Before the days of the Internet or mobile phones we were quite happy to use a landline telephone or write a letter. The mobile is useful especially, as a mum, for knowing that my daughter and son-in-law have reached their destination safely. When they remember to call that is, and I rely on the Internet for researching facts because my fading eyesight makes it hard to read the small print of books now, and non-fiction, alas, often does use a smaller font. I value the Internet, as well, for being in contact with people - mostly friends from around the world, from Sweden to Australia, from Japan to the United States.
So when, in mid-October a storm rolled in complete with lights and percussion, I had one ear on how far away the lightning was while my husband and I hastily brought the horses in from the fields. There was one particularly loud clap, although I reckoned it was a good fifteen miles away. The storm then trundled off to bother someone else. Except, no Internet. An entire week later, still no Internet - obviously the lightning had zapped something somewhere, although the telephone was working. I suspect that a router, or whatever the technical term is for what happens at the British Telecom end of the line, had been damaged.
With the WiFi out even the smart phones were struggling. No Facebook, no Twitter; I had to hope that the posts I'd scheduled for my Blog
were all fine and dandy, and too bad if anyone was trying to get in touch with me for something urgent. We rely on technology; it does make you think how did we get by even ten years ago, let alone twenty or thirty!
I remember a friend being excited about this new-fangled World Wide Web thingy back in the late 70s. He was ecstatic because he could access a menu in a Chinese take-away in Hong Kong. I couldn't see why he was so thrilled. Then e-mail happened, and Google and Amazon
and… well, you get the picture.
The good thing about being off-line was that I caught up with writing the several articles I had queued in my 'To Do' folder, and I made a good start on the next Jesamiah adventure, which will be more of a novella-style about his early 'coming-of-age' years. I had toyed with calling it 'Weigh Anchor' but then came up with 'When the Mermaid Sings'; which might change if I think of something else.
Being unable to communicate with my friends made me think of how fortunate we are to have this ability to connect with almost anywhere in the world. Some of the people I 'meet' on Facebook
@HelenHollick, are no more than names, some I occasionally say 'hi' to, others I have been fortunate enough to meet, and many are good friends. Those few days off-line made me realise how much I value my friends - I missed you all.
One friend in particular I will continue to miss. It was with great sadness that I heard that literary agent Carole Blake had passed away in late October. Her passing has left a gaping hole in the lives of her colleagues, clients and friends - and I am honoured to have been able to class myself in the latter category. Carole was a no-nonsense woman who called a spade a spade, made her thoughts and views clear and, unlike many people, knew what she was talking about. Her wisdom and common sense - and her feisty attitude towards the ups and downs of life - was refreshing as well as invigorating. If ever there was a heroine to look up to Carole was it.
Forget 'Wonder Woman'; Carole Blake was the role model. She was one of the few professionals who supported and encouraged me when I initially decided to go indie, had willingly and enthusiastically advised me on a few things when I needed advice. I admired Carole because of her honesty and forthrightness, and enjoyed her posts on Facebook including her recent no-nonsense reports on her treatment for cancer. She told me that she wanted to be open to help others get through the tough time of chemotherapy. Sadly, it appears that it was not the cancer that took her from us - that, she was determined to beat. I will miss her posts about a myriad different things; her trips abroad, her love of fine food, her crafts, her books, her love of life and literature. I will miss her welcoming smile and joyful hug whenever we managed to meet at conferences and such. I admit I was terrified of her at times - she was like a school headmistress, you minded your ps and qs in her presence!
I will never forget the second time we met. The first time, my dear friend and Carole's long-term client Elizabeth Chadwick introduced us. We chatted. I enjoyed Carole's company, but was she just being polite in return, I wondered? So, that second time, at a different conference, she spotted me first and sailed over like a galleon with a following wind, giving me a huge hug and a kiss on both cheeks, "How lovely to see you!" says she.
And it was genuine, as were all her subsequent greetings, including our last just a few weeks ago in Oxford. There was no need to be scared of her - not outside of business matters that is! - because Carole was a warm, wonderful woman. It is difficult for those left behind not to grieve, but for Carole the passing was swift and I'm glad she did not have to suffer a long, lingering illness. I wonder if she is already bustling about and organising things on the Other Side? Enjoy your next Great Adventure Carole!
November is a special month for the United States for it is Thanksgiving, a celebration of safe arrival in the New World for the Founding Fathers (and mothers) and the gathering of their first harvest. Apart from Harvest Festival, earlier in the autumn, we do not have such a celebration here in the UK which is a shame. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, for all the good things to be thankful for.
For myself, despite the frustration of my poor eyesight, I am thankful that I do at least have
sight. There is a lot to be thankful for and appreciate: my husband whom I often get cross with (what else are husbands for?) but who has always been fully supportive. My beautiful daughter, of whom I am so proud, and my son-in-law - equally as proud of. The joy our animals bring us, even the grumpy goose. I miss horse-riding, but the horses are there at the end of the garden. I am thankful for the tranquillity of the Devon countryside and the achievement of my books which bring pleasure to so many. But above all this I appreciate your friendship - the very fact that you have bothered to visit this newsletter on my website and read it.
For that: Diolch, Gracias, Danke, Tack, Grazie, Tesekkur ederim, Dankon, Gratias tibi, Merci, Þakka þár and Thank You to all.
Diolch, Gracias, Danke, Tack, Grazie, Tesekkur ederim, Dankon, Gratias tibi, Merci, Þakka þár and Thank You to all.