Taking Time Out for Christmas

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Christmas! Here we go again… Festive feeding and shopping frenzies, panic, pressure and posting deadlines. Sound familiar? Well, this year, after 45 years of catering  I am taking time out. Now, I am not saying I  resent the ghosts of Christmas’s past. In fact I treasure them. I have loved them all – well most of them. But last year was extremely stressful. Various health issues squeezed the energy from me, like a suffocating avalanche. Of course in time the snow melted, the weight lifted, I survived. But the panic, the inability to function efficiently, my loss of control scared me.

So, this year I am taking a break. there will be no turkey, no pud, no beds to make up and strip down, no mountains of towels and table linen to launder. Gone are the endless lists for shopping, cooking times, presents, deliveries and long queues at supermarkets. The sleepless nights worrying if I have bought enough, bought too much, cooked enough, made enough lists and worried enough are no more.

The next thing to do was inform the family. Instantly I suffered from feelings of selfishness. Guilt swept over me. I floundered in a whole new sea of stress. It took time to  convince myself  that I am not super woman, that  I am not indispensable. Suddenly, having recognised my own frailty, it all made perfect sense. Taking a year out is no big deal. The earth would not stop turning because I was trying something different.  

So, here I am. Two weeks to go. The cards have been sent. The tree twinkles in the corner. The champagne is cooling in the fridge. It is the season of peace and goodwill.Now I am looking forward to some “quality time” with my husband, without all the constant nagging, exploding, sobbing and ranting. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My contribution to this world is tiny, but it counts. 2016 has been an ugly year. Our world is suffering as never before. Vicious, bloody wars are being fought for obscure reasons. Innocent lives are destroyed and lost every minute. Hunger and homelessness is more endemic now than ever before. The gulf between the haves and the have-nots increases daily. Fear and anger are rife. We are still destroying our planet and wiping out its inhabitants species by species. That blessed host of angels are probably still heralding peace and goodwill, but they will never be heard above all the chaos. When I was a teacher I used to tell my class that  “We are all responsible for our own noise”. Nothing has changed.

POST SCRIPT

As this year draws to a close, I shall take time to think. In the quiet I shall reflect. I need the goodwill to resolve to heal my own life. Maybe you too can take some time for yourself. Time to appreciate the good things we have with time to share them. Time to give willingly and profitably so that we can build a better place for those who share this fragile space with us.Then, by acting together, we may just effect that much needed change.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Peaceful, Loving  2017.

jennifer xx

The Great Void

After publishing a book there is a great void. The launch has gone well, everyone seems to love the new work, all is set for a successful run… then it all grinds to a halt.  I hand out copies, use every opportunity to boost sales, take out expensive promotions on line and get a posting as book of the day. All to no avail.

Okay, my books are not great literature. They are not going to set the world alight. They do not reveal the mysteries of the universe.  But, they are good stories, written well, produced beautifully and better that much that is already out there. So what’s the problem? Are there too many books out there? NO. More people are reading than ever before. Books are more available than ever before. They can be acquired much cheaper than ever before in history – even with the decline of Public Libraries. Could it be a matter of luck? Maybe. If so I can only hope the good book fairy will take pity and smile on me. Until she does, I’ll just keep scribbling in the hope that someone gets some enjoyment from what I write.

 

BOOK LAUNCH

The launch for Jennifer Button’s latest book, Rose Remembered will be held at Waterstones, Fremlin Walk , Maidstone, on Thursday March 30th at 5.30pm. If you have never been to a book launch now is your chance. You will meet the author, enjoy a free glass of wine, and meet other readers, all in the comfort of your local book store. Please come along if you can, it would be lovely to meet you.

New Book. Rose Remembered … at long last…

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ROSE REMEMBERED

One of the most beautifully crafted, moving stories I have read in many years. Rose is a character that will live with the reader long after the book is finished. “

                                                                           Cherry Mosteshar – The Oxford Editors

My long promised book is OUT! After a short technical hitch, both infuriating and inconvenient, I have access to my website once more. At last I can let you know what’s what, especially  regarding my latest book… After two years of hard slog, writing, rewriting, sleepless nights and fraught days, ROSE REMEMBERED is now single-cover-rravailable as a paperback. (via  Amazon link)  This is my best book to date. I love the cover, and am very pleased with the way the plot developed. (It still amazes me when my characters begin to dictate the story-line, pushing and pulling me – often kicking and screaming – until they get their own way.) Rose  certainly knew where her story was going. I listened to her and recorded her life from her birth, in a rat ridden basement in Angel Road, Hackney,1905, until her her death… but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens in between.

Exploring Rose’s life, getting to know her and the people she encountered along the way, proved to be  more intriguing than I could have dreamed when I began the journey.  I hope you  enjoy her story. If you liked Harriet ( THE HAUNTING OF HARRIET)  you will love Rose. She is just as feisty, forthright and flawed, yet equally as vulnerable.Having lived with her, argued with her, even battled with her for two years she got under my skin until I feel I know, understand  and adore her. But, you must make your own minds up. Be sure to let me know what you think.

The book will eventually be available in kindle and an audio version should be out by the New Year… sooner if all goes to plan. Meanwhile, it’s only a tenner and remember a book wraps so easily it makes the perfect Christmas present!

Love, and best wishes,

Jennifer.

 

A LITTLE TASTER … a preview of A FAR BETTER THING

I have  finished the final draft of my book! I have been writing everyday for the past two years, often for as many as six hours a day, and now I don’t know what to do with myself. I am a past master at wandering off course and having a little chat, so to keep the plot moving without deviation, hesitation or repetition, requires a great deal of concentration, discipline and hard work. Developing characters, remembering who’s who, changing names, venues, sticking to an accurate time line, moving paragraphs and chapters around and remembering where you have put them, is  mind-boggling. I am not complaining – far from it – I love writing, I love the challenge of keeping all the plates spinning, but now I have stopped I feel bereaved.

I shall leave the manuscript alone for a week or two now – we’re actually having a short holiday, then I’ll read it through yet again. If I am happy with it it’s off to the proof-readers, amend the text accordingly, format it and get it printed. This had been a long gestation,

The title has changed more times than I can recall, ROSE REMEMBERED, ROSE’S WAR, FOUR MILES FROM PARADISE, THE NINE LIVES OF ROSE, but now it is finished I am sure A FAR BETTER THING is the one. It is appropriate, intriguing and familiar enough to stick in the mind. So, to whet your appetites, I am posting the beginning here and now, It has not yet been proofread, so please be forgiving if there are typos etc. I will welcome your comments, which you can write on my face-book page – JB books and Things. I really hope you enjoy it and, most importantly, want to read more. If it proves popular I shall post the next installment,,,so let me know.

I am now off to find something to do…sleeping is very tempting.

This book is published by

Unicorn Publishing

This book is sold subject to the conditions that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the author’s or publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding, or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

ISBN 978-1-62951-263-1

A FAR BETTER THING   by   Jennifer Button

CHAPTER 1

Dawn stretched, yawned then stretched again. The daily battle to push back the night was both tedious and hard. Her light was too weak to count as daylight. It lay like another layer of litter on the un-swept cobbles., Ignoring the mangy dog, that rubbed its back monotonously against the railings of number twenty, she crept past the rat-run separating twenty-two and twenty-four, paused briefly on the top of the steps down to number twenty-six. Then, without hesitation, or regret, crossed to the pavement on the opposite side. It would be mid-day before any light touched the odd numbers, and those unfortunate enough to live in the basements, either odd or even, would never witness it. Such was the splendour of dawn. This was Paradise Road, Hackney. The year 1905.

Despite the repetitive, inauspiciousness of each day, down stone steps, in the basement of number twenty-nine, on June 28th a miracle was taking place. A baby, its head no larger than the halo of light around the solitary candle, was entering a world it had not chosen and in which it was not welcome.

The baby ─ breached, turned, yet, still alive ─ arrived fists first. It had beaten the odds. Bloodied and exhausted it screamed with such ferocity, its untested lungs should have burst. This baby was angry, seething with a precocious sense of injustice. It seemed to know that the poverty and squalor of its surroundings made it was one of life’s unfortunates. Its mouth was wide, with a pink, wet tongue which waggled frantically, as it gulped in the fetid air, searching for words it had yet to learn. Frustrated at having no other means of expressing its disgust, the baby bellowed and hollered, exerting such force, it blew the only candle out.

“Bleedin’ night births, more trouble than they’re bleedin’ worth.” The midwife cursed, as her knuckles rubbed her aching back. It had been a long night. Fumbling and swearing, she stubbed her toe on the table leg, found a spill, lit it from the ashes in the stove and relit the wax stub. Ma Thompson didn’t like night births. They took too long. She didn’t like this baby. It was also too long. Ma preferred short babies. They popped out easily, like shelling peas. Or else they died quietly and quickly. It was different when they were long, different again when they came breached. Ma had been a short baby. She was still short, barely four-foot three. She was also was fat ─ although no one dared to say so, to her face. However, Ma’s rotundity had not equipped her with a jovial nature. Moaning came naturally to her. In fact, it could be said, if one dared, that Ma had a miserable disposition. This, and the fact that both hard work and babies were anathema to her, rendered her totally unsuited to her profession as midwife. On this particular night, she had been tested to the limit, on all counts.

The candle guttered back to life to reveal Ma holding the screaming wretch at arm’s length. The infant hung stiffly, gripped too tightly by its bony ankles. Ma relaxed her grip and the child began to writhe, like a daddy longlegs prepared to sacrifice a few limbs to gain its freedom. The midwife raised her square hand and brought it down on the shrivelled, red backside. It was an act of sheer spite, as the baby had been screaming angrily for a good five minutes, and was obviously very much alive.

“If this ain’t the ugliest creature I’ve ever ‘ad the misfortune to deliver, I’ll eat me knickers.” Such an observation might well have been true, but it was unnecessarily cruel, as Ma had brought more wretched children into the world than she had downed gins. The exhausted mother cradled her new-born, with Ma’s words ringing in her ears. She handed over a shilling and watched Ma gather her things and leave. With her thick plaid shawl pulled tight, Ma waddled up the steps, crossed the cobbles, and stepped into the burgeoning light. In a little while her spiteful words would be echoing through the pubs and dens of Hackney. They would be repeated and repeated, until the sun retreated from the cobbles, as Ma, having completed her circuit, propped up the bar of the Cock Inn, on the corner of Paradise Road.

The Cock, a weather-beaten, timber-framed public house, had clung to the north side of Paradise Road for four centuries. Rumour had it that Ma had seen them all. She was certainly as weather-beaten, and made of similarly sturdy stuff. The locals were well aware that Ma had spent the night battling in the dark, damp basement, delivering the Grubbs’ firstborn, while the father, Thomas Grubb, was in the Brewers Arms, downing yet another pint.

By ten o’clock, after a full day imbibing, Ma was merrily enjoying centre stage at the Cock, when her performance came to an abrupt halt. A voice, like the voice of God, sounded from the far corner of the bar.

“Well, that’s anuvver little bleeder doomed to die.”

The words cut through the hubbub and smoke, like the sword of St Michael. They slashed the smoky shadows, cobwebs and myths which obscured the dark inglenook, where Bugle Bob held court. Bob was by far the oldest resident of Hackney, possibly the whole of London. His armchair, stuffed with the hair of dead horses and living mice, was wedged between the hearth and the unlit fire. Beside it, snuffling, and smelling no sweeter than the chair, lay a fat, red-eyed bulldog, called Wellington. Like those of his master, the dog’s bloodshot eyes had seen it all, so now he seldom opened them, preferring to sleep out the few remaining days of his overlong life.

His master’s head nodded, not necessarily in agreement with his own pronouncement, but because he had little control over it. The head nodded continuously, as did the battered cap, which balanced miraculously on the slippery, bald surface of his head. With each dip it flapped and bounced, bouncing and flapping again with each rise. Having gathered momentum the cap continued to nod long after each word had turned to vapour. Bob’s fingers were gnarled and distorted from life and arthritis. They strummed a steady beat against an equally misshapen tankard. Like Bob, this pewter jug had seen better days, plus a good many that had been far worse. It was reputed that, in his youth, Bob had blown a bugle at Waterloo, but such glory days were long gone. Bob seldom if ever spoke of them. In fact he seldom if ever spoke.

The old man raised his draught of porter to a toothless gap, where once plump, rosy lips had blown the call to charge. The sweet, dark liquid pumped down his throat in quick gulps, while some escaped to stiffened his beer-soaked muffler. Triumphantly he slammed the empty tankard down. A loud belch, thick with the stench of halitosis and ale, permeated the air. Undoubtedly, this brief utterance had been Bob’s longest speech within living memory. In consequence a cheer rose from the company, acknowledging they had witnessed an event as historic as the glorious battle itself.

The pewter tankard was refilled many times that night. Smacking of shrivelled gums and the occasional belch assured the audience that Bugle Bob had washed his hands of the infant’s fate. The stage was free again for Ma Thompson. With a courteous nod to the old soldier, she continued.

“I’m telling yer, the miserable little blighter loosed such an ungodly ’oller me blood fair froze and I very near dropped it. That yell was so ’orrible it carried clear ’cross the street to rise up over these very chimneys.”

Her stumpy finger pointed skyward, the view thwarted by the blackened beam that ran between nicotine-painted plaster. All eyes looked up hoping to catch the vapour trail of a cry, as it floated over Hackney’s roofscape.

“Y’ought to ’ave ’eard it! Gawd, it rose ’igher than the turrets of the bleedin’ workhouse, curled twice roun’ St John’s holy spire an’ vanished in the foggin’ mist wot ’angs over the Marshes.” Ma’s round body shook, from her feather-trimmed black bonnet to her over-stuffed boots, as she forced herself to relive the awful memory.

A gory description of the birth followed, told with such comic detail that Mrs Crumble fell off her stool ─ although not a drop of her precious port and lemon was spilt. While Mr Partridge, the po-faced butcher from Birdcage Street ─ renowned for keeping a finger on the scales while weighing out a pound of scrag ─ pissed himself. Encouraged by this effusive response, Ma continued with her vicious impersonation of the unfortunate child. Her face contorted into a hideous gurney. Multiple chins wobbled, hawkish eyes disappeared in folds of wrinkled flesh. In her excitement she mimicked the clenched fists, and squeezed her glass so hard it shattered and had to be replaced, refilled of course by the landlord.

The landlord of The Cock was a triangular man, from the width of his broad titanic shoulders to his small, nimble feet. He was known throughout Hackney as The Bodger, a name he had earned during his days in the bare knuckle ring. As a landlord, he knew that nothing kept his till ringing more than a tale well told, and Ma’s performance tonight was worthy of the Hackney Empire itself. The laughter and the liquor flowed freely, until eventually, just before another dawn arrived, he rang the bell and the curtain descended on the night’s proceedings. His takings were well up and he was delighted to have made such a good return on so small an investment.

PAPER-BAG DAYS

Having started the year 2016 feeling poorly – coughing non-stop, lacking in energy and bordering on clinical depression – I should prefer to delay the onset of the next year until a later date. However, being a good little soldier, I shall rise to the occasion, update my face-book page and write a blog. Forgive me, however, if I return to the subject of depression…it is not very festive, or uplifting, but this time of year is particularly hard for all of us who battle with this pernicious, vicious foe.

I was diagnosed with manic depression – bipolar as it is now called – many years ago. I know the condition well. I have learned how to recognise the symptoms. I know the best tactics to employ to halt, suppress and alleviate them, but, as fellow sufferers will know only too well, the shadow can sneak through most barriers and overcome even the strongest of wills. I confess that for several days I gave in to this latest bout. Exhausted by a  hectic Christmas, a hacking viral cough, and overwhelmed by life in general, I found myself enclosed in my ‘paper-bag’ for  a few miserable days. During a paper-bag day  I do not answer the phone, see people or emerge from my duvet. I can’t. It is as though a wall surrounds me and to step beyond it would incur some dreadful, irreversible happening. I’m sure this sounds totally indulgent, but it is almost involuntary, and the only way I know to find time to repair – time to turn around and ‘prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet’.

It was Wednesday before I dared to peep out from my bag. I then came face to face with the second phase of depression – which is a hideous feeling of guilt. What right have I, a spoiled, over indulged over privileged woman, to throw such a wobbly, etc, etc, etc? There is no answer to this question – depression id not rational – hence the guilt.   Nevertheless, I am convinced that this is what many people think of those who they perceive as weak , for failing to put on a brave face and  continue to take an active part in life. This is when I give thanks to my erstwhile piano teacher and friend, and assuage my guilt by recalling  her words, spoken to me over forty years ago.

I had sunk into a fierce depression and forgotten she was coming to give me a lesson. When she arrived I hid behind the door, terrified at being discovered unkempt, distraught and -for want of a better word – mad. My car was outside, the dog was barking, she knew I was at home. So, being a good friend, she came round to the back door and let herself in, to find me cowering behind the sofa. After a lengthy several coffees and a great deal of weeping, I asked  her “What do you do when you have a paper-bag day?”
She looked at me blankly, and I had to explain what a paper-bag day was. Her answer came as a total revelation.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had one.” she said.

It turned out that she woke up feeling pretty much the same everyday. Her life was certainly not a bowl of cherries, but she coped with what life threw at her without life itself ever constituting a threat. Life was not something to be wished away. The she said something I cling on to when I feel totally useless. “I’ve never had to cope with such feelings. But you are still here, so you are coping very well. Coping means to survive, to battle on…it is a process not an aim. “

So now, when the shadows darken, when the paper-bag beckons, I tell myself that I am coping and I have been coping all my life. I reminded myself that retreat is a coping mechanism, a temporary sanctuary. Now,I know that some readers will not know what on earth I am talking about. If you are one then I apologise, this post is not really aimed at you. This is for those millions of people who like me, spend much of their lives trying to keep their heads above water, coping, in whatever way they can, with a debilitating and misunderstood condition. So, here’s to survivors, whatever battle they fight. And here’s to those wonderful friends who support, succour, and sustain, even if they may not fully understand. May we all have a PEACEFUL. FULFILLING, NEW YEAR.

Christmas Greetings

The well made plans of mice and men…and writers… to those of you who are anxiously waiting for my next book to appear on the shelves, I can only say sorry. It should be out by Mothering Sunday. The editing has proved to be far more extensive than I first anticipated. However, as the result will be a much better book, I can only ask you to be patient.

I have been fighting off a particularly nasty bug. Having coughed my way through the past few weeks I am now struggling like mad to get ready for Christmas. I do believe I’m nearly there, but then I thought that about my book! (By the way it is called ‘Four Miles from Paradise’, and, although I say so myself, it is a cracking story.) In the meantime if you’re stuck for presents ‘Pebbles on a Beach’, The Haunting of Harriet’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ are still available.

Anyway,the real purpose of this post is to wish you all a wonderful Christmas, filled with joy and peace. In a world  preoccupied with violence and greed, I intend to spend a few days with my friends and family,  enjoying company, and life. However, as there will be five dogs, thirteen month old twins, and a motley crew ranging from thirty to eighty-five – one vegetarian, one non-fish eater, one gluten free, one diary intolerant and one only able to eat pureed food, oh, and just one cook – I have already moved to plan ‘B’. I am setting up an intravenous drip of Bombay and tonic…I hope you too have a very Merry Christmas. xx

WHY?

jenny.psdWhile writing my latest book, Rose’s War, I have had to take a hard look at the questions that vexed my heroine. Her natural aversion to injustice, her horror of abuse, the frustration she experiences from her own inability to redress the balance, and her confused emotions about the consequences of those actions she takes to redress these conflicts, have, by proxy, been my emotions over the past year.  There is a lot of me in Rose Hubbard, although our lives could not be more different. As I have battled with Rose’s dilemmas, I have been asking myself what  I might have done in her place. It made me question just how much we are the products of our past? How free are we to control our lives? Do we all have the ability, and the potential, to rise above our circumstances and forge our own destiny? Indeed, are we all faced with similar conflicts despite our diverse paths? If so, why? If life is such a lottery, why was I handed a lucky ticket?

My life, to date, has been charmed: comfortable, safe and enjoyable. Is this a mere consequence of geography, good timing, fortuitous alignment of the stars? Was I simply born in the right place, at the right time? Is it  just luck? I hope I am a reasonably nice person. I have my faults, but don’t we all? I’ve done my share of charitable deeds, thought kindly thoughts and led a law abiding, decent life. So I’m sure have many others, born at the same time as me. Yet some of these, equally good people, have been forced to live their entire lives in a war zone, or, despite working themselves into an early grave, have watched their children die from lack of food, or the absence of clean water. There are many of my generation who have never enjoyed a day free from fear of atrocities carried out by factions beyond their comprehension and way beyond their control. Why?

Being an atheist, I  assume there is no grand plan, no fixed path along which we progress. I reject the concept of a higher being, leading us to an ever more enlightened world. There certainly does not seem to be any sign that the human race is becoming more caring, more spiritually aware. In fact, at times the reverse is horribly apparent. Religions still divide us. We continue to enslave our fellow man. Wild life is hideously, needlessly threatened. Countless men, women and children live lives of unspeakable degradation, cruelty and hopelessness. And the planet itself, struggles to breathe because of our selfish, hedonistic desires.

I have often said that my particular generation, born in Britain just post war, has been privileged, one might say charmed. My education was excellent and free. The NHS has seen me safely through two life threatening illnesses. My teeth have been drilled and filled and there has always been a safety net of state assistance should I need it, fortunately I never did. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all this bounty…but I have to ask why me? I am not the first to ask this. Nor will I be the last. Many wonderful organisations have battled against inequality for decades, for centuries, supported by people as perplexed and horrified as me. Yet nothing changes, not fundamentally. Refugees flee for their lives, slavery is endemic, children are recruited to soldering, prostitution and crime. Drugs pollute entire generations. Wars are fought to satisfy greed, conceit and religious bigotry. The names of the tyrants, the nations who rise to become super powers, may change, yet they always exist, it is ever the same. Why?

I am reluctant to believe the human race is endemically bad.  I chose not to think in terms of black and white, or good and evil. Some take comfort in the belief that this life is only a veil of tears; that all will be redressed in an afterlife of joy. Others conclude that I have already lived the life of a miserable captive slave, beaten, starved and abused… maybe such horrors await me in my next incarnation. Such postulations might serve to alleviate some of my guilt.. But I don’t hold with them. Nor do I have any reason to believe all will be redressed in another life, in another place.

So I am left asking ‘why’? If anyone out there has the answer, please let me know. Meanwhile, I shall continue to do my pathetic little bit to tackle injustice when I meet it, and redress the balance of inequality where I can. The eponymous heroine in Rose’s War, Rose Hubbard, had her own particular way of dealing with such matters, but then she had the courage of her convictions. I could not be that assertively brave.  You, however, will have to read her story before deciding whether you stand with her or not. Don’t worry, It won’t be long. Just ’til Christmas,  in time for all those stocking fillers. Why my book? Well, why not!

ps. This blog may be rather serious, but the book is quite funny…really.

Misinformation – The Writer as God

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In  a recent television drama, a writer finds himself on a correction course with time on his hands. He opens his laptop and types ‘Chapter One’. By the end of the episode he types ‘The End’ and by the final frame he is discussing terms with his publisher. Oh, that life was that easy! I have been battling with my fourth book for eighteen months – possibly longer. Yesterday I removed two chapters and changed the title for the tenth time. I have killed off characters, made them undergo personality changes, and suffer endless agonies of suspense while awaiting their fate. I am reluctant to say my work is done, as after the proofreading there is always much amending to do. However, I am confident that the end is in sight and ROSE’S WAR will be launched by Christmas. Hooray.

For the most part, writing is a long slow process, although there are brief spells, and I mean spells, when the words flow with ease and fluidity : rare magic moments when everything in the heavens is in conjunction and the gods smile down on this poor mortal with a pen. Then there are times when one is god: killing people off, dangling lives on strings, juxtaposing prosperity with hardship, elation with despair, juggling with their lives to suit the  fate one has decreed…the plot one has designed.

When I was an art student my tutor told me that, when painting, an artist is god. As a young painter that sounded fantastic. Now, with age and experience I realise that playing god, even for a brief period of creativity, is a heavy burden. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, I even enjoy the frustrating process of editing and re-editing, but I am glad that my own life is is the hands of another writer. Oh, I can dictate, I can rant, I can demand, I can even comply, but at the end of the day a greater force than I – let’s call it life – dictates which pages I appear on. It presents me with the characters I will meet and those I must interact with. It chooses my path, and guides my passage, even telling me when I must leave the narrative, knowing that the book will continue without me. To quote Dylan Thomas , I shall not go gently into the night, but then neither shall I complain about my lot. Whoever, or whatever author penned my life they have been kind to me. I just hope they have written a paragraph or two about my next book, granting it the same ease of passage the author in that stupid television drama was given.

Meanwhile I shall keep scribbling: juggling the words that flow and fall in blots from my faithful old Osmiroid, hoping that they will land well enough to amuse any reader who stumbles across them.

ROSE’S WAR: begins in 1905 – ends in 1955, but the bit in the middle is riveting! Out soon. Published by Unicorn Publishing.