A Mothers Plea

Monday the 15th of January 2007 is a day that will haunt me forever. This was the day when Nick and I were told that our 3 week old son was almost at the brink of death. This was the day when we were all transported from York to Leeds General Infirmary to face the worst time of our lives. Nothing on earth could have prepared us for the trauma that followed.

Four years later as I sit watching that same little boy tuck into his ice cream my joy is tinged with a great sadness. The Government is proposing to close children’s Cardiac Units such as the one at Leeds General infirmary, to force distraught families and critically ill children to travel further for treatment. They are putting these fragile lives at further risk and cranking up the pressure on their already overstressed parents. Why?

Alex’s heart was ‘broken’. He was lucky to have access, FAST access, to a team of dedicated staff and surgeons who fixed him. So why is the Government trying to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken?

Look carefully at this picture

What do you see?

I couldn’t look at this picture for a long time but, now that lives are being put at risk, it’s significance hits me.

Longer distances mean longer transfer times and a higher risk that, for some children, will make all the difference between life and death. It doesn’t take a genius to work it out.

This picture is Alex, post-op, hooked in the Special Care Baby Unit and his picture is full of Hope. Because he made it to the hospital in time. Had he not, then this picture would never have existed.

And what Hope is there in a headstone?

read more on Alex’s story here http://tinyurl.com/37njyo4

sign the petition to save children’s Cardiac Surgery here
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/6/help-to-save-ward-10-childrens-cardiac-lgi/

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I picked up the ‘wrong’ magazine.

Christmas seems long past now. In some respects my Christmas was a frugal affair. I couldn’t even afford a tree and had a budget of £50 for gifts. However, waking up with 4 of my 6 strong brood  on Christmas day was priceless.

I decided that, like many people, I would begin to squirrel away gifts throughout the year ready for the 2011 festivities. So when I spied on a magazine cover ‘Free Elizabeth Arden fragrance worth £12’ I did my sums. Given the price of the magazine plus postage and packing I felt that £4.35 is a reasonable price for a potential gift.

I have never bought Yours Magazine before and was a little embarrassed to discover that it is aimed at women of a (ahem) certain age. Granted, at 42 I’m past the stage where I care about which celebrity has had botox or that the latest fashion trend is orange striped denim (modelled by a 15-year-old anorexic).  However as I flicked past the ads for stairlifts and continental wigs I was pleasantly surprised to find  some real gems.

There’s something quite reassuring when you see familiar celeb faces. I have always been a  fan of Dawn French, Pauline Quirke and Lynda Bellingham and it’s like greeting old friends. But what really made me sit up and take notice were the writing opportunities.

Their letters page is called Meeting Place where you can share funny stories, let off steam. pass on tips or even share a picture you’re proud of and you could bag yourself a £10 High St voucher or £25 for a Star letter. Plus they are looking for Seasonal Poems for their annual compendium. Useful if you have a little poem that needs a home.

They also publish a short story in every issue. I’m not sure if they are taking submissions for these as of yet but it may well be worth making enquiries. The financial rewards may be small but the opportunity to flex those writing muscles and possibly be published in a fortnightly magazine is a very attractive proposition.

For all you compers out there are no less than seven competitions including a late winter break and an overnight stay at a spa (ooh, yes please). Plus a potential £100 prize if you find Sammy The Squirrel (I’m still looking).

Opportunities are everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t normally expect. My initial ‘Uh, oh’ when I started to read Yours quickly turned into an ‘AHA’. It just goes to prove that you should never be afraid to try something different even if it’s as simple as picking up a new magazine.

You can follow Yours magazine on Twitter @yoursmagazine or visit www.yours.co.uk

You did what???

I received a link from the lovely Nick Daws, author of numerous books, short stories and courses (including Write Any Book In Under 28 Days!). Well worth a visit http://www.mywritingblog.com/

The link concerns a current competition being run by Candis Magazine to win a 12 month writing contract. The main requirement for this position is the ability to  ‘craft your day-to-day life into sparkling prose’. Even more incentive for me is that this is a paying gig. So I duly sent off my details and the required information. Here’s the link http://www.candis.co.uk/blogcomp2011?complete=1

Then the doubts started to creep in.

My regular readers are fully aware that I don’t lead what could be remotely termed as a conventional family life. I have three grown up children, two non-resident daughters and am the single parent of my youngest. It dawned on me that, should I be successful, I could be laying myself on the block. Do I really want to invite criticism and scorn to my door again?  For a woman who has spent the better part of four years hiding behind a false name, a blog and a Twitter account even the tiniest bit of exposure is daunting. Yet, in spite of the fear, I have done it.

Go me!!! 🙂

A Resourceful Girl

Polly loved doing nice things for her mum.

One sunny day she decided to skip to Bluebell Wood and collect some flowers. Sometime later she skipped through the living room, her arms full of blooms, and proceeded to look for her mums favourite vase. But she couldn’t find it so, being a resourceful little girl, she began to arrange her collection in various cups and jars and placed them around the house.

Then Polly ran up the stairs and wriggled under her bed to retrieve a box of Maltesers. Even through the cardboard she could smell the yummy chocolate. Mummy would love these too. She wiped her runny nose on the sleeve of her cardigan, inspected her mud caked shoes and waited on the sofa for a while.

It was only then that she remembered, She hadn’t put the flowers in water. A little frown passed over her freckled face but, being a resourceful little girl, she lifted the kettle and proceeded to fill all the jars and cups dotted around the room, splishing and sploshing as she went. Once again, Polly sat and waited for Mummy to arrive.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

The box of honeycombed chocolate beckoned from the mantelpiece. Perhaps if she tried one, just to make sure that Mummy would like them.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The taste of chocolate rolled around her little mouth. Polly was a little alarmed to see that the box was now half empty but, being a resourceful girl she reasoned that, if she spread the rest out, no one would ever know.

Finally she heard the creak of the front gate, the squeak of the babies pram and the clomp of her Mummys’ shoes.

Helen stood rigid, mouth agape. Muddy little footprints darted here and there across the carpet. Every surface was covered in various receptacles filled with sickly looking weeds. Water dripped everywhere. She turned to her daughter who beamed at her through a muddy, snot caked face. Around Polly’s mouth were smears of chocolate and she excitedly offered up her half empty, slightly melted gift.

In her best six-year-old voice, Polly stood up and proudly proclaimed…… ‘Happy Mothers Day’!!!!

Did I write this??? Shoot me now.

I decided to have a bit of fun with the Write Or Die application ( http://writeordie.com/ ) . The result is this *ahem* interesting specimen. Don’t let it put you off trying it though.

 I have 48 minutes to write 1000 words or this damned application is going to delete everything I put. This may or may not be a bad thing depending on how boring this all turns out to be. I’ll let you decide on that. Now I just have to dig deep into my addled brain and come up with a literary gem. Oh, and I must remember to stop going back and editing my work as I can do that later. It’s not as if the Grammar Police are watching me is it?

Right, onwards and upwards, first of all I’d like to say…..I haven’t a frigging clue so let’s start at the very beginning (aka Mary Poppins).

Once upon a time in a city called Jorvik, (well it’s York really but Jorvik sounds more fairytale), there lived a non princess called Kate who had found her Prince Charmings 1, 2 and 3. They didn’t actually turn out to be Prince Charmings, (more like frogs in differing stages of metamorphosis), so, being a resourceful gal, she decided to try a dating site. (Did I say resourceful? Sorry I meant deluded). Anyway, she met a really nice bloke who gave her lots of little presents and knew a lot about paint but then he turned out to have rebound issues. In her desperation Kate decided that she would stop all this relationship nonsense and concentrate on her writing skills. Well, when I say ‘skills’ I do use the term very loosely.

And I forgot to mention that she had 6 children. Quite possibly the only thing she ever did get right (or wrong whichever way you look at it). Anyway, said children were a great source of joy. They were exhausting, could be stroppy and cost a bloody fortune, but a joy nonetheless. So Kate decided to stop being a princess and become the ‘not so old woman who lived in a shoe’. Well a 3 bed house in South Bank really but this is fiction. Oh, and did I mention she decided to become a writer too.? Oh yes…I did didn’t I.

Well the moral of the story is if you want to be permanently skint, have carpal tunnel syndrome and alcohol issues best become a writer, have lots of kids and date feckless men.

How many words have I done so far? Will have a quick look before this application gets evil. OMG 400 words. Not even halfway there. Think Kate, think quickly cos this is getting dire.

Anyway, once upon a time there was the sound of screaming downstairs. DD2 & DD3 were having a right strop at each other. Now Kate had two choices. Either run down there, bang their heads together and risk the wrath of social services or ignore it and let the little sods…err I mean darlings tear lumps out of each other and carry on typing. She decided to grit her teeth and carry on. Unfortunately DD3 came up with her mega whiney voice declaring that her sister had tried to snap her ankle and also that she was extremely hungry….again. Now Kate decided, with good motherly grace, to ignore child (as you do) and send her downstairs for ‘5 minutes’ which as we all know is parent speak for ‘get out of my face and I’ll come down when I can be bothered’.

Hmmm….maybe this piece is a bit TOO truthful although I’m sure that there will be some parents out there that can relate. Those that aren’t phoning social services right now I mean.

Okay I’ve managed to scrape 600 words out of this exercise so far. And when I say ‘scrape’ I mean ‘bottom of the barrel’ scrape. Blah Blah Blah. For my final 400 words I devote them entirely to amusing observations and witty banter. Oh god….I stopped a little too long then and the screen went red.

Once upon a time there was a handsome Prince called John Simm. Unfortunately John Simm lived in Actor Land, a place where you weren’t allowed unless you were a) talented b) beautiful and c) didn’t have 6 kids, nits and a broad Yorkshire accent. Bad news for Kate then. This Prince is not to be confused with the other Prince John whose surname is Prescott and whom no right-minded princess would ever want to kiss. Although he certainly would look much better as a frog.

I now have a massive headache, a neglected brood and 24 minutes in which to eke out another 300+ words in the riveting saga of words. What the hell goes on in my head is anyones guess. Psychologists would have a field day…cows would just have a field. ‘groan’ There goes my one shot at being humorous.Not sure where that last paragraph was going. O yes….I remember now…straight in the bin. Along with the rest of this drivel.

I’m supposed to be writing erotica but I’m not really in the mood. I’m still in my PJs, my breath stinks & I look like Alice Cooper. Hardly the stuff dreams are made of. Plus, I have the wrong attitude. I’m always focusing on the crap in my life. Errrrr….hang on……that’s because there’s a lot of crap in my life. Oh no there isn’t. Oh yes there is. (You can tell it’s Panto season can’t you)??? Anyway (I say that a lot don’t I)? That’s it…I can’t do this any more. If I wasn’t so skint I’d go get drunk. Not sure why but I suppose it’s something to do. I might even meet my Prince Charming seeing as most blokes look like Prince Charming after a couple of bottles of cheap Merlot.

Hooray…..only 50 more words to go and I can cease from this self-inflicted torture. I only started this to warm up the little grey cells but now I’ m bloody exhausted, hungry and I need a pee. The girls are quiet though. Maybe they’ve strangled each other. Oh, where is John Simm when you need him???

 

Not A Very Festive Ramble Regarding Cheap Bread And Procrastination

Like many others I have decided that a new direction is in order for 2011. I wont dwell on the travesty of a year that was 2010. The past is the past and requires no post-mortem. It’s the future that deserves my undivided attention now. The following may read like a list of well-worn clichés however I make no apologies. They are relevant to me at this juncture.

I am a writer, I am a writer, I AM A WRITER!!! Fear and procrastination be damned, write every day. There are excellent resources out there. USE THEM!!!

http://writeordie.com/

http://www.writelink.co.uk/community/

http://sixminutestory.com/

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/

Just a tiny selection of all the resources you could want (I’ll be adding more along the way).

Secondly, (is that a word???), sod the housework. As long as there’s always a clean cup for coffee and a selection of tinned products for the kids you’ll be fine. As for personal grooming, take a few tips from a seasoned writing professional here

 http://alisonwells.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/10-recession-beating-personal-grooming-tips-for-writers/

If, like me, you have found yourself at the mercy of the welfare state then your finances may be the stuff of nightmares. This can unleash an unending supply of procrastination excuses but, fear not, there are resources for that too. My shopping list usually comprises of cheap coffee, cheap bread, cheap milk, cheap….well you get the drift. Check these links out for starters (and main course, and pudding).

 http://rebeccawoodhead.blogspot.com/2009/03/recession-expression-guide-to-writing.html

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

My final bit of advice is get on the competition trail. Done properly this can be a good source of extra income. OK, I’m not promising millions of pounds here and some prizes are bizarre. However, it’s a nice feeling when the postman delivers you a package (even if it is another eyeliner). I recently won a voucher for a free litre of milk which, in my case, was useful, but I’ve also won various electronic gadgets that have bagged me a few hundred pounds on eBay.

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/forumdisplay.php?f=72

http://www.loquax.co.uk/

http://www.ukcompetitions.com/

Some of these links may prove useful (they have to me). Or they may not be useful yet lead you to other links that are useful……(oh do shut up Kate).

Anyway, have a great 2011 whatever your aspirations be and feel free to leave me any comments or links that you see fit. Unless they’re for Viagra or dating sites….. or selling me a timeshare in Bognor Regis.

TTFN

Kate XXX

Confession of a Literary Fraud

Whenever I try to write, the words rushing around my head never seem to translate onto the paper as I’d like them to. My ‘true voice’ is drowned out by the incessant chatter of a million excuses. Every day is a constant battle just to do the basics. I live in my dressing gown barely seeing the world outside these walls, just tweeting and  face booking, reaching out into a virtual world with my false persona. I call myself a writer, what a joke. Weeks melt into incomprehensible blobs of time and not a coherent word has been written. Projects begun only to fizzle out with alarming speed, strangled at birth by the malignant tumours of procrastination and fear.

I delude myself with the promise that things will improve just as soon as I can get my psoriasis under control, or my home furnishings in place or even as soon as my erratic love life reaches some sense of normality. But, deep down, I know that is bullshit, lies that I feed myself so I can save myself from facing the truth. I’m not a writer, the spark has gone. That once genetically programmed ability to ‘zone out’ , to lose myself in the throes of wild imagination has disappeared into the ether.

How I envy others whom, amid chaos greater than my own, seemingly churn out ream after ream of brilliance. How would they feel if they knew that my heart sinks when I read their blogs and their flash fiction? How I envy their dedication to their craft, a craft that I lost in the frenzy of a rollercoaster existence. They know themselves whilst I can only seek, and fail, to reinvent myself over and over again. What shall I be today? A poet? An erotic siren? A comedienne? I can be any of these things in just one tweet but, when I switch off, I go back to being nothing, an unremarkable greyness clinging on the fringes of life.

The night means nothing to me. It is, as the day, just hours ticking away and when I finally climb the stairs, weary in body and soul, it is just a prelude to an equally weary descent.

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