Open Book Blog Hop -11th November

This week’s topic is:

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have an avatar that author Yasmin Correa made for me back in 2016, and I also made my own just for this blog.  First of all I’ll share Yasmin’s avatar, which features a book I’m writing, plus one of the awards I won for ‘A House Without Windows’ in 2014.


I then went on to the ‘Make Your Own Avatar’ site, and tried to produce something that looks approximately like myself. This person eventually ended up looking nothing like me at all:


The last one is me after a night out on the lash:



What would other blog-hoppers’ avatars look like?  Click on the blue button below to find out, or just add your own:


  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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Sunday Stills Photography Challenge: Autumn.

Today on Sunday Stills the theme is ‘Yellow Autumn or Leaves‘.  I’ve added some photos of the roads and avenues around my village, which are full of fallen leaves at the moment.  It’s all a bit soggy underfoot!




Here’s our neighbour’s tree (not quite sure which type of tree it is…does anybody know?) in all its autumnal glory:


Don’t Bump into the Furniture

There was an article on the BBC News app yesterday that made me quite angry when I read it.  I read that in Japan, some companies are banning their female employees from wearing glasses.  It was also stated that in the Japanese retail sector, female shop assistants who wear glasses give off a ‘cold’ impression.

So how about Japanese men who wear glasses then?  I take it they get to keep theirs on while the female staff suffer headaches and bump into the furniture if they don’t want to wear contact lenses?  This just goes to perpetuate the sad predominantly male idea of women as sex objects to be ogled at and not taken seriously; a kind of walking (but not talking) vagina.  Hundreds of thousands of creepy men slavering over pornography through the decades has only helped to intensify the misconception that women are air-heads.  This ban will do nothing to help teenage girls and young women, who through some men’s warped views of what women should look like, magazine air-brushing of ‘celebrities’ or on-line bullying, obsess about their body image and become over-conscious about their appearance.

I’ve worn glasses since I was 17.  I could no more put a contact lens in my eye than fly to the moon.  So what if women wear glasses?  So do men, and they wear them for a reason – because they can’t see very well without them.

Do women have the same problem dating a man who wears spectacles?  My eldest son, his wife and their two children all wear spectacles, so obviously glasses do not matter to them.  I’d been wearing glasses for 3 years before I met Sam.  My glasses are part of me – I’d feel quite peculiar without them.  I know that my daughter-in-law would say that if anybody has a problem about her or her daughters wearing glasses, then it’s their problem and not hers.

Whenever you see any woman on TV wearing glasses, she’s either a newsreader, or acting the part of a lawyer, a scientist, or somebody who is very brainy in another sphere; she always takes them off  for her close-ups or if she has to talk.  The only time she doesn’t take them off is if she is advertising the spectacles themselves.  Dorothy Parker once said that ‘Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses’, but another way of interpreting this is that men consider girls who wear glasses might be cleverer than they are, and therefore to be avoided.

Why can’t a woman be cleverer than her partner?  Why does the male of the species think that he has to dominate all the time?  Okay he may be physically stronger, but that does not make him superior.  Sorry for the rant, but this is a real backward step in the fight for gender equality.

Friday Click & Run – November 8th 2019

You know what to do by now… just leave a link to whichever blog post you’d like to share this week.  You only need to read and comment on other blog posts if you want to – there are no mandatory rules here.  Live and let live, that’s my philosophy…

Please keep the blogs reasonably family friendly though.  If I see any nasties I will have to delete them!

Smorgasbord Health Column – Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder? by Sally Cronin

I too had a frozen shoulder in my fifties, although it wasn’t my dominant side. I had a terribly painful cortisone injection directly into the shoulder joint, and this combined with daily shoulder exercises has kept the pain at bay. I can now hold both hands high above my head, but before the injection I could only raise my left arm halfway. Thanks Sally for this useful info, but I would definitely go to great lengths to avoid having that injection again!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

One of the common health complaints that would be noted on the questionnaire that I asked clients to complete when they came to see me, was chronic shoulder pain. Then when I was 52 years old I developed the same problem in my right shoulder that lasted 18 months and was very difficult to manage. I did go to the doctor who told me that I had obviously strained a muscle and to rest it and take painkillers. Not something I was keen on. So I decided to find out other treatments. I discovered that both man and women were suffering the same pain around the same age. It could not be a coincidence.

Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can occur in adulthood and the simplest explanation is that it is the result of wear and…

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Review of Adam Kay’s ‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas.

I had previously laughed all the way through this ex-doctor’s first book ‘This is Going to Hurt‘, and so when I saw ‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas‘ I just had to buy it!


Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.

My 5 Star Review:

Oh dear, this man is so funny! An ex-doctor and now an author and comedian, Adam Kay writes in his usual world-weary, witty way about working busy night shifts just before Christmas, when hospital workers try to be the jolly selves they think they ought to be at that time of year whilst dealing with staff shortages and an increasing number of patients.

Amongst the laughter in this book there is also the chapter that Dr Kay could not include in his first book because it is so heart-breaking. Even now 10 years’ later he is obviously still traumatised by what he went through.

I bought this book on the strength of his first book, and I wasn’t disappointed. His type of humour is right up my street. I have my own funny stories from working on a hospital ward, but Mr Kay’s stories beat mine hands down!

Stevie’s New Suspense Novella is Now Available for Pre-Order.



Suspense/Thrillers seem to be quite popular, and so I thought I’d write another one.  Twenty years after I quit my job in a college as an examinations assistant, the time was right in the summer of this year to create the novella  ‘Examining Kitchen Cupboards‘.

Jill Hayes discovers that not all is as it seems in her new post as a college examinations administrator. When she turns whistle-blower and tries to report her findings to the authorities, she is horrified to discover that some people will stop at nothing to ensure her silence.

When I worked at a college back in 1999 I found out just what Jill discovered, but it took me twenty years to get around to writing about it.  Jill is braver than I ever was, as you will find out if you pre-order the novella.  It will be just £0.99 / $0.99 until its publication date of 7th December 2019, when the price will then rise to £1.95 / $2.50.

The college I write about is fictional, as are all the characters.  However, the exam question that sparked Jill’s nightmare is absolutely the genuine article from 1999.

Sugar Math

As far as I’m concerned, sugar is poison. It seems to have inveigled itself into most things we eat, making us tired (due to Insulin having to be released from the pancreas to combat high blood sugar), and causing the blood to become acidic, therefore calcium to be leached from the bones to neutralise the blood. If too much calcium is taken over time, then bones may become brittle. Avoid sugar for one whole month and then try to eat something sugary… yuck! You won’t want to eat another sweet thing ever again.

It’s been six months since I decided to quit sugar and wheat and get my health back. I’m still at it and while I have not lost significant weight, just bloat, the most obvious signs of digestive distress are gone. Eliminating wheat has been a game-changer for me as far as how my body functions. That’s why I’m not often tempted by pasta, bread, cereal or other processed foods containing wheat. P.S. All processed foods contain wheat.

In “I Quit Sugar” Sarah Wilson admits to eating an occasional gluten free muffin or other low-sugar treat, and I admit to adding Saltine crackers to my homemade vegetable soup. The first ingredient on the Saltine box is “wheat” but I had a cold, then a cough, then bronchitis, for most of the month of October. So I needed soup. The first week we had vegetable soup and the second week, chicken noodle…

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Streets Ahead Street Team – Dorinda Duclos

This week we’re sharing Dorinda Duclos’ book of short stories, passages and poetic prose ‘Short & not always Sweet’.

Imagine yourself being lost in a faraway land, or sailing on a pirate ship. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in a predicament, or a romantic rendezvous. From passages to longer, more detailed stories, these are writings that are sure to capture your imagination and evoke emotions, from sadness, to madness, to happiness and beyond.

5 Star Review by D.W Peach:

Duclos offers a generous selection of over 60 short stories, pieces of poetic prose, and flash fiction in a compilation that kept me enthralled for an entire afternoon. The writing is lovely, evocative, and in many cases emotional. Some pieces are lyrical and heartfelt reflections with themes centered on nature, serenity, and empowerment. Others are dark forays into ghostly hauntings and the realms of murder and revenge. Some of my favorites are Patience, Dusk, Wilted, and I Am. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon or to savor over a week, one page at a time.


How Not to Buy a Jumper

I had a rather bizarre experience in Marks & Spencer’s on Saturday, when I went in to buy a new jumper.

I saw the jumper I wanted, seemingly one of its kind.  I tried it on, and it fitted perfectly.  I was pleased with it and joined the queue to pay.  When I got to the counter the conversation went something like this.

Assistant:  “I can’t sell this to you.”

Me:  “Why not?  The jumper was on the shelves for sale with lots of others, and here’s my money.”

Assistant:  “I know, but sorry, you can’t buy it.”

The people behind me in the queue shuffled about and coughed.  I wondered if my face didn’t fit or whether my bank card looked a bit dodgy.  I tried again.

“Look.  I have my money ready and the jumper has a price tag on, so why can’t I buy it?”

Assistant:  “I will go and get the manager.  Please wait.”

So I waited.  About five minutes later the assistant returned with a grim-faced manager.

Manager:  “Sorry, but you can’t buy that jumper.”

Me:  “Can you please tell me why?”

Manager:  “If you wanted to bring it back, then we couldn’t give you a refund.”

Me:  “But I don’t want to bring it back… I want to wear it!”

Manager:  “It needs to go back to the manufacturers.  The others went back, but this one must have been missed.”

I couldn’t see anything wrong with it at all, and was becoming angrier by the minute.  The manager took it from me, and I found a different jumper and joined the queue again.

Me:  “Am I allowed to buy this one?”

The assistant smiled through half closed eyes and gritted teeth, as she rang up the purchase.

Who has ever heard of a customer not being able to buy something on the shelves that they want?  Whatever happened to the ‘customer is always right‘ saying?