When ‘one for the road’ is a drink too far

Recently a very dear friend of mine died. I’m in my 50s and yes, the funerals are starting to happen; they just do, when you get past the age of 45, I think. But this one was completely avoidable.

Jacquie became a chronic alcoholic. Although more ‘socially acceptable’ than heroin or crack addiction, alcoholism is no different when it comes to friends and family trying to stop the person they care about from destroying their lives. The drug is just as powerful. This is Jacquie’s and my story. This is us in 2008 in Las Vegas, and in 2002 in Los Angeles.

I met the most glamorous rock chick in south-west England in 1993, on the way to a David Lee Roth concert in France. Our friendship grew in the days before the internet and mobile phones, despite the fact that we lived a few hours’ travel from each other, and we had countless wonderful times together. The most noteworthy, I suppose, were the trips to West Hollywood, when we would spend every evening in The Rainbow ~ the ultimate rockers’ hangout! Then there was Las Vegas for my birthday, more gigs than I can count, shopping trips in London to buy the clothes we both loved, happy days just visiting each other’s houses and sitting around chatting, or just evenings phoning each other up with a bottle of wine; as we lived so far from each other, we used to call them our ‘girls’ nights in’.

Jacquie was very beautiful, in fact people used to look at her in the street all the time, but she was the least vain woman I ever knew. She’d only ever look in the mirror once before she went out, and that was it. Here is another photo of her, this one taken in 2003:


We both liked a drink, and there was never an occasion that didn’t seem to merit a glass of wine or three. The difference between us began to show when Jacquie told me she was drinking every night, and I don’t mean just one or two glasses. She didn’t like her job, she was unhappy in her personal life, and she said that drinking was the only thing that she enjoyed. A few years ago, it started to take its toll on her appearance. I wish she had been more vain, it might have stopped her. This is her two years ago.


Believe me, you really don’t want to know what she looked like a few weeks before she died.

Over the years her drinking moved from the ‘fun though a bit excessive’ to ‘out of control’. It had a detrimental effect on all her relationships, spoiled social occasions, got her into trouble at work, sucked up far too much of her salary, made her depressed, ruined her looks, and, of course, did the sort of damage to her health that often can’t be detected until it’s too late.

Jacquie was a very kind, non-judgemental, gentle, sweet person. She would always listen if someone needed help or advice, and would never dream of imposing on others if she could help it. I knew she was in big trouble when she telephoned me in June of this year, crying and saying that she felt terrible. We had a long talk, and a few more after that; I was very worried about her drinking and tried everything to make her stop. I alternately cajoled, sympathised, predicted dire consequences, lost my temper, begged, encouraged, offered suggestions of counselling, enlisted the help of friends who lived near her – oh, just anything I could think of. She refused to believe that it was alcohol that was making her ill, even when she had to give up work and could hardly move from the sofa, though she described herself as an alcoholic.

In August I wrote a letter to Jacquie, telling her there comes a point when all alcoholics have to decide whether they want to live or die and begging her to choose before she ran out of options. Two days after receiving the letter, she gave up drinking. It was too late – Jacquie died on 7th September 2016. Her death certificate read ‘Multiple organ failure due to alcoholic hepatitis’. She was in great pain, but they couldn’t give her morphine because her organs couldn’t take it. People say she’s at peace now; I hope she is, but I am not. I think about Jacquie every day, and I shall miss her forever. No, I don’t blame myself at all, but I wish so much that I could have done something to save her.

I’m writing this to tell you that if you know someone who drinks to dangerous levels, please do everything you can to persuade them to do otherwise, but don’t think you can be a miracle worker. And if you are a slave to alcohol, please get some help. There are many organisations that will talk to you, understand what you’re feeling, who have people to help you who have been through the same experience as you. (Jacquie only ever drank wine by the way, just to inform those who think that ‘real alcoholics’ drink hard liquor!) Please don’t think that your fate will not be the same as Jacquie’s, because it easily might be so. And believe me, it won’t be pretty. Be warned – a year before her death, Jacquie underwent a work-mandated health check that said her liver was fine, despite several years of excessive drinking.

Jacquie left behind her grieving parents and relatives, countless friends who had stuck with her throughout, an ex-husband who still cared very much for her, a man who was the love of her life, and many colleagues who’d supported her and enjoyed being her friend over the past 25 years. (I would just like to say, although it’s kind of people to do so, I am not writing this so that people may offer me their condolences, that’s not necessary, I really don’t want that – it’s more important to me to honour and celebrate Jacquie’s life, and if my words help even one person, then she did not die in vain.)

In memory of my beautiful friend, who has reminded me to redouble my efforts to live every day to the full, and who brought an irreplaceable sparkle to my life. Here she is on her 40th birthday, riding in an open-top car down Sunset Boulevard!


I am grateful to my sister, author Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) for her help and suggestions with this post. She also has lost some friends to alcohol abuse, and wrote this post a while ago, as a tribute and a warning. One for the road and another for the pavement

You’re never too old to dance!

They say you can do anything if you put your mind to it. That’s not true, of course, but it’s surprising what you can do when you try.

When I started working from home, I loved it. Well, who wouldn’t? You set your own timetable, slobbing around in elastic-waist trousers, eating whenever you feel like it, as documented ad nauseam in hundreds of ‘what it’s like working from home’ blog posts. There’s a downside, of course. There always is. The discipline of working in an office, being obliged to wear smart tailored clothes and actually move around a bit, is better for one’s general appearance than sitting on one’s ever-growing posterior with only a laptop for company.


I needed some form of exercise. Never played sports, not going to start now. Hate the idea of the gym, last time I went was 1989, so I’m not exactly motivated. Can’t swim a stroke because I’m afraid of the water, think running’s bad for you and can really mess your knees up. But there’s a dance school in the small seaside town where I live, and they do adult classes, with qualified professional teachers – I’d always fancied dancing. Two and a half years ago, I went along to my first Fitsteps class (exercise based on dance steps), and I loved it so much that I felt as if was on wings when I left. Six months after that, I started adult ballet classes.

Then I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in my hip, and scheduled for a hip replacement at the age of 58. The pain made it hard to walk, never mind dance. So after my operation, just over a year ago, I was confined to barracks for 10 weeks, walking on crutches and doing the exercises shown me by the physiotherapist.

In February of this year our ballet teacher suggested she’d like to enter our adult class for the bronze award ballet exam! (BTW, the oldest lady in our class is 70.) ‘Yes’, we said – which was followed by weeks of ‘what were we thinking?’ ‘whose stupid idea was this?’ and occasionally ‘why did we decide to voluntarily make fools of ourselves?’

But it’s funny what you can do when you put your mind to it. We practised our routine until we were dreaming about it, and 2 weeks ago went in front of our examiner (a beautiful prima ballerina, who couldn’t have been more charming). And now I’m the proud possessor of this certificate, and bronze medal, and for someone who was never athletic, and who turns 60 next year, I could scarcely be more chuffed. Here I am, with my homegirls!

Certificate group

Of course really, my dream was to be a prima ballerina myself, with Tom Hiddleston my devoted slave. But now I’ve got my certificate, and read in the paper the other day that Tom was visiting his mother who lives in the next county to me (albeit he was holding hands with Taylor Swift, but she’s just a passing phase), then surely all I need to do is put my mind to it. You can do (almost) anything if you want to – can’t you?

tom dancing


Heaven for Book Lovers


Were you at the London Book Fair? Did I miss you? I travelled there on 14th April, and was struck, as I always am when on public transport, by the fact that almost everyone was staring at their phones and swiping or tapping away. Being the possessor of a mobile phone that cost a mere £20 and suits me just fine, I always wonder what on earth they find to look at. Not so many years ago, one would see just about everyone on the Tube reading a book, Kindle or newspaper (yes, I know that some people read books on their phones). So off I went, courtesy of the friendly people at Combined Book Exhibit, who are experts at book promotion: authors can read more about them here:


I was very pleased to meet up with the lovely Claribel Ortega, whose book I was privileged to proofread, The Skinwalker’s Apprentice.  I rarely get to meet my clients so I really couldn’t pass up the chance to meet one who lives in New York!


I must say that it was great to touch base again with my client, romance author Adrienne Vaughan (on the left here), whose new book Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel will be out soon, and I know that thousands of her fans are eagerly awaiting it. Read more here: Adrienne Vaughan.


Also pictured is a new friend and associate, Sarah Houldcroft, of Authors Uncovered; if you are an author looking for any kind of help with your book, then you really should speak to Sarah, as what she doesn’t know about every aspect of book production and promotion could be written on the back of a postage stamp. And finally I’d like to say a big hello to top selling author  Sue Moorcroft, whom I was also delighted to meet (she kindly took the photo above, which is why she’s not in it!)

It’s heaven to be surrounded by books of every kind imaginable, in fact I didn’t know where to turn first. I could have spent days and days just wandering around, to the extent that I realised at 2pm that I hadn’t eaten for 6 hours. So I got back on the Tube, and was surrounded once again by people tapping at their phones. I couldn’t help but think they would have enjoyed reading a book so much more.

man reading


























Proofreader Julia’s been to Iceland!

(For the benefit of my British readers, I don’t mean the frozen food store.)storeflag

Actually, I’ve been to the Embassy of Iceland in London, for a book launch for one of my clients; one of the perks of being a proofreader (aside from being able to work from home in your pyjamas, that is) is occasionally being invited to such events, and seeing first-hand the proud debut of a book you’ve helped to work on.  Such a thrill!

When you enter an embassy you are technically on that country’s soil. Never having been to an embassy before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did think I would at least see someone wearing a sash and decorations, whom I’d be expected to address as ‘Your Excellency’. No, just normal looking people in office clothes!

The event was the launch of the book Burning Karma by David Rafn Kristjansson. You can find the book on Amazon.com. here or on Amazon.co.uk: here. And here I am with David.


I so much enjoyed meeting the publishers, Wildpressed Books www.wildpressedbooks.com, the brain child of Philip and Tracey Scott-Townsend. If you want real professionals to handle your book, then look no further. Here I am reading the book, hoping not to spot any typos! Tracey (far right) and Philip (white trousers) are also in the photo.

Tracey.Phil.Booklaunch.IcelandEmb.17Mar2016 (12)

There are not many Icelandic people in the world, fewer than 400,000 in fact. Their language has changed very little over the centuries, so an Icelandic person who was to travel back in time 1,000 years would be able to understand what his countrymen were saying to him. I find it fascinating to think that behind every Icelandic person there is this mystical land of vikings, volcanoes and sagas. David told us that they have to study the sagas in school. Really made me want to go there.

Photo0630northern lights

It’s a great treat for someone who works from home, to actually get out and meet one’s clients – you know all those people you talk to on Twitter and other social media? They’re real!

All the best with the book, David!

book cover


10 Funniest Typos (updated!)

Every now and then, in my job as a proofreader, I come across a typo that makes me laugh out loud or elicits a ‘Whhhhaaaaaat?!’ – when the author accidentally writes something that ends up having a meaning they really did not intend.  I got the idea for this post while reviewing the work of my author sister, novelist Terry Tyler Terry Tyler’s Books, who said that when writing at speed and getting involved with the story, it’s so easy to type something that you simply can’t believe you did. (Which is another reason not to use that old false friend spellcheck, by the way, because these are mostly genuine words, just in the wrong place.)

I’ve been keeping a list (and I wish I’d started it earlier, I’ve seen some absolute lulus!) I thought I’d share them here for your amusement, and they are all strictly anonymous – I will not reveal my sources. But I and the authors concerned have shared a laugh over their mistakes, and it just proves something that I always maintain, i.e. that one cannot effectively proofread one’s own work.

  What they wrote What they meant What it looks like
1 On the lamb On the run Sitting on a young sheep
2 It’s a bad wrap I’ve been wrongfully accused I don’t like my lunch order
3 Vualá Voilà I don’t know even basic French, and I didn’t Google it
4 Dough-eyed Doe-eyed Eyes like pastry?
5 Martin atmosphere Martian atmosphere Hello, Mr Atmosphere
6 A small vile of liquid A small vial, or glass container, of liquid This liquid’s really nasty!
7 Leaning against the door jam Door jamb They make jam out of doors?! Rather woody taste.
8 The muscles in his neck were taught Taut, i.e. tight and strained What did they learn?
9 He was tempted to eat a second desert Gimme some of that ice cream You going to eat all that sand?
10 On the left was yellow, arid dessert Desert I’d rather have the strawberry cheesecake
11 The judge halted the trail Oh, the trial! What, the Appalachian Trail?
12 She worked in a stationary shop She worked in a stationery shop It didn’t move around, then?
 13 I will stay away from you and your elk I don’t like you or your friends Keep that great brute away from me!
 14 Two policemen were peeing through the window. Peering (I hope!) Surely they could arrest each other for that?
 15 Doug came from Manchester, and spoke with a strong Manchurian accent. Mancunian Oh, he was Anglo-Chinese, was he?
 16 You know what they say, a room wasn’t built in a day! Rome Why not? (And they don’t!)
 17 You could melt butter with the heath between my thighs (from an erotic novel) Heat (although there are better ways to soften butter) Way too many weird mental images right now!
18  The rent was dew. Due My landlord is a fairy creature.
 19 There were two centuries guarding a gate Sentries Okay, I give up!

I am indebted to my friends Geoff West and Carol Hedges, who spotted nos. 14 and 15 in books they have read.


7 Things you don’t know about me

But after reading this, you will (if you are interested, of course). I’ve been asked by the charming Julie Haiselden (@juliehaiselden) to contribute to her Beautiful Bloggers thread https://jhbooksblog.wordpress.com/, so here’s my contribution – I have to list 7 things you don’t know about me.

  1. I was once woken up by an earthquake in Santiago, Chile. Went downstairs, got talking for hours to a chap who was also scared and didn’t want to go back to his hotel room. We exchanged business cards, and later on when I looked at his, turned out he was the Vice President of 20th Century Fox. I’m still waiting for my callback!🙂
  2. About 30 years ago (oo-er, doesn’t time fly) I was a blackjack and roulette dealer working in the Ritz Casino in London. Here’s a photo of me and some of my fellow croupiers – get the 1980s big hair and Dynasty-type outfits, ha!Ritz
  3. I once told Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to get his hands off me. Yes, really!!!  He approached to hug me, backstage. Well, who needs to do the groupie fan thing?!  It made him laugh – I suppose it made a change.
  4. In my later years in London I spent my Sundays volunteering for a charity that delivered dinner to housebound Aids sufferers. I recommend doing something for others as a substitute for therapy – now, hear me out on this one! I started this when I was depressed, lonely and looking for something to do. At the end of the day I skipped down the street feeling much better. So, what I’m saying is, even if you do it for ‘selfish’ reasons, volunteer anyway, because the charity and recipients don’t care why you do it, the end result is the same, everyone benefits.
  5. I spent a year learning Norwegian. This was because I was working for the manager of A-ha, and I had to go around the world with them on promotion etc. As you probably know, pretty much all Norwegians speak good English, but I got fed up with not understanding what they were saying to each other! Aha 2
  6. I am eternally grateful that I was accepted into Durham University in the late 1970s. It was like being at university in the 1950s, all gowns and sherry parties with one’s moral tutor! Yes, we were each assigned a moral tutor, and mine was called Henry Tudor, much to my amusement. Not quite sure what they were supposed to tutor us about, though. To live in this beautiful city for 3 years was a great blessing.durham
  7. And for my 7th ‘thing’, I shall say (if Julie will forgive me!) that I will not be nominating 7 other bloggers because I am not a ‘real blogger’, since I put up posts so rarely; not being a creative type I’m hardly ever able to think of anything to write about, so I don’t think I should call myself a blogger when there are writers out there. I’m indebted to Julie for asking me to take part, and thank you for taking the time to read this; I hope it’s entertained you in some small way.