I was on holiday in Portugal with my daughter after a difficult few weeks at work. A colleague had been behaving in a way that made me feel undermined and unhappy and I needed the break in the sun badly. After a few days I started to relax and as I was swimming in the hotel pool a speech popped fully formed into my head. It was one woman speaking with huge malevolence about another woman who seemed to have it all. I hauled myself out of the pool, grabbed my notebook and wrote this speech down.
Is there anyone left in the UK that doesn’t have a cold, the flu or a shivery snotty bug? If yes, please be my friend as everyone else I have encountered in the last seven days has been spluttering at me with a huge, red nose, swollen eyes and the energy level of a sloth! And I really don’t want to catch it!
Well and truly back in the swing of things here, I frowned at three people, stood silently in a very long queue and am wearing so many layers I can’t stretch my arms above my head because it’s so c…c…c… cold!
I’m in ENGLAND!!!!! Yes, I am at my mum’s where the wind is blowing and the rain is lashing the house. We have flood and tide surge warnings in place and the ground is muddy and the air bl**dy freezing! The boiler is on the blink, the traffic horrendous, telly is rubbish and I have a laundry mountain that resembles Everest (without the frozen sick) BUT I am so so happy to be here!
Like a favourite chipped mug, a warm jumper with a hole in it or an old pillow with a dent where your head lies, this country is far from perfect but it’s my country and I LOVE IT!
I have always loved sagas. Most especially working class family sagas .
When I first came into publishing, there was only one name in the genre – Catherine Cookson. We used to have meetings about her. What was her magic? Surely we could find someone else who could copy her formula. It couldnʼt be that difficult.
But it was that difficult – for one very simple reason. Great saga writers are born, not made. The magic of Catherine Cookson sprang from the heart, not the head, from living the lives of her heroines, not from researching them.
Phwuff… lots of travelling since my fingers last danced over the keyboard to deliver some babble!
As an entrepreneur of sorts I love this time of year. A few days off at Christmas have recharged the batteries and allowed us to seek absolution for all the things that went wrong last year. And the master plan for 2014 remains pristine, intact, unruffled by reality. Here’s the gist of it.
We have left the shores of Australia and have made our way to New Zealand! Kia Ora!
On our last day in Queensland the boys decided to fill their time sensibly. How, I hear you ask? A trip to the Great Barrier Reef? Crocodile Tour? A BBQ? No, they opted for the more traditional past time of seeing what objects they could throw into the ceiling fan for best effect, and then rated it in terms of potential injury, distance travelled… you get the idea.
When I wrote my first novel Poppy Day, I couldn’t have predicted the way people would fall in love with Dot, Poppy’s Nan. This funny, lively lady, living her latter years in a nursing home under the fog of dementia, struck a chord with many. Her precious moments of lucidity and sage advice were valued as much by Poppy as they were my readers who, like myself, have experience of this cruel disease.
My new favourite mode of transport: Ferrari? Harley? No. From now on, I shall whenever possible be travelling by open top bus. They are awesome! And what better way to see a city? We bought 24-hour tickets and went crazy – hopping on and off at will. My favourite stop was Kings Cross, which does the best day-to-night make over I have ever seen. If Kings Cross were a woman, she would wear demure clothing and subtle make-up by day, but as soon as the sun goes down, she puts on her red lippy, whips off her cardigan, dons her heels and dances on the bar. You go girl!