Thursday, 25 November 2010


There is no doubt retirement is an amazing institution provided you have plenty to do. Having said that, in the word plenty I am not referring to housework or gardening unless you have a definite unmitigating passion for them. I decided a year ago that housework for housework's sake was a non-starter. I've done it for years and years - exactly like cooking - hate it, and ironing. Now, I clean windows when the mood grabs me, not because I should.

My house still remains relatively clean. Unfortunately, my mother always spring-cleaned before Christmas. She washed curtains, she polished saucepans and cleaned cupboards. The result was she hated Christmas being too tired to enjoy the festivities. And that has stuck. I am currently examining my carpets. They definitely need cleaning and the lace curtain in the cloakroom look decidedly grubby.

So what do we know from that - we inherit the worst things from our parents!  Perhaps if I do nothing, express no views, stay in bed even, my children will escape an awful inheritance. My problem is, I write.
I get up at the crack of dawn, working on my latest thriller. I bore my family with plots and twists, and ask them to read long books to see if they are any good. Poor children - I hope they escape unscathed.

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Social Graces - Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee (apologies to John Donne)

If I had a great following, I probably would resist the temptation to write this blog. However, since I am the only person likely to read it ... here goes.

As far as I am concerned, the biggest difference (which is the one that socks you on the jaw every time you encounter it) between teachers in the public sector and teachers in the private sector is the lack of anything that smacks of social grace.

I mean, you would think that if you find a stranger sitting in the staff-room, a few questions might just pop into your head: such as, could this person be a terrorist, is it a poltegeist, or even ' what the hell is this strange person doing drinking our coffee and eating our biscuits!'

This does not happen. In so many state-run primary and secondary schools, I deliver my lecture to a year group and go into the staff room for coffee or lunch and the staff walk and talk over, around and through me. On one occasion I was even climbed over.

I might as well be invisible.

Not from them is the subtle, 'hello', 'good morning', 'what have you been up to?'

Yet in private schools, I quite frequently find myself talking to the headteacher. The head of English makes a point of welcoming me. At lunch in the canteen, I am carefully escorted to a table and introduced to the staff, with whom gentile conversation then flows. Then, at the end of the day, I am offered more tea or coffee, and a thank you and escorted to my car.

I wonder if there's a course at teacher training college on: how not to use good manners!

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Problems with age

It's rather like finding you have become an antique drainage system. You are still serviceable but full of kinks.
And there are always new hurdles cropping up. For me it's the keyboard of the computer. Once a touch typist with skill beyond reach, I find myself missing letters, typing 'o' instead of 'of', 'without' instead of 'within'. Ah, the painful nostalgia, remembering how my fingers flew across the keys.

Next week, I shall start wearing my glasses to wash up, then I might actually see that I have rinsed the cups clean!

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Life's like that!

It all so unreasonable - this getting up at seven full of good intentions. You'd think by the time m aturity has been reached, you'd have learned that good intentions are like the old saying: rain before seven fine by eleven. Except with intentions it's the other way round - by eleven they're gone - vanished in a puff of smoke - rather like Aladdin after his three wishes. So swimming didn't happen, nor the ironing, nor the housework, nor the car cleaning. Worse the few thousand words I meant to write - not so much as a scribble.

Ah well, there's always tomorrow. Meanwhile, the characters in my next book are stranded in a wood - I simply haven't written them out of it yet! How much longer, I hear them cry. Tomorrow - maybe!

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