Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Evening Birdsong In Chester Library"

When introducing this celebrated local writer at the start of her Lit Fest event, Ravi Raizada hit the nail on its head. Ravi was right. If a " guru" means: " influential teacher" then this lady IS a guru. She creates light in folk who need their switch flicked on; in her teaching role, she makes creative writing she did for me, and for many folk who have become good friends. And we are very thankful for it.

Last night, Gladys Mary Coles, prize-winning poet , biographer, editor and lecturer, read from her new collection: " Song of the Butcher Bird"...( "His song is broken notes, discord, raucous, random, raw..") Her poems haunt; their images are vivid, their emotions are striking. As she herself said:" Words are like clay; we mould our own language"; in this collection, Gladys-Mary has sculpted memorable images which deserve to stay long in our minds..
The book contains her war poetry; it straddles the centuries, includes Romans, World War poetry, culminating in her poem about 2005 bombings in London. It also includes prose extracts (1916-19) written in the voice of a young soldier-poet; they're private, personal musings, which give a moving portrait of a time and place and people we need to more than ever: " Somme mud, the mud of No Man's Land, is malign, taking into itself the very pith of human life, nourished on blood and bones.." and to his friend Peter: " I saw your face, as pale as this frail flower: our lives had intersected in that hour.."
Our evening culminated in a writing workshop; not an easy brief given the largish audience but Gladys-Mary taught and enlightened and entertained in her own special style.
"Poetry" she said " is the most capacious of Arts. Through it, you can dedicate something you wish to preserve.."
So later, we carried home our "beginnings" of things, skeleton poems, lively thoughts. She provoked our thoughts in her own inimitable way. A lovely evening indeed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Some Colours."

Some of the colours of Coniston.... (thanks GAC)

"Catching Coniston At Her Colourful Best"

In the Lakes this w/end, we saw Autumn at her best. And it was a special time with special friends. Here's me with one of them.
Thanks GAC for the snap and of course thanks to both of you for yet another lovely visit to your cracking part of the world..

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

" Sophie's Mother, Adele's Daughter"

Elaine Feinstein wrote a poem once called " Izzy's daughter".* ( see end of post) It's a favourite of mine.
Izzy's daughter in the poem fascinates me; there's a compelling mix about her that intrigues.
Izzy's daughter has a "liquid black stare, an olive face". She wants to be: "as reckless as a man...dive through rough, grey waves on Southport sands, shake salt out of hair as he did.."
Izzy's daughter writes stories too ( "I was Maggie Tulliver, proud of my cleverness" she says) "and her family marvells: "Where DOES it all come from?" they say, mystified.
And alone in a quiet corner, Izzy, the timid mother, smiles...

On Monday, poet Sophie Hannah held court in the Town Hall's Council Chamber ( as part of Chester LitFest) with HER mother. And Adele Geras isn't timid; I can't see Geras spending long hours in quiet corners. She's vivacious and strong and extremely bright. She's eloquently wise about the world of the writer and her chat is peppered with a briskly sensible humour. It's also clear where her daughter's talents come from; like Izzy in Feinstein's poem, Sophie is " her mother's daughter". Oh yes, they're an inspiring pair, this dark haired and dark eyed mother and daughter.

Sophie Hannah ( she claims to like "grotesquerie") first published aged 24.
When she was five, she chose names for her mother's characters. And, Geras says, she chose exactly right.
Hannah's now in her mid 30's; she's published poems in acclaimed collections and somewhere, I read that she was declared " genius" after her first collection, although I'm sure she's too modest to tell us that.
She's currently writing psychological thrillers and her fourth was published recently.
Hannah likes ingenious plots; she creates them ( it seems) fast and furiously, declaring that writing's:" my way of dealing with good and bad aspects of my life" And next year, her short stories appear in a book intriguingly titled: "The fantastic book of everybody's secrets"

Adele Geras has written prolifically for 30 years; she's written over 90 books, for children, teenagers and adults
She plans her books in bus queues and in the supermarket and sometimes she plans what dress she'll wear when Sir Melvyn interviews her on TV. She likes reading on her sofa; favourite writers include Jane Gardam and Jacqueline Wilson and she admires Julie Burchall for her "sheer chutzpah". And Geras ( tongue in cheek?) believes that if you get your book banned or denounced, you're well on the way to hitting the News! She cleverly includes protagonists of all ages in her books; she reckons this gives them appeal to readers of varied ages. She says, too, that getting NO reviews is certainly preferable to getting " real stinkers"...

AND SO you see: we had a lively time in the Town Hall on Monday; hopefully, these two creative women will call again. They'll be more than welcome.

PS :
*The poem " Izzy's daughter" is from Elaine Feinstein's collection " Daylight ( Carcanet Press)
Adele Geras recently published " A Hidden Life" and Sophie Hannah recently published " The Hurting Distance"
The poster at top of post is:" A Mother and her daughters carrying bouquets of roses in a decorative manner"

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Watch Out, Mrs P, we're WARNING you....YOU'VE spawned a BLOB!"

"Parents of fat kids to be given a warning" says "The Times" headline today.

It's Mr Alan Johnson again. Hmm. Our esteemed Health Secretary STILL hasn't taken his discs and gone to his Desert Island ( see my post of Oct 10th )
Instead, Mr Johnson and cronies have deemed that after a child is weighed in school, the weight of that child should be made clear to the parents; it seems children have been routinely weighed in UK schools over the past 2 years.
And Mr Johnson and cronies have a very strong point. As we know, fat little people make fat big people. ( See Beryl Cook's " Girls in taxi Clubbing and a black cab" above).....maybe some parents do "need telling".
BUT... Right. OK.
Can you imagine it? Can you imagine this giving of warnings?
" Hey, Mr P, we're WARNING you! You and Mrs P, you've reared a flipping BLOB!"
" Are you listening, Mrs D? Your kid's a big un, so we're WARNING you, Mrs D. Cut out the cokes and sling out the sausage and Bring Back The Cauliflower! "
"We're looking at your kid, Mrs M...coming up womanly, isn't she, Mrs M? She'll soon be needing something to hold up that chest of hers....Big lass, isn't she?....Tis pity she's only 6...look at her rolling hips! we're giving you a WARNING, Mrs M. Listen up, listen well, Mrs M and get that fat kid on the celery!"
But it's no joke, I know.
When teaching little ones, I saw the misery being overweight brings. Children suffer mentally as well as physically; not all of them, but it's likely. Being fat leaves you "legless", ie. you can't run in playgrounds; you're slow, you're breathless. You're "left out"; other kids don't choose you for games so you stand at the side and scoff even more jellytots, probably a chunky Doubledecker, a few walnut whips.You can feel unloved. You can feel HUGELY invisible. And it hurts.
It's not always so, of course. But years ago, I taught in Wandsworth; the most ample girl in class was loved by all. She giggled a lot, she chattered a lot. I thought all was fine with her, till one day she dillydallied after school. She washed out the paintpots, she watered the plants, she sharpened every pencil.She stacked up paintings, sorted out the charcoal. ( THAT's helpful!) Finally, she rubbed the blackboard til it was spotless, then sat down and told me that more than anything in The Whole Wide World, she wanted to win a race at sports day but knew she never could..
Being overweight aids/abets type 2 diabetes; it can encourage strokes, coronary disease, even mental health issues, such as depression.
Being overweight can significantly shorten lives. And it's scary that young lives, in some cases, are being shortened so readily.
Being overweight in many cases can be prevented. We're lucky; we know the ways and the means. Some parents do, some parents dont.
BUT to my way of thinking, it's vital that above all, the children of 2007 learn these ways and means themselves... FOR THEMSELVES.

For their Healthiest possible futures.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"A Few Little Gems"

One of the best things about a LitFest is the gathering of the little gems; by that, I mean the gleaning of info about/from celebrities, either stuff they pass on during their events, or possibly stuff you hear from a friend or glimpse over the net before you meet them.It's the kind of stuff, the sort of information that enlivens, introduces you properly to talented and creative people.

Here then are some little gems about Rabbi Lionel Blue ( last Wednesday at the Town Hall) and best-selling writer Kate Long ( who ran a fabulous creative writing workshop at Chester Theatre Club's Little Theatre* ...see just above my PS, please...yesterday):

Lionel Blue, it seems, counts his blessings because of his Grandma...
And his mother, who he clearly adored, called him Lionel after Lionel Barrymore. Seeing Barrymore in a film at the cinema, she said, was the ONLY Good Thing that happened in the Depression of 1929; her son hit the world in 1930.
And Lionel Blue says he was a smug young man but one day, God spoke to him ( harshly!):" Look, Lionel, if you go on like this, I'll break your bloody neck!"
Lionel says he aims to give people courage to get out of bed in the mornings, but ( hmm) this doesn't work for me; I'm too busy listening to " Thought for the Day" to even THINK about putting my slippers on. And his cure for insomnia? Eating baked beans out of the tin.
Lionel reckons the world is like the departure lounge of an airport; we make ourselves comfy, get to know each other and then suddenly, we're called, our number's up, so off we go...
And another thing, Lionel reckons God's told him to stay around a bit and given him strength to do it, although he says much of his life takes place betwixt the No Man's Land of Judaism and Christianity...

Altogether an interesting and thought-provoking evening with a fascinating guy..

Kate Long**, running her workshop, sensibly advises writers to write daily, even if they're merely " tickling" their thoughts.
She obviously bursts with ideas: she says "her mind swirls with weird images like some bizarre aquarium" .
She believes creating strong characters essential to good stories; yesterday she devised fun exercises showing this clearly.
And Kate says writers should read widely, move out of their comfort zone, try new authors. She first realised she wanted to write on reading Ted Hughes' wonderful poem " Thought fox".
Kate advisers the keeping of notebooks, has one by her bed each night. She has one notebook for the plans of each of her books; she showed us her handwritten notes, her original " plottings".

Kate inspired us with her thoughts, knowledge and enthusiasm; I know we all had a lovely time!

* And thanks Little Theatre for having us; it was much appreciated!
** Look at my blog posting April 30th for more about Kate's books. Click on Archives to the right of this entry.

PS: Other Events:
Last Thursday, the Grosvenor Hotel served up a delicious lunch; there were also 4 guests speakers, Julian Clary ( recently published " Murder most fab") Jenny Colgan ( chick lit " Operation Sunshine") Kate Williams ( " England's Mistress: The Infamous Life Of Emma Hamilton") and Jane Fearnley Whittingstall ( "Good Granny Cookbook") We had an excellent time, with some good contributions from the 4 guests ( particularly Kate Williams) although a little less "reading from book to audience" from some, would have been appreciated.

On Monday, we met at the University for the launch of a collection of short-short stories ( 50-350 words ) edited by Dr Ashley Chantler. The book: "An Anatomy of Chester" contains 55 stories, written by local writers. We were made welcome with generous glasses of wine and before four of us read several stories, Dr Ash talked about the history/development of this increasingly popular story form.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"A Special Evening At The Bear And Billet"

We've had many habitats over the years; in fact, we're rather a nomadic lot. We're Chester Writers and we're a band of gipsies; we travel from place to place, but we're minus any caravans and to my knowledge, none of us sells any lavendar or stands on doorsteps selling any clothes pegs. But OK, I know....folk have hidden lives and I could be wrong...
Where have we lived? Where have we met 3rd Thursday each month for a decade of years?
Well: We've huddled in a cellar in a pub by the river, where we read our work while Status Quo ( ouch) and the Stones (OK) boomed at a disco upstairs. We've lived in a huge boardroom in a hotel by the station, where we sat straight-backed round a long mahogany table and stared at our reflections in its gleaming polished surface. We've climbed a creaky oak panelled staircase to an upper room in a black and white inn , where windows were gloomy and the pub sign creaked outside as wind blew and ghosts gathered for their hauntings. We've crossed the street to another pub, where we competed against pub quizzes and office parties, where lights were dim and cold made us shiver . But Things May Well Have Changed...
On Thursday, as part of Chester Literature Festival, Chester Writers held our annual celebration. We pulled our caravans up to the Bear and Billet ( see photo at top of post) ; it's a 1/2 timbered black/white pub, built near the river Dee at the end of Lower Bridge Street. Originally a townhouse belonging to the Earls of Shrewsbury, it was built in 1664 to replace a building torched in the Civil War. It's been a pub since the eighteenth century.
And we much enjoyed being there. Our room was top floor; spacious, oak beamed, leaded windows, refectory tables, comfy chairs. The lighting was good and we were as warm as toast. Some great readings (prose and poetry) which both made us laugh, provoked our thoughts.
Also great seeing old familiar faces, some very good friends* ( see below) alongside interested new ones....
I think there's a very fine chance our wanderings have ceased for a while...
Good stuff!
* See Clare Dudman's blog: www.http//

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Meeting A Most Engaging Writer"

He's lucky, this guy. If he wishes, he can safely graze his sheep in the streets of his city...if he has any sheep, that is, and I don't think he has.
And once, someone thought he was Mohamed Al Fayed; they glimpsed him from afar. He has a "look" of him, I suppose.
And often, he's copied one of Alfred Hitchcock's ideas; it's rather a good idea, and it's provided both him and Hitch with lots of fun.
This guy's 3 yrs off 80 but he holds an audience spellbound.
He says his writing, above all:"seeks to entertain" and it does, it really does.
He likes cricket, crosswords, classical music and so does his most celebrated character. But unlike this character, he hasn't got a red Jag and he has two fairly ordinary christian names. He's an atheist, by the way.
And once he taught Latin to boys.
Eventually he wrote a book, surprising himself, while on a wet family holiday in Wales; this novel was accepted by the 2nd publisher who saw it.....with no alterations whatsoever!
He was educated at Cambridge in early post war years.
And "The Times", writing one day about one of his books, said :"it's the kind of book without which no armchair is complete.." And yes, his books are on cushions on countless armchairs throughout the world: they've been translated into 22 languages.
His leading ladies include Geraldine James, Diana Quick, Frances Barber.
He has an OBE for Services to Literature.
AND novelist Beryl Bainbridge, clearly appreciating the mastery of his plots, said: " What construction! What skill! Why isn't this author EVER on the Booker Shortlist?"

Colin Dexter ( creator of " Morse" and more) came to Chester LitFest this week; this lovely guy gave us a happy informative evening; it brimmed with wisdom and humour. I hope he returns.
* He's a Freeman of the city of Oxford; the right to graze sheep is one of the perks!
** Hitchcock " appeared" briefly in his own films. Dexter liked this idea and has had a tiny "cameo" part in most "Morse" episodes. Usually he loitered in the background but he was eventually allowed to speak( once) in 1993!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stop Press: Possible Cure Found For Affluenza Virus"...

Oliver James ( affluent author of " Affluenza: how to be successful and stay sane" ( Vermilion, 2007) will be pleased with today's news. A little help is offered. A little light shines at the end of a tunnel. But forget that for now. I'll return to Oliver later.

Sometimes you're half -listening to the radio. Sometimes you're doing other stuff at the same time; scanning the paper, getting dressed, talking to the cat.You might even be having your worst argument for years with your Beloved. Or again, perhaps you're having one of those really meaningful conversations with him (her) that crops up every so often and should demand full attention.Then suddenly a phrase on the radio grabs you. Something's said that shocks, mystifies, strikes chords within, horrifies, amuses, intrigues ... and your attention's grabbed, like when you read the 1st paragraph of a very good book. ( Hmm, OK yes , I had a writing class today..)

HOWEVER: On Sunday, I was half-listening to Kirsty Young ( R4, Desert Island Discs) as she discussed some bloke's choices for his desert island. Suddenly, Kirsty mentioned Sloane School. Sloane was a renowned grammar school in the heart of Chelsea; it became Pimlico Comp, late 60's/ early 70's. Sloane was my husband's Alma Mater, so this interested me. I put down my carrots mid-peel or Saturday night's lasagne dish mid-scrub ( can't remember what) and listened properly. BUT... good excuse for another cup of coffee. And listening properly, I discovered Kirsty Y was interviewing Alan Johnson, ex pupil of Sloane, who is now our Health Secretary. And that was it. There were some good "tunes", some light Sunday morning banter ( perfect after dramas in "The Archers") and a potted history of our Minister. And the coffee was absolutely fine.

OK: Forget all that for now.
Next day ( Monday) Oliver James, clinical psychologist/best selling writer ( see start of this post) came to the LitFest. He's an interesting guy, a bit zany; I hasten to add that I like " zany". I think his trousers were pink, but I couldn't be sure.
James has had an interesting and varied career; at one time, he was applying his "Blue Sky" therapy to the Labour govt at Jack Straw's "Home Secretary Lunches"; he's changed allegiances now and currently massages the minds of Cameron's crew.
James has written several books but he wrote this one on his wife's advice; they wanted to hit NZ in a camper van for a long long holiday; cash from a best seller ( which " Affluenza" became ) would fund the job nicely.
AND James had fascinating thoughts which on Monday, he passed to his intrigued Cheshire audience: "Affluenza" is a virus-like condition that's spread to the world's more affluent countries, particularly UK. We're over-run by Selfish Capitalism; this is dire for our mental health. We're dissatisfied and greedy, we want sparkly new kitchens at all costs. We crave fame, we lust after fortune. Most mothers work ( many unnecessarily) most of us are weary, exhausted, unhappy. In fact, said James, as he stared out at a sea of faces ( some weary, some not), a quarter of folk sitting in the lecture hall that very night, actually have mental health issues in varying degrees....AND, he said, many folk have certainly forgotten HOW to be happy. Perhaps I'm lucky with my view of people, but I'm not sure I agree in total, but that's another story.

HOWEVER: it was a fascinating insight into the views of a man who has studied the intricate mind set of our society in the early years of a scaring ( but fantastically exciting) new century...

And back to today's news; that which Oliver James will applaud.
Alan Johnson (the ex Sloane schooboy, who chose his discs but obviously didn't go to his island) ) announced today that by 2010, £170m a year is to spent on psychological therapies, thus enabling 90,000 more sick folk to be treated. Mr James, as already said, quotes that 1 in 4 of us have mental health issues; Mr Johnson has a slightly happier figure , quoting 1in 6.
Good news then, this extra cash. Some folk treated WILL have the Affluenza Virus, some won't... because there are countless reasons for mental illness and Affluenza virus is only one of them.
BUT yes, Oliver James is right in many respects. Nevertheless, I know there are many virus-free folk who will STAY virus-free...Because they have attitudes to life and aims in life which keep them "clean". I've seen a crowd of them today. They're joyful folk. OK, they have difficulties in their lives, they have traumas ( who doesn't?) and some of them could be described as " affluent", some not....but their spirits are joyful, really joyful. ...
I've just talked to someone on the phone who has never had a new kitchen in her life. And she's certainly never craved one. ...


Friday, October 05, 2007

" It Takes One To Know One..."

Playwright John Godber once said: "On a good night ( at the theatre) you want laughter and tears at the same time. And that piece of art has to have guts"
And yesterday we got it. Guts and all. Within minutes of settling in our seats at Chester Theatre Club, we knew the score. Immediately, we were part of the family on stage because we'd met them all before. If they weren't within our own precious families, we'd seen them in other folks' precious families. And watching this fabulous play (John Godber's " Happy Families" skilfully directed by Lisa Miller) we recognised the delights, tensions, the laughter, the tiny tragedies, the looming ones.
AND SO: we grinned at Dad's jokes ( superbly played by Tony O'Byrne)... because we'd heard this corn before. We grinned because we'd known Dads who became Tommy Cooper (at drop of fez ) at every family gathering for 30 years. And we sighed at a Grandad who bullied, then cowered before his wife, a man who could never express his husbandly love; a man who pinpointed a certain generation.
Then we cringed at Mum's habits ( Helen Williams, smotheringly right) because we'd known women addicted to the cleanliness of curtains, triple mirrored dressing tables, the perfect shade of carpet )... be it women in council flats or ladies-who-lunch.
We'd known grans in pearls, grans in slippers (Delys Rostron, previously on stage in furs).....but we'd all known grans loyal to family no matter what. We recognised a snooty sister who'd "bettered" herself, be it to Henley on Thames or semi in Crewe. We saw a sister who spent more time with parents than husband. And that seductive little girl next door....who hasn't met a pain like her?!
And Tim Marangon as John, son of the family, expertly revealed his feelings as well as his lilly white legs...
Godber says the play reveals his own kin, his own early life, when he forsook "the pit" ( much to family chagrin) for a place at drama school. Its themes are universal and classless: that of being an outsider ( " I've always felt an outsider since failing the 11+" said Godber) ; there's the falling apart of relationships and the different ways folk express their love. There's the making of decisions which will matter for years to come. And there's the warm claustrophobia of family, its desperate sadnesses, and of course, its unbridled delights....
Thankyou, Lisa and Little Theatre, for one of the best productions yet. You captured it all.
PS:Pictured above: The Simpsons, a family who also Share All This.
PPS: John Godber is 3rd most performed playwright in UK after Shakespeare and Ayckbourn.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"The Colourful Life Of A 21st Century Poet"

She was born in an attic in Wimpole Street. She had a teacher called Mrs Cornflake. She ( not Mrs Cornflake) liked singing sea shanties. She's travelled Asian Jungles searching for tigers, she's sung in an Istanbul nightclub and she's lived with peasants in Greece. She likes Iraqui music, has studied and taught at Oxbridge, and yes, she's also taught the wives of British officers to ride horses in Berlin....
Who said the lives of poets were DULL?
Ruth Padel visited Chester Literature Festival yesterday and showed us her poetry; it reveals her classical background of painstaking academic research, but it's also sensual and visual and as she herself once said about poetry in general:"it will light a dark tunnel" .

Padel's poetry will certainly do this; it's both illuminating and quirky and it reflects the life of an extraordinary woman.

* " The Poem and The Journey: and 60 poems to read along the way" ( Padel's newest book)
* Above : " The lives of the poets" by Samuel Johnson. (Born 1709)

Both books available at and all good book shops.
AND PS: Ruth Padel is the great great grand daughter of Charles Darwin.

"So, Folks, What Do You Think Of The Festival So Far?"

He ( see previous post!) was cuddly. Louis was cuddly. That was the first surprise.
We expected a lean hungry type with brooding hooded eyes but he wore a large crumply linen suit and a longish white cotton shirt and he was pleasantly rounded, like a favourite uncle or a grandpa or even possibly Father Christmas.
His rather lovely musical partner, Ilona, described herself as: " middleaged in Bavarian costume"; this consisted of flirty skirt, peasant blouse, tight little waistcoat but whatever, it suited her and several Cestrian men ** were hooked ( within their suits) from the start. Ilona trilled on her instruments and giggled with Louis and smiled fetchingly into her audience at all times. And several of the Cestrian men** sighed particularly deeply when she admitted a burning teenage passion for Beethoven that even now, still dares to flare...
And the music, the poetry? It was an eclectic, exotic mix; we went to Greece, Turkey, to the vibrant Andes, to vivid parts of Asia. We visited longago centuries, jazzy dives, the Emerald Isle. We glimpsed Autumn beauty and Shakespeare's dreams and then, there was Mozart, Keats and Nana Mouskari and South American gauchos and condors winging and we learned of love that's lasted years and love that's all brand new. And all this with a quirky collection of instruments played and explored by cheerful Louis and smiling Ilona ( and bolder members of the audience too! )
And ( Ha!) there were jokes. Acker Bilk's pale-as-the-corn jokes, passed on by Louis in such affable fashion that we forgave him everything...but we groaned, and yes, we moaned but oh how we their repetition, predictability, but mostly with our sheer unbridled delight at the nerve of this portly gregarious talented man. It was a fun night and the juiciest of starts to a very refreshing Festival.
The image at start of post is Louis de Berieres' contribution to National Doodle Day; this is owned jointly by Epilepsy Action and the Neurofibromatosis Assoc.
**And Cestrian Men: that means the Menfolk of Chester!

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Making Music At The Bank Of America"

I read the book ( WHO has my copy?) and I saw the film ( Nicholas Cage boogeying in the bougainvillea with Penelope Cruz) and there's probably a T-shirt but I haven't got it.
" Captain Corelli's Mandolin"** was one of the publishing success stories of the '90's; it was Louis de Bernieres' 4th novel, published in 1994.
This evening, I'm hearing de Bernieres play his very own mandolin ( plus guitar and woodwind, no less) at The Bank Of America, as the Launch Event of Chester Literature Festival. (
It promises to be a superb evening: "Music and Poetry for Autumn" with Ilone Antonius, flautist, and the Antonius Players. They've appeared at the Edinburgh Festival and their repetoire ranges from Keats to Eva Cassidy, Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney. Should be a very gooood night.
** " Captain Corelli's Mandolin" available from and lots of good book shops.
AND PS: Exactly a year ago today, I started my blog, so Happy Birthday, Blog! It's been fun.