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.

~

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.

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Hey guys, there’s no time to waste

I sometimes wonder when the world will get it – the climate crisis. There is plenty of big and bold talk coming from governments and world leaders at the moment, and that’s to be applauded, but is it believable?

Reading the environmental page in The Guardian, makes you realise time is running out fast, and if we are to avoid an environmental crisis the magnitude of which is too awful to predict, action is required right now

  • Glaciers and artic ice are melting faster than previously predicted, causing sea levels to rise and eventual flooding. Small islands may disappear, all coastal communities are at risk, many will be wiped out. 
  • Intense heat and raging wildfires will make it uninhabitable in many inland parts of the world, like Australia, part of Africa, the Middle East, North and South America and others. 
  • Mass migration and population movement will be inevitable. By necessity, people will seek safe and sustainable places to live, bringing about pressure and tension as local populations grow bigger, resulting in hostilities, maybe wars.
  • Severe drought, already killing wildlife and plant species and causing water shortages, will become more frequent.   
  • Pesticides, intense heat, and lack of rain are decimating the insect population. This will worsen, which will result in crop failures and food shortages. 
  • Coral reefs, vital to sea life, are dying due to increased sea temperatures, while at the same time, overfishing and warming waters are causing fish stocks to plummet and other sea creatures to disappear. 
  • Increased human diseases and more corona type viruses are bound to happen due to man’s encroachment on nature.
  • As the world becomes more polluted, respiratory infections will increase.
  • Natural disasters will become more severe, more frequent, and cause greater destruction and loss of life.

It’s not all negative:

  • Solar energy worldwide is growing exponentially year on year. By 2030 it’s predicted to have quadrupled. The US president, Joe Biden, called for an emissions-free power sector by 2035.
  • Carbon capture, where through technology carbon emissions are captured and ploughed back into the earth, is gaining momentum, and believed by many scientists to be the major contributor in keeping the rise in the average global temperature below the 1.5/2% goal. 
  • Coral reef grafting – Adaptive Reefscapes – where pieces of tiny live coral taken from dying reefs are nurtured and grown in a land-based farm before being planted back in the ocean in areas without coral, are proving successful and being developed. Also, marine scientists have found evidence of coral naturally moving and adapting to survive in areas of the sea previously without coral.
  • Electric vehicles are on the increase. Governments are legislating to make fossil fuel powered vehicles relics of the past.
  • Hydrogen gas, completely fossil free, is replacing gas extracted from the earth and predicted to be the main fuel in the UK, US, and many other parts of the world by 2035. 
  • Everyday there are success stories and technological advances that will lessen the effects of climate change.
  • It’s generally accepted by most of the world’s leaders that the climate crisis is man-made, and man has to do whatever is necessary to avoid a catastrophe.     

I’m an optimist. History tells us human beings have overcome or found a way around most crises that befall us. But this one will be tough, and I think and hope on balance we will get through. What is required is strong leadership and agreement.

Above all we need to stop fossil fuel extraction now and keep carbon in the ground forever.

~

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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Look to the future – it’s good

In a time almost forgotten, before the first lockdown, galleries and exhibitions inspired and uplifted me, leaving me in awe of past and present artists and how many suffered for their art and were not recognised until after they’d died.  

And so, when I read at the weekend the long list of 1st class exhibitions opening up next month, I felt elated, remembering the thrill a good exhibition gave me. But soon I wondered if I was being too optimistic, asking myself if galleries were safe to visit so soon after restrictions had eased.

My anxiety is not unique, I realise. After two lockdowns and sadly over 130,000 lives lost, many in the country will be feeling the same. But we have to go forward. Almost half the population, including myself, have been vaccinated with one dose and by the end of July the rest of the adult population, also. The vaccines have proved to be effective. Israel, who have inoculated almost the entire population, are seeing better days with life as near to normal as possible. In the UK, infection rates have fallen to around 2000 a day with hospitalisation down to 3500, a dramatic drop from nearly 40000 daily infections in mid-January.     

We haven’t beaten Covid yet and I understand people’s fears and concerns, but we really do have a better future in front of us, and by the end of the year life will look a whole lot different from last year’s end. I’m not going to rush out and be carefree and foolhardy, but I will be going to one or two of the exhibitions and begin, bit by bit, start returning to normal.

Best wishes to you all. 

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is a study in grief and determination and 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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Two happy bears beat the Covid blues!

These two bears made me smile, helping me escape from the pessimists and doom spreaders who tell us every day how Covid will affect our lifestyle for sometime. How negative! Man has an admirable history of overcoming adversity and bouncing back, better and wiser, mending and rebuilding the damage done both to our buildings and to us. We possess an innate quality to heal and improve. 

The casualties and scars of any disaster are many. Covid is no exception, and I feel for those who’ve lost a loved one, those who’re affected by long Covid, and the many who’ve had their livelihoods diminished. My heart goes out to all of you.

It’s easy and could be mistaken as patronising to say life will get better. But it will. Man is not content to stand still. Going back through time, humans have always sought to improve their lot, and because of this I remain optimistic, dismissing the doom mongers and focusing on a better future after Covid, even if we have to live with a few restrictions for a while.

I’m repetitive. My last blog was on similar lines, but I sincerely believe governments and world leaders will work together more and more to do whatever is needed to keep the virus at bay, or best eradicate it, and make the world a better place.    

So, stay optimistic, keep smiling, and have fun, like the bears.

~

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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Blossom, and goats doing what comes natural!

The valley garden of Glendurgan on the banks of the Helford River in Cornwall is already bright with spring blossom – vivid pinks, deep purples, the purest of whites. “It’s an extraordinary sight after the tough winter we’ve had,” said the head gardener, John Lanyon. “It feels inspiring, blissful.”

The blossom comes early in this sheltered spot in the far south-west of England, and over the coming days, weeks and months the spectacular colours will steadily spread east and north.

To celebrate the explosion of brightness, the National Trust is launching its second BlossomWatch campaign, encouraging people to begin a new UK tradition emulating hanami, the Japanese custom of relishing the fleeting sight and scent of blossom…’ Read more at The Guardian.

 Explosion of Kashmiri Goats

‘The goats of the Great Orme headland in Wales were a worldwide sensation during the first Covid lockdown last year after they were pictured roaming brazenly around the deserted streets of nearby Llandudno.

This year there has been a population explosion of the kashmiri goats in their north Wales headland home after the Covid crisis forced countryside wardens to cancel a planned contraception campaign…’ Read more at The Guardian.

~

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 

All proceeds go to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) to 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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Time for a reboot

Like a mountaineer nearing the mountain’s peak, a long-distance swimmer metres away from their end point, a marathon runner close to the finish, a sportsperson close to their goal, and many others battling to overcome adversity, these last weeks before the Covid restrictions start to lift seem endless, and for many sow negative thoughts and feed doubt as to when it will all come to an end. 

It will, and soon.

Vaccines, believed by many a year ago to be way off in the distance, are with us now, being injected, and proving to work, and that’s in just over a year since the first Covid case was diagnosed. With just 1% of the world vaccinated, a herculean effort by the WHO and world leaders and politicians is needed to immunise the entire planet. It will come. New vaccines will be approved, more doses will become available, non-vaxers will diminish, rich governments will help poorer countries, and tweaks of vaccines to counter virus mutations and variants will be developed, some already are. Covid-19 may not be entirely gone by the end of the year, but the world will look a whole lot different, and by that, I mean better. See excellent Guardian article by Pascal Soriot, CEO of Astra Zeneca: At Astra Zeneca, we know that until everyone is safe, no one is safe.

You may ask, why am I so optimistic?

There are many reasons. Here are the main three:

  • Man’s instinct for self-survival. The virus – the most serious global health emergency of our lifetime – has shut the world down in ways we could never have imagined, and caused an economic downturn not seen since World War 11. Man will not tolerate such a catastrophe. Soon, if not already, world leaders will come together to find a way to immunise most of the world from Covid in record time – and find a joint economic way forward. It’ll be a plan of global reach on a global scale. 
  • Medical science, bathing in its success with the vaccines, will not stop there. More effective vaccines will be developed together with a massive increase in manufacturing capacity.
  • Covid treatmentThere weren’t any treatments for Covid a year ago. News presenters would often say in sombre tones, There is no known treatment. Now there are several – reducing symptoms and lessening the disease’s fatality rates. And there will be more, together with treatments for long-covid.     

So, like most of us, I look forward to meeting up with family and friends again, eating out, going to a theatre, gallery, gig, having a haircut, and many other things we took for granted, but I’ll be patient. 

We’ll beat this virus, normality will return, of that I’m sure.

~

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 

All proceeds go to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) to 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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