Random Choirs


Random Choirs

One thing I miss, now my children are all grown up, are the school concerts and choirs—well the ones from when they were older anyway (I do not, even slightly, miss the cello concerts of 5 year olds, when I spent an hour hearing all my favourite songs being massacred). So, when Bea suggested I might like to go up to the Royal Academy to hear her work-choir sing, I was excited to attend.

It was a lovely sunny evening, and Bea managed to find me a seat right at the front, and someone kindly bought me a glass of white wine, so things were pretty perfect from the start. We sat in the courtyard of the Royal Academy (beneath what look like giant zombies, but we’ll brush over that weirdness). The evening was a variety of choirs, from a variety of workplaces, who took it in turns to sing 3 songs each. There were choirs from UBS, and Channel 4, and The Telegraph, and a London council, amongst others. Apparently, there are musical people, who go around, and teach choirs at all these businesses. Now that must be a fun job!

It was unusual to be watching amateurs sing—usually I am either watching children, or professionals. These people fell into two categories. There were those who were happy performing, and they focussed on the music, moving slightly as they sang, making eye-contact, and smiling. Then there were the others, those who clearly were not too excited at the thought of singing in public. I guess that they loved singing, but going to choir practise after work and singing with your work colleagues, is very different to then performing to a whole bunch of people who you don’t know. They looked distinctly worried—they stared at the conductor the entire time, and stood as still as statues, while singing. They also, where possible, huddled at the back. I decided that I had a lot of respect for these people, it is very brave to sing in public.

The choirs wore a variety of clothes. The UBS choir had tried to coordinate outfits, with most people managing to wear black and white, though the odd individual managed to sort of keep to the rule but still look different (reminded me of school days again). Other choirs were completely random.

There were three different people who conducted. They were incredibly enthusiastic, and tended to have very wiggly bottoms, which gave you something to watch if you were bored. They were accompanied by a brilliant pianist on a keyboard, who even managed to continue playing when all his music blew away.

Another bit of added entertainment were the children. There was the little boy on his Dad’s lap, who was obviously watching his Mum and who sang every song along with the choir (and his Mum was easy to spot, because she basically sang directly to him the whole time, which I found very touching). Then there was the three-year-old who I’m guessing recently started ballet, who found a space at the front and treated us all to a wonderful impromptu dance, as lost in her own world, she responded to the singing. There was also a toddler, who was quite determined that he was going to get onto the stage, and was almost crushed several times when he stood behind the wiggly-bottomed conductor (always fun to see other people not managing to control their children properly).

An unwelcome distraction, which annoyed me intensely, were the two women who stood right at the front (next to me) and then had a chat in very loud voices. I was itching to complain, but knew my family would be cross with me, so I photographed them instead. (But have since decided that I should not put the picture on here, as it’s easy to make enemies, and harder to repair damage afterwards—but they were very rude.)

Son 2 and Husband met us after work, and we all had dinner before coming home. What a lovely evening.

I hope you have some nice treats this week too.

If you enjoy reading about families, you will love my new book, Ploughing Through Rainbows—why not buy a copy? Set on a farm, it’s full of humour, but also shows the tensions that arise when adult sons make unexpected choices. Susan and Tom raise beef cattle, and have to cope when one son decides to be vegetarian. Another son gets into debt, and then Ben, the youngest, tells them that he is gay…

It’s available from Amazon,  link below:

UK link

US link

India link

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading.
You can follow my blog at:
anneethompson.com

There’s No End-Date to Parenting…


Sometimes, it can feel like you spend ten years teaching your child to be independent, and then twenty years wishing that you hadn’t! When your children are young, you long for them to be strong-minded, independent people who don’t need you anymore. But then when they are adults, and start to make their own decisions about how they will live, that can bring a whole different set of problems.

Meet Susan and Tom. They are farmers raising beef cattle, and their four sons are independent adults. But then they start to make life-choices that their parents find challenging, and Susan and Tom begin to wonder what their own role should be. One son announces he is a vegetarian, one son gets into debt, one is unfaithful and then one son tells them that he is gay.

Before writing the book, I spent a lot of time listening. I listened to farmers, and learnt what it means to raise cattle.

I also listened to parents who had learnt their children were gay, and to gay men and women who are discovering what that means in today’s society. One of the groups that finds this most challenging is the church, and so I also spent time listening to what people in the church think and feel. One aspect that came out (excuse the pun) very strongly, is that sometimes, neither side of the traditional Christian viewpoint seem to actually understand how the other side feels. It seemed to me that there was a lot of talking, of proclaiming of views, and very little listening—because of all other issues, this seems to be the most emotive.

 I wanted to write a ‘nice’ book—something happy that my readers would enjoy (after a few years of learning about, and writing novels about, psychopaths, I still find that my easy-read fun novel about an infant school is the one that people want to buy a second copy of, for their friends). Writing a funny book set on a farm seemed like a good idea. Introducing potentially inflammatory issues was a little trickier. I hope I have achieved a good balance and produced a book which will make you smile whilst also giving food for thought. I worked very hard to represent differing views fairly, and my hope is that by the end you will have heard each viewpoint very clearly whilst not being sure what my, the author’s, view is. Personally, I fell in love with some of the characters, to the extent that when the book was finished, I immediately started to write the sequel!

I hope you think it is a jolly good story and you will recommend it to a friend.

Please buy a copy, and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

anneethompson.com

Ploughing Through Rainbows by Anne E. Thompson

Available from Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback. UK link below:

paperback link

Kindle link

Trip to Blakeney, Norfolk


This year, we decided to go away for Easter. Usually we stay at home, and I attend roughly a million different church services over the Easter weekend, and then on Bank Holiday Monday, I spend all morning making scone dough, and all afternoon cooking scones and serving them to about 90 people who come to our house for a country walk and cream tea. It’s usually exhausting, and I love doing it. However, last year I was aware that all my children, who have grown up, returned home for the Easter weekend, and I spent the whole weekend not seeing them. Which seemed wrong. So this year, we decided to go away.

I booked a house with HomeAway—an online cottage rental service which I have never used before, so it was all a little scary. However, we needed a 5 bedroomed house, with an enclosed garden, that would allow me to take a dog, so there weren’t many options. I found a house in Blakeney, and we loaded the car with the dog and my mother and a lot of bags, and off we set.

The drive took about 6 hours, because the Dartford crossing was terrible and we stopped on the way for lunch at Castle Acre. We found a pub—The George and Dragon — next to the road, and the dog sat under the table, and the food was okay.

We arrived at the house. The last house I had booked was bit of a disaster (it had sewage coming out of the drains) so the family was slightly worried about what we would find. The parking place was outside the house, on a blind bend, so that wasn’t great. But the key-safe was where the instructions said, and the key fitted the door (these are all things I worry about) and we went inside.

The downstairs was great. There was a little hallway, with stairs lined with bookshelves (excellent start). A through-room led to a long kitchen, and it all looked clean, and there were hot-cross buns and local beer and a tea tray waiting for us, which was lovely. There was also a tiny sitting room, with a door handle that fell off when we opened it. But we could manage without a door handle, so no worries there. Then we went upstairs.

 

 


The top floor had a large room and a bathroom, with lovely views across fields. We (I) decided that Emm could have that room, when he arrived, as he was taking a holiday from work. On the floor below, were 4 other rooms. We took a room with an en suite bathroom, Jay took a double room, Mum took a twin room. Which left the remaining room for Bea, who was arriving at the weekend. It was a child’s room. With bunk-beds. And Mr Men books. I was worried about this. Bea (works in a posh bank in the city) wasn’t really used to rooms like this (not since she was 5 years old, anyway). The boys assured me it would be fine. But I was worried.

Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you more about our trip tomorrow.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

 

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. It will make you laugh, and you can read it for free if you have a kindle.
Available from an Amazon near you, UK link below:

A Family Christening


We had another family christening on Saturday. These make me feel old, as it feels like yesterday that I was attending the father’s christening.

Arriving on time is always stressful, and not especially helped by my watch, which was 10 minutes slow. In panic, while pulling on tights and trying to find heels, I asked Husband if he could write the card. This was not as simple as I had anticipated, and I was asked a range of questions, such as: “Do I address it to the baby or the parents?” and “What the heck am I supposed to write to a baby?” I dictated the card, he stuck it onto the gift, and we were set.

Daughter decided to buy her own gift. I’m sure the parents will be delighted when they unwrap the super-sized unicorn in their tiny house (and I’m sure Daughter had only the best motives when she chose one quite so large).

Actual event was lovely. Always nice to see extended family (and always slightly odd to see the not-related-but-we met-you-once-at-the-wedding, who are all, of course, as closely related to baby as we are, even if not at all related to us). It was a very windy day, so I was glad it was a christening and not a wedding, and we didn’t all have to pose for photographs. We did though, have to be smartly dressed, and I do find walking in heels bit of a struggle these days – I really ought to practise – living in jeans and wellies means wearing dresses and heels is difficult.

The service was in a tiny village called Markbeech. My son finds this very weird, as my latest novels are all set in an imaginary town called Marksbridge (not based, even remotely, on the village which shares a similar name).

The church was very interesting, I haven’t visited before, it’s one of those little churches which used to belong to an estate (all very English and historical). As I sat, listening to the service and watching the baby (very well-behaved and asleep for most of the service) and his brother (very cute) I peered around the church.

The decorations around the altar were symbolic, relating to the spirituality of women, and looked – to my uneducated eyes – rather masonic in style. Not sure why, perhaps it was the triangles and rainbows. Anyway, after the service, I did a little research, to try and learn more.

It was set up in the early 19th century, as part of the “Tractarian” movement – which was inspired by a sermon by John Keble in Oxford (and is also known as ‘the Oxford Movement’). They believed that the Anglican Church was, in effect, still part of the Catholic Church, that clergy were answerable to God, not the state, and the liturgy etc should all be influenced by the church in Rome – not by kings. In effect, they were sort of the opposite of the ‘protestants’ (a term which means they were protesting against the rule of the Roman Catholic Church – mainly so that Henry VIII could get divorced – way back in 1534).

Anyway, the Tractarians produced lots of tracts (90, I believe) which is how they gained their name. They had support from some influential people (who even I have heard of, such as Wilberforce) but they didn’t in the end, manage to separate the church from the state, and even today, our monarch is head of the church.

I never managed to find out why Markbeech church has the unusual painting decorating the altar. If ever you’re passing through Kent, it’s worth a visit (if you like old English churches).

Hope you have an interesting week.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

We All Need Encouragement (Even Authors)


When I began to publish my books – which is more scary than you might think, because writing is very private, and letting other people read your stories is the opposite – my family were brilliant. There was a lot of finance to sort out, and Husband helped with that! But my children and mum were also brilliant, encouraging me to go ahead and publish my work – and they still are today.

In 2017, I published JOANNA. I wanted to explore what it meant to think like a psychopath, and how it would feel for her family. My son helped me by making a short video, and he composed the soundtrack. I think it’s brilliant – what do you think?

An exciting, easy read novel (without any nasty bits!) You can buy a copy here:

UK Amazon link

Here’s what other people have said about JOANNA:

“Not a genre I would usually choose, but I loved it.”

I read it on holiday, my sister read it too, we both really enjoyed it”

“A great read when you want to escape for a little while.”

“Really interesting way of looking at what it would be like to have a psychopath in the family. And I liked the happy ending!”

“Joanna is such a complex character, the story really made me stop and think. I loved it, am looking forward to reading your next book.”

Have you read a copy? It’s available in bookshops, but here is the Amazon link in case you prefer to read on a Kindle. (It would make a great Christmas gift too…)

UK Amazon link

I hope you have some encouragements this week.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Camber Sands with Mother


Mum said she wanted a week by the sea, and I can write anywhere, so I told her that if she didn’t mind being ignored until midday each day, I would take her to Camber Sands. Am hoping we don’t murder each other.

Other people’s reactions to the news were telling. My children all declined to join us, citing work/parties/washing their hair as plausible excuses. My siblings all advised I take lots of alcohol. My friends all said, “A whole week? Gosh!” I expect they were jealous.

We set off on Saturday. The dog filled the whole boot, so I told Mum we could only take what would fit behind her seat. I packed the dog, my stuff (one tiny bag) and the food (quite a lot of bags) and went to collect Mum. Her stuff was already packed, and in a long line down the front path and round the corner and half way to the next town. But we managed to fit it all in. And I quite like eating bruised apples and crushed crisps, so it’s fine.

Arrived at the cottage in one piece, despite my dodgy driving and fairly useless brain and completely useless SatNav. We have rented a two-bedroomed house from ‘Beside the Sea’ cottages. It’s on a little estate of pastel coloured houses, and is 3 minutes walk from the beach. The house is pretty small (Mum suggested we could empty a cupboard for big smelly dog to live in) but it’s very pretty. It also – most importantly – has a shower with decent water pressure, an outside hose (for rinsing big smelly dog) and two washrooms. There are also a few luxuries, like a Nespresso machine (am on my 4th coffee this morning and the world is buzzing) and Netflix. The owners have included helpful things like capsules for the dishwasher and hand soap for all the sinks, and we arrived to cake and biscuits and a bottle of wine. All very nice.

After a quick cup of tea, we walked to the beach. I don’t know if you know Camber Sands, but in the summer months, the only part of the beach where dogs are allowed is accessed via sand dunes. Dragged Mum over one the height of Snowdon but we made it to the beach. Tried to take selfies – realised neither of us were very good at this, and we now have several photos of our feet, and the sky, and the dunes. Both dog and mother went completely nuts and insisted on paddling. Mother told me she thought I was completely ridiculous to be wearing wellies on the beach in June. But I have lived with Husband for too long. And I hate sandy feet.

Sunday: I took the dog for an early run. The tide in Camber goes out for miles and miles, so we had a good walk. The only other people out there were fishermen digging for lugworms. I worried a little that the tide might come in and we’d get cut-off, but there were no warning signs (only about riptides for swimmers) so we walked 27 miles out to the sea and back. Kia chased seagulls and brought me dead crabs and stones to throw. (I didn’t throw the dead crabs, in case you’re wondering.)

Met Mum and we walked to the little wood and brick church on the main road, next to Pontins. People seemed friendly, and there was coffee and cake afterwards, which Mum stayed for as she likes chatting to strangers, and I didn’t, as I don’t.

We had lunch at The King’s Head in Playden. I’ve been there before, and it never disappoints. It’s pretty and cosy and the food is lovely. Spent the rest of the day walking and reading and watching Netflix.

This morning I walked along a footpath towards Rye (I couldn’t face even more sand and wet dog, I figured one trip to the beach a day would be fine.) The path went past fields of chubby lambs and great pools of deep water with fishermen next to them, and was lined with poppies. Camber seems to have lots of poppies in June. Came back to write this, and will now do some work. So far the week is going well, and we are both still alive. I’ll give you an update next week.

Thank you for reading. Have a good week.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

This tells all the things I wish I had known when first diagnosed. A helpful book for anyone with a potentially terminal illness. It shows how to find a surgeon, how to cope with other people’s fears, how to not be defined by an illness. It also has a few funny anecdotes – because even when you’re ill, it’s good to laugh.
Available from Amazon (you can get it free if you have a Kindle).

A hilarious romance for when you want to relax.

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson.
An easy read, feel good novel, set in an infant school. An ideal gift, this is a book to make you smile.

An exciting novel, set in the near future. One family shows how they cope with driverless cars, new laws, and schools run by computers.

Surviving Easter Weekend and a Post Post Script


Hello, and I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend. I am actually writing this on Good Friday, in a snatched few minutes before the next onslaught of jobs. No idea if I will actually make it past tomorrow.

It has been a stressful week, but I will try hard to not apportion blame.

It began badly, when the painter arrived on Monday. For some reason, somebody had booked a man to decorate the entire house, beginning the week before Easter. This is generally a busy time, as all the family, including my mother, come to stay, and then on Easter Monday we invite the whole church and anyone else who wants to come, and we all go for a country walk and have a cream tea. Last year we had about 80 people, so it involves baking quite a lot of scones. And having the house tidy. And is not helped by having a bloke painting random rooms the week before.

But we survived. The painter man turned out to be relatively low-impact, though having to empty whole rooms is not without a certain amount of chaos, and chemicals smell horrid, so windows have to be open, so the house is cold. I couldn’t write in my normal place, and so shared the kitchen area with son who’s back from uni. It wasn’t completely terrible, and I managed to write 13,000 words of next book. I think I write best when depressed.

The main reason for the depression is that, due to repeated nagging from various people, I went to the doctor about those chest pains/breathlessness I told you about a few weeks ago. Part of this involved blood tests, and I was told I need to cut down on cholesterol. Which is frankly awful. I am not sure that a life without cakes and flapjacks and cheese sauces is necessarily one I want to live. I spent the week rebelling, and baking said flapjacks and cakes, and then feeling guilty, so forcing them onto other people.

The weather is also being rubbish. As I write, I have just returned from a particularly unpleasant walk. The fields are not just boggy, they are lakes. Son made a lot of fuss about having a hole in one wellie. The chickens insist on leaving their cage because it’s not actually snowing, but they are cross, so sit on the back doorstep frowning at me. The back doorstep is now covered in chicken poop, so that’s another job before the cream tea (in the rain) on Monday.

The ducks are happy though. And randy. Ducks in the spring are incredibly randy. Which means lots of eggs, but I have been removing them because I don’t want more ducks, and now the laying boxes are empty each morning. Which means they are hiding their nests. Which means they will arrive with a clutch of ducklings in a few weeks time, and I will have to either fish them out of the pond, or leave them for the magpies to eat.

Anyway, I have survived so far, and if I make it to Monday I will be feeling calmer. Am hoping lots of people still come to cream tea, even if the weather is bad, otherwise I will have many pots of clotted cream to dispose of (or eat, if I decide the whole cholesterol thing is best ignored). Perhaps I could post them out with copies of Clara. A sort of unusual special offer: Buy a book and get a free pot of cream. Perhaps not.

Enjoy your day and have a lovely week, whatever the weather.

Take care,
Love,
Anne x

PS. Had the BEST review today – the local bookshop wrote on twitter that a customer had so enjoyed Clara that they’d gone back to buy my other books. Excellent. Have you bought a copy yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPS. As I set the table for Easter Sunday dinner, I put out napkins. We don’t use them very often, because some of my family never use them, and they are bit of a pain to wash and iron afterwards. But for special occasions, we use cloth napkins. Which reminds me of something I read this week.

Did you know, that Romans used napkins, and their slaves would watch while they ate? When the master had finished eating, he would screw up the napkin and leave the table, signifying he had finished. But sometimes, he would leave the table and carefully fold the napkin. This was a sign to the servants that he wasn’t finished – he would be returning to the table. Now, if you read the Easter story, you will read in John’s book, that when the disciples got to the empty tomb, the grave cloths were left there, abandoned. But the napkin which had been around Jesus’ head was carefully folded…