24 February 2018

Books I have writ!

10 April 2009

Apart from one story in a National Women's Institute magazine I never had anything published. However, to satisfy my ego I bound the two novels and one set of stories, using Irish style binding (see left) but didn't get round to doing the fourth. The binding wasn't a great success. It's fine to look at but if the books are read it's difficult to hold the pages open. Perhaps I didn't do it right. But still, it was handy for storing on the Welsh Dresser along with other books.

2009. I aired the matter on the blog and received a lot of comments, all telling me to go get published. Well, I tried and failed and finally gave up because I couldn't be bothered anymore. One leading firm of publishers was very kind with its comments about my first novel even though they didn't want to publish. I was happy with that since their praise was pretty good. I did win a silver cup with my favourite story, though, and after that I began to tidy up my collection by having them professionally bound. 25 in all, different sizes, two novels (see below, in yellow and pink) being the fattest books.

I sold a lot and the above are all I have left. Family members had one of each and I gave some to friends. The ones in the second picture were those my Joe took for himself, and which I retrieved when he died. 

People still tell me to get published but I really can't raise the enthusiasm anymore. I get pleasure with re-reading and allowing others to read some of my work. 

21 February 2018

Sending cards on-line

YOUR IDEAS ON THE 'GUESS WHO OR WHAT' PICTURE (immediately before this new post) WERE

Jacquie Lawson e-cards

Acknowledging birthdays and Christmas with a lovely card gets to be a problem when the weather causes difficulty in getting out of the house to post it. Recently this has happened a lot so, out of necessity I went back to my old favourite way of acknowledging a friend’s birthday, i.e. send a Jackie Lawson card which is done on line. No need to go out to do that!  

You have probably heard of her on-line company but for those who have yet to find her go take a look here I would love to publish an example but don’t know how. Maybe the heading above will give you an idea.

I have chosen this way to send ‘cards’ for several years and although you pay a small yearly fee it is cheaper than buying just one card and the necessary postage stamps. Don’t misunderstand me, I like paper cards that can be kept by the recipient for ever and a day, but so can Jackie Lawson’s offerings - unless your computer breaks down.

The variety is amazing, to suit men, women, and children, and if you’re a pet lover there’s no end of comic dogs and cats getting up to all sorts, to smile at and utter the inevitable aaah!

17 February 2018

Who or what is it?

Okay, who or what is it?

Seriously, I had used a tissue and wanted to throw it away but I was nowhere near the little rubbish bin, being a lazy git I screwed it up and shoved it in the mug ready to transport it and other pieces of crockery into the kitchen. When I went to clear up I couldn't help but smile at the way the tissue looked. 

Okay folks, what does it look like to you?

14 February 2018


He had known by her choice of words that the view would be spectacular. Incredibly stunning was the way she described it and now he saw for himself that it was. Fully expecting to see a horse and cart enter from the far end of the lane Mike kept close to the hedge on the opposite side of the house. A blackbird hopped away with a soft squawk. In the distance he heard a rumble of thunder but knew that rain would not appear that day.

The smells and sounds of the country were comforting. Not since he’d left home had he felt so light-hearted. He could breathe here, unlike his mother’s house where every cluttered room produced feelings of hysteria.

Feeling suddenly carefree, he hobbled across the narrow lane and sat on the kerbstone, surprising himself by a childish display of defiance against his mother. ‘Don’t sit in the road wearing a hole in your pants,’ she’d shout from the garden gate. ‘D’ya think I’m made of money?’

Mike Simmonds had grown up fretting about what mother would say about everything he did. Not for him the carefree childhood his friends had, boys whose mothers joined in their fun, laughed with them, and fought ongoing battles with neighbours. But his life was put in perspective with that first letter from Yvette.

They were both aged fourteen when they became pen pals through a scheme started by their respective schools.  It was an endeavour to cross the language barrier which in their case didn’t work. Yvette might have been a French girl but her command of the English language was better than Mike’s so all her letters were written in English.  It suited Mike, him being a bit of a lazy scholar.

Yvette Dessen was born in her English grandmother’s house in Yorkshire, the house he was now looking at. The way she had described it Mike had spent his teenage years believing it to be haunted and even now he wasn’t sure. When she moved to France the yarns about friendly ghosts and spirits ceased but Mike never forgot them.  One in particular had obsessed him, about a spirit’s playfulness when it moved Yvette’s toys to another room and returned them when it thought she was tired of searching.  How would it know, he thought, determined that one day he would seek the answer. However as the years went by the need to know lessened and his early life was taken up with more sporting activities.

The exchange of letters continued. Mike was told about Yvette’s courtship with a handsome French student; he heard about the break-up of the relationship, consoled her through her sorrow, encouraged a new ambition to be a writer, and gave an opinion on a first draft. In return he described a love of cricket, his pride at being picked for the local team, and his despair over a car accident in which he had broken a leg. 

Neither of them married though each had many lovers. Their letters were unwisely descriptive of their respective affairs but the knowledge helped them understand the pain being suffered on termination. Mike and Yvette were on the brink of getting together, planning a future neither of them had hitherto envisaged.

The plan was that they would live in her grandmother’s house. It had been empty since the old lady died and now belonged to Yvette, that is until fate stepped in to thwart the idea. It was strange how fate had organised their lives, giving both of them parents who needed the attention of their offspring. Yvette’s widowed mother suffered from an early onset of Alzheimer’s while both of Mike’s parents were stricken with paralysing arthritis. They passed away peacefully within seven months of each other and Yvette’s Mom shortly after that.

Two years on Yvette herself died of a massive heart attack. Mike was informed by solicitor’s letter in which it was also stated that she had left him the house in her will. Mike was broken-hearted. Although they never met Yvette had been his friend for more than forty years, she had been his lifeline when things were going bad, his saviour when in the depths of despair. He couldn’t imagine a future without her.

It had been a long journey from his home in Devon. He wasn’t used to driving such long distances. He had left the car at the end of the lane, little realising how long the walk would be to the house. In the event it had been the right thing to do since there wasn’t much room for a parked car.

He looked up at the sky, smiling at the sudden appearance of the sun. Yvette’s kind of day. How many times had she written rejoicing when summer arrived? Mike fingered the keys in his jacket pocket, took them out, gazed at them, put them back again, hearing the clunk as they touched his mobile phone. The keys had been in his possession for a whole week but he had put off visiting the house, actually in two minds about coming here at all. Several nights had been spent tossing from side to side in his bed, wondering if he could face the prospect of going inside a house he should have lived in with Yvette.

The appearance of a well cared for white cat convinced him that he should venture forth. The animal wore a red collar, reminding him of the one he’d sent to Yvette when she acquired her beloved Spirit. He had thought it a strange name but it wasn’t his place to criticise the naming of her pet. He had, though, offered the opinion that he thought it was a little unusual.

‘Unusual?’ she wrote. ‘How can you say it’s unusual when you named your dog Coal.’

Mike had no answer to that but he considered naming a black dog Coal was a mite better than calling a white cat Spirit. It reminded him, he wrote, of cleaning fluid. Grinning at the memory he leaned down to stroke the creature, hearing the little bell tinkle as the animal moved its head to accommodate his scratching fingers. The cat looked up with what Mike could only describe as knowing eyes. 

Once again he took out the keys, only this time he kept them out. After a brief check he selected what he assumed to be the key to the front door.  Closely followed by the cat, he crossed the lane and walked towards the house, stopping only briefly to look over the wall at the view beyond. He saw gardens brimming with colour, jagged paths running between lush green lawns, and a goldfish pond with lily pads on the surface. The cat scaled the wall. disappeared under an hydrangea bush. Probably got his eye on some fish, thought Mike, as he took the final step to the front door of the house. 

The front door opened onto a large living room. The wallpaper was heavy with beige coloured flowers and the furnishings looked sadly dated. The room contained a sturdy three piece leather suite neatly arranged to get full benefit of a fire that once would have roared in the blackened grate set beneath a wooden mantelpiece with tiled surrounds. There were no ornaments on the shelf, just a big round faced wooden clock that had stopped ticking at nine minutes past one. Mike wondered which half of which day that was.

Putting the bunch of keys beside the clock Mike crossed the room and opened the door to the next room. There was no hall, one room just led into another. Here he saw a highly polished table and four chairs with upholstered seats the same russet colour as the heavy curtains. The table was laid for two people that Mike thought very strange. He was sure Yvette’s grandmother had lived alone? There was another fireplace, laid ready to light with wood and coals. At the side of the hearth was a brass bucket filled with more wood and coal and a brass jug of tapers. All ready to light. Looking round Mike imagined that the room would have looked very cosy when lived in.

Slowly he walked to the window, looked out at a small garden and the same colourful flowers he’d seen earlier. If he was to live here he would have great pleasure tending the flower beds.

Hearing a noise behind him Mike quickly turned. He stood quite still, trying to determine what it was he had heard. For the first time he sensed an atmosphere. As would be expected in a house solely occupied by an old lady the furnishings and d├ęcor were old, yet there was an air of youthfulness he couldn’t place. Would it be possible for Yvette’s childish influence to have remained all these years? Marking that down as absurd he continued his tour of the house.

Going through a second door leading from the dining room he found himself facing a steep staircase, lit only by a skylight at the top. Mike’s arm brushed against a light switch. He pressed it and a shiver of thankfulness passed through him as the stairs were flooded with light. It wasn’t in his character to be scared of the dark but there was something about being enclosed in a narrow place, in semi dark, that made him slightly fearful.

Telling himself not to be silly, he began what seemed like an interminable climb.  As he neared the top he noticed two doors either side of the staircase. Obviously bedrooms, he thought as he stepped onto the small landing then entered the room on the right.

It was a complete contrast to the rest of the house. Judging by the deep pink eiderdown, floral pillowcases, and feminine knick-knacks on a three-mirrored dressing table, he knew that this was a young lady’s room.  Perhaps her grandmother had kept it in readiness for Yvette. He remembered the tale she told him about two ornamental lambs that were painted with fluorescent paint, how they were each placed in front of two mirrors, and how scared she was of the four lambs that glowed in the dark. He recalled that she mentioned putting the ornaments in the drawer and out of curiosity he opened one of the drawers on the right. They were there, lying side by side. Marvelling that they were still there after so many years he picked one up to admire it when he heard a noise behind him. He whirled round, and stopped in amazement when he saw the cat sitting on the bed. It was definitely the cat he had seen outside, the same red collar, identical markings on its face, and the same knowing eyes.

‘Hello, puss,’ he said, putting out a hand to stroke it’s head. ‘Now how did you get in?’ Mike was certain he had closed the front door when he came in.

The cat purred loudly, a contented sort of noise, then jumped off the bed and scampered through the door. Thinking it wrong for the cat to be here at all, Mike followed.

Cat had gone into the second bedroom. Mike was just in time to see it jump onto a rattan chair that had been painted white. The chair was by another dressing table, similar in style to the one in the other room, but there were no adornments, just a bulky envelope. He picked it up and saw his name printed on it in black ink … Mike Underhill. Sitting on the bed he quickly opened it and drew out a set of keys, identical it seemed to the ones given to him by the solicitor. He felt in his pocket but the keys weren’t there. Thinking he must have put them down somewhere he rushed out of the room, closely followed by the white cat.

Mike searched the house but the search proved fruitless. He was mystified. He looked at the keys again and wondered: if these are mine how did they get into the envelope? As the cat brushed against his legs Mike had a weird feeling that the damn animal knew more about it than he did.

Remembering that he had dropped the keys by the clock Mike went again to the front room to look on the mantelshelf. It was a half hearted move because he’d looked there before and knew they wouldn’t be there. Pondering over the mystery he sat on the settee to think it through.

The cat jumped on Mike’s knees, settled, put it’s head on his thigh. And that’s when Mike remembered Yvette’s yarns about ghosts and playful spirits. ‘Spirits!’ he said aloud. The cat moved its head to look at him. ‘Spirit,’ whispered Mike. ‘Is that you, cat?'  Recalling that the keys had been tidily placed in an envelope, he went on, ‘Or were you known as Yvette in real life?’

The cat gave a contented meow and settled back down. 

13 February 2018

An Unintended Moan

It took me about an hour to understand the new arrangement for publishing photographs on the blog and I still don't get it. Why do 'they' change things without explanation? An hour to show the above multi-coloured pair of trainers/sneakers and all because I tried to compete with Joey who had a new pair for his birthday. 

Oh well, it's given me something to moan about.

I had everything off pat until I tried to upload the picture and found that the old procedure had completely changed. Actually I suspected something was up some time ago with the Google procedure and started to send pics to another email account with AOL. That worked well until just now when I couldn't even get in there without giving a password, twice, which they wouldn't accept. Then AOL decided I was a newcomer and started again. All my saved thingies and photographs had disappeared.  S** it, I can't be bothered with them anymore. Yes, folks, it's time AOL got the push.

Has anyone else had similar problems?

10 February 2018


I remember the war days quite clearly, and I remember upsets and arguments in following years, but all that was a distance away from me and my life. Not so anymore, now the fighting and arguments, beatings and murders are practically on the doorstep. It no longer feels safe to leave the house. I live in what used to be known as a ‘respectable and peaceful area’ but attacks are happening here as well and I fear that title is rapidly disappearing. 

I have commented on this before but I swear things have worsened. It’s all happening just up the road! Murders seem to be commonplace; no longer family rows or heated arguments, now the knife has become popular with the louts that inhabit my part of the world. Even school children carry knives and use them to kill.

Who are these people who think murder is a game to be played out at any time, with no thought for their possible incarceration when caught. It wasn’t like this when the death penalty was in force.  Many people were against the barbaric treatment of criminals but at least it acted as a deterrent.

We banned hanging way back but I am beginning to wish we could reinstate it and get back to a more peaceful way of life, the sort of life where we are happy to walk out without fear. 

We didn't have such vivid television then, but look at what we have now: films showing murder - in detail - committed by modern folk, not the cowboy stuff of yesteryear. Television has long been used to teach the people and it's making a good job of it. Then we had a cursory scene, now we have full visual details of cruelty and murder. So, yes, I do blame television for a lot of our problems. 

Now people have the freedom to kill. Parents kill their offspring, and the offspring kill parents, friends and neighbours depending on who is around at the time they feel like playing with lethal weapons. Flippancy? Yes, but surely to God we have got to put a stop to it all. 

07 February 2018


Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Only in my case it should read: water, water outside, but nothing in the house.

I tell a lie, there was some in the house only I couldn’t get at it. It started with me complaining to my regular water fixer/electrician/gas maintainer/sometimes odd job man (Mr K) that my hot water system was scalding. Like the good chap he is he promised to come on a certain day but, unlike his usual self, he forgot. Well, like any other person getting on in years, it was understandable. I phoned again and pleaded with him to jot it down in his memory book, that way I could rest assured he would turn up.   

Actually, Mr K did a great job putting things right and double checking everything and presenting me with a bill for £250. Admittedly he had to buy a new valve thingy so I guessed it was a reasonable figure. I know from past dealings that he never overcharged and always did a good job.

The water was still extremely hot but he had assured me that it would cool down when enough cold water entered the hot water system. I carried on for a day, doing all the usual things like washing dishes. I have given up on the dishwasher on the grounds that it would take a month to build up enough dishes to justify switching it on. Work it out if you like, three plates (one dinner plate, two small tea plates) a day, three cups, one glass, and the cat’s bowls (2 or 3 a day). No water, nothing. Cold water was available but I defy anyone to wash crocks in cold water. Fortunately, I have a kettle. That wasn’t the point though, the point was that my helpful man had to be summoned again. Actually I felt panicky, too much stress, you know.

So Mr K comes back – it took ten minutes from his house to mine but he came straight away when he heard the panic in my voice. Panic? I was almost in tears. As soon as he came in he said ‘I know what’s happened … I forgot to open {something} so the cold water wasn’t filling the hot tank. Simple, when you know what you’re talking about!

It took a couple of minutes for him to get out the ladder and climb into the loft and slide a switch but what a relief to get my hot (not scalding) water back. 

04 February 2018



It was dry outside so I decided to go to the corner shop and buy my TV programme magazine. It is usually delivered with the grocery order, no, that’s wrong, it was delivered but it was the wrong week. It comes to me on a Tuesday and that’s the day the next week’s issue comes out. So why did I get one for the week before? Obviously the packer didn’t look what he/she was doing, probably thinking about his/her date of the night before. It was a nuisance having to go out on a freezing cold day but it was a good test for driving the scooter with frozen hands and watering eyes. Yes, it was that cold. I couldn’t wait to get back home. Now I know why Charlie is reluctant to go out.

Anyway, the scooter was fine and so was I, just a little nervous because I swear the amount of rocky paving slabs has increased. The outing was an experience, one lady in her 70s (isn’t it funny how older people – including me – bring age into conversations?) held the shop door open for me… I guess she thought as I’d arrived on a scooter I was unable to open doors. She did it again as I was leaving and then I realised that she really wanted a chat. Then a guy joined us, another one that looked as if he had retired from the work scene. He wanted to talk about the scooter, and of course we also got onto the subject of cars. He was contemplating selling his car but was worried about getting to places without it. It was an ideal opportunity for me to brag about my bravado in getting rid of my car.

The ‘old’ lady didn’t join in but she looked as if she was enjoying the company. She also looked perishing cold which was understandable considering the temperature was way below minus and I was wishing I’d thought to bring a hot water bottle and several blankets.

Mr Man started on about car insurance and quoted a figure like the one that inspired me to give the car up. I think he was entertaining the idea of doing the same. I explained my thinking on the matter, mainly to do with insurance. Every year the cost of insurance goes up regardless of the fact that no claims have been made. I had thought the cost to me was due to a couple of claims made in the far distant past but the guy quoted a similar figure, well almost identical to mine. He had never had an accident or made a claim which reassured me that history had nothing to do with the amount I was charged per annum. My memory is getting worse! By the end of the conversation I had the feeling that next time I saw him he would be riding a scooter.

So, my dash to the corner shop turned out to be eventful. On the way home a car driver tooted the horn and waved. I obviously knew him or her but didn’t recognise since he or she passed too quickly and I certainly didn’t recognise the car. I shall worry about that now, just hope it doesn’t provide any sleepless nights! The scooter did me proud and is now back in the safety of the garage. I don’t intend to get it out again until the temperatures rise. 

02 February 2018

Amazon saves the sanity

Q. What have I done today.
A. Not a lot.

Well, I made the bed, had breakfast, washed plates and mugs and Charlie’s feeding bowls, heated and ate a ready-made Shepherd’s Pie and washed up again, then took in a parcel from Amazon.

Yes, it’s a Black and Decker tool with which to gather all the lose particles that escape from Charlie’s litter tray. It was getting too difficult to remove from an oldish indoor carpet even though that carpet was protected by newspapers and part of an old shower curtain. I really thought the papers would collect the stuff and save me having to keep getting on my knees. Ha, who did I think I was kidding?

Trouble is, the tray usually sits outside in the outhouse but has been brought in because of the extremely cold weather which puts both Charlie and me off venturing outside the kitchen door. I used to leave a window open so that he could get at the cat flap in the outer garden door but the weather has been too cold for open windows. Instead, I allowed him to use the tray indoors. The room was once Joe’s office but is now classed as Charlie’s room. Because the room can be shut off if necessary I don’t feel bad about turning it over to him. Of course, he has access to all other rooms, I mean – where would I be without his company. Since the weather has been so cold even I don’t want to venture too far from the fire. The central heating works and is okay but it has struggled to warm the house with our recent spell of fierce winds and ice cold snow. I am not sure if it’s me getting older and feeling the cold more or that the weather really is freezing cold. I suppose I will never work that out.

I’m hoping for some warmer weather so I can get out on the scooter. The weather is definitely against my trying to manoeuvre a scooter up hill and down dale. Never mind, I will soon be able to go out and show off. I hope!