My first post in absolutely bloody ages

Well blimey.  If any of you out there can remember who I am, and don’t feel utterly spurned and neglected beyond all reasonable tolerance, I am here, I am astonishingly in my right mind and I am writing again.

Pimp My Trolley

Pimp My Trolley

I won’t bore you with the details of what’s been going on for me since last summer, suffice it to say that it was enough to make me think very hard about where my life was going and what the future held for me.  I felt a great need to sort out some personal difficulties before I could tackle anything else and for my brain to be sufficiently clear to have any creative thoughts beyond darning my socks and sorting my house out.

A shining light in a world of darkness, however, has been the arrival of a certain Sir Garrold Mellors (formerly of Seasnale Parva in Suffolk) who, because of one random comment, has changed my life, but more of that anon.

I have been writing and performing short stories, mainly nasty horror stories involving cotton mills in Lancashire (available for purchase very soon) and, any time now, I shall be returning to my novel which will inevitably become a best-seller and a mini-series on BBC2. Oh yes, it will be so…

I have also been giving lots of talks to delightful Women’s Institutes around the country, mainly about The Wartime Housewife, but also about the History of Ladybird Books, Up-cycling in a Groovy Way, and Creative Writing.  I love the WI.  They are an incredible bunch of women who represent an absolute powerhouse of skill, knowledge and self-reliance and, as I constantly remind them, when the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us, we will be Queens among the Useless and the Useless will be glad of us.

Unfortunately, I have been banned from driving until 25th August (NOT for drunk driving as a ‘friend’ assumed this morning but for an inadvertent IN10) which has somewhat confined me to barracks other than for local events.  The upside of this is that I have learned how to use buses and walk to the shops.  I am keeping all my bus tickets from now until the ban is lifted and I shall make them into an artwork called ‘My Driving Ban Hell’ or something similarly melodramatic.  I have bought an old lady shopping trolley and ‘pimped’ it to be beautiful and exotic and I am getting to grips with the microcosm of small market town life.  I’m sure it will do me good.  Won’t it?


Comments { 19 }

Menstrual Agility or 21st century Lack of Dignity?

Woman Runs London Marathon Without a Tampon, Bleeds Freely to Raise Awareness

08/07/2015 AT 03:15 PM EDT

kiran-ghandi-1-435Kiran Gandhi, who has played drums for singer MIA and Thievery Corporation, decided to run the London Marathon without a tampon. Gandhi let her blood flow freely to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods. 

“I ran the whole marathon with my period blood running down my legs,” the 26-year-old wrote of the April race on her website. 

Gandhi, a Harvard Business School graduate, wrote that she got her period the night before the big race and thought that a tampon would be uncomfortable while she ran. But that isn’t the only reason she decided to let it flow. 

“I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”  She added: “I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day.” 

Clad in all pink for breast cancer awareness the 26-year-old finished the race in four hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds. She told Cosmopolitan that she ran through the pain of cramps and the anxiety of the race (which she had spent a year preparing for) and felt empowered as she did so. 

“I felt kind of like, Yeah! F— you!,” she said. “I felt very empowered by that. I did.” 

After the race, she took photos with her family and friends, wearing her period-stained running pants proudly. 
Gandhi tells PEOPLE that she decided to run without a tampon to highlight the sentiment of period-shaming and the language surrounding women’s menstrual cycles. She wrote on her site that “on the marathon course, sexism can be beaten.” 
“If there’s one way to transcend oppression, it’s to run a marathon in whatever way you want,” she wrote. “Where the stigma of a woman’s period is irrelevant, and we can re-write the rules as we choose.”

 Apart from being completely wrong-headed, this woman is mistaking lack of awareness for privacy.  Menstruating is not dirty or shameful but it is private and personal.  I would no more display my menstrual blood to the world than I would wear piss-soaked knickers or go out reeking of sweat – out of delicacy and self-respect.

I have no embarrassment around the subject of periods and I have explained to my teenage sons what they entail, physically, psychologically and indeed politically so that they can treat their girl friends with respect and a degree of understanding.

We seem to be losing the capacity to be dignified and private, a sensibility which is being eroded by constant exposure to the media in all its forms and a desperation to be noticed.  I believe this to be born out of a lack of self-esteem which, in turn, is born out of lack of independence and a complete inability to do anything useful.

On a slightly more frivolous note, I will lay bets that this woman shaves off her pubic hair, making her look like a child, whilst rejoicing publically in her womanhood.  Just speculating…

Comments { 6 }


I think this may have been the longest I’ve been away from you all for which I am truly sorry.  Since we last spoke, I have moved house, yet again,  and have been off line for nearly two months.  At one point, I had no internet, no ‘phone and no mobile which, in the twenty-first century, is akin to being dead.  Only worse.

Moving house was the usual nightmare and we are still surrounded by boxes and chaos, which renders normal service practically impossible.

However, I am back online, stories are being written and performed left, right and centre, and I will soon have a book of short stories, ‘Three Warped Tales’ available for purchase which will thrill and horrify you in equal measure.

Good to be with you again.

Comments { 4 }

Biff 2 – The Return of Biff

Hello all

My internet, telephone etc will be installed as from 13th July and then I will be back amongst you.  My move was exhausting but it is slowly resembling a house, although I can’t find a sodding Phillips screwdriver to save my life and I have mislaid my Filofax which means I’m basically sitting in a darkened room, rocking and sobbing because I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ll beee baaack sooooooon!

Comments { 2 }

Rejected by The Oldie – Article on Satnavs


I love driving and I love the access to distant areas of England that are pretty much denied to the slaves of public transport, who are abused and fleeced by the operating companies whose sole mission seems to be to keep the population in the cities.

Unfortunately my enthusiasm is counterbalanced by some serious character flaws.  I have no sense of direction, I cannot read a map and drive at the same time, I can’t remember a route until I have driven it at least twenty times without deviation of any kind and I frequently get lost coming out of my own bathroom.  For years I travelled from Somerset to Northamptonshire via Stoke on Trent because I simply could not remember that the M42 had restricted junctions.

Previously, I had relied on my husband and his encyclopaedic knowledge of England and its roads to take charge of our frequent excursions around the country with the children.  But when we parted company, I was back to square one, loping from county to county with hot tears of bitterness and failure coursing down my flushed little face as I added fifty miles to every journey through cartographic confusion and ineptitude, blood pressure soaring, mildly asthmatic lungs letting the side down from anxiety.

But then, one happy, happy day my step-daughter gave me a birthday present that changed my life.  I tore off the wrapping paper to discover a SatNav device.  A talking map that will not only give me directions but will re-adjust my route should I hit traffic or roadblocks.  A still small voice of calm that can take me on the fastest, or shortest route, can wilfully avoid motorways or toll roads and can be instructed to detour Basildon or Stoke without demur.

I ran through the choice of voices and quickly settled on the southern Irish male labelled, somewhat disappointingly, ‘Sean’, and we have been together ever since.  Not for me the flattened vowels of Tim the Kiwi or the slightly high-pitched RP of Kate from London – no thank you.

I am in love with Sean.  He speaks softly to me in his delicious Irish accent, he rarely lets me down and, in his company, I travel from one end of England to the other with confidence and joy in my heart.  He takes me from the one-way systems of Leeds to the B roads of Somerset with calm and equanimity.  He never shouts, he never swears and not once has he suggested that my ineptitude is bordering on a medical condition.

Thanks to Sean the SatNav,  the world outside Northamptonshire has become my playground and I guffaw at the six-exit roundabout and the confusing contra-flow.  I have seen the wilds of Lancashire, the endless planes of Heathrow and, I have even gone north of the wall to Scotland, without fear or incident.  And I have never, ever ended up in Stoke on Trent.

Comments { 3 }

Sunday Poem 230

I’ve been thinking a lot about consumption recently, as one does, so thought a bit of Keats might be in order.  And sleeping is one of the things I like most in the world.  But without the laudanum, obviously.

Sonnet:  To Sleep – by John Keats (1795-1821)

O soft embalmer of the still midnight !
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine :
O soothest Sleep ! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere the poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities ;
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes ;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
Its strength, for darkness burrowing like a mole ;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And sealed the hushed casket of my soul.

Comments { 2 }

Deep, deep filled

Today I went to the dentist.Dentist sticker
I was good and brave when he drilled near the nerve
I didn’t cry when he told me off for leaving it three weeks
But I didn’t get a sticker – I would have liked this one.

Comments { 5 }

Sunday Poem 229

I know this is a bit longer than I would normally post but it’s so good I didn’t want to deprive you.  Thanks to Stuart Kendall for alerting me to this one.

Under the Table – by Barnaby Wilde (b. 1947)

There’s a sort of springy wire underneath my dining table,
That’s in a kind of runner down each side.
It should go round a pulley thing in order to enable,
Each of the extending leaves to smoothly slide.
But I think the springy wire must have fallen off the pulley
As the metal slider thingy doesn’t work.
Instead of sliding smoothly it no longer opens fully,
It just judders to a stop in little jerks.

So now I’m lying on my back underneath the dining table,
Trying to work out what’s gone amiss.
But the metal covered runner thing that holds the springy cable,
Is preventing me from seeing what it is.
I prod it with my finger and I pull the springy cable,
But I can’t see far enough along the track.
And the rail that runs from end to end that’s underneath the table,
Is digging rather sharply in my back.

I think that maybe if I took off both the wooden sliding panels,
I could re-attach the wire thing again.
As long as I could poke it back along the metal channel,
I might hook it round the pulley with my pen.
But, is it really worth it? I can feel my will desert me,
When I see it’s held each side by seven screws.
That’s twenty eight in total just to get the beggar free,
And twenty eight to put back in once it’s been loosed.

Thirty minutes later and I’ve unscrewed twenty seven,
But the last one’s gone and got a busted head.
I wish I hadn’t started and I’ve lost the will for living,
But eventually I free the broken thread.
Now I’m studying the cable that’s fallen off the pulley,
And I’m blowed if I can see what holds it on.
But I poke it down the channel and I hook it back on fully,
Can’t help thinking that it won’t stay there for long.

Now if you think it wasn’t easy taking out the bloody screws,
It’s ten times harder getting them to go back in.
Because gravity’s against me and I’m really not amused,
Indeed my patience now is wearing rather thin.
But, finally I’m finished and that springy wire cable,
Is back around the pulley wheel again.
However, when I pull the leaf out to extend the flipping table,
Nothing happens to the one the other end.

So, was it all a waste of time dismantling the slider thing,
Two hours discomfort lying on my back?
Well, there is a tiny benefit from all that disassembling
No wire now hanging down beneath the track.
And the other little consequence of this minute adventure,
Is that I went out and wrote this little song.
So if you’re feeling musical, while I have your attention,
Why don’t you clear your throat and sing along …

…There’s a sort of springy wire underneath my dining table, …

Comments { 3 }

Identity Crisis

At the end of a busy day at the Steampunk Market at Frome, I was sitting in the cafe enjoying a mug of tea and a delicious slice of Victoria Sponge.

Biff in bathing suitNow then.  I travel all over the country doing Steampunk Markets; this year alone I’ve done New Malden in Surrey, Leeds, Northampton, the Nene Valley Railway in Lincolnshire, Frome in Somerset and this weekend I shall be in Burnley in Lancashire.  I meet a lot of people whom I schmooze unmercifully in the interest of selling stuff.  I am also unspeakably short-sighted.

As I looked up towards the door, cheeks bulging with sponge cake, I noticed an affable looking bearded man coming into the hall.  I stared at him very hard and he stared back.  I cocked my head to one side, quizzically and he smiled at me nervously.  I swallowed my cake, stood up and approached him.  I would also like to point out that I was wearing an over the top blonde wig and the Edwardian bathing dress.

The exchange went something like this:-

ME:     Now then.  We’ve met before.  Were you here last year?
HIM:   No.
ME:     Mm.  Are you a local boy?
HIM:   Relatively.
ME:     Do you go to Glastonbury?
HIM:   I’ve been to Glastonbury occasionally
ME:     I definitely know you from somewhere.  What’s your name?
HIM:   Julian.
ME:     Ah Julian of Glastonbury.  As opposed to Julian of Norwich – ha ha ha
HIM:   No, I’m not Julian of Norwich… (nervous laughter)
ME:     That WOULD be remarkable!
ME:     Have we slept together?
HIM:   (deadpan) Oh no – I would have remembered you
HIM:   Do you like archaeology programmes?
ME:     Very much
HIM:   (diffidently) Perhaps you saw ‘Meet the Ancestors’?
ME:     Oh bloody hell.  You’re Julian Richards.
HIM:   Yes (laughs)
I get up and put my arms round and kiss him firmly on the cheek
ME:     At last, we finally meet!
HIM:   Indeed.

much laughter.  He leaves and I return to my cake.  My friends stare at me in disbelief.

Comments { 5 }

Supper time in the Raven-Hill household

Boy the Younger: What’s for supper, Mother?
Me: Chilli
Boy the Younger: Oh brilliant! You make the 2nd best chilli in the world!
Me: 2nd best? Who makes the best?
Boy the Younger: Lucy (his sister)
Boy the Younger: You make the best banana splits though
Me: There are no banana splits
Boy the Younger: Oh.

Exeunt all pursued by a bear

And I’ve just realised that I’ve never given you my recipe for Chilli Con Carne.  It will be remedied.

Comments { 7 }