Just time for a quick post before my man returns from the far North! I’m expecting him to be mightly impressed that I’ve worked the tele’ for a whole week without him.

The Writers’ Bureau have announced their latest, free, monthly competition and this time you can win a copy of their Non-Fiction Writing Course.

I’m not quite sure what they mean by ‘a copy’ – presumably that doesn’t mean the actual course, but perhaps the book or notes that accompany it? If you want to have a go (and if you win, please tell me what the prize is!!), you need to write a 50 word review of an event that you’ve attended recently and email it to by the closing date of 31st August.

More details on their website here.

I finally made it to Daylesford Organic farm today (there it is in the photo). It’s only 20 minutes from me, so handy for taking guests and visitors for a coffee and a bit of celeb-spotting.

What can I say… it’s a nice drive through the Cotswolds countryside…! No, it’s good – but not very big and very expensive! I picked up a little hot water bottle in a knitted cover. Sweet! But … (and I had to get my friend to read the price tag because I didn’t have my reading glasses on… ) it was £85! And there was a jumper for £460! See what I mean?

However – *puffs up with pride* – I DID see a famous person and it was a literary one! It was – I am 95% certain – Jeanette Winterson, of ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ fame. Of course, I was trying not to stare and look too stalker-ish but it was her, I’m sure.

I looked on her website for ‘clues’ and to check her photo (OK, I am a stalker). She said she was going ‘back to the soaking Cotswolds’ (result!) but what I also found interesting was what she had to say about ’50 Shades of Grey’ which has confirmed me in my resolve to never read it.

Writing about her godchildren she says,”I don’t want them to be fearful of their bodies, desires, appetites, ambitions. I want them to be bold and beautiful and face the world in full sail. I don’t want them to be looking for a jerk like Christian Grey with a Red Room of Pain.

Hear, hear.

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11 Responses to Star-Spotting!

  1. KH says:

    Thanks for all the info, Helen. I love your blog. Missed you while you were away! I would like to echo your ‘Hear,Hear’ to Jeanette Winterson’s comments on Shades Of Grey. I find it frightening that this book is being touted as sexually liberating for women. Although I haven’t read it and don’t intend to most of what I’ve heard indicates that it is more about the subjugation of women. If that’s what really turns women on then I think we’ve veered of the path and need to find our way back home again. All good wishes KH

  2. Hey Helen, well done on spotting Jeanette, will have a look, I haven’t heard of her at present. I know Liz Hurley lives in the Cotswolds, but to me YOU are the most famous writer and celeb living there… One or two have asked me if I want to borrow that book, I have to tell them I’m not into that kind of thing. Then they say (oh no, nor me) I love proper books by proper writers, like Patsy’s Escape to the Country, or Juliet’s Eden’s Garden. Books that make you feel happy and richer from reading them.

  3. Helen Pike says:

    Dear Helen
    Well spotted and I’ll look out for you in there. I pretend I’m Bridget Jones, when I’m visiting my parents, and swan around, unable to afford anything, looking out for Darcy!

    My thoughts on Fifty Shades – which takes feminism back decades and which I shouldn’t have wasted an hour or two of my life on …

    I’m frustrated that a fan-fiction writer has made her fortune from a trilogy of novels which are, in her own words, ‘fifty shades of fucked up’, subjugating women and without technical or literary merit. I’m glad that good literature can address the dark issues and taboos but E. L. James has forgotten structure, story arc and characterisation.

    Bad novels do get published and I’m in no position to sniff at that. I would forgive the author and even congratulate her on the great marketing, if only she had written her escapism honestly. It is her fantasy, and she should have been brave enough to write it about consenting men and women in their forties. Certainly her characters speak like forty-somethings, but the girl is mousey, a virgin barely out of her teens. This delicate protagonist who submits to Christian’s whip is called Ana, and her diet lives up to the name. This is a novel about fragile humans and disordered eating, although E. L. James never addresses the topic of Anorexia head on.

    The virgin status also matters, since her first physical relationship is rooted in passivity and suffering. When Christian canes her, Ana weeps and runs out of the relationship, but slinks back, shamefaced and confused. She excuses his treatment of her because he is “fifty shades of fucked up” – a convenient and ugly justification.

    If Ana were feisty, a worthy adversary to Christian, I might at a squeeze consider them to be positive models, presenting an alternative relationship. As it is, I fear for the next young virgin who submits to a Mr Grey and excuses him.

    • Helen – well put. I haven’t read ‘Fifty…’ (see, can’t even be bothered to type its full name out!) but from what I’ve heard – and you’ve just confirmed it – it’s not worth reading and yes, it’s sending out a disturbing message, to men and women.

  4. Wow! Can I touch you? (I don’t know if this translates well to english, in Sweden we say this to someone who has seen a celebrity… to catch some of the glory…)

    Jeanette Winterson is a fascinating woman and writer but I find her a bit too difficult and dark to be a favourite. What about you?

    • I must admit I’ve only read ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ which I found funny and moving, not too dark or difficult – but I know what you mean – I think her later works are more difficult. Her new book ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’ (which is something her adoptive mother said to her once), looks good. I’m definitely going to get that and read it.

  5. Maggie May says:

    This would make an interesting blog in itself – who have you encountered at your local coffee shop/garden centre etc? I have ‘bumped into’ Anita Lonsborough, the famous swimmer from the sixties three times. And I still haven’t asked her for her autograph. Sadly, no authors as yet.

  6. Ralitza Gilbert says:

    It’s interesting that you too have not read ’50 Shades of Grey’,yet. I bought it, but somehow I cannot bring myself to read it. Why?! I keep telling myself, I should read it, if not as fiction, then at least, as a manual on ‘How to become a best selling millionaire author overnight, harnessing the marketing power of sex, controversy and the social media’. Surely, there’s got to be some value in that… If not literary one?

  7. Cathos says:

    Helen – thank you so much for your generosity in sharing these competitions – weeks ago I entered the Writers Bureau, win a non-fiction writing course which you mentioned on your blog, sent off 50 words about the Leicester Carribean Carnival, and forgot about it until today when i received an e-mail saying I’d won! I’m so excited – I’ve written fiction and got the odd story in womags but non-fiction writing is an area I’d love to get into. Following your blog – it’s great. Thanks again.

    • Cathy – that’s brilliant!! Well done you. I only told you about it – you did all the hard work and entered, so that’s great. Enjoy your course and let us all know if you have any more successes!

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