Church in SnowDoing readings, mixing with the public, visiting libraries, these are all part of a writer’s life. I love meeting people at these events; talking about books is always good and if they buy one of mine then that’s a bonus.

So, I was very much looking forward to a morning with Jan Edwards at Leek Library in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The only problem at time of booking was the date, January 21st could mean snow. Falls of snow in the Moorlands bring with them blocked roads and treacherous driving conditions.

The night before the event, the forecast was not promising. Undaunted we agreed to check on driving conditions first thing. Waking up in Stoke much of the snow was already melting. In Cheadle the main road appeared to be fine. After a quick breakfast I loaded the car and set off.

At first the only problems were the usual rush hour traffic, compounded by road works. Nevertheless I was more or less on schedule when I hit Forsbrook. Thick lumps of ice made the T junction rather tricky and from then on it was all bad news. As I reached the hill leading into Cheadle the traffic stopped. There was a lorry slewed across the road. After about ten minutes, a police car followed by a gritting lorry arrived. This was 9. 30 on a main road on a weekday.

By now I was running a little late, but I skirted the lorry and was at the Dilhorne crossroads when the car encountered thick, impassable ice. Wheels whirled and threatened to skid, snow came down heavily from a grey sky, behind me the traffic was building up.  The young lads in the car behind offered a push, but I’d had enough. The library had already e mailed to say half their staff hadn’t come in and Jan and I made the decision to call it quits.

Tea, toast and good company were all on offer the other side of the hill. If I could make it. Reluctantly I decided to turn round and go home.

Two hours of driving and I was back where I started. Surely today in the 21st Century this journey should not have been impossible?


Crisis in the NHS: my personal experience

Queues in AE departments, impossibility of getting to see your GP, hospitals not meeting their targets, the news this winter has been dire.

My solution, go and see your dentist.

Now admittedly this might not work for a broken leg, but when a gland in my neck came up, and went down, and came up again I duly tried to make an appointment at my local surgery. Nothing doing for a fortnight, unless I was prepared to ring before 8am. Unfortunately I overslept and missed the deadline. Tried again, finally got through and was scheduled for an appointment in two weeks time.

The doctor was great. The treatment seemed to be working, then it wasn’t. My face ached, my jaw hurt and my gland was up again.

Thinking that this might be a tooth problem, I rang my NHS dentist. My appointment- the next day. I was examined, given an X-ray, a diagnosis and a referral to the hospital in case the problem didn’t go away.


Oh and the dentist’s surgery was busy.

And the reception staff were so welcoming and reassuring.