Shirley Mitchell

Shirley Mitchell

Location St Ives, Cambridgeshire



  • When the Kissing Cannot Stop

    It was hard coming to terms with some of the conventions on my first stay in France. But I was there for eleven years so hopefully I got it right eventually.

    … there's the business of kissing for instance. Kissing as a daily greeting I found a charming innovation. I loved watching my daughter leave the house for school and...


    One of the most charming traditions in France is the offering of a sprig of muguet to family and friends on the first of May. This is to bring good luck and in my case I found lilies-of-the-valley in a variety of pretty containers on my doorstep – from tradesmen who had done work for me, from little lads who had walked home...

  • I've had both positive and negative experiences with some of my (oh dear, yes, I have quite a few) blogs on FB but have learned by trial and error (and in one case distress) which platforms to avoid (= to steer clear of) and have also picked up the tricks of the trade eg blocking individual bullies ...

    The delightful feedback I receive from my modest number...

  • Been there, done that ... so had a somewhat biased attitude even before plunging into someone else's "take" on one of my favourite haunts.

    George often invited my daughter and I to his Sunday carrot cake picnic parties. Our sadness at his death is still too raw for any sensible appreciation of articles about him.

    See what you mean about the...

  • Neither drew me in. Not surprising in the Music one but as a long-term fanI would have hoped for something more annoying or pleasing - not so bland.

  • Thank you, Barbara C, for a thought-provoking hour on this soul-less Saturday. All interesting. Favourite = Gifted Girls

  • @BarbaraLister I'm a sucker for anything to do with the East End. And as for Chaucer - love him - dare I say "in spite of" enforced study for A level English - well, to counteract that - "because of" his appearence in Anya Seton's KATHERINE ...

    My convoluted way of saying THANK YOU, Barbara L for the link

  • Kate Adie - I SO admire and trust this woman PLUS appreciating her literary style

  • I am passionate about many topics. A vegetarian for 60+ years, a Socialist for most of my life ... these commitments frame my Outlook.

    What makes me leap out of my fragile, aged ... and, yes, essentially shy shell ... is hearing folk pontificate about DYSLEXIA. A terribly abused term. I was there at its conception and watched so many self-appointed experts...

  • Commiserations, Trina. Oh, oh, oh - that accursed BLOCK.

  • Week 3 = curate's egg

    Have great hopes for Week 4 ...

  • See above

  • That's more like it ... very good mini-lecture!

  • Moi aussi. Well, French by marriage and something my French family, friends, colleagues et al could never explain to me - why so many Lords and Ladies remain in their chateaux to this day ...

    May try doing a feature on this - but I will WRITE it in how ever many drafts it takes - then send out or destroy - but NOT PITCH IT.

  • 'Tis very exciting when you are called in to have your photograph taken to be used at the head of your column



    Someone "official" will probably post an actual link. I enjoyed both courses but am not reaping much from this one

  • Habit of lifetime - notepaper and pencil on bedside table. Used scribbled reminder this very morning. Electronic post-its lined up on right of screen. Very informal and would mean nothing to outsiders

  • ... or just write the wretched piece, durnit ...

  • With you there, Catherine. A pity there was not an ALL to vote for.

    Also, I can plonk myself down at my computer, on an aeroplane seat (with an old envelope and a pencil), on my sofa (with a notebook and biro) and "open my mind" till an idea comes.

  • Ditch the pitch ... is my advice. Just send in the completed text plus any drawings/photographs you have carefully produced.

    You have done your research re which publications will be interested in your work, you have toiled and slaved and perfected every word. Trying to artificially present it is a bad idea.

  • Yes, they often have their own agenda ...

  • @MarkJackson How does one do that? Seems an extremely useful ploy

  • Yes, RIP Hilary - though I did not "enjoy" her books I nevertheless "admired" them ...

  • A Ruth Rendell I am just getting into. One of those where the murderer is revealed immediately and then his character analysed chapter by chapter.

    The room he lives in says so much about him - spotless, respectable outwardly but despite all his faddy housekeeping it is underneath a mouldy-cornered, unattractive space ...

  • @MarkJackson Love this little chapel cum barn Took classes there on field trips and after the usual giggling and shuffling those who chose to stand on the preacher's stone really seemed to soak up the sense of "what happened here all those years ago."

  • My most recent "features" have appeared in a local news sheet and they defy much of what is being expounded here. For a start they are SHORT - sometimes less than 500 words. I often provide a drawing which hopefully accounts for further information on the subject.

    I suppose there is a hook - sometimes the time of year, sometimes a memory sparked off by an...

  • Beware. Interviewers often have their own agendas and some go as far as to "trick" you into ging the answers they want ...

  • "By golly, she reminds me of me"

    JOHN WAYNE IN True grit

  • Sure does, Linda. Some fun thankfully but a change of country and a loss of precious daughter ate t' other side of the coin.
    Hope to meet up on another course - am delving into screenwriting next ...

  • You have to pay for that kind of access, Vivienne - but you probably know that.
    It is a big disappointment to me, one of the founder members ...

  • At last an accessible author. No me, me, me in his answers. A real, honest WRITER, believably involved in his craft. Thank you, Mr R. Off to immerse myself in your book.

  • "... clearing a space for individuals to articulate themselves in their own linguistic register, without a narrator who might attempt to either interpret or neutralise their words, can carry tremendous political force."

    Do SO agree with this ... am off to my sofa to think about it even more ...

  • "Effie's in de coal hole" - so long since I read SILAS MARNER so this might not be strictly accurate but, boy, did this snippet communicate so much ...

  • Oh dear, how annoying when there are no "he said/she shouted/ they groaned"s and I have to count back up the page to discover just who said what and to whom ... Hilary Mantel was struck off my reading list for this habit in particular

  • Oh dear, how annoying when there are no "he said/she shouted/ they groaned"s and I have to count back up the page to discover just who said what and to whom ... Hilary Mantel was struck off my reading list for this habit in particular

  • Sarah Harrison, Ruth Rendell, Iris Murdoch and Joanna Trollope do this butting -in business very well. Dickens, though the master of the monologue sometimes gets this group conversation going.

  • You have re-inforced my resolve NOT to read this book, Steve.

  • I'm going to read a (free) sample on my Kindle - out of duty to FL - certainly not out of admiration having read the LOOK INSIDE extract.

    Probably will not purchase the book as am not interested in reading about explicit sex seasoned with swearing ...

  • That's it exactly, Pamela. Dickens loved his characters, good or bad. Joyce seems at best disinterested, at worst contemptuous

  • @JanHill What a crafty way of conveying your feelings about soc,Jan. :-)

  • @JaneSaunte Do tell, Jane.

  • A long-time favourite of mine - and very avant-garde (oops, please forgive the tautology there)

  • Love it that you and your daughter do that. Was the same for me and my precious daughter ...

  • Lovely way of looking at it

  • Thx for reposting

  • Hi there, Graham. Thanks for replying in such a good-natured way.
    There is a slide rule AND a set of Napier's bones in my desk drawer and yet I am fairly fluent in Computer speak but hopeless at Sudoko. :-)

  • Is this "photo-shopped"?

    Or tongue-in-cheek?

  • She is still an insensitive spoiled brat at the end of the story.

  • Oh, that nasty little spoiled bitch Emma!

    Good conversation is to be found in THE RADIANT WAY by MARGARET DRABBLE. Liz, Alix and Esther reveal their true selves through their honest discussions - they seldom boast, often confess and understand each other very deeply.

  • I'm thinking of following his diet :-)

  • Yes, Rebus is rather special - what a diet; what tortures he goes through, what stubborn methods ... but he always gets his villain

  • Oh yes, the ultra humble Jane

  • Katherine ( Anya Seton). I've read this GO TO book so many times I think I know her inside and out. I see her, feel with her, blend into her backgrounds - from draughty small manor house to sumptuous London palaces. I could draw her clothes , taste her food, love her loved ones, hate her enemies.

    Oddly I can never hear her voice ...

  • Is that "Parson" a (funny) deliberate mistake, George?

  • Oh yes, Elizabeth Gaskell - definitive.

  • Good example. Great book. Gifted author.

  • Supreme example of being manipulated ( and rather resenting it) by the flashback technique = Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" and "A God in Ruins" where the reader finds he/she has been duped because a pilot was actually killed in an event halfway through the book and therefor the rest of the story and a dozen characters one has come to "enjoy" could not...

  • 3 "go to" favourites ...
    Katherine by Anya Seton - original text (updates have the best bits missing)
    The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport - I find something new every time I read it
    Random Harvest - the book uses different time sequence to the film (which I also love - my daughter and I could recite the dialogue word for word) so is a good exercise...

  • @JulieMilner
    With you on Wolf Hall, Julie. The conversations in particular were so frustrating to read - had to keep counting backwards to discover who was speaking.
    The Mantel fans couldn't see what i was getting at when I explained this to a Group.

  • "Italic was not, however, the dominant form of handwriting in Elizabethan and early Stuart England. It gradually made its way into England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it took a considerable time for italic to replace the older "native" hand (originally from France), a late gothic cursive known as secretary hand. Secretary is not easily...

  • How does Hamlet regard the actors?
    How does Polonius regard the actors?
    What are the actors going to perform?
    What is Hamlet trying to achieve by having them perform it?

  • I know it is not helpful to feel offended - but I do resent the phrase "if indeed it ever has been."

    If this is the case the work of thousands of preceptors is reduced to ashes.

  • Sounds familiar.

    This was asked a dozen times during my (wonderful) time in the classroom.
    Radical overhaul? Nah.

    "Persuading" young people to let teachers help them master the basic skills with which to even BEGIN to LEARN will always be the first aim. Get that right and you can extend and develop further instruction as discoveries and concepts arrive...

  • Informative.
    If a bit disillusioning (disappointing?) ...

  • @HannahBarker
    ... or maybe Sutton-Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire which would surely be an even better Thornfield.

  • Sutton-Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire

  • I lived in Pangbourne when some of P and P was being filmed at Basildon Park
    Judy Dench stayed in the pub and many of my neighbours were emplyed as extras

  • Choose your moment with care. I was turned away because FILMING was in progress

  • @AllisonAllen
    Often walked to Wingfiled Manor with my Dad. In fact we left a note tucked into one of the crumbling walls - this is some eighty years ago - please let me know if you find it.
    Haddon Hazll is a JOY.

  • Recommend both. For contrast if nothing else.
    (And there is plenty "else")

  • Connection somewhat contrived and not really necessary

  • What does ‘Bunbury’ refer to? [Hint: You may need to search the internet for the term]
    An invented person to act as an alibi

    Consider the use of family terms (brother, aunt, husbands, wives), how stable are these terms?
    Don't get the gist of this question

    Look at the references to marriage. Does it look like a fragile social contract?...

  • "Consider the tensions between the country and the city. How are they expressed?"
    I don't understand this question so will look how others answered

    "How does the scene explore the failure of politeness?"
    Cecily frames her questions with conventioal courtesy BUT follows them up with spiteful disregard - sugaring the tea when sugar has been refused/...

  • Excellent.
    My head is spinning - but in a good way.
    Such food for thought ....

  • The tone of the passage. How does this compare or contrast with the opening tone of the tale?

    Less commercial/worldly. More surreal/fairytaleish

    References to religion. Virginia has just saved Sir Simon’s soul and is described as saintly. See how this introduces a theme of spirituality which challenges the more material references to money in...

  • I did not read your post, Claire (nor any pots for that matter) before "echoing" it with my own

  • I tool the "natural" from Lord C to mean "crude.".

  • I tool the "natural" remark by Lord C to mean "crude."

  • Consider the different types of authority (ie titles) in the passage. Can we relate them to ideas about history and nation?

    Bluebloods and Intelligentia. This type of subserviance has ALMOST disappeared now.

    What do you make of its tone? Is it comic? Do you see a seriousness beneath the comedy?

    Yes, funny but judgemental

  • I am both. Traditional publishing came first - after a long, hard struggle and hundreds of rejection slips. Then another kind of hard work - Doing it Myself.
    There are different satisfactions with each method.

    I have also edited novels for two friends - one has had a fair amount of success - the other hardly any recognition. Yet I found both (very...

  • Not sure about this.
    Will try to keep an open mind but on a first listen to Ms Fitzmaurice my hackles rose and I thought .... this contravenes
    1) the principles of FL ( MY FL to be more precise)
    2) the principles of my life at this moment (retired, independent, do what I like, when I like, how I like)

  • Marvellous
    (Presentation AND artefacts)
    Thank you, Jacky.

  • I know the three Derbyshire houses very well. I have visited them since childhood and feel a bit propritorial about them. Haddon Hall is my favourite. The historical atmposphere is breathable i_n every room and all corners of the gounds. The wistaria is magnificent.

    I was priveleged to live in a country mansion when studying for my teaching diploma. TRENT...

  • Happy to see three Derbyshire houses featured. I know them all well;

    I am also priveleged to have been housed in a country mansion when it was the campus of my college - Trent Park, Hertfordshire;

  • Like Linda and a few others I too am the White Rabbit from Wonderland. From a first glance I can't think what took me so long - this is the kind of thing FL does best .....

  • Family Group Sheet apparently. Had to look it up. $till bemused ...

  • I must admit it was a shock to see an ancestor's father designated as "the lodger".
    Later, I laughed.
    Even later I reflected on all the possibilities this brief bit of information presented ...

  • Nicknames became almost "official" in my family - even on certified documents. Hence I always knew my gran as DAISY until I was "grow'd up" enough to be told her real name.
    (DAISY , it turned out, was what my Grandpa started calling her because "their song" was "Daisy, Daisy, give me your aanswer do ..." )

  • It SHOULD be - right date to go with my original comment - but no, we are not there yet.
    Nevertheless, I am really enjoying listening to all these podcasts.. I LOVE Radio Four - saved my sanity when I was living in France ...

  • Came across this - a good discussion but not the one I was referring to

  • To be going on with ....

    The BBC site is proving extremely UN userfriendly

  • I'll try to find it on the BBC hub, Sarah and then will post the link

    I may be gone for some time ... :-)

  • I have rent books, business records and letters - all in handwriting, of course, some in pencil. But my most treasured "document" is a recipe book - recipe in its widest sense - including home-made remedies for many illnesses, cleaning tips and gardening advice as well as kitchen lore;

  • "CyndisList has a list of webpages with free downloadable FGSs and trees. "

    Can't make head nor tail of this ....

  • I have done some research into my family history - resulting in a book based on the life of my maternal grandmother. There are always gaps in information gleaned but I had no trouble (nor conscience-driven angst) about inventing/improvising material as I was very close to Grandma Daisy and , I le to think, her confidante.
    I nevertheless acknowledge an ongoing...

  • Ab - so- lute- ly