Blogging 101 Task 17 Worst Fear


In case this isn’t obvious I am trying to write this in the style of Jane Austen.

Esmeralda the eldest daughter of Mr Fitzpatrick Polkington of Hesmondwaite Manor in ****shire was by nature and upbringing a somewhat fearful girl. The absence of any brothers or sisters or male cousins no doubt contributed to this state of affairs. One of Esmeralda’s greatest fears was that of being alone and lost in some strange city where she had no friends to turn to for assistance.

Up to the age of eighteen her life had been passed in the quiet country around Hesmondwaite Manor and even an excursion to the nearest town let alone the bustling metropolis of Bath was viewed with trepidation. When an invitation arrived from her godmother, Lady Miranda, to spend a fortnight’s holiday at her London residence, Esmeralda turned pale.

“Papa, I can’t possibly go,” she quavered, “Pray make some polite excuse on my behalf. Say I have a bad attack of migraine or there is an outbreak of bubonic plague in the village.”

“Rubbish!” said her parent, “Of course you must go. How else can I expect to find an eligible man for you to marry? Besides, Lady Miranda is extremely wealthy and she had intimated to me – in strictest confidence – that you are the sole heir to her considerable fortune.”



Blogging 101 – Task 13 Serially Found


I ‘ve been writing ever since I was little. In fact since before I could write in the sense of holding a pen or pencil and making intelligible marks on paper. I used to make up stories and if I were lucky I’d get my kind auntie to write them out for me. I don’t know if she edited them at all. Probably not. It was only the two of us who ever read my works so a few errors or spelling or punctuation would hardly be important.

I scribbled stories and diaries throughout my childhood and adolescence and into adult life. Prompted by this set piece of work , I looked out one of my journals from 20+ years ago. Surprised at how much I was doing at that period. A part time job -one I really enjoyed with interesting and pleasant colleagues, a fair amount of writing for our local WI and the Arts Centre Newsletter, quite a bit of cycling too. I’ve got one journal entry where I am complaining that I want to ride in preference to walking to the end of the road and waiting for a bus. How different things were then!

As always I kept telling myself to write and keep on writing , at least a page a day etc…etc. and sent items off to competitions. What has changed? Very little!





Writing 101 Childhood Home


I am trying to write this using sentences of different lengths

     When I was 12 we lived over the shop. Literally. My parents had a baker’s shop and the upstairs rooms were our living room and bedrooms and bathroom. There were three of us in the family, mum, dad and me. But sometimes it seemed more like six; my paternal grandmother and my aunt lived only a short distance away with another old lady called Mary Ellen – usually known as Nellie. She was not a relative but had lived with my gran for a long time. Nellie worked as shop assistant in our bakers. As long as I can remember the three of them Gaga (my childish name for my auntie Margaret.) Nannie and Nellie were part of the family. They came to us for meals and before I started school I was taken to Nannie’s house every day where she looked after me while my mum was working.

        By today’s standards our little flat above the shop would be considered cramped. But there were good points too. We had a fine view of the street outside from our second floor window. On the relatively few occasions when I couldn’t see across the road because of the dreaded l smog I knew I wouldn’t have to go to school. All buses would be cancelled.

      The bathroom was immediately above the bakehouse oven so we had a nice warm floor to stand on when getting into the bath. Strangely enough, though we had a bathroom upstairs, the lavatory was outside the back door. Not unusual in the 1940s suppose.

     I took a lot for granted about the house we lived in. Everything was close. We were one of a row of shops and most of our daily needs could be supplied within walking distance. There was a post office, a newsagents, a butcher, a fish shop, a sweetshop, a tripe shop, even a hairdresser and a shoe shop. What more could you ask? This was before the advent of supermarkets or shopping malls.

      Well before I was 12 I could run errands to any of the shops on our road, I could go to the newsagents next door to buy a newspaper and twenty cigarettes for my dad. I can’t imagine sending my daughter on a similar errand when she was seven.

The Power of Names


“If only they’d called me Samantha
Or Susan or Judith or Anne
If only they’d christened me Deirdre
Or Brenda or Phyllis or Jan…”

The start of a verse I wrote about having a name like mine.
I might as well admit my name is Mary. It’s not a name you can Google with any chance of getting a meaningful result. I tried: 244,000,000 hits.

It’s not that I dislike the name per se or that I object to being named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, it’s just that I believe a name ought to identify a person uniquely and my name doesn’t. I had a grandmother, an aunt and a number of cousins named Mary, so we had to be differentiated, either by using surnames or adjectives like “young Mary” or “our Mary”. There was someone always referred to as “Nick’s Mary” and for a long time I thought this was an actual name like “Rosemary”

At school it was the same. There were 6 of us called Mary, just in my form. I think this is related to age. Names come into and go out of fashion and you can tell how old someone is just by hearing their name. How many Marys do you know under 40?

When I had a family we debated about what names to give our children. There were 3 considerations:
1 the chosen name should sound right with our surname
2 we wanted names that were easy to say and to spell
3 we gave each of our three children a second christian name – amend that to “given name” if you prefer.

Each had one unusual name and one fairly ordinary name that they could choose if they preferred. Our younger son decided to do this when he went to university and the only problem is that people who knew him as a child still refer to him by his first name. When he married the couple decided to use both surnames and hyphenate them.

Names are important. We hear someone’s name and rightly or wrongly form an impression of what sort of person they are. If you are trying to write fiction, you need to give the characters names. I find I can’t make much headway with a short story until I have a name for the main character. I imagine this is even more true for writers of historical fiction.

Hilaire Belloc wrote a verse  G is for Gnu, explaining that the name was the animal’s best method of defense because people couldn’t pronounce it. He ended with the advice:

“Child if you have a rummy kind of name
Remember to be thankful for the same.”

I don’t want a rummy name and at least most people can pronounce mine, but I sometimes wish I’d been called Samantha.

Esme (penname)

After going on about the problems of being saddled with a name like Mary, I used to complain that no-one under about 40 is ever called Mary. Then I started to look at names in the news and found quite a few Marys in the older age-range. There’s the academic Mary Beard, the shopping guru Mary Portas, both in their 50s and there’s Mary Berry, the cook and food writer, now 79. So perhaps I am in good company after all.


Love at First Sight


It was love at first sight.
There was sheer delight
In the look on his face.

He squeezed my hand tight,
Till I felt that he might
Take off on a flight,
Disappear into space.

I asked him “Please tell me
Is this what you like? ”
He said, “Mum, can’t you see
I adore my new bike?”

I knew  I was right
It was love at first sight.