Skip to content

Little Bird

March 24, 2015

Enjoyed staying with singer Judy Eames and trumpet-player Tony Davis at their gorgeous country cottage in Aston Friday night. Martin was playing with Alyn Shipton’s Buck Clayton Legacy Band at St John’s Evangelist Church in Oxford. Great gig.

Buck Clayton

The next morning both Jude and Martin were delighted to have a bird tapping at their window. Actually Jude was less delighted as she was asleep at the time (beneath a different window: just to be clear). Martin told me he thought he’d seen a Coal Tit. Jude said she’d seen a Great Tit. Was she naming or rating the tit? I was jealous. I love birds.

I decided to get to the bottom of it. Was it the same bird? I investigated but the pictures online are confusing. Most Great Tits seem to have a yellow breast. Like this:

Great Tit

Martin says the bird he saw didn’t have a yellow breast. So I’m guessing it was like this:

Coal Tit

I need to let go of it. This is dangerous stuff, possibly leading to a reputation for being obsessed with tits.

And the purchase of a t-shirt like this.Great Tits

Tee hee.

Singalonga Max

January 11, 2015

Mum was on top form. I’d bought her Singalonga War Years with Max Bygraves for Christmas and she was listening to it.

“You’ll never know just how much I love you…” warbled Max, and Mum suddenly shouted:

“Because you never bloody told me, did you!”

“Who are you talking about, Mum?” I asked, when I’d stopped laughing.

“Max Bygraves,” she said. “When we worked together.” Hmmmm. Okay…

I offered to sing for her. She found the idea bizarre, then said “Well, alright, if you need to practise, you can.”

So I put on my backing tracks and sang while I did the ironing. “‘It had to be you…'”.

Then Avril arrived.

“She’s here,” Mum said, jerking her head in my direction. “I don’t know what she’s doing. We don’t get on. Never have.”

I protested. “We’ve just been getting on very well. I’ve been singing for you.”

Avril, impressed, asked me to continue. So I did. “‘Some day he’ll come along, the man I love…'”

Mum lasted about a minute, then started up. “She’s always singing,” she said, talking over the top of me. “Been on the stage and everything. How are you getting on, Avril?”

And that was that. I continued bravely for a while, singing quietly so as not to disturb their conversation, until Avril addressed me directly. Something about ironing…

Ah well, y’can’t win ’em all…

Getting it off my Chest: How I Lost my Breast and Found Myself

April 30, 2012

Getting it off my Chest: How I Lost my Breast and Found Myself

It’s Click here to buyhere, the e-book is here, and it’s only £1.99. Roll up! Roll up! Download it to your Kindle or if you haven’t got a Kindle, to your PC. If you click on the book to your left you will conveniently find yourself on Amazon, about to buy it. Follow through with that impulse and be amazed. You will laugh. You will cry. You will think that’s the best £1.99 you ever spent.

Now then, if you click here you will be taken to the Amazon Reviews. It’s a marvel.

But if you click here you will be taken straight to the blogs.  Here you will find lots of possibly helpful and certainly entertaining blogs about health issues.

For media enquiries please contact me on  To book my one-woman show – either as an entertainment or as a talk, please contact me.

Mythical Muggings

August 22, 2011

I have apparently just enjoyed a virtual holiday in Spain being held at gunpoint by internet hackers. It was fine. I didn’t feel a thing. How could I? I wasn’t actually there.

Hackers somehow gained access to my email account and sent a mail to everyone in my address book asking for money to tide me over until the bank sent me some of my own.

The first I heard of it was an early morning phone call from my insurance broker, telling me that I had been hacked. He wasn’t the only one. Four hours later the phone finally stopped ringing. By the end of it I had lost all my social skills and wasn’t even bothering to say hello.

“Yes I know!” I shouted into the mobile, while the landline went off again. .

“No, I’m not in Spain!” I shouted into the landline.

When I did get any space between well-wishers offering me money or telling me that my email account had been hacked, I rang my bank and shouted hysterically at them too.

It actually had nothing to do with them. It was just my emails that had been infiltrated, not my bank account. But how was I to know that? How am I to know anything? I’m a sad middle-aged lady and I really don’t “get” the internet.

All right, I know there are millions of computer-literate people of my age and older but I’m not one of them.

I’m the kind who remembers a time when young men had good manners and shop assistants understood the concept of service. The computer sometimes still baffles me.

So I got my knickers in a twist and decided that the hackers were inside my computer staring out at me.

Yes, that was very silly.

I must say, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of people who don’t know me well enough to know that if I was robbed at gunpoint by Spanish ruffians I would not respond by sending a global email asking for a sub.

Three times I have found myself without money in a strange place and I have simply thrown down a hat or some such receptacle and burst into glorious song whilst passers-by threw money at me.

It wasn’t always successful. A little old man in Newcastle was so outraged by my behaviour that he went and found me a job in British Home Stores.

So, no, I wasn’t robbed in Spain and I didn’t need any money to get home, thanks for asking. It wasn’t until the dust had settled on the last call that I realised I should have given out my own bank details and watched the money pour in.

It could have worked. But where would I have sent the hackers’ cut?

THE FAN & the star and THE STAR & the Fan

August 9, 2011

Last week, I was playing The Fan in THE FAN & the star and THE STAR & the Fan, a two-hander which is part of the Camden Fringe Festival. Jenny (Shake and Vac) Logan is the co-star.

The play went extremely well and has received good reviews. Now I know why actors call periods between plays “Resting”. They’re not joking.

Best of all is that the director, Matthew Gould, and I will soon begin work on a stage adaptation of my comedy cancer memoir, GETTING IT OFF MY CHEST, which will have its debut performance at The Myers Studio, Epsom Playhouse in early February 2012.

I have links to the reviews here and here

How to survive Cancer: Freak or Fanatic?

February 4, 2011

Take two very different approaches….

If you prefer the soft, lighthearted and slightly freaky approach, you can’t do much better than to follow the irrepressibly jolly Arina Nikitina.

If you want to be more fanatical, try one of the many health practitioners, such as Dr Nalini Chilkov. I just read her 25 reasons not to have breast implants, and became even more depressed than I was already.

To cheer myself up I looked up the symptoms of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy’ (BSE). I’ve always thought it would be sweet and fitting for someone who could write a book like mine to die of Mad Cow Disease. (Alas, the reprieve from hypochondria that came with Breast Cancer has worn off. Last week I had Parkinson’s.)

To be serious…

After a mastectomy and several reconstructions, I have so far survived moderately-aggressive breast cancer for 14 years, despite having some local “spread” and refusing the recommended chemotherapy and hormone treatments.

When people who fear cancer come to me for advice on how to survive, I demur. I explain that I’m not an expert and point them to, where they will find all the information they need.

I can only share my own experience, which was this:

I was ignorant, so I researched.
I was afraid, so I joked.
I lived badly, so I cleaned up my lifestyle. Especially my diet.

In particular, I lost seven stone, got rid of my husband and became a writer. Now I’m slim, lonely and broke. But I still recommend it.

I’ve just watched Laura Linney in Channel 4’s new sitcom, The Big C. It was great. It made me laugh and I’ll watch it again, but two things irritated me. Firstly, the character is wealthy enough to follow her dreams, which most of us aren’t. Secondly, she’s given up on life. She’s been told she’s dying and she’s waiting for the hearse.

I wasn’t as seriously ill as this character, but even so, I’m pretty certain I would have put more effort into surviving. Perhaps it was because I found Dr Patrick Quillin’s excellent book, Beat Cancer with Nutrition:

‘Fungus grows on a tree because of warmth, moisture and darkness. You can cut, burn and poison fungus off the tree, but the fungus will return as long as the conditions are favourable. Similarly, there are conditions that favour the growth of cancer. My extensive work with cancer patients shows that the cancer patient will thrive or wither, live or die based upon being able to change the conditions which favour cancer growth.’

So I set about changing the conditions in which the cancer would survive. And that included massively changing my diet. Here’s what I did, allegorically speaking…

The princess picked up her shiny pink notebook, labelled ‘Getting Abreast of Things’. At the top of a new page she wrote ‘Local Wisdom’ in large letters.
“I’m listening,” she said, pen poised, “what shall I do?”
“You must change. Most importantly, change your habits.”
“Fresh air, exercise, fruit, fibre and vegetables. Change your household products for safe ones. Cut out sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. No stimulants of any kind must pass your lips. Of course you don’t smoke?”
The princess shook her head and wrote ‘Help me’, thinking that she might wrap the page around a rock and throw it out of the window. The wise woman poured her a glass of water.
“Drink plenty of this,” she said, handing over the glass. “If you can drink a couple of glasses of water first thing in the morning, and then jump up and down on a mini-trampoline, you will find that you want to go.”
“Go where?”
“You will find out.”
She gently nudged a piece of paper across the table.
“Get these,” she said. It was a list of books. The princess picked it up and looked at the first three names on the list. Chicken Soup for the Soul; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway; You Can Heal Your Life.
“What’s all this?” she said. The wise woman went on.
“You must visit healers, natural healers and spiritual healers; also herbalists, aromatherapists, psychotherapists and hypnotherapists. Then there are naturopaths and, naturally, homeopaths.”
“Psychopaths…” wrote the princess and looked around the room for a clock. There were none.
“To sum up,” continued the wise woman, “You must learn about nutrition and care for your body. Take vitamins and supplements. Eat tons of vegetables. More vegetables than you can possibly imagine. Eat them. And you must begin to love yourself and let go of all your resentment. Cancer thrives on resentment”.
“What do you mean?” asked the princess. “I have no resentment.” She bit her thumbnail and looked shifty.

Why did I do these things? Some people pale at the sound of this regime and say they’d prefer the chemotherapy.

I suppose it was because I didn’t want to die and I thought it would help. Now that I’m older, wiser and – since the last Election – suffering from depression, I’ve changed my mind. I do want to die.

But like the song, I’m scared of dying, because I suspect that God will be waiting for me at the Pearly Gates with a rolling pin and shouting: ‘What time do you call this?’

I’m not being funny but…you stink.

November 29, 2010

When I was at school (some time around the turn of the century) I had a Home Economics teacher with BO. We vicious teenage girls would whisper amongst ourselves, daring each other to tell her – for her own good – and saying, over and over, ‘You’d think her family would, wouldn’t you?’

Would they though? I have a friend with a son who desperately wants to be a professional singer, but his singing is so bad that when he practises in his bedroom it sounds like the wind howling in the pipes. Will she tell him? Of course not. She’ll bottle it, and let him grow up and one day win a place on X Factor, where he will be humiliated in front of millions of people.

So here I am, 100 years later, with a milder dilemma. Should I allow an IT teacher acquaintance of mine – only an acquaintance and therefore arguably not my responsibility – continue to believe that the shape she likes best for an example logo is called a Trape-Zoid?

Or should I tell her that she’s making an idiot of herself in front of a class of probably vicious teenagers?

I think I will. I should. I must.

I will take her aside, and say:

‘When I was young I thought that “Kernel” and “Col-o-nel” were two different ranks in the army; similarly “Left-tenant” and “Lee-u-tenant.” It didn’t occur to me that the first version was one I only ever heard people speak of, and the second version was one I only ever saw written down.

‘I also thought that “determination” was pronounced “deeta-mine-ation.”

‘I thought the film “Under Siege” was “Under Siggie.”

‘I still, to this day, have trouble distinguishing a “soldier” from a “shoulder”. I interchange the two words at random. “My soldier is aching”, I will say. Or “Why do the shoulders march like that?”

‘The mind plays tricks on one,’ I will tell her, gently.

And when she looks at me with puzzled brow and wonders why I’m sharing these embarrassing revelations with her, I will hold up a picture of the shape she calls a TRAPE-ZOID and I will say…

‘It’s a TRAPEZE-OYD. I thought you’d like to know.’

And then I’ll run for my life.

Forsooth! Chivalry is not dead!

November 28, 2010

A wondrous thing happened on the District Line to Edgware Road yesterday morning.

I was bemoaning the state of womankind and the evil machinations of the likes of Germaine Greer that have resulted in us never having seats given up for us anymore, whilst we still have to do all the housework.

A long sentence, but heartfelt, I think you’ll agree.

This grumpiness was inspired by a cute little boy whose mother was telling him to sit on his seat before other people took it from him.

‘I’ll just sit on top of their heads,’ he said.

Of course, what she really ought to have said is that if a lady is without a seat, he should offer up his own. And then again, her clever son would probably have asked why the other men in the carriage weren’t already doing that?

‘Bah,’ I thought, and ‘Harrumph!’ and ‘What’s the world coming to?’

I turned back to my book, and then something happened to restore my faith in humanity.

We stopped at West Brompton. A woman rushed up with a pushchair and jumped onto the train

…leaving the buggy on the platform…

It was a bizarre sight.

She tried to stop the doors from closing by obstructing them with her body.

It looked for all the world as if she was planning to hoist the buggy backwards onto the train and risk having the doors close on the baby.

Five men, of all ages, creeds and colors instantly ran forward to get the baby safely onto the train.

The women in the carriage didn’t move. We were either frozen with horror or couldn’t believe what we were seeing, and it turned out that we were right. Of course no woman would do that. She and her baby weren’t getting on the train at all. She was just holding the doors open for her slower friend.

Completely oblivious to the stir she had caused, the woman jumped off and waved her friend goodbye, while the men sheepishly returned to their seats.

‘How embarrassing,’ muttered one.

I didn’t think it was embarrassing.

I thought it was lovely.

How to dress appropriately

November 11, 2010

Why do I never get the image right?

I can be in the right place at the right time. I can even say the right thing – occasionally – but if people remember me at all, they’re probably saying:

“Was that woman having a bad hair day or does she always look like that?”

Yes, I turned up at Jane Wenham-Jones’s Book Launch in Just St James wearing jeans and bad hair.

I know what you’re thinking but I can never get a last-minute appointment with my simply-marvellous-darling hairdresser Larry at Daniel Hersheshon.


I don’t drink… I don’t smoke… I have a little hairdressing problem. Show some compassion.

So there I was, armed with business cards, bad hair and wearing the wrong clothes.

Dammit, I’m always wearing the wrong clothes. I went to the Groucho Club Gang Show the other day wearing a 1930s outfit. Everyone else was in jeans and sneakers. Or was that the men? Probably not, come to think of it.

Anyway, I looked like somebody’s Granny and it wasn’t a good look. Ben from Big Brother obviously thought I was an elder statesman because he thanked me very much for inviting him, which I hadn’t.

He apologised and said he was trying to work out the hierarchy in our party. “Don’t worry about me,” I whispered, confidentially, “I’m nobody.”

Of course I was whispering because walls have ears at the Groucho and the penalty for being nobody is a lifetime ban.

Anyway, this Granny Look reminded me of the time I somehow infiltrated the MTV Building and all the bright young things walked past me with heads cocked to one side and an indulgent smile on their faces as if to say, “Aw bless, someone’s brought their mother in with them”.

Never let it be said that I do not try. After the Groucho Club debacle I deliberately wore jeans and sneakers to the book launch and found everyone else in cocktail gear. Except for the men.

Never mind.

I met Helen Lederer and Katie Fforde and they said nothing about my look. Of course they didn’t. They are as lovely as a summer’s day and yet more temperate. Well Katie is anyway. Helen’s a madwoman. But we already knew that.

I’m looking forward to reading Jane’s new book: Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard of?

Oh yes, I can answer that one…

And Auntie Jane, if you’re taking requests, can the next please be ‘Don’t Judge a bird by its Feathers…’

The trouble with science….

October 2, 2010

Goodness! Where have I been? I haven’t blogged in the whole of September. All of my fan will have disappeared (and I use the singular article advisedly).

To be honest, I had to look that up. I tried ‘Single Tense’. Got nowhere. Not surprising. There’s no such thing.

So I tried ‘What’s the opposite of Single?’ I got a dating site for that one.

Then I remembered ‘Plural’. That did it. I saw that it was an article but got distracted by wanting to know what an indefinite article was. Is that like a hermaphrodite? Is a hermaphrodite an indefinite article?

Oh dear. What’s the point of a bloody education when it goes in one ear and out the other. Thank God for Wikipaedia, that’s what I say.

And I’ve forgotten what I wanted to blog about now. Aaargh. it’s hellish, getting old.

Roll up, roll up, get your grammar lessons here.

Talking of lessons, I have discovered what science is and I’m willing to share it with the world.

Science is… wait for it… drum roll…



That is so cool. I congratulate myself. I am having a constant argument with my son about this. He says I am very sad and need to be committed.

But just tell me one thing. How can it be that huge heavy metal objects fly through the sky? Thass magic tharriz.

Just because you can sit me down quietly, with some medication and a strait-jacket – just to be on the safe side – and explain the rules of aerodynamics (yes, you’re right, I had to look it up) doesn’t mean that you will ever, ever convince me that aeroplanes flying through the sky isn’t magic.

Just like the telephone. Magic.

There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics

March 26, 2010

It was hard to find anything I wanted to write about today. The news is full of doom and gloom as usual. So I turned to the Daily Mail. There’s always something “stimulating” in the Mail.

True to form I found myself laughing at Steve Doughty’s article claiming that women are the real hypochondriacs. According to Steve, the findings of researchers from the Office for National Statistics has finally exonerated men from the charge of man-flu-ism.

But as always with statistical reports, one has to read between the lines. Here are some examples.

“It concludes that members of the fairer sex are less likely than their opposites to die from poor health.”

That’s because we look after ourselves properly. Next…?

“Across Britain ‘women are more likely to report poorer health than men, but this is not reflected in subsequent mortality rates’, the report said.”

That’s because we report poor health and get it treated, which is why we don’t drop dead, like the men who don’t go to the doctor and don’t look after themselves properly.

“Women were more likely than men to report that they were in “not good” or “fairly good” health, but they were less likely to die during the follow-up period,’ it added.”

Hello? What did I just tell you?

“Researchers also found that certain social groups are more likely to say that they are ill – as well as more likely to die over the next five years.”

So certain social groups say they’re ill and – wow – it turns out that they are actually ill and so perhaps that’s why they die…

But wait, what are these social groups?

“People who have never married, divorcees and those separated from their husbands”

So if you’re in a relationship, you’re less likely to be ill, or perhaps less likely to admit to being ill. And less likely to die.

Hmm. Would that be because most people in a long-term relationship have children? When do mums have time to be ill, let alone die?

“Others are people living in council or housing association homes, those who do not own a car, those with no educational qualifications, or people who are unemployed.”

Ok, this has got to be true, since most illness is caused by stress. No surprises there.

As for Scotland…well….

‘This reflects our finding that members of the Scottish sample were no more likely to report “not good” or “fairly good” health than those in England and Wales, but that they had higher relative risks of death.’

They’re still men, not reporting their ill-health. And as for the higher relative risks of death I’m saying nothing about whisky. Or Haggis.

Finally, the report rounds off with the information that men are less likely to fill in census forms.

Look, I’m just a blonde, but doesn’t that imply that the findings of the report that more women than men are visiting the doctor are due to the fact that fewer men have filled in the form….?



Disraeli was right. “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to

March 24, 2010

The medical fraternity want to ban smoking in private cars. There is an outcry against this idea. I quote from the BBC News page, where Simon Clark of Forest, campaigner for smokers’ rights, says:

“It’s unacceptable to single out smokers and imply that they are solely responsible for the cost of asthma treatments, hospital admissions and asthma drugs for children up to the age of 16.

“We want smokers to be considerate towards those around them, especially children, but changing people’s behaviour should be achieved by education and encouragement not by legislation and enforcement.”

Nigel Humphries, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said the car should be seen as an extension of the home and treated as such.

“The car is a private space and it crosses a line to start interfering in it, however much one disapproves of smoking.”

So here’s the thing. Isn’t suicide becoming a little more accessible to people all the time? Should we be trying to keep alive those who wish to die? We have a population explosion after all….

But hold hard, the argument centres not around individual choices but around how those choices are impacting on our children. Now that’s another matter altogether…

It begs the question: isn’t smoking in a confined space – with a child – tantamount to child abuse?

These are extreme views in a world that is becoming increasingly policed.

Take it further, why dontcha? I mean, by the same token, people who allow sugar near their children – and alas, I am one of them – are putting them in danger. And people who have toxic chemicals in their household products or who allow too much electromagnetic stress into their homes are irresponsible.

Where do we draw the line?

What about making youngsters apply for the right to have kids? They will have to take a lifestyle test and if they are shown to be unhealthy or emotionally dysfunctional their application will be denied. This excellent plan would help to cut the caseloads of the Social Services.

We could have surprise police raids, like the one in Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, where the police will suddenly drop down from holes inthe ceiling, crash through the windows, and find us watching something inappropriate to the development of healthy minds, something like South Park.

See the trajectory? Where does regulating our diet and personal habits become facism and then genicide…

Uh? How did we get from expanding the smoking ban… to enforced sterilisation….to genicide…?

Uh-oh, over-imaginative-blonde-talking-politics-alert!!! Danger! Danger!

Get back in the box. Phew. No harm done. Luckily I am not running the world. Not yet.

But I might be soon. With these excellent views, I am bound to be picked up. Any minute.

Mwahahahahahahahahah. Stroke moustache.

I haven’t got a moustache. Will you just shut up about my moustache? You’re driving me crazy with your facial hair, facial hair…

Who’s that speaking?


Sam Cam’s Baby lies a-gurglin’ in the womb

March 23, 2010

I find it very heartening to see that the main story in today’s papers focuses on Samantha Cameron’s upcoming baby. Or should I say down-coming. Sorry. Very bad joke. Let’s settle for forthcoming.

But how it’s coming is not the point. What’s great is that the press know we want to hear more about ordinary human beings doing what comes naturally than we do about that other stuff: bombs, wars, health-scares and gloomy financial predictions.

Why don’t the forces of detection and protection just get on with it and let us all live happily ever after in Trumpton, the idyllic animation village of my childhood. Ah, Trumpton. Sigh. And Camberwick Green.

Yes, I have a bad case of Surrey Housewife Syndrome this morning.It must be because Sam Cam is doing her bit for the nuclear family, and that includes wives. (See Vanessa Engle’s excellent documentary series Women for help with this condition).

Do you know that there used to be an organisation in Epsom called The Epsom Wives? How scary is that?

I just googled Epsom Wives to see if it was still going, and was offered ‘Epsom and Ewell Wives: thousands of women waiting for you in the South of England’. And there was I, thinking it was just me…

I was also offered Lonely Horny Wives and – if that doesn’t work – a Single Baltic Lady.

There is much entertainment to be found surfing the net. Clearly. For instance, the sort of wives of which I speak were apparently around in 1673, according to a free encylopedia of literature which says: ‘Shadwell’s comedy ‘Epsom Wells’ (1673) mentions the ‘impertinent, ill-bred City wives’, who flocked to the well on the Downs’.

Yes, I was one of those…

I think I will write an e-book on the subject of housewifery. It’s the least I can do.

And now… with fantastic sleight of pen… I will pull the strands of this wandering blog together in one – rather long – sentence.

I’m glad that Sam Cam’s having a baby and that the press have guessed, rightly, that this is the sort of news we want to hear, though I’ve only just twigged that her nickname is a diminutive of Cameron, rather than an indication that – like the Single Baltic Lady – she might have been up to no good with a camcorder.

They’re on the Seafood Diet. They see food and eat it.

March 22, 2010

In the Daily Express today we are told that seaweed can halt obesity.

Yay!I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Do tell…


The solution, apparently, is to carry on eating all the disgusting junk food that’s really bad for us, because it will henceforward be enhanced with an all-singing all-dancing extract of seaweed called Alginate.

I quote The Express. ‘Previous research by scientists at Newcastle University found alginate could be used to increase the fibre content of pies, burgers, cakes and other high fat foods. They claim this will allow people to keep eating junk food while enjoying the benefits of healthier alternatives.’

Dr Iain Brownlee says:  ‘Our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion.This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily…up to three-quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body.’

Hmmm… Verree interresting….

Wait though! Cue scary music! Remember that episode of Dr Who called ‘Partners in Crime’?

I quote Wikipedia. ‘The episode concerns Adipose Industries, which is marketing a diet pill to London’s population with the slogan “the fat just walks away”…the slogan is literal—the pills use latent body fat to parthenogenetically create the Adipose, small white aliens which spawn every night, removing a little of the host’s body fat each time.’

Was that bizarrely prophetic? ‘I mean, if we eat alginates will we spawn little blobby aliens that take over the planet? Aaaaaaaaargh!

Let’s leave it to Dr Brownlee’s team at Newcastle University to research the theory, whilst we keep our eyes peeled for news of rum goings-on up North.

In the meantime, while we wait for the miracle cure, we could try the so-called New Atkins Diet, which looks suspiciously like a very sensible low-carb calorie controlled diet.

Nothing new there I’m afraid. A diet is a diet is a diet. And Paul McKenna has already educated us about that, drawing on the material of Bob Schwartz‘s excellent book Diets Don’t Work.

Conclusion: diets don’t work.

Not in the long term, anyway.

The New Atkins Diet, described in detail in today’s Daily Mail, is similar to my own diet, or should I say ‘Food Plan’, because mine is for life.

There are two crucial differences however.

1. mine is much simpler and therefore easier to follow.

2. mine suggests eating masses of vegetables, which is healthier, especially if you want to avoid cancer.

Similarly, the seaweed solution – and I say bring it on, we’ll get Doctor Who to deal with the aliens – the seaweed solution doesn’t take into account the unhealthiness of facilitating more junk food eating, because – hello – it’s not just the fat in junk food that’s bad for us.

I lost seven stone on my diet and have kept the weight off for years.

I really  must write that e-bo0k about eating. Watch this space. It’s coming.

Don’t cut it down, cut it out.

March 18, 2010

I’m an all or nothing sort of person. And whilst I believe in breaking things down into manageable steps, and taking those steps one at a time, I think it’s really important to be heading towards a specific goal. Especially if the steps are small.

The place I think we should head to is a danger-free diet. And I think we should step out with a strong stride, not a shuffle.

So when I read Nicole Berberian’s article in today’s Mail on how to improve our health by making very small tweaks in our eating habits, I was disappointed. I felt weary at the thought of counting out the shakes of my salt cellar only to increase my health by an infinitesmal amount.

And when she talks about cutting down sugar intake by one teaspoonful I was horrified. I mean, do people actually still put sugar in their tea?

In the meantime, to improve your diet I say ‘suffer’. Yes. Suffer. But only in the short-term.

If you cut sugar out altogether, you will have a thumping headache for a while, maybe as long as three weeks. But after that you will be free for ever. The headache is a messenger. It tells you how dependent your body has become on the white poison.

It’s painful but encouraging. It says you are freeing yourself from slavery.

After the period of withdrawal, the cravings will stop and you’ll discover sweetness in other foods; healthy ones. For instance, carrots, peppers, beetroot in natural juice and roasted vegetables are all incredibly sweet once you have lost your taste for synthetic sweetness. That kind of chemical sweetness will become almost unpleasant.

I don’t eat fruit, for reasons I won’t tell you. It will put you off your next meal. But as a result I have become so sensitised to the natural sweetness in vegetables that I can enjoy eating a red pepper as if it was an apple. Mmm. Delish. The orange ones are delectable. Even my teenage son enjoyed a bite of real pepper. Just a bite, mind. On one occasion, when I caught him unawares. There’ll be no danger of him turning into a veggie-freak like his mum.

If you manage to cut sugar out completely think how easily your weight will fall off. No more cakes, biscuits, chocolate or ice-cream. No more yummy but deadly foods. You can’t help but lose the flab.

You will get your energy back, and possibly – if you’ve lost it – your libido.

Either way, sugar is bad stuff. Salt too. And the wrong sort of fat, absolutely.

Think about it. Isn’t it easier to jump than to shuffle?

Go for it.

You won’t look back.

Drugs ain’t what they used to be

March 17, 2010

Why does everything have to change? Dunno. Ask a scientist. All we need to know is that it does. And if we don’t change with it,  life will be that bit more difficult.

Keeping up to date with drugs, for instance. We need to know what’s out there and what it looks like, so we can tell our kids to avoid it. Will that make a difference? I hope so. And they’re more likely to listen if we have more than one song, more to say than: “keep away from drugs, they’re dangerous”.

That’s what I heard when I was young. It meant nothing to me, coming from a school where we had so many ways of getting into trouble that we didn’t need to take drugs. We could rebel by setting our school beret at the wrong angle.

So I went off to university a complete innocent. I didn’t know what cannabis even looked like. But I learned fast. I experimented out of curiosity with several recreational drugs and by the grace of God I survived to tell the tale. Who knows what damage I did to my psyche? I might have been like this anyway…

But if, in my youth, I bordered on wild; if, for a short time, I knew the difference between hash and shoe polish, it was only for a short period, in the late 1970s.

By the 1980s I was as hopelessly ignorant of the drug culture as I’d been at 18.

In 1985 a young friend confided in me that she was worried about another girl who was regularly taking ‘E’ tablets.

I was surprised at her concern. She was even more surprised at my laisser faire.

“But what’s the problem,”  I protested.  “Vitamin E is really good for your skin!”

Now my own children are teenagers and we live in a safer age. Yes, safer. Though we haven’t got it right yet, at least our children are informed. And that education will save many lives.

By not having it right yet I mean of course that we need to QUICKLY pass legislation that will close the loopholes that unscrupulous drug dealers are using to legally profit from killing our kids.

But what we have got right, is that there is a dialogue now between the generations on the subject of drugs. That wasn’t in place before.

The nearest I ever came to that dialogue was when my mum asked me if I was smoking Reefers, which is what joints were called in the 1940s. I sniggered. Hand on heart I could say I’d never smoked a “Reefer” in my life.

What’s changed is that we have reached the age of Information. Knowledge of what the different drugs are called, what they look like and what effect they have can be found easily.

What’s changed is that I can email my kids an article by Ben Leach in The Telegraph, dated 29 November 2009, which informs about youngsters dying from Mephedrone, GBL, MDMA and others. It’s information that hangs around; isn’t used to wrap chips; information that children can pick up on Google and digest for themselves. And that’s with no finger-wagging parent peering over their shoulders.

Children were probably dying as a result of taking legal drugs in the Seventies, but nice families didn’t get to hear about that. That’s what’s different and hurrah for that at least.

The best thing we can do for our kids is to make sure they are informed.

And out of awareness…comes change.

Kate and Sam: the story behind the story

March 16, 2010

It’s interesting to see that the news of Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet’s separation is on virtually every front page of the UK papers.

The Independent puts it down to the filming of Revolutionary Road, in which Sam directed Kate’s fictional marriage breakdown.

The Times seems to say the opposite, however, quoting Kate at the recent Oscar ceremony. She said that working on Revolutionary Road had brought her closer to Sam.

Hmm. Stroke beard. Immediately feel alarmed. Shouldn’t have beard.

The Guardian hardly reports the story at all, since there is no gossip attached to the bald fact that the couple married in 2003 “on a whim” and have now split up. Yawn.

Enter the Daily Mail. And if they are to be believed, the mystery is solved. It was definitely down to Revolutionary Road. Kate is quoted receiving a best actress award at the Golden Globe ceremony in which she thanks Sam for directing the film and “killing us every single day and really enjoying us actually being in such horrific pain.” Ok. Not good.

But is she joking? Or not?

There we have it. Covered by all the papers and we still don’t really know why the curtain has come down on their showbiz marriage. With a feeble attempt at drama they both seem to point the finger at the film.

Or have the naughty media made that up, stringing quotes together to create a story where there isn’t one?

Could the real reason be that they “just grew apart”?

Heaven forbid. If a newspaper had the audacity to report something as mundane and probably true as that, they’d have to hide their heads in shame. There’s no story there. No glamorous conflict. Everyday conflict, yes. Those three little words mask a heap of conflict; but it’s not newsworthy.

There’s bickering: pointless and hurtful.  Conversations that never resolve. Needs that cannot be met, though they were once, in the first flush of romance. It’s all very painful. I poke fun at my ex-hubbie, loudly and often, which he takes in good part, but underneath the laughter I’m sad we didn’t make it.

Some of us in the modern world have lost our faith in marriage. We don’t see the point of prolonging the agony, even though separation clearly upsets our children. But staying together in a loveless or acrimonious marriage upsets them even more, and seems to cause more lasting damage.

The good news is that if estranged parents can behave civilly and even lovingly, they can almost provide their kids with what they need to grow up hale and hearty.

So I love to hear that Kate and Sam are fully committed to jointly raising their children. Maybe that’s all marriage ought to be: a contract to raise children, with no pressure to make love last.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

Recent statistics reveal that the divorce rate in the UK has fallen to 29.2, the lowest it’s been since 1979. Is marriage making a come-back? Yay!

Unless….hold hard… divorce is expensive. There are often settlements involved; lawyers’ fees, maintenance and child support. It’s a can of worms. Often a nightmare, leading to more nightmares, as both parents try to run two establishments.

Call me an old cynic, but I wonder if the lower divorce rates have something to do with the recession?

Maybe when poverty comes in the door, love can no longer fly out the window.

It can’t afford the ladder.

Today I am mostly saving the world

March 15, 2010

Great article in today’s Daily Mail by Liz Jones about how stick-thin Girls Aloud make her so angry. They’re giving the wrong message to our youngsters. Be thin, be successful. You can’t have one without the other.

Here we are again, on my favorite subject: we’re too thin or we’re too fat. We’re all victims of the cult of the body-image on the one hand and the addiction promoting food industry on the other. Result. Misery. We don’t stand a chance.


But saving the world is going to be easy. All we have to do is completely change social attitudes towards weight by promoting real bodies and then bring down the food industry.

Ok, where to begin….

The super-skinny problem. Let’s knock that on the head. Some women are just not meant to be thin. Slender girls like Kate Moss look good like that. But rounded women who starve themselves to get rid of their rounded bits are not being clever.

I know because I’ve done it to myself. And it’s worse when you’re a woman of a certain age. You know what they say… When you’re old, you look thin or you look good.

So, it’s agreed then. We will stop striving for the skinny and settle for a reasonable amount of yummy podginess. Or at least a curve or two. And some flesh on our thighs.

There, ‘t’is done! World saved in 60 seconds.

Except for….the evils of sugar, fat and salt.

You see, starving oneself is probably easier than trying to cope with maintaining a reasonable body weight. Why?

A friend told me about David Kessler‘s article in the Guardian this Saturday (13th March 2010) called ‘Do you want lard with that’. Alas I missed it. But googling him reveals that he’s an authority on the subject. There’s his book: The End of Overeating and this article in the Washington Post, called Crave Man which identifies that sugar, fat and salt

“….stimulate the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center….. Once the food is eaten, the brain releases opioids, which bring emotional relief.”

Typical scientist. Pointing out what the mystics, not to mention the man in the street, knew all along. Sugar, fat and salt make us feel good. Well I never.

So he thinks that if we cut them out or the government cuts them out on our behalf, we will never have to over-eat again.

I say that’s good. It’s great! But it will only take us so far.

It’s like this: whether we are skinny and successful, or fat and addicted to donuts, everyone on the planet is just trying to feel good.

So if we openly set our compass towards that; if we embrace personal development, follow Louise Hay, meditate, walk in the fresh air, have warm baths, watch good films, take up a hobby or get religion; we won’t need to overeat, undereat, overwork, shop, gamble, thrill-seek, use drugs, booze, or any of the things we are currently doing to kill ourselves.

Phew. Glad we sorted that out.

But wait… Having saved the world, what the buggery bollocks am I going to blog about tomorrow?

Foot in Mouth Disease

March 12, 2010

Oh please, leave Prince Philip alone. He’s funny. And God knows, we need humour.

Today’s Mail reports on his latest gaffe.

But look, he didn’t march up to a pretty girl and ask her if she worked in a strip club!

He asked her where she worked. She said in a club. He asked if it was a strip club.

A merry quip, thass all. And he appears not to give a damn about the criticism constantly levelled at him for just being funny. Good. Keep it up Prince Phil. We love ya.

Supposing he had not been born with a silver sceptre in his mouth?

Just his foot. Arf Arf.

No seriously, what if he had been born to a lower-middle-class family, grew up ‘Phil Windsor’, worked the stand-up circuit and ended up on Mock the Week?

Would he be pilloried, or applauded? It’s a no-brainer.

And you can’t stop a funny guy being funny. They are a race apart. We are a race apart, I should say, because I’m one of them. Maurice Gran of the famous Marks & Gran team has been known to say that comedians have a chip of ice in their soul. It’s true. We just can’t help looking for the funny, no matter what life serves up to us. And that’s our place in the world. We are the eternal jokers, the jesters and the fools. End of.

The poor man just got stuck in the wrong job. Lucky for us, though. Otherwise reportage of the Royal Visits would be unbearably dull and rarely newsworthy. Why, if you think about it, he might even be responsible for the longevity of the Monarchy!

The Daily Mail has gathered some of his latest so-called gaffes for our entertainment here and I admit the racist ones do curl my toes, but sometimes he makes me laugh.

The Queen asked Stephan Menary how much he could see and Prince Philip interjected with: ‘Not a lot by the look of that tie’. Now, I’m sorry, but I think that’s funny. And if he was sitting on a panel game, that ‘gaffe’ would have raised a big laugh.

Yes, we all know that distance is what creates, or allows, humour. And what a group of people might joke about behind someone’s back isn’t going to work to their face.

So it’s difficult. Of course it’s deeply tragic that a fifteen year old has been blinded in an IRA bomb attack. If I was that lad, I don’t know how I’d have felt when Prince Philip said that. In fact, he dealt with it very well, and he’s quoted in the Herald Sun saying ‘Prince Philip was just trying to break the ice and put me at ease.’

I would hazard a guess that he’s not trying to do that at all. I think he might have a higher success rate if he was. Au contraire I suspect that he’s trying very hard, most of the time, not to crack jokes.

Some people fall downstairs and lie on the bottom step, sobbing. Some fall downstairs, go straight into a forward roll, spring up and take a bow. Prince Philip may be one of those. Of course he might just be an insensitive clod and if that’s the case I’m glad he’s a Royal and not a High Court Judge.

Speaking for myself, as is my wont, I firmly believe that I didn’t joke my way through the experience of losing my breast because I am insensitive, but because I had no other way of dealing with the tragic circumstances in which I found myself. Not brave. Just my way.

Is cancer funny? Of course not. But if you cross a comedian with a life-threatening disease, what can you expect? Humour? Or bad taste?

I’d say…both.

So I think we should give the Prince a break. Most comedians are not expected to improvise under the glare of the media. If they did, the evidence of unfunny, racist and tactless boobery would be vast. Look what happened to Wossy and Brand on a live radio show. So if some of his Royal Whatsitness’s  jokes fall flat or cause offence, it’s only to be expected.

Personally, I would hate to see him muzzled.

Y’gorralaff  aventcha?

There was an old woman who swallowed a shoe

March 11, 2010

If I had a column in a National newspaper I could afford a rant on important news items like the state of the Social Services.

Of course, the publication would have to be fairly right-wing, as my political stance seems to be woolly-minded fascism with liberal tendencies. I have a good side, though. Sometimes it’s woolly-minded liberalism with fascist tendencies.

And alas, I do not have said column, yet. I only have this blog and refuse to sully it with nasty realism.

So today’s important opus will be about the old woman who lives not in a shoe, but in Georgia. And she didn’t swallow a shoe either, in case you were wondering. That was a different old lady, who swallowed a spider.

But this one is real. She’s called Antisa Khvichava,  she is alive, and at the age of 130 claims to be the oldest living human being. Wow.

I’d like to be that old. I don’t think my life really began until I had experienced and survived breast cancer, which happened when I was 39, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and not a moment to lose.

What’s the rush? I’ll tell you.

At my dad’s funeral, his brother John said it was a bit worrying that their father, their older brother and my dad himself had all died at the age of 57. I asked him how old he was.

“Fifty-six,” he said.

Is my Uncle John still alive, I wonder? He disappeared to Germany and was never seen again. Well, not by me anyway. Should I be scared?

And if I manage to get through that watershed, I’d like to see my 100th birthday, as long as it doesn’t hurt.

Is that even remotely possible? Let’s face it; the 130 year old lady must be feeling a bit stiff.

I mean, I’m feeling a bit stiff myself and she is over twenty years off being three times my age. Ha! Fooled you. Only a numerical genius will be able to work out my age from that nifty brain-twister. And I am quietly confident that anyone who thinks my maths puzzle was more infantile than nifty will not be able to say so because that sort of person won’t be reading my blog in the first place.

Antisa would like an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. In fact, though she will take the record from a Japanese woman who is a mere snip of a girl at 114, Antisa has made it by a hair. Sahan Dosova from Kazakhstan would have been 131 this year if she hadn’t died as the result of slipping in the bath.

My Aunt June drowned in the bath but that’s another story. And the question is, was she fifty-seven at the time? We may never know.

To round up, and before I take my pills, I will finish this blog with a hat-trick of trivia.

1. How sad is it that Sahan outlived all but three of her children?

2. How mad is it that she died on my birthday; the birthday I share with Irving Berlin?

3. And how bad is it that she had to wait 130 years before she got her fifteen minutes of fame?

What’s Feminism done for us?

March 10, 2010

I had to laugh when I googled International Women’s Day.  I want to blog on Ceri Matthew’s excellent piece in the Telegraph today and that was one of her tags.

Ceri’s article is about the excellent BBC Four Documentary Libbers celebrating the achievements of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the Seventies. And what came up on google was Jeeves, looking every bit the archetypal British butler, responding with answers about Ladies Day at Ascot, a day when women still try to outdo each other with glamorous hats. In fact, they make a point of dressing like the very women the valiant libbers fought to liberate.

On the merits of feminism…There’s good news and bad news. The world was ghastly before it. We know that. And we’re not ungrateful. There is a wonderful moment in Mad Men, set in the advertising world in the early Sixties, when the only female copywriter asks for her own office. The Managing Partner turns to his secretary and says “Isn’t she cute?”

So the good news about feminism is that nowadays we have to go out of our way to behave like those obsolete women. Most of us have to dress up and act out to become caricatures of the women who didn’t do it for fun, women who had no choices; before the Liberation Movement unravelled the stereotyping and set us on course to take over the world. (You do know that women are gradually taking over the world, don’t you? Of course you do.)

And the bad news? Every woman knows it.

I was standing in a crowded train after a long day in London and whispered to the woman next to me, “So much for women’s lib.” It was neither clever nor original and on the Surrey line one ought to know better than to address one’s neighbour. Quite rightly, she recoiled, thinking I was trying to sell her the Big Issue. But the point is this: I was complaining because I grew up in a world where men gave up their seats for us, opened doors for us and brought us flowers at the drop of a hanky.

Actually I lie. No-one ever bought me flowers spontaneously. I always had to break their spirit first. But that’s another story.

I know I’m an old fogey but I can’t get my head around male behaviour nowadays. Letting a lady stand up while he sits! It’s….it’s beyond comprehension! Like eating a dog. Hmmm. Is it that bad? Well yes, very nearly. If it’s a Jack Russell.

So what has feminism really done for us? Apart from all the good things, which I will learn from watching Vanessa Engle’s whole series, it’s denuded us of our right to courtesy from the male sex and turned us into wage slaves. Now we’re wage-slaves by day and house drudges by night. And half the weekend.

Why can’t we have the best of both worlds: men that carry our bags; give us their seats and clean our houses?

It’s no good. Thanks to feminism, the world is all mussed up.

Roll on the robot age. It’s all we can hope for now.

Skinny or Fat, Who’s to Blame?

March 9, 2010

After one week of reading the news I’ve lost my sense of humour and become terminally depressed. I knew this would happen.

Look at yesterday’s. Someone put a car bomb in their pregnant wife’s car. Now, that’s not nice. I hereby apologise for ever complaining about my ex-hubbie. He was never that bad.

And there’s another skinny model in the press. I don’t mean to be rude, but Alessandra Ambrosio looks like a stick insect. One with gorgeous hair.

Natural skinniness is of course nobody’s “fault”. But self-inflicted skinniness is an illness. We all know that. And if suicide is illegal in some parts of the world, maybe slow suicide ought to be as well?

Instead of putting Anorexics into treatment centres, maybe they should be incarcerated in Her Majesty’s prisons. That oughta do it. Or possibly not.

Alternatively, we can try less drastic measures to achieve the body beautiful. Click here for a helpful article in the Mail about how to disguise your body shape. Why do we need to, I say! Oh alright, then, click here for news of a new bra that can uplift the smallest bust. Yippee!!!

And here we go again, jumping through hoops to look “good”.

Who is really to blame here? Of course, it’s the bloody media – again – for promoting a certain type of body image. Why, they’re clearly to blame for most things.

As for those of us who don’t manage to get down to zero size and are so depressed about it we stuff our faces and balloon to hero size, we should probably be arrested for self-harming too.

I implore you not to look at my photograph and call me hypocritical. Believe me I am a fat person imprisoned inside a thin person; self-imprisoned by my relentlessly healthy dietary regime. Mentally – and physically – I am only a few donuts away from morbid obesity.

But self-blame never did anybody any good. I was seven stone heavier than I am now and only began to lose weight when I recognised that I had an eating disorder and needed help. Self-blame only makes us reach out for the biscuit tin, or go the other way and starve ourselves way beyond the call of beauty.

So it’s healthy to blame the media for depressing us in the first place. And second in line has to be the government, for allowing a ridiculous amount of sugar, fat and salt into our diets and keeping us addicted to yummy fattening foods.

Yeah! Let’s blame everyone! And while you’re about it, pass me a donut.

Next, after joining the campaign for real bodies at 100 Percent People, just close your eyes and imagine a world where everyone eats healthily and variations in size are considered as unremarkable as variations in height; where our faces are clean and moisturised, devoid of cosmetics and cosmetic enhancement and stand just as they are: wrinkles and all.

Hmmm. Bit boring though innit?

PR and Politics

March 8, 2010

I divide the news into two categories. There’s miserable news and funny news. Miserable news involves war plus general maiming, killing and kidnapping of civilians by civilians; girl gangs, boy gangs (inside and outside of No 10 Downing Street) and hoodie antics from both sexes (although you can’t blame kids for wearing hoods in this weather. Frankly, I wish my son would wear a hood …and some gloves and a nice scarf).

The funny news, which is much more worthy, is about how celebrities look and what they wear, celebrity antics (with or without hoods) and…um….that’s about it.

I am new to world-matters, as I’ve shared with you before, and I really can’t see any advantage to knowing about world tragedy unless I’m going to do something about it. Otherwise, the guilt is crippling. No wonder my house is untidy, my children unfed and my garden a disgrace. It’s clearly because I’ve been trying to follow the news. It’s all so depressing, it’s doin’ my ‘ed in.

I shall of course deny any accusations that my house, garden and children were in trouble before I embarked on this tortuous journey towards sophistication. It’s all lies I tell you.

So, for today at least, let’s turn aside from how the Tories think that Labour are naughty babbies and Labour thinks the Tories are poo-faced meanies, and instead talk about the Oscars. Yay!

A first Oscar to a female Director. Rock on Kathryn Bigelow! I can’t believe it’s a first. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.

I also think it’s utterly cool of Sandra Bullock to go and pick up her award for Worst Actress at the Golden Raspberry Awards, or ‘Razzies’, an award ceremony that celebrates the Worst of Hollywood, which most ‘A’ Listers apparently shun. She’ll be very popular with the Brits for that. We just love self-deprecation.

I wonder, though, whether Sandra already knew she was going to get the Best Actress award at the Oscars? Call me cynical, but it was a magnificent PR coup for her to pull off that never before achieved Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress and Oscar for Best Actress all in the same year.

It’s the sort of coincidence you’ll never get away with in a film. Not unless you want a Razzie for it.

Exploitative Telly? How very dare they!

March 5, 2010

In today’s Daily Mail I see that a woman in America is suing her surgeon for leaving her with four breasts.

Uh oh. There may be jokes about this from comedians around the world.

But truly, my heart goes out to Mrs Alamo. Disfigurement is not funny. I should know. In a mild way, I have suffered from it myself.

In 1996 I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. That went well, but I refused the offer of a nipple.  Why?

I was in pain from the recent operation and the surgeon said they would construct it with skin grafted from my privates. He was surprised when I gracefully declined. Apart from the extra pain, the idea of walking around with a bit of my arse on my chest didn’t appeal.

So, one nipple short of a pair, I slowly recovered. Then I lost four and a half stone. That was largely a good thing, but because my reconstructed breast was made of stomach muscle and fat, it clung to its weight while the natural breast didn’t.

Stomach fat is programmed to hang around and make our lives a misery. Ain’t that the truth? And mine did. So after the weight-loss I ended up with asymmetrical breasts and no nipple.

Trying to achieve symmetry I had liposuction on the over-large, reconstructed breast. Alas, it made no difference.

One surgeon advised me to live with it.

‘You will never look normal again,’ he said. That was hard to hear. And I didn’t want to hear it, refusing to give up until the fat lady had sung. Like many people in our image-obsessed culture, I felt my physical inadequacy keenly.

So I opted to have the natural breast made bigger to match the two in size. However, the new surgeon went overboard and gave me a massive implant.

Still asymmetrical and with one over-large knocker, I felt like a right tit.

He also put the implant in through the nipple and sewed it up badly so it was distorted out of shape. So then the right breast was bigger than the left, and the one remaining nipple was misshapen. I was a vision. Things were definitely getting worse. I didn’t know how to go forward and sadly, I couldn’t go back.

Obligingly, he put an implant into the left breast. For a while I was symmetrical, albeit with only one distorted nipple. I had a stick-on nipple made, but of course it had to match the other, so it was distorted too.

That would have been ok, but then I lost my last two and a half stone. Oops. This time the reconstructed breast ended up smaller than the other.

I couldn’t help it, she whined. I wanted to be slim. Is it a sin? Is it a crime? The NHS clearly thought so and refused my funding application for more corrective surgery. This is cosmetic, they said. On your bike.

I thought I was stuck then with the disfigured nipple and obviously asymmetrical breasts and wondered how I’d ever have the guts to date again. And then…cue music….Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies came to the rescue.

Yes, it was embarrassing to go on national television and bare my all, but it was a small price to pay for getting my body sorted out.

It also fulfilled another ambition of mine, which was to help other women to feel less frightened of mastectomy. That had seemed impossible when my body was – how can I put it – funny-looking. Not horrific, but not great. I didn’t think it would help anyone to see that. But now it’s different.

I’m extremely grateful that my positive experience of cosmetic surgery is captured in film and available on the Embarrassing Bodies website, so that anyone who wants to know about implants and nipple reconstruction can check it out.

How can that service be called exploitative television? The idea’s ridiculous. The corrective procedures provided by Embarrassing Bodies are not only entertaining but informative too. They help people like me to live more fulfilled lives, and that’s a public service.

The issue we really need to address – and one which is definitely exploited by other programmes – is why we are all chasing the body beautiful in the first place….

Fifteen Minutes of Shame

March 4, 2010

I like to spend my time looking for the laugh and trying to be funny. This may come as a surprise to my readers, but it’s true.  Shallow? Irresponsible? Yes, of course. But some of us need to escape. That’s why we read stories about Kelly Osbourne’s hair colour, rather than darker tales about the Chinese stock market.

Today though, my attention was arrested. Although I wanted to lark about with the news that voice recognition software finds men harder to understand – something along the lines of ‘isn’t that stating the obvious’ –  I feel compelled instead to strike a more serious note.

Here it is. I was shocked to my bones by the story in the Daily Mail about the four year old child being mocked on Facebook.

Even apart from the act of ridicule after the event, I think the practise of sitting children “under the thinking tree” is archaic and unhelpful. It’s not much different to being stood on a chair wearing a dunce’s cap. I remember being sent to stand in a corner with my face to the wall. But that was in the 1960s. Has education not moved on since then? What’s the point of all this offsted-ing if teachers are still getting away with that?

Another thing that struck me about the story was that the little girl said she hadn’t done anything wrong but the teacher wouldn’t listen. Huh. I remember that well.

Look here, I could be a champion knitter now if it hadn’t been for an experience I had at the tender age of six.

The teacher sent us home with the task of knitting six inches for teddy’s scarf. I knitted furiously all weekend. I loved it.

When the time came to stop and measure, though, I panicked because I had much more than six inches. I unravelled the extra back to six, measuring it carefully against my little ruler, pulling it as tight as I could along the ruler’s length…

I was looking forward to at least a silver star in my notebook for this. So it was a shock when the teacher held my scarf up with a scornful sneer on her face and asked me what had happened.

“Six inches,” I said.

“One,” she said, holding poor teddy’s scarf against a ruler. But I had stretched and stretched the scarf against my ruler to make the six inches and the teacher didn’t do that. She just held it there.

She didn’t stretch it even when I asked her to. She held it aloft in front of the whole class and said that I hadn’t done any knitting at all because I was a lazy girl. I tried to explain and said I’d done lots of knitting but had unwound it. She said I was a little liar. She said no-one could be that stupid. The whole class giggled at me.

I was shamed. I cried. I never knitted again.

That’s how damaging these experiences can be.

And just think, if that teacher had been more understanding, I might even have grown up to win Harry Hill’s Knitted Character competition…

Keep it real or fake it to make it?

March 3, 2010

More stuff about being beautiful in the Press today. Anita Burge is injecting her sixteen year old daughter with Botox. Simon Cowell says that Botox is as normal as cleaning your teeth.

Are we living in a madhouse? Or not?

Maybe Simon is right. He insists that he is not ‘super’ vain but just a guy who likes to look after himself. And I admit to having Botox on my frown line from time to time. A frown line is such a giveaway that one has “issues”. Ask Dorian Gray. He knows. Oh well alright you can’t, he’s dead. Or rather never existed. But, if you think about it,  he was the grandfather of the whole Botox movement. In a way.

Look, it’s clear that I’m as confused as most people. And I’m not talking about car insurance. I’m talking about body image, again. I might continue to talk about it for some time, hoping for a resolution.

Anita Burge has had 150 cosmetic procedures and she looks very nice to me. But does she look real? On the other hand, does she need to? Are we all just being snobbish about the importance of being real? Should we give up on reality altogether?

Lots of question marks, I beg your pardon. I’ll make some statements instead. It looks more confident. And looks are everything; I think we’ve established that.

Right. That’s a good word to start with. So. Another one. Yes. A third. Shut up. OK. Here are some assertions.

I have fake breasts. They look good and feel good, if you like the feel of fake ones. And I do. I can’t actually remember what real breasts feel like. So I’m fine with mine; I’m perfectly happy, sitting at home feeling my own breasts. How sad is that? But we’re not here to talk about me, she lied.

What I’m trying to say is this: there are people with extreme views on any subject. The Daily Mail seems to take the stance that it’s outrageous for a sixteen year old to be injected with a muscle relaxant to stop her developing wrinkles. Simon Cowell, on the other hand, says that having Botox is as natural as scratching your arse. He didn’t say that at all but I think I can put words into his mouth if I like, as long as I say sorry. Sorry Simon.

Similarly, lots of people celebrate extreme skinniness, proudly showing off bones that most of us never see, while others think it’s a travesty.

And while some people think being real is key; being natural is nice;  others think that fake is fabulous.

I suspect that  most of us flounder, confused, somewhere in the middle: victims – despite all good sense – of a lifetime of indoctrination towards worshipping and aspiring to the “beautiful” bod.

And it’s crazy. There will always be someone younger and more beautiful than us. Unless you’re Angelina Jolie of course. But the rest of us will never be satisfied. I know I’m not. So please, let’s turn our admiration on to real women and put the supervain amongst us out of our misery.

Give children back their childhoods. And give our body-image back to us.

March 2, 2010

David Cameron and Linda Papadopoulis are quite right to wave the banner for the de-sexualisation of our kids in the media. But let’s ride on the wave of their enthusiasm and spread the love. Let’s get behind the campaign for real bodies.

Responsible programmes like Embarrassing Bodies and How to Look Good Naked with Gok Wan are doing their bit by persuading real people to take off their clothes. I did it myself, desperately seeking symmetry and a nipple. As y’do.

What I was actually seeking, of course, was inner beauty.

Nah. Bollocks to that; I already have bucket loads of inner beauty. Trouble is, it’s invisible, and there’s also no way of knowing it from my behaviour…

No, what I was really after was an America’s-Next-Top-Model level of beauty. I haven’t got it, but I am happy to be relatively normal again, with two nipples and a fairly smashing pair of knockers.

But here’s the thing…. would I have had several painful operations following my breast cancer if I hadn’t been influenced by the media since I was tiny to believe that women have to look “like that”.

Would my asymmetrical breasts and my lost nipple have caused me so much secret angst all these years if I lived in a world where different shapes and sizes were not just acceptable but celebrated?

So…what if….oooh, here’s an idea…..what if absolutely everyone got behind the campaign for real women – nay, real people – since men are being affected by poor body-image issues now too?

Think of all the problems the creation of that Utopia would solve. Our children might stop prematurely giving up on their childhoods. Anorexics, bulimics and overeaters might stop destroying themselves. They’d no longer have any excuse to binge, purge or drown their sorrows in donuts if everyone accepted the I’m okay, you’re okay approach to physical appearance. (Well alright, people don’t need much of an excuse to commit slow suicide but it would be a start wouldn’t it?)

Let’s do it! And let it begin with breasts! Yes, I know, I’m obsessed.  But have a look at the real boobs on Wow, they’re weird. But reassuringly individual.

If you’ve come back from the breast site – and you probably haven’t – I was saying that we’ve seriously got to do something about the iron-grip of the media on our body image!

I eerily predicted in my book Getting it off my chest that plastic surgery would first become commonplace and then addictive. It has! I’m a seer!

What if the rest of it comes true? What if it does eventually come with a government health warning…

…and then with patches to help us all give up, which will probably take the form of large hoods with eye-holes…

…and finally become illegal…

…and go underground…

…and fall into the hands of charlatans…

…so we’ll all be walking around looking like the Phantom of the Opera.

Aaaaarghghghg! It is! It’s all coming true! Let’s stop now, before it’s too late. I’m begging you!

Wait though….I love watching the shenanigans on America’s Next Top Model. Hmmm. Let me see….

Maybe we could allow that series to continue as a sort of period piece or…

… we could present it in the proper way as a natural history programme: with narration by David Attenborough

…or we could screen it on Saturday afternoons and re-title it…


Yeah. Sorted.

Support for Obesity. And I don’t mean a truss.

March 1, 2010

One of the BBC’s lead stories today informs us that obese children are showing signs of heart disease.

Poor kids. Poor parents. And according to another BBC news story they probably are – poor, that is.

Why is it that the press love to jangle our nerves and wring our heart-strings – our possibly inflamed heartstrings – yet offer us very little in the way of solution?

If obesity is a growing concern, why don’t we make radical change that will immediately solve the problem, like making sugar an illegal substance?

Gosh, that’s very, very radical. And every donut lover who has stumbled across my blog will probably stop reading right now. Let me fling after you, just before your eyes glaze over, the claim by Kathleen DesMaisons, author of Potatoes, not Prozac that “If sugar were to be put on the market for the first time today, it would probably be difficult to get it past the FDA.” Think on.

Maybe obese people who find it difficult to feed their children should get the chance to benefit from some of the glamour that surrounds that other eating disorder…now what’s it called….? The name escapes me, just for the minute.


Why is it that overeating doesn’t have the same status as undereating? Why is obesity still not fully recognised as the result of an eating disorder? It may not get such a grip on the psyche, it may not kill as frequently or as dramatically, or be as visually arresting, but how does that justify its low status in the eyes of the medical profession?

The stories of how obesity leads inexorably to death are legion. So why do Anorexics get all the attention, all the money and all the resources?

What do obese people get? They don’t get Treatment Centres. They don’t get a referral to The Priory. Oh no. They have to pay to go to Fat Camp.

They don’t get poncey names like Anorexia Nervosa either. They get to be called Fatso and Lardy Arse.

And they have embarrassing reality television programmes made about them so they can be laughed at. I would hazard an uninformed guess that most overweight people don’t even watch those programmes, not wanting to be shamed.

Let’s stop the practise of pointing and laughing. Give them a proper name, a bit of respect for their difficulties and some real solutions. We couldn’t stop shaming smokers and we still haven’t, but what we have done is make it very difficult for people to smoke.

Why can’t we do that for Overeaters?

Gimme a pig foot and a bottle of beer

February 26, 2010

When Bessie Smith sang those immortal words the bottle of beer was already doing better than the pig’s foot, and it hasn’t declined in popularity, in fact The Guardian are running an excellent campaign to stop our youngsters getting sozzled, supported by Drinkaware. In this video some of them discuss their experiences of learning about alcohol.

Everyone talks about drinking sensibly. What’s that? Isn’t it better not to drink at all? Pshaw! The very idea!

But hey, I don’t drink and I’m as happy as Larry. He’s my hairdresser and he’s very happy.

On a sober note, my drinking history began at 14 and peaked at my 21st birthday party with Tequila slammers that resulted in my passing out cold at 9pm whilst the revelry continued into the small hours without me. After all the weeks of planning and anticipation, I missed my 21st altogether. In fact I missed out on quite a lot of my youth, courtesy of the demon drink; but though I drank heavily, the grace of God spared me the terrible disease of alcoholism.

Those of us in the know are aware that alcoholism is not defined by how much or even how often someone drinks, but whether or not they can stop at one. As the alcoholics say: ‘One is too many. A thousand aren’t enough’.

I’m a serious sugar junky so I know what that feels like. I can’t stop at one biscuit. If you locked me in a padded cell with a packet of biscuits, you’d have to put me in a strait jacket and muzzle me like Hannibal Lecter. But please don’t. And while you’re on, please don’t chop off my head and keep me alive in a jar. Just in case you were thinking of it…

Years later my drinking slowed almost to a halt when I learned to drive and realised that my faculties did not need further diminishing. The police agreed with me. After breathalysing me they wondered if their machine was working. Only a drunk could drive as badly as that, they said.

Suffice to say that when alcohol left my life altogether, on account of my becoming physically intolerant of it – and perhaps intellectually intolerant too – I had the strangest revelation…

It isn’t the booze that makes party people have a good time. It’s the anticipation of pleasurable discourse, the commitment to bonhomie, the joie de vivre and other words of wisdom loaned to us by the French. Damn those clever Frenchies.

What’s more, when the drinkers are all making arses of themselves with red faces and damaged livers, I am still upright, still alert and still having a good time. And in the morning I look as good as I did yesterday, which is, I’m afraid, as good as I can look.

Enfin: on the question of how to stop youngsters drinking? That’s easy. Don’t drink yourself. It’s amazing what kids pick up from their parents.

Mr Brown, Mr Blair and Mr Balls went out to play

February 25, 2010

Michael Savage’s piece in the Independent today, quoting from The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley confirms my long-held belief that we have toddlers running the nation.

And that’s scary.

If Mr Blair – as quoted by Mr Savage (no jokes about fitting names for journalists please) – who was quoting Mr Rawnsley (nothing remarkable about this name) but with my auditory processing disorder (that’s the disorder of the day) I have forgotten by this point in the sentence what I had set out to say at the beginning of it, but it is satisfyingly long, starts badly and goes nowhere, so it’s exactly right for a political piece, I think.

Let’s try again. Journalese, this time. Mr Blair says Mr Brown shouted at him, rather meanly, that Mr Blair had ruined Mr Brown’s life. That’s according to Michael Savage, who is reporting this according to Mr Rawnsley’s book. Are you following that?

I can’t. I’m way too blonde. That’s why I stick to interesting subjects like Liz Hurley’s left boob. I’m trying to join the world, however, and must overcome my prejudice towards political correspondence.

It all seems rather childish, that’s all. And that really scares me. If childish people are running the country, what hope is there for its citizens?

So anyway, paring this story down to its simplest and most convenient interpretation, which is what the press seem to do, Mr Blair appears to have ruined Mr Brown’s life, and according to Mr Savage – who’s quoting Mr Rawnsley – Mr Balls pushed Mr Brown. My goodness!

Going out on a limb, I will add my own word (for the sake of what we writers call ‘colour’) and say that Mr Balls probably pushed Mr Brown hard.

Well I never! What rum goings-on! I think we should tell Nanny!

On the Subject of S.E.X. (an extract from Getting It Off My Chest)

February 12, 2010

It was difficult to contemplate dating when I knew that sooner or later the question of how many nipples I had was going to come up.

Before I ventured forth into the world, I was fascinated to hear about the experiences of a girlfriend who had already had a reconstruction and whose marriage was stone cold in its grave. She told me she had started internet dating. I was shocked. I knew she had a stick-on nipple for one thing. What about that?

There was another issue: her cancer had spread. She was living on borrowed time against a ticking clock and one tiny step ahead of the Grim Reaper. She knew her number was up; it was all crumbling into bollockdom and she was completely buggered.

I asked her if the man she was meeting knew about her cancer. She demurred, saying there was a time for that and this wasn’t it. I thought she should have told him. Damaged goods and all that. But then, I realised, the question of disclosure isn’t so easy. At what point could she have brought it up? In the advertisement? Something along the lines of: ‘Sexy soon-to-be-dead cancer victim seeks romp with freak-lover. All prosthetic appliances welcome.’

But it was hard. How many fifty-year-old women have any confidence in their normal fifty-year-old bodies to cope with dating, let alone slightly wacky, slightly off-the-wall, slightly horribly-mutilated bodies?

The men who are ‘doing you a favour’ don’t help either, though they are obviously trying. My first foray into sex-after-marriage happened to be with a man who actively sought out unusual body types. Humps, wooden legs, bearded ladies. He just loved ‘em.

When I found this out afterwards it knocked my confidence somewhat. Just a little

But before I put my toe in the water, I pumped my friend for information. I asked her if the stick-on nipple had been a success. She said, ‘Not really. It doesn’t feel too good. Also, I’ve found, their hands can actually get stuck on it and pull it off, which is not ideal either.’
‘What do you do then?’
‘Just gently guide their hands away.’
‘Don’t they notice?’ I asked.
‘No,’ she said. ‘I dated one guy I’d slept with years before and I honestly don’t think he noticed that I’d had a mastectomy at all.’
‘Was he partially sighted?’
‘No!’ she said, sharply.

The don’t-mention-it-and-you-can-be-sure-they-won’t-notice way was her way, but it wouldn’t work for me, even though I remember being horribly put off once by a man who arrested my hand as it crept into his trousers to tell me that he only had one bollock. Would I have noticed, I wonder?

No, despite my own experiences of being put off by honest disclosure, I found myself compelled to stand naked in front of my suitors and give them a thorough and detailed tour around my scars.

That’s my style.

And if they still had an erection, we were on.

But it felt like a trial by drowning, like witch-trials where if the plaintiff were innocent of witchery she would not float, so she drowned; and if she turned out to be a witch and floated, she was torched.

If my suitors still had an erection by the end of the tour, I knew they were either insensitive, incorrigible sex addicts, or fully paid-up members of the freak-show club. And if they hadn’t got an erection – if they’d either left by the nearest exit, or were holding me in their arms while we both sobbed quietly into each other’s chest hair – then…well… that was a bit of a dampener too.

But the good news is that on the whole men are simpler creatures than us and – in the area of sex – also better creatures.

Let’s face it, they’re desperate, most of them, and being desperate, they really aren’t that choosy. At least, that’s what I found. So after the sobbing, the erections came back.

And I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. After the sobbing, the erections come back.

Change is difficult

February 9, 2010

‘Life is difficult’, says Scott Peck, in The Road Less Travelled. If we can just master that, it will get easier.

I think – but don’t quote me – that the Buddhists say that too; along with one or two other philosophers, religious or otherwise. Speaking for myself, and perhaps I’d be safer doing that, I think the most difficult thing about life is that things change.

Just when I decide it’s safe to feel contented, that I’m getting the hang of it all, an appliance stops working. Someone in the family goes down with a cold. A large bill drops onto the mat and lies belligerently beside all the other large bills that call the mat their home.

These problems, high-class ones I admit, can all be dealt with – even easily – if I would stop kvetching about them and just get on with whatever needs to be done. In fact, that reasoning can be applied to real problems too: problems of bereavement, serious illness, divorce, unemployment, natural disaster, addictions and homelessness. (Have I covered all the world’s problems there? Maybe not, but you get the gist).

The Serenity Prayer is a useful resource:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Literature helps too. Books like Susan Jeffers’ Feel the fear and do it anyway and Louise Hay’s You can Heal Your Life inspire life-altering shifts in perception that make it all seem manageable.

For me, the main problem to overcome is my resistance to change, because change happens whether I want it or not: all the time, every day. My struggle with that – my thrashing about in the water – is painful, time-consuming and unproductive. I need to learn to swim, and not just swim. I need to learn to surf.

Imagine riding the waves on the sea of life, your hair flowing in the wind. Isn’t that what people like Jonathan Ross do? Successful people like Wossy, Alan Sugar and Terry Wogan? Terry Wogan? Yeah. I like Terry. He’s a British Institution and you can’t get much more successful than that.  I’m not fit to wipe his boots. I could at a pinch, but my knees are terrible. I must change that. I’ll go to Pilates.

So, have I made sense? Probably not but it doesn’t matter. Next time, I will change the way I say it.

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Article in Saturday’s Guardian: Smile! You’ve Got Cancer

January 4, 2010

Although this is a beautifully written article I find myself as unsympathetic towards Barbara’s furiously angry attitude to her illness as I am to the Happy-Clappy Brigade’s furry pink optimism. If she felt so strongly about the negative experience of chemotherapy, why did she not do as I did and refuse the treatment?

Am I in a category entirely on my own, where I can be honest about the hideousness of breast cancer and yet still able to see the gift in it? My own book ‘Getting it off my chest” is admittedly very dark in places but it’s also got something that others of its kind don’t have and that’s an ability to see the funny side. Balance is the key.

So let’s all clap-happy with one hand and put our fingers up to the Cancer Club with the other. That should cover all our bases.

I went to a marvellous party

December 11, 2009

I went to a marvellous party last night, full of established TV writers, producers, composers, designers, directors. It was like an episode of Ab Fab. I think I was Bubbles. Especially when I shook hands with someone whilst holding a glass of bubbly. Bubbly water, that is, for my good health fans. It drenched my t-shirt, leaving a large stain and giving everyone a good excuse to stare at my tits. This is probably a networking tip. In fact, it’s not mine. A lady novelist friend – she knows who she is – said to me once, “Always wear a good bra darling. As you get older, you won’t want them looking at your face.”

I’m so glad I’m blogging intelligently about this party (I won’t tell you whose, in case you ought to have been invited), because I’ve been trying not to tell you another anecdote in which I come off badly. What is this compulsion to heap ridicule on myself all about? Oh yes, my therapist would say, it’s my fear of success syndrome. Or maybe it’s less eclectic, and just a severe case of British-ness.

Either way, I’m pleased that I’m not going to tell you how I spent the other day racing against the clock to turn my short film script She Had to Go and Lose it at the Astor into an entry for the Sunday Times Short Story Competition. The prize was £25,000. Worth a day of sweat and tears and then a frantic race to London to deliver it before the five o’clock deadline.

I arrived home, pleased with my hard work and dedication, only to find that despite careful editing, my last-minute decision to use the global replace function to change the tense from present to past had produced disastrous results.

Since it’s a story about slipping between past and present, I might possibly have got away with surreal sentences like “Bertie snaffled the brandy from the tray and slips it in his pocket” because the judges might have thought I was doing something arty with the tenses to illustrate the disintegration of my character’s grasp on reality. Possibly. But alas, I think the title in the footer might give me away, as it says on every page: She Had to Went and Lose it at the Astor.

I shared my deep embarrassment with my daughter, looking for a sympathetic ear.

“Look what I’ve done! What are they going to think when they read this!?”
“Don’t worry,” she said. “They’ll either think you’re an idiot, or that English isn’t your first language.”

Newsflash: Heavy Petting does you good

October 30, 2009

I am now returned from the indescribably brilliant International Screenwriters Festival at Cheltenham, inspired by Kate Adamson’s session on marketing for writers, to name but one inspiring session (not to mention my own inspiring session on Making a Living out of Writing, since to mention that would be immodest) and I am now fully charged up and determined to write… shorter sentences.

And following Kate’s session I am also determined to blog frequently on the latest breast cancer news, in order to effectively market my comedy cancer memoir! Marketing must be worked at, she says. So here goes. A cancer blog.

Breaking newsflash tells us that cats and dogs are helpful to cancer sufferers by cheering us up. Hmm. I wonder how much that survey cost.

Some dogs can also apparently smell cancer. My friend Mandy’s hairdresser can apparently smell cancer too. She must have customers queuing around the block. Not. “There you are Madam, beautiful, and might I be so bold as to suggest that a wee visit to the doctor’s might be in order?”

My breast cancer news is brought to me by Google Alerts. It comes in one-line summaries with links to the full articles. (If you want proper responses to the latest breast cancer news, go swiftly to You will find no proper responses from yours truly).

So having digested that item my eye dropped to the next, which seemed at first glance to segue nicely from the last:

High Resolution Breast PET improves Breast Cancer detection. Read the full article here. If you can understand it, the article declares excellent news on early detection systems, but I don’t think it explains what PET stands for.

I don’t mind. I’m all for it. A “high resolution breast pet” sounds like bloody good fun to me…

Praise for Getting It Off My Chest

October 24, 2009

Wow. A complete stranger approached me on Facebook and wrote this:

“After recently being diagnosed with breast cancer, i was looking for a book to take into hospital with me. i must have looked through at least a 150 best sellers when i came across ‘getting it off my chest.’ i read the first few pages and found myself laughing out loud in the middle of W.H Smiths. i am trying not to read much more because i am want to save it for when i go in on 3rd Nov. I love your sense of humour especially when you describe your thoughts on the mammogram. Thank you for writing the only book i have fancied reading for years.”

I was overwhelmed. It reminded me of why I wrote the book. And I pledge to the Nation (or anyone who’s actually reading this) that I will quadruple my efforts to get it out there so it can do its job. Cheering people up! 🙂