Thursday, 28 July 2016

Glass splinters


Back in June, during our days of political turmoil in the UK, a friend texted me to say that her six-year old daughter had decided Theresa May couldn't become prime minister because she was a "lady". And this was from a girl whose mother worked in the City! So when May finally took office on 11 July, my first thought was that a new generation of girls could now grow up thinking they too were entitled to aim for the top job.

It feels like there is a new era dawning for women leaders and clearly I am not the only person to be thinking about the importance of female role models. On Tuesday, after Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic Party's nominee for the next US President, she told the cheering crowd:
"If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman President. But one of you is next."

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

After the fall

A beach in Cornwall, a scene for Brexit
What does the future hold for our United Kingdom?
My goodness, what a pickle we are in! In less than a week, the United Kingdom has become distinctly un-United, blighted by an uptick in racism and angry insults hurled about on social media. I will say it now - I am a 'remain' voter and spent last Friday feeling both shocked and devastated that my country voted by a small margin to leave the European Union. For me, in the era of globalisation and the worldwide web, the decision to turn our backs on the European community felt like a step back into the past. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A loss of innocence

What a week it has been. The appalling murder of MP Jo Cox has shocked us all and left many feeling bewildered and resentful about the whole Brexit mess. Two young children and a husband are bereft, while a community in Yorkshire has lost an elected representative who was universally applauded for her determination to make the world a better place. Following on the heels of the Orlando nightclub shooting, these events start to shake your faith in humanity.

Acrobats at Giffords Circus
Spectacular Giffords Circusa source of talent and wonder
It always baffles me that there are people at large who are so committed to inflicting terror on the rest of us. The only comfort I take at times like these is the outpouring of empathy and generosity from the general public. All those candlelit vigils and charitable donations raised in Jo Cox's name are a reminder that most of us are indeed well-meaning, rational and broad-minded. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Puppet Master: a taster

Available on Amazon 6/6/16
On Monday the 6 June, my latest novel, The Puppet Master, will be published on Kindle. It tells the story of a diplomat's wife living in the social whirl of expat Jakarta during the 1970s. She has two young daughters she adores, a successful husband and an exotic home complete with staff, so why does she view the future with a sense of foreboding?

As promised in my blog last week about my childhood in Indonesia, I am posting part of the opening chapter to whet your appetites. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy...

Monday, 23 May 2016

Tales from the tropics

One of my earliest memories is playing happily in a friend's garden before being unceremoniously yanked inside by our panic-stricken mothers. Turned out there was a python lurking in the storm drain. Not long after the snake-scare, we were motoring through town when our driver yelled at us to duck down out-of-sight. Our error was to pass a roundabout where police were pursuing a runaway man with live bullets. I can remember seeing the man fall to the ground as my mum pushed me down into the footwell. Strangely I accepted these occasional elements of danger without question. That was how life was in Indonesia in the late 1970s.

Emma Clark Lam as a child in Jakarta
Me and my brother in the Puncak, outside Jakarta, c.1978
It was a lot of fun too - lazy afternoons at the swimming pool, horse-riding in the tea plantations outside Jakarta, holidays in Bali and trips to the beach with the volcano Krakatoa looming in the background. My parents were posted to Jakarta in their early thirties and were given a company bungalow complete with domestic staff. Looking back at family photos, it is clear that hedonism was the order of the day. My parents and their friends were young and groovy - the albums are full of raucous parties, boat trips and batik shirts. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Dogs and friendship

A few weeks ago I persuaded my friend Emma to join me on an organised dog walk to raise funds for the Red Cross. "Will it be very doggy?" she asked hesitantly, after agreeing to accompany me. "Oh no," I assured her, "it's more of a charity thing really." (I should mention that Emma is not a dog lover, preferring to admire the canine form from afar - at a 100 yards if possible. She puts up with my own Labrador Pickle, but only because she is my friend.)

"Did someone say dog biscuit?"
So this morning we set off for our appointed meeting place in the rain. "Shame about the weather," we murmured, "oh well, never mind, we'll survive!" (and all those other inanities one mutters to show fearlessness in the face of the British weather system).

We arrived at the village hall - a.k.a. start of the walk - amongst a twirling, whirling pack of dogs. "Slightly more doggy than I anticipated," I said to Emma, by way of an apology, as we picked our way through multiple Labradors, golden retrievers, a couple of pugs, various terriers and a Cockerpoo. Pickle, it must be said, was in doggy heaven, careering around the garden in a sea of fur.