Thursday, July 26, 2007

Seaside Holidays under threat! A rant about smoking.

No - unlike most rants about smoking, I'm not against it. I love it. I gave up for ten years, started again and never looked back. Now the only place I can smoke is in my own home and car, and how long will I be able to do that? I foresee smoking while driving becoming a punishable offence soon, as the enjoyable pursuit of going to the pub has now been downgraded to going and having a drink in an uncomfortable outside space herded together like sheep awaiting the dip.

And even there - they're complaining! Listening to the radio yesterday I couldn't believe that the anti-smoking brigade are now complaining that we've gone outside! Will they not be satisfied until smoking has been banned altogether? Don't answer that - of course they won't. Ron Liddle, resident smoking campaigner for The Times, says it all. Times online has all related articles, and says it all much better than I can, but one of the nastier side effects of the ban, as pointed out by one of his readers, is the setting of neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend. I have already seen that, and I know that this post will lose me friends, too. By the way, if Ron Liddle was older, or I was younger, I'd want to marry him. Definitely my sort of bloke, and sounds just like Arthur Smith.

The Victorian Society have a campaign running called Holiday at Home, extolling the delights of the British Seaside Holiday, of which I need no reminding. This reduces our - ahem - carbon footprint by abnegating the need to fly. And yes, I do mean abnegating - look it up. However, when we get to our delightful seaside hotel/apartment/cottage/caravan, we won't be able to smoke, even though hotel rooms are supposedly free from the ban. Ha! So those of us who would actually prefer to spend a week in a hotel in, say, Broadstairs or Salcombe or Ventnor, would be forced to spend most of it on the prom or the beach, assuming that the beach hasn't become a no-dogs and no-smokers area for the summer months. So where do we go. Abroad, that's where we go. And even there, in my favourite small hotel in my favourite tiny village in Turkey, my fellow Brits will wave their hands busily in front of their faces and disapprove. Don't care.

I find I am also being careful about smoking in my own house. I had a meeting in my front room the other day. All lovely people, six men, one woman and me. I had the window open all day, lit candles and had a cigarette in the garden before they arrived. Wine had been contributed to the meeting, and I'm sorry, but I did light up twice. No doubt some of those very nice people will have gone home, stripped off, shoved all their clothes in the washing machine and had a shower to get rid of the smell of my two cigarettes. I felt like apologising to them. Neither can I smoke when my grandson comes to visit, which made last Boxing Day somewhat of an ordeal. However, he IS my grandson and the child of my eldest daughter, whom I love dearly, so I abstain.

Yes, I know all the health risks. But it's my choice. Nothing else, it appears, is. I am lectured by everyone who thinks they have the right to dictate to me - and that's most people, believe me. My human rights are being abraded (another one! Good isn't it?) and the government is sneakily turning us into an Orwellian society. Seriously, if it wasn't for my children, I would leave the country. And if anyone reads this , don't bother to comment. I can hear your cheers at the last statement from here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kate Walker competition winner

The question I set on Kate Walker's blog competition was answered best, in my opinion, by Ruth Harper in the US, so she gets a copy of Murder in Steeple Martin. I'm still hoping one of the US publishers who specialise in Cosy Crime might pick the series up, Berkeley or Avon, maybe.

Attended a production of Outside Edge at the Whistable Playhouse last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Next week we have the first production meeting for Sleeping Beauty, next season's pantomime, in my house. Set designer, build crew manager, sound engineer, stage manager and production assistant all crowded into my front room. Alcohol may be taken...

Must now get down to revisions for the new edition of my panto book and start writing Murder in the Midden (I kid you not!) due out next July. Meanwhile, I live in daily expectation of HUGE rewrites of Murder in Midwinter to come thudding through the computer.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Holiday, play and RNA conference

I'm really not very good at this, am I? Since last posting, I've been in a play, been on holiday to Turkey and attended the RNA conference in Leicester.

Starting with the play, Murder, Music and Mayhem, known as the 3Ms, we played to packed houses and made a lot of money at the box office. I was Lady Evadne Thrusting, well known middle-aged drunk. Type casting, some said. I then went off to my favourite place, Cavus in Turkey for a week. Not as good as usual, as the hotel was full of Turkish families with hoards of children. Don't get me wrong - the Turkish families are probably more entitled to be there than the British visitors, but we are all regulars who go for the peace and quiet. It's a very small hotel, with a small but beautiful pool, right on the beach. The other problem this time was the fact that the temperature stayed between 40 C and 50C for the whole week - and the air conditioning in my room broke down. We spent every other day out on boat trips with our friends Hassan and Kerim, and even then, the wind blew hot. Looking forward to going back in September when the children will have gone back to school and the temperature is lower.

Came back from that, into the chaos that was Gatwick airport after the Glasgow fire-bomb, and the following Friday attended the Romantic Novelists' Association conference at Leicester University. A great time was had by all, and I met up with many friends whom I see only too infrequently, including Kate Walker, Mills and Boon novelist celebrating her 50th book. I have contributed to her blog party today, offering a copy of one of my books as a prize in a competition.

Anybody reading this who doesn't know about the Romantic Novelists' Association and is a writer of contemporary women's fiction, published or unpublished, should check them out. They are the friendliest and most supportive group of writers I have evr met, and I count some of my best friends among the members. And in case anyone has the idea that this is a bunch of little old ladies in pink who have a sweet sherry before dinner, as one friend put it, the bar staff were gobsmacked by the ravening hoard of women queuing - not for wine by the glass - but by the bottle!

Amanda Grange, to whose website there is a link on this page, gave an impromptu talk on the web, sites and blogs that stole the show and Liz Fenwick took some wonderful photographs including Bernardine Kennedy and me in the bar!