Fame... No Thanks.

There are many writers we hear a lot about, J.K. Rowling with the Harry Potter series, Stephanie Meyer with the Twilight Saga and E L James with Fifty Shades of Grey are a few that spring to mind. Any young people wishing to be a writer might look at these people and dream of being just like them. I can’t judge the Harry Potter books or Fifty Shades of Grey as I haven’t read them but I did read the Twilight Saga and enjoyed it. I believe Stephanie Meyer is a talented writer and she captured that magic with her words. I do not like the films.

Any writer who manages to get a publishing deal, sell millions of books and land a film deal must be talented. They’ve captured something that the bigwigs think will sell and they’re willing to bet money on that. Most writers dream of the day they will be offered that film deal, or be approached by a publisher offering some fantastic deal turning them into a household name overnight. I am not one of those writers.

I don’t want to be like J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or EL James. In fact I don’t want to be like anyone else, I want to be me. However, there is one writer who I have admired for a very long time and if I could write half as well as him then I’ll consider myself a good writer. He wrote about scientific subjects and still managed to inject that magic into his words. When reading his books you are swept away, transported into the world he has created, even if it’s not a subject you expected to enjoy.

Michael Crichton had a long career in writing and had thirteen books made into films, including Jurassic Park, Sphere and Disclosure. Thirteen! That’s not why I like him though, Michael Crichton managed to write all those books and get film deals but he didn’t end up all over the TV screens. J.K. Rowling had the Harry Potter books made into films and she was always on the TV. Michael Crichton’s books that were made into films were not all from the same story either, most of them are stand alone stories and I don’t think I ever saw him on the TV. This is what I respect about him, he just got on with the writing. If you’ve ever read a Michael Crichton book and looked at the back you’ll see about twenty pages of bibliography. He did loads of research and got facts into his stories, making them more credible. I can imagine he was a very smart man, I’ve only done a little research so far and already I’ve learned a lot.

If I ever manage to write books that people love as much as they love Michael Crichton’s and they get made into films, just like his, I won’t be there on the TV with the actors. That’s not what I’m after. I will be sat at home working hard on that next book (hopefully!) and smiling as people go and watch a film created from my words. I think that would be quite satisfying actually : )

A New Best - WAHOO!

In August last year I wrote a blog postabout trying to lose weight, I don’t think I mentioned my weight then but I was just over 12 stone. With the BMI thing that put me at very overweight but I was really pleased with myself because, at that time I’d lost about 35 pounds. A real achievement.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My magic moment came a few days ago when I stepped onto the dreaded scales. Every morning I hope I have lost more weight but some days I stay the same, some I lose and some I put on. I’ve been lingering around the same weight for a while, 11 stone, and my best ever weight was about 6 years ago when I reached 10st 13.5lb. 

I looked down at the scales and stepped on. Would this be the day? It seemed to take ages to settle but when it finally did I jumped off the scales and started dancing around the room like a crazy person. I’d done it, for the first time in my adult life I’d reached a new best weight. It was only half a pound but I was soooo pleased. I haven’t felt this good about myself in a long time and with the writing going well too I couldn’t be happier.

Yesterday I lost another pound and I’m now only two pounds away from not being overweight anymore. How awesome is that?! Most of the time it’s the kids that give me those magical moments but these last couple I’m keeping just for me. : )

It's Mother's Day

Mother's Day is great, it's an opportunity to thank your mother for taking care of you for all those years and raising you to be the wonderful person you are today. For those of us who have young children it is the day when we get a rest, perhaps not all day but the kids will, at least, give you 10 minutes peace to drink that cup of tea while it’s still hot! I look forward to Mother's Day but there is a small part of me that hates it.

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My mother and I haven't spoken in about 4 years and before that contact with her was sporadic. When I was 16 years old she chose to send me out into the harsh reality of life without her guidance. I don't know what I did wrong and sometimes I still wonder. For a very long time I found it difficult to even think of her, I had such hatred and malice in my heart that every time I thought of her I wanted to cry. I could never understand what I'd done to deserve the abandonment and what hurt more is that my two sisters saw her all the time (and still do).

Since the divorce of my parents my mother has given me many reasons to dislike her but the worst thing was being ignored. When I had children I hoped that would change... it didn't. It took her two weeks to come and see my first child and that was the only time she saw him as a baby, she hasn't even met my youngest, who is nearly 4. In the end I couldn't allow her to hurt my children the way she hurt me and eventually (after being disappointed too often) I cut all ties with her. Being a mother myself I can’t imagine not seeing my grandchildren, come to think of it, I can't imagine not seeing my children ever! 

So when Mother's Day is coming around I get low, I wonder what life would be like if I had a mother who came to see me all the time and spoilt my children like grandparents often do. I imagine being able to turn to my mother when I need a night off and I wonder if I should call her. Then I remember all the heartache and slap myself for even thinking it.

When I was fourteen my father moved away and remarried and I had a 'stepmother' thrust upon me. Unfortunately, at the time, she faced the consequences of the hatred I felt for my mother. I blamed her for everything that was going wrong and refused to listen to her, I was mean and disrespectful. A typical teenager. She hadn't done anything wrong, she loved my father and married him. Yet through all of that she coped, she didn’t ask me to leave, she didn’t tell me I was awful, she stuck by me and my father, just like a loving wife and mother should. 

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Years on and a mother myself, I look back and realise I will never be able to do enough to show her how sorry I am for those years, all I can do is thank her for being there. She was the constant, along with my father, that I needed. She put up with a lot from me and I'm sure at times she wanted to give up but I'm glad she didn't. That is the mark of a good mother. Going through all the rubbish times and seeing it through to the other side, where, if you're lucky, your children have children of their own and want you to spoil them. My father and stepmother live far away and I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, only getting over in the school holidays, but I love that they are wonderful grandparents to my boys.

In my opinion, when you have children you are dedicating your life to take care of them. It is not a job that you can do for a while and then give up because it's 'hard’, you're a parent for life. I would never dream of turning my back on my children, I want them to know I will be there, always and when I'm a grandmother and doting on my grandchildren, just like my stepmother does, I'll be able to look back and be proud of the decisions I made.

Thank you Mandy, you’re the best replacement mum I could have hoped for and you’ve taught me what a good mother is. You’re the best xxx

Another Step in the Wrong Direction?

Yesterday I saw this headline:

UK to send armoured vehicles to Syrian Opposition

The BBC have reported that William Hague, the foreign secretary, has said that the UK will be providing armoured vehicles and body armour to opposition forces in Syria to “help save lives”. Although he refused to rule out the possibility of military intervention in the future he did say “No Western government is advocating military intervention of Western nations into the conflict in Syria. The discussion is entirely focused on the degree of assistance that can and should be delivered to the opposition.”

I spent a bit of time finding out what the conflict was all about, I’ve heard a lot about it and I decided that I ought to know the details a bit better. The Syrian Civil War (commonly known as the Syrian uprising) began on 15th March 2011 with nationwide demonstrations as part of the wider protest movement known as Arab Spring. The wave of revolutionary protests have forced out rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen (to name a few) and civil uprisings have erupted in other countries too.

The Syrian conflict consists of those loyal to the Syrian Ba’ath Party government and those who want them out. Protesters have demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad as well as the end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule. The army was deployed in April 2011 and ordered to open fire on demonstrators, I’m sure we can all remember hearing about it on the news at the time. The protests eventually evolved into an armed rebellion and became increasingly armed and organised and the Syrian government described the rebels as “armed terrorists and foreign mercenaries”. There have also been reports of the abduction and torture (both physical and psychological) of protesters and the latest figures say a million Syrians have fled the country to escape the conflict.

Mr Hague announced a £13m package of logistical and humanitarian support, the US pledged £40m in non-lethal assistance. This is what got me going…

US population is 313.9 million
UK population 62.6 million

US GDP 14.99 Trillion (USD)
UK GDP 2.432 Trillion (USD)

The US population is just over five times bigger than the UK, their GDP figure is just over six times bigger yet the assistance offered to Syria is just over three times bigger. I’m not trying to criticise the US, £40m is a lot of money but I do find it hard to understand why we have pledged far more than our fair share when our country is still struggling. People are losing their jobs, taxes are being increased and the national debt is increasing by nearly half a billion pounds per day but our leaders think it is a good idea to send more than our fair share over to Syria.

I agree that we need to help those that are suffering and I understand that that will take money and resources but the UK is five times smaller than the US and I believe our pledge ought to reflect that, after all the US are in recovery now and we are not. We can’t turn our backs on the problems in Syria but with our country still struggling to recover from the financial crisis I wonder how far our leaders are willing to go. How much money will they spend? How many troops will they send, if and when it comes to that? Will the UK recover? Will it ever get the chance?