A Cautionary Tale – Should Children have more Freedom?

Looking through my family photographs set me thinking about the differences between my childhood, many years ago, and the play experiences of children today.


When I was young, in the 1950s, there was far more freedom for children. Many women still had the jobs they’d taken on during the second world war when there was a shortage of men, so they were not stay-at-home mums. The term latchkey children was in common use then, and I was one of those children.

At the age of five when I first started school, I wore our front door key around my neck, so I could let myself in the house when school finished.  My brother, older by two years, was supposed to watch out for me, but often got distracted by his friends wanting to play with marbles. At that young age, I often made my own way home, including crossing a busy road which was one of the main arteries from the city centre to the outskirts. Apart from dodging the traffic, you also had to be careful you didn’t trip on the tram lines. For trams were the mode of public transport in those days.

Some schools provided after school clubs and my brother and I enrolled in one that wasn’t too far away. Usually, quite a few activities were held at the same time and you could just join in a game or leave at any time. One day, I made a ‘plaster plaque of a country cottage and painted it with the paints provided.  At other times I played draughts, chess, or hoopla. Then there were the team games held in the large assembly hall. You know the type of game I mean, the one where everyone stands in a line and passes a large ball between their legs. When it reaches the last child, they run to the front of the line. The first team to finish is the winner.

They even held a film show on Fridays. You had to sit on the floor as no chairs were provided, but we didn’t mind. I experienced my first kiss from a boy at the film show. We were only about six and, after he’d kissed me, I wiped my lips with the back of my hand. I’m not sure I liked it then.

During school holidays, we were left to our own devices for most of the day as both my mum and dad worked full-time. The days were long but, somehow, we managed to occupy ourselves.

Often we took a bottle of water to the park with some jam sandwiches. We called them ‘corporation pop’ and ‘jam butties’. We made them ourselves as we were quite independent. We’d spend all day there, playing games. Sometimes we’d watch people rowing the boats they hired, or stare in amazement at the fish some men managed to catch in the lake. After that we’d head to the smaller lake and watch the men controlling perfect model boats by remote controls. Our public parks in Liverpool were really fantastic then.

Street games were hugely popular in those days. Girls often played alone with two balls against a wall, or in a group using a skipping rope, chanting as they skipped.

Another street game was a type of hide and seek but, Instead of finding a place to hide, the person hiding could move about evading the seeker. You weren’t confined to one street, either, but could use several streets. This game did last for hours sometimes. We called it Alalleyo, but other areas had  different names for it and often had slightly different variations on the rules.

One advantage of the freedom was that we learned early on to share, to fit in, and to respect others. Children who spend a great deal of their time indoors on computer games are often late in learning these social skills. However, we also faced danger.

On more than one occasion I found myself in risky situations. Sometimes they were my own doing, but at other times It was someone else who posed the threat.

One time I was walking on top of a high circular wall surrounding a monument. There was a circular bench around most of the inner curve and we could stand on that and climb onto the top of the wall. As I walked around the top I noticed half of the curve overhung the River Mersey, but I fearlessly carried on my balancing act all the way around it. When I think of it now and how I could have easily toppled into the water, I feel quite sick.

On a couple of occasions when I was still quite young, I stumbled into the vicinity of unsavoury men. One ran a printing shop and some children dared me to ask if he had any paper off-cuts for drawing on. I had no idea he had a reputation with children. When I entered the shop, I did notice a poster with the letters of the alphabet all formed with nude figures. As soon as I saw it, I legged it out of the shop without asking for the paper.

Another time, I was in the park with my friend. It wasn’t a park for swings and slides, but rather a horticultural park, with a boating lake and a fishing lake. A huge drive ran all around it. We were near the drive on our way home when a car stopped near us. Winding down his window, the driver called us over. Hesitantly,  we went a few steps closer but, as we neared, he opened an x-rated magazine, pointed to an indecent, nude picture of a woman and told us he was looking for her. Of course we turned and ran away as fast as could. Thankfully, he didn’t follow.

The third incident I encountered was far more dangerous. When I was aged nine, I was walking home from the swimming baths with a friend. It was winter and the daylight had faded in the late afternoon when we left the baths. A shortcut, through a small parcel of wasteland always shortened our journey. Houses had formerly stood on that plot, but they’d been bombed down a few years earlier. The explosions had reduced the ground to rubble, broken glass, and bits of roof slate, but over time, grass had struggled to intermingle with the wreckage. Suddenly, we were thrown to the ground by two young men aged about eighteen or nineteen. The one sitting on me and pinning me down, held a knife to my throat. I had no idea what he intended, but I had a strong feeling it was wrong. He was demanding I remove my knickers. Although I couldn’t see because of the dim light and the position I was in, I knew the same thing was happening to my friend as I could hear her pleading with the other man to get off her.

Out of the gloom, not too far away, I could see another figure approaching us. Although I didn’t believe it and was just playing for time, I told our attackers it was my dad who had come looking for us. Miraculously, as the figure drew closer, I saw it was my dad. I could hardly believe it. He did manage to grab one of our assailants and drag him to the park watchman’s hut, where he was held until the police came. My dad was advised to take me to our doctor’s surgery and I do remember going there. Amazingly, the doctor told my dad I hadn’t been touched. He advised him to take me home and tell me about the fact of life.

I have no idea what happened to the man who my dad caught, and as the incident was many years ago, I began to wonder if I’d remembered it accurately. More than fifty years after the event, I mentioned it to my dad, asking him if that really happened and he agreed it had.

So you see, I’m all for children being protected more nowadays. We do need to keep them safe. However, we need to find more creative ways to teach them the social skills needed for later life. Don’t you agree?



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A Great Compliment? No, it’s a Put-down


We always had great fun with our oldest granddaughter when she was little. Her mum went back to work when she was six months old and we looked after her two days a week from 7.30am until 5.30pm. We left our household chores on those days to spend the time playing with her and taking her out.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with her and often played games such as ‘The farmer’s in his den’, using her doll, rabbit and teddy for the wife, child, and dog characters in the game. Sometimes, we’d dance around the dining table to the song ‘Hey, Mickey’.

As we were then in our sixties, she exhausted us, but it created some wonderful memories. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss those times for anything even though we were also caring for my elderly parents at the same time.

When she was 10-year-old, our granddaughter told her granddad he was ‘COOL’. As his chest was swelling with pride she qualified her statement by saying, “yes cool, Constipated – Overweight – Overrated – Loser”. It was instant deflation on his part. Good job it was only a joke! She has a great sense of humour.

We’re so pleased we spent time with her when she was so young. Sadly, our other grandchildren live too far away for us to have day to day contact with them.



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An Unusual Holiday Souvenir



Many years ago, when my children were small, I bought a chunk of land. It is land of great historical importance as it’s the land where William the Conqueror’s army first set foot on English soil. I say a chunk of land, when in fact I mean 100 square centimetres. No, don’t laugh! I own a plot of land 4″ x 4″ square and I have an overwhelming urge to put a plaque or flag on it.

It all began in 1981 when I was on a caravan holiday at Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, with my husband and three sons. I was looking through a souvenir shop for something to take home as a reminder of the time we spent there, when I spotted it. They were selling a plot of land for only £1.00. Yes, One British pound!

At first, I didn’t know how big, or should I say tiny, the plot of land was but nevertheless, I was interested anyway.

This land was part of Anderita Park, very close to Pevensey Castle, in Sussex. The shopkeeper told me that the land had been split into tiny parcels and sold up and down the country, so no-one would know who owned the land. This meant it could never be built upon.

Well, I thought, so what if it’s not genuine? The paperwork was worth that amount of money and it was something different to show everyone at home. The documents are quite impressive. Despite the colourful official deeds, everyone laughs when I show them my souvenir. I’m thinking of getting it framed purely as a talking point.

What unusual things have you brought home from holiday? I’d love to know.


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Is Our Obsession With Appearance Ruining Relationships?


Most of us like to look our best for special occasions, like parties, weddings, and Christmas. We believe our looks dictate how others see us and we’ll sometimes go to extreme lengths to improve our appearance and prevent our looks from fading. This line of thought has spawned a huge, billion-pound beauty industry and it is often claimed this trend has gone too far.

Most parts of our body can be altered by surgery or exercise,  Our skin can be peeled and plumped, teeth improved and whitened, and our eyesight corrected with laser surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses. These are only a few treatments and procedures available, and while some people have achieved a slightly more youthful look by employing these methods, others have not. A great deal depends on the skill of the surgeon. They don’t all have the same skills.

While some facial procedures may show an improvement in appearance, we should be aware that as we age, there are certain features of the body that can’t be improved successfully. No matter how trim our body or how improved our facial features, the way an older person stands, moves, bends, walks, sits, lies down, or runs (if they still can), will instantly give their age away.


Many individuals try to combat the ageing of their bodies by exercising it. Keeping your body active is often advertised as the best way to keep our bodies young and fit for longer, but professionals argue over how much exercise we should be doing. Some enthusiastic individuals pack in as much exercise as they possibly can, but could be doing more harm than good. Many doctors now believe short periods of moderate exercise are best for us.

Regardless of how much exercise we do though, have you ever seen an older person, dancing or running. We can’t get away from the fact that age is a dead giveaway when you look at the moving body. Is it futile then to try to stave off the effects of time on our looks?


While it does feel good to be looking your best, we humans should aim to be  more than just something lovely to look at. When we interact or build relationships with others, we expect far more than someone who worries all the time about every line or wrinkle, or whether their eyebrows or eyelashes need a treatment. We are complex humans and as such, we have many sides to our personalities. Others warm to us because of who we are rather than how we look.

Think of people you know who have some of the following characteristics, and how you feel about them. Is it true you can be drawn to people with certain character traits even if they are not particularly good looking?

positive or negative attitude

inquisitive or disinterested

thirst for learning new things or contented with how things are

Enjoy the company of others or we are a loner

a giver or a taker

independent or dependent

An honest person or dishonest person

friendly or unfriendly

non-confrontational or argumentative

peace-keeping or disruptive

This list is only part of who we are as individuals. Our attitudes make up the largest part of who we are and have a far greater impression on people we meet than how we look. Someone who offers us a kind word when we’re feeling low makes a far greater impression on us than the aloof beauty who doesn’t even notice how we’re feeling.

Those who have had all the expensive beauty treatment may well look prettier than those who haven’t, but living life to the full is far more than looking pretty. It’s joining in and giggling madly when everyone’s having a snowball fight without worrying about your facial lines getting deeper if you laugh hysterically. It’s grabbing the ball your child threw at you, or pulling the sleigh without fearing your expensively manicured nails will break.

Life is meant to be lived, not spent in the beauty parlour.





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Is This the End of Free Facebook Book Promotions?

The Facebook changes effective from August 2019 will make most unpaid book promotions less effective. Bots are on the lookout for more post engagement. We already know that book promos which just show buy links and a book related image do not attract much engagement. From tomorrow, posts with little or no engagement will be shown to fewer people. The same will happen if posts contain words such as: sale, offer, reduced, buy, free, price, unless of course they are paid adverts. Therefore, authors will have to become a lot more creative with their promotion posts to fool the bots. Our posts should be more informative regarding the story rather than just ‘buy my book, it’s on offer today’.

Not surprisingly, posts with lots of engagement will be shown to a wider audience, and many authors are advising we need to react, share, and comment a lot more.


For your audience to be increased, others have to connect and interact with YOUR posts. Now you can see how difficult this will be.

In my experience, too many people are willing to take rather than give, and while many are happy to pay it forward, others will happily let them without reciprocating in any form whatsoever. You can’t force people to interact with your posts, so eventually, with no payback, the ones doing all the interacting will slowly diminish.

I don’t know what we can do to overcome this. Hopefully, others will have solutions to the problem of how to successfully promote our books for free on Facebook. I do hope so!

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Small businesses and self-employed people like authors, artists, and craft-workers depend on social media for getting the word out about their products. However, if their posts are only seen by a small number of people, they are wasting their time and energy producing posts few will actually see.
If we go to INSIGHTS on our page, we see a REACH tab.
Click this and THE FIRST IMAGE you will see is a rough estimate of the number of people who had your Page’s posts on their screen sometime during the day. This gives the figures for the last 28 days.
THE SECOND IMAGE shows you how many people have recommended your page in the last 28 days.
THE THIRD IMAGE shows the reactions, comments, and shares your posts have attracted in a graph. Facebook actually states there, “These actions will help you reach more people”. So, the size of your audience depends on the reactions of OTHER PEOPLE and that’s the crux of the problem. How do you get other people to react positively to your post?
In my experience, if you interact with other users by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts, they are more likely to do the same for you. THEREFORE, THIS INTERACTION AND ENGAGEMENT WITH OTHERS IS THE KEY TO WIDENING OUR REACH.
THE FOURTH IMAGE gives the different REACTIONS to our posts. When people react by giving emojis such as like, love, wow, and ha-ha, Facebook’s algorithms sit up and take notice. However, giving angry emojis could cause the post to be shown less. Facebook want users to be happy and satisfied with what they see. So do act positively if you can towards others.
In contrast, THE FIFTH IMAGE shows how NEGATIVE REACTIONS by others can cause Facebook to show your posts to fewer people. If someone reports your post as spam, hides, or un-likes your post, it will decrease the number of people who see it.
We can all help ourselves a little here by doing as they suggest and interacting POSITIVELY with others more frequently. It certainly won’t do us any harm to try.
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True Story of Life in Wigan at the time of George Orwell’s Study.


 During the Great Depression, in the year 1936, in a sub-district of Wigan, Lancashire, Elizabeth, just 18, discovered she was pregnant. She was an unmarried, only child, and this unfortunate news came after a traumatic few years when she’d lost all her close family members apart from her mum. Her situation was exacerbated by the fact her mum had also been ill for several years. She was suffering severe breathing problems due to breathing in cotton fibres in May Mill, where she worked.

Knowing she would die prematurely due to her poor health, Elizabeth’s mum dearly hoped her daughter would marry the young man from Liverpool she’d been courting, especially now she was expecting a baby.

Fulfilling her request, George Smith, Elizabeth’s young from Liverpool, married her right away. Now, at least, Elizabeth felt protected, less vulnerable should the worst happen to her mum.

Just sixteen months after her son was born and a few weeks after Elizabeth’s twentieth birthday, her mum finally lost her battle for life. Apart from her husband, Elizabeth now had no close family left. As if that tragedy wasn’t enough, eighteen months later, WW2 was declared and her young husband, George, was called to up fight for his country. Finding herself totally alone, except for her young child, in a strange, war-threatened city frightened her. She’d never felt so utterly bereft.

From her own autobiography, see how she fares on her own. Rooted in tragic events, her story also has lots of humour. Told in her own words, you’ll marvel at how her soldier husband got lodgings for her as he was stationed in various places around the country. Her experiences with the various landladies wasn’t always pleasant, but a wonderful family in Cambridgeshire became her surrogate family for a while. So much so, she stayed on with them while her husband moved elsewhere, even putting her young son in school there and finding a job for herself. Those were brilliant times and you’ll laugh at her exploits in the jam factory there. Enjoy Elizabeth’s true-life story, a tragic start but rib-tickling funny in places.

For family historians, there are several back pages of referenced end-notes with linked family trees and many Lancashire surnames. GET YOUR COPY NOW!


#Lancashire #FamilyHistory #autobiography

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The Joy of Reading

Joy of Reading

The wonderful gift of sight! Use it to read more.

For starters: try one of these:
‘Tissue of Lies’ – A psychological thriller. myBook.to/TOL
‘Your Last Breath’ – A chilling thriller. myBook.to/YourLastBreath


You won’t be disappointed!

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Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2019

Mom's Favorite Reads

Published today, the June issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine, our retro issue!

Highlights include:

* An exclusive interview with Blue Peter legend Peter Purves

* Travel articles about Ireland and Athens

* Mediation

* Barbecue ideas

* An exclusive interview with rock duo Fleesh

*Life on an oil rig, and so much more

Read or download your FREE copy here!

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Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review — I Love My Kindle

Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review Thanks to long time reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for calling my attention to the Amazon’s Early Reviewer program (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) Customer reviews are clearly important to Amazon. Honestly, it’s one […]

via Amazon’s Early Reviewer program: you might get paid a small amount to write an Amazon review — I Love My Kindle

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My Least Favourite Shakespeare Play


The reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the title of ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ is blatantly obvious. 

The irony is that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is probably my least favourite play from among Shakespeare’s works. As I often explain to my students who think it’s romantic and all about love, it’s really not. It’s a tragedy that demonstrates what happens when people do stupid things on impulse and don’t stop to think about the consequences of their actions.

They’re teenagers. They met on Sunday, and by Thursday, they’re dead.

And, as Shakespeare points out in the epilogue, they end up that way because their families both prioritise their stupid feud over the happiness and the future of their children.  How much more like a badly plotted teenage soap opera could it be?

It’s more of an anti-Romance, if you ask me. They’re not in love, they’re infatuated. Romeo…

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Beware of this Scam


Yesterday, I received a Facebook message which looked like it came from one of my genuine author ‘friends’ as it had his name and image profile. The message was innocent enough and began, “Hello, how are you doing?”

I replied, “I’m doing great. How are you?”

“Super excited, today.”

“Oh, why is that?” I asked.

He went on to say he’d won the Oz powerball promo and was surprised I wasn’t aware of it. He said they were picking random Facebook users to benefit in their promo. After telling him I’d never heard of the Oz powerball promo, I asked him why he thought I’d be aware of his win, and he told me he’d seen my name and profile image on the list of users and told me to check my e-mails.

I hadn’t received anything from them so he gave me the agent’s name and the Oz powerball promo e-mail address so I could contact them and check.

Suspicious, I searched on Facebook for this author’s name I was familiar with, and several people came up. Two of the profiles were exactly the same and looked as if they belonged to the the author I was familiar with. Tellingly, only one of them said we were Facebook friends. When I clicked on each of the two profiles, I saw the one who wasn’t a ‘friend’ was the one who’d messaged me, so I contacted the other one, the Facebook ‘friend’. Seeing right away there were no messages from him, I messaged him asking if he knew anything about a powerball win. As I’d already guessed, he knew nothing about it.

Please be aware of this scam and take note that not all profiles on Facebook are the genuine person. I’m off to search for my name on Facebook and on Twitter to see if anyone is using my profile. I’d suggest you do the same.

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This ‘English’ Language is not used in England!

Most indie authors, especially the ones at the beginning of their journey, will have received criticism from other writers or editors about their work. It happened to me too.Some writers get really annoyed about it while others will see the criticism as constructive, something they need to take seriously.
In my case, even though I’d had a grammar school education and thought I knew most of the basic rules, I decided to take the editor’s advice and see if I could improve my novel.
Seeking out grammar and writing advice online, I found numerous posts about the subject. Unknowingly, I made the common mistake of using the term ‘English grammar’ in my searches, not realising it gives you both British English and American English results. I wasted lots of time and energy learning the wrong rules before discovering my error. From then on, as I am British, I always made sure I included the words ‘British English’ in my searches for grammar and writing clarification.
If you are a writer, don’t waste your precious time like I did. When searching for writing advice online, do make sure you stipulate which country’s usage of English you’re looking for. It could save you a great deal of time and confusion.
This common language varies so much according to which country is using it, it’s hard to believe. For instance, ‘thong’ in Great Britain is a tiny undergarment whereas in Australia it’s a toe-post sandal. Another curious difference is the word ‘Durex’. In Great Britain it is a brand of sheaf or condom, but in Australia it’s a name for sticky tape. What differences in language have you come across?
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It’s a Miracle!

 Wedding 11

Our Fifty-Fourth Wedding Anniversary Miracle

Today, we’re celebrating our fifty-fourth wedding anniversary and we are the ones who are most surprised we made it. No, not because we don’t get along, have huge rows, or hate each other’s guts. Our surprise and elation stems from the fact we both prepared for my husband’s death in 1989. For that year and many years later, in fact right up to now, we’ve expected his health to separate us, so making it this far seems like a huge miracle to us.


My husband was just forty-three when our lives changed forever. One otherwise normal working day, after a short coffee break at home, my husband made himself comfortable in his car ready to continue his day’s work as a private hire taxi driver. As he started the engine, he suffered severe chest pains. Although in agony, he managed to stumble back into the house and phone our GP for help.

We were pretty green then about health matters and didn’t realize what he should have done was phone the emergency number 999 and ask for an ambulance. When he told the receptionist he thought he was having a heart attack, she offered to make him an appointment for three days later. He insisted he needed to see someone immediately but she said she couldn’t fit him in. This was in 1989 when the difficulties with making appointments were not as bad as they are today. I dread to think what happens in emergencies today.

By the time he’d finished speaking to the receptionist and had slammed the phone down in disgust, his pains were subsiding. He knew he’d suffered some major trauma though, so he went to the A&E unit at our nearest hospital. Although the doctors there told him he had to give up work, they never confirmed at that time he’d had a heart attack. They didn’t give him any of the usual procedures which would have shown the condition of his arteries and whether or not he’d suffered a heart attack. Although he regularly saw a hospital consultant, his doctor’s notes then, and for several years afterward, always said hypertension.

This was a really difficult time for us. Unable to even walk up our path to the car, a distance of 25 feet,  my husband was becoming frustrated and demoralized. Another major problem for us was financial.

My husband had always been the earner. Now we had no income apart from the small contribution made by our eldest son.  It was six weeks before we actually received a small allowance from the state although they did refund the back payments later. Every service we’d been paying for at that time, we cancelled. We no longer had newspapers delivered, a window cleaner, nor insurances. We just concentrated on all the things we had to pay, like the mortgage, and utilities. Luckily, the car was covered under the insurance, so we didn’t have to pay for that. Economy lessons learned at that time still guide our lives now.


Knowing your much-loved partner is seriously ill and could be taken at any moment changes you. I gave up on the career dreams I’d been planning for myself, at least while he was still here. Married in 1965, I’d been a stay-at-home mum until 1985 when, at the age of forty, I returned to college intending to further educate myself. I believed then it was time I resumed work and started contributing to our family income. Two of our three children were still living at home in 1985; they were our eldest  twenty-year-old and our youngest twelve-year-old. I make no excuses for not working during the time my children were at school. We’d brought them into the world and I believed it was my job to raise them.

When my husband fell ill, I felt so scared and worried. I didn’t know how long he’d be with me. The doctor said if he didn’t give up smoking he wouldn’t last six months, so his cigarettes were thrown in the bin the moment he came out of the consulting room. Even after giving up smoking, the consultant said if he lived another ten years he’d be lucky. Whatever time he had left, I wanted to spend it with him. Apart from the emotional need to be together at this time, there was also a practical need. I was afraid to leave him alone in case he had another (unconfirmed) heart attack and couldn’t make it to the phone.

He hardly moved off the chair during those first few months and life settled down around my husband’s illness. Gradually, with the determination to start walking our spaniel again, my husband’s stamina and mobility slowly improved. It started with a few steps further each day, building his strength and confidence bit by bit. It took a few years but, eventually, we were able to get out and about again in the car for limited outings. However, he still couldn’t take a step out of the house without a tablet under his tongue to open up his veins.

Over the first seven years of his regular hospital appointments, my husband was never given any treatment other than tablets to lower his blood pressure plus the usual heart attack prevention drugs like aspirin, statins, and glyceryl trinitrate.

One day, he arrived at the hospital for his usual check up, to find another consultant was standing in for his own doctor who was away on holiday. This new consultant was surprised my husband hadn’t had any of the usual procedures. He immediately arranged these tests which confirmed he had suffered a heart attack. Then he referred him to the specialist heart and respiratory hospital for our area. He also discovered my husband has sleep apnoea. This means he regularly stops breathing when sleeping or reclining. Now he wears a mask connected to a Bi-pap machine whenever he lies down.

Once he was under the designated heart hospital he was looked at properly and the doctors said they could give him a by-pass if he lost weight. The specialist surgeon gave my husband six months to lose the weight, and when he returned at the appointed time, two and a half stone lighter, the doctor gave him a thorough pre-op check. Those tests showed my husband had gone past the point of safe surgery. Not only did he now need a four-way by-pass but the carotid artery on the left side of his neck was completely blocked making the operation too risky. The surgeon couldn’t understand why he hadn’t already had a stroke. They are unable to do anything for him unless it’s an emergency situation; otherwise the risks are too great. The fact he also has sleep apnoea adds to the difficulties of an operation.

So there we have it; at seventy-two years old my husband has survived twenty-nine years after his heart attack, so far, against the odds. He puts it down to his own bloody-mindedness. His body has reacted remarkably to his illness. His heart has developed some extra minor veins to cope with the blood flow, and his carotid artery behaves in a way that astounded the specialist who examined it. Apparently, the one good vein flows in both directions like a motorway, when it should only flow in one direction. She told us she’d never seen that before.

As I see it, my husband and I are extremely lucky to now be celebrating our fifty-four years of marriage.  I hope we go on to see our seventy fifth wedding anniversary as my parents did.


This is why I see it a miracle that we are still together. I thank my lucky stars we found each other so young; he was only eighteen and I was nineteen when we married. He’s not the biggest romantic in the world, but he’s kind, reliable, loving, and he’s mine. I’ll love him forever.

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The Danger Of Dirty Links

Useful Post


With all the attention given among the Indie community to the removal of book reviews by Amazon, I’m amazed at the number of authors who still post dirty links to their books on social media. This is a rookie-level mistake that can actually do more harm than good. 

A dirty link helps the algorithm at Amazon to determine if there are connections between author and reader that might suggest collusion or partiality.. Even if a review is from a verified purchase, a simple connection via a shared link can be enough to make them suspect that it’s not unbiased or from an unrelated party.

If the link used by multiple customers can be traced directly back to the author, that’s one of the reasons they will start flagging and eventually removing reviews. 

The simple solution is to ensure your links are clean before you post them.

A dirty link occurs…

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The Day I Met My Mother

The Magic of Stories

by Karen J Mossman

This story has hung around in my head for twenty odd years. Now and again it pops up and it still makes me chuckle. The question I always asked myself was how did I not know my own mother!

It isn’t a big story, it will take but a few words, which is why I haven’t told it before. Then this morning I came across this article by author Carole Parkes. Apart from it making me chuckle, I identifided when she said that she didn’t understand why she didn’t recognise herself.

My story is simply that I was travelling in the car one day whilst on holiday. We’d just left my family and waved goodbye. I was idly staring out of window watching the other cars go by. This car over took us and a woman looked at me and smiled. I stared back wondering why…

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How Difficult is it to Trace Ancestors Whose Surname is SMITH?





When I fist thought about doing some research on my family tree, I thought it would be an almost impossible task because my maiden surname was SMITH, a really common surname.

My brother’s marriage confirmed to me how difficult it could be. His father-in-law, now deceased, was named George William Smith, exactly the same name as our father, and they were both born in Liverpool around the same time, 1914. My brother’s marriage certificate does look odd with both him and his wife looking like they have the same father. It’s a good job they had different occupations to show they were two separate individuals.

In reality, the SMITH research task wasn’t as hard as it first appeared thanks to my father’s aunt and her daughters, his cousins. In my experience female members of the family seem to remember more about intricate family relationships than their male counterparts. This was certainly the case here. My dad, couldn’t remember much at all about his grandparents, but his cousins knew a lot. That was down to their mother, my dad’s Aunt Lily, telling them stories about her childhood. Aunt Lily and her family were the only relatives we had in Liverpool. We visited them every Tuesday and spent Christmas and New Year celebrations with them.

Aunt Lily provided the first picture above showing George Henry SMITH, her brother , my dad’s uncle, in the centre. He was born 2nd Mar 1885. I am still unsure who is with him. The chap on the right certainly looks a little like him while the other on the left doesn’t. George Henry SMITH didn’t have sons so maybe the other two are his brothers, William (my grandfather), and Thomas.


The child in the above picture is my dad’s Aunt Lily with her mother, Mary Jane SMITH (nee HOLT). Mary Jane’s family came over from Ireland to settle in Liverpool. Theirs could be an interesting story if I ever get to the truth of it. Other HOLT researchers on the www.joseph-holt.org site believe our HOLT family is connected to General Joseph HOLT of the 1798 Irish Rebellion, but that’s for another post. Today, I’m concentrating on the SMITH name.

Below is Aunt Lily with her husband Edward REDDINGTON. I never knew him because he died in 1948, when I was three. He was born in Scotland in 1893. It took me forever to find Aunt Lily’s birth record. This was because we always knew her as Lily when in fact she was baptised Rose Lily SMITH.

Beware when researching your family. I’ve had at least four instances like this where I’ve been searching for a particular name only to find it’s a middle name. It does make things more difficult.



Aunt Lily’s parents were another George Henry SMITH, born 26th Sep 1857 in Liverpool, and Mary Jane HOLT, born 1st June 1865, also in Liverpool. George Henry SMITH and a couple of his siblings were plumbers like their father, Henry SMITH, born about 1835, also in Liverpool.

I was surprised by the description of plumber for my second great grandfather, Henry SMITH, because I hadn’t realised proper sanitation was used at this time. I grew up in the 1960’s in an era of outside lavatories. My mum used to say as a child in the 1920’s, some relatives houses only had middens in the back yards of Wigan, a town also in Lancashire.

The parents of Henry SMITH (1835) were John SMITH (born 8th Apr 1811 and baptised 10th Apr 1811 in Liverpool) and Hannah, surname unknown. Going on Henry’s marriage certificate, John SMITH was a coachman who later became a coach proprietor according to the census details.

The father of John SMITH, born 1811, was another John SMITH according to the 1811 baptism record, and this John was also a coachman.

This is where I’m up to in the SMITH branch. I haven’t found anything remarkable about this family yet, but perhaps as I get further back, I might. Have they always lived in this area, or did they come from somewhere else? I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of delving into your family tree, do remember to ask around the family for old photos; birth, baptism, marriage, or burial records; or old family stories passed down through the generations. Happy hunting!


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Welcome to Women in Horror 2019 – Introducing poet and author of horror fiction – Joanne Van Leerdam

Unusual Fiction

Welcome to the first of our WiHM 2019 Author Interviews on Unusual Fiction. It gives me great pleasure to introduce, once again, poet and writer of horror fiction – Joanne Van Leerdam.

Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet and author of short stories. Her body of work consists of six poetry collections, one general short story collection, a play, four collections of horror short stories, and a contribution to several anthologies.

When she’s not writing, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama/Production. She is an active member and performer in her local theatre company.
Her hobbies include reading, photography, and music.

She is proud to be both an Australian and an honorary Canadian.

She does like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Question 1.

Which horror genre do you written in ?

I tend toward both the macabre and creepy psychological horror, with a bit…

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The Day I Met The Other Me.

Happily browsing in a particularly long, narrow aisle of a clothing store, I was concentrating on the display of numerous tops and blouses. Carefully examining each one, I got about halfway down the racks when my path was blocked by another woman coming in the opposite direction. I went left, she went the same way, I went right, she did the same, and again, we both tried to go to my left. I couldn’t help laughing at the silly situation. Then I saw she was laughing too and the thought crossed my mind, well at least she looks happy and isn’t getting annoyed about not being able to pass me. She seems alright!

When I mumbled, “Sorry,” and saw her lips moving in time with mine, that’s when it hit me! The other woman was my reflection in a mirror at the end of the aisle. It wasn’t a long shop, just a short one with a mirrored wall at the end. Strange! I didn’t recognise myself at all, at least, not for a couple of minutes. I wonder what that says about me? I was totally embarrassed in case someone had seen me apologising to myself, and left the shop in haste.

Do you have strange or silly stories to tell like this?


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I spent over 14 years researching the many branches of my family tree and then reached so many brick walls, I decided to give up for a while and write the books I’d long planned in my head. Now I’ve published my two thrillers, and my mother’s biography, I’m considering taking up the research again.

There are some family history details of my mother’s tree in the end notes of her biography ‘The Road from Wigan Pier’. Her surname before marriage was ALKER.



From time to time, I’d like to discuss my journey discovering who my ancestors were, what they did for a living, where they lived and, if possible, what they believed. For now, though, I’ll just show you how far I got in my ALKER family tree before hitting the brick wall.

My ALKER research hit a barrier with my 8th great grandfather, Thomas ALKER, the earliest direct ancestor I had traced. There is a parish record showing this Thomas ALKER in All Saints, Wigan, Lancashire, England. This entry recorded his marriage on the 28th August 1665 to Ellen GREENHACH. Both ages were given as 25, so I can guess they were both born around 1640.

So far, I don’t know where he was born because his baptism isn’t recorded in All Saints, the Wigan parish church, but there were a lot of ALKER families in Ormskirk before this time, and also a few in Salmesbury. Both of these areas are also in Lancashire.

In the parish records of All Saint’s, Wigan, there is also a burial on 28th August 1710 for a Thomas ALKER of Aspull. I’m not sure if the two records are for the same individual, but it does look promising. This is where my research is at the moment. How do I prove both records are for the same person? Where will I find the baptism record of this Thomas ALKER and thus the names of his parents?

This highlights an inherent problem with family history research. As we research further back, the records become sketchier for the average family. It’s different if your ancestors had a more prominent place in history, like if they were royalty, great leaders, or innovators.

My ALKER ancestors were mostly farmers, so although I can easily place them and their farms through the census data, once we go beyond 1841, which was the earliest useful census in England and Wales, we have to then rely on parish registers.

There was no explicit law in those days that births, marriages, or deaths had to be officially registered. That law was passed in 1836. Before that, religious families would often ensure their rights of passage were recorded in their own particular churches and often in family bibles, but if they were not religious people, they were not so meticulous in celebrating or recording these events.

This is why I’m often sceptical when people say they’re related to a famous figure from long ago. It’s not impossible but, for that to happen, every generation of the family would have to be so prominent, they were officially recorded over several hundred years. In reality, there is often a rise and fall pattern in families, and once great names sometimes become obscure.

I know some families have an old family bible with a few notes recorded, but I doubt there are many with a detailed family tree covering several generations. In any case, they couldn’t go back further than 1539 when the first English bible for public use was introduced, enabled by the earlier invention of the printing press.

Despite the dearth of records, family history research is still a fascinating project to undertake. When you discover a previously unknown fact about your family, it’s almost like a light bulb going on. You feel like a detective solving a difficult case. It’s euphoric and really addictive until you hit the next brick wall.


Why don’t you try researching your family tree? It’s the most fascinating of hobbies.

#FamilyHistory #BrickWalls #AlkerTree

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