Everyday living, News

Breading in the New Year

I’m fond of the homely rituals that come with midwinter, Christmas and New Year. I especially love decorating the house, putting up and taking down the tree and rediscovering cinnamon angels and glass baubles with their tender, freighted memories of other Christmases shared with other people in other places. It’s a time of so many… Continue reading Breading in the New Year

Everyday living, News

Virtual class

Last night I spent three strange hours in front of my MacBook. Normally, time with my MacBook is at worst obligatory (bill paying, filing tax returns, marking papers – none of which is particularly strange) and at best treasured (writing, reading, listening to music). So – yesterday evening I co-delivered my first live online teaching… Continue reading Virtual class

Everyday living, Life Writing, News, Vacant Possession

Making ‘Vacant Possession’ – a site-specific performance to say goodbye to a house (written by Sara Clifford and Clare Best, directed by Nicola Blackwell)

Sometimes good things come out of disappointments. Sara and I had planned a Writers in Residence event at the University of Brighton for late April, themed around collaboration and site-specific work. Speakers and space were booked, but the date was too close to exams, and on the night we found ourselves in a small circle… Continue reading Making ‘Vacant Possession’ – a site-specific performance to say goodbye to a house (written by Sara Clifford and Clare Best, directed by Nicola Blackwell)

Everyday living, News, Writing retreat

Apples, wires and being alone

I returned home yesterday from Ripon College, Cuddesdon, in Oxfordshire. I think I’ll be going there again. What a privilege it is to be able to abandon routines, even for a few days. I’ve done a couple of terrific Arvon courses over the years (one was when I was putting together my first full collection,… Continue reading Apples, wires and being alone

Body, Everyday living, Life Writing, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Seven-year itch

I can’t quite believe I’m now seven years post-op. What is it about seven years? Some urban myth that every single cell in the body has renewed itself in that time (skin is quick to renew itself in seven days, bones take longer – several to seven years, and it seems most other organs are… Continue reading Seven-year itch

Everyday living, Life Writing, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts, Springlines

A day

Sometimes I wonder, just wonder, if I should try and take life a bit slower. Then I do try and it doesn’t really work. Because one thing that living with the threat of inherited disease has done for me is to make me very determined to live as fully as possible. I give myself over… Continue reading A day

Everyday living, News, Self-portrait without Breasts, Swimming


I’ve finally done it. After thinking about it for several years, I’ve signed up for the Swimathon. On April 27th I’ll be swimming 5 km (just over 3 miles), that’s two hundred lengths of the local Leisure Centre pool. The swim is in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. Swimming has always been one of… Continue reading Swimathon

Body, Breastless, Everyday living, Excisions, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

A long weekend in Montreal

I set out from the UK with seventy copies of Excisions and forty copies of Breastless distributed between my checked case and my carry-on. Arriving in Boston, it was suggested that I was a geologist/rock-collector. En route from Boston to Montreal this was modified. ‘This is heavy!’ exclaimed the kind and very strong young woman who somehow… Continue reading A long weekend in Montreal

Body, Everyday living, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

The compulsion to write

During the days and weeks after surgery, the only thing I wrote, apart from emails and short notes and shopping lists, was my journal. That writing kept me going, it was a necessary link with my old self, and a way to watch myself become my new self. 2 January, 2007 All I really want… Continue reading The compulsion to write