Guardians of the Galaxy (No spoilers!) and Life in General

It was Bank Holiday Monday, raining (of course) so we decided to go to the cinema. They were showing Guardians of the Galaxy 2, what could be better?

The cinema was full, but we got there in plenty of time and found our pre-booked seats. I knew it was going to be a good film right from the beginning, when a cute little tree man dances through the opening credits while a war rages around him. The film was visually pleasing, with lots of colour and pretty scenes (makers of Star Wars should take note). Lots of attractive women who were strangely coloured. It made you want to go home and paint yourself green.

After about 10 minutes, we were distracted by two elderly women entering the cinema. They carried huge boxes of popcorn and had trouble walking in the dark. They made their way down the aisle, peering along each row, stood for several minutes in the centre, then wandered out again. Perhaps they had wandered into the wrong cinema. Or maybe the cinema is haunted and they were the ghosts from a previous audience.

We then got back to the film. Really, the overwhelming impression was pretty, funny, with lots of music. I enjoyed it. Even the spaceships looked like massive sewing machines (not that I enjoy sewing, but it made a change from the normal flying saucer). There was lots of killing, but somehow it’s okay when accompanied by 50’s music.

There were a few weird storylines, which felt like they were copied from other sources, and not really developed. But to be honest, the story didn’t matter. It was a jolly sort of film, perfect for watching on a rainy bank holiday Monday.

Of course, the day after Bank Holiday was warm and sunny. I tried to brush the dog, who’s moulting like crazy. She hates it, and will stand still for about 2 seconds before running off. All the cats come to watch – I’m sure they’re laughing at me.

I also decided to plant some seeds. I like planting seeds, and am quite good at watering them and watching the seedlings grow. Then I tend to lose interest, so they don’t always make it into the garden. I’ve planted a few pots and trays and put them on the patio – well defended against the cats, who’d enjoy digging them up.

 

Now, here’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone. Next to our house is a field, which is sometimes used for crops and sometimes has animals. The farmer has recently plowed it, added lots of lime, and drilled it (which I think means he has planted seeds). Last year he grew sweetcorn. I had some seeds of my own – some sunflower seeds – so, when I was walking the dog, I planted three of them in the corner of the field. Not sure if this is allowed.

But if they grow, they will look really good, three sunflowers smiling at everyone in the lane as they drive past. Hopefully they will grow taller than the crop, so everyone will see them. I will let you know.

The ducklings have grown as big as their mother. They still have some fluff, but are growing straggly feathers now. When the feathers have grown enough for them to be able to fly, I’ll let them back on the pond. There are another couple of nests around the pond. No idea if the eggs are alive, or if the ducklings will survive should they hatch. Probably depends on whether I manage to catch them or not.

Have a good week.

Anne x

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I’ve just been sent a copy of the local paper, which features JOANNA again. The journalists in town have been very kind, my books have been mentioned several times now. I still hate seeing my photo in the newspaper, but I think it’s one of the downsides to being an author. In this one, I am desperately trying to stop the poster behind me from falling down!

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Joanna

Joanna

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Joanna sits on the bus and begins to plan. When Joanna plans, this usually means trouble for those around her. But this particular plan brings more than trouble, it results in fear and death and guilt. But not her own guilt. Joanna is a psychopath, guilt isn’t within the range of emotions she is able to feel.

Written in the first person, we learn Joanna’s story, from the initial spark of her plan, to the horrible aftermath of wrecked lives. You will view the world through Joanna’s eyes – be careful though, she might lie to you.

This is not just her story. We also watch the impact of her actions on those close to her – the woman who raised her, and Joanna’s own daughter. How does it feel to be related to a serial killer? For how long do you carry the burden of their actions? And when it comes down to it, is anyone really innocent?

Joanna

Published by The Cobweb Press
ISBN : 978-0-9954632-2-6

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Available from book shops (if it’s not in stock, they can order it for you).

If you would like a copy but don’t live in the UK, send me a message in the comments section below. I am happy to post copies to anywhere in the world, but you will need to be able to pay me in sterling (either a cheque or bank transfer). It costs £7.95 plus postage if outside the UK.

Also available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Joanna-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463220/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489068193&sr=8-1&keywords=joanna+by+anne+e+thompson

Thank you

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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So, have you watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’? As part of the whole, ‘family at home for Christmas so we ought to do something’ time, we went to the cinema. Afterwards we had dinner at Pizza Hut (even though I promised myself about ten years ago, that I would never have to eat in a Pizza Hut again.) It was actually a really fun evening. I’ll tell you about it (with a warning if you haven’t seen the film, this does contain spoilers.)

For those of you who don’t know (mainly you, Mum) ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is another film in the Harry Potter series – you know, the ones about the boy who is a wizard, who makes friends with the ginger-haired boy, and the girl who all the teenagers now fancy? Well, this film is supposed to be before all that took place, in the 1920’s, and is set in New York. I came away with very mixed feelings about it.

Firstly, it is excellent entertainment. I usually get bored in films aimed at a younger audience (the Harry Potter books and films didn’t quite do it for me if I’m honest.) This film however, I watched throughout without ever wondering how much longer before it ended. The plot was good enough, but the acting was excellent (perhaps J.K. Rowling decided experienced adult actors would make a better film and so wrote a book with only grown-ups in it. Or perhaps I am too cynical.) The special effects and scenery were all convincing, making for something of a visual treat. If you like a bit of make-believe, I expect you will love this film.

However, and this is quite a big however, there was something that left me feeling uneasy. It didn’t feel the same as the Harry Potter films, which I felt never really strayed from storybook witches and wizards. Now, I was not one of those Christians who refused to read her children ‘Hansel and Gretel’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because they contained witches. I do believe there are spiritual forces that are evil, I do believe we shouldn’t mess with that stuff, and occult practices and ‘real’ witchcraft is dangerous. I just do not happen to put the witch in Sleeping Beauty into this category. It is a story, unrelated to real life, and the witches in it are not representations of people involved in the occult. I wasn’t so comfortable with this story. With Harry Potter, I felt the message of ‘good defeating evil’ was very clear. There were witches and magic, but it was all storybook stuff, and the baddies were easy to spot, and it was all far removed from reality.

In Fantastic Beasts we were presented with the New Salem Philanthropic Society. These were humans who were against witchcraft. It all felt a bit too much like things that happened in real life. Even the name is not exactly made up. And yes, I realise that people claiming to be Christian have done some pretty terrible things (in the past and present) and I know the ‘witch hunts’ in Salem were very bad. But why bring reality, even a touch of it, into a fantasy film? What is the point being made?

There was also an execution scene. It was, I felt, not really in keeping with a children’s film. Although what actually happened wasn’t gory or gruesome, the thought of someone walking towards a death sentence is not one I would want my 12 year old thinking about.

Not that I was with 12 year olds of course. I was with my family, who enjoyed the film. Their only comment was that when the characters gave instructions to their wands, it always worked, and when they do the same with their phone: “Hello Google, what is the time?” the phone always gets it wrong: “Certainly. Phoning Grandma.”

After the film, we went next door to Pizza Hut. We used to go to Pizza Hut a lot as students. We had no money, and it was a cheap place for a ‘special meal’ when we wanted to go out. I have moved on from those times. Husband hasn’t. He went excitedly to the salad bar, to show his sons how to extend the perimeter of the salad bowl with slices of cucumber, thus enabling extra salad to be heaped into the bowl. Sons were unimpressed and pointed out that unlike in the ‘olden days’, you could visit the salad bar as many times as you wanted. I actually, was unkeen on eating any salad at all, as on our way in we had passed a small child who appeared to be massaging the lettuce.

Actually, it wasn’t too bad. If you ignored the sticky menu (a variation on a ‘taster menu’) and the sticky seat and the sticky table, everything was fine. The waitress was friendly, the pizzas were nice, and the wine went down very well. The males in the family then made a comparison table of stats showing how the price per size of pizza compared to pizza express – but I don’t think this is an obligatory activity if you choose to go with different people.

Take care,
Anne x

Counting Stars is available from Amazon to read on a tablet or Kindle. A great read, at £1.99, with 5*reviews! Go on, why not treat yourself?…..

 

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Thank you for reading.

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anneethompson.com

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Another week….

 

Have you read anything good lately? I’ve just started reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, am hooked already. It took me a few pages before I started to like it, I wouldn’t have picked it up in a bookshop, read the beginning and then bought it; but after a couple of chapters it’s pretty addictive. I started reading it because daughter recommended it. So often, I buy books because someone has said they are good. (I am really really hoping that everyone who has enjoyed reading my book has told their friends and family…..authors depend on other people to stimulate sales.)

The Girl on the Train is mainly about Rachel, a girl whose life has fallen apart. As we learn more about her, about what led to her divorce and drinking and apathy with life, it seems as if the main catalyst was not being able to have children. That is so sad. I don’t know if the author has children, but she describes in detail how it feels to be unable to have them. I have no idea how accurate it is, but one thing she describes is feelings of jealousy towards people who conceive easily, and how she will avoid places where there are likely to be young families, even leaving supermarkets if there are too many mothers and babies shopping. So sad.

One strange thing about reading The Girl on the Train, is that the author has a very similar writing style to my own. Even the genre is the same as Joanna, so I felt like I was reading my own work – I found I was proofreading rather than just enjoying the story! She even makes some of the same mistakes (so that she has a tendency to use ‘that’ when it isn’t that necessary.) Very strange. At the end of her book she lists all the people who have helped her, including her agent. Given that her book is so similar to Joanna, I am considering sending the manuscript to them for consideration.

This caused me some stress. I found the agent’s website and looked at their submission policy. As with all these agents, it just seems so rude! It lists all the things they want posted (not emailed) such as cover letter, synopsis, first few chapters. They then tell you to check carefully and send everything they have asked for, or they will recycle it without looking at it. Then they say that after they have received your (hours of) work, if they don’t want to represent you, they won’t bother to reply. My inclination is to not send them my book. If they won’t even be polite, why should they have the opportunity to make money from my hard work? Husband tells me this is silly, this is how business works, I will increase my sales through a mainstream publisher. I like the control of self-publishing. Difficult decision. Perhaps I will do both. Self-publishing is good/excellent/fun until it comes to the selling and advertising – then it gets very difficult.

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Another stress point this week has been Milly. She was limping, and when I checked her paw, she had cut it badly. Now, I know about cuts (you learn lots of first aid when you have children.) I know that if you clean the wound, smear it with savlon, and cover it, it will heal – as long as you change the dressing every day. I figured the same would work with a cat. Cats however, are less helpful at staying still. Milly does this wriggling twisting manoeuvre whilst using her back legs to shred the skin from your arm. She got away from me and disappeared. Didn’t come near me for the next two days. When I finally caught her again the cut was worse, so I mortgaged the house and went to the vet. He examined her while she lay still and peaceful in my arms (think he must have hypnotised her.) He then dried the wound with a laser, gave her an antibiotic jab and told me to keep her inside for a few days. Sounds easy. But Milly is an outside cat, she lives in the workshop with her family. She does not want to be an inside cat.

I moved her into the utility room with Louise (the cranky old indoors cat – you can imagine how well that went.) I heaped heavy sacks of cat litter in front of the cat flap, and positioned a full watering can outside, with the spout against the flap so it couldn’t be pushed open. Escape proof – I thought. Milly and Louise were both unhappy, and Molly and Midge (other two outside cats) kept prowling around, trying to find Milly. (Mandy is also an outside cat, but not very clever – I don’t think she noticed.)

The following morning I went into the utility room. No cats. They had shredded the sacks of cat litter, so that was all over the floor. Someone had moved the watering can spout, so I think they had help from outside. Milly, Molly and Midge were all missing. Only Mandy was in the workshop, looking confused.

Eventually, I found the escapee, changed the method of catflap blocking and put her back inside. The paw was now filthy, so goodness knows if it will still heal properly. After a couple of days, she got used to the heat of the house and now seems quite contented. She curls up with the dog and sleeps on the sofa…..Am thinking I might have a problem moving her back outside….

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Take care,
Anne x

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Thank you for reading.

Have you bought Hidden Faces yet? A good gift for someone who you want to make smile…

Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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Book Promo

I have just submitted the following article to an online newspaper. I thought I would share it with you too…..

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A few years ago, I was at a party enjoying a white wine, when someone said to me, “Oh, you drink!”
I was their five year old child’s school teacher, and because I spent my days reciting nursery rhymes and counting to ten, they obviously thought this continued after work too.The fact that their child’s teacher was drinking, even (horrors) slightly tipsy, was shocking!

Primary school teachers tend to not smoke and swear when at work, they don’t have sex or lose their temper. Some people think they don’t at home either.

I met similar views when growing up. My father was a Baptist minister, and growing up in a manse was a strange experience. We were seen as ‘different’, as people who didn’t behave as ‘normal’ people did. It was also assumed that my thoughts and views would be the same as my father’s. I recall giving an opinion once, and someone saying, “But your father doesn’t think that.” They were totally confused – how could I have a different point of view to my father, when he was the minister?

I began writing full time two years ago. I was invited to a lunch, and the after dinner speaker was the bestselling author Adele Parks. As she told us her story, how she loved to tell stories and write, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I have always told stories – to my children and pupils and friends – now I write them down and tell them to strangers.

When I wrote my first book, Hidden Faces, I wanted to show that people have different sides, different masks if you like. Everyone says ‘write what you know’, and I followed this advice with my first book. I wrote about being a primary school teacher, I wrote about growing up in a Baptist manse, I wrote about people having different sides to their characters, changing their behaviour to fit who they’re with.

I have now written three books, the second will be published in the Spring 2017. I am a person who likes to laugh, and that humour infiltrates my books, making the stories an easy read. I tend to write about strong women and teenaged boys, because these are the people who I know best.

Anne E. Thompson writes a weekly blog at anneethompson.com

Her first book, Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

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Book Review….

Book Review (No spoilers!)
The Night Manager by John leCarre

Now, this is quite funny. I decided to read something different. I had finished The Night Manager (review below) and I wanted to read something easy and light. Usually I read spy/crime/thrillers. I thought I would try something completely different. So, there is a woman, who uses Twitter a LOT. Honestly, her face is always on there! So, I thought, okay, she seems to have written several books, and is clearly trying very hard to market them (she has my sympathy) I will try one.

Well, then it gets to the funny bit. You see, I went on to my Twitter account, to find the link to her latest book so I could buy it and…..she had blocked me! I didn’t even know you could block people on Twitter. I am not completely sure why she did this, possibly it was a mistake, or it might be because a while ago, I posted something on Twitter and she commented. I then reposted it, and she sent me a message, complaining I had deleted her comments. I had not – at least not intentionally – I wouldn’t know how to even if I wanted to, in fact, I hadn’t even seen her comments. But my IT skills are fairly basic, so I replied, apologising and saying it was in error, not to be nasty. Perhaps she didn’t believe me. Perhaps there was another reason. But she has blocked me.

So, what to do? At first I was rather put out, decided I would buy someone else’s book. Then I decided that was silly, why should I change my mind just because I had been blocked from her Twitter feed? It might have been a mistake, or maybe she has an ill mother or some other stress in her life that I don’t know about, and had over reacted. I am not perfect myself. Sometimes I react wrongly. Sometimes I need people to cut me some slack and ignore a sharp tone or a statement that came out wrong. So, I bought her book. If I like it, I’ll write a review (if I don’t like it, I won’t. No need to write a bad review, there is enough negativity in the world.) I haven’t had time to read it yet, so watch this space…
So, on to The Night Manager.

My brother told me I should buy The Night Manager DVD. His recommendations are usually good, so I did. The DVD shows all the episodes from the television series. I didn’t even know it had been a television series (I don’t watch telly much.) So, Son 2 was home, and after dinner each evening, we sat and watched one, or sometimes two, episodes. It was brilliant (hence the rather indulgent two episodes some evenings!) A good mix of brilliant acting, a great script and that fine balance between not being confused while watching but also not being able to guess quite HOW it was going to end. Worth investing a few hours of relaxation.

When we had watched the last episode, I decided to buy the book for when we went on holiday. John leCarre is one of my favourite authors – in fact, he is the person in the world who I would most like to meet for coffee. I’ve seen him interviewed a couple of times, plus I love his writing, I think his brain is amazing and that he would make for a very interesting person to chat to. But anyway, back to the book. Although I have read quite a lot of his work, I had missed The Night Manager, so downloaded the Kindle version and read it on holiday. It did not disappoint.

I would definitely recommend that you watch the televised version first, and then read the book. The characters in the drama are excellent, and when I read the book, I could still hear their voices in my head. Even though one of the characters actually changes gender between the telly version and the book, it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment at all. In fact, a lot about the book was different. There are huge differences in plot, places and finale. But the essence of the characters and the main themes in the story, remain true in both.

At the end of the book, there is a short conclusion by John leCarre. He also comments on the differences, saying that when he heard they were going to change so much in the filmed version, his thought was to tell them to “write your own bloody book”. I’m so glad he didn’t, that he was wise enough to trust the people who made the televised version. We can enjoy both of them.

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Amazon link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Manager-John-Carré/dp/0340597658/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1474219070&sr=8-5&keywords=the+night+manager

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Thank you for reading.

If you enjoy good books, why not try Hidden Faces?

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474385833&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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Next week I write about our church, which also tends to have things go unexpectedly wrong.

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Star Wars Review by An Uninitiated…

I’ve never watched a Star Wars film. Ever. Until yesterday, when I went to see Episode 7, The Force Awakens. As none of my family have been particularly besotted by it, I actually knew nothing of the story either. So, would I understand the plot? Would I be captivated by the story? Wowed by the special effects? Here’s how my Star Wars initiation went:

I watched the film at the cinema with friends who had all seen at least some other Episodes. I instructed them to not explain the story to me, I wanted to see how much I understood on my own. (Risky strategy as asking for explanations during films is pretty standard for me at the best of times.) Being at the cinema was an important element – I guessed from sighs and general audience reaction when a character was well known.

The film began with a written explanation. We were introduced to a character, Luke Skywalker. Not, I felt, the most original of names. If I was writing a film and suggested the space man was to be called Ben Moonhopper or Peter Starjumper, I think it would be rejected. Husband was not receptive to this pearl of wisdom.

We then saw what appeared to be giant Playmobil men in a spaceship. I always enjoyed my children playing with Playmobil, so could relate to the decision to include them in a film. They were all white and all identical, which was somewhat confusing until one helpfully put a bloody handprint on his head, thus differentiating himself from the others.

Another character was a giant marble with a sliding head who made squeaky farting noises. The audience seemed to warm to him.

There were lots of people in tatty clothes. I did feel there was a mismatch between the technology needed to produce spaceships and intelligent robots and the technology used in clothing manufacturing. Perhaps it was a fashion statement.

We then met an actor who I didn’t recognise, who had Rufus Sewell eyes (good for acting tension, fear and discomfort during torture scenes. Not someone you would leave to care for small children.)

One of the Playmobil white men removed his helmet, which was a surprise. There was a man inside. He was rather sweaty so I’m thinking the design of Playmobil suits was perhaps not a good one for general use. Also not sure how one would launder them. Husband told me this was irrelevant and would I please be quiet and just watch film. In fact, all the Playmobil men had real people inside them. I am not sure why they wanted to look identical. It would be good to wear on the school run when you had just rolled out of bed.

The next character we met was a girl (dressed in bandages – I really did not get the costume ideas.) She bought a powder that she could add to water and heat and it bubbled up into something that looked like bread. This was intensely interesting. I would LOVE cooking dinners to be that easy.

Although the clothes were rubbish, all the hairstyles were very complicated. Maybe costume budget got used up on hairspray. And sand – there was a lot of sand.

The girl who was the clever cook could also speak lots of languages, including ‘machine’. As well as American and Scottish (particularly tricky one I find.)

The film had lots of machines. Lots of loud wind instrument music (actually, the music throughout was excellent. Well done Mr Williams.) There was lots of sand. Lots of explosions. Lots of props that I recognised from toyshops and fast-food giveaways over the last forty years. There was some good dry humour, some impressive chase scenes and a lot of hair spray.

I was then completely confused when Indiana Jones turned up. Very unexpected. He still has very good hair (which is essential for a Star Wars actor.) No hat or whip but still wore a leather jacket. Another actor also pointed out the jacket. He is a very good actor, I warmed to his character immediately (perhaps because he was the only one I recognised.) Actually, connecting with the characters was something I found difficult. I never felt like I knew them, so didn’t really care if they got blown up. He arrived with a giant teddy/extremely hairy man who had a speech disorder. I never really understood if he came from a planet of hairy beings, was a pet or they were just being inventive with costume ideas.

For most of the film the scenery was fairly stark. There were plants in one bit, when they turned up at a futuristic Hogwarts but mostly it was machines and sand. It didn’t look a very comfortable place to live.

There was enough explanation for me to mostly follow what was happening, though some of the story only made sense if you have seen previous episodes. I knew when a character from a previous film had popped up by the audience reaction and I could tell when something important was happening because the music changed from wind instruments to strings, but there weren’t many clues for the uninitiated in the script. I also got confused by what was spaceship and what was planet. I would see a character enter what was clearly a spacecraft, then when they left it they were in a snow covered forest on a planet.

The plot followed the same basic theme of most other films : Good fighting Evil. There was an added element of The Force, which I never quite got to grips with. For most of the film I thought this was some kind of power that the evil chaps had but then later the good characters said, “May the force be with you.” I have heard this phrase quoted on television so I knew it was famous – I still have absolutely no idea what it means.

The film was well made, had some good special effects, lots of action, some clearly sad bits and happy bits. However, if you have not seen other episodes, there was no real connection and the emotion passed you by. I would say, if you are the other person in the world who has never seen a Star Wars film, watch some of the others first. This one did not really stand alone. You kind of HAVE to watch it because everyone else will but I don’t think it was ever intended to be watched in isolation. Either that or take a book to read……

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Thank you for reading.

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Another article by Anne E Thompson:
https://anneethompson.com/christian-tearfund-materials-and-poems/the-world-was-dark/
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