Wednesday, 28 November 2012

It has finally come to my attention that I haven't blogged much for a few weeks.

The reason [excuse, ahem!!!] for that, is that I have: 1) been unwell, 2) busy with Christmas related things and 3) busy finishing of Volume III of the Owners series.

Anyway, now that these things have been accomplished, I still have some editing to do before I can submit Vol III to be published. After that I will be all yours least until I start Volume IV.

In the meantime, it has been pointed out to me that several people don't know where they can purchase my books here is a little can contact me directly on and if you like, I will also sign a copy for you before posting it out. The price is £13 plus postage for Vol I and Vol II as a special deal, or £7 for only a single volume plus postage.

Alternatively you can purchase through Amazon or Ebay but those are slightly more expensive options.

Carmen x

Friday, 9 November 2012

      I mentally composed this blog whilst a fly committed a slow and painful suicide in my eye. Well I say it was painful for the fly [it certainly was for me, anyway] but in all honesty I can’t claim to know that for a fact.
      Innocently minding my own business, I was walking my dogs and ruminating about the events of last evening when the fly decided to brutally assault me and make the surface of my cornea its final resting place.
       So it was, that I concluded the walk with tears streaming down my face and make-up streaked along with it, so that I resembled Coco the Clown more than ever.
      I must have been a frightening sight…poking at my own eye with a sharp pink fingernail as I muttered incoherently to myself, a large black fly sticking out from under my eyelashes…fellow dog walkers avoided me like the plague and I even made one small toddler cry. Even for me, this is not a routine occurrence. So if you were one of those people I frightened this morning, I apologise.
      But after the events of last night, the fly was just the icing on the cake. Let me tell you how it all began…
     I had been scheduled to do an author signing at a ladies pamper evening at the lovely Holiday Inn. The babysitter was booked and I had a plan of how the day and the ensuing evening would run. Oh foolish me!!!
     The first inkling I had that all was not going to go well, was when my daughter chirpily told me that it was the start of an after school club that night, which meant that she would not be out of school till 4.15.
      Since I had to have everyone fed and sorted by 5pm, when I was due to leave the children in the care of the babysitter, I knew this was cutting things rather fine.
      And then of course there was the fact that it was open evening in her classroom between 3.30 and 7.00 and that of course I would have to attend.
      But this was still all ok. My two elder children could walk down from their school and meet me and my daughter at the other school, we could all then go home, have tea and I would be on my way.
      A good plan. A fine plan…that is, right up until the time I found out that the babysitter was ill and would not be able to watch the children. With no backup plan [and no backup full stop] I now had no alternative but to take the children with me to the event. Not ideal but do-able.
      Therefore by 2pm I was cooking my own and the children’s tea before showering and getting so dressed up, I looked like a left over from Elton John’s birthday party.
      Halfway into a sequined top, my mobile began to ring. It was 3.25 and sure that the boys would not arrive at the school until 3.50 and that my daughter was in a school club until 4.15, I foolishly thought I had time to spare. I answered the phone, struggling to do up the zip on the top one-handedly. It was someone asking questions about an evening dress I had advertised for sale.
      While still hauling on the zipper and trying to persuade the woman that she would be a fool not to purchase the item, one of the dogs began to bark manically, signalling that there was someone at the door. So now I am virtually shouting down the phone at the woman as I try to shut the dog up and still do up my zipper.
      By the time I had got the woman off the phone, the zip done up and the dog quietened, whoever had been knocking had left but I had a new text message from a friend. “Club not on tonight. Your daughter is waiting for you in school. X”
      Frantically dragging my tights up my legs, I caught a small area on my heel and made a small rip but there was no time to spare so I pulled on my stilettoes and hobbled [I would have run but that would have been impossible in those shoes] round to the school.
      From the look on the faces of the other parents, you would have been forgiven for thinking I was wearing the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’.
      I looked at every piece of work and admired every bit of artwork and then the boys arrived. Hungry for biscuits and juice which their sister had told them would be available [and wasn’t!] they whined the whole walk home. It was 4.30.
      By 5pm I had the whole tribe showered, fed and in the car [no mean feat let me tell you!] and we were off. I had completely forgotten the little hole in my tights by my right heel…
     Using directions I had taken off Google, we arrived at our destination at the right time – only to find that we were on the wrong side of the dual carriageway, with nowhere in sight to be able to perform a u-turn.
      The fuel gauge was nearing that worrying area between a quarter tank and empty and the road ahead was busy.
      I drove 8 miles in the opposite direction before I could turn around! There were turn offs before this but the traffic queues were so horrendously long, I knew if I joined them I would be terribly late. By now the kids were plane spotting and becoming more excited by the minute. I on the other hand, was becoming more frayed by the minute.
      Finally I managed to turn around and head back the other way. The relief when I managed to park the car was immense. I almost got down on my knees and kissed the ground in gratitude.
     The kids helped me unload and set up my table. They were still excited and happy to hand out leaflets. It was a great night but there were not as many people as expected due to there being a bad car crash on the surrounding roads [nothing to do with me, I can assure you] and which accounted for all the traffic jams everywhere.
     It was as I stood chatting about the merits of writing to a group of interested visitors, that from the very corner of my eye [the same corner that the errant fly was to attach itself the next morning]  I realised that the small hole which had started at my heel was now halfway up my leg. I’m sure I looked like a cross between Lilly Savage and Les Dawson by that stage. Trying to stand sideways on with one leg pressed to the side of the table did not help that much either I have to say.
      By the end of the evening I was bone weary and fit for bed. I loaded the car back up and we headed for home. But the fuel gauge was now almost on empty. Have you ever just carried on because there is no other option, even as your brain is in utter meltdown? Well that was how I felt. Surely there would be a petrol station within the next few miles?
     But there wasn’t. I counted the milometer and with every tick it made, I aged a year. The fuel arrow continued to sink and the miles kept accruing and still there was no garage in sight. Finally, running on mere petrol fumes, the car made it back to Bromsgrove… only to find that the nearest petrol station had closed for the night and we would have to travel another half mile to the next one. How we made it there, I will never know. But we did. And fuel purchased, it was then off to the chip shop for a treat for the kids.
     And do you know the funniest thing of all? The kids had a whale of a time …

Saturday, 3 November 2012

     The people of Bromsgrove are up in arms about a proposed new building within the town and in my view they are right. Now don't get me wrong - yes in my last blog I enthusied about the changes and developments in Birmingham, most of them set in shiney new futuristic buildings - but that was different.
     It was different for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, was that in Birmingham, they strove to build interest and aesthetics into the new archetecture. Yes, the buildings are primarily construted of steel and glass, as is the proposed one in Bromsgrove, but there are curves and angles, quirks of design and embellishments, which make them oddly in keeping with the older, original buildings they are set around.
    Then there are the purposes of the buildings themselves. In Birmingham they contain flashy shops and fancy restaurants as befiting a large city centre. Their consumers are on the whole, suited-up business people, taking a quick break out of their hectic lifestyles.
     Not so in Bromsgrove. Yes we have office workers and bank managers but take a look around you the next time you are in the town centre. Are those the people milling around the High Street? Bromsgrove planners certainly seem to think so.
     I beg to differ. The shoppers, the browsers, the consumers of the High Street are a vastly different crowd to those in Birmingham. There are harrassed mothers with often fractious children, older, semi-retired couples and lots of school children, especially in the lunch hour and after half past three.
     For all our expensive housing and two-car households in Bromsgrove, we are not an 'Executive Town'. We are a town made up of people who don suits and shirts to do a job and who are quite happy to leave that finery behind, when we leave the workplace.
     But unfortunately we have overlooked something. We think that because we live here, our chidren attend schools here and especially because it is here we pay our council taxes, we have the right to oppose changes to our town. You see, that is the crux of the matter. It is not our town. We may be belong to Bromsgrove but it certainly does not belong to us. If you think differently, ask any Bromsgrove town official...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Birmingham is turning into a beautiful city. It surprises me to be writing this because it was never something I ever thought would happen.

Having settled in the region, after leaving my hometown of Glasgow and first trying out the questionable delights of big-city life in London, I found Birmingham to be a friendly but less than glamorous place to be.

My how that has changed! Huge constructions of steel and glass in fantastical shapes and architectural magnificence vie for the eye’s attention and the heart’s wonder. Everywhere, there is a shining example of how the city is progressing into this new millennium, looking every inch the glittering star of the Midlands.

And it has become cosmopolitan. Whether as an effect of the regeneration or a more natural process, I have no idea. But it’s plain to see. And it’s everywhere. Not just in the City Centre but in the outlying areas and districts. Everything is becoming new and shiny.

But it gives me cause to wonder. Not all change is progress. I hope we can still keep the true architectural gems from days gone by, the beautiful stonework, the decorative facades and the warmth these buildings inspired within the people who lived and worked within them.

For, to me, that is the enduring memory I will have of Birmingham. That open welcome from its people, to all who chose to make it as their home.

Not that the high flyers and the smart-as-a-new-pin business people who rush around the city, looking both sartorially elegant and amazingly busy at the same time, lack warmth is more that they lack the time to display it.

Like a coat of armour the suits are worn to present a different face to the world. Take the man or woman out of the suit and ‘hey presto!’ the person reappears. Because underneath we are all the same. We all eat, we all sleep.

There isn’t a working mother in the country who doesn’t rush around trying to get the tea sorted for her family, whilst also tying up the loose ends of that report which has to be in by next Friday.  

Or a mother who, throwing dirty laundry into the machine, wonders how on earth she is going to make herself glamorous for a night out, when it feels as if the bags under her eyes are down to her knees.

I know all this because I was that woman and still am.

[Taken from “From the Mundane to the Extraordinary in 30 seconds.”]

Friday, 26 October 2012

       I am a Glaswegian. You will know that as soon as I open my mouth. Not that my molars reflect the effects of a predilection for a diet of battered Mars Bars or deep fried pizza…but I sound about as English as Billy Connolly.

       It’s not a real problem, at least not anymore. But when I first arrived in England, it was like I was some exotic species of fish, never encountered before. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that the English people I encountered had never heard of Scotland, or that they didn’t know its precise geographical location, it was more that they had never met someone from Scotland. And that in itself is a strange thing, because the Scots are renowned for their ability to up-sticks and settle in a foreign land.
        So I had to ask myself why I provoked this reaction. I thought about it for a while and the answer I came up with, was that perhaps I don’t look Scottish. Now that, if true, would certainly not be a surprise, as my ancestry is mostly Italian and Spanish with a smidgen of Irish and Scottish blood thrown in for good measure.

       But maybe it’s not my dialect or my features that give me away after all. Having spent my formative years feeling like an outsider in Scotland, I still feel like one now in England, even after twenty-seven years of living here. Just like in the old Shirley Bassey song, I feel like I stand outside the window, watching the revelry within but never daring to enter.
      Is it my demeanour then which marks me out as different from the crowd? I think maybe it is. Social interaction was never my forte. Perhaps because dodging the thrown brick was more likely where I grew up, than the possibility of a meaningful conversation. 

      But there are deprived areas everywhere. Glasgow does not have the monopoly on poverty. What it may well have the monopoly on though, is the dourness of spirit it provokes in its inhabitants. That ability to state rawly what one wants to say, without any of the social niceties which may otherwise be expected, is, I believe, uniquely Scottish. And overlaying all this is a self-deprecating humour. Yes, we Scottish people can laugh at ourselves alright.

            But none of this really answers the question of why I don’t fit in. Maybe if I think long and hard enough, I’ll get the answer to that too. In the meantime, there are plenty of windows to look through.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

To contact me directly please email
Thank you all for your kind comments about The Owners Volume 1: Alone. I enjoyed writing it and am glad you all enjoyed reading it.

The next volume is almost done [phew!] and will be available in the coming weeks...I will keep you updated.

Carmen x