Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Novelist in the Making

As of a few days ago my debut novel, ‘Choo or Faux’, is available on Amazon’s Kindle bookstore and I have to admit I’m really rather excited. Since adding “mummy” to my repertoire, my writerly self has been somewhat sequestered to the back seat. Learning to juggle nappy changes and breastfeeding with my editorial yearnings, proved tougher than I had anticipated. Struggling in the first few weeks to prioritise activities on the rare and opportune occasion that we were without visitors and the baby was asleep, writing was low on the list behind sleep and reading. In fact anything that warranted even an ounce of energy was abandoned as I desperately attempted to claw back the sleep that had been replaced with feeding, changing and winding. I soon discovered – with the help of WordPress for iPhone – that I could at least write my blog but anything more than that evaded me. But 17 weeks into mummyhood I realise that it is easy to get lost in those adorable giggles, beautiful blue eyes and seemingly endless supply of baby-centric activities on offer to us. Before I know it, my baby will be attending school… and I don’t even want to think beyond that, but the point is that please g-d she will have her own life, her own dreams, goals and ideas. And what of mine – I must remind myself not to lose sight of what is important to me – and while the most important is of course my family, my dreams are not far behind.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Pregnant Woman takes to the Stage

video

For your listening pleasure... at almost eight months pregnant I took to the stage on Sunday night at Hammersmith's Regal Rooms to perform the Bob Dylan, and more recently, Adele classic: 'Make you Feel my Love'.

Dedicating it to my baby, I belted out the beautiful melody, meaning every single word as I pledged to go to the ends of the earth to prove my love for my impending arrival! Battling the usual nerves, along with a couple of Braxton Hicks and an ever-shrinking lung capacity thanks to my little bubs growing bigger by the day (it seems), I followed my ballad up with a rendition of Florence & the Machine's 'You've Got the Love'.



Actual video footage will hopefully be available in the new year but for now I leave you with this sensory morsel to whet your appetite. I hope you like...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Colour is Only Skin Deep


Lauded by all who have read it, including my mother, I felt sure The Help wouldn’t be as good as everyone insisted… how wrong I was. Though it took me a few pages to get into the narrative, as the plot seemed thin at the start, it wasn’t long before I had become immersed in the lives of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter; the three women whose stories direct the novel.

Based partly on Kathryn Stockett’s own experiences of growing up with a coloured maid in 1960s Mississippi, the story introduces us to the good, the bad and the downright ugly of racial divides at this time. As ambitious writer, Skeeter Phelan, sets about making a change through the words she crafts on her typewriter assisted by the maids of Jackson, this unlikely alliance comes up against the inevitable backlash from those who live by the rules of white supremacy, chiefly Miss Hilly Holbrook. Advocating a sanitation initiative to sequester the coloured help to their own bathrooms outside the white homes they work in, and directing the state of play among her white society ladies; Miss Hilly is the ultimate villain.


Skeeter, managing to overcome the prejudice held by the majority of coloured maids for their white mistresses, strikes up a deep friendship with the women who bravely share their experiences with her, in particular Aibileen and Minny. Working together in secret to compile a novel that if published will undoubtedly ruffle more than a few feathers, and even result in punishment should the maids’ employees discover they are the inspiration behind the words; we, the readers, are drawn into a world where white children are raised by coloured maids, where marriage is the only acceptable pastime for a college graduate and where true kindness exists if you are willing to accept it.

What this story shows, when you bury beneath the layer of white versus black, is how people can surprise you with their goodness and how, against the odds, fate has a way of rewarding the good and making the bad pay. The strength and tolerance of the maids is inspiring, as is the determination and sacrifice of Skeeter; each woman places herself on the line for the greater good of telling the truth, risking friends, lovers, and most of all, their lives.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

What's in a name...

So, the big news of the week – aside from the inimitable phone hacking scandal – the Beckhams’ baby; but more controversially, the Beckhams’ baby’s name.

Listening to heart FM yesterday morning while going about my usual morning routine, my ears pricked up a notch at the mention that the former Posh Spice had given birth to her fourth child. However, enthusiasm turned to confusion as I attempted to decipher whether I had heard correctly that David and Victoria had labeled their bundle of joy ‘Half a Seven’. WTF!?

I looked at my husband with one eyebrow raised and asked whether I was just half asleep or whether Jamie and Harriet really had just announced that the new addition was called Harper Seven Beckham.

The continuing ridiculousness of celebrity baby names I feel has reached a crescendo at this point, as fruit and town names are trumped by numbers. We’ve had Apple (spawn of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), Sage Moonblood (spawn of Sty Stallone), Jermajesty (spawn of Jermaine Jackson) and the most unfortunately named Audio Science (spawn of little known actress Shannyn Sossamon – she of Forty Days & Forty Nights opposite his gorgeousness, Josh Hartnett). All equally bizarre and all screaming of the inane pretension that accompanies the rich and famous. Just because you’re in movies/in a band/have more money than sense does not qualify you to subject your child to simple stupidity that speaks more of love for your ego than your love for your offspring.

Obviously little Harper Beckham has become a human shrine to her father’s glorious years as number seven in the Manchester United line up, though whether she will ever see the benefit in this is anyone’s guess. I imagine the overwhelming supply of Hermes handbags and mummy’s own brand collection will soften the blow somewhat.

But it really does beggar belief that she and her peers, Moon Unit, Blanket and Pilot Inspektor must go through life (until they reach the requisite age to legally change their ridiculous titles) with the named proof that their parents are beyond mental sense and reason. I’m all for uniqueness and indivuality, but come on people, there are limits.

And I believe we reached it seven minutes ago…

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

This is life...


Life-changing events can be hard to take,
Especially when they signal the make or break.

Navigating tension, anxiety and fears,
Attempts to make light of it turn into tears.

Trying to be strong as things threaten to unravel,
Tip-toeing carefully across molten gravel.

Not knowing when to talk or just not breathe a word,
But afraid of the consequences if you are not heard.

Life throws many obstacles across the paths we walk,
The good, the bad, chiding us to meander along their fork.

But ultimately things have a habit of working out on their own,
And it’s irrelevant whether you greet them with a smile or with a groan.

Following the notion that things happen for a reason,
That days will pass and year on year life moves with the seasons.

It becomes that much easier to stand aside and enjoy what is in store,
And then you’ll find undoubtedly that you’ll enjoy it that much more.

Stress and worry may appear but it’s better to lay them aside,
Positivity and strength make anything possible; it’s easy when you try.

In the face of other’s doubts, look at what could actually be,
Because then, in the end, you’re likely to spend your life happily.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Game, Set, Cake!!


Strawberries and cream, grass stains and Rafael Nadal (sorry, Andy Murray) – yes, it’s that’s fabulous time of year again. The time for pulling consecutive sickies to stay home and watch the top seeds serving up a sport-tastic treat on the BBC to the tune of Sue Barker’s customary curatorship; the time for reaffirming your patriotism in the blind hope that a British player might actually make it to the final; the time for kicking back with a pitcher of Pimms and watching the time-honoured summer tradition, Wimbledon.

And this year, to go with your usual refreshments, innovative bakery completelycakes.co.uk have a mouth-watering range of delights to see you through those nail-biting weeks. From tennis rackets to tennis whites, however you envision your sporty sweets the team at Completely Cakes will serve it up on a gleaming platter!!

Here are their top ten tips for surviving Wimbledon:

- Schedule time off work for those all-important matches you don’t want to miss

- Install Adobe Flash Player to get the most out of BBC iPlayer

- Accept that Murray, and any other British hopeful, will probably just scrape the quarters

- Stock up on sun-cream if planning a trip to Murray Mount/Henman Hill

- Similarly, stock up on Pimms and yummy treats to enhance your viewing pleasure

- Purchase a TV Times to keep up to date with match schedules

- Read up on the competition on the official Wimbledon site (www.wimbledon.com)

- Download the Wimbledon iPhone App to get the best of the event on the go

- Free up space on your TV recordings library – just in case you’re worried about missing any of the action

- Sink your teeth into a delicious cake/cupcake instead of your nails as you watch Murray fight it out for that all-important victory!!

To sample their tennis-inspired range, visit www.completelycakes.co.uk, and place your order now!! They are also taking orders on graduation goodies and of course treats for Father’s Day this Saturday 19 June…


Follow them at twitter/@completelycakes
Like them on facebook at facebook.com/completelycakes

Monday, 6 June 2011

More Sour than Sweet...


The adventures of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield were among my favourite stories during my pre-teen and teen years. Exchanging piles of books each weekend at Stanmore library to sate my voracious literary appetite and dining in on the loves, lies and sun-kissed lives of these Hollywood-standard beauties. So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I received my copy of Francine Pascal’s decade old tribute to her twin heroines, revisiting Sweet Valley High ten years on.

However, though it started well, evoking the OTT descriptions of the Wakefield beauty and the page-turning pace that kept me hooked during every other SVH tome; something started to jar this time. It wasn’t the lost love: the fabled romance between Elizabeth and former-basketball hero, Todd Wilkins had met its fate at the hands of Elizabeth’s ditzy, manipulative sister, Jessica. It wasn’t the split storytelling between Elizabeth’s rundown New York apartment and the sun-drenched Californian oasis in Sweet Valley. And it wasn’t the fact that our heroines seemed to have switched personalities in the ten years they have been absent from our bookshelves.

No, as I attempted to immerse myself in Pascal’s prose it dawned on me that the sparkle which had so attracted me to her tales all those years ago had been lost as she endeavoured to reignite the relationship she had with her heroines. They just weren’t there anymore. Their appearances may have been the same but the substance which made them who they were seemed to have disappeared and they could easily have been any blonde, blue-eyed heroine in any story. Their traits were magnified as though to remind their creator who she was writing about and there was more retrospective and back story than I could quite willingly take.

Jumping from third to first person depending on which era she was writing in, I found it fairly disjointed at best, and excessively boring at worst. It was not the Sweet Valley I remembered from my youth – the sugary-sweet tales of revenge, intrigue, friendship, romance and rivalry – it was a sad return to a much-loved film set that had long-since lost its allure and glamour, replaced now by a depressing reality.

Pascal ties up the ends of this anniversary issue in a pretty bow, making sure to end on smiles and happy endings – though a tad implausible and rather predictable – and includes a brief rundown of past characters in her epilogue. However, I sadly did not close the final page with the sense of satisfaction I had been hoping for, but then perhaps my expectations had been too high. After all, a lot can change in ten years, I guess I just thought the Wakefield twins, like so many of my literary heroes and heroines, would be forever entrenched within the pages of the stories I loved.

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