Friday, February 26, 2010

The world needs people like Heather

How many of us would put ourselves out for a cause? I care deeply about a lot of things and sometimes I do more than just talk about them. My husband and I took part in two Stop the war marches in the hope of preventing the invasion of Iraq, I sign petitions to try to end world debt and prevent global warming. I click daily on the Hunger Site. I write articles which I hope alert people to the truth. But I know it's not enough. My voice alone won't change things. But, like everyone, I balance my desire in wanting to stop wars, end world hunger, save the planet and unearth unpalatable truths with a desire to live a happy balanced life.

So when I watched 'On Expenses' the other night, a dramatisation of the expenses scandal in the House of Commons, I was bowled over by the actions of Heather Brooke. Heather, a U.S born journalist, spent five years relentlessly applying for the release of politician's expenses claims under the freedom of information act. She didn't stop although her quest clearly put a strain on her relationships and dominated her life. The results of her actions are now well documented and will have far reaching effects. She is not alone. Not quite. A minority of people will relentlessly pursue causes, whether it is uncovering M.P's expenses or speaking out about being tortured or falsely imprisoned. And the world needs people like them for it is their actions that ultimately improve the lives of every one of us and I take my hat off to them.

Today I phoned somebody to ask for an interview. It was the fourth time I'd phoned. I'd been fobbed off on the previous occasions. After a little arm twisting/persuasion, my interviewee agreed to meet me. He called me tenacious; which made me smile, I guess he has never encountered a Heather........

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ever lost for words?

Apparently there are more words in the English language than in any other. So how come you sometimes find yourself struggling to find a word to explain exactly how a character feels? I suppose the answer is in part because the English language has so many nuances; there are so many words to choose from to describe a feeling that when we can't find one that fits exactly, we're surprised. In French, where there are far fewer words, writers do not expect to be able summarise complex feelings with one word and construct whole sentences to get their point across.

Here's an example of what I mean. A while ago, I wrote a story in which one of my characters (a giant boy) discovers he is short sighted. When he looks at the letters on his eye test chart, they are all fuzzly. Not a 'real' word according to the OED but one that perfectly expressed to me, another myopia sufferer, how text appears from a distance when I haven't got my specs on.

So, imagine my delight to discover that I'm not alone in the pursuit of word creation and that alongside the standard British dictionary are a number of on-line dictionaries of words that people have made up to fill the gaps that they've found in the English language. One in particular caught my eye. It's called Pseudo dictionary and is full of hilarious and useful words. Here is the link: . If you're struggling to find a word you might just find it here.

Meanwhile, I'm using fuzzly as often as I can in the hope that it might catch on and one day find it's way into the Oxford English Dictionary. If you'd like to use it too then feel free, have a word on me...............