Petty domestic disputes no.4: Houseplants


Houseplants. Are they really necessary? (Photo credit: NCReedplayer)

I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to our home, my wife and I agree on many things. We decide together on how the rooms should be decorated , choose items of furniture together, even agree on wall colours and soft furnishings. When it comes to our home we are almost in harmony. Almost. You see, there is a fly in the ointment (in reality there are two flies of which the other will be covered at a later date): houseplants.

In my opinion there is a perfect number of houseplants per room and that is zero. Houseplants clutter rooms, attract dust, moult leaves if you walk within six inches of them. They are completely unnecessary. When I mentioned to a friend that I hated houseplants, she replied in a horrified voice “But they provide oxygen and purify the air.” Being a reasonable person I decided to check whether this was true.

Any school child will be able to tell you that houseplants convert CO2 to oxygen, but the amounts produced per plant are negligible compared to how much oxygen we inhale per breath. A scientist once spent 48 hours in an airtight room using only plants to produce his oxygen needs, but in order not to suffocate in his 12 metre square room, he needed between 150 and 200 plants. That is not a floral display, that is a jungle.

I will concede that houseplants are effective in purifying the air in a room, but what hasn’t been taken into the equation is the horrible damp smell coming from the earth in each pot. On top of this is the smell from the mould that quite happily forms a crust on the earth’s surface. Many families use air fresheners (or scented candles for you new agers out there*)  to overcome this musty smell , cleverly negating the plant’s purifying effect on the atmosphere.

Orchid, close & personal

Orchid flowers, something rarely seen in our house  (Photo credit: Pierre J.)

My wife, on the other hand, loves houseplants. Our house is festooned with them. We have big, floor standing plants, small plants sitting on shelves; a hanging plant in the kitchen, and a number of pots sprouting orchid leaves. Many of these plants we have had for years, and you can tell. In the spring of their youth they may, once, have been attractive, but after ten years of service many are looking a quite sad. Wandering each room, you will find so many different levels of plant decay, that you could be fooled into thing that our house was the horticultural equivalent of the FBI’s body farm. The state of our houseplants is one of the reasons we don’t have a pet, and was my main worry before we had a family. Thank goodness children cry when they are hungry.**

But behind it all there is one reason, and one reason only, why we have so many pot plants in our house: mother’s day. Every year, just before the middle Sunday of Lent (yes, I know it’s May elsewhere), I find myself traipsing around our village with the boys, looking for a gift for my wife. As usual, I have left things to the last minute. The gift shops are closed and I know from experience not to buy anything to do with the kitchen, so we end up in the one place I am guaranteed to find something my wife likes: the florists.

I don’t know anything about cut flowers except that roses are a cliché on valentines day, lilies are mother nature’s air freshener, and if you buy a bunch for your wife on anything other than a special occasion, the first look you will receive is one of suspicion.***  So instead we head to our only other option and find ourselves staring at pot plants. And here lies the irony; a significant number of the pot plants in our house were bought by me.

So last Mothering Sunday, our two beaming boys  handed over the plant and my wife, who was delighted. She gave them both a kiss to say thank you and the put the plant in pride of place on the window sill. Then, a couple of weeks later, all the flowers drop off. At that point, it is moved alongside all the others, to become yet another set of orchid leaves.

*There are many people who refuse to use air fresheners because they release nasty “chemicals” into the atmosphere, but these same people are more than happy to burn scented candles.

** This is a joke. We love our children very much and we enjoy regular meals together each day, whether they want to or not.

***This is also a joke, at least in our household. At least I think it is; my memory is not as good as it once was.

Others in this series:

 Petty domestic disputes No.3: Food

Petty domestic disputes no.2: The 6 a.m. watershed

Petty domestic disputes no.1: Bed Space



Bamberg potatoes

Bamberg potatoes, the world’s best motivational tool? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s blog is brought to you with the help of a potato, a duvet cover and Jedward.

Over the last few days I’ve been receiving feedback on the latest draft of my novel from my lovely alpha readers. I asked them to be robust and I’m pleased to say that they were happy to oblige, providing much detail on where my book can be improved. As any writer knows, alpha reader feedback is like tough love – you know it’s invaluable and the right thing to do, but by god it can be painful. Interestingly, to stop me from going into a spiral of pity and self-doubt, each alpha reader started their feedback by congratulated me for getting to this point, saying what an achievement it was and how impressed they were. At the same time another friend commented about how he too was impressed with my work ethic; that I hadn’t allowed anything to distract me from finishing the book. Even my Dad said he admired the fact that when I started something, I tried to do it properly and didn’t stop until I was finished.

The thing is, this is nothing like how I view myself.

You see, I feel I’m a naturally lazy person who has had to fight against the desire to coast all their life. I’ve worked with many people who seem to have limitless reserves of motivation and bound through crises with Jedward-like energy levels. I’ve always wanted to be like them, yet when I look at my own behaviour I always see what else I could have achieved. For example, when I think about the writing process, I don’t look at the 110,000 words I’ve written, but at the times where I have just stared out of the window or played on Facebook or Twitter.

It is the same with anything I do in life: when I peel potatoes I always choose the biggest first as you get more potato per peel; when ironing I always put off ironing the duvet cover because it takes the same amount of time to iron as ten t-shirts*. The thing is, this approach would be fine if somebody else took up the slack, but at some point I will be peeling the small potatoes or ironing that bloody duvet cover (ironing the duvet cover is a big source of disgruntlement in our house and I could have been the subject of a “Petty domestic dispute” all of it’s own. I mean, really, who needs to iron a duvet cover?)

As I thought about it, I realised that each example reinforced one of life’s great truths, that the biggest block to achieving anything is yourself. Now before you start berating me as some kind of wannabe life coach, I’ve never bought into the cliche that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I cannot beat Usain Bolt at the 100m sprint no matter how hard I train. But I do believe that most of us can achieve so much more than we think we can. I could just peel whichever potato I pick out of the bag first but I’m prevented by a mental bock that thinks it’s too much work. I could iron the duvet cover first so that it’s out of the way, but that mental block (plus the senselessness of it all) prevents me from doing so. Yet I’ve been faced with many, much larger challenges, which I have met with little fuss or bother because I either a: didn’t have a choice; b: had no idea the size of the task when I started (see writing a novel); or c, really enjoyed what I was doing. If you forget about what’s possible and just go ahead and start, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.

So there you go; nearly all of life’s challenges can be overcome by just thinking of a potato or a duvet cover. Challenge yourself, exceed your expectations; you can achieve way more than you think you can. And if you overreach, well sometimes that can turn out OK too. Just look at Jedward**.

*This is a guess, although if I put my foot down and refuse completely, I am sure it will be brought up in court as evidence

**I am so sorry for the Jedward video. Really. I promise not to do it again.

I’m not hitting on you


A stay at home Dad’s nightmare (Photo credit: anneke1998)

This blog is dedicated to the mothers or carers of young children who attend the same toddler groups as my son. Most of you are fully aware that this is the case, but for those of you who don’t:

I’m not hitting on you.

  • If I look in your direction and smile, it’s because I am a nervous, outnumbered twenty to one by mothers and I don’t know anyone in the group. I’m not hitting on you.
  • If I talk to you, it’s because I have been alone with my son for hours, sometimes days, and I need human conversation. I’m not hitting on you.
  • If I stumble over my words or appear hesitant when talking, it’s because I don’t know you and I’m very conscious of what I am saying, because I recognise the look of fear in your eyes and know what you are thinking. I’m not hitting on you.
  • If our eyes meet across the crowded room, it’s because a child has fallen over and I’m wondering if it is yours and whether you would like me deal with with the situation. I’m not hitting on you.
  • If you see me laughing and joking with another mother, it’s because I know them and I am relieved to finally be able to talk to someone who doesn’t think I’m a love hungry single dad who uses toddler groups as a dating agency. I’m not hitting on her.

And finally, the one that really annoys me:

  • If you see me talking to your child, it’s because your child has talked to me first, either to ask me something, or to show me something, or that they have done something and are looking for praise; and I am responding to them because I am a parent and that’s what parents do. I am not hitting on them.

Petty domestic disputes no.3: Food

A salad platter.

Call this a meal? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since we first moved in together, my wife has been trying to change what I eat. It started fairly innocuously – she decided that three sugars in a cup of teas was three too many – so she reduced the amount of sugar in my tea first to two spoonfuls and then to one. This was quite nice, I thought, she’s looking after my best interests and I don’t really miss all that sugar. Little did I know what a dangerous precedent she had set.

You see, although I don’t believe in generalisations, every woman looks at their long-term partner as a work in progress. They do not marry us because they are happy with how we are, but view us as a rough piece of clay from which they hope to mould the perfect partner. I eventually realised what was happening and have successfully staged a small rebellion, refusing to move from one sugar to none. This is not because I don’t like the taste, but because it allows me to reassert my free will*. It’s the little things….

Over time I have learnt that there are two types of food: those that it is OK to dislike, and those I dislike. For example, I am not a great fan of most vegetables. Just a hint of carrot makes me feel sick and don’t even get me started on cabbage or broccoli, yet this, apparently is wrong. It’s not that these foods are disgusting/repulsive/put on this earth by the devil to torment me, apparently I am being fussy (and despite there being scientific evidence to support my position.) My wife, however, dislikes ice-cream and any form of beans,which is clearly normal. She used to dislike bananas and for years these were also on the list of foods to dislike. Then she tried one. Now they are on the approved list. There is no scientific evidence to back up my wife, other than the fact she has a scientific background and therefore her views are scientific evidence.

The one area where this battle of wills really comes to a head is the barbecue. Summers here in England can be relatively brief, so every chance I get I offer to cook a barbecue. There are two reasons for this.

  1. Burgers are my favourite food**
  2. I get to choose what we eat.
image source:

This is how a BBQ should look (photo credit

When I think of a barbecue it consists mostly of platefuls of meat and the odd bread roll to mop up the juices. This is, apparently, also wrong. After coming home with the minced beef to make burgers, some sausages, ribs, burger buns, relishes, mustard and ketchup; the first I question I’m asked is: “What about the salad?” You see, when my wife thinks of a barbecue she sees bowls of fresh salad, coleslaw, potato salad, assorted breads, a variety of salad dressings, plus somethings barbecued, preferably kebabs that consist of large hunks of vegetables and the odd piece of chicken, which are impossible to cook without burning the vegetables and the stick whilst leaving the chicken hazardous to your health. So we compromise by me going back to the shop and buying salad stuff.

At the barbecue itself, timing is everything. I like to cook the food so everything is available at the same time. If I don’t, my wife will helpfully offer to get me a plate of something to eat while I cook. This a sausage, some coleslaw (don’t get me started on the evils of coleslaw) and lots of garnish.

I remember at one barbecue, having cooked everything on time and to perfection, my wife glanced over to my plate and said “you’ve forgotten your salad.” This was clearly unfair as I had a very large portion of potato salad alongside my two burgers, sausages and ribs. Undaunted by the logic of my argument (if it’s not salad, why does it have salad in its name?), my wife insisted on putting some extra salad on my plate.Now, I could refuse the salad as an infringement of my right to choose to eat what I damned well please, but I don’t because my wife has cunningly decided to have the whole conversation in front of the children.

She has out foxed me once again. I can’t show my hatred of vegetables in front of the children because then they would refuse to eat them. Therefore, every meal has to contain some form of vegetable or salad, otherwise the children would end up dying of scurvy, rickets or some other dietary disease I managed to avoid during my lifetime. It is OK, though, to pick the kidney beans out of a chilli in front of the kids, as nobody died of kidney bean failure.

Eventually, I’m full, but my wife hasn’t finished. “We’re all having some fruit. Would you like some?” I like fruit, but by now I feel as if I have a small baby in my stomach. My wife gives me that look, which means ‘think of the kids’. I look at my two beautiful boys and in my mind their hair and teeth starts to fall out of their future fat and bloated faces, so I give in and eat some fruit.

Later that night, I toss and turn on my side of the bed, unable to get to sleep due to indigestion. I should never have said yes to that fruit.


*OK, it is the taste really, I mean, tea without sugar, ugh!

** I know, call me a heathen, but they taste so good.


Petty domestic disputes no.2: The 6 a.m. watershed

Petty domestic disputes no.1: Bed Space

Petty domestic disputes no.2: The 6 a.m. watershed

The official start of morning

The official start of morning

For this second edition of petty domestic disputes, I will be staying in the bedroom. During the week my wife works and I look after the children (it’s a little more complicated than that but for the sake of this blog, that’s all you need to know). As my wife is the only wage earner, from Monday through to Thursday, if the children wake during the night, I deal with them. This is only fair. However, when it comes to the weekend, we enter into negotiations.

As any parent of young children knows, a lie in is the highlight of the week. It’s that little bit of indulgence that helps you get through the tantrums, whining, crying, hitting, throwing and screaming without resorting to infanticide. Deciding who gets a lie in when is a delicate negotiation. I will give you a classic example:

Wife: So who’s getting up in the night?

Me: I’ll get up in the night, you get up early.

Wife: But my exercise class is at 8:00 am the day after tomorrow so if I don’t have a lie in tomorrow, I won’t get a lie-in the whole weekend.

Me: But the little sod’s had me up every night this week. I really need a lie in.

Wife: I’ll get up in the night.

Me: Why did you ask me the question then?

Wife: Go to sleep.

You can see that my wife made the classic error of asking the question first, therefore handing me an advantage which she expertly recovered by ignoring anything I said and doing as she damn well pleased. So far, so normal. The real battle starts as the night progresses.

You see, in our household, getting up in the night means any time from when you go to sleep through to 6 a.m. the following morning. Not 6 ish, from around 6 a.m., close to six, but 06:00 hours on the dot. To many people this might sound unreasonable, inflexible even, but it’s through forming understandings like this that our marriage has been so successful.

Rabbit, the source of many sleepless nights

Rabbit, the source of many sleepless nights

Of course, this doesn’t mean the agreement is always honoured. Both of us, in certain circumstances, will do anything to get out of it. Let me give you an example. It is my turn to get up in the night. At 12:30 our youngest loses his toy Rabbit and starts to cry. I get up, find Rabbit, tuck him in and go back to bed. Perfect parenting and I’m quickly back asleep. At 2:30 am our oldest boy calls my name (it’s always my name no matter how many times I’ve told him to call for mummy). I go to him and find he’s had a nightmare. I give him a hug and tell him it’s only a dream. He lies back down and I go back to bed, tossing and turning until I eventually fall asleep.

It’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m woken by my youngest one’s breath on my face. He’s standing right next to my bed, holding his Rabbit, staring at me as if he’s trying to work out if I’m alive or dead. As I open my sleep filled eyes, he says “Milk.” I tell him to get back in bed,  go downstairs and warm up some milk. While I’m waiting for the milk I check my phone and get excited as I see somebody new is following my blog. Maybe this time they aren’t a spammer. I take the milk to my son, tuck him in,go back to bed where I lie for an age trying to get back to sleep.

Then comes the killer. It’s 5:45 a.m. I can’t remember falling asleep but I must have as I’m woken by my youngest son crying. It’s the “huh, huh, huuuuuh” type of cry that isn’t really crying, more a sign of boredom. I’m bone tired. I should go to him, but it’s 5:45 a.m. It’s nearly morning. All I have to do is hang on for 15 minutes and my wife has to deal with him. At this point my wife rolls over. Her eyes are closed she looks asleep, but she isn’t. She rolled over  so she could check the time. She’s had a long week, getting up early to catch a flight then working long hours before flying back a few days later. There is no way she’s getting up until 6 a.m. on the dot. So we both lie there, me hoping our son will settle down, my wife (back right along the centre of the bed), desperate for me to deal with the crying.

Finally, fed up with the lack of attention, our son walks into the bedroom. It’s 5:56 a.m. He walks first to my side of the bed. I refuse to open my eyes. There is a stand-off for a minute as he waits to see if I react. Nothing. He pats at my face but i refuse to budge. Realising he’s getting nowhere, he walks to my wife’s side of the bed. It’s 5:58 a.m. Surely she can’t ignore her youngest son, the little guy she’s missed so much while she’s been working away.

“Mummy, up.”

I smile. There is no way she can ignore that. I wait for her to get up out of bed but instead, she plays her trump card.

She lifts him into our bed.

“Give Daddy a cuddle,” she says, all innocence, “he’s been up all night,” and my annoyance at a lie in lost is swept away as our son wraps his arms around my neck. He squeezes me tight and I luxuriate in this act of unconditional love, doing my best to ignore the grin on my wife’s face.

To read the first in this series: Bed space, click here

People who don’t say hello

Even I can be neighbourly, in the right circumstances

Even I can be neighbourly, in the right circumstances

I love where I live. It was a big change moving to a village from living in the centre of a major city. I was lucky, though and didn’t suffer the culture shock that many city dwellers do (What? You don’t have a persian deli? Where can I get some Tabrizi bread?) I had been raised in village and it felt like moving home. The one thing I had forgotten, though, was that nearly everybody you meet says hello. Now, I know there are villages where people don’t say hello, villages where two types of people live: locals and soon-to-move-out outsiders. Our village isn’t like that. Even on the damp freezing day of our first visit, strangers said hello to my wife and I as they walked by. We fell in love immediately.

Of course, the hello ritual has its pitfalls. For a start, you need to know the time. I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Good Morning” to somebody, only to curse myself as soon as the words are out of my mouth because it’s past noon. You can see it written all over their faces.” Good morning? Can’t he see the position of the sun?” The shame can be unbearable.

There is also the issue of not knowing a person’s name. I’m terrible with names. Another reason I fell in love with the village was that the first three people I got to know were called Steve. It was bliss. Then I met a Dave and a Lee and the whole thing fell apart. Don’t even get me started on Dan. There are people in the village with whom I’ve had long, frequent conversations and I still can’t remember their name. It’s nothing personal, the name just fails to sink in. Yet when I see them out and they say “Hello Dylan,” I squirm with embarrassment, groping around in my memory looking for any sort of prompt that could help me greet them by name in return.

But even in a village as friendly as ours, there are  people who don’t say hello. I tend to break them down into four main groups:

  • The preoccupied – by far the most common group. They are not snubbing you, they are concentrating on something else, like chasing after their child who happens to be skipping towards an onrushing combine harvester. Nine times out of ten the preoccupied will say hello, just not today.
  • The shy – always a good group to say hello to. It’s not often you can get a physical reaction from somebody by saying one word to them (swear words not included.)
  • People who don’t know you – this group really have no excuse. You may not have seen me before but that’s no excuse for not returning a hello. There are people in the village who have never said anything but hello to me, or I to them, in over two years, yet we feel as if we know each other. Shame on you.
  • Then there is my favourite group – The Antisocial. These are people who know about the hello social convention but choose not to play. Everybody knows them. If you live in my village I bet you know who I’m talking about. If you don’t, then you’re probably one of them. They are the type of person who sees you walking towards them, smile on face, mouth opening to speak, and their eyes slip to the side, or down; anywhere but where you are standing. It’s an effect  Harry Potter would be familiar with when he wore his invisibility cloak. Then, head bowed, the antisocial person rushes past, desperate to be away in case your show of neighbourliness brings them out in hives.

The thing is, most ‘helloers,’ as I like to call us, ignore the antisocial. They believe that if a person doesn’t want to say hello then that’s their prerogative. I’m a little different. I’m more of an evangelical helloer. I want to bring them to the light. Rather than ignore these people I try to convert them, deliberately targeting the antisocial until I get a greeting in return. I see it as my calling.

Now you have to be careful. Being an evangelical helloer can be quite risky. A balance needs to be made. Saying hello too loud and you come across as arrogant, even slightly deranged. Being too soft and you will end up ignored. It’s important to maintain eye contact and a smile at all times; it doesn’t feel neighbourly to have ‘hello’ bellowed in your face by an angry looking loon. You also need to choose your targets carefully. As a middle aged man, I wouldn’t recommend trying to get a hello out of teenage girls; the following police interviews can be uncomfortable.

Occasionally, though, something happens that makes the whole thing worthwhile. There was an old lady who I used to meet every morning on the school run. Now old ladies are the founders of the helloer movement; they are the helloer fundamentalists. Old ladies greet everybody they meet as if they were long lost family, with a beaming smile accentuated by their paper soft cheeks. However, this old lady was different. While most old ladies break out into a smile as easy as breathing, this old lady was of a type more likely to offer you a poisoned apple. Here was a worthy challenge. Every day I would pass this old lady and every day she would ignore my greeting.

Every day, five times a week, for over a year.

I was getting close to giving up until one day as I was returning from the school run with my two boys, I pushed our pushchair  through the biggest pile of dog shit you could imagine. As I stood there swearing about thoughtless dog owners, the old lady approached with a big smile lighting up her face. “Good afternoon dear,” she said, laughter in her voice. That day I was on the side of the antisocial.

Petty domestic disputes no.1: Bed space

Do you see how she is guarding the centre of the bed?

Do you see how she is guarding the centre of the bed?

My wife and I bicker a lot. We are world class bickerers. Along with love, mutual respect, openness and honesty, bickering is probably key to how our marriage is still going strong after 13 years. I feel bickering as entertainment has been overlooked by marriage counsellors (this statement is based on absolutely no facts whatsoever.) Bickering can be a release valve for the daily friction that occurs in every relationship. I’m tempted to write a book called ‘Love through Bickering.’ I think it could be the next international best seller. To test the waters, I’ll be running an irregular series of blog posts called petty domestic disputes.
Now I’m a very reasonable person whereas my wife can be quite stubborn. A good example of this is her opinion over bed space. We are both relatively slim people but I am much broader across the shoulders than my wife. The problem comes when we read in bed at night. I often find my wife creeping across to my side of the bed so that I end up pushed to the edge of the mattress. I hate this. The edge of the bed is also the edge of the duvet, which means I end up cold down my left side.
I’ve done my best to reason with her. I’ve tried to explain that the issue is all to do with proportion but my wife, in all her stubbornness, seems to believe the bed should be shared equally as with everything else in our marriage. This is clearly wrong. As I am broader than my wife, I should have proportionally more of the bed than her. This is the fair solution. Instead I was forced to spend weeks slyly moving her pillows right to the edge of her side of the bed and pushing mine right next to hers. This gave me the extra few inches of space I was entitled to and for a while I was happy. My wife said nothing but instead bought pillowcases with a border that were exactly half the width of the bed. In the end we bought a bigger bed.
Great, you might think. Situation solved. Not a chance. You see, you forgot about one thing: children. Our youngest has recently been waking up in the night and finding it difficult to settle. Quite often he ends up in our bed, but interestingly enough, not on my wife’s side. He stretches out on my side of the bed, pushing his feet into my back and wrapping the duvet around himself until I am left freezing on a sliver of mattress. My wife, in the mean time, is asleep, her back right along the line of the middle of the bed, the line as delineated by those bloody pillowcases. I have literally been given the cold should from the pair of them. And despite the fact she has her back to me, I know my wife has a smile on her face, and knowing what she has done makes me smile in return. That is what makes this marriage a success.

The little boy in a hat

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been waiting for feedback from my alpha readers on my first book. As well as writing the odd blog post, I’ve been using my precious writing time to plan out my next book. I’ve been working it through for a week or so and got to a stage where I needed a turning point which would have enough emotional impact to tip my main character to do something they would normally never consider.

So, like most writers, I started to think about what would cause me pain and I immediately my children come to mind and how I would feel if they had an incurable illness. It is important for the plot that this illness cannot be treated on the NHS in the UK, even better that there is a treatment available abroad but that it would cost a lot of money. I type the words “Children cancer no treatment NHS” into Google and find that there is a type of childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma. It is a rare cancer that affects between 75 -100 children in the UK per year. There is a treatment available on the NHS but it has a low success rate. Another type of treatment has been developed and is being trialled in some countries including the UK, but access to it is limited because its efficacy hasn’t been fully proven. It is just what I’m looking for.

The NCCA UK support families with children suffering from Neuroblastoma

The NCCA UK support families with children suffering from Neuroblastoma

I do a bit more research and come across the Neuroblastoma Alliance website, which has been set up by the NCCA to provide information and raise funds for the families affected by this terrible illness. On their website is a section called the Wall of Memory. It’s at this point that my research grinds to a halt.

The Wall of Memory tells the story of children who have died of Neuroblastoma. As the page comes up my eyes are drawn to a small photograph of a boy running in the garden. He must be around 18 months old and is wearing a floppy sun hat. It is exactly the same type of hat that my two year old wears. I look at the photo and think of my children and I can’t stop crying. I read the story and find out that the boy died just as his treatment started. The thought that this beautiful boy is no longer with us is too much. I start to cry yet at the same time I’m angry with myself for feeling this way when I have no real reason to cry. My children are happy and healthy and will hopefully stay that way. What right do I have to cry compared to the grief felt by these brave, brave parents who by exposing that grief can hopefully raise awareness and funds to give other kids a chance. It suddenly hits me how selfish and callous I’ve been. This isn’t just an interesting subject for my book. These are real people dealing with circumstances that I can barely comprehend. I look at the picture of that little boy and wonder at the person I have become.

I eventually calm down and decide what to do. My book will have a child diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, but I will use the plot point to raise awareness of this terrible disease. I will promote the Neuroblastoma Alliance charity within the dedication of the book, plus if I manage to publish the book and make any money, I will make sure some of the profits go to help these poor children and their families. I have also donated some money today, in memory of the little boy in the hat. If you are moved by what you have read, maybe you would like click on the link here and donate some money too. Perhaps we can help prevent more children from appearing on the Wall of Memory.

Caring for Your Writer – 10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family

I loved this. Family take note……


Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

  1. Do give them a minimum of 1 hour of writing time per day.  For many writers it may be more, but this is the minimum for a writer to stay healthy.  Also do not make your writer feel guilty about this.  It is really hard for them…

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