On the realisation of dreams

The past two years have been a steady journey towards one goal – that of a peaceful, simple, stress-free life. To be clear, this doesn’t mean shelving all ambition or turning away from taxing work. There are still aspects of the day-to-day that have their high-tension moments. It’s more about the context, the backdrop. That’s what counts. From a place of safety I can enter the fray, give it all I’ve got, then retreat. It’s the standard introvert M.O.

For some time it wasn’t clear how ‘calm and peaceful’ would manifest. When the understanding formed, it was kind of obvious. In short, I cashed in my chips and went home. This meant giving up the rural idyll of the previous 8 years as well as the place in London that had been home before that. Now, I’m back in Cambridge where I was born and raised, all of 6 minutes 20 seconds walk from my sister (she timed it on her phone). The wanderer returns.

Subconscious minds can sometimes take their time to be heard. A coach friend once described the relationship between the conscious and subconscious as like rider and elephant: the rider thinks she’s calling the shots, but if the elephant decides to go its own sweet way, there’s really no debate. Eventually my elephant made its feelings abundantly clear and the path was set.

With a little distance I can see that my time away was fraught with shoulds and oughts for the sake of ‘getting on’. I was always on the move and over-extended; permanently anxious about the size of the mortgage versus the desperate unpredictability of independent work. In the early days of post-employment I was weeks away from being unable to pay the bills, but even then, going back to a regular job was out of the question. It comes down to choice. Though what doesn’t kill you allegedly makes you stronger, I’ve done my toughening up, thank you very much. Enough already.

So, with a little practice and conscious intent (new habits take time, after all!), I’m breathing out and accepting my limited tolerance for risk and adrenaline, much as I accept I’ll never have a 24 inch waist and a thigh gap. Or a private jet. Or an Oscar. Or, [insert preposterous/irrelevant/unobtainable thing of choice here]. Instead, I’m in a life that leaves room to breathe, room to see, room to give and room to love. It’s a simple thing but in every sense a revelation – and in doing these things I’ve found that the giving and loving comes right back in spades.

What UKIP is really here for

Yesterday, Mark Reckless won UKIP’s second seat in Westminster.

As ever, the press has made much of this success. The Independent claimed it was a “humiliating defeat” for Cameron, while the BBC’s Nick Robinson declared UKIP had proved it could “take on and defeat the entire Conservative Party machine”.

These days it feels like UKIP is never out of the news, as though they are an interesting political movement worthy of commentary. At the risk of ruining a good yarn with the truth, shall we take a look at some facts?

UKIP was founded in 1991 and has had 8 leaders in the last 20 years. Of its MEPs, two are ex-Conservatives, one has been expelled from the party for not being right wing enough, and two are in prison for fraud.  Of its three members of the House of Lords, two are defectors from the Conservatives. Its only member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly is a man who was expelled from the Ulster Unionists. Its two Westminster MPs were both originally elected as Conservative Party candidates.

Forgive me, but this is hardly the track record of a political power house set to take Westminster by storm. UKIP has yet to win a single elected seat in any assembly in the United Kingdom with a home grown candidate. Enjoy a Miss Piggy style flounce from the political stage but don’t want to give up your seat? No worries, just switch allegiance. UKIP will take you in. They’ll take anyone in, since in over 20 years they haven’t managed a single home grown success.

This failure is due in large part to the most absurd set of policies: a mixture of nonsense immigration rules (all immigrants must have private health care and can only send their children to private schools) lunatic tax reforms (they want to abolish NI at a cost of £50bn per year) and anti-climate change measures (they will reverse all fiscal assistance for green energy). Their manifesto is shot through with covert racism in the “they come over here and take our jobs and women” style, and several of their higher profile members espouse overtly homophobic views.

What UKIP does have is a disproportionate amount of attention in the press. Never in the history of UK politics has such an unsuccessful party been given so much air time. Their policies are unpopular, un-costed and ill-conceived, and they appear both racist and homophobic. Their prevalence in the press cannot, therefore, be a reflection of their popularity. So why are they there?

The answer lies in boredom. If I vote Cameron or Miliband, will I really notice a difference? There is a real sense at the moment that to move from Conservative to Labour is to do no more than change the wallpaper. So now we are casting around for someone to shake up the political agenda and give journalists something to discuss. Let’s face it, they can hardly spend four years gawping moon-faced into a camera, droning on about some middle class white dude in a grey suit who just did something indistinguishable from last week’s middle class white dude in a grey suit.

Trouble is, political firebrands are a little difficult to find just now. The Green Party? Too “one policy”. The Liberal Democrats? Too Tory prison bitch. Alas the Monster Raving Loonies are no more. So we have scraped the bottom of the barrel and come up with Nigel Farage – a public school educated ex City man, whose pretence that he is a beer drinking fag smoking man of the people is cringe-making in the extreme. But since someone pulled his knuckles off the floor and gave him some PR training, we can put him on Question Time and TV debates, as though sitting him next to other politicians might make him slightly less bonkers.

The thing is, it doesn’t. Instead, much like anything in politics, if you say it often enough people will start to believe it’s true. The more often we put Farage into serious mainstream press, the more he will start to feel like a credible alternative; and he is not a credible alternative. He is only there because we are looking for a devil’s advocate. Someone, or something, to take a new view on political events, so that we no longer have to watch Tory and Labour slogging it out like two half dead tennis players who can’t get off the base line. Farage is the entertainment. He’s a political fluffer. He is the joke story in the middle of a dull news day.

For goodness sake, don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s actually saying something helpful.

On being at peace with the creative process

Mentioned on my bio for this site is the completion date for my current novel. The date is in the past. The novel is not complete.

There is a brutal truth for most writers in that it is necessary to earn money in order to live and the actual process of novel-writing is long, and unpaid. This creates something of a vicious circle as the unpaidness of it means it takes longer (because you have to do things in the mean time that will pay), so it goes on being unpaid, and so on. The large literary advances that make the headlines are unbelievably rare.

My book, On the Outside, is without doubt a labour of love. It was inspired by a true story and itself has become the chronicling of the creative process, describing the symbiosis of writer and subject. The act of writing – and of telling – is shaping the story in real time. That my own part, as writer, cannot be remote and objective is another uncomfortable truth. To fictionalise yourself, in a way that feels both authentic and appropriately distant not to be excruciating, is a bizarre and sometimes tortuous thing. I also discover that I do in fact have a distinctive voice and I’m still not sure its OK. A bit like hearing yourself on tape. It’ll have to be though, won’t it? It is what it is.

So, my self-imposed due-date has passed but so be it. The bones of the story are still in the present. They are yet to be defleshed and reborn in different bodies, that enable the freedom of fiction.

I think that’s OK too.

The Taylor View – a new business magazine

A new business magazine has launched recently called The Taylor View. It is a quarterly magazine with in-depth business content, premium fashion, culture and art, and has high end design, photography and finish. It is available in print and online.

And Liz and Hatty wrote THIS for it. Read away:


These are a few of my favourite things…dude.

You know when you bring together two of your favourite things? When you deliberately cause a convergence for the purposes of extra-strength happiness? Well, that.

I’ve brought Dawes to Laugharne. She has, after all, listened to my incessant bleating (about Laugharne, not just in general, but to be fair quite a lot of that as well) for a good 18 months and I have piqued her curiosity sufficiently to persuade her to join me for the weekend. Oh, the kicking and the screaming. The veritable twisting of her rubber arm.

So here we are – just about still, as we have to go home today – sitting at my table in the Reading Room at Browns, being productive. For me, that’s writing THIS, in case you hadn’t realised. She is taking endless selfies, trying to find a good one because she’s been promised a slot in Browns Famous Clientele. That really does exist. Check their Facebook page if you don’t believe me.

During the last three days Dawes has met a lot of new people and, due to how notoriously bad she is at remembering names, the men of Laugharne have been rechristened. This is not necessary for the women as she always remembers them, but the males of the species each require a descriptive moniker, complete with the universal suffix of ‘Dude’. Plus, it’s just TOO funny. Are you ready? Here goes. We have: Pug Dude (owns a part-pug called Brian), Pelican Dude (lives in a house called the Pelican), Builder Dude and Baker Dude (self-explanatory), Next-Door Dude, Landlord Dude, Camera Dude (see ‘Toxic Twins’), Her Dude (his wife was there), Pink Dude, Northern Dude, Nobody-knows-Tall-Dude and, in a stroke of pure genius, All the Young Dudes, who is SO Young that he hasn’t the faintest idea what that even means. At present, we are hoping that a suitably feminine specimen will pitch up. Are you there yet? Yes? Of course you are. Dude Looks Like a Lady. (If all else fails, there’s one of them in Llanidloes. He looks divine in a frilly blouse, feather boa and sparkly eye-shadow – the heaven-sent ringlet-haloed love child of Jim Morrison and Marc Bolan – but that’s a whole other story). The women have been the best though. Natalie (the Platonic Ideal of barmaids), Nia (hilarious), Annie (the Ninja Knitter) and Jean (kind enough to wash Dawes’s trousers after an unfortunate love-in with Natalie’s dog).

The thing about Laugharne is that it’s a place where it’s really unbelievably easy to hang out and do nothing. Since arriving three days ago, we’ve achieved this admirably. To be perfectly honest, the most effortful part of it all was spending Saturday getting over Friday. There was chips and cheese, and G&T and sitting by the sea all involved in that. Also coffee and snoozes. So, it comes now to a rainy bank holiday Monday, looking out of the window at the beautiful, bright green Pelican, trying to stay present and not think of later. You know, it’s not even that I don’t like what I have to be doing tomorrow. I do. It’s just that I won’t be here. Dawes – I loves ya, Dude. Thanks for being here too.

Readers… they liked it!

Greetings all,

Roving reporter Richmond coming to you from beautifully sunny Wales, where (amongst other things) I completed a 2700-word short story and gave a poetry reading (of my own stuff, a ‘terrible triptych of truth’) to much laughter and applause! I kid you not.

Anyway, we told you last time of a magazine commission which had come in and on which we duly executed a Richmond/Dawes double-act. Anyway, they liked it and I’m told it’ll be out imminently. What a relief, cos, well, you never know do you?

As for the burst of holiday-driven creativity, I reckon its something to do with the place I’m in. For those acquainted with Mr D Thomas and the small, strange town of Llareggub, you’ll know exactly what I mean and although it may not be the best photography in the world, here’s a quick look at what for me is the very best view.

Until the next time, my lovelies, I bid you a fond farewell.




Sorry for the silence, chaps.. or, when Living Life and Writing gets in the way of LiveLifeWrite…

What’s that about empty barrels making more noise? No, I’m not hungry…more like trying to find a suitably witty way of explaining what we’ve been a bit quiet.

Chickens, children, clients, commuting and real-life writing all prevail. Not necessarily in that order. This weekend we’re on point (or is it en pointe? Must look it up..) for a magazine piece in the launch edition of a brand new publication. This is all good.

If you know our stuff you’re probably up to date with Liz’s exploits – domestic or otherwise – on Fighting Fifty. If you’re not, do take a look as, quite frankly, it’s bloody good and mostly very funny. http://www.fightingfifty.co.uk/blog She’s also been working on corporate copy for a professional services client. My novel continues, slowly. ‘Nuff said!

Adieu for now, my friends. We’ll see you soon xxx

Did I mention…..

…. that you can buy the best selling anthology featuring a fabulous short story by Liz? Go to our shop for a speedy link. It’s a perfect stocking filler for Christmas, though I should probably add the health warning that it is really only readable by your more *ahem* raucous friends and relatives…..



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