Showing posts from October, 2023

Roses, Relationships and Portrait Painting by Griselda Heppel

My mother died 3 weeks ago. At nearly 98, this could hardly come as a surprise but it did. Stouthearted, resilient, refusing to be beaten by her increasing physical limitations, she seemed indomitable.  A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor Then, barely two months into her move into a residential home, she had a stroke. Over the next few days the carers looked after her beautifully until she gently faded away. I couldn’t have wished for a more peaceful death for her, though I did feel sad that it happened just as she was starting to enjoy herself. The best moment to go, perhaps. I’d already begun to clear out her flat, and chanced upon a book in her shelves that intrigued me. My mother had never been a great reader, unless of theology or gardening; so how did a novel I’d never heard of, by a writer I admire, Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that Elizabeth Taylor), end up in her collection? Of course I had to read it, and for the first 100 pages or so of A Wreath of Roses I was none the wise

For Hallowe'en — Susan Price

Hauntings  A week to Hallowe'en — party night for ghosties, ghoulies and witches. I don't believe in ghosts. Of course I don't. I'm far too rational. I just write about them. My parents didn't believe in them either. They were adamant about that. "There's no such thing as ghosts. Go to sleep." Except my mother would sometimes tell me about the house where I was born, which she hated. It had no water indoors and no bathroom. You had to go over 'the track' to the wash-house for water and walk to the end of the row for the toilets. No electricity in the house either, though it did have gas. But none of these were her reasons for hating it. She'd never lived in a house that was any better equipped. She hated it because it was haunted. My Dad often worked late, so Mom spent many evenings alone. She'd always loved reading, so she'd curl up in a corner of their third-hand sofa, with her library book, and her cat, Tiny, purring on her lap.

Jan Needle by Julia Jones

Jan Needle - Baxter Ferret or Boddington Stoat? * Reposted from 9 May 2014 * In memory and appreciation of Jan Needle, 1943--2023 When I was making  plans for a party to celebrate the new edition of Jan Needle's Wild Wood  I began to fantasize about asking all the guests to arrive dressed as the character who most closely resembled their secret self.  The male guests would have had a generous choice: the Big Four from Wind in the Willows -- Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad ( and perhaps Otter for the more elusive spirits) and then Wild Wood 's dour ideologue Boddington Stoat, flamboyant champagne  socialist,   O.B.Weasel, geriatric Harrison Ferret and any number of old sea rats and enthusiastic volunteers. I would be Wild Wood 's Daisy Ferret, the tyrannical illogical mother, always ready to lash out with her ladle at any furry offspring within range while dimpling at O.B.Weasel's waistcoat and raising the kitchen stress-levels. Off to the party Francis Wheen &am

Research - Exciting, Informative, Inspirational -- Clare Weiner

  The books I used - and the first novel... (older edition) (This blog is the text of a talk I was meant to give at the September 'Hawkesbury LitFest Afternoon Talks' this autumn - prevented by 'unforeseen circumstances' - adult children, even slightly over 40, should consult parents when they are wedding planning!) Reading Kamila Shamsie’s latest novel – Best of Friends – reminds me of my first inspiration to write fiction based firmly on the necessary research. And to be bold about it. Since then, and knowing some reader’s reactions – though not all – I have seen the sense of moderating for a wider audience. Although I still admire Shamsie, trained as a journalist and the daughter of a journalist mother, for her boldness in writing life as it is without giving offence but certainly with a moral boldness and realism.  A second influence on my writing has been the research I began to do. I had originally imagined a sci-fi tale based around the recent news (back then in

Earth, Fire, Air, Water: Writing at Greenway - Katherine Roberts

This month, we took advantage of the National Trust's free autumn tickets to visit Agatha Christie's holiday home, Greenway on the River Dart. You can stroll down through the gardens to the boathouse where her famous detective Hercule Poirot solved one of his murder mysteries in "Dead Man's Folly", which was filmed in the grounds. You can even sit in the author's favourite chair with a panoramic view of the river and watch seals basking at low tide on the rocks opposite. There is a lot more river traffic these days, but it is still a magical place. So what else would you expect to find in her garden than writing prompts to inspire today's authors? I found this nature-inspired prompt on the path to the fountain where Agatha's much-loved pets rest in their peaceful little graves. It's one of my favourite spots in the garden and immediately brings water to mind, closely linked in my memory to the grotto further down the garden where a goddess called K

Fun, games and collaborative writing by Sandra Horn

‘Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.’ This quote was recently posted on Facebook and attributed to Albert Einstein, but such attributions tend to be random. I don’t know where it comes from, but I like it – especially now I’m so old in years I can hardly believe it. It chimes with a poem I’ve known for years but now can’t find, which, after a catalogue of sorrowful things, contains the lines ‘still let me live as love and life were one. Still let me turn on Earth a childlike gaze and trust the whispered charities that bring tidings of human comfort. Still let me raise on wintry wrecks an altar to the spring.’ I’m not even sure I’ve got it right, but I think the sentiment is clear, and like the Einstein(?) quote, it invites us to seek joy and trust and wonder. If that’s childlike, I’ll take it. It is much needed in these times. Being childlike rather than childish informed much o