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Showing posts from February, 2015

My Granny's tarts, Michael Sheen, what a poet said, and other stories

Story 1 My Granny James lived in a house with no gas or electricity. The cottage was lit by oil-lamps. 'How did she cook?' I asked my mother when I was home in Wales last week. 'On a hotplate in front of the open coal fire, in saucepans,' she said. 'But we had an oil-fired oven too though I can't remember how it worked. But I do remember her baking Maids of Honour.'
Now I remember my mother's Maids of Honour from when I was a kid: a shortcrust pastry case filled with a dollop of jam, sponge mixture poured on top and baked. They were golden domes with sweet hearts and a perfect marriage of textures.
Story 2 Last night I watched Michael Sheen's 'Valleys Rebellion' (BBC 2 Wales) on iPlayer which juxtaposes the 19th century account of South Wales Chartists and the Newport Rising, 19 of whom were killed in a single day in their fight to gain the vote with the apparent political disillusionment in Wales today. But it's not the presence of apathy, …

Eat, live, write

It's the sub-title of my hungry writer book (life stories, recipes and a year's worth of writing prompts) that'll be published in November by Cultured Llama but it's also how this week is expressing itself. I'm home in Wales for a week and every event with family and friends has involved food. Feeling hungry? I'm not anymore... baked salmon with a garlic cheese crustcupcakesliquid salted caramel truffleshot cross bunspasta bolognesebacon bappaprika chickenslow roast pork bellypear tart made with the shortest sweetest pastry by angel hands in Sosban, Llanelli
And I've only been here since mid afternoon on Sunday! 
And I have found stories too, clutches of them, all waiting to be written.One of the main ones we have spoken about, reminisced over, is the story of my mother's oldest friend, Fay, who passed away 10 days ago, aged 82. Mam was with Fay when they met their future husbands, who were also best friends, on a Saturday night at the Ritz Ballroom in Lla…

Beware of the Cat(s) and other stories

Moglet, Tussie, Chloe, Styx and Cocoa. The cats I have lived with. But only one of them ever attacked a human, although that was less of an attack and more of a mistaken (by the cat) invitation. Cocoa, a chocolate brown Burmese, used to jump from the floor onto your shoulder if you patted just above your heart but, from a cat's point of view, there's no perceptible difference between a deliberate pat and unconsciously brushing some lint off the front of a shirt. And 12lbs of sleek, dark muscle (apparently) launching itself at your jugular is enough to make the biggest man flap and squeal. As you might imagine, the women in the room literally cried with laughter. Were still laughing the next morning. In fact I'm laughing now, years later, as I type this paragraph. 

But mock attacks aside it's true that you can't really depend on cats to behave in a predictable way. They can be fickle, independent, fussy and dismissive. But that's what I love about them. I know do…

All the threes: The Poet at Matfield

The expectation around the number three did not escape us yesterday, along with the fact that we only had two of them: the date - 3rd February - and the three decades that Tony and I have been together since meeting at The Old Courthouse in Jersey on 3rd February 1985. All the threes - Dirty knees - All the feathers - Two little fleas. We needed three little fleas. Or at least I thought we did.
3rd February 2015
Remember we were talking  about the mystical charm  of the number 3 and I said 
our anniversary – the third  day of February – plus  the three decades since 
we met put us in possession  of two and we needed one more  for a trilogy? But I was wrong. 
We have always been  in the company of three:  me, you and the ‘we’ 
we have made and remade  through these years, much  greater than either of us alone. 
And we did spend three hours at The Poet at Matfield. And we did have three wonderful courses. But I only had one glass of wine because three glasses would have had me snoring face down in my St…