Thursday, 28 April 2016


Last night I had a dream about a person who tried very hard to ruin my life. 

In the dream we were friends as we used to be. Quite close, same sense of humour, both had sons the same age, who played together. She was an actress, and a very good one.
She toured, worked on stage, did imitations, her Victoria Wood was excellent, as she could also play the piano. All the time I knew her, she was involved in off stage dramas, also throughout that time, she would always "play away" from home. Sometimes with quite famous people that she used to boast about. 
"It means nothing - everybody does it."  she'd smile at me. "Michael Crawford does it all the time."   Now, I don't know whether that's true or not, because actresses can be very good liars.  I found that out later.

Life chuntered on as it does,with me behind the cameras on the studio floor, I actually won a Bafta for my camerawork, but couldn't afford to go to pick it up. It meant an overnight stay in London, an evening dress, the hairdresser, the reduced price seat at dinner (only £130!). Getting someone to look after my son overnight and looking for a plus one.  So my lovely producer picked it up for me, it's in a case somewhere in the Beeb.

I was a single mum who wore jeans and jumpers in the winter, and jeans and Hawaiian shirts in the summer. I paid a mortgage, I was paying for my son to go to public school, and all the other bills, it was hard going.  I was keeping alive by eating left over sandwiches from conferences, and friends buying me the odd Mars bar at lunchtime.

She was taken out to dinner, had a dull husband with a reasonable job, two boys at state school with "special needs". A rather rich set of parents who always refused to help her out
as although Father supported her treading the boards, Mother refused to acknowledge it was even a job. She would boast of her lover with the motorbike and her gay friend
who was very "lovey", whom her husband refused to let in the house in case he "turned" the boys.

Then it happened, well it happens to all of us. She got older, the offer of leads got less, she tried character parts. Was fairly successful, but hated it. She constantly auditioned for young female leads at the age of 40 something, refusing to believe that once she had the make up on, that she could be taken for a girl of 16, not a middle aged mother.

About that time I got together with my wonderful new hubby, we fitted like two parts of a puzzle that had been missing from the box. I was complete, I was happy, my work load seemed lighter, just because he was there.

We moved about with his job, I gave up camerawork to run my own successful seaside holiday cottage business. Cornwall was marvellous. But I digress.

When his job finished and we moved back to the Midlands, I met my actress friend for lunch a couple of times. She was now doing amdram. One day she called me to ask me to meet up with her at a cafe.  She told me she had met a man and fallen in love, he was THE ONE,
she said, he was younger than her, a passionate lover, she had packed her case and was going to go and live with him. She had met him in her latest production.

I tried to talk her out of it, her boys were coming up for GCSEs and her husband dull as
he was, would be devasted.  Just leaving - disappearing wasn't right.
"They'll be all right." She grinned at me, "Anyway, they're grown up now they don't need
me. Don't I have a right be happy like you? Don't you want me to be happy?"
"Of course I do," I answered, "but can't you talk to them?"
"No. I'm going."  She snarled. "Don't tell them."
"I won't."  I sat stunned.

Anyway, the new man's wife found out. He wasn't going anywhere. As a token of his "love"
he gave my friend a cufflink as a keepsake. I wondered how many times he'd done that.
When I saw her next she told me that she thought I'd told her husband. I insisted I hadn't.
He told me later that he found out by going though her phone, her lover's wife had done the same and called to tell her to keep away from her husband, and he answered.

So it was all out in the open.   But that day my life changed.  It started with nuisance calls
twelve or thirteen a day, with heavy breathing. With her waiting outside my house in her car 
when I came home from work, then sneering at me and driving off.  She refused to talk to me when I phoned her.

My dear husband phoned hers, trying to sort out the problem man to man.  But her husband told mine that I ought to be in a mental institution as I had early onset dementia, and he was
going tell everyone and make sure that happened.   I was terrified, so we phoned the police and my lawyer friend.  

The Police had heard it all before, told me it would die down just keep out of their way. These people usually find someone else to start on if we'd do that.  My Lawyer said get yourself tested, because you can't fight a battle without ammunition. So I did, my Doctor said it was obvious there was nothing wrong with me mentally. I even took a Mensa test and found out I have an IQ of 158 Genius class.

But they did not leave us alone, they phoned my work - who just laughed at them. My
husband's work who told them they didn't listen to randoms talking their staff down.
Even my own family, who were looking for nursing homes for me, and my son who they managed to turn completely against me, as he thought all this was my fault, even now he says I should "Get help".

Friends I had known for years crossed the road to avoid me. I was shouted at and abused.
She had somehow sewn her family back together tighter than ever, while pulling my family apart.  I had to move, not give my phone number, keep away from them, even though they still managed to find us, joining my hobby, trying to make me leave.  I didn't.

I heard another woman on the radio talking about the same thing that happened to her.
She called it MIND RAPE.  That's what is - makes you unsure of yourself, takes your confidence away, you are so aware that something might happen you can't rest. What I will never understand is why anyone believed her.   Then a true friend said quite casually,
"She's an actress, that's what she does."

It's been five years now, and I have written seven published books on Amazon and in paperback, have four more in production. Have become a public speaker on Women's Lives in the 17century. Have been on TV talking about the new Poldark. Raised £18K for Shelterbox relief work. Raised over £300 cooking and selling bakes for Movember. I have achieved, achieved, achieved. Despite being seriously ill two years ago, I was determined to carry on. I work for the National Trust as well as everything else.

So why that nightmare last night?   Joanne Harris's book.  The threads of horror and terror of the character's involved, the decent man, the innocent man  Dr Straitley, disbelieved, hounded, threatened, brought it all back in spades.

Well my tormentors did move on, like Spikely in Joanne's book, they got away with it, (sorry for the spoiler).They have had at least three further victims to my knowledge.

It has taken me five years and I am still re-building, the tetris of my life is not complete yet.
People still don't understand the barriers I put up, or how quick I am to defend myself.
I was beseiged. At war, and the peace has been a long time coming.



Sunday, 24 April 2016


 After attending the "Meet the Agent" lecture with Carole Blake at the Chiplit Festival. I now know that apparently I have been doing it all wrong.
I have a silly e.mail address, madmoll.
I called my e.mail after one of my heroines, "Mad Moll" Newcastle, who broke all the rules of the 17th Century by becoming a writer, marrying for love, and being the first female member of the Royal Society.
So I now I also have

I write different genres.
Also wrong - I love history - so I write what I know about and have researched.
I write Murder Mysteries set in a big country house. Again, I have worked in Upton House, Waddesdon Manor, and the BBC at TVC and BH, so have met a great variety of people and
use their characters and some of the settings in my books.  Trying to write again about what I know.

I have also written a short story about my now grown up son's imaginary friend. It's a story of childhood, loss and demeption, aimed at the 20s -30s Y generation. Called Bebber Nuggins and the Brandyfloss thief.  Wrong again.

I also had my husband design the book covers for me - which was again wrong. 
Even though he works for Abbadon books designing the Hawkwood and the Kings series.
I actually upset Carole over this, I showed her my book and she said the cover looked like a self published book because it was unprofessional.  So I told her my husband was a professional designer.

She's a tough lady, and my husband who was there, a man of few words, said you don't have to justify my work.  I ended up apologising to Carole as I had defended his work rather vociferiously.

So now I have done something else wrong - Carole said not to over explain things.  So I apologise for that.  
So I now understand why JK Rowling wrote her non Harry Potters under a pseudonym.
Why Charlotte Bronte did the same with her books.   
It's a bit like Cartier making baked beans, ok so they may be the best baked beans in the world, but that's not what Cartier is known for.
My husband said I shouldn't say too much, write too much, argue too much. 
That's not who I am, I'm a heart on my sleeve type of person, not quiet, taciturn and shy like him. I spent years hiding my light under a bushel, making others look good while holding myself back.  I've been there done that, and I'm NOT going to do that again.

Apparently Carole believes blogging is a good thing.  
Nice to know I'm doing something right.

Do I stop being who I am?  No, it's not going to happen.  I have a limited time on this Earth and I'm going to write what the hell I like.  I'm not M&S or a Brand of some kind.   I'm a person, an individual, and I've fought hard to get to this place.

No way am I going to be BEIGE!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Victoria Wood

So this morning I mourn a woman whom I have never met, but loved. We grew up together in the BBC. Victoria in front of the camera and me behind it.

Had her son about the same time as mine, she divorced about the same time as I did.
Worked to be recognised in her field as I did in mine.

Was always reliable for a laugh, and treated her audiences as friends. I can't believe that she's really gone. It's unfair.

In all the years I worked for the Beeb, I never once saw her - not even in the BBC canteen,
though I know she must have used it. Because she  did a very funny sketch of a TV presenter rushing to the front of the queue, (which they always did), and taking the last doughnut. Which in the sketch Victoria snatched back and licked!

It made everyone in the camera crews laugh, because these people rushing to be first in the canteen queue past us, because  "we're on set !!" didn't seem to realise they then had to wait for us to come and film them!

Victoria must have seen the irony in this and the way self-important people acted and turned it into fun with an edge. Much appreciated.

Victoria once said on one of her shows she would have loved to have been every woman in the world, and through her life and her sketches she was. "Dinnerladies" was a triumph, "Housewife 49" showed her true acting skills. Comic Relief took her to the ends of the Earth.
What will we do without you?

Well, what I'm going to do, is try and lighten up a bit, and live life. I've been so busy with my books and agents and promoting I've forgotten how good life can be, so Victoria I will try and have more fun in honour of you.

With much love my dear and rest in peace in that big Green Room in the sky.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Life the Universe and almost everything

I can't believe I haven't written anything for seven or so days. It's strange.

I went to Bath Spa with my friend, then spent the other days making our house ready for sale. Packing up, so that when the prospective buyers come, they see a show home devoid of any personal belongings.

My bungalow looks like a hotel suite of which I am now, quite proud.  We said we would only live here for 3years.  Every year we spent here, seems to have been worse than the previous one. I'll be glad to go.  We have both lost our health here.  

Oxfordshire doesn't suit us.

I have been in hospital here almost as many times as I have been out. Now my dear husband is ill.

I was told by a woman I met in the local shop that the land our bungalow was built on was a
miasma.The animals failed to thrive and nothing much grew. At the end of the garden are the remains of the rectory orchard.  So the land was sold for housing, as it was no good for farming.

Since we've been here, we have lost five neighbours. There was a time when I was wondering who would be next. There was a time when I was the only person living in this street during the day. But there are a few people, born and bred in the village that the miasma doesn't affect.

I need to go, we need to go. We already far away from our friends and family. So it doesn't matter where we go as long as Andy can get to work, and I can feel safe enough at home to write.

Just finished watching Neighbours and the funeral one of the characters, a young man called Josh.  Nearly two years ago, I attended the heartbreaking funeral of my best friend's son Danny.  There are no words to describe the pain.

So a down day, sitting in my beautiful home, wondering about life and death and the unfairness of it all, and my own son, who I love has today I have found, taken me
off every social media site that might give me access to see how he's doing.

He never smiles.  I have never seen a recent image that shows him smiling.

I dreamt the other night I was walking along the harbour in St Ives, it was raining and I could
feel the rain on my face. The jelly green sea was rough and breakers were hitting the beach, but I was pleased to be home. "Is this a dream? Am I really here?" I asked pleased, to the person standing beside me. I looked up and saw my son Matt - so tall - "No, it's not real." he said.

The penny dropped this morning, the two things I want the most, I will probably never have
again, my son, and to live in Cornwall again.

Hear that noise?  It's my heart breaking.


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Other peoples blogs

I have been reading other peoples blogs to see what they write and who they write about.

I write my blog as writing practice, to let off steam about things I feel strongly about, and to  promote my books.  I try to engage my readers, give them something to think about, and treat them as friends.

One of the best blogs I have read recently was called "Death Sandwich anyone?" written on the Anaphaxsis UK site. A young woman really hit on the head how difficult it is to live with multiple allergies and how she coped with everyday life.  She pointed out that even going to a nightclub was scary. She had to ask the bouncers who searched her bag if they had eaten peanuts because the dust could send her into shock.  At Uni a boy asked her up to his room for lunch and had made peanut butter sandwiches not knowing her well enough to know about her allergies.  On a plane to her holidays, her mother snatched a bag of peanuts from a man sitting next to the girl before he could open them, and virtually started a fight with the man who "didn't care" because allergies were not real.

Then you have the vacuous "look at me I'm so pretty" sites, of young women highly made up, usually with their arms above their heads. Which I think must signal some sort of sexual availability, as they all do it. They all look the same, and their writing, if you can call it that, is all about make up and skinnyness. They make me wonder why I bothered with feminisim and fought so hard to break the glass ceilings that women were held behind.

I read Robin Ellis's blog whom I vaguely knew from my BBC days. He writes of his books, the things that bother him, his cats, his wife, his life in France. Thats the nearest blog I've found to mine. 

I've still got my cold by the way, but hopefully it's on the way out now, sneezing lots so the cold thinks it's spreading it's germs ready to move on!  Heres a picture of my cat keeping me company in bed today.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Got a cold - hardly surprising if....

I spent the weekend in a freezing cold tin box in a field.  Strange tho' just came on last night.

Yesterday I had my hair cut and photos done while "salon fresh"  BC (before cold!)
Wrote my terms and conditions for the bookshops and finished my tweenties (teens&twenties) story, which was really painful and yet funny to write.
Was supposed to be at Waddesdon today, but it's always freezing cold, and it'll be full of half term kids that I really don't have the energy for.  So I'm in bed feeling sorry for myself.

Even the cats have abandoned me!  C'est ma vie!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Smelly Feet Soup!

Well, the big Bash get together pre-season warm up for our regiment went well over last weekend.  The weather during the day was sunny and almost warm, there was some training for the Pikemen and newbies, but most people just sat around and socialised.

I spoke to the stitch and bitch group, sewing away authentically.  A pile of old kit was in a heap on a table for sale, and one of our members was proudly showing his impressive water colours of various knotting events.

I had been in a fair amount of arthritus pain which was really annoying. My fingers had swollen up like fat sausages after kneading authentic Kentish Huffs (thanks Paul Hollywood!) so I couldn't sew.

I took my cooked wares into the kitchen of the village hall, and there was an all pervading smell of boiled or fried blokes' socks, a lovely mixture of cheese and sweat.  Apparently this was vegetable soup.

Now I've eaten real humble pie (deer's testicles), and it never smelt as bad as that soup. 

When I cook, fragrances of roast chicken, fresh bread, garlic and herbs, sweet cakes and biscuits fill the air. Cornish pasties, shepherds pie, champagne jellies, stand on my worktops
everything is home made and smells fresh and delicious. I have even made cheese soup with croutons, and none of it smells like a Rugby player's sock, to use a Shoreditch phrase "it right turned me up" - I was going to vomit - soon!

Everyone got dressed to impress and I have got to say we have the best dressed ladies of any regiment. The band played authentic folk music and the beer barrel taps were turned on.   The food was laid out ready on the buffet and it did look really impressive. 

It was a good evening, chatting and socialising, hubby drinking beer and trying various different foods, I watched the dancing, dads and lads, mums and girls, grans and gramps
whirled and swirled and do si doed across the floor in squares and lines, make a rope of men, women and children, hand in hand, under over, in out, like knitting with people.

I felt proud to be part of this regiment.  Four hundred years ago, before the English Civil War
ravaged it's way across the land, in barns across England lit by candles, people could have been doing the same dances,eating nearly the same food. Ladies would have made their own dresses as our ladies did, men would sit legs astride, drinking beer and laughing with each other talking over old times.

We know when we go and fight for a Sealed Knot event, on the day following the weekend we will be safely back at work showing off our bruises as a right of passage. Laughing about the adventures. I often think of the people whose lives we re-enact, who lived not knowing what tomorrow would bring.

As to the soup - people had it - and my cakes and huffs, and tasted all the other stuff cooked by everyone on offer. As I am still very allergic - I went back to my caravan and had a cup of tea and a slice of home-made bread and butter and came back to listen to the music.

It was raining and cold, and our caravan bed was hard as a rock. Painful to sleep on
with my arthritus. The next day the van had to be pulled and pushed out of the mud it was gently sinking in by members of the Kings Guard  - thank you so much - everyone.

So the second Knot of the Season got underway, a social, cold, wet, fun. You know you're on a Knot camp when in the early morning you see a young girl dressed as a penguin going to the bathroom!

So we forgot the mattress topper for the rock hard bed, someone else forgot their kettle,
another forgot to bring their sweaters, and we also forgot not to park the caravan on boggy
ground.  Live and learn - that's what these first Knots are all about - oh yes and having fun.