Posy Miller

Posy pics from Jonathan 018
Today July 31st is Posy’s birthday. She was born in the middle of a thunderstorm on a hot summer’s night when lightening zig-zagged across an emerald sky. She died, of leukaemia on Christmas Eve, 2002, a crisp blue sharp morning. That night the family gathered at our house for the traditional Polish Christmas meal. We had discussed cancelling it, but Posy’s partner, Kane was adamant that we should go ahead and so we toasted her and the baby who had died with her and celebrated the life she had led.

That evening was typified her life. Whatever Pose did, she did it wholeheartedly and with joy. She might not have made much money, but she worked as an actor even when she was ill, not that she knew how serious it was, none of us did, the kindly couple she was lodging with would bring her breakfast in bed. When she wasn’t working, in those last months, she was writing a hilariously surreal novel about her experiences as a supply teacher in various London schools, corresponding with a prisoner on Death Row, supporting Bob a random stranger she’d met on a train and who also had terminal cancer.

At her funeral we sang “Happy Birthday” her crazy idea and ate the Christmas cake she’d baked.

Later, she starred in “Sam Jackson’s Secret Video Diary.” http://www.samjacksonmovie.co.uk/beyond.html Guy Rowlands’ film about a missing woman, which was screened at the Raindance Festival in the West End and nominated for a British Independent Film Award. Who says you can’t achieve your ambition even after death?

Pose would have been sneaped, however, to have missed all her friends and family gathering in the cinema to see her. She always wanted to be there right in the middle of things and for us she still is. Her photographs are up in all our houses, we talk about her, and toast her on all her important days.

As for me, I talk to her often. When I’m down about my writing, I remember her belief in me and pick myself out of my pit of misery.

And of course she is there in everything I write. She inspired Polly in the “Dragonfire” trilogy and there are traces of her in Mouse, in “Clear Gold.”  She’s Poppy in “Picking up the Pieces” and it’s her accolade that concludes the novel.

Happy Birthday, Pose. I’ve no idea what happens after death, but in the hearts and minds of your friends and family, you are still and always will be here with us.
Posy pics from Jonathan 059

 

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Fusion Hot Pepper Sauce

Hot stuff for Summer

Being Britalian

Each year I grow hot Italian chillies and as I harvest them I sun-dry them in batches for use throughout the year. Once dried they store in an airtight jar for a year or so. Just make sure when you pick some out that your fingers are dry, a tiny drop of water in the jar will spoil them. As my chillies in the orto are almost ready to harvest I decide to use up some of last years to make way for the new crop.

I’ve also been growing some Jamaican Scotch Bonnets, the plant is in its second year and after a not so good season last year, I took advice and potted it up to restrict the roots and it’s bearing lots of bright orange fruits this year. So using these two varieties I thought I’d create a Caribbean-Italian fusion hot pepper sauce.

The ingredients I used…

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Why Do I Write?

Over the past few months I have been very busy promoting my new novel “Picking up the Pieces”.

Front over for Blog

I’ve talked about my book at “Hot Air” the literary festival in Stoke-on-Trent, where I live: set up a Facebook page: sent out a pre-publication news-letter: searched the internet for bloggers who review women’s fiction: given out review copies: talked to everyone and anyone I’ve met and have just invited friends and neighbours to the first of a number of celebratory tea/mini launch at my house at the end of July. (There will be more such events, living room is too small to have everyone at the same time.) There will be coffee, cake and wine, hopefully followed by a few book sales.

Much as I enjoy all this, there are also the moments of panic familiar to all the writers I know about whether their book is good enough to see the light of day, let alone be read by the thousands/millions of readers we are hoping for.

It’s at times like these that I find myself wondering what this compulsion to write is all about. If it’s fame and fortune then that only happens for the lucky few. If it’s connecting with readers, which is vital, then I could simply post my work on this blog and hope that some of you will read and enjoy it. If it’s a way of passing the time, then I would be better off pulling weeds out of my vegetable patch.

Or would I?

For me the reasons why I write are deeply rooted in who I am. Writing for me is how I express my creativity. Left alone on a desert island I would still write, even if I knew for certain that no one would ever see my work, because the process of writing helps me to come to terms with what has happened and is happening in my life.  I don’t write autobiography. I’m not always conscious that the themes I choose reflect on recent or past experience, but they do. “Picking up the Pieces” for example was partly inspired by a chance remark in a supermarket, which got me thinking about the problems working women have to face and how the older woman, after a certain age, becomes invisible in our society. News readers on TV, have been replaced by younger women, while men remain firmly in post, whatever their age.

Serious themes for a basically light, holiday read, but that is the way I work, there is always a darker thread to my fiction, as there is in life.

Beyond distilling experience, however, there is another reason for writing and one that is so often forgotten in the race to sell books. I write because I love it. I love the whole process, even when the writing isn’t going well, I can’t find the right word in a sentence, or the right name for a character and have to type NAME or WORD until I can dredge it up from the depths of my subconscious. There are days when I can’t manage more than a paragraph and others when the words flow and flow and it’s hard to stop.

Whatever my state, or the state of my work, there is a basic joy and fulfilment in being a writer, which we should be acknowledging and celebrating.

Accept that and rejections by publishers and agents, poor sales figures, or indifferent reviews won’t matter so much. At the end of the day, you can concentrate on what is truly important and what, in my opinion, keeps a real writer writing.

Jan sun 4

Moving Back to England

Being Britalian

So we’re all in limbo following the shock referendum and potential Brexit. I say potential as I’m still hopeful someone with a modicum of sense puts a stop to all this nonsense. Now let’s not get political, I voted to stay and that’s all I’ll say on the matter, I’m not here to start a debate or be called a sore loser, just as I’m not here to berate people for voting leave. But the issue has raised many questions both with locals and ex-pats about whether we’ll return to Britain. So I gave it some thought and as the Clash said back in 1982, I asked myself the question, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Altino

It’s funny when you meet people who’ve recently moved out here, within minutes they will be saying something along the lines of, “I’ll never go back to England.” I’ve been guilty of saying…

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An Invasion of Lilies

Lily invasion 2

Lilies have taken over the garden. I can’t get to the vegetable patch, or  hang my washing on the line without being dusted with pollen. I didn’t plan to have so many. Most years there is one well behaved patch, but this year’s warm Spring and, so far, wet and cold, Summer seem to have suited them. Not only are they prolific in their own space, but they are  taking over from other flowers in the border.

I love these bright blooms, the oranges of my feral bunch and the deep scarlet of the well behaved day lilies in their pot on the patio. Unlike the white lilies they are not fraught with significance. For some people Calla Lilies are pure and virginal, flowers to be carried by a bride, for others, however they signifies death and funerals.

A sobering reminder that today is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The Larks