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!

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...