Lockdown Innit is a poetry collection of eighteen poems about life’s absurdities and frustrations during lockdown. Wherever you live in this world, this is for you. Expect humour, a dollop of banter and ridiculous rants here and there. Amongst other delights, witness the strange antics of a swan posing by a bin and two statuesque horses appearing like arc deco pieces in a field. Check out the violin player on a tightrope, or the cheeky unmentionables wafting in the lockdown breeze!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Here’s hoping for a brighter, covid free year. And what a year it has been for so many. Personally, I have had many worries about my elderly parents and my MIL who I haven’t seen for months…
My daughter Natasha and I had an interesting philosophical discussion this morning about whether 2020 is a wasted year? And whether we should all refuse to age this year. Her birthday is on Christmas day and she is turning 25 and would much rather remain 24. Of course, that idea does have its appeal! I’m all for staying young but in many ways, 2020 is not a wasted year as it has taught us many invaluable lessons.
A tragic lesson, sadly. One that has made us all reevaluate our lives and to consider what really matters… Family, friends, loved ones, walks in nature, the simple moments that make us smile, these are the aspects of life that we must treasure.
It has been a year in which the world has suffered.
But the human race is resilient. We do what we can to cheer our spirits up…
During this time, I have relied heavily on my writing community to keep me occupied, and distracted. So, with that in mind, I created my first anthology/compilation entitled This Is Lockdown.
It originally came out in a kindle version with my personal diaries – 20th July 2020.
I’ve just finished creating the paperback of This Is Lockdown... which is available to buy and review on Amazon. So, if you can, please do consider reading and leaving a review of the paperback which includes contributions from 28 wonderful international authors, and creatives.
PLEASE NOTE – The paperback does not include my personal COVID diaries originally published on the kindle. These are currently only available to read on the kindle version of This Is Lockdown.
An anthology and compilation of short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK.
“A Piece of Living History!”
This anthology and compilation is for everyone, wherever you live in the world. We are all experiencing the impact of COVID19 and lockdown. As writers, bloggers and creatives we express our thoughts and opinions in writing: in heartfelt poetry, pieces on isolation and the impact of COVID19 and the ‘new normal.’ There are twenty eight talented contributors, including the creative NHS Mask Making Fundraising Team of Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago Val. The contributors come from as far afield as Australia, Canada, USA and Zimbabwe, or closer to my current home in England – in Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
It is as Willow Willers, a contributor said, ‘A piece of living history.’
This extraordinary and unexpected time period will be shared with future generations one day. Compiling and editing this anthology has given me a purpose over the period of Lockdown and for that I am grateful. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer.
In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.
The list of contributors, bloggers and authors are:
Before I go, in case you might have missed these recent book reviews.
I received this lovely review for my poetry, prose and photography book Mr. Sagittarius from fellow fantasy author Diana Peach:
I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book, and must have been in just the right mood, because it was charming and poignant and very sweet. The book offers a glimpse of three elderly siblings -William, Harold, and Annette – one already passed on at the books opening. The intermittent visits with these characters, a paragraph or two here and there, form the thread that holds the book’s narrative together. The memories and grief are touching, and it isn’t long before Annette is on her own.
Between the story’s visits with the siblings are loosely related sections of prose and syllabic poetry. Some pieces touch on the seasons. Others are fantastical tales about bubble monsters and snow snakes. Most of them are about nature and flowers which are tied to the garden bench where the siblings enjoyed their days. I especially enjoyed a chain cinquain titled That Twinkle in her Eye is Magic. This book is less than an hour’s read, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy a fanciful and touching foray into poetry and short prose selections.
Time to catch up on my COVID Diaries… I’ve been very busy of late finishing edits on my second book in my series The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer. They are now finished and I am pleased to say I have now passed my manuscript on to Heena Rathmore Pardeshi https://crazycatwriter.com/ for a critique and proofread service.
So, let’s go back in time…
I slept badly the night before so I’m feeling tired. My eldest daughter Tasha and I still did our workout session but it was a gentle one. We both thought it would suit a granny! Which is just as well…We finished it off by doing some yoga.
I tidied my office and did some editing of the second book in my Curse of Time series. Later, my hubby and I went to the supermarket. My friend Hanna was in the queue too, so we stopped to chat to each other – following the social distancing rules – of course. You can’t exactly talk quietly due to the distance imposed, so I shouted across the queue about the fire…
IVC is the local secondary school that my kids went to. Apparently, a skip lit and the fire spread to the roof of the performing arts block. Strange, sounds like arson to me. A friend of my daughter heard two large explosions, they thought it was an earthquake, or something. Everyone is so on edge at the moment that any loud bangs, or noises would be enough to trigger an attack of the nerves.
I wonder how the fire happened?
Getting back to the shopping trip with hubby. Whilst inside…
We argued down the aisles, in a feisty banter kind of way and I saw one of the local mum’s smirking at us.
Our shopping trip was so distracting. Both hubby and I bought four packs of onions, so we’ve got lots of onions to eat!
Next time I’m going on my own! Hubby’s idea of shopping consists of ample supplies of alcohol, and no treats apart from one bar of chocolate! How to survive lockdown with no crisps, nuts… Mind you, judging by our horrendous food bill perhaps we should start a starvation diet.
Oh, and I had a couple of guests in my Isolation for Writers Series:
It’s been a funny day. Aren’t they all? I finally cleared out my office. I am such a hoarder! I found things stuffed behind things that I didn’t even know were there. Nevertheless, it was interesting. We discovered three large bags of old photos and an airmail letter from my dad when he’d been working abroad in Swaziland. My eldest daughter Natasha has never seen an airmail letter before! What a lovely find. His writing was atrocious though. What a job I had reading it. Basically, it was to congratulate me on the birth of baby Georgina! And to send his love and well wishes to hubby’s dad who was ill at that time. Sadly, hubby’s dad passed away shortly after that letter was sent and Grandpa James never got a chance to see his new grand-daughter in person, which is especially sad as he always wanted lots of grand-children.
Also, I came across an old newspaper cutting of Tasha when she was three years old with her Grandma (my mum, who must have been about my age at that time,) at a hospice event.
How young my mum looked. Time flies by too fast.
I also found some old photos of hubby and I when we were young! That was funny, me draped all over him looking loved up… There was one of me wearing a leopard skin crop top and tight matching leggings. We were going to a fancy dress party. Memories, yes, it was a day of memories.
Other than that we did our gym session in the garden around 11am. Me, and the girls, and then we had lunch afterwards.
Hubby decided to climb up a ladder to sand the outside windows for painting. This made me very nervous as he’s so high up. He decided to wear his bike helmet for protection but at that height if he fell…
At one point, I went upstairs to pass him the sander and I saw this wasp on the window ledge. I was too frightened to tell him it was there in case he fell off the ladder. Later, I realised the wasp was dead!
Then Gina had an almighty melt down brought on by us all making so much noise whilst she’s completing her university assignments. Hubby was making this annoying sound with his sander, or yelling at me to get him something he needed. What a job I had calming her down. She said she wanted to go back to Manchester. No chance of that – no one can go anywhere. So, I suggested we sit in the car for a while. She brought her laptop and we looked at it together, with tears in her eyes. Bless her. Then hubby came out, looking at us as if we were bonkers. He asked why we were sitting in the car! I explained about the noise and he said he’d finish for the day. Thank goodness it’s quiet now. Phew, it’s just as well I used to be a therapist. Sometimes, I need to be to calm this lot down…
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I hope it is a bit calmer…
I had a terrible night’s sleep. Stress of yesterday? Perhaps it was also exacerbated by hubby teasing, saying that he was leaving the long ladder by our bedroom window for a thief, or Romeo to come in. I woke at 3.30am. I thought I heard someone climbing up the ladder. No doubt it was just my imagination! One of the hazards of being a writer is you always imagine the craziest things. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I crept out of bed and started blogging – as you do!
By the time hubby was up, I’d had enough, so I went back to bed and managed a couple of hours sleep before Tasha came looking for me. I didn’t join in with a keep fit, or yoga workout today, or take part in Writing Sprints. Shame. Instead, I edited some of the Curse of Time, beta read and finished a poetry collection for Sarah Northwood, Poetry for The Heart and Soul which I loved. Here is the link to her beta reading group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/877149636124566/
As well, I started working on a blog post about my daughter Georgina’s fashion/social media profile.
Georgina seemed a lot more cheery today. She was all dressed up, make up on and had made excellent progress on her assignment. She even mentioned that it wasn’t as hard as she originally thought! Kids, hey… They give you such grief and then say everything is okay…
Oh, and Tasha and I sneaked out for a ride in the car. What an adventure! We didn’t go too far but it was nice to see neighbouring villages.
What have you been doing during this difficult time. Please share in the comments.
Today, I decided to approach Spillwords to see if they would publish one of my poems. I decided upon the dragonfly as it is one of my favourite poems/photos from my poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius. I didn’t realise that Spillwords don’t take images with writing – so I spent a good while making the following graphic on Canva which I’ll have to use elsewhere
Today, I featured Willow with a Coronavirus poem and a James Blunt song. Very nice.
Hubby has been building garden chairs and I have been washing windows… Our weather during Lockdown has been really good but apparently according to Gina it is about to deteriorate.
The girls and I did an exercise online class in the afternoon around 2pm but it was too hot and on top of that the area we were exercising in seems to have suddenly become infested with ants. At one point Gina shouted, “I’ve got ants in my hair!” Which made me feel very itchy. Natasha was also scratching and I was slipping everywhere as there are only two exercise mats – I used an old blanket which wasn’t much use.
So not exactly the best exercise session that we’ve done. It was comical though!
I didn’t take part in Lizzie Chantree’s writers sprint this morning, (I normally do,) as it clashed with the timing of Natasha’s PT session with me! And somehow I didn’t feel in the mood today. Monday’s seem to be the same whether you’re working. or not. And today I feel a bit low.
I did an exercise session with Natasha in the morning. It was a really tough one I thought I was going to pass out. But I completed it.
We went for a walk in the country park in the afternoon. Kept seeing robins everywhere – a good luck omen perhaps? The ducks were playful too. One came straight at us as if it was showing off and then whizzed across the lake, its mate came to join him but he was having none of that, he zoomed away.
We chatted to my mum on the phone she seems down at the moment as does Gina. This protracted length of time cooped up together is getting to all of us.
I saw a black crow picking food from a bird table on the way home – they always give me the creeps – so black and menacing looking, before and during Coronavirus I keep seeing them. This is the third one I’ve seen. So strange. I hope it is not a bad omen. It’s a day of conflicting emotions, both good and bad.
I also saw my friend Mary Enna and Godric with their beautiful husky dog out for a walk. It has the most amazing blue eyes. We stopped for a while – them on one side of the road – and us on the other. We talked about bread making, she suggested I make sourdough loaf which doesn’t need yeast. Like the sound of that – may try it this coming weekend.
In the evening we had a family tiff in the kitchen. Kitchens seem to be the prime area for disputes to arise. The kitchen is the undisputed danger zone. Hubby always pokes his nose in the cooking even if he isn’t eating with us. (Sometimes he likes to cook his own food.) This interference in the food prep caused a stroppy atmosphere and then hubby went outside for a time, sat in a chair by the patio and pulled his hood over his face to hide from us all. Gina saw her opportunity – she took his photo! When he looked up he said “I hope no one took my photo!
Of course not… If you believe that, you believe anything!
I wish I could escape and go to see my parents in Edinburgh… This is beginning to get to me. I am missing them so much. The conversation I had with mum today wasn’t right. She’d talked to my eldest daughter Tasha first, they’d chatted and chatted. No problem. But as soon as I spoke to her everything changed. Her voice sounded disjointed like she wasn’t forming her words properly. Mumbling. I pressed the phone closer to my ear, my shoulders tightening. “Mum, you sound strange. Are you okay?!” She spoke up a bit, “I’m lying on the bed and the phone’s a bit far away.” I acknowledge the ridiculousness of my fear, mum’s phone is simply too far away from her as she speaks. Her voice becomes clearer; the mumbling words are gone. “Is that better?” she asks. “Yes, I can hear you now,” I reply. The familiar feeling of panic pressing on my ribcage disappears for a moment. I realise I’ve been holding my breath. I need to take another calming breath to steady myself. And then she admits she’s terrified of catching this horrible illness. I can hear her fear and that frightens me. I imagine her on her bed, clutching the duvet towards her, her eyes welling with tears moistening the fabric. I want to hug her and be there for her. I should be there for her. She says, “I don’t want to end up alone and on one of those bloody ventilators, and neither does your dad.”
Her words are powerful, I can hear them so clearly. What can I say? It breaks my heart that she is saying this to me.
I don’t respond but my inner voice yells: I hate you virus. I feel the unspoken words filling a vast space which tightens in my gut.
We continue to talk about symptoms, as if we can protect ourselves, if we are knowledgeable enough. The latest indicator is shivering, she tells me. I already know this, I am well informed. We’ve both had the shivers recently but who knows whether it’s fear that’s making us shiver? My daughter asks for her phone back, perhaps her minutes are running out, she appears oblivious to my dread of hanging up. Her youthfulness makes her less astute. At last, Mum and I talk about Skyping at the weekend, an obvious preliminary to saying Goodbye.
Once I’m home I replay the conversation over in my mind and realise I missed something. We called mum in the afternoon and she never naps during the day. Is she ill? Is she alright? Was she shivering now?
This is COVID19 worry; It is relentless. I doubt I will ever forget how it feels.
It brings guilt too. Why didn’t I Skype her yesterday? It has a voice, this virus it’s accusatory.
There will be more to come in the diaries soon. I’m a bit behind with them.
Hope you are all keeping well and safe.
A new review for Mr. Sagittarius:
Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.
And a fairly new review for The Curse of Time:
Eloise Sousa‘s review Apr 13, 2020 really liked it YA Dark Fantasy that will keep you riveted
A fascinating twist of events shakes Amelina’s world, awakening her to the power of crystals and her family’s legacy. An enjoyable read with well-written characters who keep you on your toes as they drive the action forward.
Isn’t it totally surreal? No one could predict such a catastrophic situation and in some ways, it feels like we’re living in a terrifying novel, or a modern day war! Our immediate enemy has become a devastating virus, not a person carrying a gun. But we have two enemies – the virus and our human selfishness.
The toilet roll fiasco is unbelievable. My husband David and I have encountered old couples in the local supermarket looking for a single roll of toilet paper who are disturbed to find there is none. David didn’t have any in his trolley, so instead he gave an old guy his kitchen towels as he was crying. So shocking. It demonstrates the level of selfishness that pervades our modern society. Is this what we have become?
Perhaps this virus is natures way of teaching us a lesson?
Be less selfish and save our beautiful planet.
What can we do? In my opinion we must listen to medical advice, support each other, create online communities and stay apart for now. How sad, but how necessary. It’s strange that social media has now become even more important. It has become our friend, our link to our ‘real life friends,’ our ‘family abroad and in other cities.’ BUT it is not always trustworthy there are scammers out there praying on the vulnerable and elderly and the added threat of false news and misinformation. So be careful, only trust in legitimate sources of information such as the WHO and the NHS.
So, keep safe, wash your hands meticulously, avoid going to crowded places such as pubs, restaurants, and clubs. And God forbid you go to the gym. It’s a sweaty germ factory. Instead, take a walk in nature, or a meander in your back garden. Perhaps consider buying gym equipment at home to use, or try an online yoga class, or mindfulness.
I know what I will be doing if I have to self isolate, as long as I am well, in my spare time (as I still have to work,) I will be reading, listen to audio books, watching TV, writing and running around the garden!
Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Remember to tell them every day you love them. This is a war and we must fight. In all wars the depths of the human spirit will astound us. Let’s be kind, and unselfish in our actions. There is a lot of good in the human race, so let’s keep that coming. A huge thank you to all the nurses, doctors, care workers, educational key workers and medical staff, who put their lives at risk to save others. They are our heroes, let us praise them.
I’m a contributing author in the Plaisted Publishing House Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with my story Ghostly Goodbye. Ghostly Goodbye by M J Mallon Ghostly Goodbye is a paranormal love story about a young woman called Iris who can’t get over her husband’s death. She is mourning him so much that she feels dead inside. Her husband Ed sends her a ghostly message from beyond the grave via an old forgotten garment in her wardrobe. She responds by dragging herself from her tomb-like bed and he draws back the curtain of death to visit her in a most unusual way.
Available on Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, 24S, Playster, Indigo, Angus & Robertson, Mondadori Store: Universal Buying Link
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for a Happy New year.
I’d like to spare a thought this Christmas for all those who are lonely, or devastated by terrible news. Not everyone is surrounded by family and friends at Christmas. Perhaps someone you know will be at home eating baked beans alone. I know someone who is. His partner works shifts as a hospice carer, she will be working Christmas day, so he will be alone. Fortunately, they are having their celebration the day after on Boxing Day with a big family get together.
My heart goes out to my daughter’s friend this Christmas. Her mum is terminally ill with cancer and will not live much longer. I feel for her and her brother who are overwhelmed with much responsibility and sadness at such a young age. To add to their plight their parents are separated and they are young adults living alone.
Reflecting upon these overwhelming emotions are perhaps one of the reasons why I became a writer – to express those emotions that are not always easy to understand or to live with. Life can be cruel, but it can also be wonderful. So, I am going to spare a kind thought for her family this Christmas, and hope she finds the strength to deal with the ordeal that will surely follow. From what my daughter has told me she is a resourceful, admirable young woman, and I am sure her mother would be so proud of all she is doing.
2017 hasn’t been the best of years, has it?
There has been much senseless violence, sadness and loss of life, but I discovered a wonderful tweet from one of my writing hero’s: Stephen King which lifted my spirits …
Wishing for you all acts of love and ordinary kindness this holiday season. In the end, you know, most people are good.
This is the bridge I cross to go home, it seems a safe place to traverse but in reality where is it safe to be?
Yesterday afternoon I crossed this bridge and the sun shone.
and today the light seems to have been forcibly stolen from the world.
Paris may seem far away to some but many have visited this city and sampled its charm and elegance. It is so sad that death and destruction has been suffered in this beautiful French city.
I have fond memories of Paris, visiting as a young woman, a black and white painting, painted by a local artist sits in my old bedroom in my parent’s house, painted when I was still a youngster. I wonder what that young woman would make of such tragic events? Somehow the painting tells the tale, I was squinting into the sunlight, my facial expression sad.
It seems to me that light and darkness follow each other and at times darkness prevails in a very devastating and destructive way. My heartfelt prayers and thoughts are with those who have lost their lives in this terrible atrocity, and with their families. I hope that one day a better time will come and the world will be a more peaceful and united place.