Thursday, October 14, 2021

Birdsong to Wokesong

Many years ago, I read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. It's a terrific, emotive book that now sits on school syllabuses alongside other past literary masterpieces. If you've not read it then you've missed out.




Anyhow, a few years later, whilst at The Cheltenham Literary Festival (a very prominent cultural affair in the UK), I happened to see Sebastian Faulks close up. I was climbing the stairs to take my seat early for his forthcoming talk, and to my surprise, I saw him seated in a room off the stairwell. He glanced up, and we looked at each other for a moment, and then I carried on walking up the stairs. I suspect he was wondering if I recognised him and whether I was going to solicit his attention for an autograph. Awkward. In fact, I was actually thinking, "He looks strangely attractive for a guy with red curly hair."  (I'd been binge drinking the night before.)

Now, if I had been thinking more strategically, I could have offered my "services" for a leg up in the literary world or (if I had been feeling particularly demonic) I could have offered to proofread his forthcoming novel for free and send his career into literary freefall. 

Anyway, it was a disappointment to read HERE in The Daily Mail that Sebastian said at this year's Lit Fest he had stopped describing women in his writing and that he felt liberated by it. Apparently, a female academic at a previous festival in 2018 had challenged his "right" to write about women. Subsequently, Sebastian reviewed his position.

So basically, Sebastian caved into some woke woman who wanted to silence one of the greatest living writers of our times because she's offended.  So no more descriptions of women by Sebastian. Humph. How miserable and boring! Personally, I found some of his descriptions jolly amusing. 

It must be bloody miserable to be a white middle-class man at the moment. So miserable that one of our greatest authors can't even raise his pen above the parapet to describe a woman in a work of fiction without some woke extremist getting her bloomers in a twist. 

It seems to me that lately, the issue of gender identity is growing like an uncontrollable cancer. It appears it is rapidly becoming a breeding ground of intolerance that is adversely affecting the arts and the areas of academia that seek to debate and nurture critical thinking.

Where does this repression end?  

It ends with a very few dictating our thoughts and actions. A minority dictating to a majority who fear repercussions. People afraid to laugh. People afraid to speak. People afraid to even whisper.

Hmm. Sounds rather like fascism to me. 

Surely it's imperative in a free, democratic, society that the voices of artists, writers, musicians, free-thinking academics and philosophers are allowed to speak openly. To debate. It is also vital, in my opinion, that successful ones like Sebastian stand up and be counted. Sebastian might well feel liberated - but somehow I suspect that is the liberation that comes with knowing he's not going to be verbally stoned and have his books burnt rather than the liberation of not writing descriptions of women.

Enough said. Now I'm off to write my upcoming novel. It's going to be a novel about a white middle-class woman who falls in love with a white middle-class male author who unfortunately turns out to have no balls. (Not sure if a lack of balls counts as a disability and whether I'm on dangerous ground.) Anyhow, I'm struggling to describe the absence of balls as obviously I don't have any. Of course, I could use my imagination, but let's just say when it comes to balls, I prefer tennis balls anyway - they're not as hairy and you can't choke on them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

And so I return...

The lights have been out on this blog for over a year, but now, at last, I return. I do so to remember what creative writing is like and unlock the key to my imagination. Where else better to do that than here, where my journey began 14 years ago.


So, with a glass of gin in hand, let me begin.


So first, there are two subjects to cover. Although I shall probably only cover them briefly here, it is almost impossible not to mention them. They are Covid 19 and my divorce. No doubt I will return to them again in due course.


Fortunately, my immediate and extended family and I have been unaffected by Covid except in small, recoverable doses. But, regrettably, a number of my friends and acquaintances have lost relatives, and my former brother-in-law was hospitalised in intensive care. So, if you have lost relatives or perhaps are now suffering long covid, I offer you my sincerest condolences.


Secondly, on August 27th this year, I finally received my Decree Absolute. Almost 5 years since my separation. And now - sit back - my legal fees were a staggering £55,000. That's around $74,000. Those costs came out of my divorce settlement, which I had to fight for until almost the bitter end. It is a ridiculous amount of money to spend over a relatively tiny pot of cash, but when one party fails to cooperate, if you want a vaguely fair resolution, then you have to fight for it. 


I have learnt quite a lot about family law, especially how it fails to protect the weaker party, and I am not impressed. I will be elaborating on this at a future date. It's possible I may get some of my costs back as I have an ongoing case being investigated by the Legal Ombudsmen for negligence against my first legal team. Their mishandling of my papers meant I had to secure other legal representation, which proved vastly more expensive. However, ultimately, those extraordinary costs were incurred because my former husband did not want to give me a fair settlement and consistently delayed proceedings by not producing his paperwork so that my solicitor had to undertake more work in pursuit of them.


I would say he adopted the same attitude to the divorce proceedings as he did throughout our marriage on any matter of importance, and that is a total unwillingness to discuss any topic of significance. Ultimately, he has stripped me of the ability to give our sons the support I could have done. As the mother of his children, he should have known that I would always put our sons' wellbeing before my own, but the fact he didn't even want to give me a fair settlement speaks volumes of just how little he cared for me but for our sons too. In the end, he couldn't rise above his own disinterest and bitterness to do the right thing.


I have not talked about my divorce at length in the past for fear of upsetting my children, but they are all adults now, and they have not only been a witness to my trials they too have first-hand experience of the hardship and financial struggles we have endured these last 5 years. My youngest son especially has suffered far too much, which simultaneously makes me extraordinarily sad and enrages me. He was a staggeringly good tennis player with national titles, but through lack of finances, I was unable to salvage his tennis career. His academics were seriously affected, and last year he was diagnosed with a rare illness called erythromelalgia.


Through a financial contribution from my brother-in-law, I was able to salvage his elder brother's tennis career. Subsequently, because of his tennis achievement in the US college league, where he became a top 10 NAIA player, reached the nationals and achieved All American status, he is now studying for an MBA in the US on a full scholarship. I often wonder how my younger son must feel knowing he was the better player. I can say that too without offending his brother, who would often say that his younger brother was more talented. Luckily, all I can say is that my youngest son was born with my sense of humour and he is very resilient. I am pretty sure the majority of children would not have taken so many kicks in the teeth as well. I am more proud of him and my other sons now than I have ever been.


So, at this point in time, I have moved way up North in the UK and have bought a cheap nondescript terrace where I can live with minimal costs. I am currently not working in a conventional 9-5 sense as my health is shot to pieces, and it is now time to look after myself. 


So, where do I go from here? Is there any laughter left in the former Mrs T?


Well yes!


Luckily my sense of humour has never totally deserted me, but it has been very hard at times to find it when the odds have been against me. However, to fully unlock the key to my comedy writing, I have signed up for a brand new MA course. It's the only one of its kind in the UK. It is being run by a well-known comedy producer with all the right connections to get me up and running again. So, I need to start writing. I need to break through the barrier of silence, and this is why I have returned now to The Witty Ways of a Wayward Woman.  


So I have a vast amount to talk about. I have missed commentating on so much these last five years: Brexit, Trump, Johnson, Covid 19, the rise of wokeism (ugh)...even tiny Tom Cruise and Kim Kardashian's arse! 


But of course, my experiences mean I also have a lot to say about other matters, especially feminism, the legal system, ageism, women's careers, sexism and so on.


So I have plenty to say. Yes indeed. And in my own particular style. 


So join me here on The Witty Ways of a Wayward Woman as finally I move forward and unleash, once more, my verbal assaults upon the world!









Friday, January 15, 2021

Ebook of Fantasia is Free on Kindle

My short story Fantasia is free to download as an ebook on Kindle for five days. Please feel free to share with friends and anyone who might be interested. It's already gone to no 1 in the free children's environment with just a few downloads. It would be lovely to see it there a little longer. Any reviews would be most welcome!




Friday, November 20, 2020

Bad Poetry 2: A Tale of Terrible Misfortune

 There was a buffoon called Johnson

Who thought he was Charles Bronson

But he fucked-up Brexit

So attempted to exit

Dressed as a woman in Labour

 

Unfortunately for Boris

No one was fooled by “Doris”

So he pulled out a gun

Broke into a run

But was caught in the commons by Keir Starmer

 

“But… but…. but, Boris stuttered

“Brexit is oven-ready. And buttered!”

“Don’t give me that clap-trap,

You’re just a tabloid hack

And as thick as a brain-dead lama”

 

As Boris started to weep and plead

Keir pulled out a writ and began to read

“I don’t need no fancy prose

Let’s pelt him with tomatoes

And leave him for the Tories to dismember!”

 

But out of the throng rushed Dom

Fresh from his castle with aplomb

“I’ll save the day,” he said

His face a beetroot red

“We will never give up or surrender!”

 

“Not you again, Dominic

You’re a number one prick!”

Said Keir as he summoned the judge

“We’re done with this fudge.

And you and your visionless glasses.”

 

Then out of the chambers came Her Majesty

To sort out the political travesty

“It is time for the tower

On your knees and cower

You’re a pair of unwholesome arses!”

 

Down went her thumb

As a guard beat the drum

And Boris and Dom were hauled away

“Let’s do this in style,” said the Queen with a smile

“Take the offenders and whip them in my blenders!”

 

So this is the end of this sorry tale

Where justice did rightly prevail

There is some last advice

 Which I hope will suffice

To ensure this will never repeat

 

Never, ever, piss off our Queen

She’s old, stubborn and very mean.

And when she is moody

She will mix a smoothie

Made from kale and her secret cream.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What's in a name?

It is more than likely I will change my name in the very near future which will no doubt please my husband and his family.

However, I will be probably be keeping Turley as a pseudonym for my comedy writing since I've been writing under it for over a decade. So, I am afraid my ex is just going to have live with the potential of my embarrassing him.

Oh dear. What a pity!  

Initially, I plan to use my new name in my private life only, but it's possible I might use it for my planned crime writing. It depends on how I feel at the time.

Of course, I have thought about reverting to my maiden name or another family name which makes complete sense. However, I quite fancy to revert to total anonymity for at least a brief period. 

One of my sons has suggested Jane Bond. 

Which rather appeals. For obvious reasons. Luckily, I can still laugh at myself. I can only thank God and my family genes for blessing me with a sense of humour. 

Anyway, I am not sure if Jane Bond is the name but it would certainly fit on the front cover of a book well and I am looking for a name that has a "ring" to it.

If you have any suggestions please do drop me a line or leave a comment. Give it your best shot. I am open to all wild suggestions!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Three Glasses of Wine leads to Bad Poetry

Yes, I have had three glasses of wine as I am off work for a few days as I am self-isolating prior to a minor medical procedure. I am, therefore, feeling a little ribald. So, I decided to write a poem.  

Now, before some of my lovely American readers go apeshit, please remember this a comedy blog (even if it has been slightly lacking in humour for a while.) As a consequence, the poem is in my usual eloquent style which required some deep thought for all of 5 minutes. 

Here we go:


There was an old man called Trump

Who had a particularly small lump

For a brain

He lost an election

Got a floppy erection

And was never seen or heard of

Again.


Quality stuff - although the last line is probably rather optimistic. Let's face it who doesn't want to see more of Mr Trump. He is pure comedy gold as is our own Mr Johnson. 

Let's see what I can manage tomorrow night after a few drinks. Nominated subject matters welcomed. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Talking About Faces

A few months ago I was generously given a phone as mine kept dying on me and the battery was one of those irreplaceable ones.

I duly set-up facial recognition in addition to a password.

Unfortunately, since then it has only recognised my face... maybe once.

I can't decide whether on the day I set it up I was looking astonishing gorgeous or completely hideous... or perhaps like a female version of Boris Johnson.

I think Boris and I have a lot in common at the moment. He looks completely shagged-out running the country during the pandemic and the Brexit crisis; I looked completely shagged-out through the stress of my elongated divorce. We both look our ages of 55. I used to look ten years younger but lately, I am looking battered.

The only real differences between us are that  Boris has a 32-year-old girlfriend, a top job and a stack of cash whereas I have two cats, a tea cosy and haemorrhoids.

It's a man's world.









Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Boot in the Face

On Wednesday I had a meeting with my solicitor, a pensions actuary and my husband's barrister. I had been told to expect my husband and his solicitor in the virtual meeting room.

 (Yes, that's right. Over 4 years since my separation I still don't have a Decree Absolute and still no financial settlement. Consequently, life is very difficult for myself and my sons.)

The meeting was scheduled for 12pm to suit my husband's requirements. However, he didn't turn up and no apologies were made. Instead, he sent his barrister rather than his solicitor.

Of course, the reason my husband didn't turn up is that he is too afraid to face me himself. Too afraid I will call him out in front of other professionals. 

Anyway, during the course of the meeting, my husband's barrister treated me like he was at court hearing. Trying to qualify everything I said in a condescending manner ("I think what Mrs Turley is trying to say is...") and, at one point, when I said that the report needed greater clarity so that a layman could understand it, he said he'd never heard of the word "layman".

I assume the point of this rather pathetic act was to try and make me feel foolish and undermine my confidence. Of course, I knew the word existed and that I had used it in exactly the right context. So, I just raised my eyebrows to express my disbelief that the barrister didn't (apparently) know such a word.

The barrister's condescending manner continued. By the end of the meeting, I was tearful and could hardly speak.

Ever since an image has been replaying over and over in my mind. It is the image that accompanies the words below of George Orwell in 1984:

 “There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget this, Winston— always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever. ” 

 I think it is time to rewrite that quote:

 “There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget women of this world, men will always be intoxicated by power. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on a woman who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a man's boot stamping on a woman's face— forever. ” 

That readers is the sad truth. The physical strength of men has made them kings, rulers and politicians throughout history. Women all over the world are subjugated by men. Their genitals are mutilated, they are assaulted, raped and murdered to satisfy the lust and greed of men. Women are second class citizens ruled by men and their egos.

I am tired of being the understanding, empathetic wife doing the "right thing" and conforming to my Catholic upbringing and traditional values.

I am a very patient person. But on Wednesday something finally snapped. I am done with being a patient, empathetic woman. I am not going to be bullied by my husband or his barrister. I don't care if I walk away with nothing from my marriage because I will have the love of my children and I will still have my voice.

No one is going to stamp on my face anymore.

And I will use my voice to its best effect.







Friday, April 10, 2020

E is for (Non ) Erotic

Apparently, many people are more aware of their dreams at the moment because they are resting and sleeping more.  Some dreams appear to be related to the pandemic in that they feature, perhaps obscurely, death, fear and isolation. Others are less obvious and related to parts of our lives we are missing during the pandemic - like food for example.

This makes complete sense. However, I am someone who generally doesn't sleep that well but I do occasionally have quite vivid, obscure and often frightening dreams. Sometimes I experience sleep paralysis.

Last night, I had an entirely different dream. I rarely dream about people in the public eye. The last one was Hugh Grant. (Hey ho.) But last night I dreamt about Boris Johnson, our PM, currently laid up in hospital with Coronavirus.

Basically, I dreamt I was having sex with Boris. I have no idea what this means (other than I am probably very, very desperate for sex.) However, I am somewhat relieved Boris is making a recovery. It would have been awful if his condition had continued to worsen. I would have felt guilty somehow - killed by my enthusiasm for sex!

On balance, I suppose because Boris has been mentioned in the news 24 hours a day for weeks perhaps it's not surprising. We are also the same age so I suppose somehow I was willing him to live as a reflection of my own life and mortality.

Still, sex with Boris? I don't even fancy him! I think I need to see a psychiatrist. LOL.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

D is for Dressed for Kill

We have an expression in the UK "dressed to kill" which is an expression for basically making the most of your appearance and trying to look as attractive as possible.

Now when you reach my grand old age of 55, dressing to kill takes some skill. It's also preferable to have a large glass of gin before you look in the mirror. Because you look a lot better when your vision is blurred. You can also try and kid yourself you're only 39. I have been telling my boys I am 39 for years. I don't think they believe me any more. Well, not since the tooth fairy quit.

Now, even though I'm past my prime, when I go to work, I attempt to look as smart as possible with clean, pressed clothes and fresh make-up. I find a trowel is excellent for putting on my foundation and a kids' washable thick felt-tip pen great for eyeliner. (If you've not got one of those try a permanent marker and save yourself a daily chore. I also recommend a mirror which at least X20 magnification, especially if you wear glasses otherwise you'll look like Coco the Clown.)

So anyway, in this time of lockdown, when there is not much to be happy about not having to put my make-up on and iron a mountain of clothes for my boys is one small benefit. Yay! My utility room no longer looks like a laundrette hit by a freight train. In fact, the only clothes I iron are the ones I wear for the two nights week I work in a supermarket.

Yes, I am working in a supermarket. It's a bit of risk when there's pandemic on, but where needs must. We'll talk about that another day.

Anyway, on other days when I am home, I'm generally looking like a total scruff. I am not sure if my elderly neighbours are more afraid of the pandemic or the unrecognizable women walking up and down the street looking like a cross between Worzel Gummidge, the scarecrow, and a potential murderer.

But hey it's great. I can wear the same trousers for days! And (cough, cough) I think I've worn some knickers for two days running. My mother did always tell me to wear clean knickers every day in case I got run over by a bus but there are no buses running around here so I've no worries now. Hurrah!

Well not unless I get Covid 19, in which case it won't just be me who needs a ventilator.

 *********



Stay safe, everyone. And God bless all our wonderful medical staff all over the world.







Birdsong to Wokesong

Many years ago, I read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. It's a terrific, emotive book that now sits on school syllabuses alongside other p...