Saturday, 28 May 2016

I've got a little list...

Happy Saturday to you! 

It's my every-second-Saturday slot at Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog and today it's all about 'Music While You Work.'
It took me a while to write this post, so I'm doing a Re-Blog here so that more people can share its content.

Music While You Work...

Do you listen to music while you write, or edit, or create, or do housework... or do whatever? 

Music While You Work  was once the title of a British radio programme (BBC) which broadcast twice a day when I was growing up. Whether I was at my own house, or staying with my Nana (I’ve written about her on this blog already), it was tuned in to regularly because it played continuous music for a half hour. The music was light and easy listening, nothing that was distracting, and if I was at Nana’s it never interfered with my concentration when playing card games, dominoes or cribbage with my Grampa. My memory tends to be a bit limited these days so I Googled Music While You Work   to jog my memory even more.

What I didn’t realise back then in the 1950s was that the programme,  Music While You Work, started in 1940 and it was broadcast till 1967. The music was deliberately chosen to be non-stop light listening with a fairly even tempo, cunningly devised to improve the productivity of factory workers. It was generally live orchestras, dance bands, brass and military bands which provided the music. Wikipedia states that: “strict rules were applied: predominantly familiar pieces, nothing lethargic, consistent volume, avoidance of overloud drumming (which could sound like gunfire), and generally cheerful programmes to which workers could whistle or sing.” Some might call that a type of government propaganda of the era… and they might be right!

And that brings me to Friday Night is Music Night… This was another programme we regularly listened to and is probably the reason that I love classical music, opera, operetta and what I'd call classical musicals. Started in 1953, this show is amazingly still running and is said to be the World’s longest running live orchestral music programme. The BBC Concert Orchestra provides most of the music but the draw of the programme is that the playlist is never broadcast in advance of airing - in this way it keeps loyal followers listening in to find out what’s going to feature. Surprise guest artistes also appear, to accompany the orchestra. It’s broadcast live from many theatres and concert halls throughout the UK, although regularly from the Mermaid Theatre in London, the Watford Colosseum or the Hackney Empire. Sometimes previous shows are repeated later in the year when the orchestra is on tour and therefore isn’t a live broadcast.

On Saturday my Nana would trawl through her old shellac 78s (rpm) collection, and her recently bought vinyl ones, to find a copy of what had been featured that previous Friday night. If she had the music then it went a few more rounds on the radiogram (vintage radio and record player combined, in a walnut cabinet) on the Saturday night before the usual Saturday broadcasts. Her collection was added to by copies from my Uncle Eddie who regularly bought new copies of his classical and musicals if his own got a bit scratched.

I still have some of their records in boxes in one of my cupboards. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with our collection of old shellac 78s and vinyls, EPs and Singles; even some early tapes for original type tape recorders,  but I can’t bear to throw them away.

The whole compilation of a half dozen large boxes is fairly eclectic because it also includes my dad’s Scottish music and some of his Country and Western like Johnny Cash. 

There’s my own classical, folk music, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and other 1960s pop. Though a lot of the collection is British artistes there are also US ones.

There’s my husband’s large Jazz collection- Traditional and Experimental and his classical which wasn’t the same as mine. He loved The Shadows and Buddy Holly ...

The Rolling Stones and early hard rock are in there.

And that reminds me of an extra little story about those album covers.
Somewhere around 2005, as a teacher of 11-12 year olds, I was asked to add a new historical topic to the annual study programme. Normally I'd be teaching The Victorian Era, or World War 2 but I was (GULP) asked to teach the 1960s /1970s. "What?" I screeched to my headteacher. "That's my life!" Yes- by then it was what I'd lived through and didn't seem like history to me but it certainly was to that current crop of 11 year olds. As part of the studies of Artwork of the period, I dug out my album covers since they are actually quite iconic art of the time. I took a bundle (30) in of very mixed music types and asked the kids to evaluate them (back and front)  for specific targets like: visual impact, colour; image portrayal; info given on artistes and recording studios etc; pointers to genre...and so on.
The cover which garnered the most interest was one of The rolling stones and not the above one. It was the one seen here called Sticky Fingers.

I'm not sure if anyone reading this post will recognise this album but the cardboard sleeve comes with an actual metal Zipper that can be pulled down. Yes- it was deliberately suggestive back in 1971! Now was their interest a surprise given the age of the kids I was teaching? Not really when some had hormones screeching 'let me out'. But when questioned they were actually more fascinated by the fact that we wore jeans in 1971!

Probably the most ancient of my collection were 78s of early Disney movies like the original sound track from ‘Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs’. There used to even be a ‘one-sided shellac’ recording (I think) of Al Jolson but, sadly, I’ve a niggly feeling that got cracked when my kids were little. I've unearthed one of the boxes but sadly can't find the earliest recorded ones. Maybe they're in another of the boxes? That's my hope but I've no more time to rake around.

As this blog post airs it's the Memorial Weekend holiday in the US and what follows might be of interest to the US readers of this blog.

I also have old shellac records of Gracie Fields, who was a Forces Sweetheart during WW2. One of these was recorded on of her tours 'Our Gracie with the Boys in France'  the specific place unable to be named. This was somewhere that Allied troops were stationed but was so ‘war sensitive’ that her whereabouts couldn’t be divulged. There's another 'Our Gracie with the Navy'.It's written that she toured endlessly to keep up the morale of the troops and for those war efforts she was honoured by the queen  and became ‘Dame Gracie Fields’.

There's probably an even more appropriate one for Memorial Weekend by Deanna Durbin named 'Thank You, America'.

I checked Youtube to see if I could hear what it was like because I couldn't remember it, and to my surprise here's the very same recording.

Loads of the vinyl albums are 1950s and early 1960s musicals-South Pacific; Oklahoma; Sound of Music- and some of other motion picture scores like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
There's also some operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. My absolute favourite of G&S is The Pirates of Penzance but I love seeing productions of pretty well all of G&S work because the original performances were so satirical of British politics of the time. (And that’s a hot potato just now... but this blog isn't the place to air my own politics!)

However... the G &S operetta is a great medium for contemporary productions to update the lyrics and they do that so well with particular British gusto!

As this post goes live I’m off to His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen, Scotland, to see a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado claimed to be their most famous work worldwide - Though I’m not sure how well known it is in the US today. (The HMT theatre was opened in 1906 so it was during the reign of Edward VII and therefore HIS Majesty's)

I love the ’tongue in cheek’ stuff as the singers do excellently clever refrains. Considering it first had an airing in 1885, it’s a production that’s been round the block a time or two! This is my birthday treat from both of my daughters who are accompanying my OH and me for a meal and afterwards the theatre. (My birthday was the ides of March but they knew I’d enjoy the G&S comic opera even if I had to wait a couple of months)

I have no idea of what might be 'On that little List' in the Mikado tonight but it's sure to have a touch of current political leaders like David Cameron, and potential US ones like Donald Trump and maybe even Hillary Clinton. And since it's being produced in our provincial theatre it'll probably have some local political references as well.

Will I get any inspiration for my writing from this event? Probably not but I always come away from these operettas with a lightened heart so who knows….

Does any of the above music ring a bell for you?

Whatever you’re doing this Memorial Weekend- enjoy!

p.s My fun Contemporary Romantic Mystery – Take Me Now- based in Scotland, but featuring whirlwind worldwide travel, might still be at a reduced price on Amazon since it was a featured book on the Crooked Cat Books Facebook page during the week 20-27th May.


Friday, 27 May 2016

#Friday Fun with Nairn and Aela!

It's Friday again!

The promotion week for my contemporary romantic mystery Take Me Now, on the Crooked Cat Books Page on Facebook, is almost over and at Crooked Cat we try to give some background to our novels during our promo week. Two days ago, on Wednesday 25th May, I published a piece on the Crooked
Cat Books page about the dangers I've sometimes faced when engaging in adventurous activities and I've related it to what Nairn and Aela face in
 Take Me Now. However, most of the dangers my characters face are not through any choice of their own.
I'm not convinced that these promotion weeks lead to more sales, but it's an encouraging thought that the cheap 99p price encourages a few more people to buy a copy. So far, I definitely know of one person who declared they'd bought and i'm very pleased about that.
How about you? Have you read this fun novel that's quite different from my historical writing? 
Since only a limited audience would have had the chance to read my Wednesday post, I'm re-posting it below...
(copyright Nancy Jardine)
Are you a daredevil?
Some of us segue naturally into being a thrill seeking creature. Some avoid adventurous escapades like the plague and some are what I’d call partial ‘dare devils’- those who will try things out once and only up to a certain level of danger. I’m not even sure I’d fit that last category but I have tried a few things over the decades, a few of which have been a lot more scary than I intended.
One such event for me was driving a snowmobile on a mountainside near Whistler, Canada (near Vancouver). It was approaching dusk, the temperature about 10 Deg below Zero and the accelerator on the machine was operated by thumb control. By the time I had 2 pairs of thermal gloves on, I couldn’t feel anything at all so changing the speed was a nightmare. Once started on the run, at full felt, I realised I had little control and had to stop…but how since I was so panicked I couldn’t remember the way the other button controls operated? I’m totally relieved to say that I didn’t kill my son-in-law that night (he shared my snowmobile) but only because, in sheer terror, I chose to drive into a banking of snow rather than veer off the edge of a narrow trackway! 

The rest of my family thought it fun to see us upended in the snow while I was a jittering wreck. I loved the rest of the trip, though, but only because my son-in-law did all the rest of the driving! In retrospect, I know that that split second judgement/decision saved us because we were just yards away from the path narrowing to a balancing act.
Sometimes imminent danger makes you make split second decisions and there are a good few scenes like that in Take Me Now- some almost humorous and some deadly. Nairn Malcolm’s the owner of a global business named Adrenalinn Adventuring so he’s no stranger to dangerous and exhilarating activities.

That’s all easy to control when he’s at the helm and making decisions, whether it’s at his Scottish island castle base, or at his London headquarters. The problem for my contemporary Highland Hero is that a saboteur has decided to target both him and his business resulting in him being temporarily unable to carry on as normal.
In comes Aela Cameron, a feisty and intrepid lass from Vancouver, Canada, who is also no stranger to making split second decisions. She's determined to keep Nairn mobile so that it's business as usual. She's also resolute that she'll not give in to the deadly games being played.
It's just as well that she's an eternal optimist whose innate humour surfaces during the most interesting situations! And that's where the fun of the novel comes in...
Daily life, with the normal kind of informed decision making regarding delicate situations will resume for Nairn and Aela…but only after the saboteur is revealed!

I'm off to check if the price is still at 99p this very moment, and it might be but it'll be rising again very soon.

Take Me Now is also now available in paperback from Amazon as well!


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

#Wednesday Welcomes to Shani

Huge #Wednesday Welcomes to my Crooked Cat colleague Shani Struthers! 

Shani's got a new release this Friday (May 27th) -44 Gilmore Street - to add to her hugely popular Psychic Surveys series but she's taken some time out from organising her Facebook party to come and give us a glimpse of this third book. Getting rid of ghosts is the business but, thankfully for a wimp like me, Shani's books aren't so scary that I can't read them. The poster above is very impressive, though, in creating a ripple of shivers!

Hello, Shani!  You're very welcome back on the blog. Congratulations on releasing another book to your growing list. I'm always curious now about how authors feel about adding more books to what becomes a series for them and I'm interested in what the author gets out of a new book - as well as the reader. Thanks for coming to answer my questions, Shani, so let's get started! 

Can you please tell us how 44 Gilmore Street, Book 3 of your Psychic Surveys Series differs from Books 1 and 2?
In each Psychic Surveys book there’s a main case for them to deal with as well as various sub-cases. In Psychic Surveys Three there are two major cases – that of Gilmore Street, home to an increasingly violent spirit and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. In all books I tend to explore a supernatural theme and reincarnation is very much at the heart of the latest one. In Book Two it was thought forms made manifest (known as tulpas) and Book One kick-started with the ghost of dead movie star, Cynthia Hart, being haunted by another ghost! I’d say that to get the best from the books, they need to be read in order as there’s a definite story arc that will span six books in total. However, there is a prequel to the Psychic Surveys series – Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story – and that’s a standalone.

Yes - I remember Book One not only having one ghost to deal with. Does your Psychic Survey team have any new additional people, or is it largely the same as for Books 1 and 2 with the team being led by Ruby?
It’s largely the same team members – there’s a lot to say about each one and some are not what they seem, which will become clear in future books. However, in Book Three, we do have a rather lovely regressionist helping out called Ailsa Isaacs – remind you of anyone we know?

Could be, indeed! **insert Smiley face here** Now that's mysterious enough to make me head off to buy this next one. Which by the way is on Pre-order so I can  buy it today! Was the original trigger point of your concept for 44 Gilmore Street a real event in the past that you had researched?
The trigger point was when something similar happened to me that I describe as having happened to the character of Elisha Grey. A friend of a friend of mine claims by holding onto your hands she can get flashes of your past life – well, I took her hands and she saw a similar vision to the one I’ve described in the book. And from there a whole novel was born as the imagination took over!

Oh, that's quite scary. I'm not sure I'm in for that sort of delving into my past! As you write more books for the Psychic Surveys Series is your need to research the occult lessening, or do you always see research as being a necessary part of your next planned books?
The occult is a vast subject and so no, I need to know more if anything. However, I’ll only research up to a point. There is some stuff that I believe it’s best not to delve into and that can have a negative impact if you do. That is why I write paranormal and not horror – there really are some things that are just too horrifying!

I agree that horror isn't for everyone! Would you say that the overall writing style of your Psychic Mysteries is similar over the three books published in the series or do you, as the author, feel your style has changed or developed differently from the first book?
My style has developed and changed I think – I’m getting better at being more succinct and handling more complicated plotlines. Book One was also deliberately naïve. By Book Six, all naivety will be gone and my writing has to reflect that. In-between the Psychic Surveys books I write other books, too – Eve was a real master class in keeping the story concise as I wanted it to be a novella. The first book in my new series – This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian – is full novel length but again I wanted the story to remain as tight as a novella so it’s action-packed all the way.

That's a heavy schedule you've got planned but back to the Psychic Surveys Series. Who is your favourite character and why? I ask this because I liked a lot of your secondary characters in Book 1 who seemed easily able to develop as main characters in their own right.
That’s such a hard question; I love them all equally (honest!). If I had to pick one though I’d go for Ruby Davis, the main character, there is a lot more to her than meets the eye and she’s going to have some real struggles to contend with in future books. But she’s a strong character. She can stand her ground when the going gets tough – with a little help from the PS team!

That's brilliant that you can 'see' your series that far ahead! As well as the Crooked Cat published Psychic Surveys Series what other novels have you had published?
My first books belong in the romance genre. There are three of them and together they make up the Runaway trilogy revolving round a group of friends facing various trials and tribulations in the beautiful setting of North Cornwall. I’m proud of those books – again, all the female characters are strong, finding even greater strength in each other’s friendship. I might write another romance one day – I enjoy writing them – but it will be under a pen name. Shani Struthers is all about the paranormal!

Yes- that genre cross over with one name is a bit of a problem, marketing wise, and I know a bit about that.  

Are there any other details you’d like to share with us about your most recent release- 44 Gilmore Street?
I’m hosting an on-line Facebook launch party on May 27th (the release date) and I’d love it if you could pop in!  There’ll be plenty of giveaways and not just from me but five of my favourite paranormal authors too. Here’s the link if you can make it:

I'll certainly be popping in when I'm grandkid free!

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

“We all have to face our demons at some point.”

Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.

But that’s all about to change.

Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.

Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…

Shani Struthers
A bit more about Shani...
I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.

Buy Links
Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

You'll be able to find Shani here:
Social Media Links

Thank you so much for coming today, Shani, and giving us an early glimpse of 44 Gilmore Street. Best wishes with your launch. 


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

It's all about news!

Tuesday Morning Greetings! 

Do you write letters anymore?
I do...but I have to confess that I rarely do on paper, these days. My communication with friends, or fans, tends to be by email or on Facebook by direct messaging or via general posts. These are not often about my writing news and that's where a big problem lies...

I need to improve my communication skills big time!

You know that wonderful 'sort of epithet' that says something to the nature of 'Shove it under the carpet and forget about it'?  I confess to doing that a while ago about starting up a newsletter for any interested readers of my work. My problem was that I set up one which was completely separate from my blog, and then I failed to collect email addresses of followers properly, and then compounded the problem by not updating with another newsletter.

As an attempt to improve on the situation, I've (hopefully) liked a newsletter facility to my Website ( Weebly) and would love it if the readers of this blog would give me some feedback on it by joining me there.

I'll be forever grateful since I've got a lot to learn...

I know what the rest of my Tuesday might include ( fine tweaking???) but I wish you all a very good day!

Oh, a bit of brilliant news to mention here would be that my Crooked Cat version of  Take Me Now is available as a paperback across Amazon for those readers who still love to feel a book in their hands.


Monday, 23 May 2016

An alternative #highland hero theme

#Monday Moments with Nairn and Aela... and a little excerpt.

My title for this post in full would be: An alternative #highland hero...for a lass who actually needs no rescuing in Take Me Now! But that's a bit long for a blogger title.

Since Take Me Now is one of the Scot Rom novels featured on the Crooked Cat Books page on Facebook for this week, I'm focusing a little on the book's construction.
What themes run through Take Me Now?

Some authors might have one main theme running throughout their novel and others many different themes. Some themes might be dealt with lightly; some might have interlinking threads identifying them as common to multiple characters. Some themes might be light hearted, others dark.

When I first conceived the idea for what became my Contemporary Romantic Mystery—Take Me Now—I consciously decided to mix themes and tones throughout the story. Before I started it, I’d never tried to inject humour on purpose in any of my writing since many of my previous topics were more serious historical interpretations. Constructing a contemporary novel seemed to me to be a good way of trying out something that was a lot more light-hearted but being a mystery, I found that it needed darker tones as well.  

The following are tackled to some degree, some more thoroughly and some less so. They appear below in no particular order. (Finding themes is quite a subjective activity and some readers might find other themes that I’ve not consciously inserted into the story, or have forgotten to mention below.)
Ø      From Scottish island castle ogre to healthy highland hero
Ø      Overcoming physical disabilities
Ø      Reliance on others when the natural thing would be to do things yourself
Ø      Trust…and the opposite as in lack of trust
Ø      Laughing at what life throws at you
Ø      Positive attitudes and not giving in to negative situations
Ø      Perseverance
Ø      Using initiative and putting varied skills to good use
Ø      Reactions to danger
Ø      Assumptions of loyalty
Ø      Jealousy and greed
Ø      Retribution
Ø      Payback for deeds done… or not done
Ø      Love
Some of those bullet point statements are almost the same and yet depending on the tone of the dialogue in the particular scenes they are treated differently. Aela Cameron is a lass who makes light of situations and finds humour where someone else might feel threatened. She might fear the dangerous situations she finds herself in but she isn’t panicky and can use really sound judgement, using skills she’s honed over the years and a natural instinct to find ways out of adverse circumstances. She was a fun character to create.

I also loved creating Nairn Malcolm, my battered highland hero. I wanted to show how a typical, more than a little arrogant, alpha type male would react when medical circumstances really weren’t in his favour. He’s survived a motor bike accident but hates the dependent situation that he’s in. Needing help to do even basic daily routines sticks in his craw and it takes Aela’s humour and tolerance to jolt him from his black moods. The grumpy ogre of the restored Scottish island castle gradually melts away under her positive influence. As the novel progresses he learns that dependence on others needn’t be a bad thing and, indeed, it can have many benefits. One of the really big things he learns is to laugh at himself.

Take Me Now is intended as a quick, no demand, and light-hearted read.

Here's a little excerpt from the novel to enjoy. This is from Chapter 10, days after the main humour of their first meeting.

“Still want to continue?”
Nairn felt nauseated, though it had nothing to do with his physical ailments. Bad conscience churned his gut as he stared at the beautiful woman he’d embroiled in his troubles.
Aela’s glare, he guessed, mirrored his own as she faced him down. “I don’t go back on my word, Nairn Malcolm - not ever.”
“Get the Range Rover. We’ll see how Prince Khalid’s order’s progressing.”
His bark might have been heard down in Mariskay and deafened even himself. It was a pathetic excuse, but he had to get out of the castle. Frustration mounted. He hated being inactive, hated being injured, and most of all hated he could do little to protect his new employee should even more incidents occur.
He forced a compromise. Going down to the boatyard might jog some memory of the previous Friday.
“How do I access the car?”  Aela got up and approached the door.
He watched her turn as she awaited his answer, her cool not ruffled in the slightest by the potential danger he put her in. Her professionalism had been exemplary. He ordered: she carried out. Hell! The woman had been his sounding board for hours, been supportive, her theories astute. Her soothing massage had kept him calm and rational. He enjoyed her presence and found he didn’t want anything to hurt her.
Wheeling out into the corridor, he barrelled along till just short of the mud room where he indicated a large watercolour on the wood panelled wall. Behind was a container storing numerous keys. “Top level, first left, there should be a spare key for this back door…” He reeled off the relevant keys, finishing with the garage and security gate remotes. Aela listened, selected the necessary keys and pocketed them. “The key for the boatshed is top row first right. You’re not likely to need it yet, but at least you’ll know where it is.” Having fired out the information, he wheeled out to the garage. “You can use any of the cars for personal use, though at present the only one I’m going to fold into just now is the Range Rover.”
As she towed behind him, she blithely remarked she didn’t expect she’d use either of the two high performance vehicles to travel a few miles to Mariskay, but she’d like to use them to explore the island…if she ever had time off.
Nairn ignored her jibe, in no mood to respond to her banter. He couldn’t quite ignore her, though, when she shunted the passenger seat back as far as it would go and reclined it.
“Your carriage awaits, sir. Fold yourself in while I fold this down,” she joked. The wheelchair was soon plopped into the boot. 

Take Me Now is reduced to 99p on Amazon till Friday 27th May 2016.  It's also available from Smashwords; B&N; Itunes; Kobo and other ebook retailers.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Brand new Book Trailer Video for #Take Me Now

Happy Sunday! 

It is now, for me, since I've eventually published a brand new Book Trailer Video for Take Me Now. 

It's been a while since I dabbled with Windows Movie Maker, so long that I hadn't even downloaded it on to my current laptop. A nice time lapse like that means I'd forgotten almost everything I'd already learned about the program so it was back to the drawing board...almost literally.

Many hours later - having chosen the background music (it's so easy to get sidetracked with that); having decided on the images; and written the script - it's ready to view!

My thanks go once again to Kevin Macleod at Incompetech since he makes it easy to acquire Royalty Free Music to use. I also like using the images I purchase the use from at - thanks also to them since they're inexpensive and suit my non-existent budgets.

Any mistakes on the video I have to lay claim to though hope there are none - except the obvious that I'm neither a film maker nor a graphic designer.'s my latest effort.

I hope you enjoy it.


Friday, 20 May 2016

#Friday Feature - Take Me Now!

My Friday Featured book is Take Me Now since it's one of the Scot Rom novels featured this week on the Crooked Cat Books page on Facebook. 

It's a contemporary romantic mystery. Not just any mystery's a humorous, corporate sabotage mystery set in Scotland

What follows isn't the official back jacket blurb but the gist of the story (with almost no spoilers). 

When the sabotage of Nairn Malcolm’s business begins it’s an irritant that he seeks to quell. When the malicious encounters escalate to an attack on his personal health and wellbeing, he definitely needs help to find the perpetrator.

Being the stubborn and dedicated businessman that he is, the help he seeks also needs to keep him mobile so that normal service at his Adrenalinn Adventures business continues regardless. That's a wee bit difficult, though, since he lives on an island opposite Oban on the west coast of #Scotland. To get him to his head offices in London, and to business meetings at other locations, his temporary factotum needs to fly his floaplane down to Glasgow where they'll pick up his small jet to fly on to London and other business destinations. Now the west cost of Scotland weather is often fickle, so if it isn't good enough for flying then the person will need to pilot his catamaran down to Glasgow. 

What galls Nairn is that there isn't a long queue of candidates to interview for his exacting job - not many people at the job centre have the skills he needs. Do you know anyone who can fly small planes, pilot catamarans, and drive any other other vehicles? Someone who also has office skills? I doubt there aren't too many of those people when you need them!  

Who can Nairn hire to aid and abet him? Will it be Aela Cameron, fearless lass, from Vancouver? Aela needs a temporary job in the Western Isles of Scotland since she has her own agenda to keep but is she just a bit too flippant for Nairn’s needs? She thinks she can keep her cool under pressure as she flies around the globe but is she a match for Nairn’s saboteur? 

Nairn's first meetings with Aela aren't exactly conventional and there's where the humour sneaks in! Being in a bit of a pickle and dependant isn't Nairn's normal style but ...needs must when you've no other recourse!

There are great locations for Aela to ferry Nairn to…London, Tallinn, Paris, Barcelona, Oman, the Caribbean are only a few of the fantastic locations in Take Me Now.

Grab your copy HERE and see if you can work out who the saboteur is well before the end of the novel. 


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Rhia and Luke in Rome….


I'm squeezing in time just now to transfer the hundreds of photos that I took of Rome from my camera to my computer. While doing this it made me think of my characters - Luke and Rhia from Monogamy Twist - who make a flying visit to Rome like I did. 

Colosseum - Nancy Jardine
There’s a poignant moment in my Contemporary Romantic Mystery—Monogamy Twist—when Luke Salieri senses things just aren’t going as well as he would like with Rhia. He appreciates she’s obsessed with finding out why Amelia Greywood named him as the sole beneficiary in her will.

He’s happy to be renovating Greywood Hall and restoring it to its former glory but he’s not so cheered that Rhia is working herself to the bone to catalogue the myriad of artefacts that came with the house. 

Vatican - Nancy Jardine
He was as frustrated as Rhia over the difficulty in finding out why Amelia chose him but it began to matter less when he had an inkling that there was a skeleton in his family closet that he didn’t really want disturbed. Now he doesn’t like that Rhia is working all hours to sleuth out the answers that just don’t seem to want to be found out. He’s worried that she’s working so hard that she’s making herself sick.

Rhia needs a diversion so he decides to take her on a flying visit to Rome where he meets up with some of his father’s family- Italian relatives he’s not seen for a while.

The visit to Rome for Luke and Rhia is only a short one, about the same as  my recent one  to Rome of a mere 3 days. Although I’ve not mentioned it in the novel I imagine Luke’s whirlwind tour might have included going to the Colosseum, the Ancient Roman Forum and maybe the Vatican Museums since they’re the most visited places…at least I think they are judging by the crowd sizes when I joined the throng!  

Ancient Roman Forum - Nancy Jardine

Where do you think they would have visited?

I'm also delighted to be able to write that Monogamy Twist is now available as a paperback as well as the ebook version. 

One click  HERE and you can have your very own Monogamy Twist paperback.


Monday, 16 May 2016

The Mercuralia

Monday Moments with Mercury!
Wikimedia Commons- Charles Meynier

I originally intended this post to be published yesterday but time got away with me. The fact that I drove 360 miles last Friday and Saturday during a return trip to Greenock to attend the funeral of my secondary school teacher - Andy Stirling - and then yesterday (Sunday) I drove an 80 miles return trip to Ballater to sell my novels at a FOCUS Craft Fair just might have something to do with me crawling off to bed really early last night. My driving mileage these days tends to be around an 8 mile return trip to the supermarket for a food shopping pick up.

My Mercuralia post is a tad late but here it is anyway...

The Ancient Romans were famous for their love of special days. Some of these days were celebrated by all in Rome, some by particular followers of the deity. The ides of May (14th/15th) is the Ancient Roman festival day of Mercuralia.

Mercury was a god of many aspects - believed to be the god of travel, communication, eloquence, literacy, financial gain, trade, commerce and trickery - followers of the god Mercury would make offerings in the hope of gaining favour. Merx in Latin means merchandise and the Latin words mercari meant trade; to do business and merces widely translates to pay wages, fee, cost, hire…

Wikimedia Commons-Evelyn De Morgan
The ides of May was believed to be the birthday of the god Mercury and it’s thought that it was celebrated by followers who used a laurel sprig to sprinkle their heads, and their merchandise with water taken from a sacred spring dedicated to the god. It’s believed that this practice meant that the god condoned their nefarious dealings. Followers offered prayers for forgiveness for past misdeeds regarding their financial trickery and also for success in future nefarious dealings, asking for greater wealth and continued ability to cheat customers! 

Merchants in Rome were thought to have gone to the ‘aqua Mercurii’ fountain near Porta Capena, on the south side of Rome, though the poet Ovid ( a source for this practice) may have been taking some author licence on this and naming the spring the ‘aqua Mercurii’ rather than the known source of water at ‘aqua Marcia’ (L.Richardson -  A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome).

Mercury, the ancient Roman messenger god, has attributes mainly borrowed from the ancient Greek god Hermes, though Mercury also has some unique aspects.

Wikimedia Commons- Peter Paul Reubens

Of the 3 images I've added to this post the first is the one which resonates with me, having just visited Rome and seen many splendid images on the walls of the museums and in sculptures in galleries- some of which were undoubtedly of Mercury but I wasn't focusing on the Mercuralia at that time. However, I may find a good image of Mercury when I process more of my Rome photographs since I've only done around half of them so far.

The purse in Mercury's hand in the Charles Meynier statue is an indication of who the god is, the caduceus in his other hand also signifying his messenger status. (I do admit to sometimes still being confused with the messenger symbol of Hermes/ Mercury and the staff of the medicine god Asclepius)

The last painting by Peter Paul Reubens doesn't do much for me at all as I really can't imagine the cut-throat followers of Mercury in Ancient Rome begging such an image for the ability to do better at conducting reprehensible dealings and cheating customers.

Maybe you disagree though? 


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Lespada by Kathryn Leveque

Kathryn LeVeque is a well liked, very successful author of medieval romance. Her fan following loves her work since she jettisons her readers into tales that have an essence of Medieval England (or the setting and time of a particular series), and where there's more of the fantasy than the probable reality of the times in her work. 

I read Lespada on one of my recent 3 hour coach journeys and found it was perfect for that situation. It's definitely an example of medieval romantic escapism but I suspect those who tend to read the historical novel rather than the historical romance might be a bit less enthusiastic about the attention to detail with regard to what a 13th century titled lady might have got up to.

And that's where a little prior forethought is essential these days.

If I want a 'larger than life' tale set in medieval England I'll buy authors like Kathryn LeVeque. But if I want to steep myself in the era and read what is thought to be more accurate detail regarding setting, social mores, or speech patterns of the times, then I'll reach for a historical novel set in medieval times.

For those reasons, I can read and enjoy novels in different ways.

Here's what I liked about Lespada:

Lespada by Kathryn LeVeque 4 stars

This was an exciting, and at times amusingly inventive adventure set in medieval England in the mid 1200s. The heroine of the story, Lady Devereux is a character of many parts and a lady who is very liberated for the times. She’s a lady with skills virtually unknown amongst the titled gentlewomen of her era, a decision maker that affects many around her. Looking after the poor without being a nun, and still retaining the innocence of a maiden, would definitely have been an immense challenge. Of course, as happened to all women of her station, her choice when it comes to marriage means there’s no choice at all. The actual betrothal/ wedding ceremony is fun for us to read but must have been hell for a real reluctant lady during the 1200s. On the other hand, if I were married off to Davyss de Winter I wouldn’t complain, he’s a lovely guy, but the proxy wedding deal set up by him in the book is a classic!

The dialogue flowed seamlessly; the historical research is evident though the plot. However, for me, there's a wee bit more of the fantasy than the reality of the era. I found some twenty first century phrases a bit jarring, nonetheless, they didn’t spoil the overall read.


How Many Wrongs Make a Mr. Right by Stella Hervey Birrell

A few years ago, I read somewhere that you should keep a book title short and snappy. 

I disagreed at the time because in my case it made sense to have a first part, an indicator, to the title of books 2 and 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series. (#2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn and #3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks) The 'After  Whorl:' part at the beginning is meant to indicate a connection between the books since they are both about my character named Brennus... after the battle at Whorl between the Brigantes and the Ancient Roman Army which irrevocably changes him, his injuries meaning a whole new lifestyle has to be devised. This process lengthened my book titles but I'm glad to say that I've read a lot of other books in the interim that also have fairly long titles- just because they suit the book! 

One drawback to a long book title is of course how you get the text onto your book cover! 

The last couple of weeks have been a hectic time for me but I've still managed to fit in some light fiction reading. One of these books has a fairly long title as well - How Many Wrongs Make a Mr. Right by Stella Hervey Birrell, her debut novel published by Crooked Cat. It was just the right kind of chick-lit to lift my spirits at a time when I'd received some sad news about the death of a man who'd been quite an influence on me during my school days. In some ways ~Stella's book is about how the main character, Melissa, progresses from immaturity to maturity via the positive influences and support of a number of people, though Melissa's in her early twenties rather than late teens.

Here's what I thought about this chick-lit easy read, though what I'd originally written in my short review had included more about texting in 2001. I admit to have been a little thrown at first when reading the story because it seemed (to me) like it must be a historical error to have so much texting going on between Melissa and her friends. It was only when I researched how common texting had become by 2000, and asked people in their 30s (my daughter) that I was reminded that it was ME who resisted using a mobile phone and using text for ages and ages! I'm the troglodyte! 


This was a humorous, easy read and would be good for short snatch reading or during a lazy holiday. I got used to dotting back and forth between 2001, 2008 and the 1990s. Texting has been around a lot longer than I thought and Melissa really uses her phone to communicate with her friends, her relationships a pretty complicated business. The dialogue flows easily and the author’s skill means we can read Melissa fairly easily. I found all of the characters likeable and though Melissa might temporarily not be fond of one or other of her men friends, they seemed nice enough guys. The road to maturity is a theme that stretches throughout the whole book and Melissa creates a good few blips along the way. Sometimes I admit to wanting to tell her to get real...but she's an ingenuous character who's a bit slow to learn what other people really are like.  

Learning to rely on yourself, and not on others, does toke some people a lot longer to achieve. 

If you're a fan of chick-lit, I'm sure you'll enjoy this journey Melissa takes from being a little bit free with her emotions and her 'loving' to eventually become a bit more discerning. 

Read more about Stella HERE  since she visited my blog a few weeks ago during her debut launch. 


Friday, 6 May 2016

A tribute to and Random Memories of Waverley Secondary School, Glasgow.

This blog is my personal space and I use it for many different reasons. Today, I'm posting a very long article that's important to me. I do what I now do as an author after my teaching career, in part, because of my education and upbringing. This is the story of my time at Waverley Secondary School, Drumchapel, Glasgow... and a bit of what came before it. 

I'm glad to know that many other pupils have similarly fond memories of the fairly short lived Waverley Secondary School.

There's a little debate over the scarf in this photo.
I also had a long woollen one with vertical stripes in the school colours, but it's long gone from my wardrobe.
'Lare Lichts 'A'  on my well-worn blazer badge means 'Learning lights everything/ aka learning is the key to the future'.
Pupils designed the above colour scheme and badge design during my 'Prep' time. 
The following part of the post is also in memory of a very well liked and respected teacher at Waverley Secondary School - Andy Stirling - who died this week. 


#1 Dedication
I recently spent an overnight in Glasgow, Scotland. The reason for being there was fabulous—I was attending my first official Waverley Secondary School Reunion even though I left the establishment in 1970.

Boys playground at left and football field. Girls playground right and hockey pitch. Photo taken from "The Gun Site".
The official opening came long after we had been using the buildings. 

I loved being at Waverley Secondary School. I’ve plenty of memories and mementoes that I’ve kept over the decades of my time spent there between 1965 and 1970. Only as I write this very long article do I truly appreciate the privilege I had of being one of its early pupils. I was no doubt regarded as one of the geeky, studious pupils but if you read this article you’ll see there was a lot more going on in my school life that was in addition to any academic studies. This article is written purely from my personal point of view but many pupils at Waverley, during the same era as me, will have similar stories of being involved in something or other that was outside of normal timetabled classes. Those are the things that are easier for me to recall and it may be the same for other ex-pupils.

The fact that I’ve kept in touch with 7 of my old pals at Waverley is also due to the fact that they loved being at Waverley as well. Their experiences of Waverley staff members were as positive as mine and that for me says that the school did a fantastic job for us.

What made my time at Waverley so great to remember is undoubtedly the dedication of many of the staff members during my time at the school. My list would be very long if I named all of the individuals who had a positive influence on me but the most important ones for my future development would certainly be Andy Stirling who arranged many weekend trips and Leslie Brown who created the Dramatic Club.

The staff members who were involved in organising the girls’ school camps, like Miss McNab, Miss McLeod and Miss McConnell, would be next, followed by the P.E teachers like Mrs. Murphy, who arranged the hockey and netball clubs, followed by my subject teachers. I don’t actually recall disliking any teacher at Waverley because in their own way they were unique and some very distinctive.

As I write this article I’m extremely sad to have learned of the death of Andy Stirling on the 4th May 2016. He was a teacher who was admired by many of his ex-pupils for his dedication to doing the best possible job for them both in school as a guidance and technical teacher and during out of school activities like hill walking and skiing. I definitely appreciated every single weekend that I spent on hill walking or skiing trips that Andy organised. If weather conditions were too bad to take to the hills, then the trip was cancelled—it was as simple as that. If we got to the Aviemore, Braemar or the Nevis area and the weather turned nasty, some compromise was made that kept us all safe. Camping under basic 2-man bivvy (bivouac) tents, which we carted along attached to our rucksacks, was extremely rough and ready but so…character forming! Camping at the Mar Lodge Estate with permission from the head gillie, a friend of Andy, was a fine experience of a blend of the rough outdoors and the warm inside of the Public Bar at Mar Lodge. The folk singing sessions around the 'copper chimneyed' fireplace were enthusiastic and sometimes even very tuneful! This reward was, of course, only earned after a hike of miles and miles.

The photo below (with some unnamed people) was taken on a trip up Braeriach, Summer Solstice, June 1970. I think it's maybe Lochan Uaine in the background but I'm not entirely sure. We camped over the solstice near the summit where my friend, June Fulton, reminds me that the rain was so heavy it washed us out of our tents. Apparently I slept on, oblivious to the lack of shelter. I also have no idea who took the photo but have a feeling that Sandy Leiper (music department at Waverley) was on the trip (perhaps in the deerstalker?) 

From L to R:
A.G. MacMillan/a friend of Andy, Andy Stirling, Gavin McCairns, me as in Nancy Stafford, unknown, June Fulton, unknown, maybe Sandy Leiper
Andy Stirling - you were a star and my experiences on the mountains will never be forgotten!

I’m so pleased that I was able to meet up with Andy sometime around 2000. His humour, kindness and interest in his ex-pupils remained strong, even if back then he quietly commented he had some medical issues that made his mobility less than he wished for. I cherished my exchange of Christmas Cards with him during the last couple of decades: they were always very personal and unique messages. I’m glad I was able to make that contact with Andy via my friend and ex- Waverley pupil, June Fulton, who kept in touch with Andy over the decades since 1970.
Andy Stirling and me in Greenock/or Gourock about 2000

Read on later in this article to find out how Maths teacher, Leslie Brown, was also a great influence on me in an entirely different way as the organiser of the Waverley Dramatic Club, and as the dedicated Maths teacher who helped me to gain my Maths Higher in 6th year – and that was no mean feat since I was rubbish at Maths!

#2  Largest reunion in Scotland!
In later years, there was maybe not quite so much to cheer about as the Drumchapel environment descended into deprivation by the late 1980s but that bit I can’t comment on since I left Glasgow in 1974. However, when I was in Drumchapel initially it had the newness and a post war optimism that life would be better than what tenants had come from. I may be remembering it with a rosy tinted glow—there were plenty of things that were not perfect about living on a massive Glasgow housing estate—but my time at Waverley Secondary School is something I’m very proud to fondly remember.

Waverley Secondary School was in operation from 14th April 1958 through to c. 1992 (I have this on good authority from an article written by Robert Douglas, the Deputy Headmaster till c. 1970, in the 1970 school magazine).
1970 magazine

That’s not really all that long at c. 34 years but for me, and many other pupils, those years were so memorable that the reunion I went to on Friday 29th April 2016, has been described as the largest in Scotland. I think around 450 people bought tickets and most of those attended the 2016 event at the Good Year Social Club, near the Boulevard (Great Western Road) in Glasgow. There have been a few Waverley Secondary School reunions during the last decade or so, but this was the first I managed to get to.
My 2016 commemorative mug- front

The success of the evening showed how much being at the school meant to those who organised the event and to those who turned up to enjoy a fantastic night. The music (in both halls) was partly provided by ex-pupils and was a whole lot of fun to dance to. My 5 ex-Waverley friends and I had a ball!

Huge thanks from me go to Jason Thompson and his team who did a fantastic job to organise the reunion.

Some of those who attended the evening hopefully enjoyed their time at Waverley as much as I did. Maybe some didn’t like it all that much but the fact they turned up in large numbers to meet other ex-pupils and friends, means that something great for them was going on at Waverley Secondary School.


#3  The Waverley influence

What follows are my random memories about going to Waverley Secondary School in Drumchapel, Glasgow, what I did there and about living just up the hill from it at a time when people mostly liked living in the Drumchapel area.

These musings are not in chronological order so brace yourself for some to-ing and fro-ing on my Drumchapel  timeline… (It’s easily possible that I’m not remembering some things correctly and if so, please rap my knuckles and add to the comments section below on my blog)

‘Prep’ school time…
Nope! I can assure you there was absolutely nothing posh about it.

Broadholm Primary School, Drumchapel, Glasgow
Waverley Secondary School was the venue I attended for 6 and ½ years, the half being a 6 months ‘Prep’ time. It wasn’t that I personally needed to get more ‘ready’ for secondary education.

When I left Broadholm Primary School (Drumchapel)in early 1964, it was necessary for some of the 11 year old pupils to do a 6 month preparatory time before entering the first year of their secondary education—though this wasn’t a standard thing across the city.

P 7 Broadholm Primary School 1963 (?) Mr. MacLeod

In my case, it was organised by Glasgow Corporation for purely practical reasons. Back then Glasgow primary schools had 3 intake periods in a year and 3 school terms per year (as far as I remember). Some kids started school at age 5 in August, some in January and some after Easter when the summer term began.

Pupils like me, leaving Broadholm Primary at the Christmas holiday time ( as far as I can remember) I can only imagine freed up a primary classroom for a new January intake class of 5 year olds but there were other reasons for my prep time happening as well…

Squeeze ‘em in somewhere!
In the mid to late 1950s, in Glasgow, there was a good degree of shuffling around of pupils to fit them into the school accommodation that was available around the city—for secondary and primary kids. The post-war ‘baby boom’ had created rising school roles and pupils needed a school to go to. Generally speaking, it was the norm for many primary classes to consist of approximately 45 pupils and many secondary classes at least 30, with the exception perhaps of subjects like technical and science where the rooms and equipment were geared towards smaller numbers. Given that there was also an enormous shortage of teachers in Scotland at the time (some 3, 400 places according to pupil roles c. 1964), and many of those in post were still uncertificated teachers, I’m very glad there was somewhere for me to go for secondary education, even though it was not a daily walkable distance from my house in Drumchapel.

Shuttle buses, about 14 or 15 of them, were the order of the day during that 6 month ‘Prep’ time. They ferried me from nearby my house in Drumchapel to Waverley School in Knightswood, a distance of only a few miles but thankfully deemed too far to do a return walk every school day. The bus pick up was at 8.10 a.m. (if I remember correctly) for a 9 a.m. start to school and the buses returned me after school closing time at 4 p.m. I’d be home by about 4.45 p.m.
(There were lines of other buses picking up pupils to shuttle them to other city schools like North Kelvinside, where my older sister spent all of her secondary schooling)

Some might question why that all kafuffle of transporting kids had to happen. It’s all down to the historical development of the area around Drumchapel and here’s the jist of it…


# 4 Yay! Moving to the Countryside!

Drumchapel luxury and what came before…
Moving to the countryside was what it seemed like for many of Drumchapel’s new residents. They were out of the smoke and grime, fog and smog, of the city centre of Glasgow. The countryside was on the doorstep of Drumchapel, a mere mile or so away for many of the tenants like me. A very short walk along a field edge took me to the Roman Road in Bearsden and then out to the open country. A slightly different direction took me through what we called 'The Bluebell Woods' which also led to open countryside in the Mugdockbank/ Milngavie direction (I think). 

Drumchapel was one of the four new huge peripheral housing estates that were created in the post 2nd World War 1950s to house the tenants from Victorian built slum clearances in the city centre areas of Glasgow. Brand new blocks of tenements and some terraced housing were built in the new estates of Drumchapel, Castlemilk, Easterhouse and Pollock. Huge amounts of public spending were poured into these new housing areas to ensure that the new builds were more sanitary that what had been lived in before in city centre areas. For most tenants, this new housing was a huge improvement on what people had previously rented. To have an inside bathroom and a separate kitchen, along with 2 or 3 dedicated bedrooms and a sizeable living room area, was luxury —compared to having lived in a typical Victorian built ‘room and kitchen’ rental with no bathroom and, for many, only a shared toilet on the tenement stair landing.

I was one of the fortunate ones in that my original Maryhill tenement flat did have an inside flushing toilet, with one of those huge high noisy cisterns and a thick chain with a china ‘fist pull’ at the end. Nevertheless, to move into a house in Drumchapel with a bathroom which included a bath, toilet and a vanity/washbasin was a huge improvement on the zinc bath at the fireside in Maryhill. Hot running water in the kitchen in Drumchapel was a convenience many had not had before, my mother being one of those since she had had to heat all her hot water in large pots on the coal fired range in the Maryhill kitchen. The electric immersion heater on the big water tank in our Drumchapel house was expensive but it was much less hassle. 

When my family moved to Drumchapel in 1959, we thought our new 2 bedroom flat was amazing. We had the luxury of a tiny balcony to sit out in if there was any sunshine to be had and a small garden to tend where my dad grew flowers, potatoes and vegetables! The newness of my area was exciting; the neighbours were helpful and friendly; most people being in the same boat where money was tight and people lived in a week to week existence eagerly waiting for the next Friday pay packet. Most of the families in Drumchapel had a working father at that time. In some families the mother worked part-time, or full-time, but many were like my mother who was at home all day.

A tarnished idyll?
The focus of Glasgow Corporation around 1953 was to build the houses and the main and access roads first in Drumchapel. But that’s pretty well all they built right away! During the initial building phases people occupied the houses as soon as an area was ready but had to bus back to the city to go to work, do their shopping, pay rent etc.

Unfortunately, that was one of the earliest grouses of living those approx. 6 miles outside of the city centre of Glasgow. Most men were employed somewhere that was further than a walking distance of their house and had to pay bus or train fares to reach their work. The buses were only every half hour or so: maybe a little more frequent during peak hours. Drumchapel Train Station, in Old Drumchapel, was a short walk away from my house (about 20 mins walk) but the destinations the line reached were limited and only suited a small portion of the working population.

My dad was a glazier: his pay at the lower end of a skilled worker rate. It was just as well that he loved cycling because he cycled to his work at St. George’s Cross (G & J Rae glass and Glazing, I think?)  In reality, he couldn’t afford the bus every day and had to cycle. He kept his Raleigh bicycle in tip top condition because he really needed it. I called it ‘the green tank’ because it was so heavy and solid. Only in the worst of weather did he head off for a bus. A car on my local Drumchapel streets, in 1959, was a rarity.

People walked a LOT. In one respect that made for a fitter, healthier population (if you exclude the legacy of cigarette smoking) but it also made people resentful that things they needed to access snatched a big chunk of daily time.

Lack of this and all of that…
In the earliest days and shortly after the first housing was built in Drumchapel, there were no public facilities like a library, doctor surgeries or pubs: just more houses and more roads.

Eventually some primary schools were built to avoid bussing young children to their previous primaries in the city centre. Churches gradually appeared and a few rows of shops, perhaps 5 shops in the row, were progressively dotted around to serve the communities but the stock carried was minimal. All of these lacks became problems over time but when a new facility was opened it was celebrated because residents had long waited for it.

In my area of Jedworth Avenue, a row of shops at Rozelle Ave (?) was built some time after we moved in. I remember the Co-op, a newsagent, a Post Office, a butcher, a hairdresser (?) and a knitting wool/ drapers shop (?). There may have been others, or the mentioned ones weren’t the initial ones – perhaps some reader can help with this? The prices charged by those shopkeepers may have been a tad high for some canny mothers but they saved on bus fares. The Co-op had the ‘Divvy’ system. If you remembered to quote your ‘registration Dividend’ number when buying something then the reward ‘Dividend’ was exchanged for goods every now and again. Much as I try, I can’t recall my mum’s number ( I think it ended in a …246) but I know that back then I had to remember to use it if I was sent to the Co-op shop for something or other. Many people of my age can still quote their co-op number! Can you?

Only well after the initial house building phases were the secondary schools, the Public Library, the Health Centre, the Community Centre, Drumchapel Shopping Centre and other minimal amenities like the Bowling Green built in a rolling programme depending on the area of Drumchapel. Drumchapel, or ‘The Drum’ as it was nicknamed, was a ‘dry’ area for a long time and it was the early 1970s before a pub was opened at my end of Drumchapel - the Linkwood, on Lincoln Avenue which was adjacent to my primary school, Broadholm.


#5 Food for thought…

Lifesaving lunches.
I was fortunate that by the time I moved to Drumchapel at 7 years of age in 1959, the primary school I was allocated to had been operating for a few years—Broadholm Primary location being in an earlier phase of Drumchapel building than my new house was. I think it was a walk of around 1 and ½ miles to school each day and the same to return home to Jedworth Avenue. I stayed at school during lunchtime since it was too far away to go home at ‘school dinner time’. My mum paid 4/4d (4 shillings and 4 pence) for my weekly ticket since I was the 2nd child of the family. She had to pay 4/9d for my older sister as the first child. In families with 3 or more kids the price was 3/11d for all after the second born. The cardboard ticket was hole-punched every day by a teacher or dinner lady and woe betide if that bit of light brown card was lost! That same payment for school meals across Glasgow lasted for years and years.

I loved my school dinners in Drumchapel. In Broadholm and later at Waverley in Drumchapel they were cooked on the premises and were fantastic life savers. Quite frankly, my daily 1/3 pint of milk issued at morning break-time and my 2 course school lunch kept me well fed. I loved everything except the kidney in the steak and kidney pudding. I loved the thick gravy slathered over lots of the meat dishes. I completely devoured all of the puddings including the sago and prunes that most kids rejected as frogspawn. I relished the days when it was on the menu because there was always extras for me of sago, or semolina which wasn’t as popular as the custard. The soup was a bit thin, and not as good as my mother’s soups, but it was a good day when soup was on the menu because I think that was also when they had ice-cream as a pudding option. (? Can someone keep me right about this?)

What I got at home in the evening was generally a small 1 course meal which topped up my hunger pangs. I was a skinny little thing but I was always ravenous. In my defence, I expended a lot of energy, walking a lot during my primary years and during my secondary career doing energetic sports. I needed the stodgy school dinner calorie intake. The 4/4d my mother sent me to school with to buy my dinner ticket was money well spent.

I know that by secondary school many pupils were pocketing the dinner money given to them by their parents and were buying sweets and fags (aka cigarettes) from the local shops instead, but not me. I needed that food every day! 

Appreciate! Appreciate! (…and I’m not talking about Billy Connoly’s music teacher in a different part of ‘The Drum’.)
My first primary school in Maryhill, Napiershall Primary, was literally at the end of my street so I went home for my dinner. I probably only had soup and bread but it was better than the meals provided at the Napiershall Dinner school which was in a little building annexe near the school premises. Food was carted in to Napiershall in big huge metal trays and wasn’t cooked on site. That was a fairly common practice at many Glasgow schools and was what happened during my 6 months ‘Prep’ time at Waverley in Knightswood, as well. I’ve blocked out memories of the poorer quality food I ate at Knightswood since COLD and congealed fat come to mind.

That short period of poorer school dinners made me really appreciate what I got at the new Waverley premises in Drumchapel.


#6  Is it nearly ready yet?

You win some, you lose some…
On the other hand, when I got to the end of my primary education in late Dec 1963/Jan 1964 there was no brand new purpose built comprehensive secondary school (the new in-thing) ready for me to move into in at my end of Drumchapel. A new secondary was under construction in my catchment area but it would be another 6 months till it was ready for occupation. So, for those first 6 months—that ‘Prep’ time— I had to travel by bus to Waverley School in Knightswood where I spent the day in an almost decrepit Victorian building.

Junior School >Senior School
In April 1958, Waverley started off as a Junior school in  Knightswood, near Knightswood Cross, meaning pupils left at approx. 15 years of age to enter the work force. In Glasgow in 1959, pupils were ‘streamed’ via a qualifying exam at the end of their primary education. Those pupils likely in the future to sit formal examinations (by then O Grades or Higher level certificates) would have gone to a Senior school and those who were deemed not clever enough to sit those exams went to a Junior school. (I won’t go into the injustice that sometimes occurred during those exams at age 11/12 because that’s a complete blog post in its own right)

However, by the time I did my 6 month ‘prep’ time in 1964, Waverley was in a transition phase to become a Senior school. This meant that some pupils (like me) who had been ‘streamed’ at age 11, with the intention of them sitting O Grades in their 4th year, would be taught in the same building as those in what were termed the Junior level non-academic classes. Changing Waverley to this Senior school status meant that a whole new school curriculum had to be devised to accommodate the new Senior level course work. (I imagine some new teachers were acquired as well but I can’t find clear evidence of this, as yet) It was during this change to a Senior school that Waverley ‘started to become’ a Fully Comprehensive Secondary School, though it wasn’t till the session of 1967/1968 for Waverley to have the reached the status of offering a ‘six year’ fully comprehensive school curriculum.

During my ‘Prep’ time at the Knightswood location, I had the opportunity to have classes that were normally only available to non-academic pupils like the commercial subjects of Typewriting, Bookkeeping, and home economic subjects like Cooking. I’m sad to say I don’t remember the other non- academic subjects during that time but our day was very full of different ‘periods’. Unfortunately, I remember that whoever the typewriting teacher was, a sadistic male teacher, walked up and down the rows of desks upon which sat the ancient and clunky Olivetti typewriters. "Eyes Forward' was the command. If you looked down at the keys, the whack on the knuckles with the board pointer made the pupil know he meant business. I had more than a few very bruised knuckles to rub on the bus home!

I won't go into the girls toilets at the Knightswood school in too much detail but just enough to say that they were in an outside block. They smelled rank and made pupils only go when really desperate.

We were sure the classrooms were inhabited by thousands of scratchy little mice overnight.


#6 It’s ready, it’s ready!

The move to the brand new building
Photo taken 1967 school v pupils hockey match. The houses at the top of the hill were in Jedworth Avenue, those opposite my close. Though not easy to see in this photo, there was a good sized flat expanse at the brow of the hill. Behind the goal posts at the bottom of the hill was the main arterial road, Kinfauns Drive, the main bus route. 
Living in Jedworth Avenue meant I was at the top of the hill that was locally named as ‘The Gun Site’. This was because during World War 2 there had been a gun emplacement there to monitor any German plane activity near Clydebank and the Clyde in general, Clydebank only being a few miles away. Even after my family moved to Drumchapel in 1959, people were still finding WW2 ammunition on the flat top of the hill near our block of tenements. Bullet casings, and I even remember an unexploded shell/grenade, were found. I don’t recall any huge drama about that: the area was cordoned off and the artefact dealt with. A kid playing near WW2 debris wasn’t an unusual thing.

By 1964 the top of that hill was a great place to be because it overlooked the school building process.

with courtesy from the Waverley School Magazine 1967
Down at the bottom of the steep slope was the main arterial road called Kinfauns Drive that snaked through Drumchapel. When I moved in, on the far side of Kinfauns Drive was a large vacant site that was essentially a bog. House building had never taken place on it but low rise terraced housing, for ‘older folks’ skirted the western edge of it leading into the Summerhill Drive area. (? I’m not entirely sure of the geographical positioning) Wrapping around the site from the other direction were typical four high tenement blocks fairly similar to the ones I stayed in. I can vaguely remember during at least one winter going down to ‘skate’ and make huge long slides on the thick ice that covered the bog.

I was too young to remember if any of my neighbours thought twice about it when that bog was announced as the site for the secondary school but when the building started for Waverley Secondary, it was NOISY. Huge pile drivers appeared to dig really deep to provide the drainage that the site needed. That preparation stage of daily thumping seemed to take forever and for months on end, the noise of the pile driver shattered the area from an early start every day working day.
Photo taken (1967 magazine) from the Boys/football pitch side of the school. The houses at the top of the hill were those round the corner from Jedworth Avenue. The unofficial path down the hill is visible, the official tarmac path with a central metal bar barrier slopes down towards the right of photo. It zigzagged to the bottom. Possibly Alan Smith at left front, and David Johnstone at right front. 

It was something remarkable to view the actual school walls of the original L shaped building begin to take form. When the gleaming expanses of windows were in situ, the excitement still had to be contained because the building wasn’t yet ready for occupation - the interiors took a while longer to be installed.


#7 Into the building at last!

A ‘real’ class… (instead of being a ‘Preppy’)
It was with great delight and anticipation that I went to the brand new Waverley School building in Drumchapel to begin my First Year in August 1964 for the session 1964-1965.

(I was also utterly delighted that I didn’t need to catch a bus and that I could sleep in till much later in the morning. Leaving home at 8.55 a.m. still allowed me to careen down the hill and into my line before the 9 o’clock bell.)

There were, mostly, single sex classes all the way through to 3rd year. There was still streaming at Waverley Secondary back then and our single sex registration classes were denoted with a year number and a letter designation.

All of my register classes had a year number followed by F and then the class number- e.g. mine were 1F2, 2F2, 3F2 because girls were F2 and F4 classes.  I was also in 4F, 5F and 6F (years 4-6 only had enough pupils to form one register class of each sex, I think?). The boys classes would have been 1F1, 1F3 etc.

The ‘F’ meant my class was one of the main academic ones. My 1st and 2nd year courses included English, Maths, Arithmetic, French, German (not possible to do both after 3rd year), History and Geography (again only both available in 1st and 2nd year) and Science (electives available in Physics, Chemistry and Biology from 3rd year) Music, Art, P.E. and R.E. (Religious Education) were also on the 1st and 2nd year curriculum. There may have been other subject classes but I can’t recall them.

By 3rd year my subjects were English and Arithmetic (compulsory as were P.E. and R.E). My elective subjects were Maths, Physics, Chemistry, History and French. Waverley school bent over backwards to accommodate pupil choice (though aptitude played a part in being allocated a class) but it was impossible for all to have their chosen combination if they wanted to do something like Music and the sciences. This was more of a timetabling problem than a direct refusal of pupils having a cross over between what was considered non-academic and academic subjects. 

Some other pupils were in the non-academic subject classes which were labelled T ‘Technical’ and C ‘Commercial’ classes. Those pupils, in general, left school at the age of 15, where most went into a job pretty well immediately. Many of those pupils went on to have an excellent job. Many have great entrepreneurial skills and now have a very comfortable retirement! 

#8 Great expectations and great inspirations…

I loved being at Waverley Secondary. My teachers were inspiring, and to a huge degree were the reason I went into a career as a primary teacher—they set an amazingly fine example of how education can be productive and enjoyable. (Of course maybe some of them actually hated being our teachers but in the case of many I’m thinking of, I doubt that)
1966 or 67. Teachers v pupils hockey match summer term. Bottome left Miss Macleod, Mrs. Fulton, Miss McNab, Mrs, Murphy. Miss McIver ( the really tall teacher)  is centre of back row with stick in the air. 
The teachers, in general, were a hugely dedicated bunch and provided a good education during the school day and also during extra curricular classes that they undertook. For some of the extra-curricular options, I’ve heard, the teachers may have been given additional payment in those early days if they were undertaking extra revision classes. (I haven’t found proof of this rumour, yet)

The other activities like sports clubs etc were because the teachers chose to give their own time.  

Join this…try that…
Waverley was one of the new Glasgow Corporation schools of the 1960s but it wasn’t only the fabric of the new building that I benefited from. Money was poured in to the schools in the big 4 housing areas for many other reasons but mostly to make the Waverley version of comprehensive education (a new initiative) work well and provide a wide range of opportunities that would give the students a more rounded education. Extra-curricular school activities were highly subsidised to allow the poorer pupils (like I was in terms of disposable family income) to participate and not lose out on the chance of trying something new.

My best school friends and I jumped in to all and every possible thing that we could enter into. I went to many after school activities and lunch clubs. Being a Library assistant for Mrs. McKillop (English) during lunch time in 3rd year in the brand new library meant I didn’t have to hang around outside in the playground during wet and disgusting days. There were no inside ‘playtimes’ in those days and pupils went out to the playground in all weathers. Becoming a Prefect, then House Captain and later the Girls’ Vice Captain also meant less time spent outside in inclement weather! (Though the duties came with responsibilities) At the time I believed that The House System at Waverley worked well but I was biased. (I was also called a fascist numpty, but we’ll ignore that one!) My house was Montrose (turquoise blue): the others were Argyll (dark blue), Gordon (red) and Atholl (yellow). Colours may be remembered wrongly though I hope not.

Me in 6th year. The round badge at left was
the turquoise blue of Montrose House. 
Actually when I read those historical names, as a wannabe historian now, I cringe at the connotations of them. But we’ll not think too much of what they represented in terms of the Jacobite era.

I joined loads of clubs, some for a short term but I was in most of them for years.

Non Sporty

The Chess Club (I was rubbish at that and lasted about 1 session) and the Debating Club (again rubbish at this) were very temporary. I took guitar lessons and was a member of the Folk Club for a couple of years. I was in the School Choir during my whole school career, and took part in the annual School Concerts. I probably joined other things but can’t now remember them…

Leslie Brown
My huge thanks go to Maths teacher, Leslie Brown who formed the Waverley Dramatic Society. He was instrumental in many public performances being put on every year, mostly One-Act Plays though occasionally a short sketch for the school concert was also produced. Other teachers helped Leslie Brown to produce the many plays and my thanks also go to them for giving their time and dedication to the 3 or 4 (?) productions put on each session.

Some of the Drama club rehearsals were held immediately after school though others were in the evening (7- 9 p.m. I think) This meant that teachers like Leslie Brown (Maths) who was the main Dramatic Club stage director stayed around school for a very long day. I was also involved in the Waverley former Pupils’ Drama Club and somewhere in the clutter of my house are copies of the programmes for some of these plays that I took part in. The ones I remember most were 'The House with the Twisty Windows', and a play by James Scotland called- Halloween. My last play in 6th year was called 'The Happiest Days of Your Life' and was particularly appropriate.
"The Happiest Days of Your Life" Me at right, Irene Watson middle and Arlene Wilkes left.
The guys? Sorry, I don't remember who you are.
Courtesy of the Waverley School Magazine 1970


On the more active front I played Netball for a few years (1st to 4th year) though I wasn’t particularly good at this. I lasted much longer with Hockey and played hockey from 1st year right up to college level.
1967.  Me (Nancy Stafford) 3rd left. 

Netball tournaments were organised against other schools. Weekly training and matches mainly took place after the school day and this meant P.E. teachers staying around till about 5.30 p.m. to umpire. Hockey involved the P.E teachers giving even more time since matches against other schools were generally on Saturday mornings across the city of Glasgow. (I was lucky to get a Saturday job working for Birrells the sweetie shop chain because I worked from 1 p.m to 8 p.m. on Saturday which meant I had time to play hockey in the morning before 7 hours of work!)

A bit of both…
In March to June 1968, during my 4th year, I also had a go at completing the bronze level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, initiated via Waverley Secondary School, but sadly it can be considered one of my failures. I had immense conflict of scheduling all of my extra-curricular activities and something had to go! The D of E award was abandoned since the times scheduled for activities clashed with my 'heavy duty' Girl Guide activities.
What I’ve evidence of completing for the bronze level are:
Design for living: “Poise and Grooming”. This was a hoot, taught by a beautician, and what my friends and I called ‘poisoned grooming’. It seems I also achieved the “Good Manners” status!
Pursuits and Interests: Drama – signed by Leslie Brown. I bet I was hugely relieved that the overlap of my activities counted!
Adventure: Expedition from Callander to Lendrick Youth Hostel on foot (hiking) I have no recall of this particular hike but it has been signed by teacher, Emily McNab who led the Girls’ School Camps.

I may not have achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Award but many of my fellow pupils did. This initiative in Waverley Secondary took dedication and organisation from many different teachers who gave up their time for this. 

(By then the public ‘Community Centre’ on Drumchapel Road (towards Old Drumchapel) had been opened. At the Glasgow Corporation funded Community Centre I was able to indulge in jumping on a large trampoline for the first time. I played badminton; table tennis; and volleyball there. I can’t remember any others but no doubt if it was on offer - I tried it. These sessions also caused a clash of scheduling with my D of E Award activities and my Girl Guide progress.

By the time I was 15 I was also doing my Queen’s Guide Badge (which I achieved). This took a very large commitment in terms of energy and time and it’s not surprising that I had a huge problem with fitting everything in)  


# 9 Trip de trip…
The other activities I benefited from at Waverley Secondary were the trips on offer for extremely low prices like the School Camp for 2 weeks during the summer holidays, at Dornoch or Golspie, which I’m sure I went to 5 years running. (cost about £5 for 2 weeks)
Dornoch 1966  Girls and teachers

I also went on the hugely subsidised 2 week Dunera Cruise (this overlapped the end of school term and summer holidays) which took me to Vigo (Spain), Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Bruges. (cost about £37) Other pupils went on other cruise ships like the Nevasa which was a longer trip (3 weeks?) and went all the way into the Mediterranean Sea.
Some of these photos are Dunera Cruise 1967 -others are hockey matches 1966/1967

I went to Inverclyde National Recreation Centre (now Sport Scotland/Largs) for 11 days during term time/February 1967. All equipment for games and sports was supplied and we were even issued with the use of hiking boots and a waterproof anorak on arrival.
Inverclyde 1967

The activities were amazing and gave me a first ever taste of: pony trekking; shinty; archery. In the huge Sports Hall we played many indoor sports, some of these new to me. We took a ferry across to Millport, visited the Marine Biological Station and that was the first time I ever rode a bike around the island. The intention of the stay at Inverclyde was that it should be predominantly an outside activity course and as such we had field study activities for flora and fauna. We climbed the local hills, did orienteering and map reading. The evenings were packed with ‘social’ events which included writing a diary which I still have. The subsidised cost to my parents for the 11 days was 21/6d. This was because the trip qualified for the current Scheme of Residential Education.  

I loved the food at Inverclyde as well. Plentiful and nourishing.

(I’m skipping to the future for a bit just to add that around 1999 I was teaching a Primary 7 class at Kintore Primary School in Aberdeenshire. My head teacher came to me to say that she was thinking of changing the venue of the school activity week from near the Lecht to something down in Largs. When she mentioned Inverclyde Centre, by then called Sport Scotland Largs, I was utterly delighted to be returning! I took my Primary 7 classes to Inverclyde every year until 2008 when I stopped full time teaching. As an accompanying teacher I didn’t have to join in with the activites…but you can bet your boots that I did! I loved every moment.)

I went to Glenmore Lodge (Sport Scotland/ Aviemore) for the winter sports outdoor course- I think this also lasted for 2 weeks but I’ve lost the evidence. There we did canoeing, sailing, hill walking, orienteering, rock climbing and abseiling. We would have ski-ed if there had been enough snow. I don’t think that happened but my friends can probably remind me and of any other sporting activities we indulged in. The hugely subsidised cost was probably much the same as for Inverclyde!

I joined the Skiing Club run by Andy Stirling, the Technical and Guidance teacher, who also took groups hill walking, mainly to the Cairngorms and Fort William areas. At first the club had old and well used second hand skis and boots. The boots were leather and got seriously wet in Scottish skiing weather which invariably was wet and windy, slushy and bleak. The skis had the old kind of clip on bindings where the boot front went into a ‘basket’ front binding and the back of the boot was sort of miraculously meant to tie down. I think the bindings we lashed around the foot were to ensure no escaping of the ski if I fell- which I did a lot at first.

Braeriach trip- with school Landrover.

When money became available the school got lovely new boots and brand new skis of a newer type. Heaven! A skiing weekend using the brand new school skis, tents and riding in the spanking new long-wheelbased school Landrover cost me something like 5/- . Again the subsidised money for that wonderful equipment came from budgets designed to give more Glasgow schoolchildren experiences they would otherwise be unable to afford.

Day Trips. There were many other places to visit on day trips and I took advantage of as many as possible. Again these were highly subsidised and the school kitchen  provided nourishing packed lunches since we weren’t attending school dinners.

I was difficult for my parents to fork out the 5/- here and the £5 there but they went without something to let me go on experiences I would never forget. 

All of the activities above made my years at Waverley Secondary School extremely worthwhile and memorable.

I’ve neglected to mention, so far, that I obviously studied enough to get a few Highers and O grades. When I read my above punishing schedules I wonder how on earth I did any studying at all.

I also read fiction at every available opportunity because I was a fiction junkie and knitted Aran jumpers whilst watching Coronation Street and reading a book for relaxation!

I didn't excel at academic achievement but I gained enough Highers to get me on my way. 

Legacies and catch-ups…
One of the best things from my years at Waverley Secondary, and Broadholm Primary, are those fond memories above but more importantly I made many great friends that I’ve kept in touch with over the decades. We were a group of six who did various activities together but the permutations of girls depended on the activity.

I mainly went skiing and hill walking with my best friend June Fulton. I played senior hockey with friends Irene Watson and Marlene Dalziel. I went to Girl Guide activities with twins Linda and Arlene Wilkes (and June Lockhart who was a couple of years older than the rest of us.) All of us were in the School Choir and most of us were in the Drama Club. I love meeting up with all of them.

It’s always as though no years have passed during the interim and that’s why six of us going to the Waverley School Reunion last week was such a big deal on my social calendar. Most of us stayed over Friday night at Irene’s and we right good old natter!

Here we are at the Waverley School Reunion 2016.

June Fulton, Linda Wilkes, Nancy Stafford (me), Arlene Wilkes, Marlene Dalziel, Irene Watson. 

Here’s to many more reunions.  

Do you have any memories of Waverley Secondary School to add to mine? Please - don't be afraid to use the comments box.

Again, my thanks to my friends and to my teachers.  
(When i get a minute I'll be posting a lot of Waverley photos on a Pinterest board that I've simply named Waverley Secondary School)