Monday, July 30, 2018


Recently, I've had some enquiries from expats interested in their old homes including Ilford and surrounding towns.  Newcomers to this area have asked:  Is this a part of London or Essex?  Certainly Essex is included in some of the postal addresses and this question was raised by the celebrated Ilford historian, a good friend, the late Norman Gunby who wrote his fascinating book A POTTED HISTORY OF ILFORD.  He chronicled some of the town’s intriguing stories of times past and the interesting characters living in the area when he was a young man.

Mr Gunby’s love of Ilford resulted in ten years’ study. He informed us that Ilford included the districts of Gants Hill, Newbury Park, Barkingside, Hainault and Fairlop.  From 1926 until l April 1965, Ilford was a Municipal Borough in the county of Essex and is now part of the London Borough of Redbridge. 

The Ilford post code always fascinated Mr Gunby. By comparison with most others, the Ilford area was considered small, although it extends from the Thames (Barking Reach) in the south, to the “Wake Arms” (now demolished) at Epping Forest in the north – a distance of eleven miles. 

The Ilford post code area letters are IG. The letter G may seem puzzling, but is explained by the fact that when Ilford’s code was allocated on 17 November 1971, it was decided to use I for Ilford with G being the last letter of the name Barking (because it was formerly the Ilford & Barking postal area). The following explains some of the areas so familiar to Ilfordians:
IG1:  Ilford – central and south
IG2:  Gants Hill, Newbury Park/Aldborough Hatch
IG3:  Seven Kings and Goodmayes
IG4:  Redbridge Lane East/Woodford Bridge Road
IG5:  Clayhall      
IG6:  Barkingside and Hainault
IG7: Chigwell
IG8:Woodford Green/Woodford Bridge/Claybury
IG9: Buckhurst Hill
IG10: Loughton
IG11: Barking      

Sunday, July 29, 2018


Since the far off days of being a teenager, I've practised 'mindfulness', although I didn't realise that I was doing anything special at the time. Half a century later, this process would become almost a buzzword or popular meditational coping strategy in many of today's frenetic, stressful and anxiety-prone situations. 
But what is mindfulness in today's strange world of rush and bustle?  Well, the experts tell us that it 'is the process of developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment'. With a very long interest in yoga and my current admiration of disposition of several new Buddhist friends, somehow, mindfulness seems to fit into the picture and is so helpful when anticipating prospective difficult situations - presenting a talk to a couple of hundred strangers, or, indeed, giving birth! 

Mindfulness is simply a way of paying conscious attention to your feelings and thoughts that are running through your mind without criticising them. I feel it is  considering what you are feeling in this very moment - not worrying about the past or future.  I'm told it has been used effectively by  professional counsellors to help those suffering from chronic pain and long-term conditions.  This is not a religion and is open to anyone who might gain a measure of peace. A useful book is  :-

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


One of our newest SWWJ members, Dawn is currently enjoying success seeing her work published in numerous British books, anthologies and magazines and in the theatre.  As a member of the Basildon-based Forget Never Project, she has written two plays about the First World War, one of which has been performed in England, France and Germany. The third will be performed for the first time on 10 November 2018. The project was set up in 2014 by Member of Parliament  Stephen Metcalfe to commemorate the centenary of World War One. 

I enjoy learning about an author's first step into the world of writing and discovered that Dawn became interested in writing about fifteen years ago when she was trying to help her son with his creative writing homework. She suggested a first sentence so that he could continue with the story but despite her best efforts, he lacked enthusiasm and has never shown the slightest interest since! She, however, was so inspired that she finished the story and then carried on writing other stories. However, it is only during the last five or six years that she has become more serious about writing - something that she now does every day. 

Her first published piece was a short horror story which appeared in a charity anthology entitled ‘Shrouded by Darkness - Tales of Terror’ (Telos Publishing) which was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Award. 

Since then, she has had short stories published in various women’s magazines as well as in sci-fi, speculative fiction and horror anthologies. Dawn's first published book was ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, a YA time slip adventure set in Essex (Muse it Up Publishing). She has also self published a book about World War One called ‘The Great War - 100 Stories of 100 Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died 100 Years Ago’ which was shortlisted for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Her anthology of speculative fiction short stories entitled ‘Extraordinary’ was published by Bridge House Publishing and her latest book is a romance, set in 1930s Essex, called ‘Welcome to Plotlands’ (Linford Romance Library). A manuscript has just been accepted by My Weekly Pocket Novels and will be published in November. It is set in northern France and Essex and spans both World Wars. 
Yours truly with Dawn at her first lunch with SWWJ

Dawn has won first prize in the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition 2018 and the Nancy Meggs’ Non-Fiction Writing Competition 2017, and twice achieved second place in the Brentwood Writer's Circle Jack Kendall Fiction Writing Competition (2017 and 2018). 

Sunday, July 22, 2018


The well known writer, Elizabeth Wallace will be arriving soon in Essex with some of Stuart's latest commissioned creative work. Stuart was born in Essex, England and emigrated with his family to the US, in 1978 where they lived for twenty years in Kansas City.  Here he graduated from Shawnee Mission High School, attended The Kansas City Art Institute, and became a citizen of the United States. He believes he inherited his entrepreneurial drive and passion for work from his parents, each successful in their own right.  His mother, Elizabeth is a award winning author and a former member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists in London.
After leaving The Kansas City Art Institute, Stuart began his first successful design firm but the necessity of providing for a family shaped his life for many years. However, during this time, he never stopped painting, sketching, and creating works of art. Often, he was able to weave those ideas into his daily corporate life as an Executive Creative Director. 
Many life-altering events have changed Stuart’s outlook on life, but his hiatus is over, and he is now able to focus his time and energy on what has always given him pleasure…the ability to create. Stuart's work is superb. Nothing escapes his eye, a detail, specific texture, or a shape will eventually turn up in a painting. He has expressive subtle style with attention to detail that often gets lost until you look deeply, and then discover it. 
Stuart's artistic talent has brought him a strong following in the US and soon British art  galleries will also have the advantage of exhibiting his unusual modern creations.
Take a look at Stuart's latest pieces on display at Loveland Art Gallery, Denver, Colorado. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018


The young RVW (courtesy of the Vaughan Williams Society)
Even after so many years of writing features for my favourite
magazines, it's always super to see my words published on the page of the county's most popular journal.  With the 60th anniversary of the passing of that wonderful composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and listening to his music on Classic FM Radio, I simply had to write about this composer's time in a little town - where I lived for most of my life - in Essex so many years ago.  My story can be found on page 102 with more images of the great man and his music.   Incidentally, I have been contributing features to Essex Life (previously Essex Countryside) for almost 25 years.

Saturday, July 07, 2018


So England won the latest game in the World Cup semi-finals, our team playing against Sweden. Congratulations to all footballers taking part and, of course, the winners.  Wrong time to walk down Brentwood High Street as the game was about to start  - had to get to our writers' meeting - so fought hundreds of good-natured and very excited supporters lining up to watch the game on the giant screens in the pubs. Then the police squads arrived with riot vans and a couple of ambulances - just in case. It was getting very loud. Took a few quick pics as the crowd started to gather. Later, we couldn't move for happy fans and had to get a lift home as no public transport could get through! Oh well - such is life (and the world of sport)! 

Bobby Moore 1966

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


A super SWWJ Annual General Meeting held in London's National Liberal Club on Thursday with our speaker Anita Marie Sackett pictured with our President Lady Floella Benjamin. Anita launched her new book THAT'S HOW IT USED TO BE - a super nostalgic meander through the 1940s and 1950s. Many more photographs on flickr