Friday, 17 February 2023

Last week I gave a talk to a local WI group about how to be a rebel. Here in Kettering, we have an ongoing battle to prevent half a dozen warehouses being built on an area of woodland and a wildflower meadow, and that was the starting point for my presentation. If you want to know more about the Newton Rebellion and the fight to Save Weekley Hall Wood, click here.

Then I segued into an introduction to Extinction Rebellion. I've not (yet) been called upon to glue myself to anything, but I've done a bit of shouting and taken part in various actions that, depending on your point of view, might be considered close to the line that divides legal from arrestable.

There is so much that needs fixing in the world that it's hard to know where to start. Indeed, some days it seems overwhelming and it's tempting to throw in the towel and let the world go to hell in the proverbial handcart. However, as Mr Thorley wisely says, 'That's what "they" want you to do." So we fight on.

Anyway, the WI ladies were lovely. They listened carefully and asked lots of questions. Many of them seemed as outraged as I am, and they took away leaflets and details of where to go for further information or to get involved. I did, though, try to reassure them that getting arrested wasn't necessary, that there is plenty of gentle but effective action that can be taken:

  • Read the planning applications in your local paper and oppose them if they seem iffy
  • Look at those laminated notices that your council sticks up on lamp posts
  • Sit in the public gallery at council meetings so you know what's going on
  • Write letters and sign petitions - hell, why not start a petition?
  • Many of you who read this blog are writers, so submit articles to newspapers and magazines
  • Report problems on Fix My Street
  • Make a placard for someone to carry on a protest
  • Put up a poster in your window

The key thing is to do something to make the world a better place. If not you, then who?

Friday, 10 February 2023

Back in the saddle

Failed already, then. I was planning to post a blog every Friday (or as near as I could manage), but have slipped after only three weeks. There are mitigating circumstances, though.

January went by in a blur of campaigning for the local by-election. I was lucky enough to go to the count, and it was fascinating to see the democratic process at work, as bundles of voting papers were opened, unfolded, sorted, counted, then sorted again and re-counted. Goodness me, though, it was hard work getting to that point.

The week after that I decided I really ought to do some housework (I know!) and maybe stock the fridge again. There was work to catch up on, too. I'd been keeping things ticking over - a proof read here, an email sent there - but a client's 90,000-word manuscript kept tugging at my sleeve for attention. I'm pleased to say that I've made a good start on this book now and it's going well. I really should be working on it this morning, but this blog was saying 'Over here!'

The other project that has taken some of my energy is that I have finally sorted the paperback edition of my walking book, Jurassic Way. It's been a long slog, but has already had some interest and I think, overall, it's been worth it. Anyway, have a look and see what you think. If you like it, please leave a review; if you don't, then - er - keep quiet!

Watford, Northants - yes, as in Watford Gap

The question is: what shall I do next?

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Out on the mean streets

Anyone else signed up to Country Walking magazine's regular challenge to walk 1000 miles in a year? It's not as daunting as it sounds: 2.75 miles a day and you've got it in the bag. Easy, if you say it quickly enough.

I've made a good start. I've already walked 60 miles since New Year's Day, because I've been out canvassing. There's a local by-election coming up at the start of February, so I've been pounding the streets posting leaflets through letterboxes and knocking on doors to gauge voter intention. I feel doubly smug because of all the miles I've clocked up and the satisfaction of knowing I'm supporting a good cause.

An unexpected consequence has been that I've seen parts of Kettering I've never seen before, despite having lived here for over 30 years. It's not a big town but a bit like New York (and this is where the similarity ends) it is divided into tidy chunks, and there are some sectors I've never visited, especially those on the posh side of the tracks. There's been a lot of building work, too, and in several areas where once there stood a proud shoe factory, there is now an enclave of bijou homes. I was particularly intrigued to see a resurgence in back-to-back terraces being built among swish detached houses. Fascinating stuff.

If you fancy a walk, why not explore an area of your home turf you haven't visited before? You never know what you might find.

Friday, 6 January 2023

What you will


Just before Christmas, I was out delivering community newsletters. People were beginning to put up lights outside their houses, and inside I could see trees being decorated and people wrapping presents. Now we're at Twelfth Night, and those same houses are looking bare, with just the occasional deflated Santa clinging to a chimney pot. 

 As usual, I haven't made any New Year resolutions. I used to when I was a child: be kinder to my little brother; do my homework on time; pick up my clothes off the floor before bedtime; then later it was the usual things like losing weight, getting fit, cutting down on the tea and biscuits. I never lasted much beyond February, so now I just don't bother. Nor do I engage with Dry January, Veganuary or any other such nonsense. I prefer to decide for myself when things need a shake-up. 

The other thing is that it's so hard to predict what the coming week will bring, never mind the next year. Looking back I see I posted this on 1 January 2020: 

'I don't know if you've noticed, but a new year has started today. Honestly, to look at FaceAche you'd think it had never happened before. I'm SO fed up of people telling me how great 2020 is going to be. I hope they're right and I shall do my damnedest to make it so, but let's wait and see, shall we?'

 Need I say more?

The title of this blog is, of course, the subtitle of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night from which this quote comes:  'Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.'

I'll just leave that with you.

Friday, 30 December 2022

Board but not bored


I'm surprised and delighted by the resurgence of the humble board game. I was brought up playing Snakes & Ladders and Ludo, Dizzy Bugs, Mousetrap and Scrabble. My children were initiated into the ways of the Draughts board long before they could ride a bike, and even now on family occasions we will gather around the dining table for competitive games and a little gentle bickering over the rules.

Today's rash of games is different from those I remember from 'the old days'. The look and feel of them is as much a part of the experience as the actual playing - check out Azul, for instance, which is a strategy game we're playing obsessively at the moment. It involves laying tiles that, to my mind, look like Spangles. Remember them? We also turn to Catan, Seven Wonders and Colt Express, the latter of which comes with a cute train on which Wild West characters are moved in search of booty. Phoney cowboy accents have become obligatory when we play this.

We do still dig into the cupboard for some old favourites. However, the one pictured is the worst of all possible worlds; I mean, Risk is bad enough - it can maunder on for hours - but Lord of the Rings Risk means I have to wrap my head around the intricacies of Helm's Deep and Dol Guldur. Good grief.

I did suggest we got rid of this one, but was met with howls of protest from the rest of the Thorley clan. We'll see.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Is the blogging party over? Take two.

Well, I guess I've had that question answered.

If you want me, you can find me:

Before I go, though, let me just say that while I didn't win the Dickens Fellowship competition to create a modern-day character in the style of the great man, my entry - 'Charlotte-Anne Mountebank' - is in Volume 5 of the audio anthology. 
You can listen here

Bye for now!

Monday, 6 July 2020

Is the blogging party over?

From my first blog post
My fellow blogger Susan Jones has here posed the question: has blogging gone out of fashion? I've been wondering the same thing. I've been at it since 2011, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and while my words have never set the world on fire I know from the stats that people have been reading them and occasionally been moved to comment.

 I blog for three reasons:
  1. To make myself write;
  2. To share news and information I think might be of interest; and perhaps cynically
  3. As a marketing exercise, to keep my writing projects 'out there'.
However, response is down. Is this because I'm not giving the public what they want, as it were? Is blogging past its use-by date? Or is everyone simply too tired and/or overwhelmed to join in?

Of course, you can never tell what people are going to latch on to, whether it's on a blog, Facebook, Twitter or any of the other myriad social media platforms. I've realised that a good picture is helpful; one of my most popular Facebook posts was of a parsnip that looked like an Ood from Doctor Who. People are strange.

Has the time come to call it a day? Is there a better way to achieve my three objectives?