Today is World Meningitis Day. This is my story….

I don’t remember much past the muffled music of CD UK and vaguely insisting to my Dad that I was in bed whilst I was actually laying on the bathroom floor. My Mum had been visiting my Nan who was terminally ill in hospital and came home at 8 o’clock. She found me unconscious. My Dad thought I was sleeping. She called the family doctor who called an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. I don’t remember anything for another week.

The only memories I have of that time is knowing that I was in a room that was dark, that I couldn’t see properly and there were also whirring noises in my ears. My Mum, Dad, and sisters were in the room with me wearing gowns and masks. I could have been an extra in some post-­apocalyptic zombie-fest film. I do remember trying to convey that my older sister had to leave the room because she was pregnant at the time, so I was obviously aware that there was something wrong.

I always say that I knew I wasn’t going to die but I’m not sure if that’s true. Is it just something I say because actually I have no idea what happened during those days?
When you’re 18 your ‘grown up’ life is just starting, the fun, friends, relationships, boys, going out, getting drunk, being wild and crazy, and I had started a little bit on that journey and then it was snatched away from me.

I spent a few weeks in hospital. Initially my parents were told that I would die and then the Doctors changed their minds and said that I wouldn’t die but that I would be paralysed from the waist down. I remember the doctors scraping that thingamajig stick on the bottom of my feet, I’m not sure if I did feel it? Slowly the feeling did come back. I do remember the whole ward cheering the first time I got up out of bed and went to the toilet rather than use the commode, assisted by my Mum and a nurse I might add. The doctors said with physiotherapy my legs would get stronger and I wouldn’t need walking aids. I’d like to add that those nearest and dearest to me would probably suggest otherwise as I am very clumsy and am always the one who trips and stumbles, sometimes over a twig, leaf, or air, sometimes my own feet. (Hence my recovery now post hip replacement being ‘slightly’ tricky.)
My hearing and my ears were a different thing.

Having a sense taking away from you overnight is traumatising. To go from perfect hearing to imperfect. All those songs that I loved. All that music that my sister and I would listen to in our bedrooms and dance to. All those heavy beats playing out in the clubs me and my friends had started going to. Lucy my cat purring. Watching TV. Conversations with more than one person.

All that changed for me.

It’s really hard to explain to somebody when you have imperfect hearing what it is you can actually hear. When people tell me to turn the volume up, that isn’t always helpful, clarity is important. When people joke and say do we have to have subtitles on whilst we watch television, my reply is, no let’s just put the TV on mute and then you’ll be able to hear what I hear. I make my own lyrics up to songs if I do listen to music. Pre hearing loss I was a huge hip hop and R&B fan and it’s music which is so hard to listen to now and I can never understand the lyrics. I never listen to music.

Things that happen when you’re partially deaf……..you get shouted at. A lot.

I’ve been told I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested, etc, because I haven’t heard someone. Someone once told me that I should just try harder at listening…….
This is who I am and this is my life and I get on with it and I cope how I can.

I don’t want to go to the theatre because the minute that actor or actress turns round and I can’t see them then I can’t hear what they’re saying.

I don’t want to go to a venue where one person is talkng on a stage and maybe 200 people are in the room and I’m at the back because I can’t hear what they’re saying.

I don’t want to go to a dinner party with 10 other people because I can’t hear what everyone is saying. I don’t want to go to a gig and listen to a band because I can’t hear what they’re singing.

I will go to the ballet.

I will go to an event which is small.

I will go to an event that is small and that I can be near the front or right at the front to hear better, I don’t sit at the front because I’m a swot or nerdy, I sit at the front so I can hear.

I will go out and dance to music I know pre hearing loss because I can remember those lyrics.

And these things are so important.

Please don’t whisper to me.

Please don’t put your hand over your mouth when you talk to me. Please don’t shout when you talk to me because it distorts the mouth and makes it harder to lipread. Please don’t turn away when you talk to me.

Please don’t ever say so it doesn’t matter if I didn’t hear you even on the second attempt.

Please don’t think I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested because I didn’t hear you.

BE AWARE. Know the symptoms.

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Today is World Meningitis Day. This is my story….

Today Will Be Different

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Eleanor Flood is having a bit of a nightmare and decides that Today Will Be Different. What follows is a hilarious account of the melt down she has that day. What’s happening with her husband Joe and why hasn’t he been at work?  Her son Timby is off sick from school so with him and Yo-Yo the dog in tow she spends the day trying to sort her life out with comedic effect.

If you loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette you’re in for a treat.

My question for Maria Semple was:

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And her answer:

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple will be published by W&N on the 4th of October.

For a chance to win a copy go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30736868-today-will-be-different

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today Will Be Different

Sun, surgery, and, summer reads.

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I’ve a huge pile of books nestled on my sitting room floor waiting for me. My TBR pile, like most other readers, could probably do some damage if they were piled up vertically and knocked over. I’ve worked out that it would probably take at least 20 months to get through my TBR if I read two a week but sometimes I only read one…..and by the way my maths is crap so this isn’t ‘exact’. This is also with my current TBR, so that could change by tomorrow.
I’m honoured and chuffed that publicists send me books and always get excited when I see Eileen from reception walking towards my work section in the salon with an armful of packages. It’s like Christmas morning for me, and I take great delight in opening them. And just like Christmas when I say thank you to the people that gave me gifts I always thank the publicists that send me wonderful book gifts.

I’m sending advance thank yous for the books that may be sent to me over the next few months. There will be a slight delay in Twitter thank yous as I shall be away from the salon. I’d love to be able to say that I’m off on an exotic travelling adventure, though equally, I am very excited, as am having hip replacement surgery carried out by the amazing Orthopaedic team at UCHL hospital on Friday. I was diagnosed with Coxa Profunda, a hip deformity 3 years ago with added early onset arthritis and am now in chronic pain, I am bizarrely relaxed about the impending operation, though have decided against watching a video of one on YouTube….yes, I was considering it.

My clients have been offering ‘kill the boredom’ suggestions whilst I recuperate, including, jigsaws, watching all 3 million episodes of Game Of Thrones/Breaking Bad/Mad Men *insert whichever boxset here*, knitting!!! and watching ALL the Olympics………I intend to do none of these.

My dearest Auntie Jayne has arranged a rota of family staying with me as part of a ‘post surgery care package’ and as soon as they’ve departed because they’ve either, helped enough, done all their chores, Auntie is allegedly painting my garden fence, or driven me absolutely bonkers, I shall start on my TBR pile. Am so looking forward to reading some of those beauties that have been sent to me, plus getting to some of my own purchases.

I shall also try and catch up on some author blog posts. My blog, on Georgina Moore’s suggestion shall temporarily become ‘Notes From The Sofa’.

Please pray for sun so I can sit in my garden.

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Sun, surgery, and, summer reads.

Shelley Harris helping me fight crimes against hair.

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I have a confession to make…….I haven’t read Vigilante and Shelley Harris has graced my chair! This will be amended as I now have a lovely copy with a personalised message in my posession. I follow Shelley on Twitter, her feed is a delight so if you don’t follow her then I suggest you do. We met at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly where she was chairing an event with Helen Ellis, author of the hilarious American Housewife. We did that little dance that happens when you meet a fellow Tweeter and we chatted. Shelley said she’d love to come for a haircut and I said I’d love her to feature on my Notes From The Chair so it was a win win.

Shelley is the author of two novels, Jubilee and Vigilante, both published by W&N. My TBR is now teetering with these new editions. It was great to have her in my chair. We sure did put the world to rights, why do house prices always come into conversation….and women’s roles and the need for change in lots of areas. We talked books, surprise surprise. Shelley recommended The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. We also talked about our love of beautiful writing and getting gushy over a well written sentence.

 

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And now for the questions……….

 

Where are you going on holiday?

 

Rome! For the first time ever, in August. I’m very excited -and almost entirely ignorant about the city. To date, my main thoughts about getting ready for the trip are to read Mary Beard’s SPQR and get recommendations about good ice cream.

How many books would you take for a week away? Favourites or new reads?

These will be new reads and real books rather than e-books,so they will take up (I’d guess) about a third of my weight allowance. Generally, I like to take around nine for a week away. This usually ensures I never run out, while also allowing for the inevitable Book Refusal when the worthy-but-dull volume I pack proves to be just as hard to stomach when I’m away as it would be at home (who’d have thought?).

What shampoo do you use?

I use Kevin Murphy’s Angel Wash – good for fine, coloured hair and also a great incentive to take on more work so I can afford it.

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

I’m doing two corking things, thank you for asking. One (Saturday) is the first meeting of the Writers’ Centre Norwich Escalator scheme 2016. I’m a mentor this year, and will be meeting my (clients? mentees?) for the first time. I’ve already read their writing and it was fabulous; on Saturday we’ll startworking together.

On Sunday and Monday (Bank Holiday!) there’s nothing doing, which is bliss. I get to be with my lovely family.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Lloyd Shepherd’s Savage Magic, the third in his historical crime fiction series. This one’s about witches, asylums and grisly, gutty murder. I love historical fiction and his stories always have a fascinating political undercurrent – I’ve loved all of them. I was meant to be reading his latest, The Detective and the Devil, but when I got home with it my husband nicked it off me. I’m biding my time before I STRIKE BACK and liberate it.

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

OK, tough one. I’m torn between the joy of seeing someone tweet at all (John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester – think how filthily funny he’d be), choosing someone I adore (Malala) and being commercially hard-nosed (Beyonce?).

So: I think it would have to be JK Rowling, who actually fits two of those categories – massive respect is due and it would get the book into lots of people’s hands.

 

What’s the worse hair disaster you’ve had?

High Wycombe, 1982: I was fifteen, embarrassed about my body – my whole self – so did everything I could to get people not to look at me. I dressed androgynously (jeans, shirts, mydad’s ties) and wore my hair in an entirely unremarkable style, fringe down past my eyes to avoid people’s gaze.

In a hairdresser’s above the Octagon shopping centre I had a cut from a man who kept saying, as he snipped away: ‘it’s all for fashion, isn’t it, love?’ As the appointment went on his question took on an increasingly ominous tone, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to tell him what I actually wanted.

At the end, he did a bit of spraying and fluffing, and showed me what he’d done. I had the face of John Gordon Sinclair*and the hairstyle of John Taylor. The hairdresser finished with a final: ‘It’s all for fashion, isn’t it?’ and, being British, I just said ‘It’s great – thanks!’

I remember slightly hyperventilating once I got outside, and spending the whole journey home pressing down on my hair so it would go back to normal.

 

*Though, in fairness, I had that when I came in. You could just see more of it now

 

Vigilante is published by W&N.

 

Shelley Harris helping me fight crimes against hair.

Hugging and wandering amongst a sea of books…..

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Today I went to the greenhouse that is Olympia in London to the London Book Fair. The last time I was in this building was for a hairdressing event. Having worked for a few ‘biggish’ hairdressing companies, I’ve stood on stage in this building either being a compere, or doing hair over the years. One of the last was for a Wedding Fair styling numerous, *cough cough* Bridezillas, whilst consuming enough hairspray to completely obliterate the ozone layer. When the lovely Becky Short came to the salon with one of her authors, she asked if I was going to LBF. Now being a book loving tweeter, occasional blogger, and hairdresser I didn’t feel that I necessarily had a right, or purpose to going but she thought I may find it interesting hence finding  myself on the Piccadilly Line this morning…….I thought if nothing else I would hug anyone I saw,  if you know me you’ll know I love to throw my arms around people when I say hello.

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So I pottered into Olympia and lo and behold within 5 minutes spotted Anna James, by her wondrous mane of hair I might add, so she got the first hug. I then proceeded to wander rather aimlessly with a steaming cup of coffee, I felt like a lost puppy dog. Being true to my hairdressing roots (sorry) I recognised a few people because of their hair. I stopped Kate Morton on route to her Editor to gush that I loved her books and told her that she has stunning hair.

I was about to head off when I bumped into Jo Dawson of Quick Reads and The Reading Agency who told me there was a talk ‘Making Books Trend: From the News Headlines to Twittersphere, How Can Books Set the Agenda’ that I’d be interested in, so armed with another coffee and a pain au chocolat I went and found a seat.

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The talk was chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink, once again reaffirming my adoration and awe of her. The panel consisted of Charlotte Bush and Emma Finnigan talking about the Go Set A Watchman campaign. Nikesh Shukla discussing his novel Meatspace and the video of ‘that’ chop going into space. Alan Staton of Books Are My Bag described how this campaign had grown since it’s launch. And to finish, Dan Dalton of Buzzfeed took to the floor to say that books didn’t go viral but ‘stories, controversy, people, and stunts’ did. It was interesting, particularly as I spend a lot of time on Twitter looking at and sharing book love.

To round my day up……

People hugged:

Anna James, Clare Mackintosh, Sheila Reilly from Dulwich Books, Francesca Best,  Jo Dawson, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Sara Jade Virtue, Vicky Palmer, Rob Chilver, and Nikesh Shukla.

Those who got waves:

Charlotte Bush (only because I couldn’t lean across the chairs), Kate Morton, Dan Dalton, Jo Liddiard, Thomas Noble, Sophie Goodfellow.

And a thank you to Ursula Doyle for popping one of these fab Fleet tote bags aside for me, I now have a *boom boom * hare bag!

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Hugging and wandering amongst a sea of books…..

B.A Paris in the chair.

 

 

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I’m a massive Twitter fan and I love the book community on it. I love the interaction between readers, bloggers, authors, and publishing folk. I know firsthand that you’re more likely to get a Twitter reply from an author than a pop/rockstar. Harry Styles never replies to me……. I love discovering new books on Twitter. I’m a huge debut fan and if a book frequently flits through my timeline then chances are I’m going to want to read it.

I’m a fan of the psychological thrillers that have appeared in the last few years. The Girl On The Train, I Let You Go, The Kind Worth Killing, and The Woman Who Ran are some of my favourites. So when a book pops up in my timeline that is a debut psychological thriller my eyes widen.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris is so so good. It is definitely joining that list of favourites I’ve mentioned. I was gripped from the start. If you like reading whilst holding your breath then this book is for you. Is it the perfect marriage or the perfect lie?  Jack and Grace appear to have the perfect life and relationship but do they? Things aren’t always as they seem from the outside and the more you read the more you will gasp. Behind Closed Doors is dark and riveting and has one of THE best last chapters…….

I was delighted when B.A Paris said she’d love to come for a hairdo when she was in London. Her passion for writing and determination to be published is inspiring. I for one am very happy that book 2 ‘Every Little Thing’ will be published in November especially after hearing a sneaky synopsis which goes into my ‘secrets hairdressers keep’ oath.

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Now for the questions…..

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Behind Closed doors by B.A Paris is published by MIRA UK.

B.A Paris in the chair.

David Whitehouse is in the chair.


David Whitehouse is the wonderful author of Bed, and Mobile Library. Mobile Library was published in January 2015 and is now available with this lovely cover in paperback. It tells the story of Bobby and how one summer his love of books introduces him to a new ‘family’. It is funny, sentimental, and off beat. All the characters are so vibrant. It was one of my favourites of 2015.

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I’d harassed David Whitehouse on numerous occasions to come and have his haircut with me and it finally paid off.
Firstly I have to say that he has an amazing head of hair, which further reiterates my thoughts that writing is good for the follicles.
Secondly he is very lovely to talk to.
We talked loads about stuff. We chatted about London and our love of it, yet how we didn’t feel that we had to be at its epicentre. At how ridiculous house prices are, both of us having a rant about how people on ‘normal’ wages just won’t get on that ladder, hence both of us moving out a little…bye bye zone 2, hello zone 5 and Kent.

We talked about writing and the process writers go through, whether they’re plotters or free flowing writers and also where they write. I personally find this fascinating so is a question I always ask.

David told me he rents an office space to write in, which holds a desk and a chair and no distractions.

Apparently he’s a good cook and can whip up some great menus, after spending the morning being distracted by Homes Under The Hammer and Twitter, hence needing the office space.

It was great to hear that book 3 will be ready for 2017, the synopsis sounds amazing and I for one will be eager to read it. Good to hear that it is ‘with’ the amazing Francesca Main, who has, and I quote David, ‘superpowers’ where books are concerned. Also to hear of some other secret projects…..that vow of oath I took regarding keeping secrets stands here……..

We talked about recent book reads and were in absolute agreement that Anatomy Of A Soldier by Harry Parker is bloody amazing. David is interviewing him for a ‘Shortlist’ event on 10th March. My tickets are booked and I will be sitting FROW for this.

  

Now for the questions…..

Where are you going on holiday?

Chichester. I’m not completely sure why.

How many books would you take for a week away? Favourites or new  reads?

I’d take one for every two days, so for a week, three and a half. If I get through those, which I won’t because I’m slow, I’m onto borrowing other people’s, though I should probably just enjoy the holiday instead. I only ever read new stuff on holiday. In fact, I only ever read new stuff most of the time. If a book is a favourite, I’ve normally given it to someone else to force them to agree with me.

What shampoo do you use?

Radox, 2-in-1. The lazy man’s shampoo and body gel.

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

I’m seeing my oldest friend to jointly shake our fists at the passage of time.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m about to start Don Delillo’s ‘Zero K’, and am very much looking forward to it, though it sounds like a breakfast cereal.

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

JK Rowling is, as far as I can tell, wrong about nothing. So, JK Rowling, or Richard Pryor.

What’s the worse hair disaster you’ve had?

When I was 13 I asked my sister, who was 18, what would be a good, fashionable hairstyle for me to have. She told me to go to the hairdressers and ask for an “exploding mushroom”. So I did. And all the hairdresser’s laughed, once they’d gotten over the initial confusion. She’d made it up. It was a moment of inspired cruelty on her part, I feel.

Mobile library is published by Picador.

David Whitehouse is in the chair.