Tick Tock – am I wasting my time?


The clocks went back an hour on Sunday morning, and my body clock has not yet adjusted.  So with my brain’s usual contrariness I woke up at what would have been 6:30 a.m. on Saturday but was in fact 5:30 a.m. today.  Normally of course, the alarm alarms me into half wakefulness (enough to reach for the snooze button) and it needs two more attempts to rouse me to the point where I can crawl out of bed.  This morning though, I was wide awake. Waiting.

It occurred to me that I have wasted an awful lot of my time waiting one way or the other.  I suspect at least a couple of years of my life were spent sitting in the car outside of various establishments waiting for the kids to come out of drama/violin/gymnastics/St John’s/choir classes or other kids parties.  And later, as taxi driver extraordinaire, waiting in the car at a distance from whichever pub or club they’d been to.

Then there’s the level crossing further down our road that we had to cross to get to their primary school.  Heaven only knows how many hours I’ve lost sitting waiting for the trains to pass.  The other day me and the dog were there for 20 minutes – that’s five trains worth. Twenty precious minutes of my life, gone, just like that.

And while we’re about it, what about waiting at airports, stations, waiting for buses, waiting at the dentist, the doctors.  My life ticking away while I’m sat reading out of date copies of ‘Practical Caravan’ or ‘Angling Times’ neither of which I have any interest in whatsoever.

A couple of weeks ago we watched a fantasy type film called ‘In Time’ (see the trailer here) where everyone lived until they were 25 after which they had to buy time, otherwise they were ‘terminated’.  Time was currency, and everyone had a clock built in to their arms which they could see running down.  Employment was paid in hours.  The wealthy could live forever.   Poorer people ran everywhere to save their precious minutes.

Of course, it was daft, but I did find it thought provoking (and actually much better than it sounds – worth a watch).  It made me think about the hours I waste, and the difference between wasting time, and, well, living.

Am I wasting time when I play games?  Is playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone any worse than sitting watching pap TV or reading a bit of entertaining chick-lit?  Am I wasting time when I’m writing?  Aaagghhh… now there’s a question.

I certainly spend a lot of time writing, or at least messing about on my blog, tweaking it, reading other blogs etc.  Hours pass by miraculously quickly and I often think ‘I must stop this and do something useful’.  And then go and do a bit of sewing, which if I was making clothes might be termed as useful, but I don’t, I make soppy things out of felt (you can see some here!).

I suppose it brings me back to the question of why we do creative things.  Whether it’s wasting time to just enjoy yourself.  Lose yourself in creating something original, unique, perhaps even entertaining or useful.

I’ve searched the internet for answers, and not really come up with anything definitive.  But I have had a deep think about my motives.  My motives for wanting to write, to want more followers, more readers, this urge to foist my thoughts on the unsuspecting public.  After all, I don’t think they’re particularly enlightening thoughts, probably not original either for that matter. It doesn’t even earn me any money for goodness sake!

But I have come to a conclusion:

The reason I write all this stuff and nonsense, the reason I post it on my blog for all the world to see (if they care to – come on world!), is to leave a mark.  A mark of the real me.  Not the me that is a mum or daughter, or wife even, nor the me that colleagues knew, but the nugget of me, that even I don’t know about until I start putting things on paper, the central joy of the absurd, as well as the deep chasms of darkness, that my inner self seems to dwell in sometimes. It is the yin to my outward yang.

Most of my family have found it hard to understand why my short stories tend to bend towards the dark side.  Only the other day my mother complained that they never have happy endings.  To be honest, I don’t know where they come from either, but that’s just how I write.  Some people start out with a plan, a ‘beginning, middle and end’, but I’m one of those folk whose hands practically take on a life of their own when I’m bashing out a story on a keyboard.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to the protagonist until there it is, on paper, a sticky end again.

And as far as verses go (no, still can’t bring myself to call them poems) well, they just turn up in my head as a rhymey line or two, and I knock them into some sort of shape from there.

So, basically, as well as leaving my mark, for posterity sake (my words will be around a lot longer than me), it reveals the individual in me, not only do my family, friends and followers get to know me better, I get to know myself too.

Therefore I conclude:

Writing is not a waste of my time. Yay!!

Between the posts

Well, Writing 101 is finished (boo…)

But hey….Blogging 201 is just starting (yay!!)

First challenge is to post at least three goals for my blog.  Hmm… that’s dead hard that is.

They’re asking me things like ‘why do you blog?’ and crikey, I don’t know.  I just do.  I like it, I like writing, I like interacting, I like reading other people’s blogs and pinching their ideas (not really, just getting inspiration, honest!), and I like seeing my stuff looking pretty. I like my friends and family to see how I’m keeping myself busy, and making them laugh, and wince sometimes (hehee).

Sooo…that’s why I blog.  Now I know.

The blogging 201 pixies are also asking me to set myself three goals for my blog.

So, what might they be…?

Ooh.. I’d like some more followers please.  It’s so lovely to see the dubree in the corner light up with likes or comments, but it really makes my day when I get an email saying ‘so and so is now following your blog’.  That’s splendid.  Yep, lets have some more of those, say reach 220 by end of November. Sitting at 180 as of this morning, so doable I hope.

Of course, to get more followers I’m going to have to do some work.  Have been publishing daily through the course of writing 101, so I’m going to give myself a break here, and just endeavour to post something at least three times a week.  Perfectly doable I think.

Thirdly, for your delight and entertainment, I’m going to establish a new feature.  No idea what.  I could do with your help if I’m honest.  Have come up with one or two ideas:

  • Madness on Monday – plenty of madness in the world to talk about methinks
  • Terrible joke Tuesday – hmm… know plenty of those too…
  • Wordy Wednesday – my ‘word of the day’. Today, by the way (ok I know it’s Monday, smarty pants… I’m just sayin’), it’s Balter, which apparently means ‘to dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but with some enjoyment’ – I do it all the time!
  • Thirsty Thursday – actually this one already exists in our house, but not in a bloggy way, more in a ‘time for a glass of wine’ way.
  • Fabulous Friday – well, I’m fabulous every day of course but not blingy, more sophisticated and genteel (hmm..!) but there is plenty of bling out there that catches my eye and makes me gasp with wonder at what people are prepared to wear.

What do you think? Any of ‘em any good? Well, I’ll leave it for now, and surprise you!

Anyhoo…there you are.  Three, perfectly achievable goals.  Better get off and start doing something now then.


heatI’ve been in this room since 6:00 a.m.  It was an abnormally hot night and I couldn’t sleep.  Knowing I had a deadline to work to didn’t help, so instead of enjoying the comforting embrace of my bed, I came down here to the study, the coolest room in the house.

Surprisingly, it’s not where I usually care to write.  It always feels a bit insular and claustrophobic. The ceiling height bookshelves with their jumble of dog-eared books seem to bear down on me, and it gets increasingly difficult to ignore the pile of bills and letters that bury the surface of the desk.  Instead, I usually prefer to spread myself out on the sofa, with my laptop atop my lap.  From there I can gaze out through the French windows across our higgledy-piggledy overgrown garden. I like to watch the wildlife foraging in its borders, although our neighbour’s tend to complain about it a bit.  They have what Greg calls a ‘council house garden’, flowers planted like soldiers in colour coded uniforms

I went up to wake Greg at 8:00.  He was still sleepy.

‘Where have you been?’ he asked unfurling his long limbs. If you didn’t notice his life-etched face and his cropped-to-disguise-the-bald-patch hair, you might think that my husband was one of those gangly teenagers yet to take full charge of their body

‘Couldn’t sleep.  Ridiculously hot. Don’t know how you manage it.’

‘Mmm… it is a bit on the warm side.’

I threw the heavy curtains back letting in a burst of light.

‘God, what time is it?  I need to get going.  Have to meet ‘The Bugger’ in town this morning.’ ‘The Bugger’ was his affectionate name for his boss.  Greg and The Bugger had been working together selling insurance since before I’d met him 22 years ago.  I always joked that they were more like a married couple than we were.  He certainly seems to spend more time with The Bugger than he does with me these days.

He left in a rush, half an hour later, barely remembering to give me my cursory morning kiss on the cheek as he went.  At 47, I still think he looks dapper in his grey suit. Especially with that purple tie that Izzy bought him for his birthday last year.

She has to buy post-able things now she’s at uni.

‘Do you know how much it costs to post a parcel mum?’ she had complained, making what I imagined was an excuse for forgetting my birthday.  As if I didn’t know! After all, I had been sending packages of food, silly socks and make-up almost weekly since she’d left!

As usual, I was thinking about Izzy when I opened my laptop, checked my emails, and then facebook, to see whether there were any messages from her, or better still, photo’s that her friends had posted.  I love seeing those. They are nearly all the same – a group of four or five friends, heads together, all with raised beer glasses and all grinning drunkenly.  Happy pictures.  There haven’t been any of me like that for a long time.

There was nothing new on-line today though, so, begrudgingly, I open the file I’d created yesterday.  I’ve been commissioned by a small local paper to write something around the changing environment and its effect on our town.  It won’t earn me much, but keeps me occupied.  I’ve long since given up the dreams of earning big bucks. The ‘school of hard knocks’ Greg calls it.  All those brown envelopes with their grey rejections enclosed.  I’d rather not bother any more, just do odd bits and bobs, like this article.

God it’s hot.  Its only 10:00 a.m. and it’s unbearable. My head is thumping.  So, without guilt, despite knowing how appalled my prissy mother would be (‘Geraldine! The neighbours!’), I strip off down to my underwear and pad semi-naked through the house to the bathroom.  Running the shower as cold as it can go I step under and let the water run over my body.  It makes me shiver, but not unpleasantly, so I stay there for a full five minutes before stepping out into the heat again.

I can’t bear the thought of drying my hair.  I rarely tie it back, it’s not quite long enough, so I have to scrape it flat to my head giving myself a Croydon facelift as Greg calls it.  Trying it out, I can see in the unforgiving mirror, that it does indeed pull my eyes up slightly at the corners, but it also makes me look hard and sour faced.  I decide to keep it pinned up anyway though, just to stop it sticking to my neck sweatily.

I dig out an old shift that I bought when we went to a garden party a few summers ago.  It’s a bit big now, but at least its pattern of yellow flowers is cheery, and better still, the soft cotton feels cool against my skin.  It’s too hot for underwear so I decide to go ‘commando’ and, stopping only to get some aspirin on the way, head back to the study.  The icon on my laptop is flashing to tell me I have a new mail message.  It’s from Izzy:

‘Hi Mum

It’s really hot here today, is it the same there?  We’ve decided to skip lectures and go and swim in the river instead – how exciting is that!! Might even skinny dip hehe.. – don’t worry just saying that to shock you.  Go on admit it, you nearly fainted hehehe.   Anyway, hope you’re ok. Speak soon, Iz x x’

Her emails always make me smile, especially the ‘hehe’s’.  I can imagine her tittering to herself as she is typing.  I respond:

‘Fully understand you wanting to skinny dip.  Think I might go down the canal myself, perhaps take nana with me!  Can you imagine us wrinklies?  Bet you want to poke out your mind’s eye now!! Lots of love mummy x x x p.s. be good, and keep safe!’

Pleased with my attempt at humour, I turn my mind to the article I am supposed to be submitting no later than 2:00 today.  To be truthful, I don’t much care if it’s late, but decide I ought to try and make an effort.  I can hear thunder rolling in the distance as I google ‘environmental issues’ but the resulting sites are so broad I don’t know where to start, so try again using ‘environment+local’ and find an English Heritage site.  There’s nothing new on there though and I realise getting an original perspective will be difficult. We’ve been warned about the dangers for years, God knows why the paper wants something from me now.

The light is reflecting on my screen and it’s making my headache worse. I draw the curtains and the dust that drifts from them makes me sneeze. In the semi-darkness I fumble about in the over-filled desk drawer until with relief, I manage to find the spare pack of tablets. I can still hear the distant drum-roll of thunder as I swallow a dose.  I need them to work, the heat is stifling.

My mobile rings.  Izzy set it up so it plays ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ when anyone calls, and I loathe its cheeriness today.  She also set it up so that I can see on the screen who is calling.  Now it says ‘Your hubby’ with a smiley face next to it.

‘Gerry, it’s me.  The Bugger says we have to take the bloody client out to lunch now.  It’s bloody miles away.  So much for leaving early today. Glad I’ve got air conditioning in the motor I can tell you.’

‘You said you’d take me to the docs’

‘Sorry love, can you take yourself? There’s no real need for me to be there is there? Just make sure you tell him everything.’

‘No, it’s alright, I won’t go.  I’ll ring them and cancel.’

‘No, don’t do that.  You need to see someone. Just make sure…’

But before he finishes his sentence the signal fizzes and dies.

Greg has been nagging me to see the doctor for a while.  He says I’m ‘not myself’.  I’m not sure if I am or not, to be honest. Not sure who ‘myself’ is these days.  Anyway, I certainly don’t feel up to going to the docs on my own today, and besides, I’d have to go on public transport which means interacting with the ‘great unwashed’ as Greg calls them.

Looks like the signal has gone completely, and when I get back to my laptop, the internet is down as well.  Bloody heat.

The cotton dress sticks to my skin as I go to the kitchen and thrust my head into the fridge to feel its cold breath on my face.  I half fill a glass with ice from the integral ‘ice-maker’ that we had been so impressed with all those years ago.  The fridge is looking a bit faded now, its once shiny, brushed aluminium, exterior just looks a bit grubby, and there is a blob of black mould inside at the back.  I dread to think what food item is embalmed in it.  I fill my glass with juice, add a splosh of ‘something to liven it up’ and lean back against the metal door.  Perhaps I should write about global warming. Today must be proof enough for even the most sceptical individuals.

I go to the front of the house and peer through the window.  There is a miasma of heat rising from the street.  I can’t see a single soul.  Next door’s ranks of flowers are drooping and even Mr Next-Door isn’t out there with his watering can.  The sky isn’t the clear blue you would expect on such a sultry day it’s just pale grey again.  The days have been grey for so long now I can’t remember what a clear blue sky looks like. I hear the sky is grey all over the world.

Still there is no rain.

I must get on with the article.  Closing the study door behind me, I switch the light on and sit down at the laptop.  Irritatingly I have a connection again, so there’s no excuse not to get to work.  On the web there is talk of imminent disaster – solar flares, holes in the atmosphere, and minute catastrophic movements of the moon in its orbit, but I don’t know which to believe.  So much terrifying information out there, and these days it’s hard to tell which is based on scientific evidence, and which is just written by scare-mongering idiots.

Now the house phone is ringing.

‘Mum.  Mum, it’s me.  I couldn’t get through on the mobile. You ok?’

‘Signal went down. Think it’s back now though.’

‘We couldn’t swim in the river.  There was a whole load of dead fish floating on the top.’

‘Oh God.’

‘Yeah, it was horrible.  Some were still alive and really, like, gasping.  They’re saying it’s pollution from the factory upstream.’  I could hear a wobble in Izzy’s voice. She was always soft on animals, didn’t like to see anyone or anything suffer.

‘That must’ve been ghastly to see sweetie.  Are you ok?’

‘Yeah, yeah I think so.  We thought we’d come to the pub, but it’s absolutely packed.  You can’t get near the bar.  I think they’ve run out of ice and cold beers anyway.  Oh god, can you hear that?’

‘What?  What is it Iz?’

‘Not sure. It’s really…’ The phone went dead.  I had heard a noise.  Thunder, I think. Maybe the phone mast has been struck.  Maybe there is lightning.  Maybe there is rain.

Rather than worry about my daughter, I feel relieved that she is quite possibly experiencing a downpour.  Hope it comes this way soon. I’m sure it’s getting hotter.  I open my laptop and look for a weather site.  It tries to connect for about five minutes before I give up and look for a news site instead.  That won’t open either.  I console myself with the knowledge that everyone must be doing the same.  It’s always so much slower at busy times.

I need another drink.

Settling back in the study I mutter ‘Patience is a virtue’ as I pull out my battered old notebook.  I don’t use it so often these days, preferring to tap out my thoughts on the keyboard rather than scribble them in my embarrassing childlike scrawl.  Despite the stabbing headache I try to start jotting a few notes.   They quickly become smudged by the drops of sweat from my forehead hitting them.

A big rumble of thunder makes me jump. It’s definitely closer.

Then another ominous rumble. The laptop whines a shutdown and the light goes out as the electricity pings off. I open the curtains but to my surprise no light comes in.  Instead, outside it is dark.  Black as a moonless night.  There is another rumble. Closer.

There’s no traffic, no people.  The street is empty, dark and still.

Candles. I know there are candles in the living room, the smelly ones that Izzy bought me for Christmas.  I’m not religious, but I am slightly scared, so I pray,

‘Dear God, help me find the bloody candles.’ Tripping over my own feet I manage to crack my shin on the coffee table.  Is ‘shit’ allowed in a prayer?

There is a colossal boom, not quite overhead.  Izzy must have been scared if it was this bad. I wish I was with her.

I find the candles, mostly by sniffing out their ‘Christmas Cheer’ scent, but there is nothing to light them with. It seems even darker. How can it be this dark at midday? And so meltingly hot.

Stumbling through to the kitchen, I feel sure my leg is bleeding, it feels wet, but I can’t even see enough to inspect it.  It’s eerily quiet without the whirr of the fridge and tick of the oven timer.  I grapple around on the worksurface and eventually grasp what I recognise to be the gas-lighter.  As I click it on, another boom of thunder makes the house shudder in its foundations.

With trembling hands I manage to light the candle.  It’s a pathetically small flame, but I can just see the almost empty gin bottle and I swig back the dregs in one gulp before heading back to the living room.  Then I freeze, my skin prickles and erupts into goosebumps, as a rumble that starts low pitched and rises to an almighty heart-stopping crack, shakes the house so hard that I hear it imploding.

Screaming my daughter’s name I run to the door and fumble with the lock until it swings open. The sky is no longer black, but a shimmering saffron heralding a savage, searing wind that bowls me backwards.

Now there is nothingness. No rain, no street, no houses. No Mr & Mrs Next-Door or their soldier flowers. The Bugger, Greg and Izzy, are all gone.  I glimpse the vastness of the universe before my flame gutters and dies.

Rebooting my blog

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a bit of a change to my blog this last week or two. You see, I had a ‘moment’ a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling a bit lonely, a bit unloved and unwanted.  I wasn’t getting many visitors, no comments, no activity.  Apparently not even good enough to include advertising. I felt left out.

Not the first time in my life.  I was always one of those kids.  The left out ones.  The odd-bod, the loner whether I wanted to be or not.  As I got older, I found meetings and conferences uncomfortable, feeling as if I was an imposter, not good enough to hold my own. Not clever enough to hold a conversation with all those important, intelligent folk. And that exactly sums up how I was feeling about blogging. Now, my usual response would be to give up –

‘Face it, you’re not good enough, you’ve given it a shot and failed, might as well find something else to do with your time’

But if being part of this on-line community has taught me anything, its that well, anything goes.  Your blog is your own, who really cares if anyone reads it, as long as you enjoy writing, posting, sharing.  So I decided to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and start shoving things on here pretty much for my own amusement.

My ‘ditties’ for instance (still can’t bring myself to call them poems – seems pretentious).  I’ve been posting them in the ‘poetrysoup’ community for some time, but always blushingly. Posting them on my blog seemed scary, as if I’m inviting criticism and ridicule. However, on one of my braver days I went for it, and hey, d’ya know what…they’ve got likes…lots of likes.  It’s great!

Likewise, with the photos. I’ve got a pretty good camera, and I really love taking photos and have thousands knocking around. Some of them are ropey, some of them seem quite good to me (fair enough, I’ve an untrained eye..) I’d never call myself a photographer, but, you know, we’ve travelled quite a lot and, well, why not share them I thought.  And yes, they’ve got likes too. Gosh, I’m on a roll…

I started my blog pretty much as a journal type thing, a diary documenting what I’ve found to do with my life since retirement, and up until now I felt I should stick to that formula.  But I’ve found diversifying is a real treat, and eye-opener.  I’ve found lots of other poets and poetry blogs that I hadn’t come across before, and some wonderful photography sites that I can learn from. I’m starting to write a bit about each photograph I post – blimey, you never know, maybe it’ll become a travelog!

I can post a picture or poem much quicker than I can write an article, so I’m able to keep the whole thing more active. And, through necessity, I’m learning a lot more about utilising the tools available to make my site look and behave better. Best of all, I’m getting a lot more visitors to my site (still not enough…come on you slackers..) and the number of followers is going up daily (yay! Hellooo and hugs to you all…)

I’ve got lots more ideas, and things to share, and I’m still learning, so over time, I expect the blog to morph some more. It’s all a bit of an adventure then, and thinking of something to post has stopped being a chore and has become exciting and fulfilling again.

Brave writing


Let your passion show!

Rafa Nadal letting his passion show!

Oh, I know I could improve my writing.  I even know how I could improve it immediately.  I’ve done the course, I know the answer, trouble is I’m chicken.

All writers have to think of something to write about, and yes, most can probably pull things out of thin air fairy easily.  What doesn’t come so easily to some of us is the being brave bit.  Being brave with our emotions, exposing our feelings, putting our head above the parapet.

My family, especially my own childhood, is ripe with entertaining and bizarre episodes, certainly enough to fill a book, but when I put them down on paper it feels like a betrayal. Not only that, but bringing them to the surface and turning them over to reveal the juicy bits can be quite painful, so I inevitably end up deleting or destroying what had the potential to be something much deeper than some of my other drivel.

I envy other bloggers who write impassioned pieces about society or current affairs.  I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.  Of course, like them, I have strong views about many aspects of this modern world, but to voice them in public?  Goodness me, I might get some dodgy feedback, disagreement, or, heaven forfend, unfollows.

Now, I do understand it’s good to start, and take part in, debate.  But I’ve always been a cissy on that front.  Always nodding agreement rather than saying what I really think.  I guess I’m not alone there. In fact there’s a weekly column in the Guardian Magazine called ‘What I’m really Thinking’ which proves to me that many of us choose the polite path. And quite right too.  It would be very wrong to spend our lives being absolutely open and frank about every little thing. But with writing, well, somehow we know that brutal honesty, that opening of the soul, is really what produces the best results.

Almost from day one of our writing lives we are told ‘write about what you know’, and so often that leads to dreary kitchen sink drama.  Perhaps they should start telling us to ‘write about what you’re passionate about.  Tell it like you think it.  Let rip. Let it out. Shout about those irritations. Use your Rafa Nadal fist pump and give it some welly when something truly wonderful happens.  Be brave with your recollections, reveal all, even the hurty bits.’

I’m quite sure all that would make for a better read for you all, but I guess I’ll not be doing it just yet.  I’m still a wimp.

P.S.  By the way, while I’m being honest, I’m wondering now if this whole post wasn’t really just an excuse to use a picture of Rafa Nadal!

Preaching to the converted

Dunno if I have mentioned previously that I bought my mum a kindle for her 90th birthday last year.  They’re great for older people who have trouble holding bigger books or reading the small print, and it’s been a stonking success with her.

Mind you, she doesn’t feel confident enough to order her books herself either through the device or through her laptop, so I have to choose for her.  If I say so myself I’m getting quite adept, and actually enjoy the challenge of choosing books that she might like, but I know I would absolutely loath…all the potboiler romances, the stuff about ‘the old days’.  She doesn’t like anything based abroad preferring descriptions of places she recognises, which is a bit limiting, but you’d be amazed at just how many of the ‘she was a poor girl, who fell under the spell of  evil Lord Whatsismame who imprisoned her in the cellar of his mansion where she found love through the soot covered coal merchant who had his own secrets…..’  (blimey that’s good –  I could positively write ’em myself!) genre there is.

Every now and then I sneak in something unexpected, and have pushed her to read things she wouldn’t have considered before.  Consequently she is now an avid Agatha Christie fan, and enjoys the odd biography.

She did do requests, but that has stopped since she insisted on getting, and then reading, Fifty Shades of Grey.  I’ve not read it myself (really not my cup of tea, prefer more eloquent and elegant writing) I did warn her.  I did – robustly, but still she insisted I download it for her.  Her response

‘eugh, do people really do that? Made me feel sick!’  needless to say she didn’t want the next two instalments.

What this exercise has reminded me though, is that, although we all may like different things, books can be compelling for everyone, if they take the trouble to find the right ones. You have to be prepared to be disappointed occasionally by dreadful, unfathomable plotlines, or irritating writing styles.  You have to expose yourself to genre’s that you may think you have no interest in – for instance  sci-fi may not be an obvious choice for us all, but they are just as likely to contain romance and mystery as the next book, and often the authors can employ unusual, creative, improbable, but thoroughly entertaining storylines to keep you engaged all the way through.

I’m the opposite of my mum.  I like to escape into a different world, whether that may be contemporary, historical or futuristic.  I want to really live with the characters, believe in them, and understand them and their motives.  Although there are many books I love, and am happy to reread, probably my favourite is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.  Its a long book, a saga if you like, but I feel like I’ve visited the people in their homes, I know them.  I know the heat, smells, noise of the places they frequent.  I’m sad when I get to the end, even though I’ve read it several times now.  That’s what I want from a book.  Oh, it doesn’t have to be long, or heavy, I enjoy a good beach book as much as the next man, but only as long as the author can use language in a convincing, entertaining, emotional and readable way.

If I’m honest, there are one or two exceptions.  Despite the quite dreadful writing style which I found distracting, I did enjoy The Da Vinci Code, but couldn’t be doing with the other books in the series at all, I did give Angels and Demons a go…gave up after a couple of chapters though.

It is, of course, all a matter of taste. All I would say to anyone is Read.  Read a lot.  Read anything you fancy, and some things you don’t.  Life will be all the richer for exploring other worlds and ideas.

‘course…you’re reading this, so you know all that already (especially the read anything bit), so well done you, and spread the word!