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Thursday, 31 January 2013

From triumphant to tragic - why do we blog?


'We lose ourselves in talking about happiness but we don't allow ourselves to talk about loss...'

So says  Ben-Brooks Dutton whose wife Desreen was knocked down and killed two months ago. Ben's new blog 'Life as a Widower' is  featured in Today's 'Times 2' supplement giving an insight to the  the lives of young people who have turned to blogging   to deal with their grief.

A lot has been written about blogging in the last few months : Why do we do it? Why has it become so popular? Is it a form of journalism or just a waste of time? The answer to me is simple - if it's right for you, do it.

When I was in my twenties, I saw an old friend   standing on his own on the far side of the town square.  I deliberately crossed over to speak to him, for he and his wife had just suffered a terrible loss: their full-term baby had been born dead.  After I had offered my condolences he said: 'You're the first person who has had the courage to speak to me today - everyone else has looked the other way.'

I have never forgotten that conversation.  The truth is that in Britain we've never learnt how to openly discuss our grief. The Times  quotes  yet another heartbreaking story:  Alice Olins  started a blog after her son, Bear Hamilton Pullen, died in her womb. 'My body did the cruellest thing possible - it pulled the plug on my baby's life...' she says.

When the young Princes William and Harry were taken to matins on the morning after their mother died, the pain on their faces was palpable.  They should have been allowed to stay at home and sob, but the 'stiff upper lip' attitude of our royal family denied their expression of their grief.

My own blog, named after the island where I was born ( but sadly no longer live) reflects my  crazy sense of humour, but I've charted some personal tragedies, too.

 So my message today is - keep on blogging - you never know who you might  reach.
And finally here are the  blogs I have chosen for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.





Monday, 28 January 2013

Me a VIB? Must be a misprint...

A big thank you  goes to  Suzie Tullet for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Me a VIB? Must be a mis-print! Suzie, who will be celebrating the  publication of her amazing book Little White Lies and Butterflies later this year,  can be found on

Meanwhile, here are the rules  I must follow:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.
In the meantime someone with a sense of humour has sent me this piece of prose...

Born a Guernsey girl
Loves writing books
Old but not past it
Good  looks
Going but
Exceptionally grateful to be
Recommended for  this

Award. You might be
Wondering who wrote this
Rhyme. That's easy - I'm her

Thanks ( I think)  go to Amy for that! Watch this space for the next nominations - coming to a blog near you...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Fed up with the snow? Read this and you never will be again!

Times Newspaper columnistof the year Melanie Reid made me cry this week. While everyone else was moaning about the weather, or the miseries of  another dark Monday morning, Melanie reminded me of how lucky we all are to be alive.  In the three years  since this amazing woman broke her neck and back falling from a horse  she has never flinched from proclaiming to the world what it 'feels' like to be paralysed.

In this week's column she talks of the 'indwelling catheter that emerges like an alien worm three inches below my tummy button...' She goes on: 'Oh yes, life would be grand, especially if I didn't have paralysed guts that constantly jump and gripe and spasm but stubbornly refuse to's only when one's pretty bathroom in all its Elephant Breath and useless, claw-foot, roll-top bathtubbed bloody splendour, becomes a virtual torture chamber that one starts to appreciate things one used to take rather for granted.'

Have you stopped reading? Please don't because, sometimes we all need to face the unthinkable.  Sometimes we all need to look at what we've got, and thank heaven for our good fortune.

A few years ago when we were having a new bathroom installed, I got a call from the shop to say the supplier had delivered the wrong colour tiles.

 'Ok,' I replied.

'Aren't you going to shout at me?' said the incredulous voice on the other end of the phone. 'You'll have to wait weeks for the new ones, I'm afraid.'

'My daughter is in hospital on a life support machine,' I replied. 'I'd give up everything I own to make her better.'

I was lucky - I got my miracle.  I still get down now and then, but I only have to look at my happy, healthy daughter to know how very lucky I am.

So I salute you, Melanie, for inspiring us all.  I just wish you could find a miracle of your own.

Times journalist Melanie Reid is a woman who clearly loves life... yet she suffers every day from the life she is forced tolive.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Forever Young...

War and Pizza, Beryl Bainbridge on painting, Hank Wangford on Route 66... these are all in February's edition of 'The Oldie' magazine, devised and edited by  former Private Eye boss Richard Ingrams.  Never heard of it? That's because you're probably too young, and good things are wasted on the young, or so my mother used to say.

The Oldie  (personally I would have called it The Crabbie) is full of sarcasm, soliloquy and downright stubbornness - as you might expect - but then there's a whole lot more. Like Beryl Bainbridge, in her lesser known role  as a painter.  'She drew and painted her children, her best friends, her lovers with a carefree abandon she never experienced at her desk,' writes her friend Paul Bailey.

'As a novelist she liked to get every sentence right. "Why do we do it?" she would ask  whenever she was stuck in the middle of a book. The question was as painful as it was rhetorical, since she already knew the answer. The writing had to be done. Her publisher, Colin Haycraft at Duckworth, despised fiction and often said he would never read it, but Beryl's books kept his firm from bankruptcy because she was one of the very few authors on his list who ever made any money. He got into the habit of putting pressure on her to produce another novel, and she invariably obliged, staying up all night with a bottle of whisky and a packet of her cherished ciggies.'

To anyone who has attempted to write a work of fiction, that will sound very familiar. Beryl Bainbridge enjoyed painting because she wasn't in competition with other painters. 'There were no reviews to face and no criticism to cope with.'

So that's something else I've learned. Beryl's paintings are on display in the exhibition Beryl Bainbridge, Painter, at the Skyight Gallery, Museum of Liverpool, until April 28 2013.

And if you think I'm being paid to pour praise on the Oldie, you're very much mistaken. Come to think of it, I could be open to persuasion...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

'Letters' speak French...

Arriving in Nice  for a summer holiday several years ago, I realised my voice had gone completely. My husband's  French being almost as bad as mine, he rang our  daughter, who is fluent in several languages. 'Your mum's got a sore throat - she  can't speak at all,' he told her. 'What should I say to the chemist?'

 'Yipeeeee....' came the quickfire reply.

Which brings me to my new year's resolution - I'm going to talk less (in English) and learn how to speak fluently in French. Don't get me wrong, I can read French pretty well,  and understand it (if  spoken slowly) but my accent is so bad that when I try to make conversation, the natives always reply in English.

 At senior school in the Midlands, I often talked of my Guernsey roots - my maternal grandmother was born in Brittany, just a few miles across the English Channel. One day the French teacher, who was also my form mistress, hauled me out to the front of the class, and made me read a piece of Gallic prose.

'Marilyn likes to boast about her French ancestry,' the teacher observed tartly, 'but she has the worst accent in the entire  school.  Let that be a lesson to you all.'

Last year I met a Guernsey ex-pat on line who is married to a Frenchman and now lives in a the Loire Valley.    We've already corresponded  and I'm hoping soon we can  chat on the phone - in French, of course. At least it will spare my blushes, and after a few months, you never know, she might even understand what I'm saying...

It's time now for my  second  new year's resolution - to write at least 1,000 words every day. In English, of course!