Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The View From my Virus Soapbox

Anyone who used to be a regular reader here, in the days when I used to blog EVERY DAY, is probably having heart failure at my return!  Yes, it’s been a while but there have been various reasons for that.

To begin with it was time related – between writing books/working on the musical adaptation of 'Stilettos & Stubble'/self promoting and also caring for my mum, there just never seemed to be enough hours to sit down and write a regular post.

Then I got to the point where there just didn’t seem to be anything of any interest to blog about.  I guess I lost faith in myself and along with it my mojo - what would be the point of blogging about baking sourdough bread from scratch or the benefits of cupboard sorting during lockdown when so many others were already doing it?

Having said all that, the last few days have made me realize that I want my voice back.  Watching TV, listening to the radio, popping on to Twitter or Facebook: everyone has an opinion on what our world is going through right now and we all want to be heard.  Of course we do – we’re scared, we’re confused and we’re seeing our lives change in ways we never imagined possible.  Through this fear and confusion, I see people going head to head in battle with their differing opinions – some more vehemently than others, some convinced they have the whole situation sussed and some who, quite frankly, shouldn’t be allowed out in polite society EVER – let alone during a lockdown.

So, with my newfound voice, here’s my take on our new world – you won’t all agree and that’s fine.  All I ask is that I’m treated with the same respect that I would treat someone with a differing opinion.

  • NONE of us know where this virus came from or how long it’s here for but it IS real.  Those claiming it’s a hoax or a conspiracy made up by the big guns for a ‘re-set’ need to spend a day in a hospital or lose a loved one.
  • NONE of us know how it will affect us personally unless we’ve had it. Yes, it can be as mild as a cold or flu for some but, old or young, it can still be a killer or leave long term effects.  Those refusing to believe it can be serious are simply sticking their heads in the sand.
  • NONE of us know for sure if masks work to protect us but if you refuse to wear one or refer to them as ‘face nappies’, PLEASE just stay at home.  I don’t want you in my face and I definitely don’t want to hear your opinions on how your human rights are being taken away. Tell that to my mum’s generation who wore gas masks, shivered in air aid shelters, lived on rations for years and were evacuated away from their loved ones.
  • NONE of us can possibly say that we envy Boris Johnson his job. He’s not perfect and I’m not a fan but would any of our current politicians have done a better job?  No one in our history has had to deal with a situation like this and I think we have to remember that, to a certain extent, Boris is just the face and the voice.  He ISN’T the sole policy maker - he has advisors, decisions are made and then he delivers the news. His bumbling, upper-class, pompous twang doesn’t do him any favours but that’s simply who he is.  I don’t think we can hold him wholly responsible for the mess we’re in – one man does not run our country and it would be naïve to believe that.
  • NONE of us enjoy Lockdowns but the reason they’re not working is because of the selfish few who don’t believe that they apply to them.  The rise in cases, particularly over Christmas, speaks for itself.  This virus hasn’t got out of control by people going for a walk or taking a quick trip to the supermarket.  My advice, if you’re REALLY anti-lockdown is, the quicker you do as you’re told, the quicker they will come to an end. Human rights again?  Tell that to the old lady you infected in the supermarket because you chose to party over Christmas and then refuse to wear a mask. Honestly. I’m sick of excuses and sick of the ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude.  We’re not ‘all in this together’ because of the selfish brats who refuse to play by the rules. Yes, RULES.  I think you’ll find that for society to remain civilized, they’re kind of a necessity.
  • NONE of us know how quickly the vaccine will be rolled out or how effective it will be. Boris was wrong to put figures and a time-stamp to the first tranche – if he fails, he’ll be under attack again but he’ll also be criticized for being evasive if he doesn’t. Will he never learn?  My personal thoughts on the vaccine as a dreaded anti-vaxxer?  If you want to go ahead and have it, I have no issue with your choice so please respect mine.  Personally, I think it’s too soon to be sure of side effects, allergies, efficacy and the need/timeframe for re-inoculation. Also, as stated in last night’s press conference, it is now recognized that vaccines cause viruses to mutate, so where does the merry-go-round end? I’m really happy for those who see it as a passport to freedom without questioning it at all but, just occasionally, I’d like to see people interviewed on mainstream TV or radio who have a different point of view – I feel they (we) are being silenced and that worries me.  I’m also slightly confused as to how vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable is going to get our country back to some kind of normality, as we’ve been promised.  These aren’t the people who have been spreading the virus, are they?  Am I missing something here? Surely the young, the healthy and the Covidiots will continue to help the virus grow.
  • NONE of us –politicians, the general public or even the scientists– are definitive experts on this.  This is a completely new strain of virus that we are learning about every day. We can spout our views and opinions until the cows come home but, at the end of the day, it changes nothing. Right now, Covid-19 is the boss of everyone whether you believe in it or not.

There.  Stepping off my soapbox.  If you’d like to leave comments – feel free. If you’re rude or offensive, they won’t be posted. Healthy debates welcomed but not abuse.  In the words of our Queen – ‘We WILL meet again’ but I think we need to be adding the next line now – ‘Don’t know where, don’t know when’!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Back to the 70's Fundraiser for Age UK, Wandsworth

We survived!  (Although try telling that to our legs!).  My fundraiser for Age UK in memory of my mum was a fantastic success and all the guests said what a great night it was.

We raised £1,350 which, considering we had to pay for the venue, the entertainer, the decorations/props and some of the food, I'm delighted with.  Every penny will go to help the elderly in the borough of Wandsworth so huge thanks to all those who helped make it possible (raffle list and contributors at end of this blog).

As our usual venue closed down we hosted this year's event at St Mary's church hall, Putney.  Wow!  Such friendly and helpful staff and the space lent itself fantastically to our 70's theme. You'll see from the pictures that we managed to transform it into a funky disco and it was lovely to see so many guests turn up in costume.

As with each event we learn from mistakes - this year's being ... NEVER do the catering again!  Pappa Ciccia, Fulham kindly delivered deliciously hot, fresh pizzas for each table so we totally over-estimated the food that we prepared and served.  Thankfully, son's fiancée took to the web and found a hungry student who was having friends round and she came to collect the mound of leftovers the following day!

Next year we're hoping to host a Hollywood Night - I just need to find the perfect venue, a generous caterer and, hopefully, a wealthy sponsor!

Enjoy the pictures ...

With son before we set off - I am still removing glitter today!

Ready and waiting for the guests - my husband, the game show host!

The Welcome table

Son did a great job of the windows featuring my album covers from the 70's

The raffle table alongside the cupcake lottery and guess the weight of the cake

Guests settling in

YMCA - of course! Entertainment by 'Babette'

Our barmaid - son's fiancée

Special thanks go to:
My long suffering but incredibly supportive husband.
Son and fiancée for all their help on the day and running the bar - guests commented on the beautiful bar staff!
My sister and her husband for their cash donation.
Elizabeth for making all the table runners and a fantastic cake for 'Guess the Weight' and also providing and cooking all the sausages and helping to set up and clear up along with Judy, William and Marylou.
'Fenella' for help transporting food and providing all the cupcakes for the lottery.
Toby for all his help with the raffle.
My friend Mireille (sadly missed this year) for her contribution to the raffle.
Twitter friend, Putney Man for 4 raffle prizes.
Emma and all at Age UK, Wandsworth for their support and the beautiful orchid I was presented with.
Our entertainer, Babette - she sure knows how to get a crowd on their feet.
Berni and Tim at St Mary's church for being so helpful and cheery.

And all of the following for their raffle contributions:
DOOR PRIZE - Crowne Plaza Hotel, Battersea - overnight stay and use of spa facilities for 2
THE SPENCER PUB, PUTNEY - Dinner voucher (£50)
COOK - £20 voucher
A TIME TO HEAL, Glasgow - pamper hamper
THE PHEASANTRY, Kings Road, Chelsea - 2 x £15 live show tickets
- Sunday lunch for 2 (£40)
- Afternoon Tea for 2 (£30)
CANNIZARO HOUSE, Wimbledon - Dinner and wine for 2
TASTECARD - membership for a year (£40)
THE DANCE LAB, Putney - beginners dance course for 1 mth for 2 (£100)
AVENUE COOKERY SCHOOL, Putney - £40 voucher
HEADMASTERS - cut and blow dry (approx £40)
CHISWICK HOUSE - entry vouchers for 4 (approx £30)
THE FLOWER YARD, PUTNEY - flower arrangement
JOE BROWN PERSONAL TRAINING - Assessment / sports massage / nutrition
CAFÉ FLEUR, Wandsworth - £15 voucher
BILLS RESTAURANT - £40 voucher
HOME SW15 - cocktail making class for 4 (£120)
OLIVER BONAS - £20 voucher
DALEY FITNESS - gym membership for 1 mth
OH LA LASH - set of semi-permanent lashes (£85)
WATERMANS ARMS, Barnes - 2 separate prizes of meal for 2 with wine
THE STYLE LOUNGE, Wandsworth - blow-dry and manicure (£65)
Personal donations:
£50 Gap voucher x2
£50 H&M voucher x2
Bottle of Tequila & Cognac
Bottle of Port & Calvados
NEOM hand and body lotion (£22)
Picnic Rucksack with Prosecco
House of Yoga, Putney - 2 x 1 month free trial (£35 each)
Pappa Ciccia - pizza donations for the night 

And finally ... A shameless plug but a girl's got to eat! I have a new novel and a new Christmas novella out. Both on Amazon. If you like a romcom, check me out!  I have lots of them to offer.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

New release - it's been a while!

I know, I know it's been FOREVER since I brought out a new book but there are reasons for this which I'm unable to share for the moment.  As soon as I can, I will.  Promise.

Anyway, 'Half as Good as You' is now available for pre-order on Amazon and will hit your Kindle on 4th October.  The paperback version will be available shortly, once I decide whether to publish through Lulu or Amazon.

If you read it and love it, PLEASE leave a review  - your words help to sell mine.  If you've enjoyed any of my other books, I'd be really grateful for even a one line review.  They really DO make a difference.

Right ... here's the blurb ...

The day after discovering her husband’s infidelity, TV make-up artist Fizz finds herself knocked off her feet (quite literally!) by a passing stranger in the busy Covent Garden rush hour.  

Rescued by an elderly gentleman, an unusual friendship forms, a mystery lottery ticket appears and Fizz realises that she’d never really been as content in her marriage as she’d allowed herself to believe.

With the arrival of two new men on the scene, how long will it be before Fizz hits the jackpot?

And the links for UK Amazon

Just £1.99 - less than a coffee and will last longer!

Monday, 1 April 2019

Pirating is Theft - end of.

Dear Travis McCrea of Ebook Bike

It’s not often that I blog now as there never seem to be enough hours in the day when you earn an honest living but this particular post needs to get out my system before I self-combust.

Working as an Indie writer is an incredibly tough job and, in the past, was a worthwhile career.  The way that Amazon has changed how they pay us has made it increasingly difficult to earn a living and so I really don't need any spanners in the works.

So, with a constant battle on my hands to get my books seen, talked about, sold and reviewed, imagine my fury when it came to light that you are stealing my work and giving it away for free.  Your opening line on your FAQ page is:

Imagine a world where authors can make money by giving digital versions of their books away to their reader.

This makes NO SENSE TO ME!  HOW?!  How can the theft of my books be making me any money?  Do you have a stash of cash owing to me?  I don’t think so somehow.  I’ve asked you this many times on Twitter and you choose not to answer.  I wonder why.

The truth of the matter is, every book you give away is taking hard earned cash from my hands.  So all the years, months, weeks and hours of blood sweat and tears that I pour into my work are given away, without my permission, for nothing.

And how do you justify this?  Oh, it gets better and better!  You set yourself up as a Reverend of:

Missionary Church of Kopimism

The followers of the religion are called Kopimists from copy me. A "Kopimist" or "Kopimist intellectual" is a person who has the philosophical belief that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted. This philosophy opposes the monopolization of knowledge in all its forms, such as copyright, and encourages file sharing of all types of media including music, movies, TV shows, and software.

So you are somehow trying to justify your act of theft.  Unbelievable!

It doesn’t end there though.  Your girlfriend @malkarii_ is a charity fundraiser for St Jude’s Hospital, Memphis.  No, no, no!  Sorry, but this doesn’t sit well with me.  You @travisvancouver boast about the plane that you’ve bought and the yacht trips that you’ve taken with MY money - because your ‘religion’ doesn’t believe in copyrighting and you’re under the misguided impression that it’s your right to share my work for your gain.  You can’t expect us to believe that your girlfriend doesn’t enjoy that illegal lifestyle to some extent.

I too raise funds for charity and I know that my reputation needs to be whiter than white.  I’ve watched her video on Twitch and I feel for her but she openly admits that what you are doing is ‘shady’ and has asked you to take the website down.  Any connection with you and your dodgy deals will not show @malkarii_ in a good light - she needs to be rethinking her life choices and who she keeps company with if you continue to ignore her requests and she wants to maintain her credibility and integrity.

And you need to own up to the fact that you are a thief and a liar.  On your interview with BBC Radio, you claimed that Ebook Bike was set up with and for writers.  I’d like just ONE writer to come forward and agree with this statement.  Who are these writers who helped to set it up and how do they gain financially from it?  The only writers I’ve heard voice an opinion, are those who are being ripped-off.

I thought long and hard before writing this.  There are two trains of thought.  Some authors are keeping quiet as they don’t want to give you oxygen to grow, others are livid and doing everything they can to bring you down.  Indies are the ones who are particularly disgruntled as we don’t get an advance to keep us going - but what the traditionally published authors need to realise is that, if their books continue to be given away without their permission, their publishers will see a fall in sales and may not re-sign them.  It affects us all.  I won’t be silenced, especially when I read that a sixth of ebooks that were downloaded in 2017 were pirated because of the likes of you.  Why should I keep quiet?  If you crept into my house while I was sleeping and stole all of my worldly goods I wouldn’t let you get away with it - this theft is no different.

I don’t have a plane or fancy yacht trips around the English Bay of Vancouver and you know why?  Because I’m helping to pay for you to enjoy those privileges.

Shame on you.  Enjoy the publicity while you can but I don’t think it will last for long.  Time to get your thinking cap on and come up with a new scam.

May you get your just desserts in heaven Reverend McCrea.

PS: To those authors and publishers who choose to keep quiet, I respect your opinion but I’m choosing to speak out for the underdog.  I don’t believe that by writing this I will encourage more people to pirate books - honest people don’t - but I do feel that it needs to be talked about.  This isn’t just affecting Indies.  It’s affecting traditionally published authors and will go on to affect the publishing world, just as it did with pirated music, unless people make a noise.  I don’t believe that this is a time for anyone to sit on their laurels, hope that it will go away and leave other people to do the dirty work and deal with it on their behalf.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Swinging Sixties

It's over!  Months of work, numerous dramas and several sleepless nights but it's finally behind us - the fundraiser in memory of my lovely mum for Age UK, Wandsworth.

I'm tired to the point of nodding off at the laptop so I'll let the pictures do the talking.  Suffice it to say, we had a ball - everyone said it was the best yet - and raised £2,702.35 with more money to come from the sales of the last of the Christmas goods I made.

Here goes ...

The Misfits, ready to party like it's 1960

Son and Austin Powers!

With Marianne Faithful

Hippy Table

The Kitsch Kittens
Entertainment - they were FAB-U-LOUS!!!

They sure knew how to work the crowd.

Check out our 60's lighting

One of the kittens got carried away!

Mr Misfit & I made a VW photo booth
The number plate was P3GGY 
for my mum

Over 30 raffle prizes.
The lovely Emma at Age UK won the dance class vouchers 
that I'd been coveting and she donated them to me!
Mr Misfit and I are heading off to ballroom and Latin American
dance for a month.
The cupcake lottery raised
almost £100
Lovingly made by 'Fenella'

My Christmas mini market raised lots so 
my months of handicrafting paid off.
Anything left is going to Age UK for them to sell.
An A Board to welcome the guests

My neighbour donated an almost new TV which we held 
a blind auction for.
It raised £50 and the highest bidder then donated it
back to Age UK for them to sell or give to an
elderly person who may need one.
Our groovy welcome table

Alfie having cuddles in his cool bandana

A last minute arrival of a fruit basket so I
auctioned it and raised another £20.
My lovely Twitter buddy who travels
all the way from Glasgow with her equally lovely partner.
Invaluable help!

The night wouldn't have been complete
without a pic of my mum in the 60's

Huge thanks to all who helped - you know who you are - and to Mr Misfit, I couldn't do any of it without you.

Friday, 29 June 2018

This post has been deleted due to the free publicity it was giving to a dishonest company - Yamal Alsham Restaurant.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Blimey! It's the 1950's!

Last night saw the culmination of months of work for my third fundraiser in memory of my mum for Age UK, Wandsworth.

Friends, family and strangers (some who came last year and are fast becoming friends!) donned their 50's finery and sang and danced their way back to the era of leather jackets, swing dresses and pedal pushers.

We raised just over £1,100 and I think everyone who attended would say that it was a night to remember - the pictures speak for themselves. As usual The Telgraph Pub, Putney, provided a great back-drop for the event and I look forward to working with them for next year's 60's night.

Special thanks go to my wonderful husband, my son and his fiancée, Mireille and Alan, Toby and my side-kick 'Fenella' - I couldn't have done any of it without you fabulous people.

Also, thanks to Emma at Age UK, who came with a couple of her friends and set the dance floor on fire with their glamour and moves!

 A rather picture-heavy blog, but these capture the mood of the evening:

College freshman and the Grease monkey

Fabulous Emma from Age UK and her posse

He had a gingham bow-tie on in that fur somewhere!

My baby!

The boys! He-e-e-y!!

Stunning cup-cakes from 'Fenella' raised £93


The table settings

Me and my men

Not quite Danny and Sandy!

The welcome stand that took me months and will now go to the dump.

Having a breather after air-guitaring

Waiting for the raffle

The 50's aren't complete without a pearly queen

Peggy, my mummy - the black and white photo of her was in the 50's on her honeymoon

Which karaoke number shall we do?

The raffle table

A rush to get ready but we made it!

Check out the 50's baseball boots!

Pretty in Pink

Karaoke for the brave ones

Tense raffle moment

A winning ticket!

Hubbie drilled a lot of holes through those records to make the mobiles

50's sisters

Age UK won the flowers but presented them to me!

Glamour pusses

My trusty raffle helper on the left

'Chrissie Cadillac' leads the revellers in a four-step

The dumped cabinet we found, transformed beautifully

They've got the Colgate look ...

With 31 prizes, the raffle takes forever