Archive | October 2017

A shopping trip to regret.

Yesterday, Charlotte and I decided to take a day off writing and editing and shunting and all the other things we do, and to go out to Chichester on the spree. We dropped my watch off to be repaired and then set off happily towards the shops. We had a considerable shopping list and every intention on buying everything on it, starting with a jacket – very like this one – which I wanted to buy her for her birthday.

We was wrong!

We’d found the jacket on the internet but it wasn’t in the shop and the assistant, who was very friendly and helpful, said she thought it had sold out. Considerable woe! ‘Never mind’, we said to one another, ‘we’ll find another one.’ And we moved on to the second item on our list, on the way to our next shop. Couldn’t find what we were looking for there either! Woe and double woe! ‘This isn’t our day’ we said to one another. But we strode forth nevertheless, determined to be successful in our third trip.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. Our third port of call was Boots where I had every hope of buying the strips I needed to test my blood sugar levels. I’ve been buying them from Boots, for more years than I care to think about! But they weren’t there! And another very helpful assistant told us that she thought they’d been discontinued. Considerable groaning ensued. But Charlotte came to the rescue, dear girl that she is, and phoned around to find if there was anywhere else where the strips were still being sold. She found one local chemist who had one pack left and asked her to put it on hold for us until we could come and collect it. A success, although in a very roundabout way! Not quite high-five territory, but close!

By that time, we were feeling in need of sustenance and took ourselves off to Marks and Spencers for coffee and cake. Bliss! And a return to normal. Then we did some food shopping and dear old M&S didn’t let us down. We emerged from the store with a full shopping basket and our faith in shopping restored.

Wrong again! 

‘Now,’ we said. ‘All we’ve got to do is pick up the watch, we’ve given them an hour, it should be ready by now.’ You’ll never guess…! It wasn’t ready and they didn’t know when it would be, but they would ring me when it was, which surprise, surprise, they still haven’t done. Groan, growl, stomp off kicking the pavements all the way to the carpark. ‘This,’ we said to one another, ‘is definitely not our day!’

Little did we know, there was a final horror waiting for us in the car park. One of my old adversaries, otherwise known as a ticket machine, was lying malevolently in wait for us. And of course, the damn thing wouldn’t accept my card for payment! It went straight into clicking and growling overdrive before flashing up on the screen that it had no intention of taking it. I answered it with my usual routine. Swearing, card out, card in, buttons pressed, yet another refusal. Repeat performance. And on the third attempt when I was pulling my boots up ready to kick it, it gave in and allowed me to have what I wanted. Not exactly what I would call a successful spree!

I hate machines!







The local authors fair at Crawley Library.

Crawley Library as you can see is a rather splendid place, very new, spacious and well planned. But I rather blotted my copy book at the Local authors fair there last Saturday. For a start I arrived over an hour late, I’d eaten something on Friday which disagreed with me and it caught up with me in the middle of the night, so I was feeling distinctly weak and washed out at breakfast time and didn’t dare to eat anything but settled for a cup of black tea. I missed a train at Clapham Junction and had to wait for the next one and by the time I got to Crawley, I’d become such a wimp that I hired a cab to find the library for me.

The fair was held in an upstairs room and someone had very kindly set out my books on the table ready for me and I was greeted with some concern by Clair Stanton and Alan Goodman, the two organisers of the event, who rushed at once to provide coffee and cake to sustain me and settled me in at my post. I appreciated that very much, being a diabetic and by then rather in need of sustenance.

The event was already under way of course and extremely noisy. There were only two authors there who were published the old fashioned way, me and a lovely friendly lady called Sheila Rance (Hi there Sheila) who writes children’s books and is published by Orion. I knew two of the self published authors from the Chichester group which is called ‘Chindie’, but the others were unknown to me.

It was good to meet up with fans and talk to them, because I enjoy to talking to my fans but it was extremely difficult. 22 authors all talking at once to push their wares makes a heck of a row. There were times when I simply couldn’t hear what the people who’d come to see me were saying. The level of noise is a major problem at such events and I don’t know what the answer is. But I was treated kindly throughout and the two Chindie members drove me home for which I was extremely grateful, because by then I was beginning to feel like a piece of chewed string.

So thank you Rosemary Noble and Patricia Stoner. You’re dear kind friends.




This entry was posted on October 19, 2017. 2 Comments

A great evening in Tooting

I’ve always liked Tooting Library. It was a happy hunting ground for me when I was young and I like it even more now, because the evening I spent there last Friday was such fun.

It was a joy to meet up with so many Tootingites and to share memories with them. And what memories they were. We talked about ‘gro-ers’, ‘playing out’, where WW1 soldiers lived, what it was like to ride on a tram, what it was like in the tubes when they were used as shelters during the Blitz. So much and so detailed. My head was spinning like a happy top by the time the evening was over.

And of course, it hasn’t ended there. For ever since, new friends and old have been in touch and I’ve been invited back to take part in a torch-lit walk. It’s as if I have never moved away.

And the following morning I went to Crawley to an Authors book-fair there. Of which more in my next blog – or possibly the one after! Oh it’s all go!

This entry was posted on October 18, 2017. 3 Comments

For friends and fans in the Crawley area, Saturday 14th between 11am-2pm.

I shall be in Crawley Library between 11am and 2pm on Saturday the 14th, as part of National Library Week, selling copies of my latest novel which is new out Everybody’s Somebody.

The novel begins in 1908 and is set in Binderton, which you can see below.

And Arundel.

And Worthing in the 1930’s.

It features a girl who is sent out to work when she is twelve and is based on someone I knew very well as a child. She doesn’t look much from her picture but my word, she was a worker.

I hope I shall see lots of friends and fans at this Local Author Fair and make new ones!

EDIT – Entry is free!


Talk in Tooting Library, Friday 13th

Excitement is growing now. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and fans at Tooting library at 6pm on Friday the 13th of October and making new friends as I’m sure I shall. There’s so much to say about our Tooting. It has a long and fascinating history, I’ve looked out several photographs that might interest you, here’s a taste of some of them.


This one shows the back of the Holy Family convent in the High Street, where I was educated from 1938 to 1940. I sheltered from the daylight raids at the start of the Blitz, in the chapel there.



This one is Tooting Broadway looking north, trams and all.

And this one’s another shot of the Broadway, showing the old king standing on his pink plinth in front of the public lavatories.

And here is a third shot of the Broadway, showing the public baths.

But this one is the best of them all. This lovely lady was the template for my heroine in Everybody’s Somebody, sent out to work in a big house miles from home when she was twelve and from then on, working every day of her life until the day before she died. I loved her to bits.

And her husband Jesse was one of the three World War One soldiers I knew as a child and fed me all manner of tales about life in the trenches.

Oh we are going to have fun on Friday! See you there.

EDIT – Entry is free!


News of two talks. One at Tooting, the other at Crawley

This blog is for friends, fans and local history scholars in South London and the Crawley area of West Sussex.


On Friday October 13th I shall be giving a talk in Tooting Public Library at 6 00 in the evening. I’m looking forward to it very much because I shall be going back to my roots in every sense of the words. I was born and bred in Tooting and still have links there, and knew and know it well. For some time, when I was a teenager, I lived in Mitcham Lane and Tooting Library was a happy home for me. So naturally, I have set part of my latest book ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ there. Or to be more accurate ‘there’ as it was during and after the First World War, when there was a military hospital in Church Lane, which became St Benedicts, and injured soldiers in their bright blue uniforms taking the air on the common or down in Mitcham Lane. Lots of memories of Tooting in the 30’s too which we can dip in to.


And next day Saturday October 14th , between 11 am and 200 pm, I shall be giving a talk in Crawley Library as part of their Authors’ Book Fair. ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ starts in Sussex in a very small village called Binderton, just north of Chichester in the year 1908 when my heroine is just twelve years old and is sent to work in Arundel Castle. The story takes her to London and later to Worthing during the 30s. Lots of local history  in this one for local fans and some of it might surprise you.


If you live in the Tooting or Crawley area, I do hope you will come and meet me. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I promise we can have some fun together



This entry was posted on October 5, 2017. 2 Comments