Saturday, 10 September 2022

Charity Lunches are Back

For the first time since before Covid, I have been to a charity lunch. It was the Annual Ladies' Lunch organised by LOROS, who provide hospice care for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. A group of us usually go every year but there's been the inevitable two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

The event is held at the King Power Stadium, Leicester's rather grand football ground - they've come a long way since Filbert Street even if they are a bit low down in the charts right now. It was a chance to dress up and mingle and gaze at stalls full of items that I didn't want to buy and sit with two hundred other women, shouting above the noise of all the chattering and waiting for food to be served to each of us. Sounds less than glamorous when I put it like that but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wore a bright pink top with floaty flared sleeves - a nightmare in a public toilet but the sleeves survived the outing and so did I.

Two of the hospice nurses gave a brief talk before the lunch. Their speeches were thought-provoking, sad but also positive. They spoke about the way that they help seriously ill patients regain some quality of life. They stressed that they don't just provide end of life care.

I must admit I was dubious about the guest speaker. If we didn't already know who it was then there was a small clue as we all entered the hall.


It was Eddie the Eagle, our very own Olympic ski jumper. I wasn't sure how he would hold the attention of over two hundred women in a packed hall but hold our attention he did. The minute he stepped up to the microphone he won us over. What a character - warm and entertaining - and what a story of perseverance. He may have come 58th out of 58 competitors in the Olympic event but his is a story of achieving personal aims against all odds. I was inspired - though not to go ski-jumping I hasten to add!

So the event was a success but it was the weather that finally put a dampener on our spirits as we attempted to pile out of the building. The term 'raining stair rods' has never been more apt. It took the Football Club a good twenty minutes to get themselves organised and armed with huge umbrellas to escort us, two at a time, to our cars. What gentlemen - or were they just desperate to get us off the premises?

I know that lots of you have been doing things, going places, taking holidays but me and Mr A have still been restrained, thinking twice about doing anything or going anywhere. You can't be restrained for ever. It's just not healthy and it's just not living so well done to LOROS for coaxing me back into the wide world. I didn't realise how much I'd missed being real.

 


Friday, 2 September 2022

Why I almost wielded a pickaxe - plus some good news

Yesterday I used an Uber taxi for the first time. Why have I never done it before? It was so easy. I had downloaded the app and put credit card details in a few months ago and I'd looked at it a few times but for some silly reason I never had the nerve to book one. However, yesterday I was visiting a friend in hospital and there were two reasons why I used an Uber. 

Reason One: Last week when I visited my friend I had to endure a 45 minute queue to get onto the hospital car park. 

Reason Two: (a more significant reason) I don't have a car at the moment. This is all because at the front of our house, next to the drive, there is a low wall with decorative stone edgings that stick out in unnecessary places. I don't need to tell the rest. I'd already backed into it once last month but that was a gentle tap. This time is was more of a wallop. I blame the searing sun which hindered my view through the rear car-camera. Whatever or whoever was to blame, this wallop needed attention. 

My car is in car-hospital and will cost over £500 for what is, I guess, cosmetic surgery. As for the wall, I informed Mr A that I was about to take a pickaxe to it and demolish the entire thing. There were a few forbidden words splattered within my threat and I don't actually think we have a pickaxe but it did the trick and within half an hour Mr A had removed the offending fancy stone edging. 

I decided not to get an Uber home. I caught a bus from the hospital into the town centre. This was the first time I'd used a bus since before Covid. It felt as if I'd been released from prison (not that I've ever been to prison but I do have quite a vivid imagination) and it was great. A three minute bus ride - free with my bus pass - and I was wandering through the city centre. 

The problem came when I tried to catch the bus home. I arrived at the Haymarket Bus Station only to find that two buses had been cancelled. Waiting in the queue it reminded me of the 45 minute wait to get onto the hospital car park last week. 

The Good News: Our recently published book, 'Sharing Our Heritage', has been awarded the David Hyman Prize by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. We are, needless to say, feeling proud.



Monday, 29 August 2022

Poetry - Writing and Submitting

I'm slowly getting back into the world of poetry writing after the publication of my recent history book. I've updated my list of poetry publishers who accept submissions but don't expect me to pay them for reading my material. I work on the basis that if they are producing excellent magazines that people want to buy then they should be only too pleased to receive potential material. 

There is plenty of choice out there. I recently removed all the above-mentioned publishers from my list and it still sports sixty-four names - more than enough options for my current pile of poems. 

If you're looking for poetry markets then there are a number of websites that provide regular information. Here are the links to two that I often visit:

A Dreaming Skin

Publishing... and Other Forms of Insanity

Some publishers have themes which I find helpful, others ask for anything or they advise reading their magazine first to see what kind of material they prefer - which makes sense - but sometimes when I do this I end up crossing another name off my list of potential publishers because the poems in their magazine don't make sense.

Which brings me to my biggest bugbear regarding poetry. I think I am moderately intelligent so why is it that there are poetry magazines with content that - to me - is unintelligible? If anyone reading this can enlighten me then I would appreciate it. 

To read a sample of the kind of poetry I most enjoy writing, then please visit Green Ink Poetry to read my poem:

Post-War Kids

 p.s. I've just had a peep at my last blog post. I said I would book piano lessons. I haven't. They do say that making music stimulates the creative part of the brain so maybe I'd best get on with it! 


Thursday, 28 July 2022

Moving On

When I was a primary school teacher we used to sing a song called Moving On with the top class each year before they left for the big school. It always made me fight back the tears. I've been humming it to myself this last week and this is why:

Book Launch: (To purchase a copy please visit the website.)

After six months of solid hard work producing the new book, I have spent the last month catching up on life and preparing for the book launch of Sharing Our Heritage. The launch took place this week at Leicester's New Walk Museum. I was anxious. 

  • Would anyone turn up? 
  • Would the book be well received? 
  • Would we all be able to avoid Covid long enough to attend?
Thankfully all went well. We restricted the numbers for Covid safety and were just a few short of our declared maximum. The attendees were enthusiastic about the book and had lots of interesting questions to ask. At the end of the session, tea and nibbles were consumed amid a buzz of chatter. The only thing we forgot to do was take photographs!

Time to Move on:

Or maybe it's time to move back. I have a file full of half finished poems desperate to escape the dusty depths of my computer and fly off into the world of poetry magazines. I've had the piano tuned and am actively seeking a piano teacher (I've tried setting my own agenda but I just don't play the thing if I have no lesson to prepare for!) I may decide to nurture another hobby/activity but as yet I haven't decided what it will be. I am feeling rather 'demob happy'.

Buying a Book:

There's information a-plenty on the previous blog post about the new book so I'll just add that if you'd like to buy a copy of Sharing Our Heritage then please contact the Centre Manager at the Synagogue on centremanager (at) lhcong.com.

Sharing Good News:

Last but definitely not least I'd like to report that last week I became a great grandmother to the most beautiful twin boys you've ever seen (not that I'm biased). And yes, I agree with you. I am definitely too young to be a great grandmother... or so I keep telling everybody!





Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Sharing Our Heritage

To purchase a copy please visit the website

Sharing Our Heritage is a 100-page, full-colour history book written by four authors in five months. I can't begin to count how many zoom meetings it took but it's done now and it's going to the printers this week. Halfway through the writing process I bought a bottle of Optrex eye lotion. It was the first time I'd needed Optrex since I did my first degree in 1979. The biggest strain on my eyes was from the proofing process. How many times can a piece be read and yet still contain errors? It baffles me.

The four of us are still friends in spite of everything. 'Everything' includes:

  • screens that froze and links that failed
  • disagreements over initial capitals and commas (I may have developed an aversion to commas. I now twitch each time I use one - rather like the psychiatrist in the original Pink Panther movie.)
  • four completely different versions of a chapter that each of us have edited and insist on discussing during a zoom
  • what to include and what to miss out 
  • and, even more problematic, what names to include

As I explained in my last post, there was a reason for writing a history book in such a hurry. The synagogue in Leicester has had an extension and rebuild thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. The year before Covid a few of us worked on a timeline depicting the history of the congregation for the wall of one of the rooms in the new Heritage Centre. During the research process it became apparent that the congregation was quite a bit older than had previously been thought. This meant that earlier publications were incorrect. 

Have you ever made a promise that your mouth is totally confident about, but your head is screaming, 'Don't do it!' Well that was me five months ago. I announced that we would be able to produce a brand new history book in time for the official opening of the Centre. There were friends who assured me that it was not possible to write a book in five months but that made me all the more determined. I obtained quotes from both printer and book designer, I organised weekly zoom meetings, created and stuck to a tight schedule of work, and the rest (if you'll pardon the expression) is history. 

Here is the back cover blurb:

Sharing Our Heritage is a book written by four people with one voice. They have pooled a wealth of research and personal experience to produce this inspiring history of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation. It takes the reader from the excitement of a new Heritage Centre, back in time to the early 1800s, charting two centuries of the LHC’s rich history, with many fluctuations in fortune along the way. It illustrates the spirit that lives within the LHC, a spirit that has enabled the congregation to survive when other provincial Jewish congregations have not.

And here is the front cover (author names are in alphabetical order):

What I need to do now is to open up my folder called 'poetry work in progress', stick my creative head on once more and get back to building up my poetry portfolio. Although I may just have a bit of a nap first.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Writing a book by committee!!

As I said, albeit briefly, last month, I'm writing a book but it's writing with a difference. I'm working with three other people to research and record a complete history of Leicester's Synagogue. 

There are two hair-raising issues related to what I just said. 

  • The first hair-raiser: we were producing the book to be launched at an event scheduled for September this year. It has been brought forward to July! 
  • The other hair-raiser: I'm writing the book with three other people. Writing a book is never easy but writing it by committee could be a recipe for disaster. I'm delighted to say that it is in no way a disaster, we are on schedule and we're all still talking to each other.

The bulk of the work has been done on zoom due to Covid and the fact that one of the team lives about 100 miles away. It has involved a lot of emailing sections of work back and forth and, as I'm responsible for pulling it all together and liaising with the book designer, I've had to keep juggling all the plans in my head.

A few years ago three of us produced an historic timeline that is now firmly embedded along the entire wall of the upstairs room in the new synagogue extension. That was when we mused about the idea of writing this book which covers over 200 years of history. We're calling the book Sharing Our Heritage and that's all I'm going to say right now. The front cover is amazing but as nothing is quite complete it would be unfair of me to disclose any images. However, once the book has been sent to the printers I will share an advanced viewing with you here.

It's Pesach (Passover) and Easter tomorrow. It's interesting that sometimes the two events collide as they are inextricably linked. (The first evening of Passover is the Seder meal and it was the Seder meal that is referred to as the Last Supper...apologies if you already knew that.) Passover is set according to the Hebrew Lunar calendar and Easter... well I'm never quite sure how Easter is set but I know it involves a mathematical calculation. 

I have put my work away until next week and would like to wish you all a happy Passover/|Easter/Bank Holiday weekend.


Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Time to smell the daffs

 In the middle of writing a history book.

 Uncomfortably tight schedule. 

Editing stage. 

Sore eyes. 

At least I’ve no time to check on the awful news.

But I just noticed spring so I closed my laptop lid to go and smell the daffodils… and the crocuses and the hellebores. I’ll post about the book in due course, or as Daughter would say, 'laters…'