Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Fairy dust

We've been away with the fairies. To whit, a tooth fairy has been. I know. I arose from my bed at five a.m. to make sure she'd been. She had. So this morning, in addition to the excitement of finding a dead lump of enamel transformed into a shining coin we had the following philosophical discussion.

What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth?

Suggestions ranged from decoration (think South Sea island head-hunters only safer) to planting them in the gums of babies. After all, there'll be a lot of teeth.

Meanwhile Myownfairy.com has been in touch asking if we'd like a fairy door, like this one.

Of course, we said yes. Just think of the imaginative possibilities! If a mere tooth can be such a source of inspiration, well...

I'll show you where a fairy lives -
She has a tiny house;
She has taken the apartment 
Of an absent field-mouse.

She has to hang her washing
On a line the spiders pin
And she wears a pair of slippers
Cut out of orange skin. 

She carries an umbrella
No bigger than a pin,
And she bought an empty acorn,
To pack her dresses in.

The petal of a pimpernel 
She uses for a frock,
And she tells the time by blowing
On a dandelion clock. 

My eldest used to know that verse by heart. Now, she's memorising a million facts about Stalin, Soviet Russia and such-like for 'A' level history.

Where does the time go?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Known unto God

Oh blog, thou art neglected!

And this is the reason why.

It's only a draft cover. But seeing it at least makes you realise that the book itself - and three years labour - is at last closer to becoming genuine, physical reality.

It's about the war. Here's the blurb. And you can read the first three chapters - and leave a comment should you want to - here. I'd love to know what you think.


When the guns stop firing, JACK starts digging - not trenches now, but graves. But will those like him who bury the dead also lay to rest their own wartime ghosts? And what secrets remain to be discovered on the abandoned battlefields of Flanders? 

Amid the ruined city of Ypres, one enterprising local has opened what he cleverly calls the British Tavern, and Jack and the men quickly become regulars. The landlord’s daughter, FRANCOISE, takes a romantic interest in Jack as he makes faltering attempts to learn the local language. But Jack’s interests lie elsewhere until the girl becomes another victim of the winter 1919 outbreak of Spanish ’flu and he at last begins to realise that the living matter more than the dead that he is still burying.

But even a year after the Armistice, the Western Front is still claiming its casualties. And when the youngest member of the party, FULLER, is killed by an unexploded bomb during a mysterious night time exhumation, their officer, Lt INGHAM, seems to know more about the incident than he will admit. Jack and an Australian straggler, OCKER, take it on themselves to find out the truth and to administer summary justice.

Finally the British Army packs up and the last few demob papers are issued. But on the morning of his departure, Jack is suddenly confronted with the secret of his own past when a visitor to the cemeteries comes searching the battlefields - for Jack’s own grave.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Help make moments count this Children’s Hospice Week

Almost 50,000 children in the UK live with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, one that in some cases may mean that they die young. Children’s Hospice Week (this week: 11-17 May) is the UK’s only awareness and fundraising week for families caring for seriously ill children and celebrating the organisations that support them.

Led by national charity Together for Short Lives, Children’s Hospice Week brings together the UK’s 53 children’s hospices and children’s palliative care services and this year focuses on helping children and families make every precious moment count. Together for Short Lives is calling on the public to support Children’s Hospice Week by sharing a memorable moment on social media, using the hashtag #momentscount and to support their local children’s hospice service.

This year Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge has offered a supportive message for Children’s Hospice Week, as Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH):

“For families of children with life-limiting conditions, every moment is precious and every memory needs to be cherished and celebrated. Children’s hospices strive to create happy moments in the most difficult times any family could face. I hope you will join me in supporting Children’s Hospice Week and work to make every moment count for all of our families.”

Children’s hospice services are all charities that rely on donations to provide their specialist care and support to children and families across the UK. Without public support, families may lose this vital life-line. Together for Short Lives aims to ensure that services, like children’s hospices, are here to support families today and in the future, every step of the way.

For more information on Together for Short Lives and Children’s Hospice Week please visit: www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/chw

Sunday, 10 May 2015

It's good to TalkTalk

Picture this. You're away from home. You've just found out a once-in-a-lifetime must-see TV programme is about to start... and there's no way you can watch it.

Although I watch little in the way of TV (I've just broken my TV news fast, sustained for the entire duration of the General Election campaign) there are some programmes that I have to see. With TalkTalk fibre-optic broadband I can catch up easily enough. But there are still times when you want it 'taped', when you need a recording, something you can keep indefinitely and not have to fret about thirty day download self-destruct settings or similar.

But if you're away when they're on and if you didn't know and hadn't programmed the YouView box...

Then simply click 'record' on the YouView App on your phone and - hey, presto! - when you get back to base the programme of your choice will be waiting on the hard drive. It's that simple. And reliable. And wonderful.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Good Morning Britain?

So, all that hot air, huffing, puffing and endless, tedious, navel-gazing broadcasting and... what have we learnt, eh? What do we now know as the Balls stop spinning and the murky Westminster waters start clearing? Allow me to sum up the situation as I see it. I'll be quick. I promise. In fact, I'll sum it up in one sentence. It is this:

You don't get what you vote for. It's a cliché, but...

  • You get what media moguls make people believe (and just remember how they do it). Like him or loathe him, Ed Milliband stood up to the Murdoch media empire and he paid the price. 
  • You get what corporate bosses and fat cats pay for - want to donate to another election, anyone? 
  • And you get what a weird, out-dated election system dictates: 4 million votes for UKIP = (so far) 1 seat; in Scotland, the 'SNP Lion' certainly roared but the party only garnered 1,434,291 votes and yet won 55 seats. 

For all their expertise and exegesis and analysis, the pundits and the experts and the Westminster wonks got it wrong. It isn't a hung parliament. It isn't even close. There won't be another election later this year. What's the point of all that endless analysing?

For what it's worth my analysis is this. This the end of the UK as we know it. And it's the end of the Tories, too. Scotland will vote to leave the union. The Conservatives will implode over the Euro referendum. And one day, in the far distant future, in a post-Murdoch, kinder era, we'll realise that Ed Miliband, quite possibly, may just have been the best Prime Minister we never had.

You heard it here first!
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