Drink to daft folk this Christmas!

There are many daft folk out there (and believe me I know about these things) who by now (it’s the last day of November as I write) are writing the thank you letters for the thank you letters for the Christmas presents they sent out to everyone in October. I don’t know why but there’s an awful lot of people who’ve moved Christmas forward to October. I guess they just want Christmas out the way. Can’t blame them really.


The people who do this (and bear in mind there are a growing army of them) buy their Christmas cards and presents way ahead of schedule. Some look forward to their Summer holidays in Bournemouth, Blackpool or Skegness so they can ferret round the Poundstretcher for packs of cards on display in July and August. ‘It beats the rush’. Anyone ever seen a rush before? I’m wondering what it looks like? I’m visualizing a 1929 style mile long queue at the Labour Exchange.


Others like to buy slabs of £1 chocolate bars, at the insistence of cashiers at the tills of WHSmith. ‘They’re only 99p Sir, would make a great Christmas present. Oh yes Sir I guess it is only July but nevertheless you don’t want to miss such a great bargain.’


Moving Christmas forward to October means that these people begin wrapping Christmas presents in early August when the rest of us are slapping on the sun cream. They collect cardboard boxes all year round, cut up strips with a Stanley knife so they can make bespoke boxes. But in October of course there’s no Santa. He’s busy in Lapland. So instead these people get a Halloween monster or witch to deliver their presents and if the recipients don’t like the present it gets tossed on the bonfire with Guy Fawkes. By the time late November arrives the recipients have written and sent off the thank you notes because they’re very polite people indeed and by the 30th November they are on to the next stage in the game – writing the thank you notes for the thank you notes.


‘Dear Aunt Maude, Thank you for your thank you note. I’m glad you liked my present. I hope you have a nice Christmas. Love from Janet.


So have a drink to all those daft folk this Christmas or have ’em put away!


Would you like to read a funny Christmas scene in my novel ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish.’ Towards the end of the novel a motley collection of dysfunctional individuals come together to share the festivities. It’s a bit naughty by the way!





Dakin’s Dating Discussion

Dating in today’s crazy world ay? I’m Akin. Well that was my maiden name and I like it because it begins with the letter D. Here’s my take. With a Christmas spirit beginning to percolate in my head all plans to spend last night watching my old fella cutting his toe nails and cleaning his lug holes out with the end of a spoon in front of a Dortmund v Zagreb football match, were abandoned. Before I left he said to me “I’m going with Zagreb tonight. That builder from Zagreb who converted the downstairs bog was good to us love.’

Today’s dating, for men at least means staying in, not going out. In a survey of 100 I personally interviewed 99 said they just wanted a raunchy night in under the duvet.


Women don’t have to put up thought with boring fart mentality from their menfolk. There’s so much more on offer, as I found out last night. Women of a certain age bracket (45 through to 70) are empowered. They have control over their social lives and have given up on men; because, let’s face it many men of this age bracket have given up on life and have one foot in the grave. There are tons of dating sites. Do you real need to date? You could be having more fun as a single lass.


I went to a dinner and dance last night, organized by an international social networking group called ‘Meet Up.’ There are groups formed to cater for all sorts of interests from sailing to walking to pub evenings and other social events. Thousands of people have met new friends this way and others just like to chat, face to face rather than over the internet with new and interesting people.


Here’s the link if you’re interested:




I didn’t know anyone on my table, but everyone was friendly and all were in the same boat with the joint aim of having fun, surrounded by tinsel and baubles and mixing with new people. I sat next to a bus driver, wearing a mauve silky shirt with plenty of stories about reversing his bus into places he shouldn’t. On my other side were two glamorous ladies in their late sixties with not a strand of grey on their heads. One of them told me she had pulled a 40 year old on a plane and spent the weekend in New York with him. She’d been married four times and life certainly wasn’t over for her. She was living a life of a twenty something.


The other lady in her late sixties was Indian. Recently divorced she had been married to a football fanatic couch potato for 40 years. For 40 years she had surffered old fart mentality from her husband. Each birthday and Christmas he asked her to write a list of what she wanted but then wanted her to ‘be more specific’ and tell her what item on the list she actually wanted. Invariably he was too lazy to go out to buy it so she would hit the sales with his cash in January. Romance? Doesn’t anyone know what that is? To cap it all the old fart even asked her what she wanted him to write in her birthday card, obviously too lazy and unimaginative.


With a renewed energy these ladies were determined to hide the bulges and wrinkles and get out again. We talked about slimming and weight, as women invariably do.


‘Girdles… do you wear them?’ The Indian lady asked me.

‘God no. It’s like wearing a wet suit.’ I replied.

‘I tried one on in the House of Frazer and wrestled to get it off, sweating and severely distressed. I’m only a 12 but this was a size 20 and I still couldn’t get it off.’

‘You have to push the fat around to disperse it I’m told.’ I said.

‘I said to the attendant I can’t bloody well sit in this. And she said they aren’t designed for sitting dates, they’re for standing dates.’


Someone I knew swaggered over for a chat while a line jostled and wove around the tables to the Makarena.


‘Have you heard about Zoe? She’s doing sex dating?’ He asked me.


‘Plenty are. A woman in the school playground is doing that. She’s married to a boring fart who sits in his vest watching telly all day so she arranges to meet a guy at a Travel Lodge for a few hours of unbridled sex. She says to me… darling why would I want sex with my overweight lump of a husband when I can get it from a 19 year old. I was shocked. Her son is 19.’


‘Well Zoe is doing the same thing.’


We both looked at each other, trying to fathom it all out. Zoe is a bank manager with a degree from Cambridge. In theory she should be able to date any man she wants with her looks and education. In theory she should be married to a high flyer with a big fuck off house and a sporty car who shows her a good time. But such men don’t exist anymore. Zoe’s life is in neat compartments, like so many other women. Her social life has been farmed out to Meet up. Her sex life is catered for on Tinder.


This is the way life is in the year 2015 for many people. I’m not judging. I’m quietly smiling. We women are empowered! We have choices and we don’t need to stay in dull relationships with men that make no effort!


If you like a good read I’ve written a book based, in part on my dating experiences. It’s called ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’. Be careful though because it’s super naughty in places! Here’s the link:





Disgusted of Tax Credits Debate

George Osborne smelled a rat. Visions of the poll tax riots of 1988 and a massive backlash against the Government were at the forefront of his mind yesterday when he made his u turn on tax credits.


It’s a fault of many governments across many decades: they react to hard hitting stories but don’t always listen to a range of stories. The BBC are very good at painting one picture, the shock stories of thousands of poor families who will lose out if cuts are made. But what about the thousands of middle class families who have done very nicely on tax credits, thank you very much?


Take my own situation. I’m a single mother of three. When I divorced in 2004 with a settlement of £100,000 I was able to buy a house and claim tax credits. The rules meant that I didn’t have to first spend the £100k before I was eligible for tax credits. I bought a small flat. I could have returned to teaching following divorce but it’s a tough profession and like many I look for an easy route in life. Tax credits meant that I could do easier, low paid jobs instead of busting a gut in the classroom. Tax credits propped me up. I earned as much in tax credits as I would have done teaching part time. It didn’t make sense to have high ambitions. Why bother when the government can support you?


Thanks to tax credits I was able to pay off my small mortgage and move to somewhere bigger. Several years later I inherited some money. Again the tax credit rules meant that I was still eligible to claim. I was horrified. However I did pay a fair whack in tax on the inheritance.


My ex partners, the two fathers of my three children pay maintenance. The tax credit rules don’t require me to declare how much I’m getting. That is unfair. Some mothers get very little, others get several thousand. HMRC aren’t interested in the level of maintenance mothers are receiving.


I rent rooms to lodgers. Again HMRC aren’t interested. I can still claim tax credits. I also now have a second house, due to inheritance. I’m a landlord and of course I declare the rent as income. It doesn’t seem fair that I can still get tax credits but own two properties.


You can also still claim tax credits even if you have savings. Surely you should use your savings up before you are able to claim money from the government?


I have written two books. One of the characters, Faye claims tax credits and her financial situation mirrors my own situation. I wanted to raise a debate about the other side of the debate – the side that George Osborne is ignoring.


‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’:




‘Every Family Has One’:



Dialogue in the teen years, we live in dark times

Dialogue is important in the teen years more than ever because we live in a dark and dangerous world.

When the teenage years hit, as a parent you are thrown into confusion. Life is turned upside down. The child you have brought up is different and the easy relationship you once had has gone. Does this all sound familiar?


I don’t know when things changed with my son, now 16. He was a warm, bubbly toddler, always laughing but as the teen years progressed he became quieter, more sullen. He used to spend his time in the lounge watching Dr. Who but now he only comes out of his room for food or to use the bathroom. Yes it’s a depressing situation as a parent. The big D word has all but gone – there’s very little dialogue and I have no idea what he gets up to in his bedroom.


One day everything changed. I discovered what he was really doing in his bedroom. An agonizing few months followed. I turned what happened into a novel, based loosely on the events that happened. Was he planning a terrorist attack? Or was he being groomed by an older man? Or was he planning to build a bomb or make drugs?


‘Every Family Has One’ is loosely based on my own experiences of raising teenagers – the trials and tribulations we as parents face and how we might be able to turn the tough situations around and get talking again. Here’s the link:




One reader said:


“My eyes were opened to the tremendous difficulties faced by parents bringing up children in the 21st century.


The World Wide Web enables the young to be constantly in contact, both with each other, and with more sinister connections. This potentially opens the door to all kinds of deviant behaviour, a topic upon which Joanna Warrington writes with seamless authority.


The themes of depression, death, inept parenting and teenage angst all figure in this novel, tempered by the author’s light touch and sure grasp of the time and tides the story encompasses.”


It’s scary raising a teenager especially in today’s Internet age. Yesterday the media discussed the tragic events surrounding the death of 14 year old Breck Bednar, sadistically murdered by Lewis Daynes a 19 year old after months of talking in an on-line gaming forum. Breck’s mother grew increasingly concerned that Daynes was manipulating her son – at one stage she confronted him online – before contacting Surrey police over strong fears that he was being groomed and manipulated by the older man. Despite this report, the family believe no action was taken to prevent Daynes carrying out the killing two months later.


Do we really know what our teenagers are doing on-line? Tim in ‘Every Family Has One’ is planning something sinister through the dark web.

D is for death. Stillbirth is the cruelest kind.

Stillbirth is the cruelest kind of death and many are preventable, because staff don’t always respond to mothers’ concerns.

Stillbirth is in the news today because new research, conducted by Professor Elizabeth Draper concludes that with improved care many stillbirths could be prevented.  1:200 births, that’s 3000, are stillborn in the UK each year and sadly, due to poor care throughout pregnancy many of these, Draper believes could be prevented. The research found that NICE guidelines were not always being followed, monitoring and screening of growth, through the plotting on graphs wasn’t always happening. More research Draper says is needed to look at reduced foetal movements during pregnancy and for women to be listened to, their concerns about reduced foetal movement acted upon. In short many of these heartbreaking scenarios could be prevented.

My book ‘Every Family Has One’ seeks to raise awareness of the agony of stillbirth.


Set in 1974 it tells the story of Kathleen, a young Catholic girl living in Liverpool, raped, sent to a Magdalene laundry in Ireland where she gives birth to a stillborn child in terrifying circumstances. These were chilling times and I have read first hand stories of Castle Pollard baby nursery in Ireland, for example where babies were born dead and the lack of care in these units because mothers were cast aside, forgotten, not given the treatment they deserved simply because they were ‘fallen’ women – unwed mothers. In 2002 a mass grave of babies and mothers was discovered in the grounds of one laundry. Through my work as a funeral celebrant I have come into contact with Magdalenes who continue to carry the cross of grief and loss and having lost my own baby in the first few months of her life I can fully understand what they went through.

In effect I merged several stories to create ‘Every Family Has One’: the forgotten plight of the Magdalenes, the story of the loss of my own baby and the agony of motherhood through so many issues such as drugs, which many of us face and have to deal with.

Useful links:

SANDS: https://www.uk-sands.org

Understanding the long term implications of stillbirth:


November is the month of Death

On Sunday the Queen led the nation in homage to the fallen who defended our democracy and freedom to their end.

November is the season for death – from All Souls to All Saints to Halloween. Even nature, with its spiralling brown leaves falling to the ground echoes the end and maybe brings us closer to thinking about our own decline, face to face with mortality.

Last week the token of the most famous tragedy  went on sale: the number plates of John F Kennedy’s car in which he was assassinated went on sale fetching $100,000. We are a culture that looks the grim reaper in the eye.

The Victorians shied away from sex but were obsessed with death. Mourners wore black for weeks after the loss of their loved ones. People were hired to cry at funerals. Today though we try to bring smiles into funerals. That’s why I trained to be a funeral celebrant: to focus on celebrating life rather than mourning our loss, adding to the sorrow and sadness already felt. In today’s world we are obsessed with sex and get embarrassed by death. That’s why Death Cafe was set up – to try to break down the taboo surrounding death and encourage people to think about such issues as a good death, a kind death and to get into the mindset of what we actually think about our mortality.

So in this month of November,  why not drop along to your nearest death cafe?

Here’s the link to your nearest Death Cafe:


Here’s the link to my funeral celebrancy work:


D is for Dementia

D is for Dementia: the condition we all dread when we think about our approaching old age. But hang on… maybe there’s something you can now do to alter your chances of developing dementia. You can change your sense of humour! Laugh! I nearly did. Oh sorry; wait that was tasteless and rather warped.

University College London have completed a study of 48 patients (yes it’s not many. Further studies are clearly needed to confirm results) revealing that patients with a rare form of dementia, called Frontotemporal dementia changed their sense of humour over the course of their life. A warped, dark and inappropriate sense of humour is a sign, say the researchers of impending dementia. The results have been published in The Journal of Alzheimers’s Disease.

Have you noticed that your loved one is laughing about things that most of us don’t laugh about? One man laughed when his wife scolded her hand. Another laughed when someone lost their job.

My mum used to laugh every time I lost a job; hysterically in fact but she didn’t develop dementia. I used to get kicks pushing my sister into electric fences or stinging nettles. I also made my mum an orange squash when I was about 8 and instead of water I filled the glass with wee! I don’t do that anymore. Not because I’ve grown up but because I can’t get away with it anymore. I’m a mum and I work and I have to be sensible and boring.

But I guess as we get older we become more childlike again because maybe we don’t care so much about upsetting others. It’s a process of letting go. We come full circle. We joked about the size of black peoples’ bottoms for instance when we were young, grew out of that and return to that in old age. Maybe we are more reflective in old age. And also we have to cope with death around us. Our friends are dropping like flies. Please. We need a sense of humour to cope. Attending funerals have become a regular feature of our social life. Laugh… Aunt Betty has just died. It’s the only way to cope because otherwise you might as well spend your life crying.

There are different types of humour the researchers looked at. Monty Python, absurdist humour, slapstick, Mr Bean style humour and satirical humour, like Yes Minister. Dementia patients had moved towards a dark, inappropriate sense of humour. In my debut novel The D Word Clifford, 54 laughs at runners, shouting out ‘don’t bother, you’ll get cancer one day.’ Maybe Clifford will get dementia. Or maybe he just doesn’t care about upsetting people. In The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish Darius has a completely sick, dark sense of humour. It’s his way of coping with the memories of abuse in childhood at the hands of the family priest. Maybe he is heading on the dementia road too.

Don’t you think though that we have different senses of humour depending on our mood, our age, our life experiences? And above all what we think we can get away with? If I could get away with it I’d say it. That’s why I created vulgar characters in my books like Darius, Clifford and Shayne to vent what I would like to say in a different life. Maybe my characters will all now develop dementia.


D is for D is for Ditch Damn Debt ridden Christmas this December.

D is for Ditch Damn Debt ridden Christmas this December.

It’s that time of year again. People are mentioning the big C word. The leaves are soggy on the pavements, there’s a damp feel to the air, the clocks have changed and you know that Christmas is fast approaching.

Ditch the C word and go for the D word instead. D is for December: crisp days, beautiful blue skies, furry hats and a warm fire with a glass of mulled wine. Go on admit it. You’re dreading Christmas. Many of us are. You’re not alone. From the aisles of Sainsbury’s to the station platforms everyone is moaning. So Dotch Damn Debt ridden Christmas this December!

Maybe you’re in debt, struggling to pay household bills. It’s November and your credit card hasn’t been paid in several months. There’s no hope of wiping the debt at this time of year though, sorry to remind you. Never mind ah, convention says that you must waste more money, throughout December on rubbish presents that nobody wants or needs, together with a tree for your lounge and silly trimmings like paper crackers with little fiddly toys inside that break or have no use whatsoever. Oh and you must send out a card to about 40 of your friends with the boring, dull words HAPPY CHRISTMAS inside so that they can stand it on their mantelpiece until it falls down or curls, to remind them that they have lots of people out there thinking about them. You don’t need to write anything else in the card apart from your name and best wishes. Not many folk bother with a letter as well. Way too much effort.

Bah humbug to you all! I think Christmas should be ditched, dumped. Let’s try it one year and see how we get on. If you want to buy your loved ones a present buy them one. But give it to them on a surprise day, just not the 25th December. That’s not very original. Do it when they are not expecting a gift.

Turkey. What a horrible meat. It’s dry and feathery and gives you bad wind. It’s also not exactly imaginative. Christmas dinner is just a glorified Sunday lunch, that’s all. Brussels and parsnips are fart inducing too.

Please don’t kid yourself that you are celebrating Christ’s birth. Festivals on this date began among the upper classes in ancient Rome; a celebration on December 25th for the sun god Mithra. Christians hijacked the festival – which is why the Puritans banned it in 1645 and also so did the first settlers to America in 1660. The Puritans were so contemptuous of Christmas that they called it ‘Foolstide.’ Mind you these strict Puritans were a party pooperish lot and didn’t like the drunkenness, debauchery and decadence (all D words!) associated with Christmas.

Drinking to excess at Christmas leads to inevitable road deaths, arguments and fights and injuries. As a society we encourage drunkenness by perpetuating the farce called Christmas. Walls of lager as you enter Tesco in the weeks leading up to the occasion, adverts on TV tempting you to stock up on crates of the stuff as you sit there, like a stuffed turkey waiting for the 25th, bloating your cheeks out with Roses and Quality Street.

Are you a socialist? A true socialist/communist; not a namby pampy champagne drinking Blairite? Someone with leanings towards Corbyneconomics? Well you’re a hypocrite if you celebrate Christmas because the real reason we have this nonsensical festival each year is to prop up capitalism. Christmas is about MONEY. Don’t pretend it’s about love and peace. What is so peaceful about a long queue in Sainsbury’s on Christmas Eve?And love…. well 1 in 5 couples will seek advice on divorce in the week following Christmas. Christmas is fraught with quarrels, usually about petty matters.


Christmas is vital to the economy and lines the pockets of those high up in our big corporations while making the poor even poorer. So come on Corbyn show us your true colours and ban Christmas! Do we really need it?

Enter ‘Christmas’ into Google and this is top of the search engine:


And this is 3rd:


I rest my bloody case!