I never felt after my various other medical catastrophes including breast cancer and a broken hip that I wanted to join a support group. As far as I was concerned, I knew how I needed to come to terms with my extra disability and I just got on with it.
However, St Thomas’s Hospital Critical Care consultants arranged first a follow up clinic for patients who had been in Intensive Care and then scheduled Evening Support (Discussion) groups for survivors and close relations.
I was surprised and delighted with how helpful and reassuring it was to talk to people who had been in a similar situation and with whom I could swap war stories.
I had a particular lurid crop of hallucinations after my heart attack last August – up to 80% of patients in critical care experience some delusions that seem very real to us. Mine will be going into the Final Chapter of my nearly finished memoir.
I loved hearing about those that other patients had. One man was convinced burglars came in the night and stole all the hospital’s bandages. The nurses’ denials didn’t convince him one bit. One of my delusions was that Damien Hurst and Jeff Koons had presented the High Dependence Unit with priceless artefacts. My response was that they made the ward look untidy!!
The Library Manager of Pimlico Library has kindly offered us a meeting room for our proposed Westminster Cardiac Support Group for one evening a month , There is a pleasant -looking coffee bar upstairs for anyone who comes early and we would provide water and soft drinks during the meeting. It also has a toy library!!
Buses #C10, 24 and 360 stop outside, for the good walkers both Victoria and Pimlico Undergrounds are in walking distance and there is a lift down to the library level.
It’s a very generous offer and I hope plenty local post-cardiac catastrophe patients and their near-ones will come.
This is a large library with a huge range of facilities serving the general public and Pimlico Academy.
We always book tickets for as early as possible, usually as soon as exhibitions open. In that way, they’re not still full of the viewers from previous slots. We were amazed at the long queues in both directions from Tate Britain’s side entrance. There is usually a gaggle of people waiting to get in but we’ve never seen crowds like these.
I booked rather as a duty than because I was thrilled at the thought of the exhibition. When I think of Hockney it’s of very pink nude male bottoms in a swimming pool but this exhibition was of much, much more, charting Hockney’s progress from his early student wok – more like graffiti than anything – up to his more recent exciting landscape videos – previously shown at the Royal Academy – and his iPad images.
Hockney’s painting of Celia and Ossie Clark is definitely my favourite. It was interesting seeing Celia Birtwell – now in her mid-seventies – interviewed on television and by the Independent, though for me she will always be that fresh-faced blonde in Hockney’s painting.
Note: Now that my memoir Woman in a White Coat is well on its way to its a final edit, if you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
My memoir Woman in a White Coat starts 85 years ago in October 1931, two years before this studio portrait was taken.
Who would have thought this serious little girl would qualify in dentistry and medicine, become an entrepreneur and end up as a consultant pathologist in a major London teaching hospital.
I was born at a time when a girl’s only future was marriage and children – though I managed those too – married to the same loving husband for 60 years with four wonderful children and four equally wonderful grandchildren.
There are 30 days in April and my memoir presently has 29 chapters so if I edit one chapter a day my memoir will be ready to be uploaded as an e-book by the end of the month. That is my April Fool’s Day resolution.
If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
It is open now to UK residents over 18, and you can submit as many pieces of not more than 5000 words. The closing date is February 5th 2017.
The judges are Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead, Publishing Director of Atlantic Books. The first prize is generous – £1,500, an Arvon course, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent or editor. Two highly commended writers will receive £500 each and a meeting with an agent or editor.
For me, it’s a great incentive to finish editing my memoir Woman in a White Coat. I think that several of the episodes are worth working up as stand-alone pieces. This is just what I need to get me going – doesn’t matter if I don’t get long- or short-listed though having my memoir short-listed for the Tony Lothian and Wasafiri prizes was a great boost to my moral. Having a heart attack set me back and played havoc with my ability to motivate myself. Something like this certainly helps.
What wonderful news – being short-listed for the Wasafiri prize given in three categories – Poetry, Short Story and Life Writing. I submitted September 1939 about being evacuated to Littleport and then Ely.
Shows how valuable belonging to a Writers’ Circle is and having constructive criticism. Another member just had two Flash Fiction entries short-listed for the prestigious Bridport Prize and last year my memoir Woman in a White Coat was short-listed for the Tony Lothian prize for unpublished biographies.
I never had any soft toys as a child – we were too poor for such luxuries. We had a game of Ludo and that was that, but Josh and I showered our four children and grandchildren with soft toys. Josh especially finds them irresistible. Our John Dobbie toyshop always had loads.
When I saw this gorgeous soft cuddly teddy bear in the Gothenburg Airport shop I had to have it. He sits on my bedside table with the two or three books I am in the process of reading and sometimes creeps into bed with me.
As a child, I lived in a cramped cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane. We played outside whenever we could, though on rainy days we’d slip into the unused communal laundry room on the top floor of our block.
At last a recipe by Jane Hicks from the May edition of the Waitrose magazine for a cake that tastes of coffee. My last attempt looked good but didn’t have much flavour.
It’s always good when friends come to coffee because then I can try out one of the cake and muffin recipes I’ve torn out of magazines or newspapers, or got on cards from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Josh and I are both off sugar so we wait for guests to come before we indulge.
The recipe was for a square tin but I don’t have one so I used my 20cm round tin instead.
Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat
Learning to cook When I finished my second house job I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been much easier to find a locum dental appointment. Continue reading At last a Coffee and Walnut cake that tastes of coffee→
Everyone has been raving about the huge Vogue100 exhibition – a pictorial history of Vogue magazine since its birth in 1916. Several of my friends have been twice.
Yes, there are loads of fantastic portraits. though I liked best the long tables of black and white photographs. I particularly liked the hand-drawn and painted covers of the early years.
But the National Portrait Gallery curators elected to do something I really hate – group the captions to one side of the exhibits so that at times it was hard to tell which description went with which photo. The detailed descriptions were in a small thin font, difficult to read especially in the rooms where the light had been dimmed. My view is that the title of any artefact is important, especially if given by the author of the piece, and should be easy to find and read, even if the artist has elected to call the work Untitled .
A quotation from the Vogue of 1938 Primer of Art made my hackles rise:
‘A lady of quality should be able to walk into any drawing room, to look at the picture over the mantelpiece and to exclaim: “Oh what a charming Picasso of the early Blue Period”, or “I like your new Follower of Masaccio (circa 1420) immensely.” If she guesses right she is a gentleman and a scholar.” The cheek!!
I loved the Russia and the Arts exhibition – and not only because the titles were underneath each portrait!! Included were portraits of some of my best-loved Russian authors whose books I’d first pored over in my teenage years – Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky – as well as musicians like Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, painters (mainly unfamiliar to me) and patrons – from the years 1867-1914.
My mother and grandmother were Russian so there was probably a bond there. Memoir extract from The Girl with a Threepenny Birth Certificate
I met Jody Medland of Penworksmedia at Indie Insights, a meeting on self-publishing, . He self-published his scary thriller The Moors, a gothic tale of murder and child abuse set in present day Cornwall, and his company is about to publish a variety of books by other authors.
Jody liked the first three chapters of my memoir – Woman in a White Coat – so I am busy giving the manuscript a final edit before sending it to him.
I had originally written my memoir starting with my medical career, each chapter having flashbacks to my childhood. However, I decided it would work better if I split my memoir into two. Now, Volume 1 will cover my childhood until I start at medical school, 1931-1953. Volume 2 will take it from there.
In the old days we had to include a stamped and addressed postcard with our submissions sent by snail post, but at least you could be sure they had got there when your postcard came back.
Now, even if you include a polite request for an acknowledgment, many agents don’t bother to send one or answer subsequent emails. On the whole emails get to their destination but most of us have problems with our emails from time to time.
I know literary agents are busy and overwhelmed and all that, but it’s so easy to set up an ‘out of office’ type reply. Elaine Borish charts the initial failure of 33 famous authors from Jane Austen to Zane Grey to get published, but at least they did get replies!!
The Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency is a paragon of virtue in this matter. Their reply to a submission was by return: Thank you very much for your email.
For all writers, this is to acknowledge receipt of your work. We personally read everything that comes into the MM Agency and will respond directly within the next twelve weeks if we are considering representation. Do let us know straight away if another agent requests your complete manuscript or, indeed, if you receive an offer of representation. If you have not heard from us within twelve weeks, please take this to mean that we are no longer considering representation. Regrettably, we do not have the time to respond individually to each submission due to the sheer volume that the agency receives and the necessity of fulfilling our obligations to our existing clients. If you do not receive a response, please do not be downhearted. We receive a lot of very strong material but have to feel incredibly passionate about it from the moment we start reading in order to champion it effectively. This makes it a very personal decision, and one which might well differ from other agents. Many thanks for sending us your work, and we look forward to reading it.
With my best wishes, Madeleine Milburn
Why can’t the others do the same?? It’s unreasonable to expect critiques or advice from agents – though some agents took the time to add an encouraging explanation to their ‘No’ to Woman in a White Coat – but an automatic acknowledgment takes virtually no effort once it is set up.