Month: January 2015

Outdated Language Tackled in Short Story

While misuse of words and phrases as related to race can happen intentionally, it can also happen unintentionally, likely the case with our modern day Sherlock. Nevertheless, Benedict Cumberbatch’s faux pas opens the door to a topic that is often considered irrelevant nowadays.

Sadly, however, it is relevant, and often owing to ignorance, if nothing else, the word is used inappropriately. That is why it is so important to educate and get educated.

In my short story, ‘The Coloured Girl’, featured in The Seasons, Isabella Chiltern finds out that the word ‘coloured’ is a thing of the past when her son unexpectedly brings his new African American girlfriend to lunch. A subject that often puts us out of our comfort zone, even privately, is aired in a public restaurant in middle England, at least in The Seasons.

In real life, it is often squashed as a thing of the past, at least until it rather innocently rears its head. Heads up; it ‘s modern and relevant.

Adapted as Guess who is coming to lunch,  ‘The Coloured Girl’ was featured in Love Sunday,  the magazine of Sunday People, part of the Trinity Mirror Group, in November, 2014. The Seasons is available now on Amazon and other online bookstores.



How Far Back Can You Remember?

Lost childhood memories are often thought of as those traumatic (bad) memories that are repressed, squashed for the mind’s sake.  But there are good childhood experiences, too, that are forgotten.

While many adults can trace an early, feel good memory, back to age three (I can, as written in my latest Huff Post blog), others have no recollection of their childhood, not really.  According to a 2014 Emory University research study, there is a good reason for this.

Freud might have been on to something about childhood amnesia but did he perhaps misunderstand what is behind it? The Emory study suggests it has more to do with the structure of the brain than anything else.

Read the entire story, Whatever Happens to Childhood Memories directly on the Huffington Post. In the meantime,  what is your earliest memory? Do tell, either here on on the Huff Post.



Going Forward to the Next Hot Spot

Somewhere along the way I got the idea that Lanzarote was one of Europe’s hot spots. Having spent a long weekend there recently, I must admit I have experienced hotter in more ways than one. Not only was the temperature a lukewarm 64 ˚F, the island wasn’t exactly budding with youthfulness either.

Still, it was hotter there than in the UK, which was about 34 ˚F when I made the comparison. On that note, I stopped wondering why the place attracted so many middle-aged visitors, and got on with enjoying it. After all, Paul and I fit the description technically.

Like the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote has volcanic origins. Located off the coast of Morocco, the island, owned by Spain, does offer some stunning scenery yet also some rough terrain, owing to its volcanic history.

As such we found at least one spot way hotter than others—Timnafaya National Park, where a volcano last erupted in 1824. There is home to Fire Mountains, known as Montañas del Fuego, created between 1730 and 1736 when more than 100 volcanoes, covering more than 50 km², erupted and destroyed this part of the island.

Although the last eruption seems eons ago, the park still has its devastated landscape, if you will, and temperatures only meters underground of 752 to 1112 ˚F.

As we stepped into the area for a fire demonstration, in which the demonstrator puts bushes in a hole, he handed us pebbly sand, if you will. Hot, let me tell you. And then magically, the fire started.

Prior to watching it grow out of nowhere, rather naturally, we had witnessed steam shoot from the ground like a geyser. And then later ate at the restaurant on site, which grills food from the natural heat of the dormant volcanoes.

Fun indeed but not the best food we had on the island. That was at our hotel, which surprisingly treated food intolerances as if they were par for the course. Remarkably each of their restaurants, at least the three we tried, offered gluten free options, as well as vegan and so on.

Certainly a hotter ticket in this area than anywhere else I have been in Europe, even London. Alas, Lanzarote still has a lot to learn about luxury from its fellow Spaniards and other European neighbours.

While it has plenty of Spanish charm, it could use a bit of an update, even the five star hotel we stayed at. Would I go again? Probably not but I might not go to Barcelona again, either, unless someone surprises me, and I absolutely love it there.

The point is the world has so much to offer. Why back track when you can go forward. So what’s the plan for Valentine’s Day? I hear there is a surprise on the horizons. Watch this space.




Keeping It Light in the New Year

Imagine hoisting a rucksack over your shoulder and walking into the New Year with it, only it. Is it too heavy, too light or just right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s a few days late for such advice, but bear with, if you will.

Now sit at your favourite table, desk or on the floor in front of the fireplace, wherever you are most comfy and cosy, and sort through the items.

Umm, how did this get there and what about that? You don’t need them anymore, do you? In fact, you probably thought you got rid of this and that a long time ago. I know the feeling but we needn’t worry. It is never too late to dispense of the unwanted tangibles and intangibles, too. The latter often weigh more than the former.

I should know as a few years ago I had one frozen shoulder after another. Medically, it was chalked up to carrying too much physical weight but psychologically, I was likely carrying too much emotional weight, too.

Thus I am pleased to say that I left excess emotional baggage in 2014, even if I do have to remind myself now and again, and some physical weight too. On that note, just before Christmas I had a clearing of some coats, more needed by others than me, and some clothing and some shoes. And truly felt lighter for it.

So, let me see what is left in this rucksack that I really need.


  1. Wonderful, I see my Nike Fuel Band is here, despite the best advice from the Sunday Times Style magazine. So yesterday, they say. Never! For me, it is still very much today.
  1. Thank Goodness, my Cloud Nine hair straightener (curling iron) is here. Not that my cosmetologist approves of us amateurs brandishing any straighteners, but let’s face it, it is better to have one with heat controls than one without. Not having one is not an option, at least not for me.
  1. I am thrilled to see my Mac liquid eyeliner. I happened upon this jewel while getting my make-up done professionally last year and I’m hanging onto it for a while yet. The size of a big crayon, even a novice could handle it. Go figure!
  1. Oh no, my Stella McCartney round shaped blue sunglasses are not here. Okay, so they are truly yesterday, not because of style, but because of wonkiness. Happily, however, in the January sales I found similar ones from The Row. Long may the look last.
  1. So glad to see my Ipad 3 here, even if it is a bit on the heavy side. I still feel lighter for it.
  1. Thankfully, there is my Anya Hindmarch satchel. No wonder the rucksack was a bit heavy. But who needs a rucksack when they have this bag.

There, that’s about all the tangibles that I really need, save for a few odd bits here and there, but surely they’ll fit into the bag, too. As for the intangibles, that I am keeping, that is, they are fairly light, too. In other words they are wonderfully bright.

Oh, and Paul has reminded me that I brought him, too. After all, someone has to help me keep it light. Anyhow, my satchel feels just right now. Off to living well I go.

So, just what did you bring into the New Year, that is, that’s just right for you?



Considering 2015 For The Sake Of Old Times

So what were you doing when 2015 arrived? Not surprisingly, many of us can answer this question without missing a beat, whether we were sleeping, partying or perhaps praying. After all, the coming of a New Year is a momentous occasion.

As for me, this year I gathered with a group of Happy Brits at a quaint hotel in England’s Peak District and as the clock struck midnight, we kept with tradition and joined hands and sang Auld Lang Syne. As I sang cheerfully, suddenly I got thinking about the song’s meaning. What does it all mean? Are we pledging something here and will we honour the pledge, even if we never see each other again? Thus, I turned to Paul and popped the question.

 ‘For old times sake,’ he answered, ‘in gist.’

What a relief that I hadn’t made a commitment to my new acquaintances but the singing had stoked memories of days gone by with old friends. How I longed to reach out to them, in that moment, to reminisce. So I attempted to whiz off a few, select text messages shortly after midnight. Normally, I send out many well wishes as I wish everyone well, but this year as I considered Auld Lang Syne, I was selective with a view to add special meaning.

Sadly, the mobile service was lousy so I had to send an email instead via a spotty Internet service and as such misspelled ald, so frustrated. Never mind. If you were a recipient of the my short Happy New Year’s wish, forgive my typo if you will, and accept my extension of good will, good health and so on for the New Year, for the sake of the cherished times we have shared together.

And for those special friends and family who didn’t get my message, blame it on technology. In the meantime, interestingly enough, I have sang the traditional Scottish song many times on New Year’s Eve and must have known that its author, the treasured Robert Burns, had not written exactly the world famous song that New Year’s celebrators sing today. Other Scottish poets before him and perhaps afterwards might have had a hand in it too – the debate goes on.

Still, Auld Lang Syne is unequivocally Scottish in its wording, its title in gist meaning ‘for the sake of old times’. And its meaning of remembrance and goodwill, whether sang at New Year’s, graduations and so on, has global notoriety. Check out the lyrics here.

So for old time sakes, I sincerely wish each and everyone a Happy New Year!

In the meantime, just what were you doing when the year’s changed hands? Post your messages here.