Friday, June 29, 2012

Not the way to treat children

Wissam Tamimi is 16 and was arrested for stone throwing. He says he was forced to confess in exchange for a shorter sentence of five months in jail.

He told Channel 4 News: "While I was in the jeep, they would beat me. I was held from six in the morning till one at night. At the end they took me to prison.

"When they took me from the car they tied my hands and covered my eyes, and they took me into a checkpoint.

"They grabbed my hands and tied them behind me... And covered my eyes. The cuffs were very tight."

He is talking about the Israeli Defence Force.

Though Israel says violence and threats towards children are forbidden, many child suspects say they have been blindfolded, physically and verbally abused, and forced to sign statements in Hebrew which they cannot understand.

When arrested, Palestinian children are not informed of their right to silence or a lawyer and are routinely held in solitary confinement.

This information comes from a report by a UK delegation of 9 lawyers from the fields of human rights, crime and child welfare, who travelled to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last September, to assess the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law. The trip was funded by the UK Foreign Office.

They concluded that Israel's treatment of child prisoners breaches both the Geneva conventions and the UN convention on the rights of a child.

The lawyers’ report shows how Israeli settlers and Palestinians are subject to different laws, so a Palestinian child can be held for up to 90 days without access to a lawyer and for 188 days without charge, whereas an Israeli child could only be held for 2 and 40 days respectively.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Letter to my new grand-daughter

This is my new grand-daughter, Cecilia.


And this is a thoughtful letter addressed to her when she was seven days old.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bubbling underneath everything

So there you are – you are having a weekend away, which has been booked for months and which you have been looking forward to for months…

…so before you go, you finish writing Chapter 4 of Plotting for Grownups, and email it to your co-writer, and really can’t wait to hear what she thinks of it because you have had such a wild time writing it.

So you get in the car and go to stay with your friend in Ilkley and have a really great time putting the world to rights, and on Saturday morning, you set off to drive up Wharfedale to Wensleydale, and after a week of heavy rain, the roads are awash, so you swoosh through puddles that take up half of the road, and eventually stop, because a BMW has pulled up in front of you. Is he going to go on?  No. Why? Because the road has disappeared under water for the next twenty yards, and BMWs apparently don’t like water. He turns round and retreats, while you ring your husband and report the conditions and ask for advice and he says – Go for it – don’t stop and don’t take your foot off the accelerator. And test your brakes afterwards. You drive your Polo onwards. It is fine. Yay!

You meet up with your sister at the B&B in Wensleydale, and it’s lovely to see her, and all the time in the back of your mind you’re thinking – Ooh, Ooh, I wonder what Jane thinks of Chapter 4 - and your sister has brought her laptop, so you check your email and Jane has loved Chapter 4, but has also sent a load of suggestions. You reply to her email, and you have a lovely weekend, walking and talking and visiting your brother,  and viewing a fabulous exhibition of Judith Bromley paintings at the Hawes museum, and walking to Aysgarth Falls, which are running a full pot because of the rain…

June 2012 039

and all the time in the back of your mind you’re mulling over Chapter 4 and wanting to get back home again so you can adjust it and make it perfect.

But when you get home you have to spend a day editing the new edition of your Quaker meeting newsletter.

So the next day, you work on Chapter 4. Phew.

June 2012 047

P.S. I have just read of the death of Nora Ephron. This is a sad loss, of course for her family, but also for the millions of people who got so much enjoyment from her films and her books.

As the New York Times said: “all her articles were characterized by humour and honesty, written in a clear, direct, understated style marked by an impeccable sense of when to deploy the punchline.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I’m sorry but I have come back to a very busy day and don’t have tome to blog.

Look at this, though. It’s amazing.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I am going to Wensleydale for the weekend with my big sister Kath – Yay! – so I shan’t be posting again till Tuesday. Have a nice weekend.


(photo by Isaac Hepworth)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making someone cry

I want to boast!

I made my sax teacher cry yesterday. First I played a good improv on Lady be Good, and she gave me a high five, and then I played Someone to Watch Over Me with the backing on disc, and when I looked round, she was crying - because she thought I’d played it so beautifully! I am so chuffed!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”*

Well, it’s bin day again, and that means another week has gone by, not that I measure out my life in terms of rubbish, don’t get that idea. So what have I got to show for my week?

My Christmas wish came true: Cecilia arrived safe and well, and Wendy is fine. So this week, a load dropped from my heart, Some grandmothers (and I am one of them) become increasingly twitchy the nearer it gets to the birth. This is especially the case when there is some history of difficulty and sadness. We (mothers and grandmothers) hold our family in our hearts and dread something awful happening to them. We would rather go through pain or heartbreak than see one of our children go through it. This isn’t an altruistic thing, it’s a gut thing. And I read some research that showed that when women watch someone suffering pain, the pain centres in their brain are stimulated i.e. it is the same part of the brain that would show activity if they themselves were suffering.The results didn’t show this for men.

I also read about some researchers who found Y chromosomes in the bone marrow of the mothers of boys, which I (not being a scientist) interpret to mean that women are physically changed by their babies, and they retain something of the child within their own bodies. Am I drawing the wrong conclusions?

Whether I’m right or wrong, here is the new arrival, wearing the cardigan I made for her:

cecilia day 5

Apart from Cecilia arriving, the only thing to mention here is an ongoing email discussion with Jane about the new book, specifically about whether one scene is too long. She thinks it is. I think it isn’t. If there are differences of opinion, she usually wins, because she is the superior editor. But I haven’t given up on this particular argument yet.

In the Guardian on Saturday, the author of the winner of both the Carnegie and the Kate Greenaway medals said of his collaboration with the illustrator: “I didn’t always get my way about things (thank God), and we discussed/argued/debated right up till printing. But that’s how the best creative collaborations go.”

….which I find very heartening. Right, Jane. About this scene in Chapter 3…


*the title of my post is a quote from an e e cummings poem. Look it up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The baby’s name is…

Cecilia: the patron saint of music.

I think it’s  a lovely name.

(Oh yes. And I know I can announce it now, because I just read Isaac’s tweet.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Frankenstein’s monster

I’ve just been chatting with Isaac, 5,000 miles away, and he told me the name of the new baby, and I asked if it was bloggable, and he said they had not announced it yet. “And,” he said, “you broke the news of the baby’s sex yesterday.” I did. It’s true – on here, my blog, and also in a tweet.

I apologised profusely. I didn’t know it wasn’t in the public arena. So with the name, I have been instructed not to blog or tweet about it, yet. I am genuinely sorry I broke his embargo (unwittingly) but at the same time it is rather amusing that the grey-haired mother of a Twitter employee has gone live in the cybersphere with information before said Twitter employee. Think of all that time he wanted me to go on email, then get broadband, then get a blog, then start tweeting, and now he is having to rein me in.

But I can show some photos, as they are on his Flickr account and so are up for grabs.

@thebeean meets @thesprouut

bean meets sprout

Three Hepworth girls:

thrfee hepworth girls

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby bulletin

Here she is, my lovely new American grand-daughter. 7lbs 8ozs and healthy. Wendy is fine, too. After Lux’s lengthy and difficult birth we are all very thankful that everything went well. Well done, Wendy!


Tomorrow there will be a name.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where the week went – ordinary life at Hepworth Towers

My life is a quiet life, and sometimes when it comes round to bin day (like today) I think Oh, another week has flown past, and I wonder what I have to show for it. These are a few of the things I’ve done in the last week – so it’s not so bad -

  • finished writing the first draft of Chapter 3 of Plotting for Grown-ups. (There will be nine long chapters.)
  • read and critiqued Chrissie Poulson’s new novel – first draft – and  had a meeting with her about it
  • felt miffed that of 32 dwarf climbing bean seeds I planted, only four have came up, and one of these was eaten by slugs

June 2012 014

  • refused the kind offer of some replacement runner beans (which I don’t much like) from someone at Quaker Meeting – who said that everyone has too many beans this year because of the weather!
  • finished reading Penelope Lively’s latest book – How It All Began, which I loved. Enjoyable and thought-provoking.

  • been really chuffed that the Christmas tree in a pot which I bought for my OFF Christmas last year has begun to sprout, which means I won’t have to get another one this year. (The garden centre man said it would take till June to know if it was alive or dead – AND – he would give me my money back if the latter.)

June 2012 009

  • got my patchwork project out of the drawer because it was so wet outside. I am still unsure about the arrangement, and also whether or not it is too loud and too busy to go on our bed, so Zoe is coming to advise me tomorrow

Jan 2012 011

  • made good progress with learning to improvise variations on my sax to Lady be Good, Honeysuckle Rose and Tea for Two (the latter of which the book describes as a hoary old standard, with which I agree, but my teacher likes it for some odd reason)
  • been for three rides up the Monsal Trail on my bike
  • visited some inspiring craft and art exhibitions in Open Arts Derbyshire

  • successfully cooked shoulder of lamb for the first time for a group of friends (There are so many vegetarians in my family I rarely see meat.)
  • assisted at Gil’s birthday tea

Gil at 6

  • finished making a tiny cardigan for Isaac and Wendy’s new baby – who has decided while I have been writing this post, that today is his/her birthday - whoopee! - sister or brother to Lux:

june 9th 2012

And how am I possibly going to concentrate on making the alterations to Chapter 3 – suggested by Jane – while I am following Isaac’s tweets about the baby?????

um, hi @ CPMC-St Luke's Hospital Campus

current status

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ordinary life in Gaza: could you hack it?

Johnny Barber, an American who was in Gaza recently, took this picture of the family of a young woman who was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers as she gathered wheat.

"The bullet just scraped her forehead. She was very lucky. To get a flesh wound from an M16 bullet," he said.

Palestinain Woman-struck-by-Israeli-shot

Farmers are afraid to approach their fields along the border, but they have no choice but to get their wheat. They  harvest wheat by hand while Israeli soldiers on a hillock at a fence 300 yards away fire guns in the harvesters' direction, harassing them.

In this case, Barber saw a  brave international volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement wearing a red fluorescent vest rise above the stands of wheat and use a microphone to say over and over, "These are farmers on their own land. They are only harvesting their wheat."  The shots kept whizzing across the field.

Why are the Palestinians harvesting by hand? Because when they bring tractors, they get shot up. So they use machetes.

Here is another of Barber’s photos: fishermen on the coast of Gaza.

Palestinain Angry-fisherman-Gaza-2

Under Oslo, Gaza fishermen were to have 20 miles to fish. But they have been limited to three miles by Israeli warships that harass them with fire.

This captain is upset. His friend holds out bullets. Barber said:

"The Israelis shot up his boat engine, destroying it. He is saying that the 5 men on his boat were fishing with hand-lines at 2-and-a-half miles when they were attacked and the engine was destroyed. He is saying it will cost 20,000 shekels ($5,000) to replace the engine. But these men make 5 to 10 shekels a day fishing. So now he can't go out. And a total of 50 people depend on the men who go fishing in his boat."

(The examples above, and some of the text, are taken with permission from an article called Restraint by Philip Weiss on the website Mondoweiss.)

Saturday, June 09, 2012


It is a year ago today that BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU  was published by Delicately Nuanced (i.e. me!) and I am feeling very proud that I managed to do it all myself… from writing the thing in the first place, to buying the ISBN, registering the book on Nielsen (the official book data-base), to organising the cover, the printing of the paperback, the uploading of the ebook, the PR and marketing, the launch, the book signings, the liaising with warehouses and wholesalers and shops and the paying of bills (still coming once a month from the printer’s warehouse to pay for storage of books and delivery to wholesalers.)

I had a lot of generous help from friends and family – so thank you to all of them:

I’d like to thank:

Dave Hepworth as co-publisher and as best friend, for mammoth amounts of every kind of support, moral and practical, and for being so generous with his copy;

Chrissie Poulson, for commenting on every draft, for proof reading and copy-editing and for all kinds of other help and encouragement;

Jen Cave-Penney for proof-reading, copy-editing and bullshit-detecting, and for her comments and suggestions;

Ruth Carter, Karen Fine, Chris Holbrook, Jane Linfoot, Maria Longwright, Mary Scurfield, and Christie Taylor for reading and commenting on earlier drafts;

Judith Murray for her encouraging comments;

Ella Wilson for the original idea for the cover;

Zoë Hepworth for designing and making the beautiful card for the cover;

Isaac Hepworth for the fabulous cover design and layout;

Finally, loving thanks to all of my family for being so supportive in so many ways;

and to Dave, again. I could not have written or published the book without him.

June 2011 launch day 013

The upshot is that in this country, I have sold three times as many copies as the publisher sold of Zuzu’s Petals - my second book.

And at present, Jane Linfoot and I are a third of the way through the first draft of Plotting for Grown-ups and I love it, I love it, I love it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

surfing not sleeping

I am awake in the middle of the night, fretting about the plot of Plotting for Grown-ups, puzzling about Sally Howe’s motivation and feelings, and tossing and turning because I can’t work out a fundamental problem that Jane and I have hit upon; and for once the Aging Hippie in Redwood City is not online and wanting to play Scrabble.

Where is she when I need her? 

sept 2011 116

So I did a bit of surfing, checked out the transit of Venus, looked at some photos of Isaac on the net and wondered why he always chooses miserable ones of himself for his profile pics, when there are some smiley ones in existence, and in following links of pics of Isaac,

pappa with lux in office

sept 2011 100

I ended up on my blog, reading posts from two years ago, when we were awaiting the arrival of Lux, and it brought tears to my eyes,

may 2012 sweetie

and I was also blogging about how sad I was about the sale of my parents’ house.

may08 247

And now it is 3.50 a.m. and the birds have started singing, and I am going to try to sleep. Good night/good morning.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

“Pull down your house, now!”

Imagine that a foreign country has conquered Britain, and one day an army unit arrives and orders you to demolish your house with your own hands, so that they can build a settlement for their people there.

In the real world, this action – building on the occupied territory of another country - is against international law, but the Israelis do it all the time in Palestine. Not only that, we in the EU, along with the USA, continue to support Israel with money and arms, while turning a blind eye to the way they treat Palestinians – ordinary Palestinians, quietly trying to get on with their lives. People just like you and me.

Here’s a report from Today in Palestine via Mondelweiss -

Yesterday [June 5th] the Israeli authorities forced four Palestinian families to demolish with their own hands their homes in Wadi al-Maleh area in the northern part of the occupied Jordan Valley as a prelude to evacuating the area from its Palestinian residents…

Aref Daraghme, head of Wadi al-Maleh village council, said the Israeli authorities gave the families, which live in one area of the village, 24 hours to leave their homes and move somewhere else. However, Israeli army units arrived at the area before the expiry of the warning period and forced the families to demolish their homes with their own hands. He said the Israeli authorities had previously demolished a large number of Palestinian houses in the same area and prevented residents from working on their land. All of this is done for the benefit of illegal settlements in the Jordan valley, he said.

link to

The picture I have used above is a photo of another one of four houses destroyed – this time by Israeli “army tractors” in April this year.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Giving myself permission

For months I have been practising Gershwin’s song Someone to Watch Over Me, on my sax, and I can play it beautifully apart from two little licks in the variation that I always stumble over: they are intricate and fast and I CANNOT DO THEM. Today I gave myself permission to stop trying. I have written two replacement licks that I CAN play. So now I can play this tune that I love – with a backing track – all the way through. And I love it.

June 2012 004

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Pencil marks

I’m having a really good time this weekend. My writer friend, Chrissie Poulson, has finished the first draft of her new novel and she’s asked me to read the manuscript and criticise it. She and I agree that it’s really enjoyable (as well as educative) to look carefully and critically at someone else’s writing, when they are happy for you to do so.  She wants me to comment on anything that doesn’t seem quite right, or that I think could be improved – from plot to character to phrasing to typos. She is a really good writer, and I am particularly in awe of the way she jacks up the tension in her novels. In fact, I could easily stay in bed this morning to find out what happens next, instead of getting up and going to Quaker meeting.

Here’s a picture for June that has nothing to do with Chrissie’s book: the view over my back garden wall in June 2006.

june06 019