12th July 2020

As we approach our 53rd wedding anniversary, as I look back on my own life I realise that most of the things that went disastrously wrong over the years were caused by a lack of communication within the family. In the wider world, each country continues to go their own way, distrusting each other when a bit of cooperation would help so much. Amidst all this mayhem, within days of each other, the US, China and the UAE each plan to send separate, 7-month voyages to investigate Mars and find out whether there is or ever was life there. All 3 trips will happen at the same time. Such madness. Why couldn’t they have merged their scientific quests into one voyage? Not only would this have saved millions economically but also would have shown the benefits of inter-nation cooperation. As a first step, I suggest a world flag for all extraterrestrial missions. Maybe then, here on Earth, such a flag could be the catalyst for greater global communication. At my age I’ve learned: it’s never too late!

5th July 2020

The US president says 99% of new Covid cases are “harmless” whilst rapper Kanye West announces he’ll stand for president. Putin cements his unassailable leadership, China continues unaccountable for damaging the whole world, whilst European countries who were first to test the dangerous waters of easing lockdown now have a second surge, some more deadly than the first wave. Here in the UK, OH reports that in our local post office, he was the only one wearing a face mask. Not even the staff were wearing them. Local streets are once again thronged with unmasked shoppers, none observing social distancing. Even the weather has a tale to tell. During early lockdown, the skies here were unnaturally clear blue. But as soon as lockdown eased, it’s back to grey. Lessons to be learned from all the above: cutting industrial pollution improves the weather; nations must forget political differences when facing a global pandemic or threat, learning best practice from each other; and common election criteria is essential for all national leader appointments. Money and fame should never be on the agenda: proven education and political experience should.

28th June 2020

Today, for the first time since lockdown, we’re going out for afternoon tea in a friend’s garden. Raincoat and face mask are at the ready as this is England. Forgotten what it’s like to go out. My hair’s now iron grey with its Mallen streak and my body is bloated from too much sitting down, but what the hell. This is me these days. No longer do I worry what other people think. For weeks I’ve been busy writing another memoir, this time covering the period since my birth in the ‘40s up to the 2000s - just before we moved to France. Of course, as a non-celeb it’s difficult persuading a publisher to take it on so I’ve included some more salacious bits from the car-wreck of my life growing up in post-war Birmingham - a time of poverty, rationing and bomb shelters. We’ll see. Meantime I’ve been busy marketing my other pseudonym, Isabella Mancini. You remember, the one who’s written a timeslip novel about a girl and a violin in 17th century Rome (click icon on the right.) Ah, the struggles and many faces of a writer today. There are many strings to my bow - especially at my age!
(Original oil painting by friend Ivor Roth.)

21st June 2020

On Friday Americans celebrated what they call Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery. Yet, all week, minds have been heavily focused on continuing reports of racism, encapsulated in the police murder of black southerner George Floyd. Last night I watched a TV drama/documentary set in Selma, Montgomery, about Martin Luther King. I was struck particularly by his interaction with then President Johnson, with the objuracy by the President to King’s simple request that he change the law to allow all black people to vote. National leaders have the power to change mindsets at the stroke of a pen, so why are they so reluctant to do so? I wrote Vichyssoise about a very different country (Vichy France) but it exemplifed a leader with the same problem. Wherever you live, here’s what we, the people, can do: “..People in democracies all over the world, when casting their vote for leader, should choose the person who is the most educated of the selection. It takes brainpower in times of war and enormous reserves of mental control, critical thinking, rationality and good sense..” We should all remember this at election time. mybook.to/vichyssoise

14th June 2020

As I get ever older, my hair now iron grey with a Mallen streak, what do I think of my life? I look back over the decades from the 40s to now, but history books only tell one side of the story. Yes, they describe the things that happened in all their gory detail but rarely the mindset of the people who committed them. All over the world, so many people are driven by narrow viewpoints, fuelled and illustrated by the glory-seeking media. Life is never black and white but many-faceted. People’s skins are not black and white but are many-hued, born of diverse ancestries and ethnic makeup. When I look at statues, I don’t see a person but the historical mindset of the people living in that place, at that time and what they had to do to face the challenges present back then. So, what can we do to stop fanning the flames of extremism? A broad education is key, and media/social media controllers/police forces must be trained to give more balanced, apolitical stances of the world to stop the narrow-minded rioting which otherwise ensues from their actions. We are not black or white, divided by race/nationality, but citizens of the world

7th June 2020

Last night we enjoyed a bizarre game of Trivial Pursuit with friends via Zoom. Each couple had their own set on the table, and moved each other’s tokens accordingly across the ether. Lockdown madness. Yesterday, in Normandy, the usual crowds and bunting commemorations were eerily absent as a lone French piper reminded us of that day in ‘44 when Operation Overlord began the D-D landings. Elsewhere crowds massed in Washington and London in protest at the killing of a black man, totally ignoring social distancing rules, thereby putting hundreds of people most at risk of dying from the virus in real danger. And all the while, the country complicit in causing the global pandemic in the first place remains largely uncriticised by world organisations. Did the virus originate in that Wuhan market or via an incompetent Wuhan virus lab? Why hasn’t the UN brought a court case? It should be getting wall-to-wall news coverage. The whole world’s gone mad.

31st May 2020

June tomorrow. England in full bloom.  I look out onto another day of glorious blue skies and smell the exquisite perfume from a gorgeous yellow rose in all its glory.  And yet the papers are full of contradictions. A man called Cummings is heavily criticised for breaking lockdown, swamped by a mass of press photographers, each themselves breaking social distancing rules. Meantime, MPs from other parties like Neil Kinnock, Rosie Duffield, a Welsh cabinet member and Ian Blackford have all done the same with little press interest. In a time BC (before the virus), mass coverage of a girl called Greta who complained how man was ruining the planet. Yet, since the virus - when the skies, seas and pollution have cleared - there’s apparently been no appreciable difference in global warming. Polar regions are still melting at the same rate as BC, so why isn’t anyone saying that maybe, just maybe, global warming could after all be nothing to do with man but in fact be part of natural planetary activity, just as happened millions of years before man arrived on this planet?
Sometimes I think it’s better to ignore the media and smell the roses.