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I’ve been trying to arrange some babysitting because of a  rash of parties that’s broken out all over my formerly pristine diary. I rang my friend Bannister, who has some prime teenagers, and got her answering machine. It spoke very

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Posted in Writing

My favourite poem

Let me tell you a secret. I like being bossed about. By poets. Take this poem. BLUNT If we could love the blunt and not the point we would almost constantly have what we want. What is the blunt of

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Posted in Writing

The Empress’s New Clothes: A 7-piece capsule wordrobe anyone can own

It’s a great moment. Isn’t it a great moment? You know the moment I mean. The moment when the small boy points at the Emperor and says, ‘But mother, the Emperor isn’t wearing anything at all.’ Well, if you’ve ever

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Posted in Writing

How I lost my versinity. At the Oxford Literary Festival. And liked it

Yesterday was a great day for me. It was a first and a personal triumph. I stood up and read out a poem that I had written myself to about fifty strangers. No, I wasn’t arrested. I didn’t even faint,

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Posted in Writing

GUEST POST: Angella Scintilla Haloumni on 10 dos and don’ts for new bloggers

Angella Haloumni is one of the most original voices in cyberspace. She’s a good friend and longstanding hand-holder to me in my slow first steps into what is very much her world despite the fact that English is not her

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Posted in Writing

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Writing Formal Verse (with apologies to Douglas Adams)

We didn’t mean to hitchhike. We’d planned to take the bus. But our Italian was so bad we didn’t find the bus stop until the bus had been and gone. We thought we’d take the train but by the time

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Posted in Writing

The self-cleaning loo and the origins of creativity

When we had just one baby, more than a decade ago, a book was published saying – again – that despite the gains of feminism, women were still doing far more cooking and cleaning at home than men. I heard

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Posted in creativity, feminism, life writing, literature, reading, Uncategorized, women, Writing

Creativity and hats: when E De Bono met JK Rowling

All creativity is merely judicious plagiarism. Voltaire The other half of last week’s seminar was run by James Steel, a five-time published novelist, who challenged us to define creativity. I think I muttered something about mind maps and others talked


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Posted in creativity, reading, Writing, writing novels

Dull and lifeless? How some Dutch verbal can help

We were on holiday and having a drink before supper in a hotel. My friend Amphora and I were discussing our hair. ‘I should have washed mine,’ I said. ‘Stop worrying,’ said Amphora, just as her partner Schmutter joined us.

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Posted in characters, feedback, friendship, life writing, literature, reading, Uncategorized, women, Writing, writing novels

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