Sunday, 12 March 2017

More to Life

Hooray! At long last my book is published! Available as paperback and Kindle edition:

I'm very excited, of course, and want to acknowledge and thank everyone in our group for supporting, chastising (!), advising and encouraging me. Maureen

Friday, 9 December 2016

A book of short stories, Our Song under my maiden name Heather Douglas, is now available on Amazon. Warning:  more murder than romance!

"These dark stories of unexpected death explore the different viewpoints of family, witness, victim, policeman or murderer. They are sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous, always gripping and take place in variety of locations and situations.  Just as the popular songs of the titles are recognisable, so too are the emotions of love, loss and jealousy revealed here, but the steps to revenge, murder and remorse taken in these chilling tales are smaller than we might realise."


Also on the website is the Story for Christmas below.

Christmas presents - such a lot of effort and in the end nothing but trouble!  Lizzie got me a theatre trip to London, train fare and hotel and tickets for a show, what a lovely idea.  She was that mad when I said I couldn’t go.
“You’ve done Christmas, Mum,” she pointed out. “You’ve done all the work.  Can’t you have some time off?”
“I can’t leave your Granddad, love, you know I can’t.”
“Dad can look after him,” she said.  “It’s only one night.  He can give Granddad a bowl of soup, can’t he?”  It sounded reasonable enough.
“Oh Lizzie, sweetheart,” I said, “Your Dad can’t –“  Can’t what?  How could I explain?  Can’t get Dad into his pyjamas and out of them again when there is no resistance in the limbs, dressing babies is simple compared to that.  Can’t tell him to wipe his bum or do it for him if you’re just not getting through.  Can’t persuade him back to bed at three in the morning when his teeth are chattering because the heating went off hours ago but he thinks it’s the middle of the day.  Can’t find the right reassuring answer to questions like where am I, who are you? Though it’s not the detail, not really.  What Jack can’t face up to is the big picture.  He and Dad used to have such a laugh together, used to enjoy the football and the quiz down at the pub.  Now Dad doesn’t know Jack’s name.  “He just can’t,” I said firmly.
“I wanted you to come with me.  I wanted some time for us, for me and you together.  I can’t go on me own.  But I should have known.”  Oh what a tear jerker.  She thinks she’s doing it for my own good.  She’s always been manipulative, our Lizzie.
“Yes, you should,” I said tartly, then tried to soften it a bit.  “One day, darling.  I’d love to go.  I’d love to go with you.  But not now.”
For a moment though, I was that upset, thinking how I’d spent my life taking care of Jack’s feelings and knowing he couldn’t spare a night to think of mine.  Did he never wonder what it was like for me, it was my Dad for goodness sake who’d gone somewhere deep and dark.  When it started I used to think his head was like a honeycomb, how if you were lucky you hit a connection and everything was OK, but more and more often you fell into the holes in between.  Now his head seems like an overgrown forest and he’s inside like a scared child, feeling monsters might lurk in every corner and thinking if he sits very still and doesn’t say a word, then they won’t get him.
But on that very day, in the dead zone between Christmas and New Year, when in another universe I might have been in London, all dressed up in some glitzy theatre waiting for the drum roll – that was the night I saw our Brian’s Jamie playing with a balloon.  He’s a quiet little lad, good as gold, you don’t notice him half the time and I suppose we’d kind of forgotten he was there, sat playing under the tree while Dad sat same as always in his chair in front of the telly.  People can be quite snotty about old folk parked in front of the telly but what they don’t realise is, it’s an anchor.  It keeps them still and safe and attached to the world.  They don’t follow it, they don’t know what’s going on half the time, but it’s colour and noise and it is familiar.  Most important of all, it’s someone talking who isn’t demanding an answer.  Real people come up close and put on a funny voice and ask questions more difficult than what’s the meaning of life, questions like how are you today?  The telly makes no demands at all.  It is everybody’s alibi and that includes the person with dementia.  People should remember that.
Anyway I’d been in the kitchen making a cup of tea while Jack was hiding in the back room listening to some match on the radio.  Janice, Brian’s wife, had taken Rebecca off upstairs to change her nappy and Lizzie was picking a fight with Brian in the hall about who had had the most to drink and who could go to the off licence to get more gin.  Brian mostly goes along with his sister’s ideas, years of experience, anything for a quiet life, but every so often he makes a stand.  I was coming through the living room doorway when Jamie patted his balloon to Dad.  I was just about to interfere like I always did, to distract Jamie from disappointment, to protect Dad from expectation, when at the last minute Dad’s arm shot out and he batted it back.  Back and forth that balloon went and I stood frozen, wanting this moment to last for ever, praying the others would stay where they were. 
It was dark outside, but the lights were sparkling on the tree and the fire was crackling in the grate behind the fireguard and I could smell the pine needles  and the mince pies warm from the oven.  It could have been another Christmas, any Christmas from before, from long ago. Then all at once Brian and Lizzie were laughing and agreeing to walk to the off licence together and Janice was carrying the baby down the stairs singing Jingle Bells off key and Jack came through to ask where was the tea.  The balloon lay still on the floor, but Jamie sent his Great Granddad a secret smile and my Dad nodded and patted the balloon with his toe before withdrawing back inside himself. 

That moment was my Christmas present.  It’s the one I’ll try to remember.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Over Stones
The poem on the previous post was set to music by Ian Smith of the English Folk Music Club Costa Blanca and the song Rebirth can now be viewed on YouTube, link below:

Monday, 24 October 2016

Over Stones

This is a new post on my website , a poem called Over Stones.  

The morning mist retreated leaving green hills bright with dew.
The sunlight dried the water drops, the grass thinned out anew.
Brown stains spread
Blood shone red
In splatters over stones.
Here lay the dead
Shot with lead
And carrion bared their bones.

The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth
Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth.
New blooms spread
Petals shine red
In patterns over stones.
Rich flower bed
With love’s care fed
For our past sins atones.

The ground is hallowed where we walk in every country village
Its history holds the sins of war, of death and rape and pillage
Yet we forget
We’re sinning yet
We fight wars overseas
New death is met
New grievance set
And we harvest bitter tears.

The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth

Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth

Ian Smith of the Costa Blanca English Folk  Music Club composed the music for this, but unfortunately I do not know how to add an MP3 audio file.  


Thursday, 22 September 2016

In recognition of Cartagena's annual Carthaginians and Romans Festival this week, I have just added a new post about the beautiful historic city on my website


Sunday, 11 September 2016

I wanted to acknowledge 9/11 in some way, so I posted a review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer on my website   

Foer writes like an angel – or rather a cherub, since his protagonist is a 9 year old boy.  Oskar’s father died on 9/11 and in an effort to deal with his loss, Oskar embarks on an odyssey through New York, trying to find the lock that belongs to a key his father left.  His research reveals that there are 162 million locks in New York, but he has a name which narrows the search down to possible.  As Oskar progresses, we are also shown more and more of the continuing effect on his grandparents of the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
We may count, or fail to count, the numbers involved in the big events history records, but each one is made up of innumerable individual tragedies.  This family has suffered twice, and what we see in the juxtaposition of old and new grief is that the effects last a lifetime.  However hard they try, those left behind cannot let go.
We see largely through Oskar’s eyes and hear his voice, so the characters are at first sight cartoonish, but as Foer stands them in the light we see more and more of their complexity.  Particularly poignant is his portrayal of Oskar’s mother, who is not fully revealed until the end of the book, but it is Oskar himself who resonates with truth.

The reader does not have to ask or answer difficult questions about historical perspective or ethical slights of hand.  We are simply placed inside the family, incredibly close, and suffer the fall out with them, which is extremely loud.  This is a book about grief and while you will meet enchanting characters, be stunned by the quality of the writing and laugh along the way, if you survive to the end you will be beyond tears.

Heather Gingele

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sounding Board

Hooray! I got in! Thanks to Rob.....though I have no idea how I got here!

So, as promised, here is the link to Sounding Board:

Well what is it? (for those of you who haven't been to Writers' lately)

The best way to find out is to look here:

It explains what Sounding Board is and how it works. It's for readers as well as writers, by the way!
If you're unsure about anything please get in touch with me: