Friday, 15 February 2008


I did finish my second chapter today. I started work having no idea where I was going with it and suddenly it just flowed out of my, my fingers and onto the keyboard. I find that writing can be somewhat addictive. I just want to keep going. However, I do have other things to do and I am a little tired. Fatigue is not good for writing!

I managed the ironing, made muffins and a pot of minestrone soup. Then I walked up to work to run off chapters 1 and 2 and listened to Maria Callas singing Carmen as I went. A good day!

How depressing the news!

I woke up to the most depressing news this morning. I suppose it doesn't really matter what the news was. It seems to be like that every morning. And since I have no control over any of it, I sometimes wonder if it is even worth knowing about. And then there's the fact that much of the news is only news because the media decides to make it into news.

I've taken to listening to World Service news so that I can find out significant things that are happening in the world. The BBC local TV news is just a series of manufactured stories (4 out 10 11-year olds have taken part in binge drinking / 6 out 10 people who live in West Sussex, drink tea for breakfast.) So, this morning I decided to start the day with part of an episode of Northern Exposure. It's so funny. How much better to start the day with a laugh.

I can't help but wonder if we wouldn't all be better off if we didn't have our dose of news each day, especially not, when we are about to set off into the world in cars to make our way to work.

That's the end of my little rant. I have 3 days left of my break and I have to spend this morning waiting to see if the dentist has a cancellation. I lost half of one of my teeth on Wednesday evening. I have lots I can do, including work on my novel but it annoys me that I can't just do whatever I want. Maybe I'd like to walk into town, or go off to London. Ah well, off to do the ironing...

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Speed the Plow

I don't think that I mentioned that Cliff and I went to see a play starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum last weekend. The play was called 'Speed the Plow'. You might be interested in the review. Here is the link:,,2256041,00.html

If you are in the London area and can get a ticket, you should consider seeing it.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Food, Writing and the erotic

Of late, my favorite detective fiction writer is Donna Leon. Her detective lives in Venice and when he's not chasing criminals, he is eating the most wonderful meals cooked by his wife. And of course there are wines to go with these meals. Here is a quote from Suffer The Little Children:

Brunetti usually disliked eating the same thing for lunch and dinner, but the tuna steaks Paola had simmered in a sauce of capers, olives and tomatoes could hardly be said to have originated on the same planet as the tuna tramezzini he had eaten fro lunch. Tact and good sense prevented his making any reference to the latter, since comparison even with such paltry opposition might offend. He and his son Raffi shared the last piece of fish, and Brunetti spooned the remainder of the sauce on to his own second helping of rice.

"Dessert?" Chiara asked her mother, and Brunetti realized that he had managed to save space for something sweet.

"There's fig ice-cream," Paola said, filling Brunetti with a flush of anticipation....

Sensational it was, and after the four of them had managed to knock off an entire kilo, Brunetti and Paola repaired to the living room, each with a small glass of grappa, just what Brunett's Uncle Ludovico had always prescribed to counteract the effects of heavy meal.

I can't but wonder how it would be possible to do the same with a British detective. How could steak and kidney pie or a hamburger ever be as sensual as some of the dishes Brunetti describes. Moveover, he goes home for lunch! What detective does that! I love it!

I've been a bit preoccupied by the sensuality of food and drink in the last week. I'm not sure why. Reading another Donna Leon novel probably did it. So,when I went into a book shop yesterday looking for a book on Chinese cooking, I couldn't resist a book by Isabel Allende, Aphrodite: the love of food and the food of love.
This from the introduction:

The fiftieth year of our life is like
the last hour of dusk,
when the sun has set and one turns
naturally towards reflection.
In my case, however, dusk incites me to sin,
and perhaps for that reason,
in my fiftieth year I find myself reflecting
on my relationship
with food and eroticism: the weaknesses
of the flesh that most tempt
me are not, alas,
those I have practiced most.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Just a coincidence, I must add.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Start of the Week

In my journal and to a lesser degree, here on the blog, I have been examining the idea that writing helps you to explore your thoughts and feelings and that by doing so, we may have a better understanding of ourselves. This morning I had the opportunity to listen to Andrew Marr's programme, Start of the Week on Radio 4. One of the contributors has written a book on the history of women and mental illness. She put forward the same idea. In particular she looked at women writers who had also suffered from mental illness or periods of depression. Below is the description from the website of her research and book:

From Mary Lamb who, in the throes of a breakdown, turned on her mother with a knife, to the depression suffered by Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, women have played a vital role in the history of how we understand madness and its treatment. Novelist and broadcaster LISA APPIGNANESI charts how female patients - and doctors - have contributed to the medicine of the mind and how mental illnesses mirror the malaise of each era. Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present is published by Virago.

If you are interested in hearing this programme, you can go to:

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Isn't spring wonderful!

In truth I suppose it is really late winter here. However, a day like today makes you think of spring!

Friday, 8 February 2008

The holidays begin!

I've just checked my site monitor and discovered that people are still visiting. I feel bady that I haven't written in over a month. Instead I have been writing in a journal and have started on a novel. Some of you are aware that I started a murder mystery at the same time that I started my chemotherapy last year. One of the side effects of chemo for me was increased brain activity at bed time. Also in the first few days after chemo, I had a spurt of energy...if that's what it can be called. I was physically tired but still buzzing. Hence, Evie, my murder mystery heroine was born. I stopped around the Christmas holidays and haven't done much more with her. She's stuck in Marrakesh on holiday with her parents. A nice place to be stuck but the potential for family discord is great after so long.

However, a week ago, realizing that I was bored, I started to write again. This time, it's more of a romance. What's more, it seems to be doing better than Evie. The first novel was done as a blog and I think that the format restricted its growth. This one is not and I'm writing it in the third person so there is greater scope to develop the story. (At least for me there is.)

Someone asked me if I had planned it all out before I started. No, I didn't. I came up with an opening sentence and it grew from there. It seems to be evolving organically. I wonder if this will work? Morris West said that he could never start a novel till he had the first sentence.

I have written the first chapter (around 5000 words) and intend to write at least 10,000 during the half term break. I want to finish before the summer holidays so that Emma and I can work on our future 'cult novel' with the working title: Slugs.