Tag Archives: history

What in the World?

This morning, we awoke to news of a further explosion in the United States. A fertiliser plant explosion has destroyed homes, businesses and lives in the town of West, near Waco, in Texas, and has caused an unspecified amount of deaths and injuries. Of course, when we hear ‘Waco’, we think of the horror that took place there twenty years ago, almost to the day; it almost seems unbelievable that an explosion would happen in the same area now. I’m praying that it turns out to have been caused by an explicable, understandable and ‘ordinary’ thing – I’m praying that it turns out to be accidental. Between the horror at the Boston Marathon, American politicians being targeted with ricin-laced mail, the war in Syria, the situation in North Korea, and so many other things… What in the world is going on?

It’s hard to keep your head on straight when the news is bursting out all over with stories of inexplicable cruelty and (seemingly) mindless savagery. When you realise that there are so many people in the world who are denied even the most basic chance to live their life as they would choose, perhaps because their country is embroiled in war, or ensnared by poverty, or both, it makes the choice to be a writer, for instance, seem at once completely frivolous and vitally important. Frivolous because I am in the fortunate position of living every day without the threat of destruction, and vitally important because if we are not creating, then what’s the point of even being here, on earth, in this time and place?

The more I hear about destruction and death, and the more news I watch about dictatorships and terrorism and war and imposition of unfair laws on a populace struggling to survive and military posturing with no thought to the safety of the people… well. The more I feel that creating something – no matter what it is – is the most important calling a person could have. How else will we fight off destruction and dark-hearted sorrow? Not with more aggression, more terror, more fear – but with light, and laughter, and song, and new life. It’s at once the simplest and most difficult thing in the world.

Image: warchild.org

Image: warchild.org

I’m not really making a whole lot of sense this morning. My flu is still not entirely gone, and I am very tired. I’m almost three-quarters done with my redraft of ‘Eldritch’, which is great, and I learned yesterday that another of my short stories has been accepted for publication; I’m also (possibly) shortlisted for another competition. My database of stories written and submitted is looking nice and fat and healthy, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve read of ‘Eldritch’ so far. Of course, it’ll need at least one more going-over before I’ll be happy to send it anywhere, but I can actually see it happening now – it seems real, achievable, and within my grasp. I am going to query a novel with agents and publishers. Even getting to this point is a dream come true.

But, sometimes, when you turn on the TV or search the web for news, and you realise just what some people are living with and dealing with on a daily basis, you would have to stop and wonder: ‘What is the point? What difference does it make, to anyone but me, that I’ve managed to achieve these tiny things?’ But I have to believe that creating something, writing a story that might bring some laughter and happiness into someone’s life, or giving a hug when one is needed, or sending support to a friend in need, or even just caring about what happens to other people, makes a difference. If I didn’t, I’m not sure what would keep me going.

Sorry for the depressing post today. I’ll try to be all about the kittens and the sparkliness tomorrow, okay?

Image: blogs.warwick.ac.uk

Image: blogs.warwick.ac.uk

 

Learning from the Past

Good morning. It’s one of these:

Image: tumblr.com

Image: tumblr.com

Despite this, I hope you’re doing reasonably well so far. If it’s any consolation, think of this: schoolchildren all over Ireland are returning to classes today after their two-week Easter break. The sound of them being ripped out of their beds and flung out their front doors, wailing about how everything in the universe is unfair, is filling the air all around. You’d almost feel sorry for them.

Today’s post, I fear, may be slightly on the depressing side. I just wanted to warn you in case you’d prefer to go off and make a cup of tea, or have your breakfast, or whatever it is you might be doing. I want to talk about history, and the value of learning the lessons history has to teach us, and ask questions like ‘why do we hurt one another over things that aren’t, on balance, worth hurting one another over?’ As with most of my profound moments, this one was born out of my television viewing, so you can blame the BBC for what follows.

As we are wont, last night The Husband and I sat down to watch our regular antiques programme after a busy, and lovely, day spent with friends. Sometimes, watching this hour of TV is a mistake from my point of view. I tend to get very emotional at times when objects with huge personal and/or historical significance are being described, or when a person is talking about something that is deeply meaningful to the history of their family. Last night, of course, was no exception. A woman was interviewed about her family treasure – a collection of letters and documents relating to her father, who was an active member of the Norwegian resistance during World War Two – and I found it profoundly moving. She had kept the shoes he’d worn when he escaped from an internment camp, where he’d been placed after he was caught spying on a German military facility and which he’d worn as he trekked to freedom. She showed a photograph of him demonstrating a technique he and his brothers (one of whom was tortured to death by the Nazis) had developed as children in Norway for getting around in snowy weather – she called it ‘tree-hopping’. It basically involved using the supple trees as pole-vaults, and launching yourself from one tree to the next instead of walking through the snow. He’d used this technique to escape from his captors – not only did it give him speed, but it also helped him to leave no tracks. It was amazing to think that a game he’d played as a young man would one day save his life.

Then, before we went to bed, we switched on the news and learned about the troubles currently besieging Cairo. As of last night, the rioting around a Christian church in that city, which has so far claimed the lives of five people, was being blamed on a piece of graffiti that had been misinterpreted.

A piece of graffiti that had been misinterpreted. I still can’t quite believe it.

Someone had daubed a swastika on a wall, and someone else had interpreted it as a cross – the symbol of Christianity. The wall upon which the daubing had been done happened to be that of an Islamic centre. Because of that – because the symbol was misconstrued as a cross, and not because it was a swastika – rioting began, and five people have so far been killed. My husband even made the point that the swastika symbol may have been the ancient version, the one still held sacred in the religions of the East, instead of the one we in the West would be more familiar with – the one used by the Nazi regime. Either way, and no matter what was intended by the use of the symbol, the frightening thing is that ignorance of what it meant, and a misunderstanding of the intention behind it, has led to horrifying violence and a standoff which is still happening.

The contrast between these two pieces of television, one in which the messages and lessons of the past were clearly in evidence, and one in which the consequences of forgetting about the past, or not learning from the horrors that humanity has already put behind itself, was stark. I was disgusted that people had been killed out of something as simple as a misunderstanding, and a misunderstanding born out of a lack of knowledge, and it underlined my conviction that learning from the mistakes made by our forebears is a hugely important thing – perhaps the most important thing – that we, as a culture, are given charge of.

Why is human life seen to be so cheap sometimes? We were at a Christening yesterday, and nothing would give you more of an appreciation for how precious and beautiful life is than to watch babies being celebrated by their families in this way. There were four babies being christened yesterday, and every one of them was a treasure. The church was full of children – the families, siblings, cousins and so on of the babies being christened – and the place was bedlam with noise, crying, laughter, and the other small cacophanies that tend to follow little people around. How do we go from treasuring our tiniest people to murdering one another over a splodge of red paint on a wall?

Anyway. Happy Monday. Let’s hope that things get better from here.

Image: voxxi.com

Image: voxxi.com

 

 

Human Nature

Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m not sure I altogether like this ‘holiday’, having been on the receiving end of one too many pranks as a younger person (in case I haven’t revealed this already, I’m extremely gullible), but if you’re celebrating – and not making a fool out of somebody else – then have a ball.

You could just do like this fella and gambol around in a funny costume for a while.Image: 123rf.com

You could just do like this fella and gambol around in a funny costume for a while.
Image: 123rf.com

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here, craftily arranged by my husband and I in order to help us celebrate our anniversary (of course). It has nothing to do with the fact that most of the country is languishing in a chocolate-fuelled stupor this morning… We had a wonderful day yesterday for Easter Sunday; we spent it with two of our best friends and their young baby, where we all went on an Easter Egg Hunt. It was, of course, more fun for the adults than the child, and sadly, the adults ate all the chocolate, too. (In our defence, the baby isn’t able to eat solids yet. Honest!)

I’m not sure if it was our time with our friends that sparked today’s blog-thoughts off in my mind, or the TV programmes we watched when we got home (both dramas involving past eras), or some twisty combination of both, but in any case – today I’m thinking about human nature, and how people don’t really change over time.

What's this? Just a blog, medieval-style.Image: abdn.ac.uk

What’s this? Just a blog, medieval-style.
Image: abdn.ac.uk

We spent our day celebrating an ancient feast with our friends, a feast which most people would connect with Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus. But – as most people are aware – the feast of ‘Easter’ (named, even, after the goddess Eostre) is a lot older than the Christian faith. It has more to do with the time of year and the fecundity of the season, the return to earth of the flowers and creatures and crops that are necessary to sustain life, than it does with the much younger faith of Christianity. I am a Christian, but I am also a trained medievalist, so the feast of Easter has two layers of meaning for me. Our celebrations yesterday got me thinking about how people carry out rituals – the giving of chocolate, the symbolism of rabbits and ‘Easter bunnies’, the tradition of ‘April Fools’ – without really thinking about what they mean and where they come from, or even knowing how old the traditions are. It got me thinking about how people are the same from generation to generation. The things we do sometimes change, as do the circumstances in which we have to live our lives. But people – the essence of what makes us human beings – stays the same.

When I worked as a tutor, I was responsible for teaching my students about medieval language, literature and culture in Britain (mostly), but also in Ireland and Europe. I often started a class by asking the students to read a section of Chaucer, for instance, or an extract from Beowulf or one of the Old English elegies. Perhaps, if I was feeling particularly playful, I would give them a piece of poetry like this one (don’t worry, a translation follows!):

Mec feonda sum   feore besnythede
Woruldstrenga binom   waette sithan
dyfthe on waetra   dyde eft thonan,
sette on sunan,   thaer ic swithe beleas
herum tham the ic haefde.

(An enemy stole my life, and took away all my worldly strength; they wet me, dipping me in water, then took me out once more. I was left in the sun then, where I swiftly lost all the hair I had.)

My students would labour intensely over an extract of poetry like that, trying to work it out, looking at it like it had huge significance, doing their best to be intelligent. So, when I told them ‘it’s a joke’, they sometimes weren’t too impressed with me. The poem is an extract from Riddle 26 in the Exeter Book, a collection of Old English joke-verses. Some of them are crude, some of them scandalous, some of them groan-worthy, and some of them are still mystifying. This one, the narrative voice of which goes on to tell us that a knife cut away all its impurities, and that it was folded and pierced through with holes and bedecked with brown dye before being guarded between boards, decorated with gold and trusted with the Word of God, is telling us that it’s a book – more specifically, a Bible. You have to know, of course, that in the Middle Ages books were made of animal hide, which would be soaked to soften and loosen the hair, dried in the sun, and scraped with a blade to make it perfectly smooth… and once you know the answer, the whole riddle begins to click into place.

Each of the riddles presents the reader (or listener) with confusing images designed to make something everyday seem completely alien – all in the name of a big punchline, giving everyone who’s been sweating to work it out an ‘Aha!’ moment, where they can slap their thighs, laugh with one another and pretend that they’d unravelled it long before their neighbour had. So, in a way, my students’ efforts to understand the words mirror exactly the reaction that the original authors would have wanted. My students would (hopefully) learn from this that even though the sense of humour had changed a bit, the need or desire to laugh, to exercise the brain, to get one over on your fellows, to play a trick, were as much a part of the Anglo-Saxon world as they are to our own.

Human art, from any era, depicts a number of big themes; Love is one. Death another. Nearly everything else can be constructed out of some combination of these. Regret, Betrayal, Loss, Passion, Devotion, Adventure (which can be seen as the pursuit of one and the simultaneous avoidance of the other.) We no longer joust, and our sons no longer get sent to fight with the King, but plenty of young men and women still get sent to fight our modern wars. We no longer scare ourselves with stories of giants and headless horsemen; instead we use zombies and vampires (when we’re not falling in love with them, of course.) We love our children and our families, we want to protect our homes, we want the dignity of earning our own living, we want the freedom to live our lives as we see fit. None of these things are new to us. All of these things were known to our forebears too, all the way back to our earliest beginnings.

The past can sometimes seem very far away, and people who lived in previous eras can often feel like creatures of another world. But they’re not, at all. We are lucky to have the conveniences we do, which make the things our ancestors wanted – safety for our young, security for our crops, warmth for our homes, good health as long as we can get it – so much easier. So, it makes me glad that we still celebrate some of the old feast days, even if we don’t know why any more. It’s a precious connection to those who’ve gone before us, and a vital expression of human nature.

Anyway, on that note: Happy Easter!

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Treasures

All right, I have a confession to make. I hope this doesn’t lose me any followers, or make me any (new) enemies, or whatever, but it’s time to come clean.

I am an antiques-freak. There! I said it!

Image: sodahead.com

Image: sodahead.com

I’m sorry, Wonder Woman. But it’s true.

Before you run away screaming, just bear in mind that today’s post won’t waffle on about dust or weird old furniture or odd-looking experts in handknitted jumpers. I’m just going to talk about one thing I saw on an antiques programme last night. I swear.

You’re back? Good. I’ll try to make this quick.

Right. Luckily (for me) my husband is also a bit of an antiques enthusiast. By this I don’t mean we go around car boot sales (or yard sales, I suppose, for those who have no idea what a ‘car boot’ is), or secondhand shops or antiques dealers picking up ‘key pieces’ for our big ol’ mansion; I mean, we like to watch antiques programmes on TV. Also, luckily for us, the BBC is full of antiques programmes, so we generally have something to watch. It seems our neighbours in the United Kingdom are as weird as my husband and I, so that’s nice.

Last night, we watched a programme wherein the owners of the antiques bring in something for a valuation and appraisal by the expert presenters, with a view to selling it no matter what the value. It’s not like most antiques shows, where the owner wants to know about the object’s provenance, or the story behind it, and the value is a secondary concern – this particular show is dedicated to selling people’s antiques. The viewers watch it for the stories and the background to the items (as well as marvelling at the prices the objects fetch, I suppose.) I was particularly struck by one man’s story – he brought in a beautiful antique box, made of a rare and lovely hardwood. The box had been in his family since the time of his grandmother, and had come from India originally. The outside of it was beautiful enough, but when the lid was lifted and the inside was revealed, the true beauty of the object became apparent. The interior was covered with mother-of-pearl and enamel inlay, with what looked like lots of separate compartments, and the inside of the lid was decorated beautifully.

But then, the antiques dealer lifted out the whole inner tray (the part that had looked like lots of separate compartments), to reveal a further layer to the box. In the bottom were letters, mementos, family artefacts and (most touchingly) a pair of baby booties from the 1870s, which probably belonged to his great-grandmother and may have been worn by his grandmother as a child. ‘Oh, look!’ said the dealer. ‘Isn’t all this wonderful!‘ ‘I didn’t even know it was there,’ replied the owner, completely unimpressed. ‘I never looked inside the box.’ The dealer expressed his amazement at this, and asked the man if he wanted to keep the box now, to go through it for family heirlooms, but he pretty much said ‘No, I don’t care about any of it. Just get rid of it.’

I was flabbergasted.

The box now belonged to the man’s daughter, he explained, who wanted to sell it to help pay for her honeymoon. Having been on a honeymoon relatively recently, I can appreciate how expensive they are and how you usually want to spend as much as you possibly can to make it the best holiday you’ve ever had – but still. If it was me, and I was faced with the choice of having a box full of my great-great-grandmother’s treasures, and a holiday, I know I’d choose the treasures. I’m a bit of a hoarder, though – I find it hard enough to chuck away my own ‘treasures’, so the thoughts of chucking away someone else’s would be anathema to me. I couldn’t part with something if I felt it had been important to someone like a long-dead relative, or if it was part of the story of my family.

A few years ago, while working as a bookseller, the shop I worked for received a shipment of books from an elderly lady’s estate. Her sons had sold off her library and we were lucky enough to be able to buy some of it. In the midst of the books (most of which were dusty old paperbacks about Corgis, beach-combing and gardening, along with approximately two tons of romance novels), I found three handwritten books of poetry. I asked my manager if I could have them, and he was only too glad to be rid of them. They’d been written in the mid-nineteenth century by the deceased lady’s aunt (or possibly great-aunt), and some of them were beautiful works of art. I read one poem which made me cry, about a young child who was suffering some terrible pain and who was not likely to live, and how difficult it was for her parents to watch her suffer knowing that she may never open her eyes again. I hoped it wasn’t written ‘from life’, but thought it probably had been. Some of them weren’t so good, but there were some really excellent pieces of work in those books. The author had kept some newspaper clippings of her published pieces, too, and those were wonderful to see.

Anyway, the point of this anecdote is to say – shouldn’t we treasure these things from the past? Does anyone agree with my (perhaps overly-sentimental) viewpoint that things like this are important, and worth taking care of? The man on the TV programme last night did sell the box, contents included, and it went for a huge sum – far more than it had been estimated to fetch. I wondered if that was because of the treasures it contained, and I wondered why they weren’t more precious to him.

But then, I suppose we should also treasure the fact that everyone is different, too. If everyone was like me, there’d be no empty surface space on the planet, and nothing (particularly books!) would ever get thrown away.

Perhaps this is the way of the future for me!Image: theintuitiveedge.wordpress.com

Perhaps this is the way of the future for me!
Image: theintuitiveedge.wordpress.com

 

Choosing to Live

This morning’s offering is a response to a wonderful blog post, here, written by Susan Lanigan. In it, she discusses her reasons for choosing to live – not just continuing to live, but actually making the choice to live – despite the difficulties which this choice can bring. I’m very pleased that she asked me to share my thoughts on the topic, and I hope I can do her marvellous post justice.

sunrise

I’ll begin with a truism: life can be very hard. This nugget has been trotted out by generations of mothers and fathers in an attempt to comfort their tear-stained children when they reach the age at which they realise the world is not designed to fulfil their every wish; it is not comforting, but it is important to know. Life (or, rather, the choice to live) can, and probably will, be very hard for the majority of people, and life has been hard as long as human beings have existed. Every age has had its own particular struggles, which vary with the centuries, but they all have similar roots. I think, despite the differences in technology, lifestyle, beliefs, language and law that separate us from our ancestors, that people are people – we don’t change much, down through the years. The things which occupy our minds and the fears that bedevil us – mortality, sexuality, money, power – are things which they were all too familiar with, too. I’m not sure it’s true that earlier ages didn’t have time for introspection, or that they were too busy working themselves to an early death to worry about things like self-actualisation and individual significance; I think every age has sought meaning in its own existence, and has produced art which has reflected upon the world which created it. We are no exception – we just have wider access to the tools of creativity, and our record of our own existence is a bit more durable than that of earlier generations. In times gone by, only the chosen few had the opportunity to record their thoughts about the world around them. Sometimes I mourn for all the words and stories we’ve lost, and for all the wisdom that has returned to the earth along with the person who laboured hard to gain it.

I live in a complex world, in a struggling country. I have a body and a brain which sometimes conspire against me, and I know how it feels to fight with your own thoughts, to battle out from underneath your own darkness of mind. I have been in the pit of what my medieval friends used to call ‘wanhope’ – in other words, despair. Allowing yourself to wallow in wanhope was seen as a sin in the Middle Ages, because it did not allow for the grace of God; falling into it was one thing, but allowing yourself to remain there was tantamount to giving up hope in the all-powerful love of God. It was like committing treason against your greatest and most powerful liege-lord. You were cutting off the possibility of being rescued, of being helped, and you were refusing to allow yourself to be loved by God – and, I suppose, by anyone else. The medieval mind saw it as imposing a limit on the power of God’s love and compassion (which, of course, would be sinful human hubris), but a modern mind might recognise the feeling, too. Divorced from its religious framework, it sounds a lot like the struggle most of us have to face at some point in our life – the feeling that we are alone, that we’re unconnected to anything else, that nobody loves us and our existence, or lack of it, makes no difference to the grand scheme of things. It sounds so terrible that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would allow themselves to fall into it, but it’s actually not that difficult. The road to the pit of wanhope has been walked by so many feet that the stones which pave it have been worn smooth, and it’s a road from which so many people find it impossible to come back. Sadly, I wonder if the road to Wanhope is busier now than it has ever been.

So, why do I choose to live? The word ‘choose’ is so important – nobody can make you live. You were brought into existence, sure – but nobody can force you to live. The choice is yours. It might seem obvious – it might not seem like a choice at all, perhaps – but it’s there, and it’s one which we need to make on a regular basis. Why do I choose, every day, to avoid the road to despair and choose the harder, rockier, narrower path that is life? I choose to live because I want to make a difference in the world. I want to be part of that durable human record – I want my choice to mean something, and I don’t want my hard-earned wisdom to die with me. I choose to live because I was brought into the world through love, and I have been lucky enough to know love every day of my life. I choose to live because I want to amplify the love I have been given, and return it tenfold to those who love me, and to others who might need love and compassion more than they need anything else. I choose to live because it’s a challenge, and I’m the sort of pig-headed person who hates to give up on a fight. I choose to live because I believe I’m here to do something – perhaps, many somethings. I choose to live because I don’t know what I’m here to do, and I don’t know when I’ll be called upon to do it. How can I choose the other path, the one that leads towards the dark, when, for all I know, tomorrow is the day when my great purpose will be revealed? How do I know that my very existence – something I might say, or do, or write – is already fulfilling that greater purpose? I choose to live because my choice might help someone else. I choose to live because I am important, as you are important; my choice might help someone else to keep walking that hard road, and I choose to live because everyone who makes that choice means more hands to help those who might stumble, and more encouraging smiles to light the paths of those who are struggling.

I’ve walked a while on both roads, the smooth lower road that feels so familiar underfoot, and the rocky higher path that goes on into the unknown. The smooth road has no turnings. Its destination is clear. But the rocky path has many switchbacks and changes of direction – every day on it is a surprise, and every corner turned brings something new. I choose to live because I want to know what’s around the next bend, no matter what it is. I choose to live because I’ve struggled out of the pit, and back up that smooth and well-worn path, and I’ll be damned if I’m throwing away all that effort.

I choose to live out of stubbornness, and I hope my rocky path is a long and twisting one.

An Untimely Note

My day is ending, rather than beginning, but I haven’t been able to put a blog post up until now. It’s not that I didn’t have time, but I just… couldn’t. My head is in a strange place today. So, this post will perforce be brief. Maybe we could call it a Post-Ette.

Sometimes my life feels like this.

Sometimes my life feels like this.

Item the First: I’ve been nominated for a Next Big Thing Award twice in the last week (technically), once by Claire over at Written in Haste and once by Michelle at Michelle Proulx Official. (Thank you, ladies). I say ‘technically’ because Claire didn’t actually nominate me on her blog – she contacted me personally to ask if I’d do it, so I’ll count that as a nomination. Basically, this means I have to answer some questions about my Work in Progress, which is a bit scary; however, being nominated twice makes me think that Fate is at work, and I should probably just go for it. So, in the next few days I’ll get to that. You can hold your breaths… now!

Item the Second: my first proper attempt at writing a short story for children. My target audience is probably the average nine-year-old boy, so the story involves snot and other bodily fluids, aliens, and explosions. In fact, quite a lot happens for 1500 words! Hopefully, I’ll tweak this over the next few days; I want to submit it to a Children’s Literature magazine early in the new year, but only when it’s ready. I feel it’s an achievement for me to feel able to submit something to a magazine, so I’m quite pleased with myself on that front.

Item the Third: I had an entirely new idea today, one that wasn’t to do with my WiP or anything else I’ve been turning over in my mind lately. It’s historical (medieval, of course), based around an event that I’ve long had a fascination with, and one which I feel is rich with story potential. Like a lot of the lesser-known events in medieval history, it actually ended up having quite a large effect on the history of an entire country. However, for some reason it’s not considered a huge historical event in its own right, and so very few people know about it. These kind of nuggets from history are gold to a story-teller, so hopefully the bones of the story I’m thinking of will one day form the arc of a new tale.

Item the Fourth: I may not blog tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll be back on Friday. And – hopefully – I’ll be in a brighter frame of mind.

Avast! Enough nonsense. Have a wonderful Wednesday, and take good care of yourselves.

Just another Frazzled Friday

First things first. I want to apologise to anyone who tried to read my blog on a phone yesterday. I’m reliably informed that the problem I had with the images I tried to insert made the blog impossible to load on anything besides a computer, so I really do want to say ‘sorry’ if I caused anyone any inconvenience. I’m a great big turnip-headed technotwit, and I don’t really understand how this blog works – perhaps it’s writing me, instead of the other way around…

Anyway.

Today, I will be baking again. I’m off to my parents-in-law for the weekend, and you know the golden rule – never go visiting without cake. I have my ingredients all laid out, and my butter is happily softening on the countertop. It makes me wish life was as easy as baking a cake – if you put just the right amount of everything in, and do what you’re supposed to, you know the result you’ll get will be just what you wanted. We all know this isn’t how it goes in life, though – but maybe that’s the way it should be. Mistakes are how we learn – at least, I hope that’s true!

I also need to do a lot of work on the WiP. I’ve been writing away for the last few days, thinking I’ve been making great progress, and I woke up this morning realising that a scene I wrote yesterday makes no sense whatsoever. Talking to my husband this morning, I realised I was listening to him with one half of my brain, and having a conversation with my characters with the other half. That’s difficult, especially when drinking hot tea. So, I want to go back and change that scene today before I go too much further. I know this goes against my ‘finish the thing and then edit it!’ rule, but – c’mon. We all know rules are made to be broken.

I’m thinking about my country today too, with a mix of feelings. Mainly, I’m very proud of my native land, and I love it as much as anyone loves their country, but it’s a source of extraordinary frustration for me, too, at times. We’re facing a referendum tomorrow which I don’t feel will receive the attention it merits from our citizens, and I don’t feel the right information has been given to allow everyone to make a properly informed decision. Because of this, I think the way I’m choosing to vote might be in the minority, and I think that would be a shame. Also, yesterday was the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of the atrocities which took place during the Troubles – the bombing of Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland. I was a child at the time this horrendous event took place, and it made such a deep psychological imprint on me that I wept yesterday looking at news footage of the commemoration ceremony. It made me realise how much our country has been through, and how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. It made me very proud, and determined to do what I can to keep those dark days from ever, ever returning.

So, because I’m a busy bee today, I won’t detain you much longer. I can’t even share any images, in case I break every computer in the world, or something. (I promise I’ll get this problem sorted before next week, and sorry again). I hope you all have wonderful Fridays, and not frazzled ones – I feel like mine is going to be a frazzle-fest, but I am open to being wrong about this – and that weekends of pure unadulterated joy await you all.

Thank you all, as ever, for taking the time to read. Now, go have some fun.