Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 encapsulated

Season's Greetings to you all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A confession

You've probably been wondering where I was. In fact for much of this year I've been wondering where I am too. I've been lost.

It has been a difficult year. On the positive side, Son 1 did exceptionally well at college and is now at his first choice university. On the negative side Son 2 regressed into increasingly difficult behaviour. His anxiety increased and his mood darkened. We still don't know whether home or school was the cause, but I suspect both. Without wanting to go into too much detail, I became a victim of abuse.

I was lucky that Son 2 currently has an excellent social worker who responded very quickly, but he and I were badly let down by another professional who was supposed to be helping with his behaviour. The crisis escalated to the point where we had no choice but to let social services accomodate him in order to safeguard me, as a physically vulnerable adult myself.

The wonderful social worker swung into action again and just a couple of weeks later Son 2 was able to move from respite care into a specialist residential placement which will hopefully be his long term home. It means that he has left school a year earlier than planned, but he can get consistent care and regular psychology input at the home as well as learning life skills and trying new activities. It is a lovely, newly renovated building and he was the second resident into this brand new service. He seems very happy and settled there and it is very much what we'd have been wanting for him next year anyway.

Of course you don't stop being a carer just because someone no longer lives under the same roof. Son 2 now lives 50 miles away from us but we visit when we can and I am in regular contact with his carers by phone. I organise his finances, liaise with his social worker and attend meetings about his placement. He is still very much part of our family, even though, like his brother, he has reached the age to leave home.

The events of this year have left me shaken and for a while I understood exactly how women who victims of any sort of abuse feel. My health is currently suffering and I have not been able to write creatively since the start of the year. I'd had lots of plans for the next year, to bring me to the place I wanted to be when both boys had left home. The timetable has been thrown into disarray, but I shall still go ahead.

But that brings me to the future of this blog. It's been a record of my sons and my writing. The boys are now both independent adults and it is no longer appropriate to write much about them. The creative writing has temporarily stalled. This is the 700th post on this blog but it could be one of the last.

I'm planning a new writing and creativity related blog to accompany what I hope will be my future life path. I'll be sure to let you know when that is up and running and I hope you'll follow me there. In the meantime thanks for reading about my journey so far and bear with me while I reinvent myself.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

London 2012

On 6th July 2005 I attended a yoga class and then did my weekly food shop as usual. After loading the car I turned the ignition key and the radio came on, just as the announcement was being made about the location of the 2012 Olympics. I held my breath and stayed listening in the car park until it was announced that London, my adopted home town, had won.

Fast forward 24 hours and the city was reeling from the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings. The gloss had been taken off the previous day's announcement and from then on in the Olympics has seemed low key and, in the current financial climate, an expense and inconvenience Londoners could do without. There no longer seemed to be any excitement and we didn't even bother to apply for any tickets. It was only last week that I realised exactly how close the Olympic Park is to where we bought our first home 25 years ago.

But over the last weeks, with the torch procession, everything seems to have slowly changed. Son 1 saw the torch in Maidenhead a couple of weeks ago, as he knows one of the torch bearers there. Three days ago it passed just a mile from our house and he saw it again. I would have loved to observe this once in a lifetime event but am not strong enough to stand for ages, especially in the recent heat.

Yesterday the building excitement culminated in a magnificent opening ceremony. It was quirky and very British, packed full of so many historical and cultural references that I think it would take many reruns on iPlayer to pick them all up. It portrayed Great Britain in all its tolerant, multicultural glory, even including a tasteful tribute to the dead. And who could fail to love the parachuting Queen and Mr Bean in Chariots of Fire? Or the unique cauldron?

I wonder what the rest of the world made of Danny Boyle's spectacular love letter to his country. I hope they liked it as much as we did.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

100 RPM

I have a tiny flash fiction in this book, published today. 100 RPM is a collection of stories inspired by music found on YouTube, each story being 100 words or less.

The anthology, to benefit the charity One in Four, was edited by Caroline Smailes, who explains here how she went about publishing it as a Kindle ebook. I'm proud to be included with so many brilliant writers and look forward to discovering the work of those I don't yet know.

My own story, number 48, is called Barricades. It might not surprise you to learn that it was inspired by a famous Spandau Ballet song.

100 RPM is currently very cheap on Amazon and all profits will go to help survivors of sexual abuse. What's not to like?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another legend gone

The last few months have been full of nostalgia.

There have been numerous television programmes about the 1970's, the decade in which I was a teenager. I'm currently watching 56 Up, the latest instalment of a series which which has followed a group of people from the age of seven. Although the participants are a few years older than me, the film clips are so very familiar, making me wonder if I ever looked and sounded like that too. The answer is, I think, yes. I can't help comparing how different we were back in the 70s to teens of today.

Then there has been the demise this year of three mighty pop legends of the 70s and early 80s, which has led me to rediscover their music on YouTube.

RIP Robin Gibb.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Death of a disco queen

It's always sad when you hear of the passing of a music legend, whose songs formed part of the soundtrack of your life as you were growing up. Today is no exception, with the news that Donna Summer has died of cancer. Perhaps her most famous song was Love To Love You Baby, but I've always loved this Jimmy Webb classic, so what better way to remember Donna?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Two little letters

What do the letters MS mean to you?

Microsoft? I think we will all recognise that one.

Manuscript? Many of my writer friends will relate to this.

Or multiple sclerosis? How many people really know what this means, I wonder. That question hit home the other day, when I had to explain my hidden disability.

Right from the beginning I've not been shy about my diagnosis. After all, I did announce it online and I've subsequently written an article about it. This approach would not be right for all, especially people whose employment might be put in jeopardy, but I'd rather that people knew that the underlying reason for wobbliness or occasional slurred speech is illness or MS fatigue, rather than assume I'd had a surplus of alcohol.

On Monday I took the bus into town to shop. I had a number of errands to run and was tired even before I started out. Waiting at the bus stop a lady smiled at me, but we didn't engage in conversation. Later that afternoon, when I was too exhausted to walk any further and the rain had started, I headed for home. On my bus I found the same lady, who pointed at the disabled seat next to her.

"I saw you in Marks & Spencer," she said. "You looked as if you were in pain."

I explained to her that I have multiple sclerosis, that walking is very tiring and can be painful due to stiffness and spasms, which aren't always well-controlled by my medication. I joked that on that afternoon I'd staggered from one bench to another and she said she'd often seen me out and about locally, walking at my very slow pace.

It was a bit of a conversation killer, to be honest. Most people don't have much idea what MS is like, especially in the earlier stages. The fact that each person with MS is affected in different ways doesn't help either. Before I was diagnosed I had imagined that the majority of people with MS were in wheelchairs, but that is definitely not the case.

We both got off at the same stop. My lovely fellow traveller, who looked considerably older than me, shot off at high speed, while I made my way slowly and painfully home to crash out on the sofa.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

End of an era

I often get to the end of a month and take stock of what has happened and what I have achieved. This month was no exception and the achievement was a significant one.

Earlier this month Son 2 turned eighteen, which means that we have safely raised both our children to adulthood. Now that might not seem like anything special, but anyone who knows our family history will realise that even from the very first days of parenthood it might not have been the case and there have been other scares along the way.

Our next task as parents is to prepare them both to fly the nest over the coming eighteen months, if all goes to plan. I can no longer tick a box which says I have a child here, we now only have adult children living with us, which is legally something completely different. After more than twenty years, it's the end of an era.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dear Mr Cowell

Never judge a book by its cover. You really haven't learned that yet, have you? (For those who didn't see the programme, his pre-audition comment on this clip, which can't be embedded, will show what I mean.)

Jonathan is undoubtedly a very talented young man but he is also clearly very vulnerable. Britain's Got Talent will hopefully make him, but it could equally break him. For now, at least, he needs Charlotte with him on the journey and she needs to be given the opportunity to shine too. Please don't mess with their heads, there's far too much at stake.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Checking in

I'm still here.

I haven't posted for almost a month. There is no excuse, except that I have been insanely busy and my creative juices seem to have dried up. My caring responsibilities have increased over the last few weeks, with a knock-on effect in the form of physical and mental fatigue. I'm sure I'll get used to it in time, but for now there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in everything I want and need to do, whilst still trying to comply with doctor's orders.

I'll be back just as soon as I have something more interesting to say.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Monday, February 06, 2012


We don't have much time to watch television nowadays, so when my husband suggested that we spent our Saturday evenings watching a subtitled Danish series about politics, I have to admit I was less than impressed. Even the fact that it was from the producers of The Killing, to which we came very late, didn't convince me.

But I couldn't have been more wrong. Borgen, about a newly elected female Prime Minister trying to hold together a fragile coalition government as well as family life, quickly became must-see viewing. It focused on the worlds of both politicians and journalists, linked by the Prime Minister's spin doctor. There were strong and believable female roles on both sides of the fence but for me Sidse Babett Knudsen, who played Birgitte Nyborg, the Prime Minister, stood out. An actress who can portray so much through just subtle facial expressions, she managed to balance the strengths and vulnerability of her character to great effect.

Borgen has been perhaps a surprise hit, but all ten episodes are currently still available on BBC iPlayer, at least until Saturday. Along with Sherlock, it has provided some quality viewing at the start of the year, so I was pleased to find out that a second series has just been bought by the BBC and a third is being filmed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


So January slipped away before I knew it.

What have I been doing? Well, I had a birthday. I've been organising, but not going on, two uni applicant days for Son 1. I've been downloading lots of cheap and free books to my Kindle. I've been trying to deal with Son 2's increasing behavioural issues.

And I've been writing.

I completed the 31 days of the River of Stones project. To be fair I did on a few occasions forget to post the stone which was germinating in my mind, but I always caught up the next day and I ended the month with 31 stones written.

I've also started doing Helen M Hunt's Hop On, Hop Off short story course and I'm enjoying it very much. As some of you may know, womag story writing is an area in which I've had no success so far and I'm a great admirer of Helen's stories for that market, so I'm hoping some of her skill will rub off on me. Woman's Weekly has always been the weekly magazine which I feel suits my writing style best and Helen has had significant success in that very competitive market. Although womag stories require the same writing skills as other genres there are definite restrictions on content and I'm trying hard to rein in my darker side!

Helen also runs face to face workshops but if you are looking for something very flexible the Hop On, Hop Off course might just fit the bill.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I told you about Caroline Smailes' flash fiction writing challenge here. Well it was a huge success. Over 350 stories were submitted of which 100 were chosen for the anthology and I'm delighted to tell you that my story Barricades was one of them.

I'll give you the details of the Kindle book as soon as it is released, but don't forget you won't have to own a Kindle to read it.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A new writing challenge

There are writing challenges out there at almost any time: NaNoWriMo and Sally Quilford's 100,000 words in 100 days being two recent and current ones. But I'm not a fast writer and have to fit my writing in between so many other commitments that I've never dared tackle a big challenge like that.

I do, however, enjoy the challenge of writing short snippets such as small stones and like to use my writing to support worthy charities. In fact my first publication came in a charity fundraiser as a result of a 300 word blog challenge, Your Messages.

So I was delighted to read that Caroline Smailes has set up a new challenge for 100 word flash pieces to be included in a Kindle book to raise funds for One in Four. The catch is that each piece must be based on, inspired by or linked to a song on YouTube and the closing date is next Wednesday,11th January.

I'll leave Caroline to explain all the rules and the story behind why she has again chosen to support that charity here.

I've already entered, please join me.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Another river of stones

I forgot to mention that I am once again taking part in the River of
writing project this January and you can find all my recent small stones on a separate blog, small stones in a river.

I've already shown myself to be rubbish at remembering to update the blog regularly between projects. But even just writing small stones daily for two months a year, and knowing others are doing the same, has proven to be very satisfying.

For more information on the River of Stones project, and how you can join us, visit Fiona and Kaspa here at Writing Our Way Home