Naming Names, Savant and Prom Queen

Naming Names, Savant and Prom Queen
The jacket pics I designed for my completed novels

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated for a blogger award.
I've been nominated for one of these!

How cool is that?

Not before time, and well-deserved, obviously. Smiles.

Seriously, though, I’m very, very chuffed and a little overwhelmed.

The Liebster is a lovely idea. One blogger nominates others and so it goes, around and around. Potentially, I suppose, we could all end up with awards. That isn’t the point.

The point is to celebrate and encourage. The point is to show our enthusiasm for one another, and our appreciation.

I’m particularly pleased to have been nominated by Anne Goodwin.

Anne and I have never met, but half-a-dozen weeks ago, or so, I got wind of a hashtag for Twitter. I can highly recommend it to other women who write and blog. It is #wwwblogs for Women Writers Wednesday Blogs. Every Wednesday I hashtag my blogplugs on Twitter this way, and I check out the blogs with the hashtag. If you’re a woman and you blog, you should join us. There’s a lovely, growing community of women writers who blog, talking about all sorts of fascinating things. 

Anne is one of them.

I check out her blog on reading and writing regularly, and I retweet it. She talks sense. She’s engaged and thoughtful, often quite considered and sometimes funny. Her blog is quite different from mine, but I always enjoy it and often learn something from it. Reading it on Wednesdays is a pleasure.

I was very pleased when she was nominated for the Liebster, and surprised and delighted when she nominated me in her ten picks. I also had the pleasure of reading the blogs of her other nine nominees.

You begin to see how this works!

Yes, of course it’s a chain letter, and we were all warned against them when we were kids, but it’s also utterly benign. To my nominees I would say do it, or don’t do it. The choice is yours. Have some fun.

One of the things recipients of the nomination are supposed to do is provide 11 random facts about themselves, so here are mine:

  1. This is my 549th blog in a little over 2 years.
  2. I don’t imbibe caffeine... It doesn’t like me, so my snarks are fueled with real snark, no added stimulants.
  3. I have known the husband for 32 years, which is my entire adult life.
  4. I usually blog sitting in bed.
  5. I do not censor my thoughts on the blog. I probably should.
  6. I never delete a comment, except for spam, obviously, nor have I created any hurdles to commenting, including moderating.
  7. I intended to blog about writing, but other things took over and now I blog indiscriminately about whatever is on my mind.
  8. Ian Rankin once read a blog I wrote. We shared an office for a couple of years in the eighties.
  9. I have something else in common with Anne Goodwin; we were both shortlisted for the Mslexia novel writing competition, me in the first and her in the second.
  10. I still have an AOL e-mail address, and now tech people think it’s very chic and retro.
  11. Sometimes, I’m a ghost-writer.

There are other things to do for the award.

Anne set a raft of questions for me to answer and blog about, which I'm going to have to give some thought to, and I’ve also got to decide on some blogs that I think are worthy of nomination, so look out for at least two more posts about the award.

This is going to be fun.

In the meantime... Go Me!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Fifteen Minutes of Fame...

... Or should that be fifteen seconds?

The dort, captured mid-dance move
You should all know by now how proud I am of the dort. She’s a little marvel. She’s also a bit of a talent. Some of you might have seen the occasional video that I’ve posted of her and her chums dancing. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. If you haven't, seen them that is, there's a little treat at the end of this blog.

Talent shows have become a bit of an obsession with the British public over the past decade. They’ve become a bit of an obsession with television producers too, not least, I suspect, because they’re not hugely expensive to produce: none of the participants are famous... Yet! No one’s getting paid, at least, not the eponymous talent.

I’m ambivalent about talent shows. At worst they can turn into freak shows. At worst they can thrust into the spotlight poor unsuspecting, ill-prepared individuals. It is better, perhaps, to hope that spotlight burns out quickly. It is better, perhaps, to acknowledge that, for some of those unsuspecting, ill-prepared individuals fifteen minutes of fame is more than enough... It’s all most of them can manage to cope with.

There have, of course, been some wonderful surprises and some deserving winners. Will Young was always going to have a career, I think, and Leona Lewis too, and, for all the controversy, I suspect that Susan Boyle is better looked after now than before she embarked on her singing career. Who knows?

There have, of course, been some utterly priceless moments on some of these shows, some hilarious moments, and some enthralling ones, and, honestly, I’ve been sitting on my sofa for a few of them. Most, I’ve caught later on YouTube.

Although not a big fan of early audition rounds, I did take a look at the dort’s friend and his band Kingsland Road when they made a bit of a splash on the X-Factor last year. I even wrote about him in this blog.

Britain’s Got Talent is about to be broadcast on the tv again. The audition shows will go out from Saturday 12th at 7-15pm on ITV. That's tomorrow!

“Now why?” I hear you ask, “is she plugging a tv show... She doesn’t do that. She doesn’t even watch the telly.”

Well, here’s why:

Several weeks ago, the husband and I dropped the dort off outside a big theatre in Birmingham to join her chums in one of her dance crews to queue up to audition for Britain’s Got Talent. They were pretty excited. They were well-prepared and well-rehearsed, and they were ready to give it their best shot.

Good for them!

The worst that could happen is that they got to see how the whole thing works. The worst that could happen is they got to find out what it’s like to queue for hours, to keep their bodies warm and supple and their energy high, to listen to tv producers, to be pushed from pillar to post, to sit about for hours on end waiting for things to happen, and to face rejection and failure. 

The dort is at dance college, and her thing is commercial dance, so, if she makes it as a performer there’s a good chance she’ll spend time in tv studios. She might even end up being a backing dancer on a tv talent show one day... Who knows?

Experience is a good thing.

Getting to dance with the crew on a stage with an audience is always intoxicating. She loves it. They all love it. That’s why they do it!

All I know about any of it is that I left her outside a theatre in Birmingham on a cold, sunny day with a bunch of her smiling mates.

I don’t know whether they’re expecting to be on the show or not. I don’t know whether they’ll be told if they’ll be on a show, and if so which show... I guess we’ll all have to wait and see.

They might be lucky enough to have their fifteen minutes of fame... or, I suppose three minutes, or ninety seconds, or however long the dance routine was that they planned to perform. Or, they might get fifteen seconds of fame in a compilation section Do they even have those on BGT? I'm honestly not sure. They might not see their act on screen at all. Hell I don't even know if everyone who shows up goes in front of the judges.

Despite all of that, I’m going to urge all you fans of tv talent shows to check out Britain's Got Talent this year. I’m going to urge you all to watch out for a dance crew and for the dort, and, if you see her, feel free to scream encouragement at her down your telly, because that’s what I’ll be doing. 

And... You know and I know that by the magic of television... and time warp stuff... she’ll be able to hear us!

Here's that treat I promised. The dort is the first girl standing in the dungarees with the curly blonde hair, but they're all fabulous!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

My own personal Water-Loo – pun intended

I was just perusing my standby list of blog topics for something to write about. I’ve been busy, so I haven’t written anything for a couple of days, and, because I haven’t written anything for a couple of days my blog-head has lost its mojo.

I keep a standby list of blog topics that I add to on days when I have any number of ideas for things to write about, knowing that there will be days when nothing comes readily to mind.

Sadly, blogs are so topical, often, or at least so immediate to me, that the things on the list generally seem dull or old-hat by the time I come to want them.

I was, however, reminded of a note I put on my phone on Tuesday night of a blog that I thought I might write.

Coincidentally, I was also led, yesterday, to this blog by Anne Goodwin, written last November, but apposite.

On Tuesday night, I thought it would be a good idea to write about toilets. When I came to do it, there being nothing on my standby list that interested me, I stopped in my tracks.

Seriously, do any of you, my fair readers, want to read my thoughts on loos? I’m thinking, probably not. I did, as it happens, enjoy reading Anne’s thoughts, so, despite mine being of another stripe entirely, I decided to do it anyway.

The everyday comfort of the flush toilet is a relatively modern phenomenon, and remains a first World one, and yet, some of us still manage to find ways to torture ourselves over them.

I am aware of my limitations when it comes to my mental processes. I freely admit them, here, regularly.

I have never thought of myself as someone who suffers from OCD.

I have habits and patterns, and I am particular about how the laundry is done and how it’s hung on the washing line, for example. The same applies to ironing and folding laundry. I also like the washing-up to be arranged on the draining board in a certain fashion. There is a right way to prepare a fresh pepper or a mango, and it troubles me to watch someone else do it any other way.

I don’t wash my hands at every opportunity or use a great deal of hand sanitiser, or any hand sanitiser for that matter. I don’t turn lights on and off on entering a room, or check, over and over again that doors are locked. OCD is a horrible, serious battle for those who suffer from it.

On Tuesday, I found myself at Victoria railway station in London. I have found myself passing through it at very regular intervals of late. On Tuesday, as I walked through the turnstile of the bathroom, veered right into the women’s section and strode to the second door from the right on the end, I almost stopped myself... Almost.

I realised that I had taken to using the same cubicle at every visit. More than that, I realised that I always use the bathroom at my local station ten minutes before the train is due at the platform, and on arriving at Victoria I always use the bathroom before getting in a taxi, and always the same cubicle.

On our regular visits to the dort in Leicester, we always stop at the Cambridge services and I always use the same cubicle... Oh dear... It is also the furthest from the door on the right hand side, but not the end cubicle.

What on Earth is going on with me?

I am probably sharing much too much when I tell you that I avoid using downstairs facilities in private homes, including my own. They give me shy bladder syndrome. It doesn’t matter how neatly tucked away they are, or how far from the public rooms, they are simply not private enough. 

And the hotel I went to an event in with the frosted glass cubicle doors... I can’t begin to tell you!

I was one of five children, so whenever we went out as a family, we were lined up to go to the loo. It makes perfect sense... of course it does. But, as long as I live, I won’t be able to leave the house, or any building I’m staying in, without having a pee. I probably should have grown out of the habit, but I haven’t and I doubt I ever will.

The water closet is a wonderful invention, although in the modern age I can’t help thinking that it might have been better if the composting toilet hadn’t been invented first and become the standard by which all toilets were judged... Perhaps in the future.

This wonderful invention has left many of us with any number of insecurities, though, particularly in its public incarnation: cubicles without working locks, or with broken seats; wiping the seat before sitting on it... I know women who actually hover; empty loo roll holders (I personally can’t stand it when the tail of the loo roll is hanging against the wall instead of hanging freely, and I regularly turn loo rolls around – and yes I know this is tragic); and, horror of horrors, the public loo that will not flush when there’s a long queue of women waiting to go after you.

Then there is the loo that is simply impossible to use.

We had a long meeting in London on Tuesday and came home late after quite a lot to drink, some of it alcoholic. Despite using the public loos at Victoria station before embarking on my journey, I found that I needed to pee about half an hour from home. The husband beat me to it. On his return from the loo I said it was my turn. He said he wouldn’t have used it except... you know... he had a penis. I stayed put and waited it out.

The flush toilet is a wonderful thing, and I can’t help thinking of all those people worldwide who don’t have them, and I can't help realising that we are more than a little privileged to know that we can rely on them... If only all of us had the good sense to be able to rely on all of them all of the time.

That’s human nature, I suppose... At least that’s this human’s nature.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

My Life is Harder than Your Life

It is! I promise you!

You don’t believe me? Then walk a mile in my shoes.

Here’s the problem with that: Twenty minutes later you’ll be a  mile away and you’ll have my shoes, and there’s a good chance neither one of us will be any better off.

It’s all nonsense.

This is by way of saying that people sometimes say stupid things, and when they’re famous people and they say those things out loud to journalists, they leave themselves wide open to mockery.

Gwyneth Paltrow a couple of weeks ago on Twitter
Gwyneth Paltrow gave a press interview last weekend in which she said that her life was harder than that of other working mothers because she didn’t have a 9 to 5 job, and being on set fourteen hours a day made having routines difficult. Gwyneth Paltrow had a bit of a moan, before going home to the compound she has bought so that she and Chris Martin can maintain their family while living separately since their ‘conscious uncoupling’.

For all her looks, fame, money, jet-setting lifestyle, I wouldn’t swap places with Gwyneth Paltrow. I wouldn’t walk a mile in her shoes. They wouldn’t fit. They would be uncomfortable, painful even, and a mile is a bloody long way to walk in ill-fitting shoes.

She can call it a ‘conscious uncoupling’, but every divorce is miserable. We can envy her beauty, but who wants the scrutiny of the paparazzi or the disappointment of being an aging beautiful woman, or the threat of becoming irrelevant because you’re an aging beautiful woman.

Everybody’s life is hard.

We all have good days and we all have bad days. But we all share the same condition. We are all human. We all have to deal with the hands we are dealt and we all do it the only way we can. Yes, we get to make choices, but based on what?

Most of the choices we make are based on our personalities.

Most of what we do is based on the nature of who we are.

There’s a certain amount we can do to control that, some of the time. We can learn to be our best selves, but we are still ourselves.

Privilege is no guarantee against unhappiness, nor for that matter is it a guarantee against stupidity.

Celebrities are in the spotlight so much, so often, with our twenty-four hour rolling media that they’re going to make a mess of things once in a while, and they're going to make arses of themselves. Thank heavens that you and I get to make arses of ourselves in private for the most part. If Gwyneth Paltrow had made this statement to one of her friends, said friend would, no doubt, have nodded in sage agreement, because her friends move in the same circles that she does.

I could turn to one of my friends and say, “That Gwyneth Paltrow, she’s a bitch, isn’t she? What the hell does she know about having a tough life? Has she ever tried finding affordable childcare? When was the last time she struggled to pay the electric bill?” No doubt my statement would be met with the same sort of acceptance, because of our shared experiences.

My life isn’t lived in front of the World, and my words aren’t recorded by the media, and no one is judging me... OK, plenty of people are judging me, but most of them know me, and one or two of them might have a point. For the most part, they also like me.

Gwyneth Paltrow says something as daft and unguarded as this, and we stop liking her, because our liking for her in the first place wasn’t based on any actual knowledge of her character.

It’s all nonsense.

My life is harder than your life.

No it isn’t. 

Life is hard. Every life is hard.

We should all remember that, and try to be kinder to one another.

We don’t always manage it of course.

I know I don’t.

On the other hand, to all you single working women struggling to find good, affordable childcare, and trying to scrape the money together for those big winter fuel bills, if it makes life any better, feel free to have a rant about any celebrity you like, especially if your uncoupling wasn’t so much ‘conscious’ as a miserable bloodbath.

Friday, 4 April 2014

38 Degrees: an Avalanche of Irony

My attention was drawn, yesterday, to a petition doing the rounds on FaceBook. You are all, no doubt, aware of It is a web vehicle for posting petitions and getting them noticed and signed. It’s a lot easier than going door-to-door or standing on street corners. Its slogan is People - Power - Change. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The link on FaceBook was on a subject that I’m interested in, because it strikes a chord with the feminist in me. It went like this:

No to Cybersexism - don’t let them win on

Women are going silent online to avoid abuse and threats, which can easily move over into their other, more physical realities, resulting in depression, rape, suicide and more. We...

I clicked on the link. Like I said, this sort of thing interests me. It interested me when I wrote this blog about the abuse that Caroline Criado-Perez took on Twitter when she campaigned for a woman to appear on the new designs for our paper currency. It still interested me when I wrote this blog about CC-P retiring her Twitter account.

Having clicked on the link, I got this notice:

This petition has been disabled because of inappropriate content

I cannot comment on the content of the petition because I wasn’t able to read it. An Oxford professor of my acquaintance, a woman that I would like to call my friend, and whom I admire greatly, signed the petition and shared the link. I trust her judgement. As I understand it, the petition was worded strongly, but why wouldn’t it be? A petition on this subject might well be instructive in pointing out some very unpalatable possibilities... facts, even. 

Cybersexism is designed to silence women. It is designed to intimidate women, to quiet them down, to curb their influence on each other, on men and on the World.

It is hugely ironic and massively disappointing to me that a petition to prevent the silencing of women has, effectively, been silenced.
I’m not even sure I have the words to express how horrible this is.

Remember that slogan: People - Power - Change.

In this petition women along with the men who support them, all of them people set out to empower themselves to change the single biggest shared environment on Earth, to change attitudes, to begin to eradicate bullying against half of its population. 

Someone at the site that bears the slogan People - Power - Change decided that these were not the people who should be empowered to change this aspect of the internet. Someone at the site that bears the slogan People - Power - Change decided to censor these women and the men who support their cause for change, to stop cybersexism. This surely is one form of the cybersexism that this group of disempowered people is trying to change!

How many more ways can I say this?

How wrong does this sound to you? left a helpful note beneath the cancellation notice it reads:

If you created this petition, you can sign into the site to access your dashboard, learn more, and fix this issue.

I wonder how many victims of cybersexism would have had an issue with the original petition. I wonder how many feminists would have had an issue with it. 

I wonder when straight talking women will stop seeming like such a threat. We aren’t the threat, we’re the promise of a better future.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Nanny State and its Seven Portions

The BBC reports on
7 Portions
The latest news on diet is that we should actually be eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day... except that some people are suggesting that all those portions should comprise entirely of vegetables, because anyone eating seven portions of fruit a day is probably consuming far too much sugar.

Of course, we already know that we’re only allowed fourteen or twenty-one units of alcohol per week, depending on whether we’re a man or a woman. Some suggest three eggs a week is a good limit, but that three portions of oily fish is a minimum, except there are others who worry about water pollution, and... is it mercury? Then there’s the red meat debate. How much is too much? A glass of red wine a day is a good thing, but caffeine is bad and taurine is worse. Then there’s salt. How often are we warned about salt?

Burnt toast and crisp bacon will give you cancer, not to mention tomato skins, and what about battery chickens and GM crops?

What about walking ten thousand steps a day or getting three thirty-minute workouts a week?

What about my BMI? What about yours?

I’m all for good advice about healthy living, but my grandparents had none of these rules. All of my grandparents lived long into their eighties, except for my grandmother who died of cancer in her seventies. The women in her family generally did. We know now that there’s a genetic component to that.

The difference was, they didn’t need rules about eating, because they ate real food. By which I mean that they had routines for eating three meals a day, there was no such thing as a snack, and none of their food was bought ready prepared.

Like a lot of women, I’ve had all sorts of issues with food since I was a kid. The bottom line is, though, that I live a pretty sedentary life, and I don’t actually need a lot of calories. I like food and I like it to be good. I’ve thrown away all the official rulebooks. I’m going to die one of these days, but while I’m here, I’m going to live.

I think there are better rules to live by, and I do like rules and routines, so, for what it’s worth, here are some that suit me. I realise that they might not suit you, but some of these come from wise old sources. To begin with it might be worth saying that my daily routine is to eat one meal of one course, but that I eat what I fancy. I listen to my body. Obviously there are days when I eat more than one meal, and meals when I eat more than one course. Most people want to eat more often than that every day, obviously, but that’s what I do. The rest is as follows.

     1. Eat more things with 0 legs and 1 leg (eggs, fish plants) than you eat with two legs or four legs, and eat nothing with three legs unless it’s your husband.

Sound advice, but not too prescriptive. This was given to me by my grandmother, but I think it rings true in the modern era and steers me clear of mass produced meat and GM foods.

     2. Eat no more in one sitting than you can comfortably hold in your two cupped hands.

Smaller people, smaller portions... stands to reason for weight control. Also works well for people who like to eat more often.

     3. Never eat standing up or moving around.

Prevents snacking. If you’re hungry enough to eat, you’re hungry enough to take time to make a meal of it.

     4. Try not to eat alone, but never eat in company you don’t like.

Another one from my grandmother. A holistic approach to our bodies isn’t a bad thing. Lots of people eat for comfort. Learning not to eat when you’re uncomfortable can begin to break that cycle. (If I’m eating alone I usually put music on rather than the tv.)

     5. If you can’t visualise an ingredient in its natural state, don’t eat it. 

This one dramatically cuts down on the ready prepared food you’ll eat, or will help you make better choices.

     6. If an animal is worth killing it’s worth eating all of it.

There’s the grandmother again. People are often shy of this one, but offal is higher in nutrients and lower in fats than a lot of muscle meat, and it’s delicious.

     7. Eat nothing white.

For all sensible purposes there is no white food in nature. Ok... cauliflowers... let’s call them green. Milk from cows was never meant for humans, but we all use it all the time. I’m talking about white flour and white sugar. Cut them out and you’ll cut out a huge amount of fat with them. It’s fine, no one sticks to this one, which is why we have rule number 8.

     8. Home make all your own junk food.

You’ll know what’s in it, there won’t be any preservatives and you’ll have burnt some calories in the making. There’s a nice sense of satisfaction from cooking, and the end results will be far superior to anything you can buy. Homemade hamburgers made from good steak are practically a delicacy in our house, as is the dort’s world class carrot cake.

     9. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognise it, it probably isn’t food.

I used this principle on my children when they were small, so they did have chocolate buttons, but not Haribou, and they did have Robinson’s barley water, but not Coke. The same applies to choosing the local fish and chip shop over MacDonalds, for me at least.

     10. A little bit of something wonderful is always more exciting than a lot of something bland.

Give me a couple of olives or a spoonful of caviar over a two day old loaf of shop bought white bread any day of the week.

So, there you have it. 

Now, go away and do whatever you please, and when that survey comes around or when your doctor asks the tough questions, do what everyone else does and fib about how much alcohol you drink and how much fruit and veg you eat. 

Me? I tell my doctor the truth. I’m going to die one day, but, in the meantime, I’m going to live a little.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ted Hughes and the not-so-official biography

The Guardian Article
Even for those of us who never studied Ted Hughes, we must all, surely, be familiar with his name, and probably with one or two details of his life.

Ted Hughes was Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. He was also famously married to the American poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide in 1963.

I first read his poems when I was in my teens. His nature poems were on the curriculum. I imagine they still are, and if not, they ought to be.

Ted Hughes was, from time to time, a controversial figure, and, even long after his death a new controversy has emerged.

I’ve now read two articles concerning his latest biography, one in the Sunday Times and another in the Guardian, and I am baffled.

Professor Jonathan Bate of Oxford University began researching a new biography of Ted Hughes in 2010. He was given full access to Hughes’s journals, diaries and unpublished poems to complete the work.

So far, so good.

Hughes’s archive was sold to the British Library in 2008 for half a million pounds.

And here’s my problem.

The British Library is a national institution, it is the national library and it is publicly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Hughes’s archive was bought with public money. However, and this is where I have a problem, it is apparently common practice for a writer's estate to continue to control the copyright on an archive. Basically, as far as I can tell, The British Library, or any institution, only pays to house, store and maintain the archive on an estate’s behalf, while having no power to control its use. The British Library only owns the physical archive not the intellectual property.

After nearly four years working on his book, which, although he had permission to use the material, is not an authorised biography, Professor Bate has now had that permission rescinded by Ted Hughes’s widow.

Clearly whatever form of contract Bate had to use the material did not include a clause that denied the estate's right to withdraw it's permission at any point.

Carol Hughes is within her rights to do this. And I would not argue with the rights of any widow to do as she sees fit with her husband’s memory.

I do question why she would give permission in the first instance only to take it back four years down the line. I do question why she would waste Bate’s time. She knows his standing in the academic community. What has changed?

Professor Bate has been left with four years of work that is hugely compromised since he cannot now quote any of the material he has seen. Neither can he ‘unsee’ it. His original book deal with Faber has been cancelled.

As I understand it from the Guardian article, Jonathan Bate still plans to produce a book and is in talks with Harper Collins. I hope the book is a success, but I feel that he has been cheated. More than that, I feel that the academic community has been cheated. I feel that we have all been cheated.

And this is not the first time Carol Hughes has taken this action. Mark Wormald, an English don at Cambridge had permission rescinded to quote from Hughes’s fishing diaries for his book about the poet.

Ted Hughes was a great poet who left a huge legacy. His life informed his work, and he left a considerable archive.

I know a lot of writers and artists, and they are very various in their practices. Of course, I don’t know anyone of Hughes’s calibre, but I think the principle applies.

Some creators keep everything. Some keep nothing. Some compartmentalise, some do not. I know an artist who simply doesn’t want anything to be seen except for finished work and destroys every sketch and every note once an exhibition is ready. She will leave no archive. That is her intention, her choice and her right.

I’m a very open, very private person.

I realise what a contradiction that is. I expose myself almost daily in my blog, talking freely about whatever’s on my mind, but I also regularly purge. There are things that I have written down and subsequently burned or deleted from my computer. They have never and will never see the light of day. I clear my internet history every day and defrag regularly.

I doubt anyone will ever want my archive, but if they ever do, they can have it, because my secrets will die with me.

The husband keeps everything. That’s his choice.

Here’s the thing, though. I know that the husband keeps everything, and, knowing that, I’d have to ask myself the question whether I’d be willing to sell his archive, lock stock and smoking barrels to any institution or for that matter to any individual, ever, without knowing what might be in that archive. And how could I possibly know without turning every leaf? The fact is, I couldn’t know.

I strongly suspect Carol Hughes doesn’t know what’s in Ted Hughes’s archive, either. She took a risk, a half a million pound risk. But, and it’s the but I was worried about at the start of this post... But, she had insurance.

These articles have left us all wondering what Jonathan Bate found out that Carol Hughes doesn’t want the World to know about her husband. 

It’s a great pity. It’s a great pity, because it leaves me feeling rather sad and sorry for Carol Hughes. If there is something, whatever it is, she now has to face the pain it will no doubt cause her. She might have been better off letting sleeping dogs lie, except that she took the money, and left it to strangers to turn every leaf. 

I’m not sure any amount of money would be worth finding out something new and difficult about the man I loved so long after he was already in his grave.