We've Nearly Made It

Hello and Welcome!

Here is everything you need to know about the progress of A Blonde Bengali Wife, the travel book I've written about my love-affair with the fabulous country of Bangladesh.

Publication: Friday 15th October 2010

Launch: Monday 15th November 2010

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Spooks, Secrets and Suspects: A Play

As tutor of this highly talented, committed and hugely fun group, I can safely recommend that anyone in Edinburgh and free for an hour on Thursday will enjoy this.  Of course, the writing is good, but we're famed for our refreshments too...


Friday, 28 February 2014

CurryFest at the Saltyard - All Welcome!

If a blog isn't a perfect place for shameless advertising, then where is?

There is a wonderful café on Dalry Road, Edinburgh, called The Saltyard.  The rumours might be true about Simon and I spending quite a lot of time there... but I promise you, so would anyone who lives a hop, skip and jump away.  I've certainly been there enough to get talking about Bangladesh and the lovely staff - without coercion, persuasion or hints, honest - suggested Saltyard host a fundraiser for Bhola's Children.

Tickets are now available for this excellent evening, and everyone is welcome!  Details follow... It would be lovely to see anyone who is local enough to drop in on Friday evening.

'A feast of curry for your senses'
Saltyard Café
158 Dalry Road
Friday 7th March
Curry Supper
Table Quiz
Bangla Music & Photographs
Tickets £4.50; £1.50 (children); £10.00 (family)

The lucky prize winners will receive a copy of A Blonde Bengali Wife and I will be doing a 5 minute talk about Bhola... but don't let that put you off!  The food alone will compensate, and the company will be second to none.

Anne x


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bangladesh At Home

So, 1st January 2014 didn't quite see us winging our way from Glasgow to Dubai to Dhaka but it certainly didn't mean our hearts and thoughts weren't there.  The four of us - Jacqui, Allan, Simon and myself all regrouped in a certain flat in Edinburgh and created our own little world of Bangladesh for the day.

Dressed in our best salwar kameezes and serving (if not cooking, that honour goes to Lazeez, the best take-away in the city!) our version of a Bangladeshi picnic on the sitting room floor, we raised a toast and made our plans for a visit in April. 
The travel blockades throughout Bangladesh, the main reason we deferred the trip, ran from December through to the 13th January.  This would have left us two days to get to and from Bhola (down in the Bay of Bengal and an overnight boat trip away) in two days... virtually impossible!  So on balance it was the right decision.  Now, let's just get on with the business of reapplying for those visas.
I think the sign is a version of Happy New Year in Bangla; that's the sentiment anyway...!
Anne x


Tuesday, 31 December 2013

To Go Or Not To Go...?

Season's Greetings!

I hope you've all had a very happy and peaceful (or exciting, as you wish!) Christmas and are looking forward to the adventure of 2014.

For the last 48 hours, this little corner of Edinburgh has been a hotbed of international discussion and negotiation as we've followed events in the lead up to Sunday's forthcoming elections in Bangladesh - and wondered if our (Jacqui, Allan, Simon and myself) New Year's trip there can, realistically, go ahead...

The final unanimous decision was reached last night - Simon's contribution pulling it all together with, 'if we go to Bangladesh, we will go to Bangladesh.  If we stay at home we will stay at home' - when we decided, with regret, that it would be sensible to postpone the visit until later in the year.

(Important Note: Despite evil rumour-mongering, this is nothing to do with the fact that Jacqui and I tried on our trusty salwar kameezes and had twin tantrums when we realised they were, um, a little on the tight side and must have Shrunk In the Wash).

None of us feels the political situation is a safety issue, more of the 90% likelihood that we'd be sitting in a guesthouse in Dhaka for more than half the visit: national blockades and strikes mean that even if we got into the city itself, the chances of getting out again to Bhola are virtually non-existent.  So, with thanks to Ali, for his sterling efforts, and to Hasina, Mr Hoque, Mitali, Bonny, Bachchu, Suez (read more about them in the amazing book, A Blonde Bengali Wife, available in print and e-versions, signed copies on request) and Dinah for their advice, we are now rebooked for an April jaunt!

Disappointed, yes.  But relieved to have the promise of being back in Bhola in only a few weeks time.  However, given that Simon's first words on seeing his Christmas stocking were, 'Santa Claus has been, now can we go to Bangladesh?' it might well be that we need to hail a ferry in Rosyth, do a round trip and end up with dinner in an Indian restaurant, just to placate him (he's 3, it'll work, trust me) in the meantime.

So, what to do with two empty weeks...? Suggestions on a postcard, please, but those who mention 'work' will be disqualified as sensible spoilsports.  What we will be doing tomorrow - Jacqui, Allan, Simon and I) - is coming together and raising a toast to all our friends here, in Bangladesh, and everywhere, and wishing you all the very best in life, health and happiness for the coming year.

Love, Anne x


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Four Novelists and a Narrator

‘Everyone has a novel in them’. 

How many times have we heard that said?  It’s possible.  Probable, even.  The world is full of the blissfully ignorant, who will write their novel ‘one day’ (when they have time) and the woefully knowledgeable, who have a drawer full of rejections.

To write a novel is to find oneself in a gleefully negative community.  Head-shakes and rueful smiles precede a useful little sound bite: ‘who do you know (have slept with/can blackmail/preferably all three) in the publishing business?’ or ‘JK Rowling had 3 million rejections, you know’ or ‘have you thought of bee-keeping instead? Fewer stings. Ha ha.’

At the other end of the scale is the urban myth of the bored bricklayer (brain-surgeon/dog-breeder) who wrote a thriller during a wet weekend in Wales and got a £billion advance and a 6-book deal.

So should the Regular Joseph/ine give up now? Of course not.  And I have four good reasons, aka Craig, Ruth, Katie and Stuart. A week ago, I attended the book launch of Craig Smith’s, The Mile, a funny and serious novel about three friends, a nonagenarian runaway, and the Scottish referendum.  Also accepted for publication is The Single Feather, by Ruth Hunt, which follows smart, sensitive Rachel trying to establish a new life as an artist who is not defined by her wheel-chair.  Katie Hart wrote Finding Destiny, a fantasy novel for young adults in which time-travelling Alex needs to save his family and city from the evil owl, Dragonstar.  It’s now being considered by a publisher, and next, another fantasy novel, Stuart White’s, Rise of the Kalax is currently being reviewed by an interested agent. 

All four are talented, determined (and previously unknown) writers I’ve worked with over the past months… and I’m sure they would agree, that whilst talent is vital, it’s the determination alongside that has got each of them to this point.

There’s another person to mention.  Gerry Coffey died last week.  A remarkable man – kind, intelligent, very funny, some may say a little bit stubborn – who made a huge difference in so many ways over his ninety-odd years.  He wasn’t a novelist but he was a storyteller of the best kind; his anecdotes, tall tales, and straight-to-the-point observations, will be remembered and quoted for a very long time.  Gerry, it doesn’t do you justice (and you’d probably have a word or two to say about my grammar) but this blog (and Simon’s lantern) is for you.

Anne x

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Ten reasons to join a creative writing class...

Thanks to an off the cuff remark by one of the participants in my Thursday morning writing class, I came up with a whole host of potential ice-breakers last week.  I'm always on the look out for new 'warm up' writing exercises that are fun, vaguely useful and never reminiscent of terrible office team-building days.

The man I will call Mr H (in case he's too modest to own his ideas here...) mentioned he had once written - for creative, not personal reasons, you understand - a list of 'Five Reasons to Date Oneself'.*  This started the cogs turning and I took the idea if  not the content to another writing group, twisted it to make it as convoluted as possible and asked them to create a list of things they would write Ten Reasons  about.  If it came from personal experience, all the better. Yes, it did take half the class to explain what I meant but it was worth it.

Here they are:

1 Ten Reasons to take a metronome on holiday...

2 Ten Reason to do a jigsaw puzzle upside down...

3 Ten Reasons why haggis is better than chicken...

4 Ten Reasons to drink tea straight from the teapot...

5 Ten Reasons to wear two pair of trousers...

6 Ten Reasons never, ever to date your ex-girlfriend's mother..

7 Ten Reasons to carve a pumpkin in the bath...

8 Ten Reasons why you should never write lists starting 'Ten Reasons'...

9 Ten Reasons not to climb onto your roof in December in your pyjamas...

10 Ten Reasons to cut jelly beans in quarters...

I didn't go as far as actually asking for the accompanying Ten Reasons... best not, I thought.  No questions that all of these people have earned their place in a creative writing group, or at least, it keeps them off the streets.

And you know what?  Reading these lists is like having a tune stuck in your head: you'll now spend the rest of the day mentally thinking up Ten Reasons....  Feel free to post them here!


*No, I'm not going to list them... Mr H might have his own plans for them, but there's nothing to stop you making a list of your own!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Images From Bhola

What's the best way to beat the blues?  You know: the end of the summer, the increasingly dark mornings and shorter evenings, a new term's work already piling up... 
Well, you sit down and peruse the Emirates website and the next minute find your fingers are compelled to book flights for Bangladesh! 
January 2014, Bhola (and who knows where else?) here we come.
With that in mind, and given your patience at my various pontifications over the last few months, I thought I'd simply post a few random snaps of the children and young people currently living in Bhola.
Here they are - 
Ahsan picking the carrots he's grown on our land in Valumia

Boys relaxing on the roof - where they are building the parapet

The girls on a break from the tailoring building stop to chat

School children practising for Independence Day Parade


Salina giving Rosina treatment  in the new physio room


The boys getting a lesson in sewing and mending their school uniforms

Just another day in Bhola!

Anne x