What are you?

FullSizeRender[1] copyI saw a post on facebook yesterday that made me think about the need to categorise ourselves. What is this human need that makes people do quizzes to see whether they are introvert or extrovert, a summer or winter person, a city of country girl, a leader or a follower?

This facebook post image was about Ego and Soul. One side had a list of what the Ego does/wants…the other side, the Soul.

I suppose this discussion is two-fold. What is it about the human need that makes people take these quizzes, want to name who we are, to put a label on what we think we represent? Are you an astronaut or a singer? Can’t I be both?

Are you Ego or Soul?

Back to the facebook post about Ego and Soul. Quite a few of the points about Ego, I held my hand up to. And that made me feel I was wrong – that I wasn’t a good person. ‘Oh no!’ I cried. I’m evil! Then… after flagellating myself, I looked at it again.

Aren’t we made up of more than one part? Don’t we need our ying and yang to survive? If I was all Ego, I’d probably self combust but if I was all soul, would I emotionally survive? Don’t we need both to be sane and whole? Now, I’m talking about people living their lives with all you have to do to get by. I’m not in a retreat and I’m not surrounded by like minded people all the time.

I’m a writer, a project assistant in a library and I make costumes now and then. For those different roles, I need different sides to me.

I could be all soul as a writer, but I don’t see the point of writing in isolation, with my arm around my paper or computer so no-one else can see. I write because I love it, but also I want others to read my words, I want to affect them in some way. Ego. And I need my Ego to drive me. I need my Ego to be a writer.

My Soul goes into my writing though. It pours into my characters. And I make my characters a mix of Ego and Soul because if they were only one, they’d be pretty boring.

I’ve just finished reading A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. A native Indian character talks about two souls. She can see two sides in a person. And that is what the book explores. It is dangerous to separate ourselves saying someone is better than another. Societies become dangerous when they start doing that. We have our male and female sides and when one is denied, all hell can break lose.

I’m glad I saw this list asking which are you. It’s made me think again about how we segregate and departmentalise rather than looking at the whole person and the whole society. Isn’t it better to nurture every part of us rather than deny parts? Isn’t it better to nurture and celebrate our diversity than to strive to be one thing?

I’m introverted sometimes and sometimes I’m an extrovert, most of the time, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m mostly optimistic, but sometimes, I lose hope. I have an Ego and I need it, but I also have Soul. And I’m not going to give myself a hard time about it. I’m actually going to celebrate that I have many sides to me.

By the way, I’d recommend A Place Called Winter.

Now to try and use this in my fiction…



I’m hesitating to write this post. Maybe I’ll write it and not post it. Maybe the writing will be enough.

You see I’ve been wondering about the silence. Being silenced, or feeling silenced in the relatively small worries and emotions in life. When the scale of trauma is so huge for some, how can we voice ‘feeling upset’ or ‘feeling down for no apparent reason?’

Keep busy. Help others. Do something.

And what when you’re just getting on with your life? You are helping those around you, doing the stuff that we all have to do, the cooking, cleaning, work. Those things. And there are birthdays, and family gatherings, people come and stay, you see friends.

Or is it fatigue? Life fatigue?

I’ll be open about this. I’ve been crying a lot. I know it’s not the menopause, it’s something else. It could be the crash from the top of the mountain after the launch of Jiddy Vardy. It could be that but it feels deeper. It feels like grief.

Is it that in writing about Yorkshire, which I do in my books, brings back how I miss living there? But I love so much about living in Manchester and Yorkshire isn’t far away. It feels more like grief for a time gone. For childhood. For all the people I’ve known and who are dead. A way of living that is gone.

As children, we played in the local farms, jumping in the hay barn, making houses of hay bales until the tractor with its trailer came and we had to help load up. Playing all day in the woods, blackberry stained and worn out. Sitting on the Odda, dreaming and just looking.

Of course, this is the rosy side. It could be cold and bleak. Dark with rain. Upstairs in my bedroom, the house was freezing in winter.

All the old ladies mum took us to visit. All gone. And the streets and houses in Bradford where they lived. All gone. And the ladies in the village who advised and talked and listened. All gone.

And reading on facebook of someone I know vaguely who has spent the last month with her sister, nursing her mum before she died. The rush that brought of how Jane and I were with mum, staying in her hospital room until she came home to us in Manchester and the time of care, autumn leaves and blue skies turning to winter afternoon sunsets making orange squares on the hospital room wall. I cried. And that is over five years ago now.

And I am sobbing writing this. Why is that?

Is it the silence? That I don’t talk about this anymore because I feel I should be done? That it’s just moaning?  That I should be grateful and happy for all that has happened this year.

That we have to ‘live in the moment?’ Is that possible for a writer?

Do we talk or not talk? Do we feel silenced because we feel it is not enough? The grief, the sadness we feel that pools within us and feels so overwhelming when in the big huge scheme of things to others, to what is happening, is nothing at all.

That’s when I think nature helps. Standing in woodland, on a hill top, by the sea. We realise how small we are, how short a time we are here. Does that help? We’re human. I’m human! No, it’s hard to get that perspective! It’s hard to grasp when we’re in the middle of the darkness. But being amongst trees or water, or fields or moors, does give space and breathes away the moment’s anxiety.

And writing. I think writing brings all these memories and feelings and emotions, up and back and around. If I wasn’t writing, would I feel calmer and less emotional? Probably. But I wouldn’t be me if I stopped writing. So, I need to embrace this and use it and in doing that, find release. XDSC07842

Yorkshire Day

Wishing everyone a Happy Yorkshire Day! 

The idea of Yorkshire Day came about during a meeting of the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1974. They chose a date for the event, 1 August, and in 1975 the first ever Yorkshire Day took place.

Yorkshire Day celebrates everything Yorkshire, but especially the integrity of the historic county and every year, on that day, members of the society read a declaration of the integrity of Yorkshire at each of the four Bars of York; the gates into the old walled city. The declaration is read facing into each of the three ridings and into the city.

The 1 August is also the anniversary of the Battle of Minden.

In 1759, during the Seven Years War, two French armies worked their way across Western Germany, capturing important towns on their way. Both French armies commanded by Marquis de Contades and The Duc de Broglie lay at the town of Minden, threatened to invade.

Image result for Pictures of the battle of Minden

On 1 August 1759, on their way to battle, British forces passed through gardens in Minden which were blooming with roses. The soldiers picked white roses and placed them in their headdresses and coats. An allied force made up of Prussian, Hanoverian and British forces, of which the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was one, under the command of Prince Ferdinand lay to the North West of the town.

The allied army defeated the French and Minden Day is celebrated on 1st August. In all battalions of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, now part of the Yorkshire Regiment, a white rose is worn in their caps to commemorate those who fell during battle.

Image result for picture of the yorkshire rose

The official Yorkshire flag was unfurled in Hull on 29 July 2008. The white rose on a blue background has been used across the county since 1965 (although it could be earlier), but was not recognised by the Flag Institute as the official flag for Yorkshire.

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The flag’s new status has now been agreed by the Flag Institute after a request was entered by the Yorkshire Ridings Society.

Everyone who knows me, knows how important my home county of Yorkshire is to me. It features heavily in my writing. Jiddy Vardy is set in Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby, Erosion, on the crumbling Yorkshire coast, and my latest book, which I am writing now, The Monster Belt is set in a fictional Yorkshire village.

This photos is from my latest photo shoot at GK London, taken on Saturday, 28th of July. I am wearing my silver rose necklace in honour of Yorkshire. The 28th is mum’s birthday and being Yorkshire born and bred, I had to wear the rose to say ‘Happy Birthday, Mum X.’

Black and white close up

Holding Hands

What next? What next? What next?

I know what next. The Monster Belt.

And after that?

The Strid Ghost

And after that?

Jiddy Vardy 2

Or maybe reverse the last two.

And in between?

It’s the in betweens that are the difficult times

The times between finish and start

And going on.

And what of the first?

Jiddy isn’t over.

Jiddy Vardy must go on and on and on

And I must ride and swim and run with her

Whilst holding the hands of Harris and Dee

In The Monster Belt.

Do I have enough hands?JV HANDS b&w


A very personal review of Jiddy Vardy

Claire Platt and me

A very dear and close friend, Claire P, sent me a lovely text after reading Jiddy Vardy. I’m going to quote it as a reminder how important the support of family and friends are to writers and how much I appreciate all who have bought the book and said all the kind things you have. And the added bonus is, I can hear Claire’s voice in these written words. And hear her love of the North whilst knowing its reality. When people bring themselves into what they write, that means so much more treasure. Thank you Claire.

I’ve finished JV!! I absolutely loved it! It was such a pleasure reading it and I could spot ‘you’ throughout the whole thing. I love what a strong, feisty, earthy lady she is and how it helps young and old people explore identity.

I also loved how it evokes such amazing images and experiences of the beautiful, cold, cruel, warm North and how you conveyed such a love of the sea. I also loved how it explored the notion of right and wrong and there’s no simple answers. Such a treasure. XXX


Learning from friends and strangers

We’ve had friends staying with us for the past two nights. These friends have lived in places all around the world. Nick is from the UK, Fiona from Australia. They have 5 kids and they have lived in London, Paris, Australia, Italy, Canada, India and Germany. As far as I remember.

It was been so interesting talking with them about the way different countries do things and what they place as important and where they are heading. Of course, we talked about Brexit too and the UK.

What strikes me is the importantance of travel. How educational it is. It shows us different ways of being.

If only countries learned more from each other, taking what works and hopefully making it work for them. We are all people, most of us live in communities and if we don’t, what are we missing by not doing so? What can we gain? As individuals, can we bring what we learn into our lives?

German taxes for health are high. But healthcare is available to everyone and it stretches wide. Well-being and Preventive medicine are huge because the state sees that this angle saves money. Drugs aren’t applied as a matter of course, well-being, arts, movement, dance, other therapies are given….as part of the system. So practitioners don’t have to seek out clients, those in need are directed through the medical profession towards them. The well-being of the individual is the well-being of the community.

The UK lost this with the rise and focus on the individual. America in general focuses on the individual. Fiona says that Australia is going this way.

I want to focus on the well-being for one being the well-being for all. W I want us all cared for so that the health of us all, mentally and physically improves. I feel the UK is very sick at the moment. I want us well.

Books can be like travel. They teach us about different worlds and different ways of being. Travelling in our minds and hearts.

The best thing? Travel and reading! Now that’s a way to spend the summer…RE