Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Life, Faith & Other Stuff'

You Are Picked For A Purpose: Despite Rainy Days


In my last post I asked What Were The Seeds Sown In Your life? This was in respect of the gifts and purpose for which you are known, As we have been told in John 15:16 I chose you and appointed...

Posted at 16:09pm on 5th August 2022

You Are Picked For A Purpose: What Were The Seeds Sown In Your Life?

What are the seeds that were sown in your life? And did those seeds eventually bear fruit? In other words, how did you first hear about God's love and purpose for you? Can you remember when that was? Or whether it made any difference to your way of...

Posted at 11:38am on 27th July 2022

Diary Of An Introvert: Laid Low By Day

I recently wrote a post on the subject of wearing a 'mask' to convince others that we're feeling fine when, in fact, we are not - Facing Up To The Face Beneath The Mask. And I wonder, is the 'new normality' brought on by Covid 19 having a good...

Posted at 07:56am on 4th August 2020

Three 'light Bulb' Insights From The Screwtape Letters By David Trim

What follows are the 'light bulb' insights from The Screwtape Letters, written by David Trim, a much valued member of the Book Club I lead.

1. To consciously direct our prayers to God "Not to what I think thou art, but to what thou knowest...

Posted at 07:46am on 25th July 2020

Book Club Discussion: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

Click here for the List of Questions

Suggested by a member of my Book Club, despite the fact that most of us had read it many years ago, The Screwtape Letters proved to have lost none of its appeal. Apart from one lady, that is, who abandoned it on page thirty,...

Posted at 11:36am on 14th July 2020

Book Club Questions: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

The questions below are those I raised for the Book Club I lead. Click here for the discussion we had subsequently. Quotes from the book are in bold italics.

CHURCH: Chapter II
One of our greatest allies at present is Church itself. Screwtape goes on to...
Posted at 11:28am on 14th July 2020

Following The Funeral: Living With The Loss Of A Loved One

With nearly 40,000 deaths due to Coronavirus in recent months, there must be hundreds of thousands of friends and family having to live with the reality of loss. You may have been through Coping With The Initial Shock, learned, in a small way, about Looking After Yourself, dealt with...

Posted at 07:37am on 3rd June 2020

Come Holy Spirit

The aim of my book, Picked For A Purpose is to show each one of us the purpose that God has for us, which is to bear fruit for him. That fruit is to show love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But he doesn't...

Posted at 03:38am on 31st May 2020

How To Plan A Funeral In The Coronavirus Era

Before the days of lockdown - due to the coronavirus - planning a funeral following the death of a loved one might have been perceived as a positive and constructive experience. Although not intentionally so, making funeral arrangements, whether for burial or cremation, could be seen as a welcome...

Posted at 09:54am on 18th May 2020

Bereavement: How To Deal With Denial, Grief & Anger Following The Death Of A Loved One

In these times of Coronavirus, many of us are suffering the death of a loved one. I wrote last time about Looking After Yourself following bereavement, and pointed out - from my own experience - the trauma of having to break the news of that loss to another family member....

Posted at 07:14am on 17th May 2020

Bereavement: Looking After Yourself

Last time we looked at Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock, using my own experience following my daughter's death, and quoting from the book I wrote some years later. What I learned was that numbness and denial, disbelief and a wandering mind, are common experiences when we first learn...

Posted at 07:27am on 12th May 2020

Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows." Socrates

On this VE day, when we commemorate the courage of those who gave their lives in WW2 so that...

Posted at 04:51am on 7th May 2020

Are You Having To Deal With The Death Of A Loved One?


I was reminded by my Facebook memories this week that it is now ten years ago since I was invited to speak on an American Radio Station about the death of my daughter. I wept. Because no matter how long ago the event, this is something...

Posted at 04:55am on 5th May 2020

Excerpt From My Latest Book, Picked For A Purpose - Showing We All Have A Worthwhile Part To Play

Are you wondering what your life is all about during the lockdown due to Covid 19? Then read on. My latest book, Picked for a Purpose shows that whatever the adversity, we all have value, and a worthwhile part to play. Here is a complete chapter for...
Posted at 03:40am on 6th April 2020

Love You Nhs

Oh, how I love our NHS! I went, today, to have the stitches removed, following surgery on my shoulder and arm. Our doctors' surgery, plus another, is currently closed because of coronavirus infection. As a result, all patients have had to be taken on by another...

Posted at 15:41pm on 12th March 2020

In Her Words By Patricia St John - My Book Club Discussion

Although slightly reduced in number when my Book Club met this week, there was no less lively conversation and laughter. Especially when they discovered I'd bought Orange Club biscuits! The bottom line, though, was that we loved this book! A light, easy read, it nevertheless had plenty...

Posted at 09:34am on 15th November 2019

Is Kayne West Boasting? Or Shining A Light?

Have you ever thought, on Remembrance Day, about how you would like to be known? Perhaps as who you are: husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter? Or by what you do accountant/shopkeeper, secretary/ lawyer, nurse/charity worker/singer? Or possibly, by what you've achieved?


According to Premier Media, American music artist,...

Posted at 09:50am on 10th November 2019

Blossom In Season? A Guest Blog By Helen Elliott

"Why am I getting angry at a tree?"

A question definitely worthy of consideration, I decided, as I stared out of my window for the third or fourth time that week.

It was a huge tree, surrounded by apartments, all in facing and it was Springtime.

The tree was supposed...

Posted at 04:35am on 16th October 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Characteristic Conflict

In the last Creative Writing Workshop, we looked at the way in which we can go about Creating Credible Characters. Now I'm going to show you how you can bring creativity to the way you construct conflict. This is crucial when it comes to writing fiction and memoir...

Posted at 10:43am on 3rd August 2019

What's Wrong With Human Rights? By David Cross - Book Club Summary

Quotes from the book are in italics.

Never, before, have I made so many highlights in a book! As my Book Club members said when we met yesterday evening, this was certainly a narrative that opened up debate, on a subject not often discussed. With so much material to...

Posted at 10:20am on 13th July 2019

Bodacious The Shepherd Cat By Suzanna Crampton

'What I love about Book Club, is that it makes me read books I might never, otherwise, have chosen.'

So said one member of our group when we met, yesterday, to discuss our take on Bodacious, The Shepherd Cat. How right she was! A book, supposedly written by a...

Posted at 09:43am on 16th May 2019

The Making Of Us By Sheridan Voysey - Book Review


I love Sheridan's lyrical style of writing - so inviting, so personal, so picturesque. Right from the first page, I found myself enthralled, as if I were meeting someone whom I knew, instantly, was going to become a friend. Likewise, when grappling with sorrow...

Posted at 07:43am on 23rd March 2019

Catching Contentment By Liz Carter - Book Club Discussion

I first heard of Liz Carter's book, Catching Contentment, when I read, somewhere, that she had suffered a lifelong illness. Instantly, that resonated with me. Having undergone a similar experience, myself, I felt a closeness with Liz that belied the fact that we had never met, nor communicated...

Posted at 10:45am on 15th March 2019

Inside Out

'Making clean-eating a dirty word gets my vote', so says Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph. Quoting the Duchess of Cornwall, who was speaking at a reception for the Royal Osteoporosis Society, she warned young women against 'fad diets' which have the potential of making them ill. Lack...

Posted at 08:10am on 26th February 2019

Eleanor Oliphant Is Absolutely Fine - Book Club Review

Have you ever been aware of others talking about you behind your back? Perhaps when you've been standing alone, catching the flickering glances of a nearby group? Knowing, without doubt, that the whispered exchanges in some way refer to you?

So how did it feel? Especially if,...

Posted at 07:23am on 15th November 2018

Catching Contentment - A Guest Blog

I lay on a trolley in A and E, my breathing coming in rapid gasps. My oxygen sats were too low and the pain clamped me in a vice grip, leaving me crying out. 'It's a pneumococcal infection in both lungs,' the consultant said, and admitted me for intensive...

Posted at 01:58am on 9th November 2018

Thomas's Story: Overcoming Physical & Mental Struggles

My next book, Picked for a Purpose, with the strapline Bearing fruit through times of hardship, was written at the request of my publisher. Each short chapter contains a story from my life, followed by a page or two of reflections, in which I look back, with the wisdom...

Posted at 08:08am on 20th October 2018

World Mental Health Day: Don't Chase The World


Why do I feel such a waste of space?

Why is life always such a race -

To emulate, or, better yet

To surpass the success with which others have met?

Is this the world in which I live?

Is this the future I wish to give

To those who follow on...

Posted at 00:33am on 10th October 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Who Are You & Where Have You Come From?


You pick up the phone, an unknown voice asks: 'Is that the owner of the house?' Indeed, sometimes they may address you by name. And what is your immediate response? Mine is never to affirm the query but to ask, 'Who are...

Posted at 09:55am on 10th September 2018

Suicide Prevention Day: The Trauma For Those Left Behind


I spent the morning speaking with a male friend, of longstanding, whose mother took her own life when he was in his mid-teens. Coincidence? I had no idea that today, Monday 10th September, 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Nor that my...

Posted at 08:04am on 10th September 2018

Hirschsprung, Ibs, Abdominal Pain & A Low Fodmap Diet: Reintroduction Table

Having been diagnosed only twenty-five years ago as suffering from Hirschspung - an intestinal disorder I was born with - I have endured decades of pain and embarrassment. Then, thanks to my lovely daughter - a teacher, who is good at directing her pupils and nagging where necessary -...

Posted at 07:46am on 4th August 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Whose Do You Walk In? Who Are You?

Who are you? Whose shoes do you walk in? Is this a question you've ever ask? No. I don't mean do you ask it of other people. That's not British! Downright rude, in fact. So - who are you? Is this something...

Posted at 04:27am on 13th July 2018

The Book Thief By Markus Zusak - Book Club Discussion

Words, words, words. Too many of them thought some members of my Book Club. But words, and their critical importance for good and evil - particularly when used by Adolph Hitler in the lead up to World War II - were the theme of The Book Thief by...

Posted at 07:57am on 20th March 2018

When Helping Hurts - Book Club Discussion Summary

How does it make you feel when you help someone out? Or when you give to charity? Big time! Go on. Be honest. Inevitably, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Doesn't it? But what about when someone offers to help us...

Posted at 04:52am on 27th February 2018

Archbishop A Novel By Michele Guinness - Book Club Discussion Of Media Hysteria


One of the things my Book Club loved about this book, was the way humour was used to hammer home the truths we all need to know. With the enormous pressure upon her, newly elected Archbishop Vicky is all too aware of how little time...

Posted at 04:03am on 12th January 2018

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On Personal Discipleship & Service

Personal Discipleship & Service

(Quotes from the book - with permission from Michele Guinness, below - are in italics)

There were a number of salient points in Michele Guinness's book when it came to personal discipleship in these troubled times, and we all agreed with Archbishop Vicky that it is only...

Posted at 04:53am on 13th November 2017

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On What Constitutes Church?

WHAT CONSTITUTES CHURCH? (Quotes from the book are in italics)

With some members of our Readers' Group being Street Pastors and School Pastors, and all of us attending churches involved in outreach, the issue of whether church is a building or a people was one that resonated. Faced with...

Posted at 07:42am on 12th November 2017

A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing By Glynn Harrison: A Must Read For Everyone

Before I start, I want to say that I have nothing against anyone who is genetically predisposed to the LGBT spectrum. I have personally known people in homosexual relationships, and always found them to be delightful. I also have a family member who is transgender, whom I love...
Posted at 07:41am on 17th July 2017

The Internet - A Tower Of Babel?

Let me be clear: I love the internet. The advantages are indescribable. For me, as an author, it facilitates research, enlarges my readership, and enables me to make friends via social media. As a mother, aunt and cousin, it affords photographic and written information to be shared...

Posted at 04:56am on 5th June 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats By Jan-philipp Sendker


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker was, we all agreed, the best book we'd ever read. A beautifully and evocatively written love story, it was woven throughout with profundity and truisms: a tapestry of an unknown lifestyle, embroidered with recognisable threads.


Set in Burma, the story is...

Posted at 04:27am on 11th May 2017

Lessons Learned From Life Re Politics


God gave me an apple tree in the Garden of Eden.
• It will provide shelter for my family
• It will feed my family
• Fallen branches will cook my food and heat my home
• I shall work hard and create an orchard


• Dad passed his...

Posted at 06:02am on 6th May 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: When We Can't, God Can By Catherine Campbell

When We Can't, God Can by Catherine Campbell was the book under discussion when we met for Book Club last night. Having met Catherine on several occasions at Christian Resources Together conferences at Swanwick, I was not surprised to see how well her lovely, caring personality came across in...

Posted at 05:51am on 9th March 2017

Holy Habits By Andrew Roberts

What a great book! When I first suggested that we read it for Book Club, one of the members thought it looked somewhat 'heavy-going'. On the contrary, when we met to discuss it, we all felt it was an easy read and had much to say to...

Posted at 06:02am on 4th December 2016

National Poetry Day: My Poem, Picked For A Purpose

A seed, a weed, is sown and grown, This is your life, you know! The soil, the toil till it's full blown Bring happiness and woe. The root, the shoot, the stem and leaf The pain the rain of life, The sun, your joy, gives way to grief As struggles become rife. Nipped in the bud...
Posted at 03:49am on 6th October 2016

Picked For A Purpose 3: Seeds Sown


Sometimes people of faith speak of coincidence as being God-incidents. So while a coincidence might be described as random - an accident, chance, luck, fluke, or twist of fate - a God-incident is thought to be an unexpected occurrence in which God is perceived to have had an...

Posted at 09:34am on 8th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 2: Seeds & Weeds


Have you ever felt useless? As if nothing you do has any meaning or purpose? Ever thought you didn't fit in? In your family? At school? At work? Or that everyone else was more successful? While you . . .? ...

Posted at 05:49am on 6th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 1 - Me And Daddy, Daddy And Me


I suppose it was the letters that were the trigger - first for my depression, then for my understanding. Small blue folded airmails that bore my mother's name on them, plus whatever address happened to be relevant at the time. She had kept...

Posted at 04:52am on 6th September 2016

Book Club Discussion Summary: Naturally Supernatural By Wendy Mann

A good deal of laughter accompanied our Readers’ Group discussion last week.  The book we had been reading, which I had suggested some two months earlier, was titled Naturally Supernatural, and was written by Wendy Mann.  With a new senior minister joining us, in the meantime, we felt sure -...

Posted at 06:19am on 18th November 2015

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions For: Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

FAITH IN THE FOG: by Jeff Lucas NB: Page numbers below relate to Kindle pages
Click here for Discussion Summary of Faith in the Fog   1. Time Trapped. 31-46 ·        Do we wish we could go back in time as the disciples went back to Galilee to fish? If so why? Isn’t our past shame washed...
Posted at 09:53am on 28th June 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Discussion Summary Of Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

Having prayed for absent book club members, particularly one, who is back in hospital on a second course of chemo, we started the evening with a general overview of Jeff Lucas’ book, Faith in the Fog. Without exception the group professed to having enjoyed it, though one person found his self-deprecation...

Posted at 09:36am on 28th June 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions & Discussion Summary Of Simply Christian, By Tom Wright: Chapters 1-2

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION SUMMARY ARE PROVIDED FOR MEL'S ONLINE BOOK CLUB and may be reproduced – see below.  Please leave your comments so that further discussion may be promoted.


More than a dozen of us gathered to discuss Tom Wright's book, Simply Christian. Most of us had read at least...
Posted at 07:49am on 12th May 2013

Mel's Online Book Club: Love Wins By Rob Bell - Part One

A daring choice for my real-time book club, given the controversy that surrounds it, Love Wins, by author, Rob Bell, attracted rather more people than usual to the discussion on Thursday evening. We'd teamed the book with Michael Wittmer's Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response... - half the group reading one title,...

Posted at 07:56am on 28th April 2012

Dear Mel, What Do You Know Of Author, Paul Gallico

On this night, the one-hundredth anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, comes a reminder of the sinking of another ship, the MV Victoria

Hi Ms. Menzies,

I performed a Google search on author, Paul Gallico and your name came up, and I noticed you used to work for him. ...

Posted at 13:44pm on 14th April 2012

Book Sales Donation To Tearfund

Thank you, again, to all who have bought my book, A Painful Post Mortem. A novel about a mother who has to come to terms with her daughter's waywardness, it raises, among other things, the question of HIV and AIDS.

Sales have already raised hundreds of pounds for Tearfund and...
Posted at 09:07am on 13th April 2012

My Daughter's Tribute To Her Grandfather

My grandfather, Bill, 97 and ¾ Photograph taken approx. 1941

I started to call him Billy when I was little and he replied with Milly (even though my name was Amanda).  He was the only one that was allowed to call me Milly and Millicent when he was cross with me...

Posted at 21:26pm on 24th January 2012

A Tribute To My Father

Photo: My father in his Flintstone tie on Christmas morning, one week before he died.

My father, known to his parents as Beel, was born in Elgin, Scotland, on 15th April, 1914.  The middle one of three boys, he was raised, largely, by his mother and maiden aunts, because his father,...

Posted at 15:37pm on 15th January 2012

Three Thoughts For Christmas & The New Year

Have you ever found that sometimes, various, seemingly disparate, things have come together and you've heard a still small voice?  Some truth about life that's been revealed to you?  Something that's previously eluded you, but has now come into sharp focus?

It can happen, as I discovered, even in the busyness...

Posted at 18:26pm on 19th December 2011

Online Book Club - Showing Of Love By Julian Of Norwich - Discussion Summary

Showing of Love, a book written by Julian of Norwich in the 15th Century, is not an easy read! OK. I admit it. Mea culpa. With much laughter, when nine of us met last week for Book Club, I was roundly - but affectionately - condemned...

Posted at 15:46pm on 6th December 2011

Online Book Club: Discussion Summary - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel

One of the great things about a Book Club, as I've said before, is that almost always there are aspects of the book we've read that strike people in different ways.   So while  all of us who met last Thursday confessed to feeling disappointed by the denouement of Life of...

Posted at 17:44pm on 16th October 2011

Online Book Club: Book Reviews & Questions - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel


At times profound, at others humorous, the novel, Life of Pi, is the story of an Indian boy who, because he is named after a French swimming pool (Piscine) and doesn't like the nicknames which result, shortens his name to the irrational mathematical number Pi - 3.14...  Pi...

Posted at 16:06pm on 14th October 2011

Edgy Christian Fiction: Books For Summer Reading

If you're anything like me, a book will be essential packing for your summer hols, the perfect partner for a picnic lunch, a bonus for the beach and a relaxing read for bedtime.  So here are four book reviews for sensational summer reads, all with a Christian world view that...

Posted at 20:59pm on 15th August 2011

Online Book Club Discussion Summary: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

Are you in favour of assisted dying?  Would you like British law to be amended to allow euthanasia?  Or is the risk of abuse to the elderly, disabled and infirm too great a concern?

Most of my real-time Book Club members admitted, when we met on 28th July, 2011, that they'd...

Posted at 11:00am on 3rd August 2011

Online Book Club Questions: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

QUESTIONS How did reading the book either confirm or change your previous opinions about euthanasia / assisted dying? What, in your opinion, were the most persuasive arguments put by the author against...
Posted at 09:29am on 2nd August 2011

Dealing With Depression Caused By False Accusations

Photo: Desolation: An Empty Beach

In Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life I stated that, as an author, writing is not what I do but who I am.  I went on to say that while writing and publishing a book is quite beyond me at present because I'm battling...

Posted at 17:30pm on 15th July 2011

Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life

Photo: Dandelions At Dusk

Forgive me, those of you who come regularly to An Author's Look At Life to learn about creative writing techniques and writing and publishing a book.  I feel I've let you down, lately.  The fact is that I'm at something of a crisis point in my life. ...

Posted at 15:41pm on 12th July 2011

How To Be A Writer Of Christian Fiction Books

Are you an established writer or aspiring author who is also a Christian?  Is there a novel you want to write (or have written) for which you are unable to find a publisher?  Do you enjoy reading mainstream fiction but find that Christian fiction books leave you cold?  How does...

Posted at 15:50pm on 24th June 2011

God On Mute - The Problem Of Unanswered Prayers: Mel's Online Book Club

As book club questions were included in the book, I did not compile any for my real-time reading group, who met last week.

A book on unanswered prayer is never going to be an exhilarating read, but God On Mute, by Pete Greig, surpassed expectation for all but two of...

Posted at 14:31pm on 17th April 2011

Empowering Solutions: Lift Up Your Eyes; Enlarge Your Vision!

Have you ever felt weighed down in an emotionally draining situation – as if someone had thrown a heavy, wet, cape around your shoulders; as if the effort of having to drag it around drained you of energy for anything else? Especially anything inspirational, like creative writing.

Of course you have! Most of us have...

Posted at 09:02am on 8th June 2010

The Foolishness Of God: A Mad Sad Plan?

An advertisement for a new book, Bad Laws by The Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, Philip Johnston, has just caught my eye. The book is subtitled An explosive analysis of Britain’s petty rules, health and safety lunacies and madcap laws, beneath which is the following statement: For 13 years, a war has been waged on...

Posted at 14:49pm on 5th April 2010

Book Promoting & Christian Integrity

You’ve finished writing your novel, your bestseller, and had it published. So now what? How do you market your book, or promote it?

You understand the need to bring it to the attention of the book buying public – your readers. But how? What lengths would you go to in order for your book to...

Posted at 18:33pm on 23rd March 2010

Godparents - What Should They Do? Anna Ford And Martin Amis At Loggerheads

Godparents - what are they and what is expected from them? In times of falling church numbers, it may seem almost anachronistic to be asking. However, it appears to be a hot topic!


I arrived home from holiday today and, within ten minutes of stepping through the...

Posted at 20:23pm on 26th February 2010

Uv Readers' Group & Online Book Club: The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Discussion Summary

My UV Readers’ Group met last Thursday, 21st January, to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and, as always, we had plenty to say! First and foremost that we had found the book an enjoyable and compelling read, with the sinister elements evident from the start and building to a climactic conclusion.



Posted at 18:28pm on 29th January 2010

Family & Parenting: How To Love Yourself - And Difficult Elderly Parents

Dear Mel,

My parents have always had a very explosive relationship. There were always shouting matches when I was a child, and I grew up fearful that they were going to get divorced. My dad had a very fiery temper, whereas my mum would be tearful. Inbetween the rows my dad...

Posted at 14:52pm on 17th November 2009

Heroin Addicts Like Kate Walsh Show That The Grey Areas Of British Law Need A Black & White Reform

We read, this week, of a situation which has complied with British law but which is, nevertheless, a grave miscarriage of justice. Kate Walsh’s parents, when their sixteen year old daughter died of heroin in a dirty squat, were denied the protection that the law is supposed to provide. They are not alone. British law...

Posted at 18:01pm on 4th November 2009

Anti-social Behaviour: Is It The Result Of Legislation Promoting Children's Rights?

Newspaper reports on the life and death of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter make harrowing reading. Victims of abuse and anti-social behaviour by local youths, the lives of both were made a misery for years. However, despite making no fewer than thirty-three complaints to the police, her plight, and that of her daughter, was...

Posted at 17:41pm on 30th September 2009

What Is The Role Of Godparents: Are They Really Relevant Today?


It seems strange, in this highly secularised world, that the concept of Godparents appears to be such a hot topic. It makes you wonder if, despite our anti-religious dogma, we’re not – deep down – actually spiritual beings after all.

Well, of course, I’m in no doubt that we are! But...

Posted at 01:00am on 14th August 2009

Erotic Photographs & Sacred Spaces

The Diocese of Truro is suing photographer, Andy Craddock, for taking erotic photographs of women inside the 13th Century St Michael Penkivel Church, in Cornwall, in South West England.

Naturally, the self-professed-self-taught photographer denies intentionally causing the “deep offence” claimed by the church.

“I don’t understand it and I don’t see the photographs as offensive, it’s art,” he...

Posted at 10:02am on 5th August 2009

Les Holidays Anglaise

If you don’t mind having to flush the odd, alien, pubic hair from the shower tray, and polish your cutlery before eating, les holidays anglaise take a lot of beating. I am not, you understand, referring, here, to the fortnight in an Eastbourne hotel or boarding house favoured by my parents’ generation during my childhood,...

Posted at 11:51am on 22nd June 2009

Live With Less: How To Love Working To Live Rather Than Living To Work

I began this article a couple of months ago before Parliamentary Expenses took over as the latest UK soap opera escapism from the real story of boom and bust economics. So I wondered, this morning, whether it would still have any relevance; whether, in fact, it would resonate with you, my readers. But thinking...

Posted at 20:55pm on 18th May 2009

The Shack By William Young: Uv Readers' Group Discussion Summary

Is The Shack A True Story?

This was one of the issues raised when twenty-one of us met on Thursday to share our impressions of William Young's debut novel. Many of us found ourselves thinking of Madeleine McCann, the four year old who disappeared in Portugal whilst holidaying with her parents...

Posted at 22:50pm on 25th April 2009

What Drives You: Final Instalment Of The Easter Story

Previous Episodes: What Drives You? Part I & Part II

The rev rave on the cliff top was no longer a happy blare of horns and engines but had taken on an entirely different ambience, bordering on what appeared to be mass hysteria. From where he stood, in the corner of the car park,...

Posted at 18:01pm on 10th April 2009

What Drives You? Part Ii

What Drives You? Part I

Now read on:

The rev-rave on the cliff top was a riot of music and laughter, as engines were tuned and horns were blasted. The little once-white-now-pink car was ecstatic; he’d never seen anything like it before. His little red car – he still thought of her as his, though she...

Posted at 13:43pm on 9th April 2009

What Drives You?

Once upon a time there was a little white car, shiny and new. It had been specially made by its designer so that they could go out and about together, and although the little white car knew that there were bigger, fancier cars than himself, he always felt that he was – well, special!


Posted at 14:25pm on 8th April 2009

Sex Education And Teenage Pregnancy

“Do cats get married, Daddy?”

The question came from my four-year old granddaughter. She’s one of twins, and is obsessed by cats.

“Nope,” Daddy replied.

“Then how do they have babies?” asked Millie.

With the news of a thirteen year-old fathering a child fresh in his mind, and wanting to foster a sense of relationship, my son-in-law...

Posted at 19:07pm on 15th February 2009

Stroke Survival: How To Recognise The Signs & Save A Life

If your Mum or friend had a stroke would you know what to do to ensure their survival? No? Nor me! So when I received the following by e-mail, I thought it was so important, I’d put it up on my blog.


During a BBQ, a friend...

Posted at 12:59pm on 7th February 2009

Golliwog Banned: And Tv Presenter Carol Thatcher With Him

As a little girl, I owned a much loved golliwog. I have no idea who gave it to me, nor what their motive was in doing so. I can only conclude that it was a toy of its era, and that the gift was intended to please and delight me. And so it...

Posted at 12:59pm on 5th February 2009

Assisted Dying For The Terminally Ill?

Revised: 15th January, 2010

Does it ever strike you as strange that medical advances, in Western civilisations, are such that we can prolong life by nearly half as much again as our allotted three-score-years-and-ten, yet the legal position of euthanasia is constantly challenged? Of course, we don’t call it euthanasia! That in itself would challenge our sensibilities,...

Posted at 17:18pm on 26th January 2009

Why I'm Tearing My Hair Out About The Gap In Your Teeth!

Talk about early signs of senile dementia! If I’m not already a victim, I’m sure I soon shall be. I Twittered (or should it be Tweeted?) only a couple of days ago about how sad it was seeing my father so upset about being left behind (with a Carer) while my mother (his usual...

Posted at 18:04pm on 19th January 2009

Proof That God Does Not Exist? Look No Further Than A Bendy Bus!

There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. So says the 800 or so advertisements that now adorn London’s bendy-buses, as the result of a campaign by The British Humanist Society (BHA), funded by Prof. Richard Dawkins.

Really? Now what do you say to that?

Much has been made of that word ‘probably’....

Posted at 12:44pm on 11th January 2009

Overcoming Shame: Are We Guilty Of A Guilty Conscience?

I was reading about a man – Jeff Lucas – who described himself, in his younger years, as a “shame addict”. The term resonated with me and sparked a sitting-up in bed, early morning debate – though, sadly, without a cuppa to accompany it.

“That describes me years ago,” I said.

“Yes!” my husband agreed. “But...

Posted at 18:00pm on 6th January 2009

Thirteen Things To Boost Your Morale

On the last day of 2008, I posted a blog titled Let This New Year Be Your New Beginning, and suggested that if you’ve been having a tough time in 2008, or are facing hard times as the New Year dawns, you might try a writing exercise. Exercise is probably the wrong word to...

Posted at 17:01pm on 5th January 2009

January Blues

I don’t know about you, but for the last couple of days I’ve been feeling vaguely depressed. Some of my feelings of malaise are undoubtedly to do with tiredness brought on by having a houseful of guests to feed, and the late nights spent sitting on hard, upright chairs, playing games like Mexican Train Double...

Posted at 17:24pm on 3rd January 2009

Let This New Year Be Your New Beginning


I hope that 2009 will bring you good health and happiness. If you’re an aspiring author, let this be the year that you achieve success in publishing terms. And if you’re simply in need of a little love and understanding, may you find it where you least expect it. Read on ....

Posted at 16:44pm on 31st December 2008

A Black Hole Where Once Your Mind Was

His world is one of darkness. Silent. Confused. He’s not entirely Anything. Not blind, nor daft. Just less of what he was. Diminished. Shrunken. Glimpses of shapes he catches in the side of his eye appear tall and distorted, disorienting and delusional from a moving car. The rushing sensation induces motion sickness. He cries out...

Posted at 21:35pm on 27th December 2008

Ten Thoughts At Christmas

Happy Christmas

A hot debate in The Daily Telegraph has dubbed the family Christmas letter as ‘self-congratulatory’, ‘embarrassing’ or ‘derisory’. Am I alone in enjoying news of far-flung family and friends? I hope not, because this one comes with a very sincere thank you to all of you who have visited my website in the (nearly)...

Posted at 00:00am on 23rd December 2008

Advent: A Time To Reflect Between Thanksgiving & Gift Giving - Ten Tips To Happiness

I woke, yesterday morning, feeling bad-tempered. This is a rare occurrence and is almost alwaysas a result of my husband’s snoring! There’s something deeply offensive about lying next to someone whose somnolence – loudly and bed-tremblingly declared - is the sole reason for your inability to sleep. Don’t you think?

Posted at 10:37am on 2nd December 2008

Youngest Child In The Family: Paragon? Or Pain?

Where, in birth order, do you come among your siblings? Are you the youngest child in the family? Do you see yourself as different to your brothers and sisters? Are you aware of a gulf between them and you?

Having previously written about eldest child syndrome and middle child complex, today I’m going to begin...

Posted at 18:59pm on 14th November 2008

The Right To Die; The Fight To Live

On the day that the news broke of the British teenager who has chosen to reject a heart transplant, an e-mail arrived in my in-box from a young woman who has no such choice. Both stories are incredibly moving.


Hannah Jones, the thirteen year old, has had leukaemia since...

Posted at 11:57am on 12th November 2008

Animal Rights Stuff

This surely has to be the stuff of comedy? I mean I know we, in Britain, are a nation of animal lovers, but do we need a whacking great document telling us how we should look after them, with a threat of a £20,000 fine if we stray from the guidelines? What are these people...

Posted at 15:40pm on 8th November 2008

Healing And Forgiveness

An article in The Times, last month, contrasted, without condemning, the reactions of two families who have recently been in the news. First was the story of the two young boys killed by footballer and drink driver Luke McCormick, whose family was unable to forgive him. And second was Carolyn Todd, the widow of Michael,...

Posted at 18:46pm on 6th November 2008

You Wouldn't Do It To A Dog

A cracked rib is painful at the best of times. A fortnight with an undiagnosed cracked rib still worse. But a fortnight, yelling in pain, being fobbed off with paracetamol and accused of malingering, when you’re 94 years of age is outrageous.


It began two weeks ago last Sunday. My...

Posted at 17:13pm on 29th October 2008

True British Spirit - Transport Style

It was with a sense of dread that I left home, at the weekend, to travel north to visit my eldest daughter. It was a trip which should have taken eight hours and included three trains journeys, with a car ride either side. As it turned out, it took nine hours, five trains plus...

Posted at 00:00am on 28th October 2008

The Art Of Forgiveness - Is It Achievable?

My daughter passed on to me her copy of The Times from a couple of weekends ago. She thought I might like to blog about an article to do with modern grannies, but my eye was caught by another – on healing and forgiveness. Time enough for grannies at a later date, I thought!

Posted at 11:39am on 21st October 2008

Bank Of England Bail Out Versus House Repossessions 2008

Now I’m not an economist, and neither do I read economist reports. But I am a human being! And it seems to me that it’s not difficult to see a great injustice going on in today’s troubled times. What’s even more galling is that wherever you come across it, there’s always someone benefiting from injustice....

Posted at 11:25am on 20th October 2008

Birth Order - Middle Child

According to the Wikipedia website, one of the first people to suggest that birth order has an effect on personality was an Austrian psychiatrist, Alfred Adler. A contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, he argued that the way in which each of us tackles the major aspects of life – friendship, love and work...

Posted at 01:00am on 17th October 2008

Sex Or Chocolate? Chocolate Or Sex? How Would You Define Happiness?

Revised: NEW YEAR'S EVE, 31st December, 2009 Much has changed since I first wrote this article, so it seemed to me that it deserved to be revised, amended and added to, with quotes, suggestions and advice. I hope, that in following some of the ideas, you might find yourself stumbling on happiness, without, perhaps, ever...
Posted at 12:20pm on 15th October 2008

Is Taking Risks In The Second Half A Good Game Plan For Life?


Do you ever feel that there are times in your life when your body is trying to convince you that it’s closer to lights out than it is to reveille? You don’t, actually, have to be in your dotage to feel like this. Neither do the...

Posted at 11:00am on 13th October 2008

Man Flu? The Female Version's The Killer Strain!


I don’t know about Man Flu, but I’ve definitely been suffering with the female version this week. You know the sort of thing? Having hardly slept overnight, you wake up on Monday morning feeling utterly ghastly: stuffed ears feeling as though they’ve been pumped full of the insulating foam that lines the cavity walls...

Posted at 18:18pm on 6th October 2008

Recipes From A Yorkshire Woman


Consistently produce the perfect Yorkshire pudding; one that rises majestically into crisp pinnacles on the edges yet retains a moist base. Nick says mine are great, but unlike me, he doesn't come from the north of England where a housewife is judged on the quality of her Yorkshire puddings!

This was one...

Posted at 16:31pm on 4th October 2008

Protesters Take On The Post Office - And Win!

Other Posts in Life, Faith & Other Stuff: Recipes From A Yorkshire Woman

Last month we saved our local Post Office. This week it’s Ban the Mast. Well – you gotta try, haven’t you?


Actually, I’ve never been a try-er in the sense of protestors who regularly practice militancy, marching, or sitting-in. I recall the...

Posted at 12:13pm on 2nd October 2008

Is Faith A Legitimate Subject For Foolishness, Falsehood Or Fun?


It’s a strange paradox that at a time when so many people profess not to believe in God, religion appears to be a subject enjoyed by the masses in almost all forms of multi-media. To mention but a few examples, we’ve had the stage-shows Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell; the book The God...

Posted at 19:12pm on 29th September 2008

Cool Brittania: The Good, The Bad - And The Utterly Sublime!


The Good News is that we have a National Health Service at all! Even better are the advances made in medical science, which mean that conditions like Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can be treated. Best of all is that there are courageous people out there who fight unfair decisions by NICE (a...

Posted at 18:17pm on 28th September 2008

Credit Crunch: The Personal Pain And Gain

Related Posts: Ten Tips to Stay Free From Debt; Ten Tips To Get Rid of Debt EFFECTS OF THE CREDIT CRUNCH

Watching the UK’s Channel 4 TV programme Dispatches on the human cost of the credit crunch was heartbreaking. First there was the man (Jamaican, I think) who’d worked all his life on the buses. Masking his...

Posted at 08:23am on 24th September 2008

A Life Of Laughter: Bottoms, Wee-wees, Willies & Poo-poohs

Other posts on Parenting: Parent Power = Kids Confidence WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my cousin. He used to be an airline pilot flying holidaymakers out of Gatwick, and he tells stories of walking out to the plane in full view of all his passengers, dressed in a long gabardine, with...

Posted at 19:57pm on 18th September 2008

Memories Of 9.11.2001

Other Posts on Current Affairs: Rick Warren

I thought that in memory of all who lost their lives, and those who lost loved ones, I would reproduce the comment I left on The New York Times online.


I expect, like me, you've been thinking about the terrible events of seven years ago. But can you remember...

Posted at 22:52pm on 11th September 2008

New York Times Comments On Rick Warren's Forum


Should politics and religion mix? This is the question which is vexing the readers of the New York Times – and probably many more of the population.


An article by the columnist William Kristol, titled Showdown at Saddleback, was what prompted the dispute. It seems that Rev. Rick...

Posted at 11:47am on 21st August 2008

Dry Mouth And Sinking Stomach - Photographer V Dentist

Dry mouth and sinking stomach.

‘Without wishing to cast aspersions on your profession,’ I said to the photographer, ‘I should tell you that as far as I’m concerned, having my photograph taken is akin to having teeth pulled.’

Actually, I’ve never had teeth pulled – but the sensations I experienced as my sitting room was invaded...

Posted at 10:15am on 29th July 2008

Is The F-word Foul?

Whatever happened to the old saying, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me'? They can, of course. But only if we let them. Have we become a nation of wimps that we have to talk of legislation to prevent the use of certain words? Words like Chav, for...

Posted at 19:56pm on 21st July 2008

Journeys & Destinations

A visit to a friend in the Malverns, en route to my daughter, brought home, vividly, how fortunate we are. Forget the increase in car tax, food, fuel and heating. Put out of mind the drop in house-prices, the pesky politics, the miserable summer. Blake’s green and pleasant land is stunning; Elgar’s inspiration lush and...

Posted at 17:00pm on 17th July 2008

An Inrush Of Hissing Air

It must be the most expensive single purchase I’ve ever made on my own. Oh, no! There was the house, of course. I bought that at auction, whilst heavily pregnant, and exceeded my husband’s upper limit by several thousand. I could only plead temporary insanity and excessive competitiveness due to hormones. My other half and...

Posted at 09:46am on 10th July 2008

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