A Sure Thing

IMG_0983 image sorry IMG_0986 IMG_0988 IMG_0989

Books are a conduit, a wormhole. Open one and no longer are you where you thought you were. A chapter later you’re spending time with people you never thought you’d meet and in my case (a crime fan) you pray you never do.

I once considered where my interest in crime originated from and I’ve concluded The Famous Five. It’s not as preposterous as it sounds. At the root of each book is a mystery with a baddie and possible suspects. Once I’d read Five on A Treasure Island I was hooked. I would badger my Dad, when he was busiest, for pocket money (which he readily supplied to keep me at bay) and I’d purchase the next book in the series with the confidence I would love it.

Over the years I’ve read hundreds of books however I am a fussy reader.  A book might be a literary masterpiece or pushing new boundaries or a best seller but not necessarily my cup of tea.  Gone Girl is the perfect example; brilliant premise, interesting and clever dual perspective angle, well written but Nick and Amy were unlikeable and flat.  I felt the last few chapters rewarded me for sticking with a book purely because I was curious after the hype. I actually much preferred Gillian’s Flynn ‘ Sharp Objects’. Admittedly if I fancy a thriller or a crime novel my expectations are exceedingly high.  I’ve been spoilt by my literary heroes PD James, Val McDermid,  Minette Walters and Mark Billingham.

I am always on the look out for something different and exciting. I particularly like dark, creepy and sinister with a hint of romance. Most books in this genre tend to disappoint; they are either predictable or the characters fail to elicit strong feeling from me. Even if a character is average, I want him or her to be brilliant at being average. I have come across some gems though: Nicci French and Chelsea Cain are members of my SURE THING club.

This month I’ve read:

  • Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse:
  • The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney
  • The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez
  • Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar
  • Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

It has been a successful reading period because each of these books has ticked my boxes. I struggled most with The Liar’s Chair because like Gone Girl and Revolutionary Road the characters initially failed to engage me, so I repeatedly put it down. However in the last few chapters there is an exciting change of pace and an unexpected conclusion therefore I felt satisfied, more so than with Gone Girl.

If you are looking for a multi-perspective, shifting of time, hard hitting thriller with characters you genuinely care about then Sorry is perfect.  A month after reading the novel the characters still remain with me.

My book of the month however is not listed above, it is Sarah Hilary’s ‘Someone Else’s Skin’. Once I turned the page I was there with D.I. Marnie Rome.  This debut novel has all the ingredients to ensure I didn’t put it down: a strong, likeable  yet vulnerable protagonist, an attempted murder with twists and turns, an excellent subplot of a murder with personal ramifications, characters that add value, straightforward style of writing and a hint or romance.

I am interested to read a second novel from all the above authors but the book that I look forward to reading most and is on my wish list is Sarah Hilary’s ‘No Other Darkness‘.  I have confidence that it will deliver and that by D.I. Marnie Rome Book 3 Sarah Hilary will have joined my SURE THING club.

Thank you to all the above writers for making April a great reading month.

Be happy, T.

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Topsy Turvy Dream

Everyone has a book in them, is what they say but does that mean that everyone has a story to tell or that everyone is capable of writing a book?

Anyway I wrote a book.  It was a mad idea really because apart from letters to my nan in Ireland I’ve never written a jot.  I failed O’Level English Lit; Shakespeare and Emily Bronte – fine, Chaucer? No way. So I’ve no credentials or a reason why anyone should read my book…still…I’m pursuing publication.

My book is special, not obviously so to agents, but to me, yes.  Its premise was born from nattering away with my daughter Kitty.  I was confined to a bed, you see, in the alcove of a gloomy, poorly decorated, open plan lounge.  Which was orange? I don’t mean trendy tangerine, I mean rusty, dirty, orange which definitely contributed to my poor state of health. Unable to ascend the stairs and wander into my kid’s rooms like a mum does they came to me.  School, xbox, how crappy homework is, Vampire Diaries, Suits, Plan B, Maroon 5; were the random  lifelines I clung to when I felt I was drowning.  What scared me more than the pain, than being disabled or paralysed was loneliness. Losing my identity, my kids no longer seeing me as ‘mum’ and us drifting apart was gut wrenchingly and bitterly painful…So we started talking about writing a book, because we thought we could create the perfect antihero.

Kitty would spend hours at the end of my bed, and we’d plot and devise and laugh and I’d bug her to go and do her homework while Paddy repeatedly asked,

‘Are you really going to write a book?’

‘Yes, definitely!”

“How do you know you can do it?”

“If I can make someone as special and amazing as you, I can write a book.”

But I didn’t, well not for a while.  I had a lots of ups and downs, as all of us do and then I reached a point where I felt my disability swallowing me up.  I looked in the mirror and it wasn’t me so I resurrected ‘Henry Whittle’ to save myself and keep me close to my children.

Now living in a cosy little house, with flowery cushions and Bert(a little terrier cross we adopted) my husband would lift the laptop onto a cushion resting on my lap and I would type.  There was no written plan or chain of events. In my imagination, I found a strong pair of legs, that carried me down a meandering lane, somewhere near where Henry lived and I spent my time with him and Phoenix until  pain made me wander home again.

Daily I would update the girls and we would devise what happens next and the book became an extension of our relationship and so Gertrude (Grace) T (which is me) Kitty (Caitlan) emerged.  Three people, one book.  I know it sounds weird but when I was writing the book, which is multi perspective, I felt them with me and I wouldn’t have written it without them.  So my book is beyond precious.

Now back to the point of this blog.  I finished the book the night before I went in for my third operation. When I returned home, I was not in a good place physically or mentally. My book is one of the reasons I pulled myself through it.  Remember I’m a complete amateur, in a lot of pain, seriously in need of a distraction.  So in my topsy turvy way, I started emailing my manuscript off to agents.  I had no idea about editing because when you’re in serious discomfort you don’t read anything in less than 24 font so all the online advice slips under the radar.  My goal now – publication.

Oops! There is interest in my book, but other than Gertrude, Kitty and me pouring over it for hours and hours correcting grammar and typos, it’s naked.

I think that my, no, our book, Gertrude’s, Kitty’s and mine deserves to be persevered with.  We love it, we think it’s great, the characters are made with blood, sweat and tears and quite a lot of Tramadol!

It is still being considered by two agents who have had the full manuscript for quite a long time now.  Meanwhile yesterday the cavalry arrived in the form of https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk/ who have kindly agreed to edit my book at no cost as part of their Free Read scheme.  What does this mean?  It could be the difference between a yes and a no from a literary agent, it could be the key to getting published.

My book is so much more than words, characters and plot, it’s about three women, two generations, who didn’t want to lose each other so they made a pact.  The name of that pact ‘The Rebirth of Henry Whittle’.

Thank you https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk/

fingers of a flame

I like your work, it’s intimate and revealing with a hint of mystery. The flow of words, how they meander is comforting. Cool!

On The Heath

with familiarity came friction

not the patently undesirable kind

but the sort created by a wanting… a wishing… and conditions

maybe the closer we grew, the more the passion withdrew

or simply the heat became a fire and all that was left were reflections between the fingers of a flame

or maybe it was because I put my dreams before you or it was just that I couldn’t fit into your puzzle

or a million more maybes… just like the contents of poetry

© Heath Muchena, 2015

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Joy

I see myself.  I am an observer, perhaps a fellow holiday maker laying stretched out on a white plastic sun bed; my towel scrunched beneath me.  Sauntering toward the pool I realise  I look good.  Wearing a fitted floral bikini; I’m not at all self conscious, I’ve had a full leg wax and a Hollywood.  I’m slim in a comfortable way.  My hair is styled in a short wavy bob.  I look down at my feet; my nails are professionally painted in Russian blue.  I love them.

I linger, appreciating the hot sun baking me nicely at 39 degrees. Caitlan and Paddy are negotiating a gigantic rubber ring – they’re laughing, plunging and splashing; their factor fifty legs and arms entangled.  With large green diving goggles suctioned to their faces they look like cute alien frogs. They wave wildly at me.  I return with an SOS wave smiling.  I like my smile; the sensation of its corners stretching up and outward. I don’t care if it means I’m inviting wrinkles. Bring it on.

Leisurely swimming breast stroke my arms stretch out wide in a circular motion and my knees come together to propel me forward.  I feel strong, athletic, invincible! My stomach muscles tighten as I surge back and forth.   Twenty lengths – great!

I’m at the deep end.  Folding my legs I use my hands to wall walk to the pool floor.  My body’s instinct is to float up but I resist. I sit there cross legged, holding my breath enjoying a moment that’s completely mine.

Submerged I pull Caitlan’s leg.  As I surface I meet her sparkling, mischievous green eyes. Paddy’s face pops up over her shoulder. I hold my hand straight and stiff, the thumb resting against my forehead to form a shark fin,

“Sharky George is coming, swim little fish, swim, Georgy is hungry.”

We play water polo.  Tinker is very competitive.  He lunges for the ball, throws it to Paddy who tosses it to Caitlan who scores; she is her father’s daughter.  There are raucous group hugs.  We’ve caught the attention of poolside sunbathers: frown, frown, thumbs up, frown, raised eyebrows, smile.   Resting my back against the pool side I look up at the glorious sun; its heat on my skin is rejuvenating. I want to bottle this very moment.  I could say that I wanted this minute to last forever but that would be selfish because Caitlan and Paddy would be 14 and 13 eternally.

Tinker swims toward me.  I like how he looks in sunglasses, his hair wet.  Putting his arms either side of me, we kiss.  It’s the kiss of devotion.  It’s slow and it tells a story.

Reaching up to the handles of the pool ladder, I put my foot on the first step and I feel the muscles in my arms tense as I pull myself up.  Water falls from me.    I run my hand through my hair, droplets race down my already hot back. Husbands’ eyes quickly stray toward my tanned toned frame. I’m oblivious.  I only have eyes for Tinker.

I’m running with him, we’re racing Caitlan and Paddy  to the beach.  The grassy ground, hard baked and cracked by the intense Turkey sun, is beneath me.  Running is my thing; I fall into a comfortable rhythm.  I’m connected to the earth, to the infinitely clear blue sky above me; I’m organic. Consciously inhaling and exhaling to avoid a stitch my breath synchronizes with my stride.  I look across at Tinker; our eyes connect, we smile at one another, the kids are whooping. I’ve made it to the beach bar. Yes!  I stop. My children and husband run into the sea, jumping wildly over waves with frothy white crests. I’m laughing and breathing heavily.  I look a little mad but I have an aura that catches the odd passing eye.  It makes them smile and for a brief moment they too feel carefree. My happiness is contagious.

Sitting at the beach bar, enjoying a cappuccino I recall the night before.  We’d had an early dinner to avoid the all-inclusive rush hour.  At the amphitheater I’d sat sipping mojitos and tequilas with rainbow umbrellas pierced through limes and oranges. Below us the stage rocked with twirling toddlers at the mini disco.  We played gin rummy, twenty one and traffic lights, it was serious stuff, Euros were at stake.  Paddy won, Paddy won again, Kitty then Tink – hey lady luck what about me!  Kitty was giggly she’d sneaked a few snips of my mojito – bold girl!

After the show, the kids meet up with their German friends and we follow them to the beach disco.  They are not shy – I like that about them; there is no awkwardness. They prank around and dance in a circle. Pop and Garage beats out and they jump in unison, arms punching the air, singing along, chanting.  I notice the tall blond boy; he’s playfully pushing Caitlan around.  She’s giving as good as she gets as usual. I see the first spark of attraction between them

I glance nostalgically at my husband.  His eyes reflect a nineteen year old girl, in a bright red dress, playing darts in The Paddington Stop.  She’s at the bar counting coins from a pink soft leather purse she purchased in Greece.  A man beside her cheekily chats her up. He’s confident; she finds his features alluring. He’s says his name’s Tinker.

Hips swaying, shoulders shimmying I’m dancing and I feel on top of the world.  I look above at the glitter balls and the pink and blue LED disco lights and WHAM and DURAN DURAN pop randomly to mind.  Tinker pulls me to him and we move in unison.  My head nestles into his neck.  I kiss it gently. I’m still in love.

I see myself; the rose tinted glasses removed.  I’m the same but different.  The short wavy bob, the slim frame and the easy smile that flickers at the first glimpse of my family are all Alison. My heart is still huge but my head is muddled.   My body is awkward. I laugh; it’s warm, it’s real.

I’m putting sun lotion on Paddy’s back; it’s what mums do. My arms feel weakly heavy; they are alien to me but I continue to rub and I massage a little into his ears.  He’s so cute.

A member of the animation team spots us.  He knows Cait and Pad.  Yesterday they went paintballing with him. He’s a bit of a joker.    He’s young, about 26, his nose is large but it suits his face.  He has a six pack and is hench as Caitlan would say. I note a glimmer of interest in his eyes; he’s not sure what to make of me, of us.

“Hey Paddy, Katrin (he can’t pronounce Caitlan), hoopa hoopa it’s pool games.”

In unison Paddy and Cait scramble off their sun beds and join the forming crowd of teens and menopausal men.

Tink is already in the pool. Bums! Getting off the sun bed is a feat in itself.  I turn onto my side and raise my outer leg toward the ground – my bottom is now upright and on full HD view (that’s why a Hollywood is essential).  Straightening takes a few moments.  The spasms between my shoulder blades threaten.  I momentarily freeze.  I feel it pass; I continue to straighten – yes – I’m upright – joy!

Squatting to retrieve my camera from my bag I wobble.  It’s not very lady like but I can’t bend over; I get dizzy and fall. Chart music vibrates from a large speaker, it floats into my ears and beats in my heart, I feel light and elevated; inside I’m dancing. I linger momentarily and embrace it. My hips sway gently. I yearn to dance but it’s difficult, my legs beat to their own drum now.

I reach for my cane; my fingers are stiff, it’s hard to grasp.  Walking slowly toward the pool, I consider each step, it’s a slippery surface, I teeter then regain balance, yes…I’m on fire!  My gait is unusual. I see sunbathers speculatively watching me,

“What do you think is wrong with her?” they ask in hushed tones – on holiday with little to distract I’ve become the centre of attention – I’m a celebrity. Cool!

Sitting on the poolside, my legs dangle in the water; they are lean no longer – shame.

Paddy is racing across inflatable stepping stones.  He’s a whippet in neon orange shorts.  The way his body moves, its quick reflexes astonish me.  He’s on video, I rewind and watch, again and again – amazing!

Caitlan is so cheeky. She was out first round but no one noticed. Now she’s in the final of the ‘Spoon Diving Competition,’ with two bulky Belgiums wearing inappropriate shorts.  We all know only Daniel Craig does Speedos.

I watch her, she’s got a killer look, her toes just touch the edge of the pool and she’s leaning forward.    She has a glass hour figure, her legs are strong and tanned; her flamingo bikini is perfect; feminine but modest.   She glances at me and I give her the thumbs up; she’s already a winner. I love her so much I can barely breath.

Tinker assists me back to the sun bed.  He covers me in sun screen. I lay stiff; an embalmed mummy unable to alter position. Earplugs in I loose myself in music.  In my head, I’m the old me, I feels so real I’m nearly tangible.

My music library travels from my ipod, through the pink wire, into the ear piece and suddenly I’m gracefully leaping from one inflatable step to another. Paddy is behind me but I’m too fast, I stick my tongue out at him and laugh.  From the last inflatable I leap for the sky and plunge into the water; sick!

Latin, Maroon 5 and Euro pop vibrate through my ears and I’m plunging to the bottom of the pool, waiting for the water to settle.  Where is that spoon? Where is it?   My heart is racing and I’m struggling to breath.  The Spoon! My lungs are bursting but excitement oxygenates me and  I swim toward it and grasp it tight to my chest.  I power up to the surface, the spoon in my hand, the animation team clapping, my husband chanting,

“Go Al, Go Al.”

Our room in spacious with two sets of twin beds divided by a lattice partition.  We take turns in the bathroom getting ready for dinner.  I sit on the wall of our patio; the kids intermittently appear with a snippet of information about endangered animals (satellite T.V.). I close my eyes and look toward the sun; I’m a solar panel. Walking from the pool to our room was challenging; I’m weary, I need to recharge. I look at my medication: Pregabalin, Amitriptyline, Tramadol, Naproxen; my hand trembles slightly; I’m a pill popper but a pretty one. I’m wearing a green emerald dress that cups my breasts, comes in at the waste and floats round my legs.  My skin is golden.  I look a picture of health.

It’s still hot; we walk together toward the restaurant.  I’m slow; it’s ironic that the hotel gardens are home to tortoise.  I watch tortoise move, each step he takes is laboured. The weight of his shell is oppressive.  ‘Forest Gump’ comes to mind.  The impulse to drop my cane, pull my arm from Tink’s and run till my chest hurts and my throat burns strikes from nowhere but I swallow it, my throat coarsely dry. I move closer to Tink and I silence the voice, “Run Alison, run!”

Dinner is always a success.  The food is delicious and the variety wide.  I absolutely love all-inclusive. I sit at the table and Patrick places a dinner plate in front of me with tasty morsels from seven continents – of course noodles go with chicken tikka!  I look at my son who thinks of me before himself and I feel joy.

Getting food from plate to mouth is taxing.  I’m grinning because my meatball has just rolled across our table and onto the floor; oops! I look at Kitty, she spotted my misdemeanor and we share a secret smile.

Laying motionless in bed, Tink asleep long before, I feel sad. I endeavour to reject the emotion but it seeps into my thoughts and my state of being.  Tomorrow we go home.  We say goodbye to adventure, to a hot, burning sun, to soft golden sand, to pool games and teenage romance.  I say goodbye to me.

Me Without You

I can’t pretend to know anything about writing.  Although I have written a book myself, it isn’t a product of technique .  My daughter asked me what the story’s motif was? Dur? I don’t know Kitty.  The word ‘organic’ is so overused that I hesitate to include it in my description but it was a natural creation. Although it’s a work of fiction to me it feels very personal; I reread extracts of it and I see myself and my daughters. I think that’s why it’s so hard to write a good book because what is personal to the writer somehow needs to be very personal to the reader.

When I picked up Me Without You and read the blurb I hesitated then put it back on the shelf.  I picked it up again and read the first few pages; I was tempted, I liked the feel of it but I replaced it. Did I really want to read about a disabled person at a point in time when I was once again wheelchair bound? I didn’t think so.

A few weeks later I was house bound, sleeping in a hospital bed in the front room unable to climb the stairs.  My husband hammered small wooden slats between tree branches and covered them in breadcrumbs to attract the birds. Heavily dosed up on prescription drugs I would spend my days drifting in and out of sleep, watching my birds and my friend squirrel.  The kids would come home from school sit in bed with me and recount the day’s events.

Gertrude came home from uni to see me before my operation and in her rucksack was ‘Me Before you’. I do believe that my children and I have this mind connection.

My arms were too weak to hold the book so my husband made a contraption that brought the text to eye level whilst resting on my lap.  I would attach one page at a time to it so that it wasn’t too heavy. We called it a ‘swindle’. Get it? Kindle, swindle.  Well, it made us laugh.

It was a roller coaster of a read.  Louisa, reminded me so much of my daughters and it made me question did I ever undervalue or underestimate them.  The relationship she forms with Will is so genuine and full of hope that it’s hard to contemplate Will’s plan to end his life.

Will, knows himself, he clearly understands what he needs to feel his life has value.  Existing is not living.  He has no wife or children so his conscience isn’t weighted down by responsibility or emotion. Those that argue against the right to die should withhold their opinion unless personally faced with quadriplegia.  We are all unique; no one could possibly know whether a person’s choice to end their life is the right or wrong decision.

I’ve had bleak times and dark thoughts.  It’s hard to see your life disassembling and feel your body rejecting you.  Unlike Will my deterioration is progressive; time is enabling me to adapt and live my life a different way.  I’m older, married, I’ve had my children and discovered that writing is a form of pain relief.  Will, who I so wanted to live, made a decision. Was it right? Yes…it was right for Will.

I rarely cry but so many times I had to stop reading this novel because my glands hurt and my throat constricted and I felt so much of Will’s frustration and pain; then the next chapter I’d be laughing.

Thinking of how I may deteriorate in front of my family and the impact that could have on their memories of me is painful.  When you reach a point where in your mind you cease to be you; that would be difficult to live with.

There is no right or wrong, there is an individual faced with a dilemma; this person is unique, we have no idea what’s going on in their mind.  Illness, disability is lonely.  No matter how much someone is loved and supported they will have a threshold as to how much they can bare.

If we’re honest most of us can’t wait in a queue, we go frantic when caught in heavy traffic and are confined to our car, we would turn on one another if we were trapped in a lift for a day. Me Without You although funny and romantic authentically relates the reality of quadriplegia and the questions you ask yourself when you know you can’t get better.

Be happy. T.

EXPENSES

I apologise.  When I come across an issue that I think is unfair I find it hard to let go.  I’m not into politics which probably makes me a little ignorant but it’s a fact. My children however do understand politics and we all agree that EXPENSES is a particularly contentious .subject then I came across this article written by Val McDermid,

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/01/why-crime-fiction-is-leftwing-and-thrillers-are-rightwing

I like Val.  I’ve never gotten over Wire in the Blood; it’s like you can’t forget your first love. Then she appeared on Pointless; I love Pointless and she’s a big fan of P.D. James. I realise I’m gushing and my writing is a stream of words tumbling down a hilltop. If I had to choose two people to be stuck in a lift with it would be Adam Levine (he could sing to pass the time away) and Val because me and Adam could sit in a circle and she could weave a dark, macabre tale. Lovely.

A member of parliament gets a generous salary.  Yes the hours are long but so are doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, teachers; the list is very long. There’s no longer an easy job.

Politicians need to look smart; I think that applies to most jobs; if you don’t have to be smartly dressed then you need to be trendy and that’s as costly if not more expensive.

They might have to travel a long distance from their home to their constituency; any one who works in London but doesn’t reside in London has to travel.

Austerity, we are all in it together, b_ll_cks!

Buy your own clothes, pay your own travel expenses. Window cleaning, house cleaners, gardeners, second homes, are not expenses they are luxuries.   Whatever party you’re in stop fiddling expenses.

If you have to fly to another country as part of your job then that is an expense.

If you have to stay at a hotel because it is physically impossible to travel home then that is an expense but it should be reasonably priced.

If you use your car to travel to a work related destinations then reimbursement of  petrol is valid,

Lunch is not an expense unless you have to legitimately entertain a visitor.

Politicians should set an example, we should look up to them, our children should aspire to be them.  If Miliband wants my trust, my vote, I need to know that he is not claiming flouncy expenses inappropriately and by inappropriate I don’t mean what he is legally allowed to claim I mean what is fair to claim.  Dry cleaning, clothes, working lunches it has got to stop. It’s not their money.  They are entrusted to look after public money not wine and dine on it, top up petrol tanks and catch cabs.  The expenses rule book needs to be rewritten and expenses must have detailed receipts.  If I had my way it would be a working spreadsheet open for the public to view so we could see how many bottles of wine have been downed and if starters and dessert are included. The amount of times I’ve told my kids ‘sorry, our budget doesn’t stretch to dessert, or, we can’t afford to take our Irish visitors out we’ll have to do a homemade buffet.  In our house if you don’t have a coupon you wait till Christmas (slight exaggeration).

I’m not envious of rich people, good luck to Cameron if he’s minted.  Why shouldn’t he holiday and enjoy himself with his family if he can afford to. He can’t stop living because people are homeless.  If I had a little extra I’d go on an all-inclusive to Turkey and not feel guilty.  The principal is spend your personal income that you have earned or are entitled to from the state however you see fit but don’t skim off the top.  Think about it, if the ordinary working person, struggling to make ends meat can’t claim, then a upwardly mobile MP certainly shouldn’t.

I’ve been watching Suits about an American law firm. To become a partner a lawyer has to be invited and then make a considerable financial contribution to the company’s funds to show they are committed.  If anything MPs should be making a donation to their own party to support it.  Maybe this already happens?  I don’t know.  What I do know though is what is right and wrong and at this point in time my biggest concern is that the people we have elected to govern our country can’t differentiate.

George Monbiot’s article ‘Wealth creators are robbing our most productive people’, in yesterday’s Guardian really struck a cord. He talks about his peers and how good their intentions were originally to make the world a better place but instead of following their dreams they became seduced by large salaries and perks.  He describes how ‘they soon adjusted their morality to their circumstances.’  I think this is what’s happening to our politicians; sure they start off trying to save the world but once they come to terms with the enormity of the challenge and realise it’s easier to blame the opposition than actually resolve problems, they comfort themselves with a slap up lunch paid by us.

If Miliband were elected, once he got comfy in number 10 how do we know Mrs Miliband won’t feel the need to update the kitchen? How do we know he won’t have a moving in party but he doesn’t buy his own campaign. How quickly will the stresses of work and long hours convince him that he’s entitled and deserving because his job is so important?

I want to elect a party who don’t bang on repeatedly about how everything is the opposition’s fault. If one of my children repeatedly blamed the kid he dislikes in school for things not panning out I’d know I’ve gone wrong as a parent.  It’s a spoilt kid thing, it’s embarrassing. Forget what’s happened historically, work on the here and now and learn from past mistakes be they yours or someone else’s; blame is a waste of time and energy and you shouldn’t get paid for being a waster.

Politicians should accept that the house they live in is their home, their responsibility, not the taxpayers. Try to get to and from work independently. Carers currently pay for the petrol they use getting from one vulnerable person to the next, they are on minimum wage.  It’s scandalous that politicians dip into public funds while carers are worn to the bone.

Val McDermid’s Tony Hill would be a more morally responsible leader than the choices the electorate is currently faced with. How do you vote when you don’t trust any of the runners? I am perplexed.  I miss Gordon Brown, I don’t know what mistakes he made but I trusted him, I felt his heart was in the right place. We need a leader with a big conscience and a firm hand.  A leader who pays for his lunch out of his own pocket.

Be happy. T.

Sorry

image sorry

Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar is a cracker of a thriller. It’s not only an original concept, an agency that delivers apologies on behalf of others, but its sudden shifts between tense and perspective keeps you on your toes. The writer has thrown the rule book out which I like, he has not been constrained by continuity or consistency. This deviation from the norm increases the sense that anything could happen and it does. It’s the  first book I’ve read in a long time that feels alive in my hands.

The characters are a mixed bunch; young, old, male, female, good, evil. Many reviews I’ve read describe the killer as sadistic; but he isn’t, certainly not in true Val McDermid form.

I don’t want to give too much away (as many of the book reviews do!) so I’ll say this; the body count will sufficiently satisfy those readers who love a serial killer, the real tragedy unfolds subtly like a Jodi Picoult novel and the tension rivals NicciFrench at their best.

‘Surprise, shocks and thrills,’ is how the Sunday Express describe Sorry. ‘As dark a novel as I’ve read in years,’ states The Times.  I agree, yet this book is more; it’s a tale of love and loss, of innocence and the danger of silence but mainly the power of friendship.

The ending, well obviously I’ll keep that to myself.  However it made me consider the novel I’d just read ‘The Liar’s Chair’ by Rebecca Whitney. Rebecca skillfully crafted her ending; it satisfied me, in fact if a sequel were written I’d buy it because I felt her characters and the plot have the potential to make a great read.  Regarding Sorry’s finale I would have liked the opportunity to have spent a little more time with the remaining characters; I wasn’t dissatisfied I just felt that there was a little more mileage left for the reader to cruise with.

Now that ‘Sorry’ has returned to my bookshelf ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ sits on my coffee table, beckoning to me. Downloading books is truly amazing but there is nothing like holding a book. Seeing the cover