The desk conundrum

Since the beginning of July, I hadn’t done any filing or tidying in the office. The desk, dresser and window sill have been heaped with a messy tangle of paperwork, photos, cheque books, pens, scraps of paper, notebooks, CDs and DVDs, instruction manuals, dust, dead flies, coins, jewellery, camera lenses, folders, files, receipts, bank statements, medical reports, bills, batteries and chargers.

I’ve been totally ashamed and disgusted every morning, and every evening I have resolved to deal with it first thing next day, and the months have rolled by with the only change being increasing mess.

There’s no  excuse. True we did have visitors staying for almost three months, and I was unwell for several months, but neither the visitors nor the ailment left me unable to sort out a pile of papers. I can’t find an explanation for it.

Among the piles was correspondence with the tax office, who thought we hadn’t paid something which we had. Failure to make the requested payment in time would result in a visit from the bailiff. The correspondence had been there for several days, picked up and put down every day, but today was the deadline to respond. The choice was to ignore it, let the bailiff turn up and triumphantly wave the receipt for the payment under his nose, or write to the tax office and send them all the necessary evidence and receipts. That seemed the more sensible path, so fortified with a strong coffee and a bowl of porridge I sat down and wrote to them, copied all the correspondence, and filed it away.

That seemed to unlock the dam, and in less than an hour the surfaces were clear and cleaned, everything dealt with and filed. As quick and easy as that.

I’m feeling better and far less tired today than I have done for months. Whether that’s the effect of sorting out the mess, or the cause of it, who knows? But it’s certainly a relief on both counts.

Is a cluttered desk a sign of a cluttered mind, or a creative one? Speaking for myself, I find that it does nothing to feed creativity, in fact just the opposite. I don’t want to sit at it. The clutter overwhelms me. On the other hand, a totally empty desk is daunting. How do other feel about this? Does anybody else let mess get on top of them?

As Albert Einstein (renowned for the untidiness of his desk) said: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”


Maybe a potted plant, a pen, notebook and cup of coffee will strike the right balance.



Sunset and a Fussy Librarian

The sunset was incredibly vivid last night, with giant purple clouds boiling up all around. It looked both beautiful and slightly menacing.


And by the way, nothing at all to do with sunsets, my latest book “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” is being featured on Monday 28th October at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized quality ebook recommendations. You can choose from 30 genres and indicate your preferences about content. If you like sex and violence, you can have it. If you don’t, you won’t be offered it. The Fussy Librarian gets to work and sends you daily suggestions suited to your personal reading taste. It’s pretty cool — check it out!

“I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” is a memoir of childhood in Kenya, the breakdown of our family which would have repercussions for decades, and a small grey pony called Cinderella.

I can’t say I’m sorry.

In fact, I’m very pleased that Awesome Indies has awarded their badge of approval to “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry”


As part of the Blackbird Digital Books autumn promotion, this week The Valley of Heaven and Hell and Best Foot Forward Kindle versions are both available to download at 99 cts/77p.



Click image to buybff cover

Click image to buy

Sale starts today

I’ve had a huge amount on my plate recently, particularly in sprucing up the house and garden as we have put our property up for sale, but thought I would pop in today to say “Hello, hope you are all well and happy,” and to announce that from today, Saturday 29th June, for the next five days my latest book is available for free download from your local Amazon.

It has already collected 16 spiffing reviews since it was published last month.

If you would like to take advantage of this promotional offer, just skip along to Amazon and help yourself, and I hope you’ll enjoy the read.

Reviews so far on




And another thing …

.. just received the mail, and in it a real surprise. A copy of French Property News. This is the centrefold:

1 2

I knew that French Property News were planning a feature, but I hadn’t expected anything on quite this scale. An extract from Swallows and Robins as well as a mention of our house being for sale.


So far this year I’ve stuck to most of my New Year resolutions.

Getting up by 8.00 am – tick.

Dressed by 9.00 am – tick.

Limit time on Facebook to 30 minutes a day – half-tick

Take an item out of a room where it doesn’t belong and put it where it does – tick

If a job can be finished in five minutes, do it – tick

Plant a clover lawn – not quite time yet, but seed bought – tick

Make bee houses – searching for suitable cane – half-tick

Chew my food more thoroughly and eat more slowly – total fail. :(

Finish two of the four books I’m working on: one book on schedule to be finished by first week of March – tick

Take at least one photograph each month that I am totally satisfied with. This was delayed because I managed to hurl my camera onto a hard floor and bugger up the image stabilisation. That meant the camera was out of action for three weeks. But here are two I’m happy with. So – tick

So – how is everybody else getting on with their resolutions? Do tell. :)

Variegated ivy

Variegated Ivy – I am pleased with the three-dimensional effect here

Tree in winter

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, as the King of Siam said.

Poor old blog has been neglected for quite a while so I thought better check in just to say Hello, Bonjour, Jambo, Buongiorno, Buenos dias, Grüß dich, Yassou or et cetera, et cetera et cetera as the King of Siam says.

The silence is due to the current book I am writing and hoping to finish by the end of March at the latest.

It’s arrogant to believe that anybody wants to read an account of the first thirty years of my life, but I’m writing it anyway because I have to. It’s been simmering for several years like a boil, and it won’t go away until it’s burst.

You might think that memories from more than 50 years ago would fade, but some don’t. They grow stronger. At the beginning of December I began the rewrite of the original manuscript I wrote several years ago, but it brought me so low that I put it away until after the New Year. 

I prevaricated about restarting, and concentrated instead on two other writing projects. But, as my mother used to say: “This won’t get the baby a new bonnet.” And so I began again in earnest a couple of weeks ago. Since then despite taking sleeping tablets I’ve been waking at silly o’clock and unable to get back to sleep. That’s why if you had passed the house at 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 o’clock some mornings you’d have seen through the crack in the shutters that the light was on, and might have heard the tapping of the keyboard.

It’s the most emotionally exhausting project I can ever remember, because you cannot write dispassionately about the events that shaped your life. But hopefully once it’s finished, the boil will burst. So for now it’s back to life in Kenya in the late 1950s, exactly the half-way point.

Tapestry panel depicting Colonel Grogan and Gertrude's Garden Children's Hospital

Tapestry panel depicting Colonel Grogan at Gertrude’s Garden Children’s Hospital

Image courtesy of  (East African Women’s League)

Government Road, Nairobi , 1950s

Government Road, Nairobi , 1950s

Image courtesy of:

Image courtesy of EAWL.og


Image courtesy of (East African Women’s League)

Bye. Au revoir. Kwaheri. Arrivederci. Hasta la vista. Auf wiedersehen. Athio. Or et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, as the King of Siam says.

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