HOW TO GET STARTED ON A MEMOIR

In these days of isolation and worry, writing can be cathartic.
Use this time wisely and you can look back and see it was a constructive time.

How to start writing your memoir??

Think about why you want to write a memoir. My reason was to pass memories to grandchildren before they were lost.

Get a dedicated notebook or start a file and note down some of your memories.

Try then to shuffle them into date order.

Look through old photo albums for triggers

Talk to older members of your family about what they remember – write it down. What age were you?

Do some online research, say, what was happening the day you were born. What was happening in that year.

Do you remember?
A neighbour
A gossipy aunt
a loving grandmother
your first school

Do you have school friends who can fill you in. Email them or phone them up. Find them on Facebook.

For example I was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire and there is a FB page where people post memories. This can help trigger your own memories.

Read other memoirs. Ebooks. Blurbs on Amazon

Covid 19 isolation and shutdown means no libraries open but see what you can find.

Make a start. One hour a day. Keep re-reading your notes and more memories will flash up.

Good luck and happy writing.

Reading Strategies for Older Dyslexic Students

It seems that every time I go away I return to find a copy of the Oldie on my post shelf. This is a regular gift from a neighbour who is a fellow writer. Now recently there have been a few sunny days amidst all the rain of early 2020 I have managed to disappear to the allotment. True to form the February Oldie should arrive next week. I am still reading the January edition.

I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

1 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

2 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

3 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

4 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

5 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

6 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

7 Use your library and the knowledge of those working there. I used to take Writing magazine. Now I can visit the library to read it. The front cover tells me about the articles I will find within.

Good articles I have read in the past have been an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There was an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

But what interested me most was an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. This applies to students as well. I used to intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front but arthritis has robbed me of this treat at least for the time being.

These days, strolling will not lift the pounds. But I have a mobility scooter and using this ensures the fresh air and some human interaction and I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

Writing is the next best occupation to my previous career in teaching. It is one of the reasons I get up in the morning and why I enjoy The Oldie when it arrives. Good writing lies within.

Now I just need to find the time to read it! Perhaps I should revisit the advice above.

Seeing The Signs of Dyslexia in Young Children

Something happened to Callum in the autumn term 2011. A normally cheerful child he has, however, always been the child who falls over, loses or breaks things and struggles with schoolwork. In November the phrase ‘I’m rubbish’ crept into his vocabulary and homework began to be stressful and resulted in tears.

Two years before Callum’s Mum spoke to me about her concerns with his progress at school. Not yet at his seventh birthday, I suggested she help him as much as possible but persuaded her not to go down the assessment route and get him labelled. As I told her, there are few specialist teachers or education psychologists who will assess a child before they are seven. Callum was now 8 years 10 months and we were thinking that this had gone on long enough. Callum’s difficulties had begun to cause him problems socially and emotionally. He loved his Saturday drama group and was the only one of three siblings to attend, the intention to find him something that was special to him that he enjoyed. But he refused to audition for parts despite getting into the final ten at an audition.

This was followed by refusing to audition for a school production. ‘I won’t get it. I’m rubbish,’ was all he would say when asked. Once his mother was ferrying several of his classmates to an event, when one of the children chimed up that ‘Callum’s the messiest writer in the class’. She felt herself cringe on her son’s behalf. Mum is also aware that Callum’s work is never put up on the wall and very little work comes home from school. With Parents’ Evening looming after half term, his mother asked for a preliminary ‘chat’ with his teacher. This was initially refused with the imminent Parents’ Evening. ‘But I just want to have a word about Callum,’ his Mum said, ‘so that you can have a think and talk to other people before that evening.’

Eventually, it was agreed and the result is that Callum has been moved speedily into a ‘special spelling group’. Why this had not been done before is unclear. Mum was clearly distressed the week before half term as she feels helpless to support him. She is not a trained teacher and is not in a position therefore to train as a specialist dyslexia tutor. One route for her may be to take up a place on a Teaching Assistants’ Course. Her experience with her own child may well tip the scales if the course is over subscribed. When I studied for my Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties, I was the only person on the course who didn’t have dyslexic children. Most teachers were there to learn how to help their own children. In reality this does not work as even if you have the qualification you will find there are barriers to teaching your own child. I have often had a child brought to me by a mother who is a trained specialist. ‘He won’t do it for me,’ is the common complaint. I agreed to do some subtle basic assessments on Callum. He already has Test and Exam phobia, failing anything that is presented as such, whereas his classwork is acceptable. His low self-esteem is such that I knew he would not want to come into a room with me and ‘do tests’. I therefore sat with him in the lounge of their home while the other children were occupied with other things. We had an easy chat about school and what he does not like (everything apparently). I asked him if he could say long words and the answer was ‘no’. Will you try some for me I asked. He tried four words – preliminary, philosophical, statistical and millennium – all without success but we had a laugh about it and I said I couldn’t say preliminary either. We talked about learning the tables but he has learnt the 7x table by reciting 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and so on, so if you ask him what are four sevens he cannot tell you. This, of course, is another item on the Bangor Dyslexia Test so I could not test him on reciting one table through, although I will try with an easier table next time. I then asked him if he could tell me the months of the year. He made errors and backtracked from May to start again, finishing eventually by reversing October and November. When I asked him to say them backwards he said ‘no way’. I know that his grandfather has always demonstrated signs of Dyslexia and Callum told me he confused ‘b’ and ‘d’ giving me examples. ‘I write deing instead of being,’ he said. I therefore know that Callum has 5 indicators on the Bangor and know him well enough to predict this will increase to 8 or even 10 on my next visit. Interestingly, his siblings were writing poems for a competition run by Buxton Press in association with Derby University. Callum had disappeared when they began composing, one on a laptop and one on a lined file pad. This is a key indicator of Dyslexia. If a child avoids writing or produces very little written work, he or she should be investigated for Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia). Any parents reading this would be advised to approach their child’s school if this is the case with their child. The simple things I demonstrated above could also be tried with the child either as a game or in conversation. Siblings should not be allowed to laugh at the child who cannot pronounce big words. Likewise they should not laugh at his writing, poor reading and maths. I suspect that this has started to happen in school and caused him to label himself ‘rubbish’ at everything.

I asked Callum if he would read me some words on a card which he did happily. Then I took a deep breath and asked if he would write some words for me as I wanted to see how many words he knew. The result of this exercise was that his scores were very low. He is at the third percentile for reading and below the first percentile for spelling. Percentiles express the child’s achievement as compared to a similar age group. Callum’s raw scores were checked against the 8 yrs 6 months to 8 years 11 months group. This means that in one hundred children of his age group, only two children will read at a lower level than him. If this story strikes a familiar chord with you, you have the right to ask to see the SENCO at your child’s school. SENCO stands for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. More tests can then be carried out. If a child has a reading level that is outside the average range, they can have a reader for important tests. I am sure this would take away Callum’s test anxiety.

I am starting to give Callum specialist tuition. He already has a tutor who is not a specialist, but he likes her and she is doing very useful things with him. However, he needs someone to deal with his poor phonological awareness. And what can Mum do? Well Callum was able to spell words such as – him, make, cook, must, enter and light so I have shown Mum how to build large groups of words using these basic patterns. As he can spell the syllable chunk ‘ter’ he should be able to add ‘er’ to ‘light’ for example. This will have an esteem building effect on Callum. His spelling mistakes demonstrate good knowledge of sounds but poor ability to ‘hear the sounds in words’ Examples are crecd for correct, recke for reach, metereal for material, sprise for surprise, sercall for circle. They are what the specialists call ‘phonological alternatives’. A very good attempt was made at ‘explain’ ie ‘explan’. This is therefore good news despite the low score. Callum’s error with ‘reach’ suggests he needs some work with ‘ch’ as he has confused it with ‘ck’.

I will keep you posted with Callum’s progress as we meet. So watch this space. — Posted By Di Castle to Di Castle – a writer and teacher – issues of interest to writers, parents and mature students. in 2012

Di Castle teaches groups on DEAF AWARENESS and the basics of British Sign Language for anyone running a community group or who has contact with members of the public, shopkeepers, hairdressers, hoteliers, restaurant/bar staff, Professionals and Groups. contact dcastle32@talktalk.net 07787 435549

SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving. A celebration of the last twenty-five years was published in 2017.

Grandma’s Poetry Book – makes you laugh, makes you cry – a nostalgic sometimes wobbly journey of the first time grandmother

Ideal Christmas or new grandparent Gift order direct dcastle32@talktalk.net or text 07787 435549 http://www.dicastle.co.uk – pay with PayPal

TALKS ON WRITING, POETRY, READINGS

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http://www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com
twitter @dinahcas

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 Our Auschwitz Visit 2015

We don’t take cameras. We’re keen photographers but this is not the place.

Friends declined to accompany me and my partner was reluctant, but his change of heart brings us to Poland. Is he sure? No, but he will go. We put it on our list for my 70th year and the 70th anniversary of Liberation. 2015. A three-night trip. We don’t tell too many friends after some raised eyebrows and comments, although a few have preceded us and recommend restaurants and must-see sights.

Krakow is cold in March but its climate can surprise so, while the UK shivers in single digits, we carry our coats for two days. On Day 1, we enter the 13th century St Mary’s Basilica with its richly decorated interior admiring the Gothic stained glass windows and artwork. On Day 2 we head for the Jewish quarter, the Remuh Synagogue and the old cemetery desecrated by the Germans during the occupation. We find the river, cross the bridge and walk to the Schindler Factory Museum with its three levels of photographic, film and first person accounts of life under Nazi Occupation.

Day 3. Our coach heads for the site of one of history’s most horrific crimes, Auschwitz/Birkenau. The museum embodies tragedy, inhumanity and the survival of the will. It stands as a testament to the inconceivable atrocities of the Second World War while paying tribute to the estimated 1.2 million lives unjustly taken within. A chilling introductory film occupies us during the 45-minute coach journey, the sunshine of Krakow soon replaced by drizzle. Once through the airport type security, the view of the Nazi death camp is interrupted by a mass of coloured umbrellas under which huddle groups of predominantly young people.

Despite, a plethora of 1950s war films, books on the Holocaust and university study, I learn much. Nothing can prepare you for the vastness of the camp, the chilling sight of the ‘Arbeit Mach Frei’ sign over the entrance, the terrifyingly high guard posts, the barbarous boundary wire and the bullet-battered execution wall. Accommodation blocks house exhibits including wall-to-wall photographs of the first internees, shaven-headed, hollow-eyed and hauntingly dressed in the all-too-familiar striped pyjamas. Later, increasingly large numbers rendered recording impossible. There are disturbing sights of suitcases, children’s shoes, artificial legs and ceiling-high mounds of human hair which shock and saturate our senses. German ‘loot’.

How was this possible? Our guide explains the Germans hid their crimes building the camps between two rivers. Deception included releasing photographs to the Red Cross of children, carrying their few pitiful belongings, with a concerned plea to ‘find the parents’.

Visiting Auschwitz is mandatory for German schoolchildren. Our own tour reminds us that we should never forget. The camp has barely changed since liberation in 1945 and the walk is long, gruelling and physically demanding. It is certainly not for those with mobility issues. We walk to the far end where one crematorium was destroyed by inmates who obtained explosives from outside the camp – their aim to hold up the extermination until liberation. Word was that Russians and Americans were getting nearer.

By now we are descending the steps to the gas chamber, past the showers with our guide pointing up to the roof shaft where the poisonous crystals were dropped into the room. Surprisingly, despite pleas for sensitivity, camera phones flash repeatedly. I draw a quick breath to avoid saying something I may regret. After all, who knows if the person next to you lost relatives in the genocide? Did these self-professed photographers – everybody is one these days – intend browsing these horrific images at home? Well, it takes all sorts to make a world – one tyrant to break it. But, for us, every sight remains etched on our memory.
There was no need for cameras.

About the author Di Castle

Before moving to The Purbecks in 2001, Di enjoyed a nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks. She now lives in a Victorian building overlooking Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Di always had a love of words, writing as soon as she could hold a pen. She then taught in further and higher education for 35 years while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts.

After gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards at Winchester Writers’ Conference she began blogging in 2012 and now writes for several websites including her own blog at http://www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com.

Grandma’s Poetry Book (published 2014) is a nostalgic, humorous memoir spanning sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey.

Her latest book Should I Wear Floral takes a humorous peek at life, love and leaving over the last twenty-five years. The poems stem from observations, eavesdropping and experience while several originated with news stories and memorable events such as the deaths of Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and Spike Milligan. Learn about the ‘Look Down Generation’, the ‘Boomerang Generation’ and those annoying people who are Always There.

Both books open a window on many familiar situations everyone will recognise.

Included in ‘Floral’ is a collection of poems with a Swanage theme to celebrate the home town of both author and illustrator, Denise Horn.

Grandma’s Poetry Book is out now. To buy a copy email me on dcastle32@talktalk.net
or message me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/di.castle.3
http://www.dicastle.co.uk
http://www.dimindmatters.wordpress.com
Twitter @dinahcas
Check out my writer page on Facebook – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-Castle-Writer/266866193324409

Retirement Slave

From Should I Wear Floral and Other Poems on Life, Love and Leaving by Di Castle

Retirement slave
What’s for lunch?
He always asks.
What are you doing?
Daily tasks!

Where’s the salt?
On the table.
What are you doing?
All I am able!

What’s for dinner?
My answer is rude.
Where are you going?
Shopping for food!

What will you get?
Some milk and some bread.
When will you be back
So I can be fed?

Did you buy cake?
Oh why does he nag?
You’ve forgotten my paper!
My shoulders now sag?

Why are you crying?
Why look so sad ………?
………I’m remembering workdays
And the peace that I had.

NB Reading my work aloud infringes copyright so book me for a talk with readings

About the author Di Castle

Before moving to The Purbecks in 2001, Di enjoyed a nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks. She now lives in a Victorian building overlooking Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Di always had a love of words, writing as soon as she could hold a pen. She then taught in further and higher education for 35 years while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts.

After gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards at Winchester Writers’ Conference she began blogging in 2012 and now writes for several websites including her own blog at http://www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com.

Grandma’s Poetry Book (published 2014) is a nostalgic, humorous memoir spanning sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey.

Her latest book Should I Wear Floral takes a humorous peek at life, love and leaving over the last twenty-five years. The poems stem from observations, eavesdropping and experience while several originated with news stories and memorable events such as the deaths of Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and Spike Milligan. Learn about the ‘Look Down Generation’, the ‘Boomerang Generation’ and those annoying people who are Always There.

Both books open a window on many familiar situations everyone will recognise.

Included in ‘Floral’ is a collection of poems with a Swanage theme to celebrate the home town of both author and illustrator, Denise Horn.

Grandma’s Poetry Book is out now. To buy a copy email me on dcastle32@talktalk.net
or message me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/di.castle.3
http://www.dicastle.co.uk
http://www.dimindmatters.wordpress.com
Twitter @dinahcas
Check out my writer page on Facebook – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-Castle-Writer/266866193324409

Excuse Me If I Smash Your Phone

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
And dump it down the drain.
We really do not want to hear,
‘Hello, I’m on the train.’

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
I know you’re on this train.
And I’m really not that interested,
In your week-long trip to Spain.

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
The Quiet Zone should do it.
I’d like to splice it from your ear,
And let my shredder chew it.

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
Your ailments make me sick.
You’d better hide it in your bag,
Or I’ll grab it double quick.

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
Your eyes don’t leave the screen.
We’re on a date, our eyes should meet,
Are mine blue, or brown or green?

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
And dump it in the bin.
Its silly jingle woke me up,
And made an awful din.

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
But this is better, honey.
I’ll take it, dial overseas,
And cost you lots of money.

Excuse me if I smash your phone,
They should legislate against them.
Make a law, impose some fines,
But for now I’ll gladly smash ‘em!

From Should I Wear Floral (and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving) by Di Castle (illustrated by Denise Horn)

Should I Wear Floral and other poems takes a humorous peek at life, love and leaving during many changes in society over the last twenty-five years, FLORAL COVER PICwhile also celebrating landmark events in Britain.
Included are more personal fun verses written for family birthdays, weddings, and funerals and adapted for this book.

From the irritations of mobile phones, holiday air flights, weight gain, the ageing process and stages of life to the joys of love and marriage, the quirks of retirement and sadness of separation and loss, these poems open a window on many familiar situations everyone will recognise

The work by illustrator Denise Horn, has been likened in reviews to that of EH Sheppard of the
A A Milne books and her hilarious, laugh-out-loud illustrations again capture the essence of every poem.

About Di
I am a writer living in Swanage. Born and bred in Hertfordshire, I always
had a love of words, writing as soon as I could hold a pen. My sister is
profoundly deaf and I have a passionate interest in raising deaf awareness.
After my youngest daughter went to school I began a career teaching in
Further Education, while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts.
Later, my writing took precedence and, since becoming a regular attendee at
the Winchester Writers’ Conference, I have enjoyed success in their
competitions gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards for
articles on a range of subjects. I began blogging in 2012 and as well as
issues surrounding deafness I blog on mental health, dyslexia, writing and
anything topical that stirs me to fire up the computer.

My poetry collection, Grandma’s Poetry Book, was self-published by Matador in November 2014. I have other books in progress and there is interest from agents in my memoir of growing up with a deaf sibling. Before moving to Swanage in 2001, I enjoyed a nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks.

I live close to my partner, Bryan, in a Victorian building overlooking
Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. I have three
daughters and seven grandchildren.

I published Grandma’s Poetry Book in 2014, Should I Wear Floral And Other Poems on Life Love and Leaving in 2017 and have written for websites such as http://www.henpicked.net, http://www.oapschat.co.uk , Gransnet and Depression Alliance.

Look Down Generation (2015)

The Look Down Generation
Ignores the clear blue sky.
They look down, look down, look down,
As life is passing by.

The Look Down Generation
Logged in and in the Cloud.
Sh, sh, I’ve got the Wifi.
Just wait. Don’t speak so loud.

The Look Down Generation’s here.
Mum, one-handed, in the road.
Her precious pramload heading
For a lorry’s dangerous load.

Look Down Generation scowls.
They’ve forgotten how to smile.
They’ve forgotten how to talk.
They look down all the while.

Written English out of date.
Shorter, shorter r 2 b.
The only words the look-downs know
Won’t win a spelling bee.

Look down, look down, look down,
On Kindle, app or phone.
Look down, look down, look down,
In a world you’ve made your own.

Look down, look down, look down,
Reading from a text.
Social skills have gone awry,
Leaving all quite vexed.

Laptop, iPad, mobile too,
Facebook, email, twitter.
Thumbing, reading, flicking, laughing.
Can’t relax, they’re all a jitter.

Tapping, texting, tagging, timeline,
Adding pictures pressing send.
YouTube, blogs, loads of links.
The world is going round the bend.

The Look Down Generation –
Their baby’s looking sad.
They’d rather read a Facebook post
Than chat and make her glad.

The mums don’t talk to babies.
They’re simply looking down.
Joy now comes from smileys
And Facebook shares in town.

Girl looks down, won’t speak to me.
Looking cross, thoughts interrupted.
No time, when asked the way,
Her phone time now disrupted.

Then, jingle, jingle, answer now.
Face time with redundant ear,
Talking loudly, fast and fiery
Flirty talk that all can hear.

Free hand wiggles on the screen.
Not a word to child.
Snapchat, Instagram and Linked.
A lonely world gone wild.

37 Look Down Generation.jpg

From Should I Wear Floral (and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving) by Di Castle (illustrated by Denise Horn)

Should I Wear Floral and other poems takes a humorous peek at life, love and leaving during many changes in society over the last twenty-five years, FLORAL COVER PICwhile also celebrating landmark events in Britain.
Included are more personal fun verses written for family birthdays, weddings, and funerals
and adapted for this book.

The work by illustrator Denise Horn, has been likened in reviews to that of EH Sheppard of the
A A Milne books and her hilarious, laugh-out-loud illustrations again capture the essence of every poem.
From the irritations of mobile phones, holiday air flights, weight gain, the ageing process and stages of life to the joys of love and marriage, the quirks of retirement and sadness of separation and loss, these poems open a window on many familiar situations everyone will recognise

About Di
I am a writer living in Swanage. Born and bred in Hertfordshire, I always
had a love of words, writing as soon as I could hold a pen. My sister is
profoundly deaf and I have a passionate interest in raising deaf awareness.
After my youngest daughter went to school I began a career teaching in
Further Education, while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts.
Later, my writing took precedence and, since becoming a regular attendee at
the Winchester Writers’ Conference, I have enjoyed success in their
competitions gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards for
articles on a range of subjects. I began blogging in 2012 and as well as
issues surrounding deafness I blog on mental health, dyslexia, writing and
anything topical that stirs me to fire up the computer. You can read my
blogs here: http://www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com. My poetry collection, Grandma’s
Poetry Book, was self-published by Matador in November 2014. I have other
books in progress and there is interest from agents in my memoir of growing
up with a deaf sibling. Before moving to Swanage in 2001, I enjoyed a
nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks.
I live close to my partner, Bryan, in a Victorian building overlooking
Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. I have three
daughters and seven grandchildren.

I published Grandma’s Poetry Book in 2014, Should I Wear Floral And Other Poems on Life Love and Leaving in 2017 and have written for websites such as http://www.henpicked.net, http://www.oapschat.co.uk , Gransnet and Depression Alliance.

Princess Diana

Royal Memories

August 1997

Seems yesterday that August night
Our English Rose lost her light.
A royal mother lost in France.
An accident or… perhaps just chance?
Two men still wonder ‘Why take her’?
As papers, radio, tv infer.
Driven to death, last fast chase.
Media rueing loss of face.

Kensington Gardens, the flowers adorned
Laid by those who came and mourned.
In disbelief they stood and gazed
Deep in thought, time erased.

Two friends to London on a train.
September light and passing refrain.
Reflecting on the news forlorn
Sad grey Sunday, death at dawn.

Before us the Palace, its presence frigid,
She tried; her brief light easing the rigid.
Flowers strewn, notes lit with kisses.
Our light snuffed out, so much she misses.

Then gun carriage for her bed.
Father, sons and husband led.
Westminster Abbey – a brother’s pain.
A light we shall not see again.

Sad royal life ended young.
Lumps in throats when hymns are sung.
Tears from thousands flocking to see
A pageant of our royalty.

Lining route – a silent crowd.
Flowers are thrown and heads are bowed.
No more light on lovely face.
Althorp’s lake her resting place.

From Should I Wear Floral (and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving) by Di Castle (illustrated by Denise Horn)

Should I Wear Floral and other poems takes a humorous peek at life, love and leaving during many changes in society over the last twenty-five years, FLORAL COVER PICwhile also celebrating landmark events in Britain.
Included are more personal fun verses written for family birthdays, weddings, and funerals
and adapted for this book.

The work by illustrator Denise Horn, has been likened in reviews to that of EH Sheppard of the
A A Milne books and her hilarious, laugh-out-loud illustrations again capture the essence of every poem.
From the irritations of mobile phones, holiday air flights, weight gain, the ageing process and stages of life to the joys of love and marriage, the quirks of retirement and sadness of separation and loss, these poems open a window on many familiar situations everyone will recognise

About Di
I am a writer living in Swanage. Born and bred in Hertfordshire, I always
had a love of words, writing as soon as I could hold a pen. My sister is
profoundly deaf and I have a passionate interest in raising deaf awareness.
After my youngest daughter went to school I began a career teaching in
Further Education, while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts.
Later, my writing took precedence and, since becoming a regular attendee at
the Winchester Writers’ Conference, I have enjoyed success in their
competitions gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards for
articles on a range of subjects. I began blogging in 2012 and as well as
issues surrounding deafness I blog on mental health, dyslexia, writing and
anything topical that stirs me to fire up the computer. You can read my
blogs here: http://www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com. My poetry collection, Grandma’s
Poetry Book, was self-published by Matador in November 2014. I have other
books in progress and there is interest from agents in my memoir of growing
up with a deaf sibling. Before moving to Swanage in 2001, I enjoyed a
nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks.
I live close to my partner, Bryan, in a Victorian building overlooking
Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. I have three
daughters and seven grandchildren.

I published Grandma’s Poetry Book in 2014, Should I Wear Floral And Other Poems on Life Love and Leaving in 2017 and have written for websites such as http://www.henpicked.net, http://www.oapschat.co.uk , Gransnet and Depression Alliance.

The Ingredients of Love

Wonderful book and here is my Goodreads review

A lovely read, very engaging and amusing. Set in Paris on the day she is dumped Aurelie comes across a book which contains a scene from her restaurant and the character is herself. She tries to contact the author but the editor at the publishing company is not helpful. We know early on that the editor, Andre, actually wrote the book and the story is about his attempts to thwart Aurelie’s wish to meet the non existent author. Surprised at the poor reviews and low ratings as I found it unputdownable.

for a longer review look at my Book Blog  http://www.disbookblog.wordpress.com
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8225358-di-castle”>View all my reviews</a>

 

 

 

 

 

 

Procrastination

Procrastination is the thief of time – Edward Young

Procrastination the bug bear of creative life

Last year my writers’ group had a theme of Procrastination. The night before the meeting crisis management hit me full force. I’d had two weeks between meetings and the list was months old.

Of course I was I was going to write it the week before, after the washing, the ironing and tidying. I’d do it after hoovering the lounge of the biscuit crumbs the cat rejects, unlike my previous canines who ensured my carpet was always clean of tasty droppings. I would write it, I promised, after the early night, the late night watching Question Time, the reading in bed night and the hour spent reading on the sofa.  I’d do it after writing another blog post.

The trouble with procrastination is it clogs up your memory. There are so many things to do and written masterpieces to finish off … some time … later .. tomorrow … next week … this evening, etc, etc.  The thought ‘I will put that in my diary’ leads me to open it and see that I have forgotten something else – ah well, I will email an apology later … or this evening … whenever – and I find a hair appointment clash. My diary is the victim of my procrastination. When I agree to something I  will put it in the diary later …  when I get home … tonight … or more likely, when I find it. Every job put off is another one to clog the brain.

As a teacher I worked from my ‘to-do list’ every day. It is difficult to procrastinate in teaching as there are syllabus and exam requirements knocking at the door and lessons cannot start ‘whenever’ but on the dot. Perhaps that is why, now, as a retired teacher and a writer, I procrastinate so much. It is because I CAN.

Years ago Staff Development included a Time Management Course. We were told only to touch a piece of paper once. Then read it, file it or bin it. Never put it to one side and pick it up again. Of course, that doesn’t work for a writer.  Imagine reading your first chapter through and filing it or deciding it is no good and binning it.  A constant writing mantra is nothing is wasted and a writer should never discard what might be useful later. So I CAN procrastinate. I may even improve the piece if I wait and think it over.

According to TM theory if you leave your intray long enough, the chances are many things will have answered themselves or not need answering. Everything will have moved on. Most papers will be out of date. It does work. Remember if you really wanted to reply you would have done so. It works with special offers as well, I can vouch for that. I am always coming across out of date vouchers.

Julia Cameron writes of procrastination in The Artists’ Way. We tend to look to the big picture such as ‘I want to write a book’ without making many small creative changes to keep working in the moment. Much better than seeing the WHOLE book as something unachievable. Rather than take scary baby steps, we rush to the cliff and stand there quaking.  For example, we waste thinking time such as ‘If I finish the book, how will I market it?’

In today’s media frenzied world and the vast possibilities in life we have so many choices. There are numerous groups, endless fitness classes and as well as the corner shop there are several supermarkets enticing us with special offers and, failing that, we can motor further afield and join the Aldi or Lidl crowds.  At home, we can watch hundreds of television channels, record two programmes while watching a third, we have radio, overflowing libraries and e readers.  Now, don’t start me on that one as I just can’t get on with screen reading. Even the Help menu doesn’t understand so I need to ask someone … tomorrow … next week?  Give me a book please!

Procrastination does have advantages as, like Time Management theory it allows you to leave some tasks which may, in fact, be unnecessary. For example, writers have at their fingertips an endless supply of websites and social media to promote themselves. If we pursued them all we would never get any writing done. So to stay sane, procrastinate and allow a limited time for each one. Twenty minutes on Twitter and put off those other tweets til tomorrow, otherwise the whole evening will have disappeared. Or sign up for Tweetdeck. It saved my sanity.

As for followers on our blogs, learning to filter out the really useful is an art in itself. The art of scanning a post is essential. If the article is by one of your followers or those you follow, then you need to comment.

Oh dear when will I ever have time for dinner? Well …… I could have it later I suppose.

My debut, Grandma’s  Poetry Book, is available by post via dcastle32@talktalk.net or on my website http://www.dicastle.co.uk .

This poetry collection spans sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey in her new role. It includes many facets of unmissable moments and childhood milestones, some humorous and others more poignant, even sad.  Such treasured times can easily be forgotten so the book acts as a nostalgic memoir. Touching and funny in turn, readers will be reminded of the joys of witnessing childhood development and the effect o n their own lives. Even those yet to reach grandparenthood including fathers, aunties and primary school children have already enjoyed reading this book. Grandma’s Poetry Book makes an ideal gift for new grandparents, birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day and many readers have returned to buy more copies for friends and relations. Each poem has its own laugh-out-loud illustration by an artist who has been likened to E H Sheppard.

Some comments have included ‘Pam Ayres meets Winnie the Pooh’, ‘made me laugh, made me cry’, ‘charming book’ and ‘every grandparent should have one’.

OUT SOON  SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving, By Di Castle and illustrated by Denise Horn.

You can follow me on twitter @dinahcas and on Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-Castle-Writer/266866193324409