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Sunday, 22 March 2015


Caitlin Moran, The Times Columnist of the year, can be very contentious. She can also be clever, canny and  openly supportive of  campaigns she believes in. In this weekend's Times magazine supplement she writes vividly about the fight to save  London's Soho from extinction - in words I  wish I had written myself:

'Where do you go, and what do you do, when you go to Paris, New York, Berlin or Dublin?' she asks. You don't just go to a place; you travel to see if you can see other times, too:you go to the old parts, to hunt echoes and ghosts.

'You look for footsteps and fingerprints of Bowie, Dickens, Gainsbourg, Joyce - the thrill of being able to stand on a doorstep and say, 'This is the doorstep they would have used. They came here for a reason and I have, too. This place (Soho) is a matrix, a melody, a curation - a carefully constructed and unique thing - known across the world. To change too much of it is for it to cease to exist.'

 Modern and forward-thinking as she is, Caitlin Moran believes that too much change would be a disaster for the metropolis and ultimately for mankind, especially when it  'blow(s )away those tiny streets of Soho - the sticky  basements, coffee houses, guitar shops and furtive corners...... and replace(s) them all with a new plan:executive flats and office space rendered in uniform International Architecture.

'If Soho goes,' she concludes, 'there is truly nothing left in this city that can't be sold.'

Any Londoners out there? What do you think?

Talking of the past, I'd like to congratulate Sharon Bradshaw on the publication of her debut novel The Monk Who Cast A Spell.

  Durstan, a 17 year old 8th century Monk at the Monastery on Iona, falls in love with Ailan, becomes involved with Beth when he thinks he has lost her, then is injured in a Viking raid. He doubts his Christian belief because of the magic of the old Gods whom people still worship in 794AD.....

 Follow the link to find out more:

The Monk Who Cast a Spell

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Very Courageous - the only woman to win the VICTORIA CROSS

Elizabeth Webber Harris is the only woman to ever be 'awarded' the Victoria Cross
Elizabeth Webber Harris
(Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail

This story caught my eye yesterday as I trawled through the  largely depressing news in a variety of daily newspapers, mainly because it had something good to say about war. And about women.


  Mrs Elizabeth Harris, pictured above,  is the only woman ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross - the  highest military honour in Britain - for bravery on the frontline.  A replica of her gold cross will be displayed in the Imperial War Museum next month in celebration of International Women' Day, which was held last Sunday

A lone woman serving alongside the Bengal Fusilier in Peshawar, Nurse Harris  was said to have 'saved more lives with her tender consolations than a surgeon did with his medicines.'
 Born in Kent in 1834,  Elizabeth married Webber Harris, a captain in the 2nd Bengal Fusiliers (later renamed the 104th.)  In 1869, the newly promoted Major General Harris took the regiment to Peshawar on India's North West frontier. The following year cholera swept through the country and by August many of the soldiers were seriously ill.
Many soldiers and their families had died from the disease and Mrs Harris  accompanied them to a temporary camp in the country.  Now in her mid thirties she spent three months 'nursing the sick and  keeping up their spirits' in the baking Indian countryside. One night she was attacked by two tribesmen who seized her horse in an incident she modestly described as 'alarming.'
On reading this story, historians  and feminists alike will realise that women were officially ineligible to receive the Victoria Cross until  1921.  But her regiment were so struck by her 'indomitable pluck' that, after gaining special permission from Queen Victoria, they had a replica gold VC made for her.
 A journalist in June 1921 wrote 'throughout their trying time in the isolation camp Mrs Harris remained with the regiment and it was largely owing to her indefatigable exertions that the losses of the regiment were not infinitely heavier than they were.'
Interestingly,  no woman has been awarded the honour since.  Isn't it time that changed?


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Accidence will happen? Not on my blog....

Did you hear about the cub reporter who returned without a story from the church garden party because the Vicar had died during his opening speech?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A cure for Writer's Back

Three years ago when I'd injured my back I wrote a blog  entitled Why is my nickname Froggy?
My Writer's Back is, well, back so I thought I'd post it here again. It still makes me laugh ....

' I'm always being asked why my nickname is Froggy. (No it's nothing to do with the bulging eyes or the fact that I' m hard to get hold of.)  I could tell you the story but then you may fall asleep and then you would never get to see the strange collection of frogs that I keep hidden (or not so hidden) round the house and garden.( Mr GA is kindly taking the photos for me at the moment, so that's a bottle of his favourite red I owe him) . Please do concentrate, fellow bloggers,  I said favourite red, not off his head, though the latter is probably more accurate after looking after  me  for what seems like months now.

Anyway, it's not as if I'm any trouble to look after.  Once up in the morning (it only takes a couple of hours) and happily settled on the sofa (sitting not permitted, on doctor's orders, this is my spine we're talking about) I then compile a list of things for my wonderful partner to do for the day. I won't enlighten you on this, either, as it's almost as long as the frog story) and then we discuss in which order I, sorry,  we, think the things should be done.

Between clearing the breakfast dishes, cleaning, ironing and collecting prescriptions, he checks that I have written the right amount of words each day and records this along with the hourly medication which I'm sure he would over-prescribe if only he had the courage. Anyway, it doesn't take him long to pick up all the things I have dropped on the floor (pens, paper, reference books, Thessoorus (never could spell that word - I thought it was a prehistoric animal till I was around 12) and then prepare my lunch.

It's annoying, isn't it, now that Spring is here that insides of the windows look smeared in the sunshine and he does so hate me looking through smeared windows. Fortunately, he's a very patient man (which reminds me - why does the recorded message at our local medical centre say "please be patient" - what else do they think we are?) so he usually gets to do his own thing round about three o'clock.

I just called out for him (I've mislaid the hand bell I used to use) and then the phone went and it was my (former) friend.  She said she'd heard he'd gone back-backing in France (in search of grenouilles probably) and had left a message that he didn't want to be disturbed... Oh well, at least I won't be lonely.... animals (unlike humans) never let you down.'

And this is the one that started it all ...

N.B The above is on loan from my very special friend Lesley Davison in memory of Patricia Simister