Gazette column: Dogs must be kept under control

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about dogs and how, when out and about, their owners really must keep them under control.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Why the victims of crime never really forget

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about crime and how, for the victims, even though the crime may have passed, the real memory and lasting effects of it will never go away.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Why our local heroes, not celebrities, should be on the honours list

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about local heroes and how, in the event of the New Years honours list with the celebrities and the Prime Minister’s hairdresser receiving awards, maybe it’s time for local, real people to be celebrated for once.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: We need to award our local heroes

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the New Year’s honours list and how, when faced with awards to celebrities and political figures, what we should be doing is rewarding regular people, the ones we see every single day.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: How sports mantras can help your writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

So, there I was, at Christmas, up a mountain. I was bricking it. I could see over the edge. It was snowy. My skis were on and in my hands were my poles. I was with my ski school team and, bar the odd tumble, all was safe. So why, oh why did I lose it? And I don’t just mean lose it, but totally and utterly melt right on down and get scared on the mountainside.

The reason was this: I told myself I couldn’t do it. That’s it. No more, no less. I mean, sure, the previous day I had fallen off the edge of a chair lift BEFORE I had even gotten on it. And yes, my backside, along with my skis, were sticking in the air. And of course, the nice French ski lift operator laughed and said, ‘I will take a photo.’ And, indeed, the only way to handle it was to stand, smile and wave. But that was then. Standing on near the top of a mountain with a long way down? This was now. And I was not liking it.

So, two things happened. First up, I realised I was being an idiot. Why? Because I was telling myself I couldn’t ski. Trouble is, when that sets in, that negative thought, like a germ in a petra dish, it grows. Until what you have immobilises you and you f**k up. Second, was someone (our instructor…) said I was a chicken. He was being funny. We got on really well. But that was the thing – he’d clocked me, knew what I was like. You tell me I’m a chicken? Then I’ll show you…

And then it happened. I got down the mountain. And the day after that. And the day after that. I got down by telling myself, ‘I can do it.’  (and by making chicken noises…Got some strange looks) I got down by reminding myself that if I fell, I could get up. And if anyone – anyone – called me chicken, I’d show them just what I could do. And, tell you what, I had an absolute ball in the process. The best time ever.

I’m at home now. My limbs are in one piece. My mind is rested. I re-began the final editing of my book last week. And that is when I realised something: that I was better at knowing how capable I was; that anything was possible. Skiing had taught me something about myself. It had taught me that if you think positively, you can do it. You can, quite literally, conquer mountains. And that it is a whole heap of fun on the way.

So, on that note, I give you, below, a link to the mantras that sports people use for running (my favourite sport) to get them in the right mind set for a race. My advice? Adapt them for yourself and use them when you hit a low point in your writing. Feel you can’t write a paragraph, never mind a book? Feel as if there are so many authors out there better than you? Then apply a mantra. A positive mantra. For running, they use ones like: ‘Be steady. Be strong.’ Or : ‘Better. Faster. Stronger.’

Because you see, whether it’s running or writing or getting a promotion at work, a bit of positive thinking can help you go a long way. Or, in my case down a mountain (or to a big book deal!).

So, mantras: required. Broken limbs: optional.

Running World’s MAGIC MANTRAS LINK

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Gazette column: We are a nation of spoilt brats

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about how we want it all and how, as a nation, I can see us turning into a bunch of spoilt brats.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

How to protest against MPs’ pay rises in 2014…

I wrote a column for the Gloucestershire Gazette about MPs’ pay rises. I was livid. An 11% pay rise proposal when public sector wages are being capped at 1%? That is just plain wrong. So, in December, I wrote a column about it. Here it is for the New Year, below, with a link to the petition you can sign to protest against it. Here’s to a better and more fair 2014…

An increase in MPs’ pay? That’s just daft – The Gloucestershire Gazette – Column – 26th December, 2013

There are times when I do feel daft. You know, those times when you think you understand something, when you believe that everything makes sense, yet actually, the reality is completely the opposite.

Well, welcome to one of these occasions. You see, you may be very aware of MPs and the proposal to increase their pay. This month, it was announced that The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015. Now, while Prime Minister David Cameron calls it “inappropriate”, and Labour leader Ed Miliband requested talks between the party leaders and Ipsa, here’s the thing: neither of them has signed the paper openly opposing the pay rise. A week after Labour MP John Mann tabled an Early Day Motion demanding the increase to be just 1%, in line with the rest of the public sector, only 10 MPs – and not one Conservative – have put their names to it.

And so here’s where I think I’m daft. You see, I would have thought it was absolutely obvious that an 11% pay rise is a ridiculous idea. We are living in tough times. Winter fuel bills are rocketing. All over Gloucestershire, pensioners are struggling to make ends meet. Teachers from Yate to Cam, and Chipping Sodbury to Berkley are paid peanuts. So, on that basis, how on earth could MPs think it was okay to want an 11% increase? I watched an MP on TV justifying the rise by saying politicians work hard, and that, if we want to attract the right caliber of candidate, then we should pay out. Bobbins. Absolute bobbins. What about the teacher? The policeman? The refuse collector? Aren’t they worth something? Don’t they deserve the best pay, too? In the 2013 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the 1% public sector pay cap would be extended to 2015/16. How on one hand can he do this, yet on the other effectively green light an extra 11% for himself? So much for all being in this together.

But, there is something we can do. We can protest. And we must. Because we are not daft to think this is wrong. You can sign an e-petition on the proposal at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk. You can lobby your MP. Speak to them. Because life must be fair, and an 11% rise when others’ wages are being capped? That’s not fair at all.

Gazette column: Here’s an alternative New Year’s resolution…

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about New Year’s resolutions and how, this year, it’s time we did something for someone rather than simply give something up.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think?Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**