Rare Road Sign

I was driving along a country road in Somerset recently and I came across this delightful road sign, which I’ve not seen before. Ever since reading ‘The Wind in the Willows’, I’ve felt that toads were quirky, undignified and should be protected. I’m pleased to see that the highways authority share this view.

I frequently see home-made signs outside houses or farms announcing: ‘Go Slow – Chickens Crossing Road’ or ‘No more Feline Fatalities Please –  We now have 5 Cats instead of 9!’  Some years back, when driving my children to school, we passed a building site, and came across a large sign saying: ‘Plant Crossing’.  My children were mystified, until I explained that from time to time large cauliflowers, huge carrots and mighty marrows marched across the road at this point.  I wonder why they didn’t believe me!

Teething Problems in Paradise

I have recently returned from a short holiday in ‘Paradise’ – or to be more accurate a tiny island in an isolated atoll in a wide ocean – or to be more precise: Fonimagoodhoo Island in Baa Atoll in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.  We spent a week on this delightful island, which measures approx 600m x 200m, encircled by a white sand beach and surrounded by a coral reefs dropping off into the deep blue ocean. The temperature was balmy, the sun beamed, the translucent water sparkled. Stunning! Attractive  restaurants and beach bars supplied delicious food and enticing cocktails and we walked everywhere in bare feet on tiny sandy paths beneath luxuriant green vegetation and trees. Glorious!

There was little else to do other than lie in the sun or retreat to the shade, doze, read books and swim. Bliss! In the clear water we found the way through to the edge of the reef where we snorkelled and watched the tropical fish as they swam around the coral. Wonderful!  I am a very competent swimmer and an enthusiastic watcher of fish.  I do not like to wear fins or wetsuits, and can swim happily for hours with just a snorkel and breathing tube.   There were three gaps through the inner reef which was shallow, which gave access to the outer reef edge where more and larger fish were to be found – including rays and reef sharks (Apparently they are harmless, although a few days before, I had seen one larger than myself swimming alongside me and my heart did beat a bit faster, but he lazily turned and meandered off.)

One morning, on our third day there, I was swimming along the outer reef from one end to the other in company with two others.  After about an hour, I was two thirds of the way along, when I suddenly had a sharp pain in my leg. I realised I’d been bitten when I saw blood clouding the clear water.   Then I saw this large yellow and grey fish (about 2½ft x 1ft in size) swim straight at me again, like an exocet, and this time he only managed a small bite, by which time I was flailing around and kicking trying to ward him off. Panic!  My fellow snorkeller watched it all happen and wisely kept clear. The big fish made three more runs at me, by which time I was swimming in the opposite direction towards the shore. Fear made me move fast. I soon saw that I was getting closer to the coral as the water became shallower (I had not come through the gap), so I had to slow down and swim carefully as the coral was a few inches below my body.

Back on the beach, I was taken to the doctor on the island, and he told me that the culprit was a giant triggerfish, which is known to be aggressive and occasionally bites swimmers. Usually they just nibble away at coral with their sharp teeth.  Mine was the worse bite he’d seen for a year, he cheerfully told me, as he stitched the wound. Painful! No more swimming, he said, and I should go onto antibiotics immediately. So no more alcohol either. Dismal!  But he was kind and changed the dressing each day.  I didn’t let the incident spoil my holiday – I read lots of books and sampled every single non-alcoholic cocktail on the island!  The wound was sore and became infected, red and swollen. But its alright now and there’s an impressive scab!

I discovered that Titan Triggerfish are often more aggressive than sharks, especially when you swim into their ‘cone’ – the space above their ‘nest’.  They patrol it and when they see an intruder, they raise up their top fin (the ‘trigger’) and attack.  I found numbers of videos on YouTube of triggerfish attacking snorkellers and nipping their fins. But none showed a triggerfish sinking its sharp teeth into someone’s leg!  I’m told I must not blame the fish – it’s in their nature. Their nasty nature!

Needless to say, back in the UK, the staff at my doctors surgery found the idea of my being bitten by a giant fish hugely amusing. I’ve found it raises a few laughs (but little sympathy) in the local pub. Why should it be so dreadful when a dog bites someone, and so very entertaining when a fish does?  I’ve been snorkelling for years in many different places and successfully avoided stingrays, sharks, sea urchins, poisonous pufferfish and stinging coral.  I’d never before encountered big triggerfish with their pointed teeth, but I shall keep well clear of them the future!  I shall flaunt an elegant scar on my leg. Every scar tells a story. And I’m a storyteller.

Good Riddance to January

January 2018 is memorable (or rather unmemorable) for having the longest number of sunless days and hours of any January since records began, so I’m told.  It was a dark, dismal, dank month – and – to add adverbs (now very unfashionable) to adjectives – it was dolefully dreary, dreadfully dire and deeply depressing. But it’s over now! February has blasted in with cold clarity, clear skies and a stunning super blue moon.  I woke in the early hours when the full moon was low in the sky gleaming slyly through the jet black spidery branches of a tree and saw a carpet of white snowdrops glimmering beneath. The lunar phenomenon was ghostly enough to haunt the imagination.  Such things have been known to send one mad. As the moon sank lower into a pallid mist and I crept back to my snug bed, I realised with elation that January had fled and February had dawned. It will get colder before it gets warmer. But, as the poet, Shelley, says: “If winter comes can spring be far behind?”

25 Years on Borrowed Time

index plant of hope

A quarter of a century has passed since my reprieve. I was lying on my back under a searingly bright light, alone. I had been dreaming of freedom and fervently hoping that I would outwit my enemy and come through unscathed. Doubt suddenly dispelled and I knew in that moment that my foe was dead.

That’s what radiation does to cancer cells  – it kills them. It can also damage healthy cells, but I was unaware of that at the time, and have had to live ever since with the side-effects. But I have lived!  Three months before this moment of revelation, I had been told I had the dreaded big C, and needed a major operation without delay, where various internal organs had been cut out, and this was followed swiftly afterwards by a course of daily radiotherapy and further treatment.

The physical assault on my body was nothing compared to the mental anguish. My moods swung between despair and hope, between anger and acceptance, but predominant was anxiety about how my husband would cope if I did not make it, and grief that I might not see my two children grow up; they were then aged 6 and 4.  I loved them all so much and dearly wanted to live.

When I finally managed to get my galloping fears under control, I decided to find out as much as possible as I could about my situation. I learned that I had a 50% chance of surviving for 5 years.  I am an optimist and promptly decided I would be in the better half of this statistic.  I also resolved to hit the enemy hard with all the ammunition I had and resort to every defensive tactic.  In addition to conventional treatment – surgery etc – I deployed all the alternative medical options: meditation, visualization, exercise, high doses of vitamin C, homeopathy, and a diet designed to boost my immune system, which had taken a hammering.

infinite-hope-martin-luther-king-quotesAnd I came through, and with every passing year and all the subsequent check-ups, I became more confident and more thankful.  I have now survived not just 5 years but 5 times this.  I’m still alive and well (often managing to ignore the peripheral neuropathy – pins and needles – in my feet 24/7, a legacy of having my sciatic nerve irradiated).   Twenty-five years on, my children have grown up and I have two small grandchildren.  At the onset I thought motherhood might be cut short and I never expected to be a grandmother –  and what a blessing it is!

All those years ago, when confronted with my own mortality at a comparatively young age, I didn’t know God.  But He knew me and saved me.  Fourteen years later I encountered Him, and repentance with faith has changed my life.  Now I know that life is a temporary assignment and our home is in heaven.  Now I journey with the Lord at my side and the fear of dying is gone.  I am so thankful for the extra time granted to me – the ‘borrowed’ years have been sweet. Though we all know that human life is finite, the young feel they’ll live forever. Then as age creeps insidiously up on us, we stop deluding ourselves. Some people worry about their end, but not believers. I have recently witnessed the early death from lung cancer of a dear Christian friend, and she was completely at peace about it. No one need die alone – Our Lord is always with us and He is the way, the truth and the life. Dispel the doubts and grab hold of hope. With Him and in His love,  we can look forward to eternity with confidence and joy.

 

 

Role Reversal

A year ago I retired from a long-term part-time job, which gave me plenty of time for writing. I intended to transform my life and re-brand myself as a full-time professional writer.  So why have I written so little and had no time to edit my fourth book, the first draft of which was completed over six months ago?  Much essential PEP (pruning, editing, polishing) is still to be done.  The reason for the delay is that during the summer there’s been a significant change in my role and occupation.

After a working life of several decades, and some years later than normal people, my DBH (dearly beloved husband) is to take AIR (active inspirational retirement).  The DBH has decided to ‘boot himself upstairs’ and become Non-Executive Chairman (NEC) of the family business, whilst I have been promoted to the position of New Executive Director (NED). Board meetings will no longer be held in our bathroom at 0630 every weekday morning, but will now happen on 29th February.  AGM’s will become DGM’s (Decadal General Meetings). Junior directors are invited to be present but discouraged from participation. The NED knows that discussions with the NEC about business will be limited to the hours of 1045-1115 and this only on the third Wednesday of each month.

This means that the POL (pattern of life) had changed here at home in Dorset.  We endeavour to be more organised and yet more relaxed.  To clarify how this is achieved, one asks:  what does the DBH mean by ‘active’ retirement?  This DOS (daily operational schedule) will give you some idea:

0630-0730 The NED gets up, does household tasks, eats breakfast and is at her desk by 0800.

0830-1000 The NEC wakes up, listens to Radio 4, drinks tea, reads, rises, showers, and descends.

1010 The NEC has his breakfast, reads the paper, and prepares for the day.  At 1120, he goes outside to the rear lawn to practice his putting with the aim of improving his handicap at clockwork golf. The cats, Oscar and Ella, (O&E) are banished from the rear garden at this time as they have a habit of racing after his golf ball and batting it away from the hole.  Family and friends (F&F) are allowed to observe but not permitted to make comments. (If weather is inclement, the DBH practices snooker in the games room, to improve his chance of winning against his son).

1130 NED has finished with responding to the day’s batch of emails and opens the post, including a letter from NAS (the Non-Abbreviation Society), which informs her that she and DBH have been expelled from membership. This causes her no regret and she moves on to deal with more significant matters.

1315 DBH prepares his own lunch, pours himself a single glass of wine and at 1330 commences eating.

1333 approx. NED dashes in from the office, throws some food on a plate, wolfs it down and returns to work at 1400.

1430-1530 The DBH has his PLD (post lunch doze) in situ (in his kitchen chair) or, if fine, outside on the swing chair, during which time birds are forbidden to cheep. Guests and Grandchildren (G&G) are requested to keep silent during PLD.

1545-1715 Three times a week, the NEC works out on the rower, jogger and bike at his Weight Reduction Programme (WRP). On other days he takes a hike round the land. The NED is exempted from this activity but any G&G are encouraged to accompany him. On Saturdays this is obligatory.

1845-1930 The NED metamorphoses into Loving & Sympathetic Spouse (LASS) and prepares dinner. 1900 The NEC now becomes Amazingly Genial Husband (AGH) and pours drinks for her and F&F.  Important: White wine must be no more than 12˚ in temperature and no less than 13% in alcoholic content.  LASS frantically tries to serve dinner on time.

1930-2130 Dinner.  Red wine, which was opened at 1800 to allow it to breathe, is served by AGH.

2140 AGH retires to sofa in Monks Room for PPN (post prandial nap) which may involve sleeping in front of the TV, when O&E are discouraged from jumping onto his lap and flexing their claws into his thigh.

2150-2230 LASS retires to bed, sliding swiftly into sleep.

Anytime from 23.10 until 0140 AGH wakes and goes into PAD mode (perambulation around drive) where, unobserved (except by nocturnal O&E), he muses on life, gazes at stars and hugs trees. Sometimes owls hoot. AGH then quietly locks house and goes upstairs to bed without disturbing sleeping LASS, G&G and F&F.

It is important to remember that timings are rigidly adhered to. The ROOL (rhythm of our life) must be carefully preserved. We have shared this schedule with F&F so that when they come and visit, they will be able to slot in snugly with the new arrangements. My plan to become a full-time DPW (dedicated professional writer) has been placed on hold.  But I live in hope.

 

My Dragon won’t Listen to me

At last my voice is beginning to return to how it used to be, though it still sounds pretty ragged to me at times.  I lost it back in April and  I’m disappointed that it is still strangely hoarse.   It’s been stressful, though whether the inability to speak has caused the stress or whether stress caused the speechlessness I cannot tell!  All I know is that my voice has been weak and husky for three months. blue_dragon_webBut that wouldn’t matter too much, as my friends and family are used to me sounding like an old scratchy recording, but unfortunately my Dragon speech recognition software likes me speaking naturally and it hasn’t  taken kindly to me sounding like somebody with a dreadful sore throat. In short – it doesn’t want to listen to me!  When I try to dictate, the words don’t appear on the page with the ease and speed that they used to.  My dragon has gone on strike!  And I can’t blame the poor creature. I find it difficult to listen to myself.  I shall just have to type what I write as I used to do.  But I miss my dragon.  I’m sure that when my voice returns to normal,  the dragon will recognize that an old friend has returned and obliging reproduce my words electronically.  If not, I shall breathe fire!

Struck Dumb

speechlessnessNine weeks ago I woke up, tried to say good morning to my darling husband and found I could not speak.  I couldn’t even to croak – nothing!  Very strange.  My vocal cords had gone AWOL.  The evening before, having had guests for lunch, I noticed that my voice was a little weaker than usual. I thought nothing of it – I probably talked too much – as one does!

My dearly beloved, of course, thought it was a huge joke! I was more upset by his obvious merriment than I was by not being able to speak. ‘It’ll come back during the morning’, I thought and put off doing anything about it. I work from home – most writers do – and as I deal in the written words, I just got on with them – composing them in my head and storing on my computer as most writers do.  The doorbell rang once, and when I’d opened the door I gesticulated at the man delivering a parcel.  He nodded politely, as if accustomed to meeting people who could not hear or speak properly.  I signed for it and mouthed my thanks.

The expressions ‘losing your voice’ and ‘being struck dumb’ took on a whole new meaning.  I found I could whisper on the breath but few could hear me. There was no question of answering the telephone.  By mid afternoon, after an unusually peaceful and silent lunch with my dearest man who also works at home, I became a little concerned and resolved to visit the doctor the next day.  He wasn’t concerned at all and said I had laryngitis – inflammation of the vocal chords – and that it would probably go away soon, but if I still couldn’t speak after 8 weeks, he would refer me to the ENT Dept at the local hospital. I would have to be patient.  ‘EIGHT WEEKS!’ I shouted in my head, remaining silent.  Patience is not my strong suit.

Inevitably, a week later there was our village May Day Fair which me and my vocal other half attended. Unable to utter any sound at all, I decided to make a clown of myself by using placards to communicate (as in ‘Love Actually’), with messages such as:

‘Just call me a dumb brunette!’ or ‘ A writer without a voice!’ and ‘Let all rejoice. I’ve lost my voice, And don’t know where to find it.’  I found people tended to shout at me as if I was mad or deaf, so in protest I scrawled down:

‘I’m speechless not witless!’  The placard that people found most entertaining was:

‘Please no more jokes about how peaceful it must be for my husband – I’ve heard them all.’

A talkative woman (as I am), rendered speechless (as I was), had to be hilarious. But soon it became not only inconvenient but isolating. I had to get used to being ignored. As weeks past I began to think that perhaps my enforced silence was a punishment for being so effusive and so wordy.

I recalled that a few years ago, one Shrove Tuesday, my normally tactful spouse made the cardinal error of saying that I talked too much. Truth hurts so I snapped back that I would give up talking for Lent.  This was harder than I had anticipated, but I did keep it up for about 10 days, after which time I had to resort to whispering i.e. not quite using my voice. So I whispered for another week, during which time my best beloved and I went to Sunday lunch with friends.  I kept up the whispers throughout, which some of the other guests found strange whilst others were amused by my persistence in my Lenten protest.  But I couldn’t keep it up for 40 days. Whispering is tiring and I nearly lost my voice for real.

This time, when it is real, I find that people often whisper back to me, which is completely illogical when they know that I can hear very well, but just can’t make sounds. I ask people why they are whispering and they generally say, “Because you are.”  How crazy is that? What is even more crazy is that though my voice has returned during the last three weeks, I still speak huskily and sound as if I’ve been smoking 30 cigarettes a day for 30 years – which is very unfair as I’ve never smoked tobacco at all!

Three weeks ago, I went to the hospital and a doctor threaded a tickley line with a tiny camera into my nose and down to my larynx to see if there were any lumps. Fortunately there were none – to my great relief, though it was still inflamed – after 6 weeks.  I was advised not to shout or whisper, and suggestions included gargling, drinking lots of water (something I always do), and trying to relax (something I rarely do).  Friends tell me that occasionally I speak almost normally, but to myself, my voice still sounds croaky and when I’m tired it goes high pitched, loses strength and fades.  It’s now over 2 months and it’s no longer funny!  Perhaps I should ‘Leave it alone. It’ll come home, brimming with words. Don’t mind it.’

PEP Talk

It’s been over 4 weeks since I finished my book.  I felt elated even though I knew it was only the first draft.  After 10 months and some 95,000 words, I needed a break from it, and decided not to look at the book for at least a month. The plan was that I would come back refreshed and be more clear headed and prepared for the ‘PEP’ work. PEP = Pruning, Editing, Polishing.  As all writers know this can be a long procedure and a lot of work.  Self-criticism is always difficult but it’s essential. But first I needed some relaxation and time away from my study. Needless to say, I became involved in other work, which has been all-consuming, and I don’t feel as if I have had much respite. It’s said that a change is as good as a rest, but I’m not so sure. I like writing and I can do it at my own pace and in my own space.  I don’t take telephone calls, I ignore the untidy house and I can eat chocolate as often as I like with no one to witness my greed.  Working with others seems quite stressful by comparison. Anyhow, I must soon re-focus on “Dear Magpies” and start the edit.  This week, I went to a lunch in a New Forest Pub with other members of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and gained interesting insights about other writers’ ways of undertaking the editing process. It’s so helpful to feel I’m not alone in finding the task so daunting. Cutting out the flab in one’s prose is vital, but it does feel like discarding weeks of work and jettisoning beguiling words that seemed so good at the time they were composed.  It has to be done and I must get down to it. Perhaps next week!

Downhill Run

You need to put words on pages to make books. It’s more about quality than quantity but you must have both. And it takes time and hard work. Right now I’m focused on writing a new novel – my fourth book.  It’s zipping along but there have been moments of despondency – and doubt that I’d ever get it done.

Cartoon 1In the early part of 2016 I did planning and research, and began to write in May.  The actual writing is always exciting but it can be daunting when you realize what a long slog it’s going to be and how much there is to do.  It was like being at the bottom of tall wooded hill, gazing upwards. So I bolstered up my confidence and commitment. I galvanized the enthusiasm and energy needed to climb to the top and get back down successfully.  Inevitably I took a few wrong paths, stumbled, was unable to see my way and lost the thread. I wrote for three months until the end of July, when I felt rather bogged down with the large cast of characters and a complex plot. Words became tangled in thickets, blocked by obstacles, and there were moments when I floundered in the quagmire of confusion. I took three months off in the summer to spend time with family and to rethink the work in progress. During the break my only achievement was finding a title: ‘Dear Magpies’.

I recommenced work with a clear head and renewed zeal in October and finished about a third of the book by the end of the year. By this time some of the clouds had cleared and I could see the top of the hill.  When 2017 arrived, I set myself the goal of getting the rest of  the book finished by 31st March. Quite some undertaking!  I should state that the end of the book is not when you scale the summit of the hill but when you get back down to the bottom on the other side. I hit the top – the halfway point – in January and that was good.  By then I had much of the story told and many words had flowed from head onto page. The horizon was visible so I had a better perspective on how I was doing.  I could now see the ground far below and it looked easy enough to find my way back down to the end of the trek and the finish. So I set off down and disappeared among the trees and pitfalls of creativity.

Finishing postsIn February I discovered I was no longer footsore. On 1st March I found myself at the wheel of a little car which gathers momentum as I head downhill.  I had a month to go and about quarter of the book to write but I’ve worked out how to resolve the various plot lines and bring everything to a conclusion which will surprise and satisfy the reader.  But the going’s still hard and at times the book can be a real pain. Some days the words gush out like water from a tap and other days writing feels like wading through treacle.  Though I still have many thousands of words to compose, the end is in sight, although sometimes I have the illusion that the finishing posts are being moved further away.  So we drive faster, me and my car.  It’s going to be glorious to accelerate through the final paragraphs and sentences. Then the screech of brakes to the final words – and a sigh of relief. The story will be told. My book will be done.

 

Abbs and Acronyms

indexWe hear a lot about Apps and rather less about Abbs, unless you happen to be into bodybuilding. People who talk about their abbs are generally into flaunting their well-toned abdominal muscles. But an ABB could be an abbreviation of ‘Abbreviation’.

Some years ago, over a few glasses of wine, my husband and I decided to form the Non-Abbreviation Society. We deplored shortened names, such as Rodge for Roger, Bex for Rebecca, Seb for Sebastian, Sooze for Suzanne, Ant for Anthony, or Ginnie for Virginia. Such savagely pruned names were an abomination.  AGW (Another glass of wine?)  Gloriously beautiful names like Penelope, Leopold, Francesca, and Orlando should be allowed to roll off the tongue and not have their wings clipped. DMMD! (Don’t mix metaphors, darling!) I had a friend who was married to somebody called Martin, who was a delightful man, and she always referred to him, even to his face, as Mart the Fart – and I used to wince when I heard it. Even if she knew something about him that we didn’t, it was still horribly unkind.

MBH (my beloved husband) and I made a habit of creating silly societies. Some years back a Swedish acquaintance told us we were disgustingly politically incorrect, so we decided to invite selected friends to join the Politically Incorrect Peoples Society, or PIPS.  Clearly we had by this time blackballed ourselves from our own Non Abbreviation Society, which our son had always referred to as NAS. He was never allowed to join! PIPS proved to be a good dinner table entertainment, and we even got as far as designing a tie and scarf for it – a smart navy background with a neat scattering of lemon pips in pale yellow, though we never went into production. We doubted whether people would pay for the privilege of joining our society. They all thought it was a bit of a joke.

Perversely, witty and complex abbreviations soon became more fun than eliminating them, and when we came across small children, whether delightful or disgusting, angelic or awful,  we would refer to as an ALP or an OLO.  This was coded language for ʼappy little person or ʼorrible little object.   Our non-abbreviation society became NONABBSOC and we then decided that acronyms were more fun and, as MBH aptly put it, ARS – which means, of course, Acronyms Reign Supreme.

Our lives are full of acronyms.  We don’t think twice when we read ASAP and we don’t blink at FYI.  Most of us are familiar with TTFN – Ta Ta For Now;  KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid;  and NYOB – None of Your Business.  And there are a whole raft of new ones used in texting and messaging such as BBL – Be Back Later; KIT – Keep In Touch, NP – No Problem, and LOL – Laughing Out Loud.  This reminds me that, some years back, I used to refer to my brother’s girlfriend as his LIL (Live in Lover), and after he married her and later on divorced her, she became my SOL (Sister-Out-Law).

There are many groups and societies which use acronyms – such as AA , and I particularly  approve of MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Whilst on the subject of mothers, I recall that my mine, when she was laughing elatedly or driving fast (she often did both), had a habit of using words with 00 in the middle and repeating them, such as ‘boom boom’. She used to use ‘zoom zoom’ when overtaking cars, but if she swung out and realised she didn’t have the time, which rarely happened, she would shriek ‘mooz, mooz’ – and dive back – ‘zoom zoom’ backwards – got it?

It’s useful to have coded messages that don’t offend others but which can be used in company to agree on a plan of action. So MBH and I concocted some useful acronym, such as LUGTHOOH (Let us get the hell out of here) and HICSHAM (Help! I can’t stand him/her another minute).  Inevitably the insults became more personal, and on occasions at a drinks party, when I was holding forth to a group of people with glazed eyes, MBH would sidle up to me and say in a stage whisper ‘YABOB’ (You are being obsessively boring), and I would hiss back: ‘YIKSO’ (Yes, I know. Sod off!). We have the odd DOOM (Difference of opinion moment), but we never resort to GBH.

MBH’s most recent society goes under the acronym, PHIB which he pronounces ‘fib’, and its stated aim is to Put Humour Into Business.  As he and I spend most of our personal life doubled up in laughter, it seems appropriate that this should spill over into working life too, and because it’s such fun we’ve decided to encourage others to follow suit.

Since I spend a lot of time in my study, writing, reading … dreaming, I have developed the habit of leaving notes to remind myself of things I must do when I have time (TIMDWIHT) – such as ‘Buy Cat Food’,  ‘Cut Toe Nails’ and ‘Send Thank-You Letter’. I have a sheet of address stickers which are perfect for the job, and these reminders get stuck on the lamp, the telephone, the computer, a framed photograph or a paperweight. Inevitably, to save time when trying to fit in all non-creative activities into an ever decreasing window of time as my deadline get shorter and the spaces in between writing sessions gets less, these notes get shortened to BCF, CTN, and STYL. I waste precious time concocting witty acronyms and outrageous abbreviations, and then spend hours later on trying to work out what they mean. After all SSS could have meant ‘Send son socks’ or ‘Stop seeing sense’ or what it really meant : ‘Sow spring seeds’

I spent 15 minutes last week trying to decipher  PRAY, which is clearly important as I had stuck it three different places,  until I finally worked out that for once I hadn’t used an acronym at all.  I was reminding myself of the need to pray ‘continually’ as St Paul says. I then found two stickers which said PFE, and it took a while to work out this was not a spiritual exhortation, but simply a reminder to do one’s pelvic floor exercises.Acca and Abbs

I’ve had huge fun wasting the morning by writing this blog, but I really must get back to WIP (work in progress) on my next book. To conclude,  I should like to wish you all PEACE & HOPE in 2017 – Pursue Excellence And Cherish Everyone  & Hang Onto Positive Expectations.

Isn’t life Gr8?