Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Thomas Cook ltd fails.

Thanks, Thomas Cook, for all the flights, more or less on time, for all the help GOES received with generous extra baggage and all the donations from staff at our local travel shop, and for the interest you showed in our work. We'll miss you.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Good Intentions :-)

Greetings :-)

Life has been busy for a few months - celebrating 60 years of marriage takes a while! We will continue to support the excellent clinic at Mandinari village on the south bank of the river, and contributing support for an equally excellent nursery school on the outskirts of Serekunda town. We haven't forgotten GOES but we have decided to modify our attempts to help everyone all the time!
Our celebrations actually raised some very kind donations, which we used to restock the medecine cuboard at the clinic and replace some roofing at the school - you know who you are, thank you.

Another time-occupier has been age-proofing the house and garden. Steps seem steeper these days, and walking can be a wobbly affair. We were refused a Blue Badge, which would have been helpful, but we now have a Rollator walking device and the local bus service is excellent.

We've fitted grab rails at the doors and over the bath, and extra hand rails on the stairs. Next job is the replace the front and back doors - and we'll make some modifications to the back yard. We had fitted some wild flowers and butterfly bushes, and insect hotels --- we can't walk there now and birds have eaten all the apples and butterflies have feasted on the figs. Goblin Market - J loathed that poem long before we became a

The Malinding books, which I enjoyed writing (with the thought that they might help finance GOES) have proved to be unreadable failures (Proof? Nobody bought them), but the friends of GOES rallied round and helped support our tithes.

Life in our eighties is good - we have slowed down, we're listening to the 5th Test Match on R4 as I write this - and I've put my glass of alcohol-free Pinot in some safe place somewhere - it's a small house but I manage to lose lots of things, including most of my socks, the Stone-age flint scraper that inspired part of the Girl on Wheels story, and my fountain pen. Still, I've got time to find them now. Did I celebrate discovering my treasured but mis-placed 1958 copy of The Chatto Book of Modern Poetry? Must find the faux-wine and celebrate ...

Saturday, 20 April 2019


Fourteen days since the public declaration of our diamond wedding. We’ve become hermits, anchorites, even. Well, anti-social plague bearers. Joyce arrived home after our celebrations and declared a state of cold. Coughs, splutters, and sneezes. Oddly, Val was also afflicted. Me? I don’t get colds, I just minister, saint-like, to the sufferers. Val went home. Women. Men don’t get colds; a belief I fostered for another week.
J seemed a little recovered by the following Sunday so we went for a drive and a coffee. By the time we were home I had a slight scratchy feeling at the back of my throat. By next morning I had a streaming, steaming, cold. We boarded up the doors and windows, took to our bed, ordered groceries and medication – well done Ocado and Brown’s Chemist. We lived on just coconuts and fish from the sea (via the freezer), and paracetamols. We planned adventures in weak, rattling voices. We escaped once to post a letter, then stumbled back to bed.
A good neighbour, believing we had gone abroad, cut the grass and put the bins out. The boy delivered the papers and the milk and orange juice. We sneezed on one another but never, not even once, did we sneeze on another human being.
We hope to venture out next week into a better, cleaner, germ and Brexit free world.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

I believe ...

I originally posted this about four years ago. It still represents my beliefs.

 All religions/faiths/beliefs have their share of extremists/fanatics/thugs looking for an excuse to behave violently.
All religions/faiths/beliefs have their share of wonderful, loving, caring people who seek only to help their fellow human beings in any way they can.
Fortunately, the good people outnumber the evil ones ten million to one, or more.
Sadly, the good people rarely appear in the headlines.
I was born into a Christian family and attended a Christian school and college. I was amazed and dismayed when I encountered people who called themselves Christians but were intolerant of people who did not share their extremist views.
Rarely, if ever, is violence prescribed in Sacred Writings. Feed the poor, care for the sick and elderly, help the stranger - respect one another. We can only continue to set an example in our own lives: it can be very difficult. Sadly, it seems impossible to reason with the blinkered folk who believe that they are right, and are willing to murder men, women and children who disagree with them.
Our gentle friends in West Africa have fed us, shared their last cup of rice with us, trusted us with their children, cared for us when we have been sick, chatted to us about their beliefs and questioned us about ours. Never once have we felt threatened. They have earned our love and respect: I hope we have earned theirs.
Je suis Charlie?

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, North Wales.

Gladstone's is the finest library in the world. Founded by a British Prime Minister, Mr W.E.Gladstone as a home for his collection of books. It has become a wonderful refuge for writers and readers from all over the World. Imagine a silent reading room, a lively dining room providing three good meals a day, constant coffee and cakes, a sitting room with a log fire and an honesty bar, peaceful gardens and thirty comfortable bedrooms - that's Gladstone's Library.
It's fact, but it features in several works of fiction; I'll confess now, I considered burning it down in 'Chasing Freedom Home'. Not me, of course; Ed-Lamin who was imprisoned in the dungeon there after his capture by the PPP (People's Purity Party - the worst ever government ever to have gained power in the UK). Young Ed's mum and dad had spent part of their honeymoon staying in room 9, delighting in the atmosphere and eating cake. Twenty five years later their first son, Ed-Lamin, was a prisoner there.
I'm delighted that common sense returned to the fictional electorate and the library remains to this day, a haven of peace in a peaceful world. I know this to be true - I'm working in the silent room, the sun is shining outside, I've had a walk round the garden and all's well with the world ... apart from Brexit.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Extract from 'Chasing Freedom Home '

' I need this cup of tea, I’m exhausted, and a mince pie. Woman! You’ve eaten the last one. I didn’t even see it go, I didn’t have time to wave it fare-well.’
 ‘Wasn’t me. A centipedy hand reached out and grabbed it. Just put your hand on my belly, just here – you can feel it munching away.’
 ‘Yep; munch munch munch. If it’s a girl centipede will she want high heels? High heels and designer jeans? Hundreds of them? Or will she be content just to have fifty different pairs and wear them on different legs every day? Or will just the back legs need jeans and the rest can manage with leggings? How many legs will be arms?’
‘No. Stop it, Ed, please. Suddenly it’s not funny. I want just one beautiful, normal baby. I lie awake at night, listening to my tummy rumbling, and wondering who’s in there. I want one ordinary, wonderful, lovely baby boy or baby girl. I want her or him to have a normal happy life and fall in love like we did and live a long, useful and contented life and, oh shit! I’m so scared. Hold me. Hold me. Tell me it’s going to be all right.’ She closed her eyes to shut out the darkness. He pulled her to her feet and embraced her, whispering, stroking her back, assuring and reassuring her as best he could.
 ‘Our baby will be fine. We’re young and healthy and we get good care. It’s normal to worry, I expect, and to be concerned. You’re a fit English thoroughbred and I’m a, well, I don’t know what I am; I’m a mixture of excellencies; our baby will be as beautiful and intelligent and fit as both of us put together. If anything had been wrong it would have been detected long ago. Both your parents are in bustling good health and humour – well, until they see me. My dad lived to a ripe old age and my mum’s indestructible. Her granddad lived to be a hundred, and that’s in a country with limited resources. Come on, let’s go for a drive round the lanes, then you can put your feet up and I’ll sing you to sleep. How’s that for an idea?’
 ‘Promise no singing?’
 ‘OK. No singing. Promise.’ He hovered anxiously as she put her coat on and lumbered to the door. The day was warm, gently mild; the kind of day when romantic poets wooed their disenchanted lovers. He had already rolled the fabric roof of the little yellow car back in readiness for the trip. She settled herself in and allowed him to fuss with a rug round her knees, and tolerated him checking that if he closed the door it would not trap any part of her anatomy or clothing. Heavens, she longed for him to accept she was not made of chocolate icing, likely to melt or crumble or shatter if a breeze or a dragonfly or a speck of dust ventured too near. He started the engine, double checked the mirrors, looked over both right and left shoulders and pulled carefully out onto the deserted road. He glanced at her. She was the loveliest, sexiest woman on the planet. She slipped her arm across his shoulders as he drove, stroking the nape of his neck with one finger and smiling to see him smile. He turned back to his chauffeuring with a wide grin on his face. He drove carefully, avoided overtaking anything faster than a bicycle and returned his precious passengers an hour later, refreshed and sleepy, to their front door.
 The crunch of broken glass underfoot alerted them to disaster. The daubed obscenities across the fresh white paintwork disgusted them, and the parcel of excrement that had been flung through the broken window had them staring in frightened horror at one another.
 They stared at the desecration of their lovely home.
 ‘Why? Who could do this? What’s the point? What have we ever done to deserve this?’ They had no answers. Jane reacted first.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Extract from 'Girl on Wheels'

Jodie's Chariot
Hi, it's me, Jodie. Well, that's how I start my tweets (Rachel showed me how) so that's how I'll start the book. Almost thirty words already. Don't get it right, get it written, that's what Karen said and I always do what teacher tells me. Quite often, anyway. See, fifty words now.
 Let's get the jargon out of the way first, shall we? Then you can decide if it's worth your while to read on. OK? Right. I'm 28 years old, IC3, T10-L1, 1.45m tall, 62kg. heavy. M.Sc., demographic class C2, favourite vehicle is my custom built 6kg racing chair, and I play rugby to relax. Let's move on.
 One hundred and nine words, and you already know a fair bit about me. I reckon I can finish this book in under a thousand words. Fifteen hundred tops. That photo of me on the front cover? Yes, a bit out of date. I don't like any that's been taken of me since then. Twenty-one years ago and I loved life.  Didn't  know that, of course, I just got on with it. School was good; I loved hearing stories and poems. I liked games and swimming - we all learned to swim. Then it all went wrong: mum died. She'd been too busy to go to the doctor about the pains in her chest. Then she dropped dead. Just collapsed and died. Gone. I was sitting at the kitchen table and she was fetching my dinner from the microwave. She sort of gasped, looked at me, tried to speak. I sat there, thought it was some kind of joke for a moment. I grabbed the phone and called 999. I tried to turn her over into the recovery position - we'd learned about that in school - tried the kiss of life and the paramedics had to drag me off her. I ran. That was all I could do. Just ran and ran and ran. The police found me - that was where I first heard the IC3 bit.