Village Life – The Post Office

David used to run the post office in the village before it closed recently due to the Royal Mail’s cutbacks.  When we first moved here in 1991 he ran it with the help of his wife Ann and Ann’s parents.  Ann’s mother Caroline and her husband John would serve sweets and stationery on one side of the post office, and David would deal with all post office matters behind a security desk on the other side.  When their two children were in school, Ann would help her husband.  All six of them lived ‘over the shop’ so to speak in the same house, where their front room had been turned into the shop floor.

Villagers would enjoy the relaxed atmosphere inside the post office and often stand chatting for quite a while.  We would often invite David and Ann’s eldest daughter Lisa over to our house to play with our boys.  Lisa would also attend any birthday parties I arranged for our sons.

Soon after having her third child, Ann, then about 35, began to lose weight.  When I used to go into the post office she was no longer there and I assumed she was in the house with the toddler.  However, it was Dot who informed me that Ann was suffering with stomach cancer and that nothing could be done for her.  At the age of only 36 Ann died leaving a devastated David to bring up 3 children.  Caroline and John were also heartbroken, as Ann had been their only child.  However, they rallied round and still worked in the shop and helped to look after the children.

Fast forward another 15 years or so.  David never remarried and still ran the post office with the help of his in-laws who were now elderly and becoming infirm.  Lisa was about 20 years old and driving herself about and enjoying life.

One morning as I went out for a walk I saw that the main road into the village was closed.  I asked my neighbour what was going on, as he always seemed to know everything that was happening in the village.  He told me that Lisa’s car had crashed into a tree, killing her on impact.  Poor David and his in-laws now had to cope with a second death in the family.  A few years after this Caroline and then John became sick and died.

Nowadays David runs a different post office a few miles away.  His son married and left home, and now it’s just David and his youngest daughter who live in the old post office.  He smiles and waves every time he sees me, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him.  He’s a lovely bloke.  I just hope that his remaining son and daughter eventually produce a clutch of grandchildren for him to fuss over and love.


Pass slowly over me

Nice poem from Stephen Tanham. I like this one.

Sun in Gemini

Pass slowly

Pass slowly over me

Blue and pearl of July sky

Lift from this day

A living crown of summer’s leaves

And place it on my hidden head

As lasting ghost of sky that shone

This done, let me pass this way 

When days are dark and short

And ground is mud and slush

When man and dog have weary feet

Their homeward trek near ended 

To wooden fire that warms the soul

With shortened strength in darkening eve

Let me pause a breath, remembering

And reaching back, pull down that crown

Then, for a heartbeat, blaze within

Uniting dark and light in song of human tide

Whose role and right is seeing both.

©Stephen Tanham 

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School Summer Holidays

The children are now off school for the summer holidays.  I remember years ago how I used to dread those 6 weeks living with an argumentative, hyperactive son.  Every morning at five thirty Leon was up and about, and bored by six o’clock.  I would have to spend a small fortune on him and his younger brother Marcus, a quiet, musical child, in order to keep them entertained enough not to try and kill each other.

There would be trips to the seaside, to the local roller skating rink, and to the Go-Kart track.  I’d sit and play Chess with Leon for as long as he could concentrate, or we’d all play Monopoly or Snakes & Ladders.  I didn’t believe in too much TV (the flickering images were not good for Leon’s concentration) and it was the days before the boys had mobile phones or computers in their bedrooms.  Sometimes Leon would be out on his bike with his friends, and I’d wonder what they were all up to.  However, I couldn’t keep a 12 year old at home all the time, and most of the time he was out of sight I knew he’d be sitting on the roof of the bus shelter in the village with three or four other boys.  I reasoned he couldn’t get up to much trouble while he was up there, and I was right.

However, it was while he was down on the ground that the doorbell would often ring.  One day the mother of Richard, a friend of Leon’s, was distraught and informed me that Leon and some others had trashed her house while she was at work.  When I asked Leon what Richard was doing at the time, he gaily told me that it was Richard who had done most of the trashing.  Who did what I do not know, but I made Leon spend all his pocket money on a bunch of flowers for the lady, and I stood over him as he apologised to her.

It was after the airgun incident and the policeman knocking on the door to give Leon a caution that I decided enough was enough and that the leash had to be reined in a bit.  Apparently he had used a friend’s airgun to shoot a hole in the door of the local ‘flasher’ (the flasher had previously exposed himself to the mother of one of Leon’s friends) to teach him a lesson.  This misguided ‘punishment’ earned him 3 months ‘grounding’.  As soon as he came home from school he was confined to the house, and Sam and I made sure that he never went further than the garden gate unless we were with him.

After a while the friends who had been less than a good influence on Leon stopped coming around.  When the 3 months were up to our delight he took up with some new friends who did not trash houses or own airguns.  I found him work as an apprentice air-conditioning engineer with day release to college when he was 15, and he loved it.  He grew up overnight and revelled in the pranks that the older guys would play on him, eager to get his own back on them.  I had the most wonderful phone call after he and his fiancée had moved into their new flat when he thanked me for all I had done for him.

Now Leon is a qualified air-conditioning engineer but has moved off the tools and instead is on the first rung of the management level of a national company.  He married his fiancé and they have 2 daughters.  He barks out orders all day to his underlings at work, and he loves every minute of it.  He is a born leader, but it took us 35 years to find this out.

Good luck to all you mothers tearing your hair out over the next 6 weeks.  I remember how hard it was, but hey – there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Travelling with Kids

We’re all going on a summer holiday,

On Friday everything will be alright,

We’ll be travelling down to the ferry,

That takes us to the Isle of Wight.


We’re going with our two granddaughters

As soon as we set off you can bet,

One will feel sick, the other will need to ‘go’,

And they’ll both ask “Are we there yet?”


It’s a four hour journey to the ferry,

But we’ve played this game before.

I’ll ask Mummy to bring their DVD players,

To make it a bit less of a chore.


Their daddy and his little brother

Hated long journeys as well,

They’d play thumb wars on the back seat,

Shout, punch each other, and yell.


“You get in the front, and you stay in the back!”

I’d shout at the top of my voice.

I would have preferred to go back home on my own,

If I’d been given the choice.


They’d always listen to a Postman Pat tape,

But after the twenty first repeat,

It kind of grates upon the nerves,

And makes you fidgety in your seat.


“Are we there yet” would come the question,

And I’d look around and say “Don’t! –

When we get there we’ll be there,

And until then we won’t.”


“But I’m bored!” would come the cry,

And a foot would kick his brother,

“He kicked me!” A voice would whine,

“I hate him!” Yelled the other.


Then magically we had arrived.

The sun came out to play.

Two little boys were let out from their cage,

To fight another day.

Guest Post: Good News for Indies by Sheron McCartha

Thanks to Sheron McCartha, guest writer on Myths of the Mirror, for these interesting facts regarding Indie publishing.

Myths of the Mirror

Sheron McCartha is a science fiction author, reader, and reviewer who blogs over at Scifi Book ReviewShe does a great job keeping track of what’s happening in the indie publishing world and has stopped by to share some good news. Take it away, Sheron…

Numbers. Bah! I work with words. So what can a bunch of numbers tell me that could help with my writing?


The Written Word (Freebooksy, Bargain booksy and other ad sites for authors) surveyed 38,000 authors. They compared a group of authors who made $100k or more a year (called $100k Authors) to authors making $500 or less a year (called Emerging Authors). Note that their group of authors are skewed toward the romance genre. Also note that a portion of the blockbuster authors didn’t engage in the survey as they were out on their boats drinking champagne, but still some interesting facts…

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Tuesday Newsday – 25th July

So it appears the gender pay gap is alive and well at the BBC.  Chris Evans says thank you very much to 2.2 million per year, whereas Claudia Winkleman has to be content with £450,000.

I personally would be content with £450,000, but that’s not the issue here.  Now 5 female presenters at the BBC are suing, and rightly so I think.

I find Chris Evans too over-jolly at 7.30 in the morning, and cannot bear the sound of his voice.  I much preferred Sarah Kennedy’s dulcet tones, but suddenly she was off the air.  I looked forward to her radio show every morning as I drove to work, but haven’t found Chris Evans to be a patch on Sarah Kennedy, and I cannot think why he is paid such a vast amount of money.

We need to have equal male and female salaries in any company if they are doing a similar job.  However, I wonder just how many companies are complying with this?  We need less secrecy regarding pay, and it’s good that the BBC has been forced to reveal just how much their top stars are paid.

For far too long women have been paid less than men and it’s an absolute outrage, but I can think of one workplace where it’s justified.  At the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships men are paid more prize money because they have to play 5 sets.  Women only have to play 2 or maybe 3 if necessary, so in that respect equal prize money doesn’t seem fair.  What do you think?

Open Book Blog Hop – 24th July

Today’s topic is ‘What Kind Of Lessons Could Anyone Learn From What You Do In Your Career?’

I’m a medical secretary and have just gone back to work after a 3 year hiatus to recover from cancer treatments.  I previously worked in the Cardiology, Pain Medicine and Dermatology departments, and believe me, you can learn quite a lot from the job I do.  I’ve made a list below, in no particular order, of all the things I’ve learned over a 13 year period while working in these 3 departments.

  • Keep your weight down to prevent joint pains, backache, and heart disease (one consultant used to say that the only way to prevent backache is to have your jaws wired together!).
  • Use a high factor sunscreen on your skin during the summer months.
  • Acceptance of your pain, disease or discomfort is the only way forward.
  • There is no pill on earth that will stop the pain of arthritis.  You have to change your lifestyle instead.
  • Look after your body by exercising daily and keeping the joints mobile.
  • Sitting down all day is bad for you.
  • Keep an eye on changes to your skin/moles.
  • Quit smoking because it clogs up the airways (you only have to listen to my neighbour hacking away every morning to know that’s true – he’s smoked since he was 11).
  • Quit eating high fat foods because they clog up the arteries with plaque, which causes heart failure.
  • Prevention is the key.  Bust your butt to stop getting the disease in the first place!
  • A melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer, and it needs to be diagnosed very early.
  • The more your skin is exposed to the sun without any protection, the more age spots (actinic keratoses) will appear as you get older and the more likely you are to develop skin cancer.
  • Skin cancer can be caused by sunburn suffered decades before.
  • The only way you can move up the waiting list for a procedure is if your pain is due to cancer.  There is no need to keep ringing every 5 minutes saying that your case is urgent.  There’s another 1000 people in pain who are all in the same boat.
  • Add pineapple, ginger and turmeric to your diet to offset arthritis.
  • Pilates will help with lower back pain, but the relief is not instant.
  • Yes, it CAN happen to you.  You are not the exception to the rule unfortunately.
  • Men who take opioid painkillers for a long time might suffer with low testosterone levels.  A low testosterone level could cause a man to have hot flushes, just like a menopausal woman.  Hot flushes are a sign of low hormone levels in both men and women, and nothing else.

I’m now covering holidays and sickness in every department!  I can’t wait to learn more by typing new clinic letters.

What have you learned through your career?  Read others’ blogs or add your blog to this one by clicking on the blue button below:

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Stevie’s New Book ‘Mind Games’ is Now Available for Pre-Order

This post has been scheduled as I’m currently away on the Isle of Wight.

Mind Games is now available for pre-order.  It shines a light on the effect that an addiction to pornography can have on a previously happy marriage.  The story is told from the perspectives of both the husband and the wife.

Frances Andrews is sick of her husband Martin’s addiction to pornography, and has lost her trust in him. Martin views porn as a harmless pastime, but when Frances threatens to leave, he is distraught and begs her to go with him for marriage guidance therapy. Counsellor Rhona suggests they take a holiday in the first instance, and start talking to one another again. Frances just wants out of the marriage, but finally agrees to go on a cruise…as long as they have separate cabins.

Here’s a little sample from Chapter 1:


She could not bear the sight of him.  As he brought the car to a halt outside the familiar end-of-terrace house, Frances Andrews jerked the passenger door open and jumped out, slamming it behind her with more force than was really necessary.  She glared at her husband Martin over the car’s roof, as he slowly unfolded his 6 foot 2 inch frame from the driver’s seat.

“What’s the point of coming back here?  We’re getting nowhere!”

Martin, pale and tight-lipped, activated the car’s central locking system with a click of his key fob.

“This time it’s my idea, so humour me if you can.”

Even the sound of his voice grated on her nerves.  Frances turned around sharply and headed past Rhona’s obviously new Honda Civic, which sat squarely on a concrete pad in what had been a pretty front garden 18 months before.  She ignored Martin as he rang the bell, and took another quick glance at the counsellor’s car over her shoulder.

“Business must be booming.”

She heard Martin sigh beside her.

“Yeah, I expect Ipswich is full of shitbags like me beating a path to her door. Probably that’s why out-of-towners call it Ip-shit.”

“You’re in the right place then.”

She shot a thin smile towards Rhona Perkins, purple haired and still resembling a middle-aged hippie, who greeted them with what seemed to Frances like genuine warmth.

“Frances!  Martin!  Lovely to see you again!  Do come in!”

“Hello Rhona.”  Frances stepped into the hallway as the counsellor closed the door behind them. “Thanks for fitting us in at such short notice.”

“No problem.”  Rhona ushered them along a passageway with one hand. “First on the left as usual; make yourselves comfortable.”

The consulting room was almost as she remembered, with the blue velvet two-seater sofa and matching armchair opposite, but a newer looking Persian rug than previously and even more shelves of books lining the walls. Chaz, the same sleepy ginger cat, stretched out languidly on the window sill in the late evening sun.   A fresh vase of flowers and three glasses of water were on a glass coffee table placed in-between the sofa and armchair, along with the compulsory box of half empty tissues.

Frances sat down carefully on the sofa, as far away from Martin as she could get.  Rhona plonked herself down in the armchair and picked up her sheaf of notes.

“How long has it been since I saw you both?”

“Must be about eighteen months.” Martin cleared his throat before continuing. “But it’s my idea to come here this time.”

Frances shrugged and crossed her legs.

“For what good it will do.”

“I’m trying.”  Martin sighed. “At least I’m here of my own accord this time.”

“Glad to hear it!”  Rhona chuckled and looked up from her notes. “So; what brings the two of you here today?”

“Same old problem.”  Frances rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “Little did I know that thirty five years ago I married the bloody Porn Baron of Norfolk.”



Village Life – Eddie

This post has been scheduled, as I am currently over on the Isle of Wight.

I first came to know Eddie when I used to go out jogging around the village at 05:30 every morning.  Eddie would already be out walking the dog who was always trying to kill me, necessitating Eddie to lay down on the ground on top of the dog until I had run past.

Eddie doesn’t like people.  I know this because he told me so once.  He much prefers the company of dogs, and over the years has never been without one for more than a week or so. During that week he is miserable whilst waiting for his new pooch to arrive from the rescue centre.

Over the years the dogs have come and gone, but Eddie remains the same.  Wearing his beaten up old jacket and woolly hat whatever the weather, Eddie prefers to be outside and alone.  He has weathered-looking features due to decades of working outside as a gardener, and I have only ever seen him without his hat once, when I had to knock on his door for something.  Without his hat he didn’t look like Eddie at all.

Sometimes we meet while I’m out walking and we have a little chat.  Eddie has told me in the past that he’s never needed an alarm clock, as whichever dog he has at the time always licks his face about 5am and wakes him up.  I couldn’t think of anything worse, but it obviously doesn’t bother  Eddie.  All the dogs have always accompanied him to the village pub, where Eddie often sits and soaks for the evening.  He goes there because ‘his dog likes beer’.

Another private person just like Iris, I had no idea for a few years after moving here that Eddie lived with his infirm, wheelchair-bound father.  Nobody ever saw his father as he never left the house, but then one day we were all at the doctor’s surgery at the same time.  Eddie wheeled in Eddie senior, and introduced him.  Now of course his father has long departed this life, and Eddie is alone.  But unlike Iris, he doesn’t seem to mind.

Could you live with just your dog for company like Eddie, or do you need people around you?  I’m happy with no dogs and just Sam around for most of the time during the week, but I do like to see my boys and girls or friends at the weekends.