Tuesday 27 March 2012

The Bishopston Mini-Triathletes!!!

I was rubbish at PE and games at school.  Well, actually I was most rubbish in PE - I couldn't clear a vaulting horse to save my life, though unbelievably I could climb a rope.  My hand/eye coordination was rubbish too, so at an early age I discovered having to play rounders equalled an hour's torture - I don't think I ever managed to hit the ball with that silly little stick.  Later, at Grammar School, I was full of admiration and envy for the lithe girls who captained the hockey and tennis teams, and competed on Sports Day in all the field and track events.  I so much wanted to be like them - I wanted to BE them!   To me, they were the epitome of glamour.
And then came marriage and motherhood.  Terry, my husband, was very sporty.  When I was expecting our children, I knew he wanted a boy to play football - and the rest -with.  Two girls came along, but joy of joy, both were really sporty like him.  They both ran, Suzie was in netball, hockey and tennis teams, and both excelled in the swimming pool, Terri as a high-level synchro swimmer, Suzie speed.   Our sideboard groaned under all the cups they won, and I could have taken out shares in a firm selling silver polish.  As I had pointed out, a boy might have taken after me and not been sporty at all.
Oh, how proud of them I was!  The pleasure that came from seeing them do well at something I had always wanted to do but never could was immense, far outweighing the fact that neither of them seemed the slightest bit interested in 'my' things - drama and writing.
And now I'm proud all over again.  This weekend my two youngest grandchildren, Dan (8) and Amelia (6), together with a group of six of their friends did a mini-triathlon in aid of Sport Relief.  The Bishopston Mini-Triathlon, they called it - a swim, a half-mile run and a 4-mile bike ride.  And between them they've raised over £1000 for the charity!  
Didn't they do well?
Congratulations to the Bishopston Eight!!

Monday 5 March 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012
A New Year, a new book coming out - THE SECRET SHE KEPT  - isn't it time I got a new author photograph?  I've had the current one since my first book with Headline - DANCE WITH WINGS, three years ago.  Used it on my Facebook page, my web sites, even as my avatar on Twitter.  Because I actually rather like it, even though it is a bit too glam with arguably a bit too much cleavage ...
It was taken at a posh dinner I attended.  Originally there were four of us in the photo - Terry, my husband, myself, and two friends.  On our way in the photographer posed us under a big umbrella and the result was gratifyingly flattering.  So when I was asked for a pic for the jacket of the hardback edition of DANCE WITH WINGS and I was a bit short of time I asked him if he could 'lift' me out.  Bless him, he did.  I watched, atonished, as the other three disappeared - he even wiped out my husband's hand, which had been on my shoulder. 
The pic you see here is the result.  But I do really feel it's time to update it.  After all, it is several years old ...
And of course, there's the rub!  I'm several years older too!  With, no doubt, a few more wrinkles and lines, the sort that multiply with spending so many hours on the computer and a whole lot more trying to work out plot details for my books!  It's as hard to give up a flattering photo as it is to give up chocolate - or my glass of wine! 
In November I had a 'big birthday' and my lovely daughter made a triptych of photographs of me from the age of eighteen months to the present day.  Oh, what memories those pics evoked for me!  From little girl with 'Dobbin', my wooden horse on wheels, to teenager, to mother, to grandmother.  there are pics of me on holiday, in the cockpit of the plane when I was learning to fly, on stage in various roles from Lucy in Ladies in Retirement to principal boy in panto, pics of book launch parties, even one of me in a bikini doing a Yoga Bow beside some swimming pool.  My life in photographs.  Happy days evoking bitter-sweet nostalgia.
I expect it's the same for most of us.  Lurking in old paper wallets, posted in albums, loaded into files on computers these days, are the pics that chart the whole of our lives.
For me, it has to be time to move on again.  Pile on the lippy, get the photographer to use soft lighting if not a soft-focus lens, and brave reality.  A new pic will be on the way, I promise.
When I can work up the courage to face reality ....

February, 2012
I've just spent a week cat-sitting for my daughter and her family whilst they have been in France, skiing.  Now I'm a dog person, always have been.  We've had three German Shepherds, a Goldie, a yellow Labrador, our dear Italian dog Millie, who we sadly lost a couple of weeks ago, and as a teenager my family had a sweet little Heinz 57 who was uncannily like Millie both in looks and temperament. We've also had an amazing house-trained rabbit, a cockatiel who actually belonged to my daughter but ended up living with us, a budgerigar inherited from my mother, and several hamsters.  But I've never had a cat, though Terry and I did make quite a pet of one who was the mouser for the shop over which we lived in a rented flat in the first months of married life.  I've always shied away from getting one of our own, for all sorts of reasons - not least that I like to know where my pets are when I go to bed at night, and wouldn't sleep easy if one of them was out roaming heaven-knows-where.
But Jacob is a joy!  Suzie, my daughter, rescued him from the RSPCA home last summer, a pretty little tabby with only half a tail - he had been involved in an accident when he was brought in to the home, and had to have the damaged part amputated.  He is also the friendliest little chap, who rarely goes out of the garden and spends most of his time lying on the patio in summer and on the back of a chair from where he can look out of the window at this time of year.  And for the whole of the week, he followed me around like a shadow. 
I'd intended to make the most of a week with no interruptions to do lots of work, and I did manage that - with difficulty!  Every time I sat down to write, Jacob was there, clambering onto my lap or the computer keyboard, or settling himself down to lie on my writing pad and pile of paper.  And does that cat talk!  I never knew what a variety of 'miaow's there are in a cat's vocabulary!  Loud and insistent when he wants attention or to be fed, soft and purring when he's contented, and all stations in between.  At night he'd come into my room, jump up on the bed and begin prodding my nose with his paw, then settle into a hollow and lie for a while padding at me rhythmically before falling asleep.  If he wasn't still in my room in the morning, he'd appear, mewing, at the first sound of my feet on the floorboards.
He can be a bit naughty - one day, eating lunch in the kitchen, I thought I saw him on the other side of the frosted glass of the back door.  Wondering how he had come to go out without me seeing him, and also why he didn't just come in by the cat-flap, I got up and went to open the door, just in time to see puss streak away down the lawn and over the fence into a neighbouring garden.  I followed - as I said earlier, I like to know where my charge is! - but puss had completely disappeared.  Resigned, I returned to the house, only to find Jacob toying delicately with a slice of the ham from my plate!  The cat I'd seen wasn't him at all - but he certainly took advantage of my absence to make off with a tasty snack!  He also ran off with the very expensive piece of digital engineering that is my hearing aid, which I'd put on the dining room table.  Luckily that happened on the first day when Terry, my husband was there - he saw what Jacob was up to, chased him and recovered it unharmed.  Thank goodness!  If he hadn't witnessed the theft I doubt I would ever have found my hearing aid - unless I'd heard it whistling inside Jacob's tummy!
I left him yesterday evening after feeding him with a double portion of Whiskas and felt bereft as I drove away.  Suzie and family were due home in just a few hours and I told myself he'd be fine.  Which, of course, he was.  But I'm left missing him dreadfully. 
A dog person I might be, but that little cat has certainly found his way into my heart and filled a corner of the chasm that dear Millie has left. 

Recently I've been running a competition to win one of five copies of A WOMAN OF SECRETS.  It's been great fun, and a huge learning curve for me.  When I made the first announcement on Twitter, a manic ten minutes followed as I darted around my websites and Facebook pages making sure I was giving the right details in all the right places,  checking links and begging help from my lovely nephew Richard, who acts as my web master and mentor.  When it comes to all this technology, I'm an idiot - my grandchildren were better at sorting these things out than I am even before they started school! - and I think I must have tried poor Richard's patience to the limits that morning with my frenzied cries for help and lack of understanding of instructions unless they came in words of one syllable.  Helena at Headline was there to help too, and eventually all was running smoothly.
Apart from the last day, when I began getting e-mails telling me the link was taking people to a weather forecast for Chile ....  Apologies for that!  Still don't know what happened, but I extended the competition for an extra day to compensate. 
Then came the big problem.  How to choose the winners.  More than anything, I wished I could send everyone who had entered the competition a prize and hated the thought of disappointing anyone.  But I guess the whole point of a competition is that there are winners and losers, and the fairest way to pick the winners was the good old-fashioned one - names in a hat.   And who better to make the draw than my youngest granddaughter - the real Amelia Carr.  (I borrowed her name!)  So, folks, here she is, taking the whole thing very seriously.
And the full list of winners is :  Georgine Price, Sarah Chapman, Heather McWilliams, Zoe Corbin, Tracey Anne Berry.
Once again, thank you to everyone who took part, and I'm really sorry if you weren't a winner.  If it's any consolation I'm never lucky in a draw either.  Except once.  Many years ago.  When I won a magnum of malt whiskey.  But that's another story ....