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Posts from the ‘About Me’ Category

An equal pound of your fair flesh …

I’m conscious that one moment I was here in this place and the next, just like that, I was gone. Vanished, and rudely, with no explanation.  I don’t want to labour on about me – I never have in the past and I see no sense nor value in changing that  practice  now.  I simply have never found ‘me’ to be a particularly interesting subject and can’t think of a single compelling reason why anyone else would.  However, I do want to provide some explanation for my evaporation before I start posting my customary drivel once more.

Exactly two years ago, this very day, I drove away from Grenoble, knowing that I would be flying to the US of almighty A to settle for the foreseeable future with my Husband (he of the lauded, virtually vaunted by me, two brains).  It was what I had fervently wished for, wished with all my aching heart and now it was becoming a reality.  But niggling my soaring spirits, was a looming disquiet caused by a spate of blogging friends receiving a poisonous mail from a woman who I could, but will choose not to, unmask.  Suffice to say that her actions  quite literally unhinged me over the course of the following months and although I tried to write, tried to whistle while I worked out my new and longed-for life, increasingly paranoia crept over me, self-doubt and self-loathing wrapped me as a strait-jacket and I shrivelled under the resultant and suffocating weight of what felt like the heftiest, most immovable shroud.

There were other factors – that ocean and the time difference conspire to make one feel very far away; this place is far more foreign to me than France ever was; loneliness a familiar but never welcome guest. But the gaping abyss into which I stared and felt helpless to tackle, was caused by a malicious woman whom I have never met. I am a forgiving soul.  This made it harder.  I choose to live by the words ‘Primum non Nocere’ or ‘first, do no harm’ and I don’t understand enmity.  Many would, indeed have and probably still do, call me naive.  I prefer it that way.  I prefer to believe in the good, in the positive, in the decent, in the lovely.  But it does mean that when caught unawares by the actions of a spiteful and vindictive person, I was entirely ill-equipped to deal with it.  I know who you are.

But I, being the richest poor girl on the block am fortunate that I had the unerring and may I say remarkable love of a good man to support me as I first lay thrashing at the bottom of, and then climbed slowly out of, often slipping back and disturbing yet more toxic shale, the mineshaft I had tumbled into; that I found a wonderful and talented psychoanalyst to guide me through what turned out to be a mire of influences from the very beginnings of my tenure on this earth, the bevvy of issues, unresolved and packed in trunks to languish under the stairs, which every so often lurched out and knocked me sideways, the noxious flotsam and pernicious jetsam from my own clumsy attempts at living a decent life and a need to find the Me clamouring to breath the clean fresh air of a guilt free existence and to love Me so that I could, in turn, be loveable.  It turned out that I had sorely neglected Little Miss Me, Me, Me and it was time to give her a spit and polish, a hug and a caress and to reassure her that I can be proud of who she is.  That bit is a struggle but I repeat my mantra daily.  Oh.  And dogs.  In a moment of what most would call low-level insanity, we adopted three dogs to join The ineffable Bean on the same weekend about eighteen months ago.  I believe and The Bean has proved more than once in her life, that dogs are the greatest therapy to humans and, the need being great, the cure surely had to be plentiful.  We don’t profess to be sensible, we understand it might be construed as excessive to increase the poundage of a canine entourage from 7.5lb to nearly 150lb overnight.  But we aren’t hurting a soul and we have saved three harmless souls from a fate far worse than having to reside with us in perpetuity.

Now that I have dealt with it all, I am comfortable that, I am, as they say here, all set. Reset if you will. And what I emphatically know is that in order to be the person I am, the content version of her, that I have to write again. I have to do what comes naturally to me – plague the world with nonsense. And you, you if you choose to, can read it and your opinion will be valued, whatever it is.

Join me as I start spinning stories once more. I’m rather excited. I just couldn’t bring myself to enter the room, blinking wildly, mane on end like a wholly deranged, if recovering, nag. Well I could, but it didn’t seem decorous and I might as well at least pretend for a tiny while that I can be teeny bit refined.

PS. Because there must always be a PS: The title is taken from Shakespeare. Shylock to Antonio, striking his bargain as he lends him needed funds in his desire to win the hand of Portia. The woman I speak of hurt me mightily. I am not vengeful but a pound of flesh taken without the spillage of a drop of blood appeals. Pens and swords, eh?

I asked the faithful light

Diu absentia … long in absence I have been.  I make no apologies.  It’s just a bit of life in my life.  Nothing dramatic.  No imprisonment, no hospitalisation nothing really to write home about.  Nothing to write about.  Except write I will.  It’s what I do.  Potted and neatly in a nutshell I have been moving rather a lot these past two months – US to England, England to France, France to England, England to France – friends and relics (stet) and Christmas with my most loved.  In Grenoble a temporary tiny flatlet with a view of snow topped mountains and on February 1 moving all I own from the flat in Cantal that I persist in calling home because it’s where I feel home, to our permanent Grenoble place-until-summer.  And beautiful it is.  But more of that another time.

No shadows lurking in my cupboard, nothing to make me startle and stare wide-eyed in horror, just life and settling and I will give you more of it, I promise … much more.

Shadows and startling seem to be the order of things in this world just now.  I rather feel that people are having to wear their most politically correct attire for dread of offending someone.  Anyone!  But I have always been the gal to stick her head above the trench and get it picked off by a beady eyed sniper far away out of sight on the other side of no-man’s land.  So I have a commentary on the world at large.  It is unhappy, it is uncomfortable and it is unpalatable for many.  For many others it is hopeful because it has been increasingly uncomfortable and unpalatable these umpteen years and they desire that there will be green shoots which might give they and their loved ones a future in what has been their shiny world rusted and corroded to dust.  Whether I agree or disagree with either side is neither here nor there but I  give a gentle reminder that alongside it’s bolder, brasher brother ‘Greed’, that ‘Fear’ is the greatest eroder of hope, of decency, of love that we, as humans  have in our armoury of weapons of mass self-destruction.  Try not to be led by fear.  Try instead, to be led by love.  It is, after all la fête de St Valentin who was beaten, stoned and decapitated under the rule of Claudius because, put simply, he believed that young lovers should be allowed to choose to marry as Christians.  Choice.  That’s the thing old Valentine was about and he suffered a particularly appalling death for his conviction.  In 269 AD.  Please let me trust that we have evolved and progressed in almost 2,000 years.  Just please.

My picture, which shows a rather perfect half (insert favourite cheese) moon, sentinel above a stone tower whose keepers can’t make their minds up whether to restore it’s authentic stone or leave it suffocated by the corset of concrete rendered upon it some aeons ago by zealous betterers, taken in the last 10 days in Gieres, a pretty commune just outside Grenoble it is offered for this week’s photo challenge captioned ‘Shadow’ (you can find the glories of the entire gallery here) – the moon’s shadow may not be apparent but it is there and, I would postulate, is not alarming at all.


PS:  The title is taken from Cat Stevens’ (one of the enduring loves of my life) beautiful song ‘Moonshadow’.  Here are the lyrics and, as a bonus, a lovely clip of the man who stole a little of my heart in nineteen seventy-something singing it …. give them a read if you will – if I ever lose my mouth –  I won’t have to talk ….


Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow—
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow—

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won’t have to work no more.

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won’t have to cry no more.

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow—
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow—

And if I ever lose my legs, I won’t moan, and I won’t beg,
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if I won’t have to walk no more.

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south,
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if I won’t have to talk…

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?

Cat Stevens

One shaft of light that shows the way

There are few inalterable facts in life but the one constant that we all have to adhere to is that one day we will die.  What comes after that is up for debate and despite an abiding interest in philosophy which promotes an interest in religious teachings from all belief systems,  I don’t profess to have any finite or valuable answers.  Therefore I think that it is hugely important to LIVE a life.  In this one single life that I will assume I have until some bearded or loinclothed but surely extremely sage bloke sends me back for another go it has to be what I adhere to.  By living a life I don’t mean indulging in excesses, I simply mean not wasting valuable time looking back because another inalterable fact is that we can’t change the past.  This week two things have put that notion of mine into sharp focus.

The first is the death of a beautiful lady not ever a close friend nor even actually a relative though we would have considered ourselves family for complicated reasons that are not mine to bore you with here.  She died on Monday, she was the same age as me and I can think of no sound reason why she should have been taken relatively young.  That’s the nature of life and death …. they have no real sense when you distil then to their meanest dregs.  All I know is that it is harsh on her husband and her children and her family and her friends and I grieve for them whilst selfishly collecting myself and giving myself a sharp reminder that life is fragile and I have little and probably no control over its end point.

The second is the fact that next Thursday (24th November) marks the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death.  I remember what I was doing when I got the news.  I remember my body entirely giving way in discreetly Streatley (-on-Thames) as I caved in, sobbing the great overwhelming, body racking sobs of a person who felt a hole had been punched in the world.  His was a death that effected me.  Let me shed a little light on that.  Apart from being, with a huge proportion of the world, a fan of his music, his voice and showmanship, I had the privilige of working for Queen in the early 1980s.  In those days not so far away, and this shocks my daughters, we were not allowed to acknowledge that he was Gay.  We had a public story and we stuck to it.  Things really have changed in those three decades and it is a huge mistake to say we have not progressed.  We have.  And Fred did much to influence that change.  By the time he died less than a decade later, the world was openly comfortable with his sexuality and it had not remotely been detrimental to record sales in the way that those that managed his career had been fearful it would be those few short years earlier.

When I left it was in the fine style of an arrogant little madam.  I had categorically made my fine mind up that the dinosaurs that dubbed themselves Queen had had their day and anyway, they were quite clearly underpaying me.  They called a meeting.  Fred was sent downstairs to speak to me.  I stood as he descended the stairway – one just did, it wasn’t demanded but his presence was so dynamic and it was somehow compellingly correct to rise even for a modish and edgy avante garde force such as me. ‘I hear you want to leave us’ he said having stepped backwards up two steps of the same staircase to speak to me eye to eye (I’m brushing 6′ and wore stilettoes with my drainpipe jeans or rara skirts and  he, like so many extraordinarily large personas was actually not at all a tall man) ‘won’t you stay’.  ‘I don’t WANT to leave’, I countered ‘it’s simply a question of money’ … it was a slight of hand that any member of The Magic Circle would be justifiably proud …. I barely realised his hand had extended and grasped mine as he shook it firmly and equally firmly said ‘it’s been such a pleasure to have you as part of our team’.  Lesson learned … never try to use money as a bargaining device even if you know the collective wealth of your employers is stellar and, as I was to learn just two years later, never EVER underestimate a authentic star.  I was in the VIP enclosure at Wembley as he walked on stage on 13th July 1985 to lead Queen’s set for Live  Aid.  I looked at his face and I said to my neighbour (who I didn’t know from Adam or Eve) ‘he’s going to OWN this baby’ …. I don’t think anyone will ever argue that little nugget with me.

It happens that this 24th November which quite incomprehensibly marks a quarter of a whole century since this remarkable, vibrant and nonsensically talented human left the earth is also Thanksgiving Day in the USA and given that I will actually, for the first time, be here in the US for this momentous day and given that whatever petty nonsense may affect my life either day to day or policitally, I am ALIVE I will personally be giving thanks for the life I have, for the life I share and for the sheer joy that alive should bring.  I will not be presumptuous enough to forget that for many it is hard to be thankful but I will hope that all can at least find cheer in the rising and setting of the sun and the fact that there is air to breathe.  Death comes to us all and when it does there is no moment to regret the moments that you forgot to be thankful.  So I implore you to put politics aside, squish ill-will, banish anxiety about things you can’t fix and just be the best version of you that you can be.  Not just on Thursday but throughout your days, however many they may be.

This is my entry to the gallery entiled ‘Magic’ as hosted by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – here are the enchanting others for you to delight in.


PS:  The title is from a Queen song ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ which was actually written by their drummer, Roger Taylor for the soundtrack of the film Highlander – we both attended the Premier but I’ve taken up far to much of your time already so that story will have to wait for another day ….

The picture was taken on Cape Cod the day before the Supermoon shone as dazzling as sunlight … it amused me that it was sitting silent-sweetly in the sky behind us as we focussed all our efforts on the setting of the sun, seemingly waiting for the perfect moment to pinch the glory from its effervescent brother. 

And here, because you knew I would, is your bonus:

One day I will find the right words

My friend Terry at Spearfruit nominated me for a MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award.  Terry has become a real friend even though we have never met.  His blog is about his life which has seen some tremendous struggles.  Terry beats  himself up for not always being bright and sunny and grateful and positive.  Terry denies that he is an inspiration.  Terry lives in an RV in a trailer park in Florida – he was meant to be travelling the country with his husband and their dog Roxy.  But Terry has Cancer so instead they are static whilst he undergoes the rigours of Chemotherapy treatment still with the threat of the most major and invasive surgery hanging over his head.  I encourage you to visit his blog and I think you too will be inspired (even if he thinks you won’t, because I am always right)  by this engaging and sweet man who thinks that he isn’t good enough.  He’s good enough for me – and one day we will meet and we will talk nonsense and eat cupcakes and ice-cream and for this reason Terry has to get well.

The MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers for quality content, originality and presentation. The intention of this award is to encourage connectivity and support in the blogging community and to increase exposure for individual bloggers.

The Rules:

If you have been nominated for the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award and choose to accept it, write a blog post about the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award in which you:

– Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog. Take a moment to positively promote the person who nominated you.

– Display the award on your blog by adding it to your post and/or displaying it using a widget on your page (Save the image to your computer and upload it to your blog post). Don’t forget to use the tag #MyUltraAward when you make your post!

– Answer the following MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award questions and then nominate 1-8 blogs that you feel deserve the award and provide links.

  1. What is your name:  The name I use for blogging is Osyth which is actually my middle name.  It is my mother’s middle name and that of my eldest daughter.  We pronounce it with a long O as in Oath rather than a short O as in Odd.  It is not my nom de plume though I have published one book in France under it.  I prefer people not to use my actual Christian name when commenting, even if they know what it is.  I’m intrinsically a very private person, despite appearances and I prefer not to reveal my all and ooh-la-la on the net.  You can just call me weird – I’ll answer!
  2. Where are you from:  I was born in England and was raised in the village that Kenneth Grahame of ‘The Wind in The Willows’ lived and I can report that Toad Hall really does exist though disappointingly, I have never managed to find Ratty at home nor out boatin’  when walking the riverbank there.  Most of my adult life was lived in and around Oxford with a few years in London and an 18 month stint in Rome before I had my family with whom I became a reluctant nomad moving almost every year and seldom by choice.  Three years ago I moved to Cantal a sparcely populated area of Southern France and it is the place I call home because it speaks to my heart and it feels like I think home is supposed to feel.  However, this year has mostly seen me in Massachusetts and if things go according to plan I will be returning to New England next year and making a nuisance of myself for a further year or two.
  3. What are you most proud of:   Of course I am proud of my daughters (four and all beautiful and hard-working which given the aforementioned unsettled gypsy life they led in childhood is remarkable) and my husband (with both his brains) and my dog (tiny, feisty and stupidly cute or cutely stupid depending on the mood of the writer) and all the usual things but mostly I think I am kind and decent which seems a simple enough thing, commonplace even, except that I rather think it is becoming a rarity in this modern world of ours and so I am perfectly satisfied to still be that unselfish person and I wouldn’t want to change even though it can leave me depressed and deflated by the actions of others.
  4. How long have you been blogging and why did you first start: I started the blog on a whim just after I moved to  France so about three years ago, and it has evolved in a wholely organic way and probably reflects me fairly well by which I don’t mean that I am a pesticide-free plant or a seaweed-fed sheep but that there is no particular form or discipline to it.  It’s not a cookery or an art or a photography blog and it’s not a diary nor a retrospective of my life, it is not designed to teach anything nor to sell a product or service, it is simply a place that I can share some of the stories that rattle round like marbles in my empty head.  I’m rather proud of the little following I have achieved  but am perpetually anxious that I let people down with my inability to blog to a pattern.
  5. What are your blogging goals:  I honestly don’t have any.  I didn’t expect anything from it and I still don’t.  Which means, with no expectation, everything about it remains a joy.
  6. How do you spend your free time:  I love being outside.  My joy is hiking and I do run (though crimson-faced struggle is a more accurate description) but I had an accident 3½ months ago which has left me unable to do either and extremely tough to live with.  I have a small house in France bought as a maison secondaire which we are doing up slowly, carefully and often frustratingly and I am also doing up our house in Massachusetts which is proving even more frustrating.  I read, of course – anything and all things.  I cook.  And I dream.  Mostly I dream ….

In terms of nominees for the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award, I am going to follow Terry who in turn followed the lead of Chatty Kerry who nominated him (she’s pretty wonderful too, by the way) and I’m going to pick just one perfect fruit.  It’s difficult, I have so many that I love but today I’m picking Susan at Our French Oasis because her blog is beautiful, because she writes of  life in France in such a lovely, beguiling and evocative way and illustrates with beauteous photographs and mostly because  she has a heart that seems similar to mine and this is after all about me, me, ME!


PS:  Because there must always be a PS – the title I have chosen is a line from Jack Keroauc who was born in Massachusetts.  It comes from ‘The Dharma Bums’ and has always haunted me ‘one day I will find the right words and they will be simple’.  When I can achieve that, then I will deserve an award.

In my mind I am free

I consider myself to be pretty fortunate.  It’s not that I have led a seamless life.  It’s not that they had a canteen of silver spoons at the ready to shove into my gaping, greedy mouth at birth, it’s certainly not that life has dealt me no challenges.  Not at all.  I’ve lived a life.  On occasions a seat of my pants-on-fire scorching my behind sort of life.  But the thing is this.  I embrace the challenges, I smile at the misfortunes because they make me the person I am now and they led me to where I am now and in the great scheme of things I am pretty damned prosperous …. which is not to say monetarily rich.  I do not measure wealth and success in pecuniary increments.  So although I may not do it immediately, I do always search for whatever the mechanism is that works to put whatever the adversity may be in a positive place and I do always get there in the end.

Around two months ago I went back to France for a quick visit to make sure my plants weren’t expired in my flat and my car hadn’t entirely given up the mechanical ghost.  From there I flew to England to make less necessary checks on my ludicrously independent and gloriously enduring mother.  And my daughters (the three out of four who live there) came and visited.  One daughter (one more than I might expect) said it was a shame I wasn’t staying longer.  I explained that I had an important follow-up appointment with my physician after my oncologist had delivered her verdicts.  This left the said daughter entirely unmoved (we lived my cancer a few years ago which is hard on children of any age and  it’s easier for them to button their ears to any talk of the on-going care I have, easier to imagine I am now immune.  I am, after all,  their indestructible mummy).  So I mentioned an appointment with a bloke the same afternoon.  This had the said girl-child herding me tout de suite to the airport to ensure I did not miss this incredible, enviable and  priviliged opportunity.

So who was it that so impressed a 20-something?  Who could it possibly be?  Royalty?  No.  Hollywood A-lister?  Nope.  Rock legend?  Nah.  I cogetated this and I realised that there are only a tiny handful of people who could possibly engender such a response from pretty much anyone.  A response that is mid-way between hugely impressed and achingly envious.  The Pope might be one.  The Queen of England another.  The third and in this case the actual is Stephen Hawking.

I am seldom lost for words.  This is a trait.  A personality thing.  I’m articulate and gregarious when the need arises.  I write words down  too and from time to time I believe they are almost coherent.  But this day.  April 19th 2016.  In Cambridge Massachusetts I was humbled to the point of speechless.  I had no concept of what to expect.  The preparation that goes into getting this man into a room however big or small is immense.  The deference with which he is treated I would mostly sneer at since essentially the circus is just that, an act put on for an audience who need to believe that this person is not of the same world as the rest of us.  But in this case it is entirely justified.  That he gave a talk that I mainly understood even though it was to an assemblage peppered with the greats of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Harvard University; that he is brave enough to sit before any gathering, withered in his chair and at the effect of software to speak the words he has written for the occasion and the pregnant pauses in delivery that are inherent in the system; that he has such a self-depracating sense of humour.  All of this I had not imagined even though I imagine I have quite a fertile imagination.  I simply had not gone there.  Which is the point.  This is a man whose life should have been at it’s end at 21 years of age.  He says everything else has been a bonus.  And he has taken that bonus and run with it.  I felt the withered insignificant teeny tiny little squib in the room.  This was like listening to God (I have my own mish-mash belief system that does not allow for a single deity and which I need not share since it is merely mine).  I came out of that room entirely changed.  A better person.  Purer.  Which is the other point … the title of this weeks photo challenge is Pure.  And this man, with his failings, with his warts, with his reliance on science to keep him going is about as pure a mind as I have ever encountered.

The picture I have selected to illustrate this fact is taken at altitude above San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.  HB² (my husband to the uninitiated) built a tiny observatory there some years ago simply because he could.  I love this.  Just do it.  Because you can.  That is the Hawking way.  You can if you will.   Stephen Hawking may not have visited this observatory but he will surely know that you need the purest atmosphere to observe the stars.  To find the answers he seeks.  The answers we all silenty crave.  The observatory is in the picture but you may not be able to see it.  A man like Hawking sees what we cannot see, makes sense of what we cannot make sense of, delivers it to the world in a form that from Nobel Prize Winners to young children everyone can have a piece of.  And that, if I may is pure genius.


And of course PS: Hawking is responsible for the quote in the title ‘Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free’ (‘How to Build a Time Machine’, 2010)… and that freedom is purety incarnate, surely and defines what I feel makes ME fortunate.

You can find all the other, laudible entries to the challenge ‘PURE’ right here

The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

Source: The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

The admirable and lovely Cameron more widely known as The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet has paid me a flattering compliment by interviewing me for his new series The Magnet Interviews.  Here is the result … the questions are quite brilliant, the answers the best I can muster.  Do please visit The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet if you never have – it started as the story of a man facing bariatric sleeve surgery, follows his journey both to the point of morbid obesity and to where he is now.  A strong advocate of educating the youngest to understand healthy choices, he appears regularly on radio and TV and is preparing to walk for the charity HENRY and to raise awareness of obesity issues and solutions.

Today we have a return to the questions so please allow me to bring you the Magnet Interview questions as answered by my dear darling friend Fiona of Osyth fame whilst being the creator of the wonderful Half Baked In Paradise. Fiona was one of the first people to follow me on my blog and has been a staunch supporter ever since. She is an inspiration and (if she will let me say this) my mentor. She always manages to take time to come up with ideas and is honest with her opinions so I though because of that, I thought would put her to the test with the Magnet Interviews and so here is what she had to say…..

The Magnet Interviews – Osyth

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

Early – even to my wedding. My naval officer father’s fault. But on that logic train how do you explain my mother’s latent lateness when she was the daughter of the admiral of the fleet ….

What are three positive things your friends would say about you?

I’m beautiful, talented and brilliant obviously 😉

If you were a shape, what shape would you be?

A CIRCLE – no hard edges, no complications. I wish.

If you were an animal, which one would best describe you?

A piglet. Preferably a truffle trained piglet.

Why did you want to become a blogger?

I thought it would force some discipline. I was epically wrong – I’m just as discursive as ever.

What are your top three personal interests?

Reading – reading anything. People – I love people watching (weird but true). Being in nature – walking, climbing, hiking, rowing, running – outside is better for me.

What do you do for a full time job?

I write drivel.

What type of car do you drive?

In France a funky yellow SEAT called Franck and in the US a chic cream and black Mini Cooper S that needs a name – suggestions?

Where did you go on your last holiday?

I’m permanently on holiday since quitting my corporate job but the last formal one was Russia.

When did you last go on holiday?

If it’s Russia it’s May 2014 if its really truthful the vacation started the day after my birthday in 2013.

What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash

Panic. Loudly!

If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?

Delete the lot – they’ll write back (That’s the theory and my brother actually does it). In my case it would be accompanied by vocal hysteria.

What’s your favorite film?

It’s a Wonderful Life.

What would your Desert Island Disc choices be?

1. Gorecki – Symphony No 3 ‘sorrowful songs’
2. Arvo Part – Für Alina
3. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
4. She’s Electric – Oasis
5. Sit Down Next to Me – James
6. Suddenly I see _ K T Tunstall …

3-6 are the songs for my daughters to be played at my funeral
7. Suzanne – Leonard Cohen (or preferably everything on ‘Songs Of’) …
8. How can I tell you – Cat Stevens
9. It aint you babe – Bob Dylan
10. Elgar – ‘Nimrod’

But SO much more. This is a torture … And the inevitable addition is that my girls do demand ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen to be played at my funeral…

Batman or Spiderman


What did you have for breakfast?

Bob’s Red Mill Muesli and proper English Tea – thank the Lord for Ocean State who sell Typhoo and Bob’s Red Mill at less than frightening prices!

Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind.

Warm. Not hot. That warmth you feel stealing up on you from behind, the sudden and intense warmth on your face when you lift it to the sun. Happy.

If you were asked to unload a 747 full of Jelly Beans, what would you do?

I never shirk a task so I’d do it and bathe in the beans.

What’s your favorite animated film?

Anything Disney EVER did, but overall. The favourite EVER? Right now – Pocohontas because I see animals and birds that appeared in the film. It’ll change. I never stop loving Disney but my favoured one is ever fluid.

What was the inspiration for your blog/pen name?

I was originally just Osyth (it’s actually one of my given names and I hated it as a child, embrace it now) but I needed a change to reflect the altering slant of the blog. I’m half-baked so it is too. And Paradise? It’s there if you reach out wherever in the world you are.

What happens when you get scared half to death twice…?

You jump out of your skin twice.

Why aren’t blueberries blue?

They are if you mix them with anything liquid – they bleed blue into muffin mix for example. Or porridge.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words, but why is that word it so long?

Because it’s showing off. Like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch which is a place in Wales for those who aren’t in that particularly British mode . Egos the size of a small country if you ask me. Or an indecisiveness disorder.

What was the last lie you told?

I don’t lie. Not since the conviction 😉

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

‘ Just the right combination of Englishness and Chutzpah’ … my mentor over 30 years ago,  who also invented the strap line ‘Just Do It’ Which I do and frequently curse him for the advice but the times it is right are worth the fall every time.

Would you prefer to be ugly and live to be 100 or attractive and live for 30 years?

Ugly to 100 – Bugger off all shallow fools I’m in for the long haul. and if you don’t like what you see go swivel.

Do you have any relatives in jail?


What single piece of food could you never give up?

Cheese every time and if I have to be specific Vacherin de Mont d’Or but I could eulogise for hours on the relative merits of several hundred contenders.

Who do you most admire in life?

The mother-in-law I never knew. My husband’s mother was abused and lived as the slave of a working class man. My husband was over 3 months premature in 1952 the fifth of her children. His elder sister was only 9 months older than him, therefore. When he was two years old she ran away with all the children to Kent (North West to South East) where she hid for eighteen months before returning to their home town. She lived in a council house thereafter with her children – and as each one left home she fostered more. She never ever took benefits nor handouts. She never asked for anything. She must have wanted for much. That is inspirational. My husband once remarked that ‘She had nothing.  Asked for nothing.’  Take note modern world – we still have women like Ada, men like her too. Help them to help themselves. Because the chances are far higher that they want to than that they don’t.  It is easy to turn your back but far harder to understand that you yourself, whoever you are, are only ever 2 steps from the gutter. I admire those that are within a flake of skin of the gutter and help themselves. That is the size of it. My one regret is that I will never meet Ada but when I go to her city I always visit the crematorium and leave flowers for her.

Do you spread butter on before peanut butter?

It depends. If I have butter winking seductively at me I find it hard to resist with anything… but not jelly (that’s jello my U.S friends) or ice-cream.

Would you prefer to date someone older or younger than yourself?

Older as it turns out though I did go through a reverse spiral of young and younger some years ago …. I might need to write that one myself 😉


Now that I am a high profile celebrity I need to make sure I am suitably incognito when venturing outdoors