How to conquer fear.

I’ve been posting silly things to cheer you up for quite a few days.  Reading the newspapers and listening to the news on television, I have become aware of the way people are being gripped by fear.  As I have had about ten years of being gripped by fear in various ways, I thought it might be helpful to tell you what works for me when it happens.

I was cast into despair when I discovered my father’s will had given my inheritance to my cousins, depriving my mother of the money she needed for her care in a difficult situation.  I was fearful when the cousins sent me nasty emails, burst into my mother’s house and started running around opening drawers.

I was fearful at the hospital deathbed of my father, whose breathing suddenly declined.  I had put my mother, who looked dreadful, to bed in the next ward and was frightened I wouldn’t be able to wake her and get her there in time.

I was fearful when I broke the first arm that I would not be able to travel the hour and a half required twice weekly to administer the care for my mother.

I was fearful that my mother would be sectioned and descend into the state of being that I know locked-up people can reach if they are aggressive by nature and confined.

I was frightened when I broke my arm the second time that I would not be able to pack a suitcase to go to hospital before my body realised it was broken and stopped working.

I was frightened when my investigative surgery for cancer got postponed the fourth time after waiting all day in hospital, that the cancer would have time to get hold and spread.

I was frightened when the surgeon turned up looking ill herself.

I was frightened when I started vomiting blood and the OH was drunk and tipped the evidence, a couple of litres of it, down the loo, that the ambulance workers would not comprehend the gravity of the situation.

I was frightened every time they put the camera down my neck.

I was frightened I would never see my cousin again.

I was frightened each time of the thirteen that I turned up in A&E with blood coming out of either end, frightened when they sent me home and frightened when they kept me in and then didn’t find out what was wrong.

I have been frightened at least every day for ten years, as anyone who lives with someone with a brain altered by addiction is bound to be, because of the unpredictability of their actions.

I am frightened that I will not get my sight back properly after the accident, I am squinting at you now and there is still one and a half of you.

What helps.

Be brave.  At times of great fear I reach into the deepest part of me and summon up – me.  When I broke the first arm I didn’t saunter round the house popping stuff into a suitcase, I ran.  If something really awful happens, suddenly, it is absolutely true that your brain will be on your side.  It will speed up your perception of events, as every neuron you’ve got will go into overdrive.  To you it will seem that the rest of the world has slowed down.  You will get an adrenaline surge and extra strength in your muscles.  You can use this to run before the stick hits you, to get your mother out of bed and carry her, to collect what you need while the suitcase is empty, to stand your ground in the face of threats, to protect the weak, or whatever you need to do quickly to help.

Embrace the greatest truth that for the whole of your life the one person that will always be on your side is that face you see in the mirror every day.  If that person has let you down in the past, you can correct that by learning from experience and doing better this time.  Be present in the crisis for yourself.

Ameliorate your own physical responses to fear.  While you are still calm, learn to slow your own breathing and heart rate. Do it by counting and practice until you are good at it.  The reason this is helpful is that in a crisis you are less likely to have a heart attack or breathing problems.  If your heart stops or you stop breathing you will not survive long, stay calm and you have a better chance.  If you are less tense, painkillers will be more effective.

Do not let the fear take over.  Distract yourself. Get busy with something unimportant but engaging.  Make your card kits up.  Weed the garden.  Sort out your sock drawer.  Keep busy.

Exercise, exercise, exercise.  Get those endorphins circulating. However much you can move, do that.  Get that blood flowing.  Get busy.

Lose yourself in a hobby.

Turn your thoughts outwards from your fear and go and help someone else.  However bad it is, there is always someone else worse off than you.  You just have to find them and take cake.

Assess your current situation in detail, physically.  Start at your feet and work up, find the good bits as in:  I can wiggle my toes, nothing wrong with them, I can bend my knees and stand up, I can move my hips, I can turn my waist, my arms still move, I can wave my hands, I can hold a pen, my heart is still beating, I can see, I can breathe, I can think.  Do this several times starting at your feet each time and working up. If it’s not working, get more specific, admire each fingernail in detail.  Avoid the broken bit, emphasise the good bits.

These are the things that have helped me.  Fear can be overwhelming; you need to jump on top of it and bounce up and down until you have squashed it flat.

And if you have been a reader here for all ten years, you probably know what I’m going to say next – get a dolls’ house. Put you head inside a smaller, better, controllable world. Make a diorama.  Perpetrate a piece of art.  Paint a picture, model a model.

If you don’t like what’s happening forge an alternate reality and live in it for a while until the real world improves.  Live there intermittently, make a holiday from fear in your head.

The real world will improve, in time.  You just have to get from here to there. If you use the interim productively you will come out the other end, stronger, braver, wiser and with a finished work of art and weed-free garden and paired socks.


Fear is the vertical cliff face by which we ascend to our higher selves.


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Where to panic buy common sense.

Keen to be helpful in these difficult times, I decided to dust off my investigative journalist mackintosh (beige with shoulder flaps), my investigative journalist hat (trilby style, with a band), my investigative journalist gloves (shiny black leather) and my investigative notebook and pencil (Paw Patrol with candy pink stripes and a bow, I think my grandson may have the other one.)

Ready for the fray, I set off through the empty streets, well, empty apart from pensioners walking their dogs, hand in hand (which was clever of the dogs, come to think of it) and a determined middle aged lady walking a cat (along the top of a hedge, halfway up a tree, and round the corner at speed when a delivery van hove into view.  Boy was she dishevelled by the time they ended up in the bins outside the post office!)

My first port of call was the large supermarket on the high street.  I enquired of a stressed-out colleague (this is what we used to call a shop assistant – remember them?)  He said they had had deliveries of common sense in packs of twenty at half past five in the morning but by twenty to six it had all been panic bought by snowflakes and millennials and one pensioner who had been adopted by everyone, passed around and patted and is now dead in a ditch somewhere, probably, sneezing (which is, of course, no longer allowed.)

So I went next door to the posh shop. The posh assistant (they still have these because posh customers like them) said daintily that they had boxes of chocolate-covered sense on the top shelf.  When she fetched the steps and got up there, it turned out to be chocolate-covered sins left over from Valentines.

I popped in to the post office.  The postal colleague laughed heartily and said they were expecting some two weeks next Tuesday, depending on the post and the weather.

Next door in the ethnic grocer, there were some small packets of dried sense on the bottom shelf but they had footprints on them, looked mangled and the instructions for rehydration were in foreign.

The pub wanted to sell me fifty pints of pale ale at a knockdown price but I was driving and keen not be be shot down by drones.

In the DIY store there was the instruction book from a self-assembly common-sense self-sufficiency generator, which had been looted.  The shop owner laughed heartily for the first time in a week, knowing that the generator was useless without the 180 degree self-rotating flanges which he kept in the till.  ‘Won’t get it working without these babies,’ he laughed, heartily, holding them up to the light, ‘worth millions now, these are, I’m putting them on ETube or UBay tomorrow!’  Then he dropped one down the side of the till.  I left him taking the counter to bits.

In the wool shop they had one pattern left and were charging twenty pounds for a black and white photocopy.  I’m not good at knitting, I get all tense.  After a couple of rows I just want to stab someone with the knitting needles.  In the current climate this would be counter-productive, especially if the stabee leaked contaminated blood on bystanders. I left with a crochet pattern for cormorant tents, which only sounds similar, I don’t think it will do the trick, and, of course, I can’t quite remember how to crochet.  I think it involves fastening holes together with string and absolutely no glue at all, which is very clever.  It would have to be really, where would you dab the glue on a hole?*

The restaurant had gone all philanthropic.  The owner, who had decided to go down with a grand gesture, had battered all of his common sense, deep fried it and donated it to the local old folks home, supported by a donation of five gallons of indigestion mixture from the chemist next door, my next port of call.

The chemist could only sell me two sticking plasters, half a headache pill, a dab of pile cream, or five hundred air-line-approved compression socks.

I got back in the car and drove to the farm shop, which was deserted.  The farmer was squeezing the cow for another drop of milk and the hens were laying eggs so fast, they were the size of old sixpences, I was told you’d need eight eggs to make one hot cross bun and he was hoping to sell them at ten pounds an egg, or fifty Euros each if the Brexit arrangements were still on hold.

That was it.  No common sense anywhere in my town at all. I’m off to the investment specialist to buy shares in a gym, starting in August, when all the people who have been sitting on their sofas binge-watching NitFlix box sets and eating dried pasta straight from the bag, fight their way out of the toilet roll wall and waddle, blinking, into the sun.


* On the edge, obviously, it would just fall down because of gravity, if you put it in the middle.

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Soothingly boring.

During the current difficulties, as promised, I shall endeavour to produce blogs rather more regularly than hitherto.

Today I wonder if you could assist me in choosing a colour to paint the walls and ceiling of the hall, stairs and landing?

For some reason, which completely escapes me, other than advancing age, the only colours the OH and I could agree upon for the new bathroom floor and utility floor have been white.  Yes, who has a white floor in a room which people are going to drip upon?

Us.  We do.  I agreed.  And you thought I was sensible.

Therefore there will be highly patterned carpet in a  dirt colour on the floor of the halls and the stairs and so we are going to have a bright colour on the walls, which will be good as there is a dearth of windows in the new build, though we do have sun tunnels.

Sun tunnels are portholes on the roof connected via a flimsy silver paper tube to the portholes in the ceiling of the corridor and bathroom two, neither of which have windows.  They produce light but only when the sun is out.

So we need the walls to be bright.

We’re thinking white.

No, I don’t know what’s wrong with us either.

Question is, which white?

When we arrived in this house. some thirty three years ago. shades of white had just been invented by paint manufacturers and were selling like tins of paint.  We had apple white in the lounge, barley white on the bedroom ceiling and I think pot of paint white in the little bedroom.

This time round I’m looking for a white that won’t show the dirt.

I’m thinking: gravy white, shoe sole white, old tree white, ten-year-old vest white, soil white, elderly face cloth white with a hint of towel, and, for the really dark places, chewing gum white with a suggestion of glue.

Any opinions?

Tomorrow – what colour to paint the window glass for extra darkness at night and interestingly different places to lay a carpet.


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Silver Lining..

Now, before we begin, I’d like to assure you that you can’t catch Corona virus from reading this word.  Or this one.  Or this one, oh no, hang on, that one looked a bit dodgy.

We have gone in the space of a day from ‘let’s all go to the exhibition centre’ to ‘everyone over seventy has to stay at home for four months.’

Then of course there is panic buying of toilet rolls.  I went to get the normal amount in the normal way but there were none.  Anywhere.  This is worse than ‘Gold toilet stolen from Blenheim Palace, police have nothing to go on.’  If the elderly (which isn’t me, by a year, according to the latest government statistics) have to stay at home for four months, how are they going to manage without stockpiling toilet rolls?  I can imagine the elderly being discovered in many months in their houses entombed in pyramids of toilet rolls.

My pal L has had the virus.  She rang from Brighton.  On Tuesday she felt awful, sweaty and hot, very hot, took to her bed, didn’t want to eat, had a dry cough and by Saturday was well enough to ring me and sounded like herself apart from a cough.  So there is a strong possibility if you are youngish and fit you’ll be OK.  Don’t panic. DON’T PANIC.

Oh well go on, panic a bit.  Rush out and buy as much dried pasta as you can and some toilet rolls, if you can.  Why are people stockpiling dry pasta?  Does it have anti-viral properties I am unaware of?  There’s none of that locally, either. Or tissues. If you want to blow your nose you’ll have to go round to an elderly person’s house and use their toilet rolls.

There is plenty of advice from the government about how to keep yourself occupied at home for those who have no idea what to do unless they are socialising.

Round here I cannot think of anything nicer than four months uninterrupted dolling and what a wonderful chance this is to get my latest novel well-progressed. and catch up with the garden.  I’ve had six months of a house full of strangers, who are nearly finished now.  There remains the new stairs, the lift and the decorating and a little bit more plumbing and then they can all buzz off and leave me in peace.  All I would like additionally is for the government to shut the pubs.  I also understand from the news that terrorists have been advised to avoid Europe.

I am also glad, very glad, that I do not have an elderly relative at a distance to care for.

All told it will be OK.

I think my attitude possibly stems from living with cancer for so long and losing my cousin, of whom I am still daily bereaved.

If your number is up, it is up, if it isn’t, it’s not.

You and me, we’ll be absolutely all right.  We have hobbies, we have interests.

I will blog as much as I can to keep the contact between us.  Meanwhile if you are new to Jane there is ten year’s worth of free reading on this blog, accessed by clicking on the column on the right.  Quite a lot of it is funny.  Email me if you like, I reply to genuine emails.

Now is the time for all good readers to pair their sock drawer (you know it makes sense.)


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Miniatura postponed.

The Spring Miniatura, due at the NEC the weekend after this, has been postponed by the organiser because of Corona virus.

I received the email this morning, though the decision was posted, apparently, on social media yesterday afternoon.  As I don’t follow social media, I didn’t find out that way.

The organiser, who is Andy Hopwood, said he had taken the decision because so many of the visitors and exhibitors are in the at-risk age group.  This a brave and kind decision from a a man who has a family with health problems, a mortgage and whose source of income is the gate from two shows a year. To put the welfare of your exhibitors and visitors above your own necessary income is remarkable and one of the many reasons I support this show.

I did email 10 Downing Street yesterday morning to ask the prime Minister to close the NEC and other major venues.  If they are closed by government edict, show organisers can invoke their insurers and be recompensed. As readers in Britain will have seen on the news yesterday, we seem to be lagging behind Ireland and Scotland in this matter.  I hope my email will bear fruit, so that Andy will not lose out for doing the right thing.

I am so relieved.  I was frightened.  I am in remission from cancer, bereaved and with a couple of recent health scares, but I would have gone to support the show.  Now, when Miniatura is resumed, we can all go and enjoy it.  Save your pennies.  When you get there eventually, make sure you take a load of people with you and spend big.  Put it all right for the man who made the right decision at his own cost. It is heartening to know there are still such people in the world.

Long live miniaturists.  This is the time to stay at home and play with your dolls’ house. In fact there has never been a better time to do so.

I will go on dressing dolls, while the mood is on me.  I found a cabinet I’d put away, while I was clearing out for the builders.  It is a revolving glass fronted case with small sections on four sides.  It could have been made for 48th and 24th scale dolls, but was designed for jewellery and might be fifty to a hundred years old.  Anyway I was filling it with dolls, so visitors could touch the case and revolve it and then I could disinfect it.  But is is a nice case so I will carry on dressing until I have filled it and you can come and have a revolve next show, when ever that is.

I never thought I would say Miniatura has been postponed, hurray!

You and I will meet some day in the future, when we are all well and happy and talk of little things and the joy they bring us, and of good people and how happy we are to know them.


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I bet you were expecting a report on the dolls I dressed today.

Would that I had, one scale, in the shape of the house intervened.

I hit the ground running at eight when the electricians arrived.  They had to fit a circuit breaker for the little platform lift I’m having.  That followed a lengthy email from the manufacturers, none of which I understood.  I rang a contact at the factory, then an installer and got neither, to ask them to talk to the electrician, who didn’t understand what exactly he had to do.  As I had had a dire email threatening all sorts if I got it wrong, I was really keen to get it right.  Then there was the placement of the phone in the lift, to avoid the scenario where you die as an old lady, trapped in a lift in your own home. The advice of the installer differed from the advice of the manufacturer and it was not possible to do both.  So I made a cup of tea for my breakfast but it went cold.

Finally I got one of them and had just explained, and got him to talk to the electrician, when a toilet arrived on a van and had to be signed for before it could be put in the garage.  So I did that and checked the docket.  Then I saw what was missing and emailed about that. Then the installer, who I couldn’t get before, rang back and he talked to the electrician too.  And he explained how to fill in the form they had sent me, which is intended for factories and asks where is my First Aid room, and similar items.

Then the carpet shop rang to say the lino was in and could I collect it. So I microwaved my tea and sat down at the computer.

Then I printed off the plans for the electrician and found the email from the plumbing supervisor that had to be dealt with.

Then the car, which had been being serviced, returned, and had to be checked and paid for, during which my tea went cold again.

The electricians were shown what still needed to be done, then the builder rang.  He is back from his holiday and wanted paying.  My tea, which I had just microwaved, got cold again.

Then there was a delivery.

Then it was lunchtime and the OH appeared downstairs.

So I drank my tea and went out to fetch money and the lino.

Came back, had quick lunch, then the builder arrived, just as I had made a cup of tea.  So I showed him around and went through the ‘to do’ list.

Then I microwaved my tea and drank it.

Then I went upstairs, selected dolls, cut out some clothes and then it was tea time.  The OH came into the dressing room to ask when I was going to tidy up the room I was working in.  Then I shouted at him.  Then I had tea.

So I went round the house switching off the lights where I’d shown the builder and closing the curtains.

And now it’s now.

Incidentally, if the last posting is showing three times I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened.  I’ll fix it tomorrow but now I have to go to bed so I can get up early to let the plumber in.

I love getting ready for Miniatura.  It’s so creative.  You just sit quietly and sew.


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Flying tonight

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The very small vampires are definitely taking off.

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Lola Granola, Baron Banana, Marshall Minestrone, and Capitaine Corli Flower are off for a fly around the forest, a walk awound the willage and a go into the green grocer’s to get grapes.

Lola Granola can be spotted stepping into the supermarket to see some seereal.

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To be fair this is very surreal too.

These dolls are so small you could clean your teeth with them.

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Though I don’t recommend it.

I do recommend having no truck with reality, go miniature, it’s good for you.

You already have?  Well good for you.

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More tomorrow, electricians permitting (they will be here at eight AM promptly, with tools and wire.)  How much I’ll get done tomorrow, anyone’s guess, and after that I’m laying lino, and if I’m tired enough, laying on lino, I shouldn’t be surprised.


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More Min

More 48th.  I have turned to the dark side, well darkish, rain later, by the looks of it.

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Ha! Vot haff ve here?

This is Viscount Viktor Vanilla, the vegan vampire and some virgins from the village!

(Actually, come to think of it, for a more realistic mittel European accent, you should probably pronounce the Vs as Ws, so it would be Wicount Wiktor Wanilla, the wegan wampire and some wirgins from the willage.)

Young Ladies

Wendy (or possible Vendy) on the left, in pink, is 6.  She likes skipping and ice cream.

Doris (no, sorry, just Doris) is 8 and wants a pony.

Fangs ain’t what they used to be.

More tomorrow


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Spring in the air.

Or, more precisely, Spring Miniatura, now only two weeks away.

This time in two weeks I’ll be just about thinking of packing it all away until next time.  That is, unless Corona virus has other ideas.  If you are travelling from a distance for the show, please keep an eye on the Miniatura blog at   At present all is set for the show to go ahead, but if the situation changes, or the government is obliged to shut down public gatherings, the Miniatura blog will be the place to find out what is happening.

At the NEC, as far as exchange of germs goes, this would be the show to ask the stand holder to pick items up to show you.  If you are bringing children, keep an eye on them.  Frequent hand washing is the best way to limit the spread of germs and using plenty of paper hankies, there are always lots of lined bins at the NEC. The OH, previously a microbiologist, has ordered a big bottle of the active ingredient in hand sanitiser, which I will be using a lot.  I will show you the dolls, I will put them in containers as usual, so you can be sure you are taking germ free people home with you.

And here the new ones are, so far.

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As you can see, after many requests, I finally got round to the 48th scale fairies.

These dolls are small.  Most are just over an inch tall, which isn’t very tall at all.  Look-


There are fairy men and ladies, there’s a Tudorish girl and a couple of boys in patterned trousers.

I know there have been requests for dolls to go into mushrooms and other fairy places, though they do all get on together and will happily live anywhere.  Well, they’ve been living in a box in a house full of builder’s rubble for six months, so I think anywhere you can provide would be an improvement.

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The red haired fairy looks very grumpy.  There’s a fairy grandpa too, behind the fairy girl in yellow.

If you have any other quarter scale requests, please email me. I am currently dressing in the front bedroom.  I usually dress at the dining room table but it is suffering from builders, like the rest of the house, and the room I have made to do it all in is far from ready, but I have a table in a quiet room where I can shut the door and I’m off there right now.


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No, not a music hall act with a dummy, more like a plumbing act with a couple of dummies.

One of the items that has been installed, nearly, is a second bathroom, so that when the family come to stay there is adequate provision for assorted ablutions.

When the electricians installed the lights and the extractor fan the first time round, there was a big red switch high up on the wall to isolate the shower, which therefore, was permanently switched on.  When the original shower in the old bathroom died the visiting engineer peculiar to that brand of shower told us that the most crucially important action was to switch the shower off at the dangling switch after every use.  The shower, he told us, did not like being left switched on.

Now you already know my opinion of electrical gadgets and their diva-like tendencies.  Therefore, alarmed was I? No, not at all, I was expecting it and, moreover, surprised not to be appraised of a list of cleaning agents the shower would favour, and which radio station it preferred.

When the electricians for the new bathroom next appeared we informed them of the preferences of the shower and a pull switch was installed to replace the big red switch that I could not reach.

At the weekend, the plumber having informed us that the new bathroom was useable, the  OH had a go.  The shower worked but the extractor fan did not.

So we climbed up into the loft, looking for the duct which was ushering the hot wet air out into the outside world.

Nothing.  Nada.  Not a sausage.  No duct.

At half eight this morning the plumber arrived, which forestalled an angry call to the office.  We climbed into the loft and removed the floorboard in the relevant area.  There was the plastic fan under a screwed down floorboard venting into nowhere.  If the electrical safety switch had not come into operation and switched the fan off it would have sprayed the insulation material between the floorboards with condensation until they eventually soaked the ceiling and the ceiling came down.

At this juncture the plumber phoned the office, said he had to be somewhere else and left.  The electricians say they usually write ‘ducting to be installed by someone else’ and the builder, who is on holiday for the fifth time in this build, I have emailed.

The only good thing is that I owe them all money.

Neither a borrower or a lender be.

Unless you are beset by trades.


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