To love or not

Revelations, my latest book is coming soon.

How tragedy and a man’s search for his unknown father reveal the truth about his parents. 

A short piece from the book follows. It’s taken from early in the story, when Max Langstone, a thirty-year-old journalist who’s had a rough beginning in life, finds a meeting with an ex-girlfriend to be a significant moment.  

After Anna had left for Gabriella’s, I started to clear up and I wondered where our relationship was heading. Today, I’d spent the most time with Anna since we’d been a pair, back when I lived with her in Bologna, and a day I’ll remember. Like before, there seemed to be a friendship between us that ebbed and flowed but never broke, and this day it seemed in full spate, like a spring tide flooding in and up the beach, almost breaching the sea wall. Conversation came easy, our likes almost identical, both interested in the same, and both finding solace with the other.

We started seeing more and more of each other, but it was a strange sort of relationship, neither saying we loved the other but both eager to spend time together and fix our next date before we said goodbye. We kept our weekly business meetings formal, talking mainly about Italian politics and current affairs and not outwardly expressing our fondness for the other. We met after work at least once a week, and one day, most weekends. We slept together often, each staying over one night at the others, but never spending a whole weekend together. It seemed, at the time, we were both holding back, not pushing the relationship, letting it take its course, and almost as though we were frightened it might explode and we’d destroy something beautiful. For my part, and I think for Anna’s, we knew we were in love but couldn’t get round to saying it, for fear of the consequence. And so for ten months, both were part of a smouldering love affair that we tried to deny.

Coming soon.

For more: https://nickwastnage.net/a-life-turned/

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January: newness and revival

The sky may be grey, even snowy, it’s cold, but January is a month of freshness, and new ideas.  Here’s ten to look out for. 

1: Snowdrops pushing up through the cold earth, a week or two away from busting open to reveal their delicate white flowers, bringing joy and inspiration and signalling mid-winter and a corner turned heading toward warmer days.

2: If you can get to a beach on a cold sunny day, take a walk and be uplifted by the emptiness and the cold, icy-looking surging sea. It’s good for the soul.

3: Wear any new clothes you received for Christmas and check older items to give to charity shops.

4: Try out a new recipe or two; maybe passed on from a friend or found in a new, gifted cookery book.

5: If you have a garden, plan new projects, or if you don’t, consider an indoor one, there’s plenty of ideas and advice out there. Also consider joining a friendly, community garden scheme where you’ll work with others on various schemes that bring beauty and tranquillity to your neighbourhood.     

6: Search your freezer. You might find a few mince pies!

7: If you were given a new book for Christmas, start reading it.

8: Try making marmalade, there are plenty of recipes around, and, although time-consuming, it’s easy. Seville oranges, essential for good marmalade, are around in the supermarkets from late December until early February.

9: Watch a new movie or box set. There’s quite a few around this year.

10: Try a new exercise routine.

A happy new year to you all and thank you for reading this blog.

~

New book: I’m just finishing The parents I didn’t know, about a man who looks back at his life and discovers poignant and disturbing events about his past. If all goes to plan, it should be available toward the end of the year.

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 

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.

All proceeds of this book go the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC), who help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who have bought it.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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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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