Saturday, March 14, 2015

Let Down by The Guardian

I am on flu overload at the moment, readers. I have been alternating between hot sweats and cold shivers and have been barely able to speak for the last five days.

Mr T is thrilled.

Yesterday it was 8 degrees (pretty warm for this time of year in the UK) but I drove the boys to tennis wearing a yellow and purple woolly hat and a bright blue fleece.

I looked stupid.

So I haven't done much at all this week. In fact I've only just about managed to follow the Jeremy Clarkson debacle in the media. It's been fun counting how many articles on Jeremy The Guardian can post in one week and truly heartwarming to see them tackling the Clarkson affair with all the impartiality of a open-mouthed shark.

But today folks I feel let down - where oh where is the habitual anti-Jeremy rant? Where is it? I am at a loss how to fill my time between wiping my nose and coughing.

Maybe the lack of an article on Jeremy is cos it's the weekend? Yes that must be it - they must be saving themselves for an article on Jeremy's underpants next week.

Great! That's something to look forward to. For a moment I thought I was going to have to read The Mail to get some unbiased reporting.

*chuckles* (very quietly)

Monday, March 9, 2015

25 Bookish Things Males Have Actually Read By The Age of 25

If you're an avid reader, you've probably read one of the many articles advising you which books to read before you're 18/25/30/40/dead. Well, last week I came across a lively discussion on Facebook about the dominance of male authors in many of these lists. Unfortunately, some accusations about male misogyny were being bounded about. I was reasonably impartial about this accusation as I happen to like men (cough, cough) and probably read more books by male authors than I do by women authors.

However, this morning I have cleaned the Young Master's bedrooms and transferred the good Mr T's underpants from the bathroom floor to the laundry basket so I am not feeling so impartial. As a consequence I have come up with my own take on these annoying book lists. My list is called:

 Twenty-Five Bookish Things Males Have Actually Read By The Age of Twenty-Five.

It's not your standard list. Obviously. But it is, nevertheless, a very important list.

Right here we go:

3. Thomas the Tank Engine - A Cow on the Line. (Trains + farm animals = deep joy.)  
5. The Dandy (4th Dec 2012 - last physical edition - perfect collectible for every saddo Dandy geek.)
8. The Viz - any edition. (Ideal reading material for an intimate bonding experience between father and son.)
9. The leaflet inside a packet of condoms. (Any brand.)
10. The rear of a packet of Kellog's Cornflakes.
11. The dating adverts in their local paper.
12. The telephone numbers scrawled inside their local phone box
13. The menu at the local Chinese Takeaway.
15. The lingerie section of their mother's mail order catalogue. 
16. The Sun newspaper. (Available at the local barber's shop.)

Farrah Fawcett 1977.JPG
Farrah Fawcett in 1977 - the golden haired icon of a generation who had men drooling before lunchtime.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia. (Public domain.)

17. Their exam results slip. ( Very briefly - before returning their attention to No 21)
18. The washing instructions on the jeans they haven't cleaned for eight weeks and the bedlinen they haven't cleaned for twelve weeks.
19. The product description on a Lamborghini Roadster.
20. The price tag and mileage on a 2002 Vauxhall Corsa.
22. The Google search results for Keira Knightly.
23. Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toliet 2000.(Kid's book with universal male appeal.)
24 The alcohol content on a litre bottle of cider.
25. Their sister's diary. (Especially the section on menstruation.)

So there we have it. I think I have more than made up for all that male bias in those books-to-read lists. 

*Sticks tongue out.*

Also, if you want a darn good read by a female author read my novel. It's (almost) a work of genius. And a bargain price. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Yesterday, as a treat for my upcoming birthday, one of my dear friends arranged a beauty session at a well-known cosmetic counter. I came away feeling glamorous with a bag load of purchases and freebies.

This morning I decided I should start a new beauty regime and duly applied my makeup as instructed by the beauty consultant. Afterwards, I went to my full-length mirror to inspect my work.

By God, Readers! I looked twenty years younger and almost half-decent. I was so thrilled I was ready to pack my bags and go in search of a toyboy. Hurrah, I thought, there's some life left in the old girl yet!

Then I decided to capture my rare moment of personal glory in a selfie.

Which was a very, very, very, bad idea.

The selfie, sadly, revealed the truth. When I viewed the photo I did not even recognise myself - I had turned from a well-preserved, perhaps even still vaguely attractive woman, into a miserable old hag.

What I am saying is no makeup can hide fifty years of living - I looked like a corpse who'd just slipped on a banana skin.

I'm now thinking of auditioning for the part of the hag in Snow White.

Please God be kind to me over the rest of my life-span. I don't have many years left. Go easy on me. I'm a good girl really.

Anyway, I'm off out to the builder's merchants. I need some concrete mix.

*There is no accompanying picture with this blog post as there normally is due to the potential adverse effects on my readership.*

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Right to Rant

Now I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I am no ordinary writer. This means a number of things but probably not what you are thinking I think it means. What it means is:

One: I have absolutely no desire to talk about writing on my blog unless it's in my usual disparaging way because, let's face it, some writers are so up their own backsides they probably haven't seen daylight for twenty years and I'd rather not get caught up in those long debates about commas, adjectives or self-publishing v trad publishing. If I feel the need to vent I can go onto another writer's blog or, alternatively. I can make up a pseudonym and comment on culture articles over at The Guardian.

Two: Having thought about the terms "author" and "writer", I think it is stretching it to call myself either. I prefer "entertainer." This means I may yet subject you all to a video of me pole dancing in a Hawaiian skirt whilst reciting Ode to a Grecian Pasta Dish.

Three: It means I can use this blog to rant about any subject I please.

Which today is...

People Who Invade My Personal Space.

Okay, so here comes some examples:

1. The Good Mr T.

Oh wait a minute - I signed that marriage contract. It's legal.

2. Those really irritating people in the swimming pool who, even when the rest of the pool is empty, will come and swim right next to you so you are either:

a) Forced to inhale their surf up your nose and end up having a respiratory attack.

b) Forced to inhale the vast amount of the perfume/deodorant they have sprayed over their head and neck. (For what purpose I don't know - maybe to ward off evil spirits or marauding sharks.)

I have yet to question one of these perfumed swimmers on their motives for spraying a whole bottle of cologne or hairspray over themselves prior to submerging themselves in water but I fully intend to one day - when I stop gagging.

There's always someone where you least expect them...

3. Those even more irritating people who, even though the car park is empty, will squeeze their car so close to your's so that you can't get back into the driving position without climbing over the passenger seat and hauling your ass over the handbrake.

4. Charity collectors who harangue me in the street. Look, I am no meanie. I given to lots of charities.  And I've adopted six stray cats. That proves I am sucker for a sob story. But please do NOT wave your bucket at me when I am weighed down with bags and only have two minutes left before my car parking ticket runs out - I need all of my two minutes to climb in the passenger seat and over the handbrake.

5. People who nudge their knees up to me in the cinema. Please just keep your knees to yourself. Unless you're a seven foot tall basketball player I ain't gonna believe you can't keep your legs together unless you have a very, very large third leg.

So there you have it. Another rant from Mrs T which concludes with the thought that personal space-invaders should probably be shot on sight.

(Not Mr T obviously- that would be counterproductive as he pays the household bills which allow me to indulge in this wanton waste of time.)

I know that was a somewhat dramatic statement. However, if you have ever encountered all four of these space-invader specimens (especially on the same day) you will probably feel the same way.

I really should be in politics.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad Parenting and The Beginning of a New Journey

Last night, Mr T, the boys and I were all watching Expendables 3 when we got to this scene:

When new recruit, Luna, finished kicking ass this was the conversation:

Master Jacob; She's just like Mum

Mr T: Yep, that's just what your mother was like when I met her.

Huh? I am not tall, blonde or leggy. I don't even do karate!

Later there was a scene where Antonio Banderas, as another new crazed Expendable recruit, says something to the effect of "I just like killing people". Master Jacob piped up again;

Oh that's just like Mum too.

What? I've never even hurt a fly!

Well maybe a couple. But nobody, nobody, touches my chocolate without my permission.

Okay, so there might possibly have been a few wasps as well. But they deserved it.

And there might have been a few of those slugs that keep invading my kitchen. But that was really my salt pot. It fell over by its own accord.

And I had absolutely nothing to do with the dead rat in the compost bin. My conscience is clear. Almost.

Yeah, so there we were watching The Expendables 3 and there was yet another scene where Stallone was kicking some ass and blasting off his gun and... apparently I am like that too.

Yep, so Mr T, Master Jacob and Master Ben all thought it was very funny indeed to make jokes at my expense. Poor Mrs T was deeply wounded.

I should have had daughters who would help me do the cleaning and ironing. But no, I get three sons and a husband who have no idea what the words "toilet brush" means. Life is so unfair.

You see, Dear Readers, once you get a reputation for not putting up with drivers who cut you up on roundabouts and who drive too close to your bumper you can never get rid of it.

Once you get a reputation for not putting up with cheating tennis players and their sycophantic parents you can never get rid off it.

Once you get a reputation for not putting up with slothful teachers and giving the headmistress a piece of your mind you can never get rid of it.

So my advice is - if you have potential "incidents" on the road, on the sports pitch or at school keep your cursing and name-calling to yourself. Do NOT use hand gestures.

So other than that very sound advice ( I always give quality parenting advice on this blog) the news is I am writing a sequel to The Changing Room which I hope to publish next year. In the meantime, the ebook of The Changing Room is on sale for 99p/99c this week on all ebooks sites including Amazon, ibooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.  It will never be this cheap again so if you haven't grabbed a copy yet now's the time as, in the spring, my novel is being relaunched with a new cover by one the UK's leading publicists. As a self-published author it has been a very hard slog to get any sort of visibility. In fact, it has pretty much been zero. So I'm very pleased indeed that a publicist who represents some of the foremost contemporary writers has enough belief in my book to offer to represent it. I've been warned it will still be very tough-going as many people in publishing still have no regard for self-published books. However, after weighing up all the pros and cons, I decided that you get very few chances in life and this was one I was going to take.

"This book is by far one of the funniest books I have ever read. " A Goodson.
Check out more reviews HERE

So next month I turn fifty and I begin a new journey. A big Thank You to all my friends and blog readers who have supported my writing endeavours for the past eight years or more and who have helped to make my writing journey so far a really enjoyable one. Thanks, folks!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cursed with a Fat Arse... and other stuff.

Okay, so you may have noticed that this blog has been fairly inactive for a while...which is basically not like me as I always have something (stupid) to say. Basically, my absence is because since I developed a hiatus hernia, with very unpleasant side effects, I'm trying to get on top of it and avoid an operation by doing things the natural way by changing my diet and losing weight. Losing weight has been a preoccupation of mine for about the last 25 years and one that I find incredibly difficult - I am one of the unfortunate women who work really hard at it but have very little success and as soon as I ease up from a very rigid diet or cut back on exercise (by which I mean less than 5 times a week) the weight piles back on.

For example - yesterday I did a zumba class, 40 minutes on the cross trainer, 40 minutes in the pool and an hour on my bike whilst watching the telly in the evening. I am on a strict diet which includes no tea, coffee, alcohol, squash, fruit juices, sweets, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, anything rich, creamy, spicy and mainly consists of 100% healthy stuff except pretzels which seem to be one of the few "luxuries" that don't cause a problem with my hernia.

So it was with expectation that I got on the scales this morning - and to my despair I weighed only 0.4 of a lb less than I weighed two days ago. So it seems that, despite every good intention, I am cursed with a fat arse.

Sadly, this is not my arse. I'd like to have this arse but I am one of those women who has been curse with a "personality "
instead . Frankly, I'd rather have a nice arse. I'm sure Mr T would prefer it if I had a nice arse too. In fact I 'm sure he'd be delighted to exchange my "personality" for a arse that looks good and doesn't talk back. 
Now I know all the stuff there is to know about muscle/fat, exercises, nutrition and let me say that for some people doing all the right things still does not bloody well work. So to anyone who says I am still eating too much or not exercising enough - screw you! (Sorry about that - I'm feeling quite vitolic this morning and it was either write a blog to let it out or take a sledgehammer to my bathroom scales.)

Okay, so that's my rant over.

Anyway, in order to make up for my absence I have signed up for the 2015 A- Z Blogging challenge in April where I will be blogging every single day on a subject relating to the alphabet. Now if you're not sure what this means it will be as follows... on April 1st I shall be blogging about a topic beginning with the letter A, on April 2nd it will be on a topic beginning with B and so on....

As I am inherently lazy, (apart when it comes to exercise which is a necessity)  I shall not be planning any of these posts but flying by the seat of my pants. However, if anyone wants to nominate a topic please feel free to do so.

Now in addition to that news, I have loads of other news, gossip (and more rants!) to impart but the first of those will have to wait till tomorrow as I have to haul my arse around the block and fill-out a self-assessment tax form which I have never done before and have no idea how long it will take. Filling out my earnings from writing should take about five seconds but if I have to list my expenses that could take days - so my advice to anyone thinking about self-publishing and wanting to take it seriously (ie create a professionally produced book in the same manner as a traditional publisher would and market it accordingly) is -  getting a well-paid 9-5 job and being able to afford some nice holidays beats the hell out of being a writer. At the moment I have no idea how I am going to fund my next book - there's only so much cash in the kitty and I will have used up my quota with The Changing Room. I do, however, have some exciting news about my book coming up which, God willing, will help me turn the corner from obscurity and sell a few books.

We'll just have to see what the future holds...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stephen Fry,Toyboys, Hiatus Hernias and Jacob's Cream Crackers. And a Happy New Year to all!

Getting old is a right royal pain in the backside, isn't it? I know middle aged celebs are always spouting that "I've never been happier" phrase (usually when they've just be paid fifty grand by Hello magazine for a photo shoot) but personally I kinda liked being young and healthy. Although - if I was 57 years old and called Stephen Fry and I'd just hooked up with a 27 year old I'd be saying "I've never been happier" too.

In fact, I'd quite happily trade the good Mr T in for a younger model - so if there's any 27 year olds out there  (or younger - I'm not fussy) who fancy their chances with Mrs T and can do a hatchet job on Mr T send me an email with the title "Age is no object and I'm hot for rotund old women."

So, you may have been wondering where I've been as I have been fairly quiet for a while. Well, the truth is - I have started a new diet. It's not my usual New Year diet on the lines of the Mad Axeman Diet and The Hot Dish Diet, it's called the Hiatus Hernia Diet. 

Yep, in early December the old body decided it was about time to start packing up on me. Now as I didn't have the usual symptoms of a hiatus hernia (like heartburn) my other symptoms need investigating so I've had cameras stuck in almost every orifice (that's almost every orifice) and it was concluded I have a small hiatus hernia which, in the scheme of life, aint so bad. It's certainly better than being six foot under.

But boy oh boy - do you know the food stuffs they tell you avoid when you have a hiatus hernia?

There's practically nothing left to eat apart from crackers and pretzels!

Hmm.. it's a pity there's no punctuation that indicates total despair. I suppose an exclamation mark will have to do. Blast.

I gifted myself a tin of Jacob's crackers over Christmas. It was a sad, sad, day. Even the woman at the checkout gave me a pitying look.

God, to think I may have to live twenty more years on a diet of crackers and pretzels. I may yet turn into one of those depressed writers you keep hearing about. It won't be through the inability to create a literary masterpiece though it will be through not being able to stuff my face with chocolate chip cookies.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that what I need is a 27 year old toyboy to cheer myself up. I need to ask the lovely Stephen for some tips about how to get one. Cos let's face it - it's not like I could wine and dine my 27 year old stud into submission in some fancy restaurant is it?  Just imagine it - my potential toyboy is sitting across from me eating fillet of steak and sipping champagne whilst I'm trying to seductively eat a plate full of Jacob's cream crackers and sipping on a glass of cold water. It don't think it's a winning scenario.

And how many seductive ways are there to eat a Jacob's cream cracker?

Not many I can tell you. Nibbling a cracker is not like nibbling a large fresh cream chocolate eclair. Or rolling your tongue around a banana. Remember the film Nine and a Half Weeks? Where Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke do the sexy eating scene - well I reckon I can do the seductive stuff in about 5 seconds before reaching for the Gaviscon.

So there you have it. I had a miserable Christmas, nibbling crackers and contemplating my own mortality while everyone else tucked into the turkey. I'd like to think I've come up with some deep philosophical ideas on the meaning of life but so far all I've manage is this phrase:

"You're screwed, Turley. Get yourself a toyboy before it's too late." 

Any takers? I can provide crackers as a contraceptive.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How to slow up the pace of life

I've come to the conclusion that the pace of life is too fast, especially around Christmas. Luckily, I've discovered a good way to slow things up:

1. Hand over the wrong debit card at the supermarket queue. Make sure the queue is really long first so you can slow things up for other people too. They'll be grateful for the rest.

2. Spend several minutes looking for the correct debit card in your purse and bag. Then remove all the contents (except the spare knickers) while you search for the correct card.

3. Announce to everyone in the queue that you cannot find your debit card but luckily you have your credit card!

4. Forget the PIN number to your credit card.

5. Suggest you go to the cash point but then remember that in the amongst all  crap  essentials in your bag you might be able to find enough money left from the Christmas shopping money to pay your food bill.

6. Laboriously count out all the cash in your purse. Ransack every pocket, crevice and seam in your handbag and coat until you have finally counted out... £132.19.

7. Thank everyone in the queue for waiting patiently. They may not look like they are grateful for you slowing down the pace of life but they are. Looks can be deceiving.

You see how happy these people are about having the pace of life slowed up for them? I took this photo of the queue behind me at the checkout -  see how grateful they are? Some of them are now my very best friends. They love me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa knows what's good for him!

So you thought Santa was a bluff old fool being misled by a host of  demanding kids? Not so, dear readers, not so! Santa has taste; he has style. He is one cool dude.

How do I know?

Well, this morning I was sent this picture:

Only the best is good enough for Santa! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Problem of Facial Hairs - Again.

What is it with facial hairs when you're over forty? My chin feels like a badger's arse at the moment and I look like Popeye after an overdose of spinach. If any more hairs sprout I'll be able to pluck them and start my own business manufacturing scrubbing brushes and garden brooms.

God, the menopause is depressing. I've never been that keen on the idea of taking drugs but as I get older the idea of hallucinations and days spent slumped over the sofa as opposed to watching foot-long hairs sprout from every conceivable hair follicle is becoming more attractive every minute. I've always liked being a brunette because it gives a woman way more intellectual kudos (even if you don't get to party so much) but, as an older woman, being a brunette is a living hell. The only plus side is there's no fear of England every being invaded again as I've written to the MOD and told them that all they need to do the next time some assailants set foot on our land is to get all British women over the age of forty to stand on the beaches and the enemy will soon be fleeing. I mean - who would want to rape and pillage an island nation where most of the women have chins like badger's arses? I reckon that's why Hitler gave up on the idea of invading us - German intelligence probably got whiff of the excess of facial hair and said there was no way their men, with their preference for blondes, could stomach shacking up with British women.

Yeah, that must have been the reason for halting the invasion. Although I kinda think Hitler shot himself in the foot by invading Russia because I've heard a lot about Russian women and it's not all good. I don't want to say anything too derogatory - but I've seen the Olympic games.

So, I've not been around much lately because I've being doing stuff - none of which has been constructive. But that's Mrs T for you - one lazy, good-for-nothing writer. Still, there's a new year coming so I'll have to buckle down and continue my next masterpiece of English literature. In the meantime look what turned up on Twitter today!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A personal perspective on living with Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis and cancer by Derrick LoRusso

Before I begin I'd like to thank Mrs. Turley for letting me write on her blog. So if traffic suddenly stops coming to her blog after you read this she knows who to go after. Thankfully, I live in Canada (Or as you Brits call it “Across the pond"), so she's got a long swim to get me. Not including the rabid polar bears and the bone chilling cold. 

I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when I was six and Crohn's disease at eight. (Or as I call it "The Ultimate Weight Loss Program.") Ever since then it has, quite literally, been a roller coaster ride on the “Tilt-a-Hurl 2000.” Every day I question if I'm going to breathe easy or I worry about coughing up phlegm. A lot of people have shot me dirty looks because of coughing fits that randomly pop up. My stomach will get into knots of pain at random, causing me to be, literally, out for the count all day. About a year ago, I was also diagnosed with a tumour on my pancreas. Cancer does run in the family, but I thought life would spare me the grief of cancer. The tumour was found by a complete accident during a CT scan - at least I got something out of being in a cramped coffin while horrible disco music blasted in my ears. As the great doctors laid me down on the table, I told them, “Be gentle. This is my first time.” (Humour has been the one thing to keep whatever sanity I have left.) 

Now at the time of writing this, I have what is called a PICC line in my arm for almost three months now (Don't Google it, you won't eat proper for a week). Basically it's a large IV put into a vein in my arm, followed by a tube running through the vein to my heart. Great conversation starter let me tell you! It's in me thanks to three viruses growing in my lungs. One of them was *supposed* to have died off in 2008 but now, recently rediscovered, has returned like a villain from a Batman movie. My poor doctor (who has been in the field for 20+ years) is trying to figure out how to cure it without upsetting an even more deadly, harder to “treat” virus. Apparently, shoving a Dyson vac down my throat and vacuuming up all the phlegm within me might help. Beats having to shove down a dust buster that's for sure.

My parents and I donate whenever we can to charities supporting a cure. I didn't think they would ever find a stem cell for lungs! And they did. Science is breaking boundaries on curing not only cystic fibrosis, but also other chronic diseases of the lungs. There are hundreds of people out there with CF, and they all suffer differently. Some are in the hospital daily, unable to even breathe without constant medical assistance. But it's not just lungs; it's pancreas, bone density, even fertility. We suffer until the day we pass - or until a cure is found. 

Some sufferers are, like me, diagnosed with what the medical community refer as “mild cases of CF.” Able to go outside, go to work, eat and sleep within their own place. We can try to live a normal life. Even if every day does feel like we're drowning, or worse, suffocating without any real way to stop it. I used to keep quiet on my illnesses - a constant fear people won't understand that I am unable to do many things. That fear of “I'll look weak,” or, “I'm not worthy of their time.” Some people are too busy to understand or just don't bother. They see someone like me and think I can work just fine. In reality, I can't walk up the stairs today without feeling like I just ran fifty miles. Recently I've been more vocal about the issue - letting people know about what happens to us both mentally and physically.   

Which is why people like Linda Huber, the Write Romantics and the book Winter Tales are important to the cause of finding a cure. Yes, they are just a small piece of the aid, but big things come in little packages. I won't see a cure for cystic fibrosis in my lifetime, but maybe with help from people like you, we can kick it's ass and get people affected by it to know what it's like to breathe normally, live normally. Until then, I'll continue to take several hundred pills and vitamins, fifty shades of puffers and inhaled medicine, and countless hours of waiting at the hospital, hooked into an IV, and confusing doctors from here to Timbuktu. But I wouldn't give up my illnesses even for a million dollars. It's a part of what made me who I am today. And normal, is not in my vocabulary.

Many thanks to Mrs. Turley, my dear friends and doctors for their constant good will and generosity. And many thanks to my parents who everyday sacrifice their happiness to help and support me through all of my pain. They're part of the reason I'm still here today. Keep smiling everyone!

 Derrick LoRusso

Currently just £0.97 on kindle in the UK and £5.41 in paperback.

For more on this subject please check out below links to two previous posts. And please check out Winter Tales on Amazon - even if it is not for you, please pass on the link to someone who may be interested. There are a lot of romanctic fiction lovers out there - let's find them!

 Linda Huber, author of The Paradise Trees and The Cold, Cold Sea, on why she contributed to Winter Tales.

My post on why I am supporting Linda and The Write Romantics  

I will be returning with my usual brand of silliness and an update on my self-publishing journey in the very near future.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Quest for Cures

Have you ever seen a child short of breath?

Have you ever been fearful your child might die?

I think every parent has, at sometime or another, had macabre thoughts. If you're lucky enough to have healthy children then those thoughts might only be fleeting but, if your child has a serious illness, you may have lain awake at night, tossing and turning, whilst your imagination takes you into the places that every parent fears. It's tough when your child is ill, no matter whether it's a cold or cancer, because for most of us, our children are the central pivot of our lives. Perhaps the love of parents and carers - is the greatest kind of love - love that is unselfish and bounteous.

My second son has a peanut allergy and asthma. Luckily, he is extremely fit and these days his asthma and peanut allergy make very limited appearances. He has only been treated for asthma in hospital once and, on one further occasion, for anaphylactic shock. On a day-to-day basis I have very little to worry about and, as the years have gone by, I have learnt to put my fears and his afflictions into perspective. In recent years there have also some been some extremely successful peanut allergy trials in the UK which mean that there is the very real possibility that in the near future a cure for peanut allergy will be widespread. For nut allergy sufferers the future is looking brighter almost daily.

For some parents though their fears never leave them. There is still a long, long way to go towards finding treatments and cures for many other illnesses and, of course, towards solving vast global problems such as drought and disease. In fact, there are so many demands on us from charities that sometimes it is overwhelming - especially when you know you only have a finite amount of time or money to help. Just where do you begin? Who do you support? Sometimes we can only follow what our heart tells us.

You know, I think there is a lot of truth in that old phrase "charity begins at home" because if we cannot feel compassion for those closest to us we are unlikely to learn how to extend it to others. Seeing our loved ones afflicted or dying from cancer or heart disease, or any number of other illnesses, is when we truly understand pain. Not just the sufferer's pain but the pain of loving them too. Adversity, loss, suffering make us appreciate what we have - and what others do not. 

Last week, I introduced Legend Press author Linda Huber and The Write Romantics and their anthology Winter Tales, a collection of romantic stories, which is being sold in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust. I decided to support them as not only do I have direct experience of cancer - my father died from it in 1999 - but earlier this year I met a young Canadian writer called Derrick on Twitter who is only a little bit older than my eldest son and who suffers from Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis and cancer. Despite Derrick's illnesses he's a lot of fun, has a sharp sense of humour and tries to see the best in life even when he's struggling to breathe. So, when I saw Linda's post about her contribution to Winter Tales, I knew instantly it was a venture I wanted to support. I hope you'll all support it too.

On Wednesday, Derrick will here on my blog telling us about his life and why support from people like Linda and The Write Romantics is crucial in the fight to cure debilitating and life-threatening illnesses like cancer and cystic fibrosis. After that, it will be back to the usual (silly) business! 

Currently £0.97p on kindle and £5.43 in paperback.
Winter Tales is a super little collection of stories ideal for any lady (or gent!) who likes to indulge in romantic fiction. There's a whole variety of love stories from the cosy and warm to the surprising and unexpected. The ebook is an absolute pittance at the moment at only 97p in the UK - which is less than a cup of tea or a weekly magazine. So, if you like romance or have a relative or friend who likes romance, please consider purchasing or sending a gift card and helping Derrick and others like him in their fight for survival.
  Thank you


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing For A Good Cause

Today, I am breaking away from the usual silliness on this blog to introduce you to Legend Press author, Linda Huber. A few months ago, Linda spontaneously bought and reviewed my novel and since then we have become Facebook friends. It was through one of those fleeting Facebook feeds, and quite by chance, that I noticed Linda was contributing to an upcoming charitable anthology. The two beneficial charities rang bells with me and I immediately decided I wanted to support Linda and her writing partners in their very worthwhile cause. Today, I'm leaving it to Linda to introduce the anthology but later in the week, as well as reviewing the anthology, I shall be telling you why supporting Linda's endeavours is personal to me. In the meantime, and with no further ado, here's Linda...

Hi everyone and first of all huge thanks to Jane for letting me loose on her blog this week… (brave woman). The bad news is she’s much funnier than me, but there’s good news too – I’m here to tell you about the PERFECT Christmas present for all those difficult mums and aunties. Yes, I know the dads and uncles are even trickier but as you won’t have to worry at ALL now about the female side of the family, you’ll have lots of extra time to plan for the men…

What is it, I hear you ask? It’s a book called Winter Tales; an anthology, to be exact. Full to bursting with light-hearted, romantic, humorous stories, and the best bit of all is that every penny made by this book goes straight to the Teenage Cancer Trust and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The project was organised by a group of romance writers called The Write Romantics. They wrote some of the stories, and for the others they drafted in people like me. (My usual genre’s suspense). I was really, really pleased to be part of this because as a physiotherapist I’ve worked with both cancer and CF patients. Cancer needs no introduction; Cystic Fibrosis is a horrible disease affecting mostly the lungs and the digestive system. It’s genetic, you have it from birth, and although it used to be a death sentence sufferers can now live well into adulthood –  though not a day goes by when they can forget their condition.

Winter Tales  stories to warm your heart, is currently £2.52 on Amazon  Kindle and £6.00 in paperback. In the US it is $3.95 on Kindle and $7.20 in paperback.
So Winter Tales is a nice, funny, romantic book supporting two excellent causes. And we like humour, don’t we, us Brits, even when we’re talking about something as serious as cancer. We’re famous for that. I live in Switzerland, and I get quite a lot of odd looks from people, followed by the careful question ‘Is that British humour?’ And usually it is. Mind you, my story in the anthology, ‘Something Blue’ (as in Something Old, Something New etc), was inspired by a wedding right here in Switzerland when the fire brigade played quite big part in proceedings…

I think too that a bit of humour doesn't go amiss even when you’re writing suspense. My new(ish) book The Cold Cold Sea is about every parent’s worst nightmare. But my cast of characters includes a school class of five-year-olds, and it’s these kids, who all have names – I was terrified we’d edit one of them out by mistake – who provide the light relief. Just by being nice funny little kids. A sense of humour can help us through many an unfunny situation.

"Disturbing and compelling" Hilary Johnson.
So there you have it. Winter Tales is available on Amazon in e-book and paperback, and buying a copy or two or three or forty will help two excellent causes. I’ll be getting a few myself – please join me!


               Please share this post and help support The Teenage Cancer Trust and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bargain Alert, Bargain Alert!

I have just got home from Morrisons petrol station where I saw such an absolute bargain at the checkout that I feel compelled to inform you of it, dear readers, so that you can rush out and get it for yourselves.

This was the wording I saw on display at the checkout:

Customers spending over £15.00 will receive a voucher for three minutes of FREE air.
Vouchers valid only on day of purchase. 

What the *uck? I am sorry to let that slip out - but I have never seen anything so ridiculous in all my life (except this blog of course). I mean, I appreciate the FREE air (no doubt factored into the £15.00) but I can only have it on the day of purchase? Is there a rush on air or what? Is it in short supply? Is Cameron going to start taxing it or what? I am gutted, absolutely gutted, I cannot pick up my FREE air tomorrow. I am going to complain to Morrisons about this - I spent £100 in the store and another £50 in the petrol station and I can only pick up my FREE air today? What sort of customer service is that?
"It doesn't matter that our car has broken down - if we keep pushing we can make it to Morrisons for our FREE air by midnight."
"I love you,Josh. I'm so glad you spotted that FREE air at Morrisons - now we can be together all day!"

In fact Morrisons have not just got it coming to them from me with the FREE air issue as I am also going to complain to them that their FREE air nearly got me killed. Unfortunately, after I saw that sign I couldn't stop laughing and I laughed all the way home - it is a miracle I didn't kill myself or someone else with my erratic driving. So I'm lodging a complaint with them for making me a danger to myself and to everyone else. 

Ahhhh ... look how happy this young couple are knowing they have got some FREE air. It will making saving up for their first child soooo much easier.
Well now it's time for me to go back to doing something constructive. I'm going to pump up my tyres on my driveway with my own FREE air and I shall, very generously, give my voucher for FREE air to my neighbour with the one leg.

"Quick - come over to Morrisons the air is FREE all day. I'm getting two  bursts!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reality is Dangerous

I know you all thought I was dead. But I still have a few years left in me. So says my taxidermist.

So what have I been doing?

I am not sure - but in the last week I forgot the dentists (again), broke down in Mr T's car and was stuck on the A5 for 3 hours in the dark with Master Jacob only wearing his tennis shorts, the central heating system failed, the school rang me for a second time to remind me about the forms that Master Ben has failed to hand in since September and I gained 1lb in weight despite having gone swimming six (yes SIX) times.

In addition the upstairs bathroom light only works after twenty pulls and the downstairs one blows all the fuses.

Just an ordinary week for Mrs T then.

The good news is the plumber has already come and fixed the central heating. The electrician is coming at 1am, the car is at the garage and I have started a diet.

Everything else is not resolved.

And that was just last week. You don't want to know about the preceding weeks.

Now, sadly, there has been a lot that I have wanted to talk about here on my blog in those missing weeks. Even sadder is that I now can't actually remember what those subjects were. And as a writer who has about 100 notebooks (but who doesn't write in any of them) that is shameful. Still, with any luck, it will all come back to me and there will be a whirlwind of activity on this blog.

Anyway, I have two things to mention.

Firstly, this coming Sunday, I am at the Indie Author Fair in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire where I will reading from my novel and pretending to be a bestselling author.

Anyone who splits on me will be knifed. That's not spits - but splits. Anyone who spits will feel the wrath of my tongue - and that is probably worse than a knife.

Secondly, my novel The Changing Room is available free as part of the Choosy Read and Review Programme - where I give you a free mobi file for Kindle and you give my book an honest and impartial review on Amazon or elsewhere. Now, in my opinion, that is a absolute fantastic bargain - my work of (dubious) genius in exchange for a couple of lines on Amazon. What could be better? Further, I am going to make a tempting offer - anyone who writes to The Guardian telling them they ought to review The Changing Room gets a pair of my old tights and a Christmas hat. It's an offer I know some of you won't be able to refuse. There is so much you can do with a pair of my old tights - hold up David Cameron for instance. I mean - who wouldn't love to see him on his knees begging for mercy whilst you pocketed his Rolex. I know I would.

Well that's it. Accept to say - I would welcome any notebooks for Christmas as I am trying to build a dam in the beaver compound at London Zoo and Mr Beaver has already complained that I am not collecting notebooks fast enough.

Don't be fooled by their cute looks - beavers can be bolshy little bastards.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I give in!

I give in.  I've been trying to hold off.  But I don't think I can hold back any longer. The excitement and intrigue is just too great.

All that gossip, scandal and name-calling.


Sometimes a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.

So, I just bought KP's autobiography in hardback. Cos there's no way I can wait till June 2015 for the paperback and I'm not paying £7.47 for the Kindle version.

I'm a hard woman to please, Kevin. So this had better be good for £9.00.

Yep so it seems even cricket players can be bitchy. It comes as no surprise to me.Two of my sons have played junior county cricket. The only difference is at junior level it's the ambitious parents you have to watch out for. I'm still reeling from the fourteen daggers in my back and the toxic berry juice at tea.

Great cover by the way. Kev. (Cough, cough.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Pen or The Finger?

I am in my kitchen making a cup of tea when I see an attractive man in his thirties approach my doorstep carrying a parcel. This doesn't happen very often. (That's the attractive man knocking on the door - the parcels come a lot. In fact, Amazon would probably go into receivership without my custom.)

I open my front door and take a closer look at my visitor. I decide he has modelled his appearance on George Clooney's semi-bearded look. This is pleasing to the eye but doesn't quite have the same impact as Gorgeous George is a six-footer and the delivery man is like Tom Cruise in stature. Somewhere six inches has gone missing.

Still, I'm not one to complain about six inches.

So I smile as he breaks into conversation.

"Would you mind taking in this parcel for your neighbour?"

"Sure." I reply.

The man hands over one of those electronic signature devices where I am supposed to sign for receipt of delivery. For a moment I am perplexed as there is no stylus or pen and I wonder how this device works and then (being super intelligent) I realize I am supposed to sign finger.

I raise my finger and strategically place it on the screen and attempt to sign my name.

Nothing happens.

I try again. Nothing happens. The screen is blank.

I am perplexed.

I raise my finger and study it. (Yes - I can't believe I did that either.)

What has happened to my finger? It's not working! Why is my magic finger not working? Have I lost my touch? Oh. My. God. My finger is broken!

 The deliver man sighs. "You're supposed to use your finger not your fingernail."


I  quickly sign my name with as much flourish as possible.

J a n e

The delivery man hands over the parcel.

"Bring back pens," I say and close the door.

Fingers. I like them and find them pretty handy. However, the next time someone
 asks me to sign something without a pen I know which finger I'll be using. And it won't be the one they're expecting.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Haiku Stink

Master Benedict: I need to find a three word poem, print it off and take it into school.

Mrs T: You mean, a three line poem. A haiku?

Master Benedict: Yes, that's right. A haiku.

Mrs T: Let's look on the net.

Mrs T pulls up some haiku websites

Mrs T: How about this one?

Master Benedict: It's crap.

Mrs T: Yes. How about this one then?

Master Benedict: That's crap too.

Mrs T: Hmm..yes it is. This one?

Master Benedict: No.

Mrs T: This one?

Master Benedict: No.

Mrs T: This one?

Master Benedict:They're all crap!

Mrs T: Umm..yes. Most haiku is crap.What about this one ?

Master Benedict: I suppose it will have to do.

Beans are kind to hearts. 
I like to eat them daily. 
And then do big farts!

Master Benedict: It's still crap.

Mrs T: Yes.

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