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Sunday, 26 February 2012

What price a dead hero?

I grew up thinking that all journalists were equal - ok, more than that - that they were all noble people trying to bring the news to the outside world for the greater good of us all. Or something like that.  Looking back I suppose it was inevitable that I thought that way, really. I was naive, easily swayed and, most importantly, my father was a journalist. Dads are always right - ok?

When I began my own journalists' training I soon realised that nothing was as  I had imagined. In one of my  early roles as court reporter on  the local evening newspaper, I was frequently sworn at, often berated and once threatened ( by the six foot-plus brother of a thief who had just been jailed.)

Soon after, I was asked to interview a woman whose three-year-old daughter was born with spina bifida,a condition that leaves part of the spine exposed and comes with many complications, including water on the brain or hydrocephalus. The mother had been told that her daughter would never walk, but then, without warning, a miracle happened.

'One day I just looked at her and said, 'Come to Mummy, '  the mother told me, 'and she did.'

That story touched so many hearts (including mine) and gave me my first sense of the ability to share something powerful and good.

Last summer's closure of the News of the World seemed almost inevitable after it was revealed that reporters had hacked into the voice-mail of murdered Milly Dowler. Journalists, it seemed, had reached rock-bottom  in their quest for a 'scoop.' It was easy for any of us, in or out of the 'profession' to label all red-top journalists as worse than scum.  Not least because, initially, they denied their crime. Shrieks of 'It wasn't me - it was him, sir,' bring me on to moral issues I have no room to discuss here.

But just when the world of journalism can sink no lower, we hear of Marie Colvin, an extremely brave and exceptionally dedicated war reporter who regularly confronted the dangers of telling the truth. She wanted to bring the Syrian atrocities to the notice of the entire world and she paid the highest price

I can never hope to have a tiny speck of her courage, or understand why she was prepared to sacrifice so much, but it heartens me to think that she represents a small minority of people who believe that this world is still worth fighting for.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Down with giving up...

Jake Atkin
A miracle worth waiting for

If you saw the amazingly brave Katie Piper on television recently, battling to get some sight back into her acid-damaged eye, you'll agree that  most of us have nothing to moan about.

 Today we hear that actress Judi Dench is suffering from macular degeneration which means she can no longer read the scripts that she depends on for her  film and television career.  In true showbiz style she admits that her friends now have to read her the scripts ('it's like being told a story') but that's fine as she can imagine the whole thing in her mind.

Both these women - one young and one in her late seventies - demonstrate the difference between putting up and giving in. It's so easy these days to blame our parents, our genes, our finances , even the star we were born under, for our fate in life, as if we don't have anything to do with it.

My nephew and his wife recently had a healthy baby boy  by  IVF after trying for a long time to conceive naturally.  The first rounds of treatment were unsuccessful and they were refused more, due to the age of the mother and seeming lack of viable eggs. It would have been easier at that stage to give up.  Instead, they fought the decision.  Following surgery to correct a minor complication, causing yet more heartbreak and delay, the pregnncy was finally announced.  You can only imagine the happiness that baby Jake has brought with him into the world.

When my own girls were small I remember one of them wailing over some minor injustice, 'but  mummy,
it's just not fair...'

'No it isn't,' I said. ' But life isn't fair, and it never will be. ' Harsh words, but they've never forgotten them.

Life may not be fair. but that doesn't stop us doing something about it. So here's to Katie, Judi and, of course - baby Jake! They deserve everything life has to offer.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Quintessential Epiphanies.... The Versatile Blogger

  Check out these blogs -

                                                 Hold Fast Films
                                                                        Time Machine to the Twenties


                     The Apron Evolution
                                                       Suzie Tullett

          Quintessential Epiphanies ( sorry - I borrowed this for my title...) 

            Gloria Horsehounds Bungalow

                                  Raggle Taggle Gypsy Girl

       Daily Photos from Winchester

Comfort Crow Clearing

Just a couple more things....Thank the person who nominated you, tell 7 random things about yourself.....oh - and nominate up to 15 more newly discovered blogs. Don't forget to let them know you did...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Versatile Blogger - I'm all for increasing traffic...

I'd never heard of The Versatile Blogger before - but now, it seems, I am one! Along with quite a few others, I might add, but what's wrong with that?  So thanks to hannercymraes, otherwise known as Elizabeth Jane in Melbourne, Australia, for nominating me and giving me a chance to find out what so many fellow bloggers are up to behind the anonymity of their laptop screens.

The 'award'  is a way of putting people in touch with each other, from what I can gather, and increasing the flow of traffic to our words of wisdom. Come to think of it, a blog must be the only place in the world where increased traffic is welcome...

To follow the rules I have to list seven random things about myself that I haven't mentioned before - so here goes:

1  My nickname is 'froggy' though I've no room here to explain why. (Don't worry - I've heard all the jokes about  being green and ugly...)

2  I would give anything in the world to buy a home in Guernsey, the place I was born, but  island law won't permit it. (Unless I become a multi-millionaire, of course - all donations welcome.)

3  I'm terrified of flying long-haul and regularly turn down the offer of a trip to Florida where some family friends have a holiday villa.

4  My childhood was very unhappy and still haunts me sometimes, but I don't think you can write without having experienced emotional pain.

5  My late father, Harry Brown, was credited with inventing the 'gossip column' and I'd love to see his life portrayed up there on the big screen... (yes, I've written the story - stand in an orderly queue, film directors.)

6  My children and my two-year-old grandchild have made me who I am.

7  Seventh and last - I am embarrassingly superstitious and the number seven has always brought me luck!

The rest of the rules are simple: post a link to the person who gave you the award, award 15 newly discovered blogs, and lett them know you have nominated them.

That's it for now - I will let you know my favourite bloggers very soon.

Hanner Cymraes

Sunday, 5 February 2012

I'm dreaming of a white beach hut...

I saw an interview on television recently that aptly conveyed the joy of reading. An old lady, confined to a wheelchair, was asked  how much books had influenced her life.  'That's easy,' she replied. 'A novel can take me anywhere I want to be, anywhere in the world, with anyone I choose.'

 Listening to those words I realised that I  write for  exactly the same reasons. How else could  I escape the snow and ice, sit on a sandy beach and soak up the sun, all without moving from my desk? Or travel back in time to see how my ancestors lived?

As a child I was bewitched by  'A Peep behind the Scenes,' the story of  12-year Rosalie who works in a travelling theatre at the end of the nineteenth century.  The author, Amy 'Mrs' Walton, cleverly  contrasts   the  make-believe scenes  on stage with the sad reality of the girl's miserable  life.

Most of us have a story to tell, whether read, written or remembered. But if you're not in the mood right now - don't despair. You can always reach for the holiday brochures...