freda_writes (freda_writes) wrote,

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A Date for your Literary Diary

Well, this isn’t quite the blog I was going to write as the week’s been full of shocking news. Events in Norway so terrible I can’t find words to comment. And poor Amy Winehouse. I can’t say I was a fan because she seemed to epitomise the unfortunate image that it’s cool to be wrecked and out of control all the time. However, there’s no question she had the most stupendous natural voice and stage presence. She also epitomised the hope that someone heart-breakingly ill could turn around and recover and go on to have a happy healthy life and amazing career. But it wasn’t to be and that’s unbearably sad.

It’s all very well for people to sneer at addicts and alcoholics (I suppose I’m thinking of my parents, the older generation) but who is perfect? For example, if I’m feeling stressed, one drink may make me feel better, but two will give me a bad head. So I stop… at one and a half. That makes me lucky, not virtuous. But what if you need 20 drinks, or more, to make the pain go away? With perfect timing our Tai Chi teacher read out the following that a friend had sent him by email…

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then, my friend, you are probably your family dog!

- “Author Unknown"


Artists who died young such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, it goes without saying, have become legendary. However, the premature deaths of musicians that hit me personally so hard that I can never shake them off are those of Sandy Denny and Kirsty McColl. Both wonderful singers who died too soon as a result of accidents. Denny in 1978 apparently from a head injury following a fall downstairs – I can still remember my shock when I heard the news because her music had been part of my life for only a few years and I couldn’t believe she was gone so soon. I remember repeatedly waking up that night with her name going through my head like a chant.


The one loss I truly can’t get over and never will was that of Kirsty MacColl. I loved her. The woman was an utter genius. She was killed by a speedboat while scuba diving in Mexico on 18th December 2000. My father had died, aged 84, on the 8th and I could not get over the fact that she was 41 yet lived only ten days longer than my dad. I miss my dad, of course, but eleven years on I’m still heart-broken about Kirsty. Why did such a horrible freak accident have to happen to her? Why her? It took me years to listen to her music again. Even now I can’t listen to her without getting choked up. I don’t think I’ve even ever told anyone this before but I’m certain there are thousands out there who feel the same, that she was unique and wonderful and still so, so missed.


What I actually set out to say was that, first, I’m not blogging much at present because I now have a deadline and I MUST finish The Grail of the Summer Stars within the next few weeks. Second, to mention THE GLASTONBURY CONFERENCE FOR THE FANTASTIC IN LITERATURE. Saturday 3rd September 2011 at The Grail Centre, 24 Chilkwell Street, Glastonbury. Speakers include Dr Liz Williams, Dr Kari Maund, Paul Weston, and members of The Write Fantastic. More info at

Oh, and the Guest of Honour is me!

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