Newsletter no.154, July 15th 2020

I don’t usually have a problem remembering to take my pills. I don’t take many and it’s either done at breakfast or when I go to bed. But when I was advised to add Vitamin D tablets to my usual routine, there was a problem. The one-a-day lot was out of stock, and so I was given some stronger ones to take every other day. Fair enough. I decided that I would take them on the uneven days in the calendar. That way, I could hardly go wrong, could I? First, third, fifth, and so on.

I can hear you laughing from here. Yes. When it came to the end of the month, I was out of step. I couldn’t remember whether I should switch to even dates, or stay the same. No, I don’t have one of those clever boxes which you fill up once a week and they tell you what you take and when. So I ground my teeth a bit – not a habit my dentist likes me to develop – and considered the problem. It took me a while to work out what I could do, which was to put a ‘D’ with a red marker pen against every other day on the calendar. Now, if I can’t remember offhand whether it’s an ‘on’ or ‘off’ day I consult the calendar and follow what it says. I also write down whether it’s this Thursday for rubbish collection or for recycling. One of my neighbours often rings to ask which it is, so I’m not the only one who gets confused about dates.

I had to consult my filing system to discover which short story should be included in this newsletter. Again, we’re out of kilter with regard to the timing. The next in the series was set in Lent looking forward to Easter and featured the eternal question, ‘What do we tell the children about God?’ Is it best to leave it so that they can make up their own minds what to believe when they’re older? What sort of example do we set within the family? There are many answers to those questions. Our friends find one solution to the question almost by accident. Is their solution the best? Anyway, if you would like to read the story, here is the link to it. And if you’re desperate for something to read, you might like to have a look at some of the other short stories about my retired friends, which I put out as an ebook many years ago under the title of Unsung Heroes.

Libraries. I have emails from America, Australia and Tasmania telling me that their libraries have mostly reopened using some kind of Click and Collect system. There are variations on the theme with some requiring more sanitisation than others, but in the main readers are able to borrow books once more. The UK government has given the go-ahead for libraries here to re-open with care, and some have. I’m told that in Leeds, for instance, half the libraries are now functioning in limited fashion. Unfortunately – and here I have to refrain from screaming my disbelief – no libraries are open in Ealing, London. None. What’s more, our local library is being handed over to local management control and goodness only knows when we will have access to books again. Hence my putting my old books out for passers-by to grab and take home. However, our local bookshop has saved my sanity by reopening – with due care and attention to our health – and friends pass books around among ourselves.

A blessing on all who keep libraries open!

Veronica Heley

Newsletter no.153, July 1st 2020

You may remember how surprised and delighted I was when a friend dropped a bar of chocolate through my door on a couple of occasions . . . and that I did eventually discover who it might have been. Several of you have expressed the wish that they, too, might be visited by a chocolate fairy. Well, this particular neighbour is a very busy lady but now that social distancing is slightly relaxed, we have arranged that she will come and sit in my garden with me one day soon, so that we can have a good old gossip. Her family is charmed by the idea of her being a chocolate fairy. I don’t think she’s going to be able to live that down any day soon!

Meanwhile, pride goes before a fall! I work hard to deliver a ‘clean’ manuscript which needs few changes. I go through each story maybe five times, allowing a week to elapse between each draft. This means less work for the editor and copy editor, which in turn keeps costs down. Now, to my horror, an observant reader has reported finding no less than six typos which have made it through to the hardback of FALSE CONCLUSION. I am mortified. I know the problem is partly due to age and changes in my eyesight, but still . . . it shouldn‘t have happened. So maybe I’ll be doing six drafts for the next book instead of five – while somehow managng to keep to the agreed delivery date.

I have been looking at a short story to send you with this newsletter. The series was originally commissioned to go out at different seasons of the year. The next one is set at Christmas and here we are in July. What to do? Well, I can’t take Christmas out of this story. I wondered if it might work to drop this particular title altogether and go on to the next but that won’t work, either, because certain things happen to our friends in this story which alter their future. I decided in the end that it’s best to let it go through. If you’d like to read it then you have been warned, and the link is here for the story called PRESENTS. The actual presents which our friends need at this time are Courage, Patience and Hospitality. If you’d like to read it, just follow this link.

As our libraries have not yet reopened in London I have been re-reading old favourites. When I finish a book and decide I don’t want to read it again, I put it out in a box on the low garden wall at the front of the house and see if anyone else would like to have a go. And then, when I’m pretending to do some gardening, people occasionally stop and tell me that they’ve enjoyed this or that. One gentleman of about my age said how delighted he was to read a Narnia book as he’d heard of them but had been the wrong age to read them when they first came out. My particular favourite at the moment is The Silver Chair. I do like Puddleglum, the Marshwriggle who, even when trapped underground, holds onto the idea of the sun and other good things in the world even if there’s no evidence now that they ever existed.

A blessing on all who write books which bring tidings of comfort and joy.

Veronica Heley