13 Jul 2023

Possibly the worst tabloid in the world

This post started out as a different animal altogether, but between typing the title (originally - my midlife crisis is here!) and getting to the end of the first paragraph, Huw Edwards was revealed (on his behalf, by his wife) to be The BBC Presenter at the centre of The S*n's story about photographs of a sexual nature being paid for.

And I just felt so sad.

Edwards is in hospital where his mental health is buckling - as you might expect after being outed by The S*n. The statement confirming that he is the much-speculated presenter was made by his wife.

I am glad that his wife was the one to make the statement (he clearly isn't in a position to do so) and it gives his family some element of control over the narrative - his wife isn't sitting at home keeping dutifully silent and one would hope that after nearly a week his five children have now got their heads wrapped around what is going down.

I am not here to troll or gloat over what has happened. There but for the grace of god go I. We are all entitled to a private life - so long as we don't break the law while we're living it.  At the moment it seems that he hasn't broken the law (maybe breaching covid lockdown rules). We don't know everything and I hope people won't be too quick to judge anybody in this scenario other than the ghastly S*n newspaper.

Remember - those paragons of virtue at The S*n used to count down the days until their favourite boobilicious page 3 girls hit 16 years of age.

My reaction also depends what kind of creature we've got here: It wasn't too long ago that we had Philip Schofield coming out as gay to nationwide sympathy and then a few breaths later, looking for all the world like a child-abuser at worst or someone who was prepared to collude with a child-abuser at best.

But if what we've got is simply a closeted gay man who likes younger guys? That's not exactly news, is it? The world is full of older people who prefer younger people's bodies - it's not the end of the world. It's horrendous for his wife and children - but should be PRIVATE to them.

And it would seem that the first young man was not responsible for outing Huw, but his mother. And for a mother to take her story to the press instead of the police, well, I have my doubts about the intentions behind that - but maybe I'm being too unkind.

Another young man has come forward and produced emails where Edwards is splenetic at the thought of this young man outing him on Twitter. To be honest, I'd be fucking livid as well.

But what possesses a man who is in the public eye to take such risks?  You cannot be telly-famous in the UK and put yourself onto 'dating' sites (I don't know whether they all met on a dating site, a paid content site or on a gay forum etc) and not expect there to be a high risk of something going catastrophically wrong.

Perhaps we can assume that he was listed there under a username or handle that was not his real name and did not load up photos that would identify him to casual viewers. Perhaps he only revealed who he was to those he had struck up private correspondence with and grew to trust ... slipping into the DMs as they say. Oh Huw - it seems that you misjudged your security with at least one of them.

I feel so sorry for his wife and family in all this, blind-sided by their loved one having (we assume) a completely closeted Other Life. The shock, the betrayal, it will pile in on them for months as each of them replays a million different events and conversations as they look for signs and the realisation that when dad said/did this, it was really THAT.  None of that is anybody's business but theirs.

Huw Edwards is not squeaky clean. Truth is, nobody is.We all have our private worlds and foibles and mostly they harm nobody. More stuff might come out and I might change my mind - but as it stands today - consenting adults did something sexual. The world is FULL of that. Meanwhile, our former PM can't share his Whatsapp messages because he's 'forgotten' the log-in details. HE'S a criminal. But hey ho, let's fire up the torches and grab the pitch forks and go for somebody different instead. It's a mess. 

I just hope Edwards and his family get the help and support they need. 

And I hope The S*n finally sets in the west and Liverpool gets the last long and hollow laugh. 

10 Jul 2023

Botanical Art at Bute Yard

My sketches


 I will be 60 next month and while it simultaneously makes me feel panicky AF and also grateful that I've had 60 years above the soil, I'm now throwing myself into Doing Stuff That Makes Me Happy Before It's Too Late.

One of these events took place last Wednesday at a new venue here on the island, Bute Yard. It's a big cool hanger of a space with professional kitchens, oodles of space (for your wedding or crime fiction festival lol!) and a small piece of it was hived off behind a couple of dividers for 12 of us to do this Botanical Art workshop event.

It was my lovely friend Ruth Slater who was running the event - excellent professional artist who lives locally - and she had laid out the two long tables with absolutely everything that we would need to master painting a sprig of Lavender and a sprig of Rosemary - nib pens, Indian ink, paint, brushes, paper - the full nine yards.

Isle of Bute Gin were also involved in the event and we were each greeted with a very lovely French Martini on arrival - which helped the creative juices flow no end! And half way through we were given a lovely Gin & Tonic which kept us feeling boho and arty until 9pm and home time. 

Bute Yard - it's BIG, isn't it?  We were at a couple of tables up at the top. Close to the bar. Of course. 

Here we are, nursing our French Martinis and practicing our penwomanship!

Fancy Indian Ink fun and my little bit of Rosemary.

Our half-time G&Ts being set up on the bar - hooray! 

Look at this beautiful work from Ruth with her memories of Spring - isn't it gorgeous? 

And this is also by Ruth - her Autumn study work. 

Getting the sketching done and preparing to mix some colours and bring it all to life!

My Rosemary

My Lavender

So here are the pix of the event. It was a lot of fun and the first time that Bute Yard has done something like this. It won't be the last though - I'm also signed up for a tapestry workshop too at the end of the month.

Hoping for more gin, of course!

Also wtf is going on with the formatting here?! Anyone got any ideas?! 

3 Jul 2023

Life Lessons From Wordle

I don't quite know when or why I started doing Wordle, but it has become a daily obsession - along with Quordle, Octordle, Sedecordle and Waffle. Over the weeks (months!) of doing the puzzles every day, a tiny community of friends has built up where we share our scores and commiserate when it all goes tits up. It is very soothing, and I love them all.

We tend to run into the same hurdles over and over again on these Wordle-type word puzzles, so here are my Wordle-fu insights, as life lessons.

1  Get all the vowels out of the way

In Wordle it's unlikely you will hit upon all the consonants you need to create the answer word, but you can easily eliminate all the vowels in two attempts, tops.  

Therefore, in life, you will never have all the answers, but there will be some things that you can easily eliminate that will help you muddle forwards.

2  Never fall down the missing first letter hole

Sometimes in Wordle you get all the letters bar the first one. How many times have I and my Wordling brethern and sistern immediately jumped into the AHA! it must be this!!! Only to discover that it is NOT that letter. And then you bang in another letter. And it is not that letter either and before you know it, you have ONE line left and THREE other words to guess that you haven't even looked at.  Quordle can be a complete bastard like that. 

Don't fixate upon and chase one thing at the expense of another three things that you haven't even looked at. Men, jobs, whatever. You do not want to be 80 and discover you've only got one line left and fuck all chance to look at the other three options.

3  American Spellings

Oh yes, WE on this side of the pond know how to spell COLOUR and COLOR is not it. When you adhere to a set of beliefs without examining them properly, you'll DIE of absolute blazing righteous anger in Wordle. And in life. Life is not fair. Consider all the sneaky options too. 

4 Trying to second-guess the wordle-puzzler's mind set

You have three of the five letters and a myriad of options that would fit the spaces, but only three attempts left. You wonder whether the puzzle-setter will go for the obvious choice or hit something completely mad (yes, CAULK, I'm looking at you). Forget trying to get inside that weirdo's head. Just make your best guess.  Same as in life - don't try to work out what makes another person happy and twist yourself out of shape trying to fit in. Just be your own weird, wonderful self. You might lose the guy, but you might get a job setting the Wordle puzzles.

5 Don't cheat

I see them, the people that solve Wordle in 2 lines, Quardle in 6 etc. And they do it just about every day. Of course sometimes people DO get it in 2 and 6, but they are so vanishingly rare that you are applauding them for DAYS when it happens. If it happens every other day? You're cheating - AND WE KNOW IT.

In life, yes, you can cheat your way to first place - but you don't really win. And we all know that you cheated. Better to fail honestly than cheat *says she who cheats at Trivial Pursuits and has NO REGRETS* 

23 Jun 2021

Hestia in the time of Coronavirus .... 2021

My last blog post here was March 2020 and looking back over the past 12 months brings back feelings of so much fear, uncertainty, helplessness, Barnard Castle, anger, hope and the sense of life just slipping past and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

In 2020, I grew lots of tomato plants and salad leaves and was so incredibly fortunate to have Sonshine and Tartarus at home with me and a big garden with a ladycave we could escape into.

Now it's June 2021 and Tartarus and I have both had our two vaccinations with Sonshine due to get his second jab in a few weeks - what kind of miracle is that?! And yet we are STILL not free of this damned situation.

What did I do with my year of being confined to barracks? Did I learn Spanish? Paint masterful watercolours? Write that book?


Although I DID keep my Gaelic up and am sitting at 560 days of an unbroken streak.  But I still don't think I could order two pints of beer in The Park Bar in Glasgow though!

I have watched a LOT of youtube, listened to gazillions of podcasts, bought lots of online courses (and then never completed the courses, of course!), watched the entire six seasons of Bosch on Amazon, the French 'Spiral' series (note to self: never ever get on the wrong side of the Parisian flics!) discovered a lot of Scandi crime ... and took up skipping.

Have also injured myself on a regular basis with the skipping too - it's not the same effortless fun at 58 as it was when I was 10!

First of all I skipped too much and developed such sore calves that I couldn't walk properly and had to waddle like a portly penguin. That lasted about 5 days and provided a lot of hilarity for hubby and son as I hopped up and down the stairs.

The next thing that happened was knee pain that just would not go away. Fortunately a lovely crime-writing physiotherapist suggested some exercises for my IT band which did the trick, but it took WEEKS before I had the confidence to launch my body skywards without my knee singing an urgent protest.

My most recent war wound through skipping is somehow hurting my back between my shoulder blades.  At first I thought my sports bra was just too tight, but heck-almighty no.  I ended up on my hands and knees on the lawn, desperately catting and cowing (proper yoga parlance - not!) so that I could stand up and hobble into the kitchen.

I am rapidly approaching the stage of just giving up fighting the flab and sinking gracefully into a vat of cheese and crackers.

And that's where I am just now - sore back, no skipping, unfit, eating kitkats by the packet, drinking gin and tonic by the pint. Other than that - life in the time of coronavirus is marvellous.

How about you? Are you still out there reading this? Are you still blogging? Did YOU write that novel? Tell me everything :)  

19 Mar 2020

Hestia and life in the time of coronavirus

One day, our diaries will be historical documents, so we might as well document what's happening.

The virus isn't in Argyll & Bute yet - or at least there are no publicly confirmed cases in the area that I've heard about at the moment.  But that will change.  And it might change because of the Easter holidays and the University students who have been told to go home.  And maybe not to go back to uni this term.  That's a lot of bodies on the move back to distant communities.

Sonshine is just finishing second year at St Andrews and lives in a house with two other Scottish lads (Dirty Harry and Fightin' Fraser).  Who are lovely. 

Tartarus has driven up to St Andrews today to bring home Sonshine and whatever worldly possessions he wants to keep.  Because it might be the case that we go into some kind of lockdown scenario and they will not be back before the end of the lease on their property.  I think we will be kissing the refundable deposit goodbye.

I wonder what the boys are doing about the gas and electric.  *can feel financial panic rising* Maybe today isn't the best day to be worrying about that.

Anyway here on our sleepy island, things are not as bucolic as is usually the case.

We have one Big supermarket - the co-op - and any time I've been in in the past week, it's been full of folks milling around wondering who the feck is hoarding all the toilet roll, rice, pasta and butter.  And, as of today, I'm wondering who is also hoarding the butternut squash and the chickpeas.  I know - very first world problems, right?

Tartarus and I are trying to keep ourselves out and about, but, paradoxically, not being very sociable.  Well, Tartarus has been at the pub for three evenings last weekend, but I have asked, all 'nagging wife' jokes aside if he could please stop doing that as you just don't blerdy know what's going on in public spaces - especially pubs.

Juno, my mother, is on the mainland and living in her 'supported' housing.  She has stocked up on gin and jigsaws.  Has also got series 2 of The Crown to watch and a boxed set of The Sopranos.  'Hen, I survived being bombed by Hitler, so being stuck in the house for a month with a box set isn't much of a hardship.' 

The plan is, I think, at the end of that month, when things are - god willing - starting to flatten down in the UK, that I can bring her down to the island for a month or so.  Not staying with us.  Oh for GAWD'S sakes, that would be madness! But my friends have a one-bed cottage that she will be able to rent.  She'll be nearer, but still able to be isolated if the need arises.

I am trying not to panic, but the truth is that the chaos that is swirling around this virus frightens me more than contracting the virus itself.  Someone on the island, for example, discovered that her mother's toilet roll had been stolen by a visitor to her mother's house - carer? cleaner? I have no idea - but WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!

There is a really thin veneer of civilisation on us (well, clearly its thinner on some folk than on others) and it won't take much for that veneer to chip right off.  That scares the crap out of me.

I am spending my time flicking between scare stories (AKA 'up-to-the-minute-updates') and weeding.  Flicking through my packets of seeds and being determined that things will, as somebody famous once said, be ok in the end. 

And, if things are not ok, it's not the end. 

With lots of love from me and mine to you and yours, wherever you are <3

Explore the ruined citadel of m'blog: