On Familiarise Friday I'm welcoming someone who describes themselves as...
I'm a slighty mad writer of short stories, wife of 1, mother of 4, Nanna of 4 munchkins, lover of dogs and cats and am addicted to reading blogs and using Facebook as an avoidance technique.
I can relate to some of those- in particular using Facebook - because that's where I've met this bubbly lady from South Yorkshire. I've asked Di questions so that we can get to know her world a bit better and her answers are fantastic! Settle in and let's get to know Di...
Describe yourself using only 6 words.
Happy, talkative, inquisitive (or nosy depending on your point of view) stubborn, huggy, technophobic
I think that sounds perfect from interaction on Facebook but how would the person closest to you describe you?
I hope they would say I’m loyal, ready to listen, prepared to laugh, cry, hug or push and defend depending on what they need and that I’m only a yell away.
You're a great neighbour from the sounds of that! What do you find most fascinating about people?
Oh, people fascinate me! I love to hear life stories and it never fails to astonish me how people cope with the most traumatic events and how they celebrate every achievement. No two people experience the same event in the same way. Everyone has had ‘flu for example, but each person will have their own individual symptoms and coping strategies, remedies, or tips. It’s this diversity that enthrals me so I guess I am probably considered nosy, because I ask questions about people; (I really will talk to anybody!) but I prefer to consider myself inquisitive or curious.
That’s probably why I became a social worker. I loved to listen to their stories and help them break down the difficulties they were facing then enable them to develop ways to deal with their situation or find ways to change it.
Where are you from?
|Barnsley Town Hall -England|
I am a born and bred Barnsley lass. I love this town. People are friendly and pretty open minded. They tend to let people live their lives without judgment. It was a very close knit community and in many respects it still is, but when the pits closed people started to move away for work or training rather than, as was the custom, staying very local. There’s an old saying in Barnsley that if you talk to someone for long enough you’ll end up finding out you’re related. Although it’s not AS true now, there still is truth in it.
This is the best image I can borrow from Wikimedia but that looks like a lovely Town Hall. Where are you currently living?
I live on the same street where I was born. I can see the house where my parents lived when they first married from my living room window. I’ve lived here all my life, except for two years when I first married and we lived in a village about six miles away. I was unbelievably homesick and my husband agreed to move back here at the first opportunity.
When we moved in to this house, my husband was more than a little perturbed by the fact that everyone knew everyone else. He’d be walking down the street and a neighbour would ask him how we’d settled in and how the kids and I were. He had no idea who they were, but they knew him. As the kids were growing up, it was as safe for them to play on the street and in the fields as it had been for me and my friends. My husband quickly realised the value of the community because if one of the kids got hurt (as my kids seemed to do quite regularly) a neighbour would start patching them up while dispatching a child to get one of us.
Now my mobility is limited, I am not scared of falling in the garden or getting my mobility scooter stuck on the kerb because all I need do is shout and one of my neighbours will come and help. I feel very safe and extremely lucky to live where I do.
|Wikimedia- Barnsley Pit|
There are few people nowadays who can say that, Di. Not many live anywhere near where they were born since they've had to move away for work, or other reasons, and they don't have that 'extended family feel' around them. What are the best things about living in Barnsley?
It’s so central. 10 minutes in one direction and I can pour salve on my shopaholic tendencies at a major shopping mall. 10 minutes in the other direction and I’m in the middle of open countryside watching birds squabble in the fields or smell the bluebells in the woods.
Name your most favourite place in the whole world/universe.
France. If I lived anywhere other than here it would have to be Brittany or Vendee. I love the scenery, the culture, the coast line, the language and the people.
That sounds lovely reasons, Di. I've travelled quite a lot in the past but have not often visited France, and never the Vendee area. The ironic thing is that French was the language I took on to University level but I've never used it much. Who would be your ideal holiday companion if you took off on a sudden unplanned trip to Vendee?
I keep asking my friend if we’re going to Outer Mongolia! Sometimes when ‘stuff’ happens it feels like the only place to escape. We have been friends since our first day at secondary school and she knows me better than I know myself. She is funny and knowledgeable and more reserved and calm than me, so she’d be an ideal companion.
I would escape to anywhere with my husband. It’s sloppy, but he really is my soul mate and although we might annoy each other at times, we can’t bear to be apart for too long.
|Wikimedia Vendee France|
Now that's a really lovely thing to say- about your friend and your husband! What’s your favourite way to travel?
Car. I need freedom. I don’t like being stuck in one place for too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be perfectly happy lying on a beach with the sun blasting down and waves mumbling in the background but after a day of doing not much I get bored, so I like to get in the car and explore. I also like that when we go anywhere by car, we can take a route that suits us and stop wherever and whenever we fancy. Oh and I can take as much luggage as the car will hold, because I don’t do light travelling!
My husband and I will travel long distances by plane but we tend to hire a car and do the same as you since we're not beach huggers. We travel around the area and get a 'big' feel of the place.
Back to the questions, though. You have a background in social work, I believe. Can you tell us how you got into that?
I started doing a Social Sciences degree with the intention of being lecturer or researcher, but found my dyscalculia very limiting and although it was diagnosed and recognised, I decided it was all a bit too much. I’d been working as a community youth worker for a couple of years and had done some voluntary work with families in crisis. It seemed like the logical path to take was into social work and I can say hand on heart, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
As a former Primary teacher of the upper stages, it wasn't often a child had something equating to a Maths dyslexia but it meant a lot of frustration for the kid who had this kind of problem because they could excel at many other areas of learning. As a teenager, did you think you’d end up with a social work profession ? If not, how did you view your future?
I always wanted to be a nurse. I went for all the interviews and got a provisional place to train as a Registered General Nurse, but I failed my O level maths exam and I’d not got the energy to re-sit it. I was sort of wandering around a bit aimlessly when I met the man who, six months later became my husband. I was 17 and I’m sure my parents thought long and hard before agreeing to sign for me to marry. Of course, no one thought it would last. 31 years on and maybe they still think that!
What’s your main occupation just now?
I have Multiple Sclerosis and a weird type at that, so I can’t work now. I occupy myself starting stories that will probably never get finished, I spend time visiting my friends and I’ve just started driving again so I’m enjoying a little bit of independence again. I am addicted to Facebook and spend more time chatting on there than anything else.
Your health problem sounds really debilitating but I'm glad you've got some mobility back- that bit of independence sounds like it must be a great boost. If there was no Facebook, I'm sure you'd be outside your door in good weather chatting to the passers by - though rainy days might be pretty boring. Describe a typical day- if you have one.
With MS there’s no such thing as a typical day. I can feel well, not have pain or be tired one minute then the next; I’m flat on my back unable to lift my arms to wipe my nose. It certainly means there’s never a dull moment. I can’t do anything spontaneously but when the MS is behaving itself, I try to do everything I feel like doing.
I’ve learnt to be very selfish in how I spend my energy and unless something is vital, unless I want to do it, I don’t. My once very tidy home now languishes in dust and there are collections of dog hair in most corners. I’d rather visit a friend, read an article, or now I have my e-reader thingy, read a book than do housework, and I am very fortunate to be in a position to do this.
Finding coping strategies sounds like the best way forward, Di. Not easy, but less frustrating if you work out the best at any given time. Now for the imagining bit. Health issues aside - You’ve been granted a whole week where you can choose every single thing you want to do. What would that be?
Hahaha Oh I’d have a bath! A proper, lie down, skin-reddening bubble bath at least once a day. I love my showers, but I miss my hot baths. I’d drink red wine (it makes me too ill now but this is a magic week isn’t it?) I’d walk my dogs for miles and miles, that way they might not wake me up at silly O’clock of a morning so I’d get to lie-in. I’d visit my friends in other countries and counties and have coffee and cakes with them and I’d go to sleep every night with a book in my hand. There’d have to be some retail therapy in there somewhere and possibly a swim!
What’s your favourite reading material?
My granddad used to say that I’d read the back of a sauce bottle if there was nothing else to read! I’ll read just about anything. The only thing I don’t read is horror stories. I see pictures as I read almost like watching a film, to me that’s the sign of a good book. If after the first chapter I can’t see the pictures, I put the book down. It doesn’t mean I’ll never pick it up again, just that at that particular time, it wasn’t the right book for me to read. I’m as happy reading my grandchildren’s’ nursery rhyme books as I am Patricia Cornwell or Caroline Ahern.
Ha! Ha! I did read the sauce bottles as well, as a youngster, and anything else around! Can you tell us about the writing you’ve done, please?
I’ve had a couple of e-books published, but they are certainly not the kind of story any readers of your blog will have found and I have one story published in an anthology in the same genre. I’ve had a few articles published in newsletters for families who have a child with a life limiting illness and have written an article about End of Life Care for my GP’s practice that he asked me to do. I have also got a short story being published in an anthology to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s sufferers and carers. It should be published very soon but no date has been finalised. I tend to write for my own and my friends’ pleasure and don’t look for publication. It’s more of a happy coincidence than good management when things I write get released to the wider world, but who knows, maybe one day?
That sounds great, Di. I’ve made contact with you via Facebook. Did you know any Crooked Cat authors before you became a member of the CC Readers Group?
I was introduced to the CC group by Ailsa Abraham. (if you know how would you put a link to her blog in please?) We met through a couple of mutual friends on Facebook and I haven’t looked back since. There are so many inspirational authors on the CC page and everyone has been very kind and generous and I now have a much wider circle of friends than I ever thought possible.
The CC Cats are a great bunch, I totally agree with you there. Are you a gadget freak, or a technophobe?
I'm a bit of a tentative Technophobe meaning I'm okay with things I'm shown how to use, but beyond that a bit challenged! What is your biggest goal for 2014?
To be at the birth of my grandchild. I’ve been there for three of my four grandchildren’s births, though my youngest was a bit of a near thing as he was born on the living room floor!
Now that sounds like a story to write. It sounds like he had a mind of his own over exactly how quickly he was entering the world...
One word answers, please, to the following:
Which do you prefer?
Night in or night out? Out Walking or skydiving? Walking Classical or Hard rock music? Hard Rock! Vienna or Magaluf? Vienna Meat or fruit? Fruit City or countryside? CountrysideReading or walking? Reading Travel or stay at home? Stay home
I'm with you on so many of these answers, Di! Thanks for coming to be interviewed - it's been fantastic getting to know you through your wonderful answers. Best wishes for any writing projects you undertake and a wish that your health is the best it can be for you.