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The Ex-Prime Minister - Chapter Four -- Andrew Crofts

  Our fourth monthly episode in the saga of an ex-prime minister. Chapter Four     The first Teddy knew of Phillipa’s Cabinet reshuffle was when a delegation of grey-faced grandees turned up in Puppy’s library to have a “serious discussion” about what they described as “the escalating situation”. It was the same bunch of grandees who, a few weeks earlier, had gravely informed Teddy that the party had “lost confidence” in him, and that he was going to have to step aside. He was surprised to see them back so soon and had a feeling they were looking a bit shifty, perhaps even a little shame-faced. “This reshuffle,” one of them started the ball rolling. “What reshuffle?” Teddy asked. “Teddy’s been very busy working on his diaries,” Puppy explained to the room, “I haven’t wanted to bother him with political tittle tattle.” “Tittle-tattle?” Someone let off a controlled explosion of frustration from the back of the group. “It’s the biggest balls up since …” He failed to think of a b

Writing? -- Susan Price

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      Not many people get beyond this gate. But go on, you can come in.   Have a seat by the pond. There is water down there, somewhere, below the poppies. The birds and insects find it.    This fox-glove (below) self-seeded and started off quite modestly. Then it grew and grew and kept on growing, into a mighty tower of flower. It must like its position, on the shady side of the potted plum tree, because it's now two and half metres tall (eight feet).      It has been a great amusement to stand and watch the bumblebees work their way up this tower. They arrive in twos and threes and go from one flower to another. They vanish inside, but if you stoop and peer into the flower yourself, you see them working their way right to the back, with little scrambling legs. After a second or two, they reverse out and jump up, or sideways, to the next flower and repeat. Then away on their wings. Trouble is, they often head into our home-made greenhouse, AKA The Polythene Palace, which is

Watering the Garden. Lorraine Smith

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Authentic Pilgrims by Joy Margetts

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 This week my books arrive from the printers. I am waiting in eager anticipation to open that box, redolent with the scent of newly printed paper. Longing to handle the weight of the book, to hear the pleasing creak of the spine as I flip through the crisp white pages. And to see the cover in all of its resplendent glory. I have had an image of the cover in a computer file for months, and it is stunning. Everyone who has seen it has remarked so. I am really very pleased with the design, and am eagerly anticipating what it will look like ‘in the flesh’. Will the colours be as vivid as I hope, will it stand out in a crowd, will it draw the eyes of potential readers, look good on the shelf of a bookstore? This particular cover was a collaborative effort. My cover designer had worked on the first book and so certain features were repeated for this, the second. The font, the stunning illuminated capital, and the off-white torn top section that represented the vellum used by medieval monks

"Encouragement for Writers..." -- Mari Howard

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  Imagine: We are at a party – the grown up sort, colloquially, sometimes referred to as a ‘stand up and shout’. Maybe it is a party for our school graduation year, now many moons away… whatever, it is a party for educated professionals and their (present) partners, so some degree of an embarrassing questions may be expected. ‘As a writer’ (and probably in the company now of many others who have published books) the questions you ’ re asked  might go like this: From a friend who kept in touch in our forties, when we each began doing stuff we had wanted to, but hadn’t’ yet because of   family commitments: ‘And are   you still writing?’ Well now… what does this question really mean?   Is it ‘ Are you still plodding on with that first novel of yours, now at page 1,047, yet nowhere near finished and with no hope of publication or the Booker Prize?’ Or, ‘I suppose you keep trying to interest a publisher, but those rejection letters just keep coming through your door? ’ Or possibly, (soundin

Gussage All Saints and Ravel's Bolero by Sandra Horn

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Earlier this month, I fulfilled a long-held ambition. I visited Gussage All Saints! Not only that, we stayed overnight in the delightful community-run pub, The Drovers. Gussage all Saints…along with Nately Scours and Nether Wallop, some of my favourite mad place-names. It was a fluke that we were there at all – it was a Crick Crack Club night at the Earth House in Cranborne and we are in the indulgent habit of staying overnight in or close to the village afterwards so we don’t have the drive home late that night.   It’s getting more and more difficult nowadays to find anywhere taking a one-night (Saturday) booking through the season, and The Drovers was the only place in the whole South of England (according to my husband) we could have. It was away from Cranborne a bit and down narrow unlit lanes, but absolutely worth it. There was an evening of brilliant story-telling round the fire. The final storytellers used a Japanese ritual – as a story ended, they each picked up a candle, fac