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Archive for September, 2014


Sometimes a random stroke of luck brightens the day for me. Like a chance encounter with the woman behind the bookshop counter who, in answer to my question about her love of writing, revealed herself to be a fan of mine. [My writing, that is]. That led to an invitation to come and meet her writers’ group; things like this make me realise afresh that writing isn’t just what writers do in their offices, it’s a way of thinking and being, and of taking pleasure in hearing how others find their way to being writers.
Here’s another fine human being whom I don’t know and am not related to, who’s picked my book to review, and this could be a link in a serendipitous chain of events that brings home to me, who can’t easily get out there and push my work into public attention, how the word gets around and around.

Here it is, a kind and fair review from someone who ‘gets’ the book perfectly:

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Why this writer says Yes.


First of all, I love the word itself. ‘Yes’ is generous and open to infinite possibilities, ‘Yes’ says that we are not afraid to take a bold step into the unknown; ‘Yes’ is brave; we are born out of ‘Yes’; it shines in the faces and echoes in the joyous cries of babies.
‘No’ is a shrinking word, a timid, fearful word that narrows our imaginations and our potential, so, craving safety, we reject the adventure of the new. As a writer, I can only create out of the ‘Yes’ I say to life. Those of us who grew up in a world ruled by constant ‘No’ can, in our writing, fashion those wonderful possibilities and dream the dreams that real life may have denied us.
But of course this is simplistic. The decision for Yes or No is political, social, cultural, financial – all those things and more. But whereas ‘No’ offers us security, more of the same, the status quo, ‘Yes’ throws everyone from the clever banker to the wily politician into spasms of terror because, suddenly, life is not safe or predictable.
Drama and story is made by ordinary people saying ‘Yes’ to offers that, in our lives, we would go to some lengths to avoid. What if we could become billionaires merely by pressing a button that would cause the death of someone somewhere in the world who we don’t know? Would we dare to open the closed door we are forbidden to unlock? What if all men were able to bear babies? The possibilities of ‘Yes’ are exciting, inspiring, limitless.
Of course, you might reply, that is fine for drama and fiction; real life is different. Real life is about doing business, balancing budgets, knowing our proper place in the order of things. I am sorry to say that my life is not, never has been nor never will be about knowing my place. My place is where the struggle is for self-expression, self-determination, my task to give those people a voice who have never been listened to.
I am not Scottish and I have no Scottish connections, but if I lived in Scotland, to be sure I would vote Yes on Thursday. And I would be prepared to accept the consequences. I live in Wales and I lived for twenty years in Ireland. Who can deny that the Scottish decision will have an influence on Welsh politics and how the people of Wales wish to position themselves with regard to London? And what about the elephant in the room, Northern Ireland? Does London want or care about Northern Ireland? How will the Northern Irish feel once Scotland is removed from the uneasy equation that is the ‘United’ Kingdom?
All the terrors and threats implied in Cameron’s last speech were also faced by the nascent Irish nation in 1922, and after a bitter Civil War, Ireland became more, though not completely, independent. [They kept the pound – but it was Irish]. And can anyone say that Ireland before 1922 was part of a ‘United Kingdom’? Some of the problems of being a small nation still adhere, many of the bad practices of politicians have recently tarnished the ideals of Connolly and Pearse. Ireland is not currently a success in financial terms, in spite of what the media parrots, since Dublin nowadays is occupying exactly the same role as London. Wealth and full employment have not spilled out to the regions, emigration is leaching the population of the skilled and intelligent of working age, anger and disillusionment are apparent in the forgotten regions and those at the bottom of the heap – the poorest, the old, the sick, disabled, the children – are the ones being stripped of their incomes.
No wonder Scots are cynical about the promises ‘London’ is making. London is frightened – and like any bully, when scared, they are making dark threats about how awful life after Yes will be, because they will make it so. Anyone who votes ‘No’ tomorrow out of fear, because they have been threatened by Cameron and the banks, has my sympathy. I hope people won’t choose ‘No’ out of fear or because they feel bullied.
The unknown will be scary, confused, joyful, dangerous, above all, the old certainties will be turned upside down, and a peaceful revolution in the consciousness of all of us could herald the end of a system of government that no longer works to serve its people, and the end of political parties which have no relevance any more to the lives we actually lead.

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