The stretched optimist

Often, I write about being an optimist. These days, with gloom all around us, being a pessimist must be be an easy ride. From the moment you wake up and look at the news, you’ll get more than your daily fix of pessimism and will not bother to step out of bed.

I look at it from another angle. There are problems to solve and we’ll solve them. Human kind has a history of making the world a better place, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Look at Covid. Yes it’s still with us, but it hasn’t destroyed us. We have several effective vaccines against it, and next year will see a push to spread the jabs throughout the world. Also, we’ve developed drugs that cure the disease and stop it in its tracks once someone has been infected.

The scientific and medical world’s achievements in fighting Covid have been nothing short of magnificent. Never has a vaccine or treatment for a life-threatening disease been accomplished in such a short time span. But that’s not the only medical advance. A vaccine for malaria has been found, and anyone with HIV will shortly be able to have a monthly injection instead of taking a daily pill, which patients often forget.

Treatment for cancer and many other medical conditions improve, but medicine is not alone in advancement. Space research is reaching new horizons, clean methods of travel, not using fossil fuels, are coming on stream by the day, technology that improves our lives is all around us, dietary information to help us lead healthier lives is everywhere, and in most areas of life we look, they’ll be something that has improved.

On the climate crisis we’ve seen some progress at the COP26 in Glasgow – see my comments on my Climate Crisis page – but more action is needed. Only a super-optimist would believe all is going to be well after the COP, but at least it received a big media splash, and hopefully much more will be delivered.

I know in the UK we’re led by a bunch of donkeys, but it’ll change. Either their own party will change its leader, who’ll bring in a new, more enlightened bunch, or they’ll be an election and that will shake things up.

Stay hopeful, healthy, and optimistic. There’s much to be grateful for.

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who bought it.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work. Thank you. 

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Beauty in autumn

Grey plumes of tall grasses sway in the wind. The hues of the leaves; some red, some bronze, and some mingled with greens and yellow, surely catch your eye, possibly making you gasp at the beauty. Fading hostas; curly, slug and snail bitten, their once pristine green leaves giving way to shrivelled brown and yellow ones, soon to disintegrate to nothing, but still, for now, maintaining structure and a ragged majesty. A rose here and there, a hardy geranium hanging on for a week maybe. Soon this muddle will all be gone, died back to blackened clumps and a winter home for the dwindling insect population. 

I enjoy and embrace autumn, dazzled by its bright and contrasting colours, happy that it heralds winter and the time for plants and soil to take a break, rest and recuperate, and make ready for the early snowdrops and spring and summer’s unfolding magnificence.

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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A masterpiece in style and description

Sally Rooney’s latest book, Wonderful World, Where Are You? is both magnificent and brilliant. I couldn’t put it down, and it must rank as one of my best reads ever, certainly No 1 this year.

Essentially a love story about two couples, all friends, who see the world as a troubled place with a doomed future, and don’t seem able or want to cement their relationships. Set in Dublin and the surrounding countryside, the author describes the various locations with a beautiful, poetic-like style and breath-taking prose. Her description of Felix and Alice, Eileen and Simon, their lives, and their tortured relationships is both masterful and compelling. She’s in a class of her own. 

I enjoyed her previous two books enormously – Conversations with Friends and Normal People – but for me, this is her best. Appealing mainly to millennials – myself well past that age grouping – the book depicts emphatically how the millennials feel about the world and their despair as to where it’s heading. My sympathy!   

At times Rooney’s writing was so stunning I gasped out loud. It took my breath away. I greatly admired the intensity and way she described the agonising relationships and then brought them all together in a satisfying and uplifting ending. She ranks, in my opinion, amongst the best English language authors of all time, writing in a refreshingly new and cogent style.

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

Orange is the lucky colour for lobsters

Imagine sitting in a cramped fish tank in a supermarket waiting for a customer to take a fancy to you for their supper – and when that moment arrives, you’re whisked out, purchased, and taken to your buyer’s home to meet your certain death. Not exactly a ball! 

However, in Canada recently, nobody wanted the unusually rare orange lobster that languished in a tiny water tank with its claws tied together until a couple came along and took pity on it, buying it, not to eat, but to find a way of saving its life. To read the full story go to: 
Rare one in 30 million orange lobster rescued from grocery store tank.

I was pleased for the orange lobster, happy that it went on to live longer and have a better existence than hanging around in a bubbly grocery store tank, waiting for its certain execution. But I’m a hypocrite. I eat mainly plant based foods and fish, and lobster is a favourite. 

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

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I understand why Monet painted Water Lilies so many times

I was privileged recently to see the lake where Claude Monet lived and painted Water Lilies at least two hundred and fifty times. We’d managed at last to make it to Paris to meet up with my son and family for the first time in over a year. It goes without saying that being reunited with them again was the highlight of the trip, and they took us to many wonderful places, of which Giverny, the village where Monet lived for the last forty-three years of his life, was one. Monet’s house and gardens, in all their stunning beauty, send off an air of calm and tranquility and an understanding of why the great artist lived there for so long and painted the lily pond so many times. The garden is much like a painter’s palate, a rich mixture of colour at the expense of formality. Tall hollyhocks, still in bloom, and sumptuous, frothy lady’s mantle (alchemilla mollis) pop up at random which together with the overhanging willow trees make you feel you’re ensconced in paradise. In the time Monet inhabited the house in Giverny he enlarged it and laid out the garden to make the home he wanted, a place of calm and peace that inspired his painting ambitions.

At other times on our trip to Paris, we visited Versailles, toured the Louvre and saw the great lady, Mona Lisa, in her home. We went up the Eiffel Tower, took a boat along the Seine, ate a lot of good French food and drunk many a glass of their excellent wine, travelled to some historical chateaus, walked many kilometres, and did some shopping. The weather was kind, we were in the company of loved ones, and all our visits were good, Monet’s house and garden being for me the highlight. We found Paris a clean, beautiful, and efficient city with a friendly and helpful population.

Vivre le français, and thanks again to our hosts – my son and his family.

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Imprisoned for a crime she did not commit

The large iron door clanged shut. I stared through the thick rusty bars as the warder walked away along the grey corridor, its walls grimy, and with blobs of paint here and there in a failed attempt to hide the mass of graffiti. The loud clunk of his feet against the dusty flagstones made me shiver as I thought about my fate and for how long it might continue. I looked around the cell. A single bed with a stained mattress – misshapen and ripped in places, the stuffing showing through – on top of which was an old brown blanket splattered with marks, the origins of which too grim to contemplate, were the only objects in the cell. Toward the centre of the floor the stones dipped, sloping down to a circular hole about eight inches in diameter, the edges smeared with excrement. I shuddered.

Books were forbidden, the food was barely edible, the heat intolerable, and my phone had been confiscated, and on my first night. While I tossed and turned trying to sleep, I’d often heard the noise from a rat or mouse that had crawled up the hole in the stone floor and was scrabbling around. I wondered how long I would keep my sanity.  

I am innocent of any crime. I was visiting the country seeing relatives, when one afternoon as I walked from my hotel to where my relatives lived, I turned a corner and stumbled upon a protest march for the rights of women. Being a woman and a member of an organisation back home campaigning for women’s rights, and often invited to speak about the topic, I joined in. 

Not long after I’d been walking with the protesters, occasionally shouting out, Equality for women everywhere, I was pulled from the protest by a couple of men in uniform. I was handcuffed, blindfolded, bundled into a vehicle, and taken to the prison where I am now. No charge was made against me, and no information given as to why I was being held in these intolerable conditions.

On my third day, early in the morning, after I’d just thrown up the revolting breakfast, two masked men, dressed in black, wearing black balaclavas came for me. The tied my hands behind my back and escorted me to a dingy room where whips and instruments of torture hung from the walls. They told me to take a good look around, saying this was where they would bring me for correction treatment if I didn’t cooperate at my forthcoming interrogation. I vomited, bent over, and clasped hold of my stomach. The men pulled me upright, taking hold of me, telling me to have another look, and then took me back to my cell. Once inside, I fell on my bed and sobbed. ‘How long, how long is this hell going to go on for,’ I shouted out. 

Today is the sixth day of my false and unjustified imprisonment. I’ve barely eaten or slept. I feel at least a stone lighter, have been savaged by insects, and fear and dread are always with me. Fear that every time I hear footsteps the guards are coming to take me to that terrifying room where I’ll be tortured or raped or both. Fear that I’ll die of Covid or be poisoned by the rotten food and never see my loved ones again. Fear of the unknown and if I’ll survive. I dread what terrible fate awaits me.       

I shake. The noise of feet comes from the corridor. I ignore the disgusting looking breakfast that has been shoved through the hatch at the bottom of the iron door, and sob. For the first time ever in my life, I think of suicide. How can I? I ask, looking around the room in panic. But these footsteps are different, lighter, I think, and look up. A pleasant looking man, dressed in a beige linen suit and white shirt is standing outside my cell, smiling, and raising a hand a little in a greeting. ‘Hello,’ he says through the bars. ‘I’m James from the British Embassy. They’re letting you out in a moment, and I have a car waiting to take you to the airport.’

Sitting on the plane back to the UK, knocking back a large gin and tonic, I reflect on my luck and good fortune. Many innocent women in the world, living in countries that see woman as second-class citizens, are abused, wrongfully imprisoned, and subjected to torture, rape and other abhorrent crimes. I will be forever grateful I was spared from such atrocities and will continue to campaign for the equality of women and the immediate cessation of these abhorrent, unjust practices.

For more information go to: https://www.equalitynow.org/why_gender_equality1

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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Gratitude – there’s much to be grateful for

Mindfulness, and all its hangers on, is all around us. Every day, social media, podcasts, news outlets, and most other media overflow with the subject in various forms.  Gratitude – being grateful for what we have – is proscribed as the answer to keeping positive. Making lists and thinking about things and situations to be grateful for is the main constituent part. Here are a few taken for my list. 

A shiny sun

Blue skies and small, puffy clouds

Long stretches of sand on a deserted beach

A blue and clear sea lapping against a soft shoreline

I’m grateful

Roses in the garden

Hostas, big and lush, their green and cream leaves unique and elegant

Pollinators 

Frogs and toads and water boatmen

I’m grateful

Rain’s nutrition

Wind spreading seeds, spores, and pollen

Insects feeding the soil 

Photosynthesis 

I’m grateful

And many more

Like, a bed to sleep in

A roof over my head

Hot and cold running water

Food, family, and friends

Try it. It beats the blues.

~  

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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I often write about beaches

The still waters or crashing waves with foamy white tops on a windy day. The empty sand stretching for miles. Sand dunes, their grasses fluttering in a gentle breeze, tides that ebb and flow, changing the landscape from one week to the next. All stimulants to my imagination. 

I’m lucky. We live twenty minutes from one of the best beaches in the UK at West Wittering. It’s featured in my latest novel, Otto and Frankie.

~

Two quotes by Otto and a short piece from the novel.

‘Wind sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel, sand skidding across the ridged mud flats, the indentations half-filled with icy cold seawater, leaving small pools and puddles, much loved by children on a summer’s day.’

‘Our memories of the beach will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.’ 

Otto Georgeson

Otto and Frankie are reunited after twenty years apart and go for a walk on the beach. 

The sea was calm and cool, the sun warm, not too hot, and the sand clean, wet, but firm to walk on. It was nearly one, and Frankie and I had walked, sloshing our feet through the puddles, for about forty-five minutes, just reaching East Head, where The Solent meets the waters leading to Chichester Harbour, and the walk back to our house crosses mud flats, bordered by marshland and undulating sand dunes. Many breeds of waders paddle in the shallow pools, searching for worms and tiny fish. It had become a magical part of my beach walk, and never ceased to uplift me.

While we ambled along Frankie and I talked without a break, eager to learn and understand parts of each other’s past that our years apart had kept from the other. She wanted to know all about my books, the plots, how I dreamt them up, and my writing routine. I let her tell me whatever she wanted about herself. I didn’t pry. 

A large, long-haired dog ran from the sea, shaking what seemed like an ocean of water and a bucket load of sand over us both. Frankie laughed, leaning forward and letting her hair hang lose, her hands raking the sand free. The dog’s owner rushed up and apologised. Frankie told her not to worry, and that it was all a unique experience that she hadn’t encountered before, saying, ‘I live in New York, and don’t get to visit beaches like this.’ They talked a little longer, the dog owner, a fit-looking, elderly woman with a pink floppy hat that almost hid her eyes, was curious about New York and America. They said goodbye, and we started to walk on. A pace or two in silence, and then Frankie stopped, turning in the sand to look up at me and into my eyes, twisting the ring in her lip. ‘Tell me about your work with refugees?’ 

‘Emm, okay,’ I answered, a little lukewarm in my tone, taken aback at Frankie’s unexpected request. I shrugged, and looked around. ‘But not here, standing on the beach.’ I pointed to the sand dunes. ‘Let’s go sit over there.’ 

We found a couple of dunes that we could rest our backs against. Frankie sat cross-legged; I stretched my legs out in front of me. The sun slid behind a cloud, a breeze caught Frankie’s hair, it felt a little cold, and she pulled out a top from her small backpack. I waited, then started: ‘I’d been invited by the UNHCR – an organisation I’d always respected and supported – to attend a briefing on the refugee crisis in Syria, just after the start of the Syrian civil war. We were shown appalling images, and told about men being beaten, tortured, and shot in the street in front of their families, their wives raped, their children slaughtered, and just because they didn’t fall in line with the Syrian regime and wanted to express their views. Those that survived and escaped these atrocities had their homes bombed, reduced to rubble. They fled in the clothes they stood up in, nothing more, becoming refugees, displaced people, constantly in search of food, water, and a roof over their heads.’ I looked at Frankie. She was gaping at me, her eyes wide-open, little colour to her face. ‘Six or seven million have been displaced by the Syrian war.’ I covered my face with my hands for a moment, and thought about what to say next. It was a shocking subject, almost too much to absorb in one go; and could be depressing. I shot Frankie a quick glance. She was staring at the sea with a vacant expression, drawing circles in the sand with one of her feet. I decided to take a different, more upbeat approach.   

‘I’d just written my last book. I’d been very lucky, and made loads of money from my writing, film deals, and the rest. One day I looked in the mirror and thought I needed to find a way to help these desperate people. I talked to UNHCR who said what they needed most was money, and someone who’d try to meet with the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity and persuade them to alter course. I agreed to put my name to any fundraising activity they suggested.’ I looked at Frankie again. I had her attention. 

‘I made contact with the perpetrators, saying I was independent, with no allegiance to any side, just wanting to meet and talk with them. You know, to my surprise, they agreed to meet me, and listened to what I had to say – something to do, I’m told, with me being a well-known name. I can’t say I changed their attitude, but I might have stopped or slowed down another atrocity, allowing people to get away to safety, perhaps.’ I looked down at the ground for a moment. ‘I don’t think I caused any harm.’ 

Enough, I thought and looked across at Frankie.

She was gazing at me; and wiped a finger under both of her eyes. I guess she’d smeared away a tear or two. She rubbed her hands together, shaking off the sand. ‘Dad.’ She shook her head. ‘I don’t know what to say.’ She touched one of the hoops hanging from her ear. ‘You know, I’m ashamed to say this, but two days ago, I was living and working in Brooklyn, concerned only about me, and really quite ignorant of all you’ve been saying.’ She stood up and hugged my head. ‘Dad, I’m so, so impressed with you’ She sat down next to me, again cross-legged, and looked into my eyes.

‘You and I are very different. You’ve written all those good books, and done all this fantastic humanitarian work, I’m just Frankie, the girl who works behind the bar, and is talked about as an easy lay.’

I shook my head. ‘You’re Frankie, my daughter, and I love you.’

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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Just imagine

My mother died in the first bombing attack. She’d been sitting alone watching the TV reports of the war and waiting up for my father to return from the hospital, where he was a doctor. He’d called earlier to say he didn’t know what time he’d be home as they were dealing with the many casualties. My sister and I, Amara, were asleep in another room when the bomb hit our property. She’s eleven, I’m thirteen, and my name is Leila. 

The explosion woke us. Dust filled our room; parts of the ceiling had collapsed, leaving chunks of rubble on the floor. We both cried out and yelled for Mama. She did not reply. I left Amara sobbing and shrieking while I went to find her. I couldn’t move much beyond our room. A metal beam had fallen from the ceiling, eerie, jagged and jutting out into the open air where the entrance to the living room used to be. I looked out onto the outside and the sky. The air was full of black smoke, great plumes of it rising upward from the ground where a bomb had just hit a building. Only the bedrooms and the hallway of our apartment remained intact; the rest of the building destroyed, fallen to the ground. ‘Oh poor, poor Mama,’ I yelled, grabbing Amara by the hand and running to the ground floor and into the street below.

A large pile of rubble met me, about a metre and a half high, rising to two metres in places. Rescue workers and emergency personnel, their faces smeared with dust and grime, were rushing around checking for trapped and injured people. ‘My mama, my mama,’ I yelled to one of the workers. ‘I think she’s under there.’ Two women, looking like nurses or official helpers, came forward in our direction, both of us sobbing and screaming, and took us by our hands and led us away. They took us to a building they called a safe house: it had a large red cross painted over the flat roof. Inside, many other shocked and traumatised people were wandering around, some with injuries and bandaged. The women wrapped us in blankets, gave us warm drinks, and calmly and kindly asked us our names and our parents’ names. Once we’d told them, they took us to a room with many other children, some we knew, all shocked and distressed as we were. After a few minutes, some of us played together, helping us forget our trauma.

At midnight my father came to collect us. I have never seen him looking so awful: shocked, strained, trembling now and again, and looking as though he’d been crying. ‘Papa, papa,’ we both yelled. ‘Where’s Mama?’ He didn’t tell us, saying everything would be alright and we were going to spend the night at our aunt’s apartment. He took both our hands and led us on an unfamiliar and long route to our aunt’s home, telling us the regular route was unsafe. When we arrived, we both ran to our aunt, who cuddled us close, both clinging to her. We turned to look at our father. He was standing a metre away, shaking and looking as though he was about to burst into tears. He looked at us, his sadness palpable, biting his lips, and told us our mother had died in the rocket hit.

Our father worked on the cancer unit at the local hospital, our mother was a teacher. We were a close, loving family. Neither of my parents was political in any way – both innocent, unaware of the causes of the present violence, and wanting to make the world a better place. 

The bombing has stopped now. There is hope.

~

Although this story is fiction, it could have been taken straight from the current Israeli/Gaza conflict.

There must be no going back.

Dialogue – not bombs.

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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3-2-1 cooking

Healthy eating must be one of the most written about subjects. Almost every day we’re given advice on what we should and shouldn’t eat. Much of it goes over my head. But as a so-called flexi eater – someone who follows a plant-based diet with fish, and occasional meat – I recently found a book, the Doctor’s Kitchen 3-2-1, excellent. The author, Dr Rupy Aujla, is a practising GP and a nutritionist. Not only are the recipes in his book easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious, they all can be cooked in one dish.

Here’s Dr Rupy’s introduction: 

‘What is 3-2-1?

It’s a brand new way of cooking delicious food that will completely change your life. Every recipe is formulated to contain 3 portions of fruit and veg per person, each meal serves 2 people and only requires 1 cooking pan (like a roasting tray, saucepan or casserole dish) … that’s it!’ Dr Rupy Aujla 

The Doctor doesn’t preach but provides solid nutritional evidence backing up his belief that we can all eat our way to good health.   

Take a look at The Doctor’s Kitchen site and gain access to many delicious recipes.

His weekly podcast, The Doctor’s Kitchen, is very good and free. You can subscribe through his website and all other podcast providers.

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My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently, I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.

Thank you.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.