Archive | July 2020

Fourpenny Flyer re-published

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Back to the writing business this morning. My publisher Agora are re-printing this novel this morning. It’s the central book of a trilogy based on the fact that WHSmith was founded by a woman. In real life Anna Smith worked so hard that she died young but she sounded such a feisty character that I couldn’t resist creating a prototype and I kept her alive until the Victorian Era.

This book is about her daughter in law Harriet who lived in the time of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester, so naturally she is present on the occasion and saw how frightening and brutal it was. There are some parts of history I simply can’t resist!

It was originally published in 1989. But if you haven’t met my Nan Easter before you might like to meet her and her family now.

It’s available on Amazon here.

Fourpenny Flyer eBook Cover

A 70th Anniversary


This is an anniversary I’ve got to celebrate on my own. 70 years ago today at half past ten in the morning, in Wandsworth Registry Office, Roy and I got married. It was probably the most miserable day of our entire life together. This photograph was taken about an hour after the event and my darling’s body cues and expression tell the story. Hands on hips and feet slightly apart it says ‘sod yer!’, the expression on his face says ‘I’ve married her and there’s nothing you can do about it!’ He was a good bloke.

After that the only way our marriage could go was up. And for the next 54 years that’s the direction we took. I hope the next photographs will show how happy we were -especially when our first baby arrived. We didn’t have very much money but we had one another and we had our babies.



Which is not to say, we didn’t make mistakes. I wince to remember an absolute howler. He was an ardent cricketer and a very good one – a spin bowler – he played most weekends in the summer and, now and then, if his club were playing somewhere near, I went to watch him. I didn’t really understand the game. It was a bit too complicated for me. But I loved to watch those long legs pounding up the crease and enjoyed the roar of delight – no correct that – the polite but appreciative applause that rippled round the ground when he took a wicket.

The day of the howler was a summer Saturday when the team played in Sutton where we lived. I put my first baby in his pram and wheeled him to the cricket ground where I sat on a deck chair in the sun to watch the game. I saw him take a wicket and acknowledge his applause and then I dropped off to sleep in the sun. When the game was over and he appeared beside us ready to walk us home, he was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

‘What did you think of that?’ he said. ‘Good or what?’

‘It was a very good wicket,’ I said.

He was still grinning ‘I got a hat-trick!’ he said.

I knew what that was, three wickets with three consecutive balls, a vary rare achievement and I’d slept through it! How could I have done such an awful thing?! But I confessed. What else could I do? He put his arms around my shoulders and called my by his loving nickname for me ‘Oh woolly-bear!’ That was forgiveness of a very high order. He was very easy to love.

caroline 006

Over the years I learnt a lot from him. As our kids were born, I saw how well he handled their three very different personalities and very different needs. It was a skilled technique and he called it ‘Kidology’. We didn’t hit any of our children, EVER. But he could handle them in virtually every situation and if they were behaving badly he simply said ‘ENOUGH!’ and the bad behaviour stopped. It was a sort of loving magic and I watched it work with amazement and a lot of admiration.

When they reached their teens, he was still showing the way, treating them as adults, almost as soon as they’d reached thirteen. ‘Enough’ was rarely heard in those days.


They evolved three new sorts of loving friendships, which I found absolutely delightful to watch because it showed how very fond they were of him and how much they trusted him.

Here he is talking to our son Larry as they very often did. I used it in a blog called ‘The Gentle Gentlemen’ because that’s what they were.

As we got older and when I was earning very good money, we went on lots of holidays together and lots of cruises. And in addition to that we took our grandchildren on holiday with us. Both these pictures were taken by Charlotte on two such holidays. They were very happy days.

16 years ago, when he died, the entire family was devastated. I couldn’t even begin to think how I would manage without him. We all had to find new ways of coping – with grief, and with a new lifestyle. He’d been a very good man and his death ripped the heart out of us. I wrote this poem for him when he was 53, in an attempt to tell him what he meant to me.

Love Song

Diurnal and reliable, you stay
Faithful as rain.
I drink again
Your dear love, used, but not diminishing.

My bruised thought open to you. What you say
Healing as sleep.
The watch you keep
Is soothing, love, before my dreams begin.

Necessary to me as light and day,
Constant as air.
Each hour I wear
Your unremitting love, just like my own known skin.

Blueprint for producing a dictator


How on earth did this apparently innocent little boy turn in to the monstrous, narcissistic, ignorant, psychopath who currently lives in the White House and dominates the bulk of the Western world?

There is an answer and it seems to me that his niece Mary has understood it well. In her new book ‘Too much and never enough,’ – (I bought my copy yesterday Mary and it should arrive today) – she says ‘there is no understanding Donald Trump without understanding his malignantly dysfunctional family.’ And she goes on to describe that trump4family in considerable and revealing detail. She says Donald’s father Fred is the villain of the piece and calls him a ‘ruthless, New York, workaholic, who slept about four hours a night and was driven by money’. He showed little interest in his five children other than grooming an heir for his property business. He spurned his eldest son Freddy but settled on Donald, deciding that his second son’s arrogance and bullying and his willingness to lie and cheat, were just what the office needed. The pattern was set. And the business thrived, when he died Fred Trump was worth $250-$300 million.

Unless we are very careful or have the good fortune to have had one or two loving and supporting parents. We will be what our parents have made us. Bad parents have appalling effects on their children.

From my own experience, I know that it is possible to come to terms with what has happened to us and come out the other side still damaged but managing to love our own families. But it takes a very long time and considerable support from somebody who actually loves us and accepts us as we are.

Trump and Johnson who is another narcissistic psychopath, have never had or seen any need to alter their behaviour or opinions in any way. The master of Eton, knew exactly what sort of boy he was dealing with when Johnson was in his school, he wrote home to his father saying:

“Boris has adopted a disgracefully cavalier attitude to his classical studies. It is a question of priorities, which most of his colleagues have no difficulty in sorting out. Boris sometimes seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility (and surprised at the same time that he was not appointed captain of the school for next half.) I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard his as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.” 

So there it is, laid bare for our understanding, a boy who will grow up into the arrogant, elitist, bullying, womanising, misogynistic, racist, ignoramus who presently, god help us all, is the Prime Minister of this country. And his Daddy, who thinks that he too has the perfect right to ignore all rules and do exactly what he wants, is obviously the source of his son’s disastrous maladjustment.

I will give the final word to Mary Trump, she says ‘one of the reasons I was so devastated by what happened in November 2016 (when he was elected) was because, while I knew that he was categorically unfit and incompetent and cruel, I never foresaw that a 100% of republicans in office would just enable him to the extent they have.’

‘It’s been horrifying because in that sense, he’s not the problem. If he were being held to the same standards other people in his position have been held to, if they had cared about the transgressions he’s made, the lines he’s crossed, then he would have been neutralised, or at least reigned in. But they’ve given him permission to keep going.’

This entry was posted on July 24, 2020. 1 Comment

Dixie is feeling neglected


As you can see. He had positioned himself to assist with the current jigsaw puzzle, but Lottie and I were busy with the complicated central section of the current novel, so he was IGNORED. And all this when he’d spent the entire night out in the garden hunting, to keep the place clear of small birds and rodents and how self-sacrificing was that?!


No cat takes his literary duties so seriously – with the possible exception of Liz Fenwick’s Ziggy who he has to admit runs him quite close. The books in the library are always under his caring eye or his warming backside. All manuscripts are carefully inspected. He is on guard constantly, as you can see. He will keep a book open with his paws so that it can be read at any time it is required; he can lie across the keyboard to keep it under control, because it has a ridiculous tendency to print rows of the same letter and skip twenty or thirty pages with no provocation at all. He is all in all dedicated to his job.

dixie new

Above all, he has accepted the additional duty of sick-nurse without making any complaint. When the literary lady was ill enough to lie on the sofa during the day with her eyes closed, he sat along the back of the sofa as close to her as he could get and watched over her all the time. She says she couldn’t have got through the bad patch without him.

He is, all in all, and giving it all due consideration, probably the best cat in the universe. And modest with it. All he asks for is a little admiring attention, he considers it entirely unnecessary for people to keep saying ‘Off!’ when he is guarding a jigsaw.





This entry was posted on July 23, 2020. 3 Comments

This might be news to you.

It was to me and it’s such a corrupt story I think a lot of people would – and possibly will be – as horrified as I was to hear it.

It was revealed by an admirable journalist who is called George Monbiot and he wrote about it in The Guardian on the 15th of July. He says that he had been asking himself for the past fortnight why news of this particular scandal hasn’t been all over the front pages.

Let me begin at the beginning. This present case of blatant corruption was unearthed by ‘investigative journalist at The Guardian and Open Democracy’ and it concerns a government contract to test the effectiveness of the government’s Coronavirus messaging, it was worth £840,000 and was issued by the Cabinet Office which is run by Michael Gove. The deal seems to have been struck on the 3rd of March, but the only written record in the public domain is a letter dated the 5th of June, retrospectively offering a contract which had already been granted. There was, as George Monbiot tells us, no advertisement for the work and no competition, the deal appears to have been done with a ‘handshake and a slap on the back’. 

And who did this contract go to? It went to a company called ‘Public First’ which is owned by a married couple known as James Frayne and Rachel Wolf. And guess who their friends are! Frayne has worked with Dominic Cummings on political campaigns since 2000 – well there’s a surprise! – and when Gove became Education secretary, he brought Cummings and Frayne into his department – and there’s another one! In 2010 Gove’s department awarded Wolf a contract worth half a million. That didn’t go to competitive tender either. I hope you are now all singing together ‘Jobs for the boys!’ and feeling as cross as I am at the public use of so much of OUR money.

This is about as corrupt as any government in this country has ever dared to be. It is corruption on a grand scale and it is all done in secret. But there are some people struggling to bring it to the light. George Monbiot is one – and all honour to him – another is the ‘Good Law project’, which issued proceeding in the High Court against Gove last Friday, ‘alleging breaches of procurement law and apparent bias in the granting of the contract to his long-standing associates’. It will be interesting to see what success they have.

Finally, a little tit-bit of local news on the same subject. It involves a pest control company called Pest Fix in Littlehampton, West Sussex, just along the coast from where I live. It’s a very small company, which has listed net assets of a mere £18,000 but surprise, surprise, the Government gave it a £32 million contract to supply surgical gowns which it was supposed to order from China. It was given a deposit worth 75% of the value of the contract despite the fact that the Government’s own rules state that ‘prepayments should only be made in extremely limited and exceptional circumstances and should be capped at 25% of the value of the contract’. In the two weeks before the Government gave its contract to Pest Fix, it was approached by 16,000 companies offering to supply PPE. Some had a long track record in manufacturing and/or supplying PPE and most had stocks that could be deployed immediately. Which is a very far cry from what Pest Fix appear to be doing. Even today only HALF the gowns that they were supposed to order have reached the country and they’re all siting in a warehouse in Daventry.

This is corruption on a vast and dangerous scale. I will let George Monbiot have the last words because they are so potent and so true. ‘This’ he said at the start of the article from which I’ve taken all this information – many thanks Mr Monbiot – ‘STINKS.’ 

This entry was posted on July 16, 2020. 2 Comments

I’ve just said goodbye to an old friend.


And here it is, all gleaming clean and ready to move on to its new and second owner.

I have to admit that after driving it from new for the last 14 years, I’m going to miss it quite a lot.  It’s been a friendly little car and it’s driven me comfortably to more places than I can count or remember.  In the first half of our life together we went shopping at least once every week and considerably more as Christmas approached, visited the various members of my large and enlarging family, headed off to church every Sunday and to the theatre whenever I fancied it. We visited friends wherever they were,  met guests at the station and took them back again when their visit was over, attended a variety of literary events – often with a boot full of books – and drove up to see my sister at happily regular intervals. It was a dear little dependable car.

But now I have to face the facts of an elderly life, and accept that as I’m 89 – pushing 90 – and have only one dependably functioning eye. it would be too dangerous for me to drive any more. Boo-hoo. So last Friday, I sold my old friend to a young mechanic who is going to get it in perfect working order and give it to his niece as a Christmas present. He told my daughter and I how excited she was about it and that was cheering, despite the need to say farewell. It’s transported a lot of Christmas presents in its time and now it’s going to be a Christmas gift in its own right. I hope its new young owner will enjoy driving it as much as I have.

But of course, there’s a dilemma here and I know that very well. For the past few years thee has been a growing campaign to alert drivers to the ecological harm their vehicles are doing. There have been far too many cars and lorries on the roads, far too many aircraft making con trails in our skies, far too many luxury cruisers spreading pollution through our oceans and into our ports. When lock-down reduced the number of vehicles on our roads, and grounded our aircraft, the benefits were obvious. We rejoiced at the improved purity of the air we were breathing and were delighted to be able to hear the birds singing again. And yet, and yet… I have to be honest and say that when I had a heart attack was taken to hospital, efficiently and quickly in an ambulance, I was grateful and relieved to be helped so quickly. But seeing both sides of the argument doesn’t give me any insight into the solution we need to the problem. I was fond of my little car and used it selfishly. I was glad to be rescued by ambulance. Mea culpa.

What’s the answer? I don’t know. Can we find a balance? I don’t know that either.






This entry was posted on July 13, 2020. 5 Comments