A ray of sunshine in a gloomy week…


Ah now. There I was having a bit of a shitty week. It’s just after Christmas and everyone I know is either very grumpy or very angry or a worrying combination of both.

It hasn’t stopped raining for days either and my dogs are tracking mud everywhere. I’m on a constant cycle of washing dog towels, washing dogs, washing everything and mopping floors while listening to Noah, my weird neighbour, jauntily whistling while building a stonking big boat in his garden.

I’m getting knee ache too, and neck ache and everything-ache cos Crusty has decided that he needs to sleep under my desk and I haven’t got the heart to kick him out. His dad used to sleep there but his dad was a lot smaller and sort of curled up into a tidy ball whereas Crusty tends to sprawl out.

Hmmm, what else…oh yes – the wing-mirror on my van got knocked off by a passing fuckstick…I mean motorist. Then this morning, the heel on my favourite training shoes peeled off in the gym and was flapping about while I was trying to run and do physical stuff. Which was just bloody annoying, and it also means I’ve got to get new training shoes now too (and a new wing-mirror), which means either going to the shops and braving the super grumpy super angry staff or ordering online and maybe getting them sometime next month (the Isle of Wight is yet to grasp the concept of Next-Day-Delivery).

I’ve also got an important meeting in London this week and cannot find a dog-sitter for love nor money. I placed an advert offering cash / jewels / internal organs / whatever you want to come and dog-sit, and get this…TEN people called and made arrangements to come down. None showed up. Not one. Not one of them even text or called to say they weren’t coming. There’s some weird quasi Bermuda / Isle of Wight triangle of mystery going on here. How do ten human beings all collectively decide to not show up? How does that even happen?

So yes, a bit of a shitty week. Oh and the Christmas tin of choccies I bought has only got the shitty orange and strawberry ones left.

Then I remembered I had one of those cards the delivery people sneak through your door when they can’t be arsed to ring the bell and wait the ten seconds while you answer. So I duly went into town to try and reverse park a van with only one wing-mirror, in the rain and with a flapping gym shoe going slap slap slap every time I took a step which earned lots of super grumpy super angry looks from the locals, none of whom apparently want to turn up when they make arrangements. (I might go and live on Noah’s boat. I swear I saw some penguins running up a gangplank and called Noah to ask him. He said he would pop round and explain but never showed up….)

Anywho. The super grumpy super angry Post Office staff glared and tutted and pushed bits of paper about then one of them went out and came back to thrust a big box marked FRAGILE into my arms, then he went off muttering and glaring and tutting while me and my slappy gym shoe slapped our way back to the one-wing-mirror van in the rain while carrying said big box.

So yes. All of those things, plus the post-Chrismas (or other religious or non-religious festive season) general fug all conspired to make me a bit grumpy, almost to the extent I thought about replying to some adverts and agreeing to meet then just, like you know….not turn up….arrggghhh!!!

Then I opened the box and all of those little niggles and annoyances buggered off for a bit because oh my gosh…

I mean…OH MY GOSH…

One of my readers (I say my reader but I don’t actually mean like mine as in only mine and no one else’s) – a wonderful warm-hearted American lady called Cassandra had taken the monumental effort of contacting lots of other readers and putting together the most amazing box of gifts you could ever imagine.

It’s just staggering. I’m speechless. The two booklets you can see are filled with messages from readers. One is giving Christmas greetings and the other is filled with accounts from readers that Cassandra contacted saying what The Undead and Extracted mean to them.

The glass book is just gorgeous and etched with a passage from my favourite poem “IF” by Rudyard Kipling, and the two glasses are etched with artwork from The Living Army facebook group. They’re so beautiful.

It’s hard to express a suitable level of gratitude without sounding trite or cheesy, but I’m so touched by this gesture. The effort taken, the planning involved and the sheer number of people that contributed too. Thank you, Cassandra & family, and thank you to everyone who contributed. I’m genuinely humbled. This is a real ray of sunshine in an otherwise very gloomy week.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (or other religious or non-religious festive season) and I wish you all the best for the new year.

Take care


(Noah popped in to ask what was in the box but I think he was just trying to distract me from the two giraffes walking past my fence…)



  • John mason
    Posted at 16:09h, 02 January Reply

    I like the orange and strawberry sweets

  • Sissy Dahl
    Posted at 16:30h, 02 January Reply

    Soo glad you liked it! Cassandra worked very hard!

  • Xanthe Randall
    Posted at 16:47h, 02 January Reply

    Cassandra did a fantastic job, the gifts are beautiful and very much deserved ♥️
    BTW did you say you needed a dog sitter? You just might have to bring them with you and I can arrange to take them off your hands

  • Miss N Verrill
    Posted at 17:35h, 02 January Reply

    Even now you make me chuckle be you grumpy flopping wet or squashed bravo your a proper star all the best I look forward to many more stories xxx

  • Deborah milner
    Posted at 18:04h, 02 January Reply

    I love the soft centres they are my fav
    And your gift wow I would be over the moon with that too

    All the best for 2018

  • Dot Levin
    Posted at 18:13h, 02 January Reply

    Actually brought a tear to my eyes. If I lived nearer I would dog sit for you Boss. I also like orange and strawberry.

  • Janis Worrell
    Posted at 18:53h, 02 January Reply

    Boss you deserve more. You have brought us weary people together and made our lives richer with your writing. Take your dogs to Xanthe she will be a good doggy momma.

  • Emma Hudson
    Posted at 18:53h, 02 January Reply

    Awwww Boss I’m so happy you like your pressies! You deserve them all and much much more! We Are Pack xxx

  • J. Hyde
    Posted at 19:45h, 02 January Reply

    Glad you liked it,Cassandra worked hard to pull it all together. Good luck with finding dog sitters. Wish I could help x

  • Sabrina Bowman
    Posted at 19:51h, 02 January Reply

    Beautiful. Cassandra is such a wonderful lady. I am so happy she brought some much needed cheer to you. It was a lot of thought and hard work on her part.

  • John Tyreman
    Posted at 19:53h, 02 January Reply

    Really enjoyed reading your post. Not sure if I signed up previously but as I don’t seemed to have had one I guess I need to do so.

  • Julie Matthews
    Posted at 20:30h, 02 January Reply

    I like the orange ones, send em over to Australia, I’ll take care of that..,

  • Cassandra C.
    Posted at 22:13h, 02 January Reply

    You are so very welcome. Thank for all the joy your books and facebook page have brought to us all. Your writing is brilliant (I really do try other authors but come back to the team every time) pretty much just your reader anymore. Much love Boss

  • Mary Doyle
    Posted at 11:50h, 03 January Reply

    Just a small taste of what joy you bring to your readers. Happy New Year. Looking forward to reading any words you decide to write this year.

  • Ria Halcomb
    Posted at 04:00h, 05 January Reply

    Next time you need a dog sitter I will happily make the trek across the pond & sit your adorable pup.

  • Potsy
    Posted at 09:41h, 05 February Reply

    You needed a dog sitter and didn’t ask me??? Seriously H, you get stuck just holla, you may not get them back, but i digress 😉
    Cass how bloody lovely of you. Sometimes we all need to remember someone cares.
    Your a very special person Cass. Glad to hear it cheered you up H, you deserve to smile.

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