Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Mum

My Mum had a very expressive sniff.
With one sharp intake of breath through her nostrils, she could say more than most people do in acres of rambling speech.

My Mum used to tease my Dad about his lack of SOA (Spirit of Adventure).
Life had to have a full quota of fun and laughter.

My Mum always wore an apron;
Utilitarian ones for everyday use and frilly, lacy jobs for special occasions.

My Mum loved school.
She was devastated when she was taken out aged 12, on the grounds that girls didn't need an education.

My Mum was determined her children should have the opportunities denied to her.
She loved writing stories, but never did.

My Mum would have had a brilliant relationship with G.
She would have 'got' him, sorted him out.

My Mum would have been besotted by my children.
And they would have adored her.

My Mum loved this time of year, when families gather together to celebrate the New Year.
She would have preened and basked in a way she never had the chance to do in life.

My Mum died eighteen years ago today.

(NOTE: This should have been published on the English anniversary of Mum's death on Sunday. She would have been blown away to know she was the subject of a blog post.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Psst - wanna join a flashmob?

The message arrived by email.
Lots of emails, to be accurate.
Lots of emails and lots of links ...
But I already knew the answer would be a resounding 'YES'.
I've always wanted to be a part of a flashmob ...

So what's it going to be? Pillow fight? Spontaneous disco dancing? Moon walking?
Neither - it's co-ordinated mobile phone alarms.
It's about putting pressure on governments to take a firm stand on climate change.
And it's organised by the Good Guys of Cyberspace, Avaaz.

Monday 21st September
12.00 midday
Mel and I arrive at Parliament Square and head for our designated spot in front of Westminster Abbey.
I nudge Mel in the ribs.
'There!' I hiss. 'That's them!'
'Who? What?'
I indicate 3 women in blue t-shirts holding umbrellas and exchange conspiratorial nods with them.
'There - they're wearing blue and they're carrying umbrellas.'
Mel looks a trifle panicky. She hadn't read all the emails and has no idea what I'm talking about.
'So it's a signal. They know what's happening. Keep an eye on them.'

We do, trying to blend in and look like tourists. It's not easy and we both wish we had proper cameras instead of our mobiles. Our eyes dart round looking for other likely suspects. I smoke a fag. Mel eats a banana.

12.15 pm
Oozing faux nonchalance, we head across the road and into the centre of the square.

12.18 pm
Alarms ring out from 300 phones and assorted alarm clocks. From all over the square, 300 right arms are raised into the air.
There should be 302. Mel and I had synochronised with the website yet somehow we've managed to set our clocks 2 mins slow.
Never mind. We raise our silent phones in solidarity and hope no one will notice when they belatedly beep a couple of minutes later.
After joining in with the obligatory whoops and yells, we all turn north to face Mandela's statue.
'Tick, tick, tick,' we all chant, representing the time we have to save the planet ticking away.
Then we all call Gordon Brown on the numbers supplied in those emails.

12.30 pm
It's all over and we drift away to get the bus home.

Due to road works and traffic jams, we were out for about 3 hours to take part in a 5 minute protest.
Was it worth it?
Well, apart from giving me the opportunity to spend some quality time with Mel on a glorious Autumn day, it seems the message did get through.

And it wasn't just us. All over the world events - over 2,200 of them - were taking place as ordinary people came together in a common cause to save our planet.

And I fulfilled a long held ambition to be part of a flashmob.
I'd post photos - if someone could just tell me how to get them from phone to blog ...
Other, less technically challenged people, fared better - see here.
Someone got me - can you see me?

You can still be part of the movement, even if you missed the day's events.
All you have to do is call the leader of your government, urging her or him to travel to Copenhagen for the climate talks in December and sign a fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty.
You can find the appropriate phone numbers as well as photos and a live blog here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Here a book, there a book, everywhere a book book ...

Let's see now ...

The deadline for submissions to Hoovering the Roof, the anthology of work produced by members of the East Dulwich Writers' Group, is this Sunday.
16 people have contributed short stories, poems and novel extracts, which have all been through a collective editing process.

Now we need to do everything else necessary to gather them together into a book ready for publishing.

Then there's the project I suggested to the parent/teacher literacy steering group at the boys' school.

'Let's produce a book to tie in with the 50th anniversary,' I suggested a few months ago.

'Great idea,' came the reply last week. 'Let's do it. We can produce a time line covering the last 5 decades, with sections dealing with what was happening at the school at each stage, slots for major national and international events, blasts of popular culture as well as reminiscences and anecdotes from former staff and pupils. It should be visually exciting and will be a celebration of how far we have come.'

'Fantastic! So what's the time scale?'

'Um - we need to launch it at the celebratory event ... at the end of October ...'

Then there's the new development for my freelance editing.
I've always liked to stay in contact with authors whose books I've critiqued, but it's sometimes hard to know when my part of the job is over.
The logical next step has been mentoring and (oh, lucky me) the first person to take up this offer has been the Queen.

She's been blogging in some detail about the process and I'm delighted it seems to be working so well for her. It's certainly a labour of love for me and it's wonderful to be a part of her journey to create a book that I'm convinced is going to be utterly fab!

Oh, yes. And then there's my book. Over halfway and I THINK it's going ok.

Thing is, it doesn't matter how many other books you edit and critique, doing it for yourself is another thing entirely.
Editors need editors too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Big up to the Squirrel

I mentioned in that last post that I couldn't take the credit for my new blog look, but I didn't tell you who was responsible.

Squirrels can be shy, so I wanted to check with her first.
I'm really pleased that she's allowing me to credit her.

If the world is roughly divided between givers and takers, Beleaguered Squirrel is deffo in the former group. In spite of flying high with a major career change while simultaneously juggling a couple of kids (not easy with those teensy tiny paws) she still found time to devote to me and my blog.

There have been the inevitable teething problems.

The new links I'd added were inexplicably triplicated - easy to sort even for a techy twit like me.

And I managed to work out why all the links embedded in posts seemed to have disappeared ...
that'll be cos I'd set them up to be the same colour as the background then ...

But my stat counter and site meter have also gone AWOL.
I get summaries emailed to me and I've come to the conclusion that ...

EITHER people hate the new look so much that word has gone out to boycott my blog - a highly effective manvoevre since it appears I haven't had a single visit since the switch ...

OR I need to configure something or other.
Any ideas?

One good thing about making the changes was that I needed to blog surf to update the links and came across 2 things that made me laugh out loud.
I'll share them with you here - assuming you're not boycotting me.
If you are, it's your loss, cos they're really very funny.

On Aba's Place I saw this. At a time we're all being warned about germs spreading on public transport, this is a timely reminder that not everything that's infectious is bad.

And Sue G posted this - one author's response to negative reviews.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Brand new me

Oooh, look! I've changed ...

After nearly 4 years on the blog, I've finally got a brand spanking new look.

I need to tinker a bit, update the links etc, but whaddya reckon?

I had an email saying 'twas done (you didn't think I might have had the guts to do it meself, did you?).
So I clicked in and, even though I was expecting it, I got a real jolt.

I was quite emotional - something lost, something gained.
A familiar face that you unleashed into the world and suddenly notice has evolved.

It felt like when you send your baby off to Big School, wearing a crispy new uniform and looking all shiny and full of hopes and fears for the future and you look at him and think,

'That's my baby? When did he get so grown up?'

Oh, yeah. That's exactly what did happen this week, so the Virtuality/Reality metaphor is spot on.

Forward to the future. Yeehah!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Home Alone

LG started secondary school yesterday, setting off all shiny and new in his uniform, full of hope and potential.
G went back to work yesterday too.
FB's first day back at school is today.

At 7.30 I waved goodbye to them all through the kitchen window.
And went back to bed.

G phoned me as planned with a wake up call at 9.oo and I embarked on my first day home alone.

Blimey, it's quiet here ...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

It's all going swimmingly ...

If you're a regular here, you'll already know my partner, G ...
You'll know that he's a running nut ...
And you'll know that he often raises money for ALDLife.

Well, he's off again. But this time he's taking to the water.
That's the icy cold water of Lake Windermere in the Lake District, where he's taking part in the Great North Swim on 12th September, once again raising funds for the charity.

ALDLife was started by Sara Hunt, whose sons both have the terminal brain disorder adrenoleukodystrophy. Alex was diagnosed several years ago when he was 7 and within months he was paralysed and blind. Last year, his younger brother, Ayden, showed signs of ALD and underwent a grueling bone marrow transplant.

Most people would fall to pieces in her situation, but Sara works tirelessly to raise money for research and to support children and families affected by this devastating disorder.

We all do our bit. FB and I have rattled tins and handed out leaflets outside our local Sainsbury's, whose customers have chosen ALDLife as their charity for the year.

And G? He's taking to the water ...
You can do your bit too, by sponsoring him together with the other local parents who are taking part in the swim and in the Great South Run.

Thank you!