorie Blackman is for my younger son, and I wonder if my older son might be interested in Jean Plaidy – he is currently on a bit of a medieval history reading spree.
You might spot Kaggsy’s nefarious influence here… plus a highly-regarded Greek author about a mother/son relationship (currently a bit of an obsession of mine)

3. Speaking of mother/son relationships, I watched yet another emotionally gruelling play Mother of Him by Evan Placey at the Park Theatre. A play to make the audience think, laugh, cry and gasp out loud! It’s about a family (and especially the mother, who is being judged by everyone) going to pieces when the older son is accused of raping three girls in one night. It should come with a flashing red warning for single mothers of teenage boys – especially when the actor who plays the 17 year old son has the skinny body type of my own 16 year old!

4. ROH Live Encore at my local culture centre: Mozart’s Don Giovanni. One of my favourite operas, can never get enough of it and have watched many a wacky production. This beautiful Jack Furness revival of the Kasper Holten production featured a charismatic Erwin Schrott in the title role, a Don Ottavio I could finally empathise with (Daniel Behle) and an amazing if rather discombobulating set with video projections. It hasn’t quite dethroned my current favourite version: this ‘hipster edition’ live recording from the Festival international d’Art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence in July 2017.

5. Sadly, I didn’t make it to this month’s writing group meeting, but I’ll be taking part in the Charity Write-a-thon we are organising in Windsor on the 16th of November. All the money we raise will go to Mind. If you do feel inspired to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page here.

Poetry Anthology for a Great Cause

I don’t often trumpet publishing news  or ask you to buy my books (perhaps because I don’t often have anything to trumpet about!), but this book is for such a good cause that I have to share with you.

product_thumbnailOne of my poems has been included in The Wait Poetry Anthology, which is now available in paperback from Lulu. [I’ve ordered mine and it looks gorgeous – a satisfyingly chunky collection of poems.] Of course, it’s not just my poetry: you will find such a wide variety of poems, on all topics, in all styles, from writers all over the UK and the world, debutants to established poets.

All proceeds from the sale of this volume will go to Cancer Research UK. So let me tell you my very personal reason for wanting to take part in this initiative (and why I am so delighted that my poem was selected for inclusion in the anthology). It’s the same reason why I’ve done the Moonwalk in Edinburgh a few years back (fundraising for Breast Cancer Research).

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36 years old. It was quite advanced so she had her left breast completely removed, plus months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to follow. It completely destroyed her looks: she was not only forever scarred physically but also never wore a swimsuit or went to the beach again. She lost her lustrous locks (she used to have hair down to her knees when she was in her teens) and had early menopause. The cancer was vanquished and she is still alive today, but the consequences of such aggressive interventions have stayed with her, resulting in all sorts of health problems.

Edwardian Rapunzel from Etsy.com. Needless to say, this is NOT my mother in her youth!
Edwardian Rapunzel from Etsy.com. Needless to say, this is NOT my mother in her youth, but close…

I know her greatest fear at the time was of leaving me motherless at such a young age, potentially at the mercy of a cruel stepmother (she was not very optimistic about my father’s choice in female companions). Yet, although I was about 7-8 years old then and an only child, I never got to feel the full impact of her illness or her terrors. I have a difficult relationship with my mother – we have very different concepts of life and people – but I will be forever grateful to her and admire her for the way she held herself and my life together at that time. Fundraising for cancer is one of the few ways in which I can show her that.

An e-book will also be available at some point, but for the time being, here is another link with information about how to purchase the book online. Dead easy.  Thank you very much… and let me know what you think of my poem and those of others!