These are dangerous times, and I’m not talking about the pandemic. When the howlers arrived at the door of J.K. Rowling, darling of the publishing world, and issued their fatwa, it was a wake up call for anyone still unaware that the death of freedom of speech is imminent. This is what happens when you…

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Let’s talk about critics, by which I mean, people who are paid to critique the stuff others have created. Fiction, poetry, music, art, whatever. Something created out of nothing and then offered to a wider audience. Who are these people, or perhaps I should ask, who do they think they are? Some are simply full-time…

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Has it really only been a month? It seems like years. I’m back at my desk because it’s the place where I know (usually) what I’m doing. I suppose that makes it my comfort zone, though sometimes it doesn’t feel like one. Ask any non-delusional writer/artist/person engaged in any creative endeavour. So I’m reunited with…

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Not a huge amount of work getting done in this parish at the moment, for understandable reasons, but I have managed a piece of journalism which you can find here. The Spectator has a special place in my heart. I met my husband on a blind date and, checking him out from a distance before…

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Dear readers, I haven’t posted recently because I’ve been keeping a deathwatch for my dear and lovely husband. It has been a strange, disorienting time, with night turned into day, and sorrow alleviated by funny and affectionate stories about him. Howard died this morning, holding my hand, in blessed peace at the end of a…

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Another notch on the belt of this damned virus with the death of Ferruccio Berolo, maestro ballerino and notable feature in the San Barnaba/Santa Margherita neighbourhood of Venice. Whatever the time of day you could depend on Ferruccio to be somewhere on your route, ready to stand you a coffee, or, preferably, something stronger. In…

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One of my grandsons emailed me yesterday. He had done a page count of some of my books and wanted to know how I manage to write upward of 300 pages. He, aged 11, had just struggled to complete 17 pages of what he’d thought was a super idea for a story. What to tell…

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Today I made a decision. Having spent the past week indulging in an orgy of Olympic-level faffing, I admitted that I need a more disciplined approach to lockdown and so, this morning, I hired a personal trainer. Her name is Laurie and she’s on tap, right here, 24/7. Barmy as it sounds, I think I…

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I was rather tickled to learn that at some point in the 1830s Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s revered literary giant, found himself quarantined because of a cholera epidemic. He was at his country pile and alone, though I suspect his idea of ‘alone’ was no mates, no fiancée and just a skeleton staff. He wrote a…

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This is what happens when a person is entering Week 3 of lockdown and discovers, in the back of a cupboard, an unopened packet of origami paper. Finding a fiver down the arm of the sofa could not have brought me more joy. I might have spent the afternoon writing or sewing or even sitting…

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