Tuesday, 26 October 2010


I held out against it for so long. How can I find time to Twitter when I can't find time to write? Facebook is bad enough, the way it sucks me in and has me messing about on it when I've too much to do. So, no, of course I'm not going to sign up for Twitter. 'Oh yes you are,' said the pantomime baddie. Oh no I'm not.

But . . . I got curious. Was I missing out on something? I found some really helpful postings about Twitter in Nicola Morgan's blog archive. I printed out her instructions on how to get started - purely out of interest of course. Well, I suppose I could open an account just to try it, couldn't I? That was it. Hooked.

I'm just lurking there now. I'm not going to start spending too much time up that tree. I'm going to be, oh, so sensible. Until I have made satisfactory progress with my novel you won't hear a tweet out of me. And I'll wait until I've halved my 'To Do' list. Only then will I deserve to give myself a tweet (okay, that last joke is badly in need of a 'corn' plaster).

Saturday, 16 October 2010

O be joyful at the Ilkley Literature Festival

As usual, the Ilkley Literature Festival has been full of sparkling events. I was thrilled to be able to participate this year. We had our event last night at the Ilkley Playhouse, ‘we’ being myself and the Leeds Survivors Poetry Group. I did a talk and readings from ‘The Dark Threads’ for the first half of the session, and then five members of the poetry group read out two of their poems in turn. Ian my husband was, as always, a brilliant support and I love him lots. He sat at the back of the theatre, manning the bookstall.

My book is obviously about a difficult and painful time in my life. What happened to me, and to many others, was wrong. I wanted to write a serious book with a serious message, and I believe I have done. However, without downplaying this, it seemed appropriate on this occasion to focus mainly on humour and hope. Most of the extracts I chose showed the courage and strengths of the patients I used to know, many of whom had a great sense of humour despite the often immense difficulties in their lives.

I must have changed a lot because I didn’t feel scared to death as I stood on the stage behind a lectern with a microphone. I’m not used to a microphone and it was interesting to do my parrot impersonation into it (not good for my throat though – think I need a Strepsil).

Here’s an extract from ‘The Dark Threads’ in fondest memory of Popsy:

Even the hospital parrot had a sense of humour. In part of the grounds surrounding the hospital there was a small aviary which housed, among other birds, Popsy the parrot whose party piece was to say ‘O be joyful’ to the watching groups of depressed patients.

‘O be joyful,’ Popsy said as Georgina stuck her face near the mesh to get a closer look.

‘Don’t you “O be joyful” me,’ Georgina said crossly.

‘O be joyful. O be joyful. O be joyful,’ the parrot squawked, running backwards and forwards along its perch.

‘You horrible creature. I’ll wring your neck if you don’t shut up,’ Georgina said, sounding as if she meant it, but then she turned to me with a smile. ‘Oh, listen to me arguing with a bloody parrot. I’m so miserable and bad-tempered today, I don’t know what to do.’

‘What to do? What to do? O be joyful,’ the parrot suggested.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Learning to talk

I did my presentation to a class of mental health professionals at Bradford University. I actually enjoyed doing it (thanks to the confidence I've gained at my ASC speakers club). My uni talk was about how the mental health services used to be in the sixties and seventies, highlighting many of the issues which are still relevant. We discussed what needs to be done differently to prevent people today having similar bad experiences of the system to those that I, and many others, have had.

The following day Professor Phil Thomas, one of the founders of Critical Psychiatry, came to Bradford University to do a presentation, and I was invited to that. I couldn't find anything to argue with him about. He was lovely. After the session I plucked up courage to give him one of my book promo cards. He said he'll get it. I hope he does.

Next thing coming up on the book front is this Friday when, along with some members of the Leeds Survivors Poetry Group, I'll be doing a reading at the Ilkley Literature Festival.

A few weeks after the Ilkley festival, I've been invited to be Guest Speaker at the AGM of a Mental Health Advocacy Group. I'm delighted that over a year after 'The Dark Threads' was published I'm still getting spin offs. I do hope that at least in some small way I'm helping to right some wrongs by speaking out.

But I must-must-must get on with writing my novel.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Me again

This can't be right. It can't be that I haven't posted since 14th August. I knew I'd neglected my blog for a while but I'd honestly no idea it was for so long. Does anyone care? I don't know, but I do. No point having a blog if I'm not going to keep up with it. I've been busy (really I have) but not with things that would make interesting blog reading. But good writers don't wait for something madly interesting to happen to inspire them. They just write and make whatever they write interesting through the strengths of their writing. So why can't I? (don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question).

Anyway, to get me going with my blog again, I decided to just sign in and, well, get going. I'm tapping away on the keyboard just letting my rambling thoughts pour onto the page. This isn't the way to make riveting reading, I know, but at least it's getting me going again. I don't want this blog to degenerate into the character of the Tony Hancock's sketch who tried to keep a diary and said things like 'Today I had a boiled egg for breakfast'. But, on the other hand, if I just wait for pearls of wisdom before I write anything, I might as well clock off and go to bed.

The room has just filled with the sound of barking dogs (my new doorbell tone) so I'd better see what's up. I might just have been about to write something wonderful. But, like Coleridge getting interrupted by the 'man from Porlock', the world will never know. I'll be back soon.