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On Michael Jackson
Posted on 29/06/2009 by  nessiec


There's been a lot of debate on here about whether or not Michael Jackson was guilty of molesting children and it's really shocked me how people are quick to attack the man based on what seems to be very little true proof or evidence. It seems a sad world where so many of us who purport to be intelligent, rational and considerate human beings, are so quick to point the finger, basing most of our accusations upon things we read in the newspapers. It's even sadder that so many people still do take everything reported in the tabloids as gospel. Make something a big screaming headline in the Mail and of course, it MUST be true. And yet by all accounts, MJ was to his closest friends was a gentle, loving, sensitive and even shy man who was a good father to his three children. Somebody wrote on the forums that in most cases it was advisable to take the word of the allegedly-abused child over and above that of the adult who was supposed to have abused them - well, yes, certainly, but in the moneyed world of Michael Jackson, how can anybody be sure that the accusers and their families weren't merely out to make as much money out of the Jacksons as they possibly could? The out-of-court settlement surely was no admission of guilt, but a desperate move by a weary Jackson to put an end to the media speculation so that he could attempt to pick up the pieces of his wrecked life. The saddest thing of all is that the abuse now doing the rounds of forums and websites over the world is carried out by US as we attack and speculate over this lonely man who ended his days with a doctor living in his house. No words of compassion for his family. No thoughts of how the death affects his friends or his true fans. No realisation that - hang on - the newspapers need to sell copies! No sensitivity to stand back for a moment and wonder how WE would feel if we'd been accused of abusing children and it wasn't true. Think about how that would make YOU feel. It would break you. It would depress you. It would stop you eating, sleeping or hoping. It would make you want to end your life. The treatment of Michael Jackson by the media both before and after his death was bound to be despicable. But the attitudes of people on the street are even worse.

Noise, acid-reflux and a dream-like state - The Waterstone's Children's Book Prize, 18th February 2009
Posted on 21/02/2009 by  nessiec


I attended the prize-giving party for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize on Wednesday. The event took place in their flagship store in Piccadilly and all eight of the shortlisted authors were there, together with various publishers, agents, press people and friends/family. The venue was hot! That's not a compliment - it really was hot, in an airless, gasping-for-fresh-air sort of way. Mercifully I a) had sussed out the joint earlier that day so could amend my intended clothing for the event into full summer mode and b)I ended up standing by a window. It was also very, very noisy. Imagine more than a hundred buzzy excited people all talking in a cocktail bar not very much bigger than your average lounge, and you might have some idea of the noise. It was also very dim - I liked that, because I'd been up since 5.30am. I was very pleased to be there - in fact I've been pleased for several months after hearing I was on the shortlist - but it turned out to be one of those occasions which seems far more enjoyable in retrospect. For whatever reason, I found it hard to live in the moment - it all seemed dream-like, overly-intense and high-speed - the effect was curiously similar to being on speed. I already knew that I hadn't won (glum phone call from nice editor earlier in the day) so in some ways I was more relaxed, knowing I wouldn't have to give a speech. The winner did give a nice speech, but most of us couldn't hear it, the Waterstones personnel for some reason failing to switch on the very large microphone that stood on the tiny stage. One of the other shortlisted authors proudly informed me that she had come 'second'. Eh? From where I was standing, this seemed an oddly inappropriate thing to both know and to mention. Sadly there wasn't enough time or breath left to speak (or shout) to many of the authors on the shortlist - that was a shame, because of course most of us won't get the chance again. But reflecting after the event, despite it's strangeness and the unfortunately coincidental onset of one of the the worst bouts of acid reflux I've ever had (Canape, Madam? No thanks. Wine? No thanks. Water? Thank God), it still felt very good to have been asked along, and to have written a book that somehow captured the imagination of a few people I don't know. I'll always remember it.



First - last? - signing
Posted on 03/02/2009 by  nessiec


I thought I should note down that I did my first book-signing on Saturday, at Waterstones in Chichester, an event which somehow is always now lodged in my head as THE SIGNING (sounding perilously close to 'The Shining'). It was very surreal walking up to the shop and seeing a poster of the novel outside in the street. Sadly the local paper 'forgot' to publish the feature which was supposed to promote the event, so I had to rely on the friendly faces who'd promised to drop by, and a few slightly disapproving-looking mothers who allowed their daughters to pick up the books and then reluctantly allowed me to sign. The staff in the shop were brilliant - friendly and welcoming, and they'd set up a really nice table with displays of the novel and a chair for me to sit in. It's a funny thing, doing a book-signing. It reminded me a bit of my stewarding for the National Trust. A lot of the time I was aware that I was just sitting, being ignored, while people wandered about picking up copies of The Diary of Anne Frank. From time to time somebody came over and gave me a hard stare. And then it all became more worthwhile when a nice smiling person would come over and ask questions and show interest. 17 copies later I was quite relieved to hear that I'd come to the end of my signing. I left feeling - what? Proud? Relieved? Authorly? Mildly silly? Knackered? A mixture of all of those at once. I'm not sure if I'd be keen to do it again. I think I would, and I'd like to meet more of the kids who've read the book - but I'd make sure next time that there was more publicity surrounding the event.