Lancashire County Council are planning – or do I mean scheming – to close half of the public libraries in the county. 

Incredible? Yes. Not their fault? So they claim. It is all to do with central goverment cutting the cash allocated to local authorities. Each year they are allowed less and less, while the services they have to provide cost more and more. David Cameron calls it “Austerity” – some of us can think of more accurate and less repeatable names!

Here is something I wrote about this situation in a hurry one Sunday morning. I don’t know where it will go …yet.

There are those who cannot read
Because they are blind:
They have braille and talking books.
There are those who cannot read
Because they are dyslexic
They have special classes.
There are those who do not read
Because they don’t like stories, plays, poems,
Anything that is not dry and factual.
There are those who cannot read
Because they have no schools, no teachers, no books.
Bare existence all they can hope for.
They have my prayers and my Oxfam donation.
Then there are those who cannot read the books they want
Because they live in Garstang
And their library will be shut
By Government edict.







Character from Fiction

Tell us about a favorite character from film, theater, or literature, with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?

<a href=””>It Builds Character</a>

The character I’d most like to meet and talk to is Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte’s novel of the same name.

One of the questions I would ask is whether she wasn’t tempted to marry St John Rivers when it seemed she wouldn’t ever see Rochester again. As I read the story St John was a good man preparing to go off to be a missionary. Jane liked and admired him and would have made a good wife for a missionary. In the story she offers to go as his assistant – nowadays when we have female curates and even bishops, I don’t suppose this would have caused any difficulties. In the story and I suppose at that time in history it would have caused almost as much scandal as eloping with Rochester and living with him as his mistress.

I know I would have been tempted to settle for St John and missionary work in India, even as a second best option. (No doubt there would have been an even more interesting story if Jane had married St John and then found out Rochester was now a widower and she faced the choice between a rather dull marriage and running away with the man she loves.)

One single line from the scene on the moors where St John proposes sticks in my mind. He looks at the river and says “I will see it again in dreams when I sleep by the Ganges” . To my mind this one bit of near-poetry redeems this rather dull character. Reader, I could have married him for that line alone!

Poet ar work


Writing Advice

a href=””>Doubters Alert</a>

What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt? Why?

One of the favourite axioms of creative writing teachers is “show don’t tell”. 

I beg to differ.

If you adhere to this rule you can’t write “John was a foul-mouthed bully who hated animals.” You have to describe John swearing at his kids, hitting  them and kicking the cat. Now this may be useful in some areas of writing but there are plenty of cases where it doesn’t work and isn’t required.

You can spend pages and pages establishing what kind of character your protagonist is by the roundabout way of showing him or her behaving in a particular way, when you could get the same result with a couple of well-chosen adjectives.

And example off the top of my head. “Jenny was a mature lady, well-educated and well-travelled,”  This tells us what we need to know as readers supposing Jenny is a minor character in a short story or novel. We don’t have to see her collecting her pension, reading Proust and returning from a trip to China, to show that she is mature, well-educated and has travelled widely.


A Good Read

On the Edge

When things are getting me down I take refuge in books, Others find solace in music or booze or drugs – for me it is a good read. I can get away from my current problems, worries and fears and lose myself in a good book.  Thinking about it, it doesn’t even have to be a particularly good book. Sometimes I just pick up something I’ve read many times, open it at random and READ. It works. Temporary forgetfulness and I when I put my book down, my problems may not be solved but at least they are

All About Humankind

<a href=””>Worldly Encounters</a>

The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about. What do you pick?

Easy. I hand him/her/it my diary – or if the extraterrestrials are IT literate, a link to my blog. What better way to find out about the human race?

Connect the Dots – Time

Connect the Dots
Sentence from chosen book:

Now if only people would let me have some Time.

Yes. this is just what I feel. There’s never enough time to do all the things I want to, need to, would like to, the things I dream of doing, hope to do, but know in my heart of hearts that I’ll never ever have the time to do them.

A quote from a poem (one of mine)
“Filling time, killing time,
Willing time to pass.
Time measured by the speaking clock
Or by the lying glass.”

I remember being at the stage where all my time seemed to be controlled by other people. Not, oddly enough, when I was a child and had to do what I was told, when I was told, when I had to go to school and come home at fixed times and do my homework each night and go to church on Sunday. Somehow the feelinf that my time was not my own didnt’t have any real effect at that stage. I just accepted it as the way things were.

No, the situation when I wished desperately for people to give me time was when I had three children living at home, a husband and, at one stage, a mother-in-law libing with us. All of them seemed to make constant demands on my time. It felt as though if I wanted to do anything – anything at all- even something as trivial as writing a postcard and taking it to the letter box, I had to check with four other people and explain what I was doing and why. Usually by the time I’d done that the urge to write a postcard or whatever had faded.

I suppose all mothers feel like that at some time and all writers do too. If only there were eight days in the week or an extra spare day at the end of each month which didn’t have a name or a number and you could use it as you wished….if only…if only

By the way the quotation came from Terry Pratchett’s “A Slip of the Keyboard collected non-fiction.”