Once

We escaped gloomy cages

Breathed new air outside the musty pages

Of the books we’d sheltered in

For so long

We were bewitching birds brought back for a single song

Dried butterflies,

Wings untied,

Briefly swelling with life

Drunk on sun & scented promises

The sweet sound of stolen kisses

For a little while, we were allowed

To fly once more – high, above the clouds

It didn’t last

It never does

Alas everything must die

Go back to ashes and dust

But,

I’ll always remember

How once we emerged

From the cocoon of past winters

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Notre-Dame

I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?

Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.

We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.

Publication Day for Unfinished Business

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It’s Publication Day for Unfinished Business – how exciting! – so here’s (another) pic of me holding the book a bit earlier today, because that’s definitely what the internet needs.

If you missed my (looong) post about the novel the other day, here it is again: Being a Bookworm and a Beta Reader is Beautiful

You can order Unfinished Business here: Unfinished Business on Amazon

A couple of pics that didn’t make it in the last post: yes, I know, I’m shameless – but this book is soooo good I’m quite happy inundating you all with photos.

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Walk the plank

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Don’t ever be intimidated by groupthink, don’t fall for identity politics, keep resisting the bullshit…

…but if all your attempts to re-establish sanity fail, leave them to it, desert the sinking ship – and do it with honour and dignity. 

Be an authentic Corsair – walk the plank backwards while looking them in the face, so they are fully aware you’re jumping because you want to, not because they are making you.

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Insomnia

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It’s not often I have anything good to say about Twitter, it can be such a vicious place, especially right now as they’re cracking down on free speech. But… this isn’t going to be one of those posts!

Last night I couldn’t sleep, not one bit, not at all. Now I’m used to insomnia, I’ve always had problems sleeping but I usually manage a few hours. But last night there was nothing doing, I knew it was no use and I gave up even trying –  I was pacing up and down until morning because I couldn’t read, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t do anything. 

Predictably, by 8 o’clock this morning I was feeling like s**t.

So I turned to Twitter and asked if anybody knew of a quick pick-me-up, because I don’t drink coffee like other mortals. And Twitter delivered, a bunch of people replied with tips and another bunch messaged me to ask if I was ok, etc…now, that – alone – was a pick-me-up. 

I had the cold shower quite a few people recommended, and you know what? It bloody works – you have to be brave though. I also made juice with everything I was told would help – all kinds of fruits – and including a big chunk of stem ginger…now I won’t say the juice tasted nice because it didn’t…but I definitely felt better afterwards. 

I then posted a selfie to Twitter: post cold shower, post juice because it was after all a Twitter result – and now it has made it on my blog too. 

It’s now afternoon and I’m having green tea and feeling sooo tired…and hoping tonight won’t be a repeat performance of last night. 

People who have no problems sleeping…you have no idea how much I envy you. 

Because we were teenagers

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It’s many years ago – sometime at the end of the 80’s – and I’m listening to that song. The one with the mournful synths, the one with the words seemingly plucked from deep inside me – the words I would share with you if only I could be sure you’d understand what they all mean. In my living room it’s a bit cold, we just welcomed autumn, a shiver runs down my back and the cat gives me one of his contemptuous looks for no reason at all. I start the record again, the needle trembles, settles, the record cracks a little, just like firewood in the old chimney – I sit back down on the floor, I could listen to this record a hundred times and more.

The phone rings, a strident siren, nobody in 2019 would ever be able to stand it but back then, as with all the other big, clunky, loud 80’s machines, we were used to it. It’s still ringing – I swear it could wake up the dead – I answer it because I have a feeling it’s you. Yes, it’s your voice, I was right – it’s a sign.

“Don’t speak for a bit, listen to this.”

The phone is plugged into the wall, I pull the cord as far as it will go, and hold the receiver next to the speaker.

“Are you there? Now, listen.”

It’s an order. it’s a prayer.

The shiver returns though I don’t feel the cold anymore, I’m nervously twisting the phone cord around my fingers – halfway through I stage whisper: “this bit coming up, you gotta love it.” I don’t know if you can hear me over the record player.

There – the song is over. I let the silence stretch for a number of seconds so I can pull myself together, I’m hoping you fell in love and need time to recover.

“Well?…”

An agonising beat

Wow…yes…wow.”

I hear hushed wonder, the tone is right, you got it – my gift wasn’t wasted.

The next day there is a kiss, and we’ve got many more phone calls ahead of us. But it was the music, the synths, the words – it was the record player that did the trick, that really started things.

Forget Spotify and the über modern hi-fis, forget instant sharing, forget digital and iPhones – none of it has ever been as intense – as real – as the old record player and the ugly clunky grey phone stuck to the wall.

And it wasn’t just because we were teenagers.

A whole year & another birthday

For as long as I’ve had this blog, I have never failed to post a little something on my birthday. So, it’s a bit late this year – my birthday was on Saturday – but I’ve put this together: it’s basically a few pics going back over the last 12 months. To be quite honest, I’ve enjoyed this short walk down memory lane, though I appreciate none of you will know the moments and stories behind the pics so this is really for me rather than anyone else. I’ve gone from blonde back to Brunette this year and it feels right as I’m in a really good place right now, I’m back to being me – fully and unapologetic-ally.

Here are all my blurry and not at all professional snapshots.

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I can totally do sweet and innocent…

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I was on my way to a ‘free speech’ rally in London (yes, again!)

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Last year, we – France – won…
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The World Cup!! This is the day of the final and I’d been ill for 3 days but who cared? Not me

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Mermaid-like

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Mermaid-like again

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Don’t ask me…
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I’d just been to a funeral – feeling despondent…

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Somebody had just called me a ‘free speech warrior’ in a NEGATIVE way…

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Red poppy day –
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The New Jeeves book was out!
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This was meant for a special someone…
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Not sure why I was looking so angry – I was tired is probably why

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Ending it all on yesterday – I was about to brave the wind

How useful are Writing Prompts?

This, by Tom, is brilliant and v. funny – please, *please* visit his blog and like the original post, thanks 😊

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“True life is elsewhere. We are not in the world.”Arthur Rimbaud

#Writingprompts, if their 20,000 Instagram usage suggests, are very popular, although some way off #cutekitteninbucket.  I’ve never been a fan of writing prompts. They sound too deliberate, like intending to do shots before you’ve left the house instead of spontaneously deciding eight tequilas is a good idea from the moment you reach the pub.  To be fair life is a writing prompt, as anyone who’s written a To-do list with testify. However, I was recently exposed to the most fantastic inspiration for writing at my local B&Q. No, I wasn’t lost, nor was I asking directions to the nearest record shop.

These days there are hash tags for everything, although there’s an odd sweet sense of fresh territory when coining a new one on Instagram and #DIYWritingPrompts was a new one.  At least it was yesterday. Imagine being…

View original post 622 more words

Blog Update

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I haven’t updated my blog in ages and I feel kind of bad about that, but I’ve been incredibly busy – I might write about it soon, when I get a little bit of time to do so. In the meantime, here’s me late last night, I’d just returned from a talk in London on “Freedom of Speech” – yes, I hear you, even you at the back. You’re rolling your eyes and mumbling: “does she talk about anything else these days?!”

Fair enough, but I do actually talk about plenty of other things (oh yes, I do) It’s just that this is something that matters greatly to me and if I’ve become a bit of a free speech warrior, it’s because those types of warriors are needed at this precise moment in time. Last night, in the heart of Westminster, people from my tribe, people from all over gathered for a principle, for a basic right – one that won’t be taken away from us if we can help it.

Aaaaand I’m done – see, that wasn’t so bad 😉