Sunday, 18 December 2016


I am sometimes asked about my 'creative process' - the process of designing and then working on my pieces and I never really know how to respond. I have been thinking about this issue again as I work on my Patmos project. It still remains a mystery!

My starting point is people. As I often say - People Matter. All people, not just - as in the line in the song 'Colours of the Wind' - those "who look and think like you". I have then found further inspiration from what I know of the person or people I am making the piece for - or, as in 'Guantanamo', the people working on behalf of those being held in such inhuman conditions, such as Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve.

.'Guantanamo' by Louise Donovan (2014)

From those points of inspiration there then comes the graph paper, pens, rulers

Thursday, 1 December 2016


The small island of Patmos is one of the most sacred places in the Christian world. A place of bewitching power where people come for a brief summer visit and end up returning year after year - as we have. We've travelled there by various routes. The first time via Kos and Kalymnos on small ferry boats. Then during the 90s via Samos, again on small ferry boats that looked ready for retirement. There was one memorable trip when we met a group of young troubadours and jugglers on the quayside who continued to entertain with song, dance and juggling on the boat.

Now a swift modern ferry takes us direct from Piraeus, the port of Athens. But whichever way we

Sunday, 13 November 2016


I had intended this blog to be the start of a series with the title of a book that I discovered in 2002 just after it was published called 'The Way of the Dream Catcher'. Written by S.T. Georgio, this is his account of spirit lessons with Robert Lax, a minimalist poet and close friend of Thomas Merton. I wanted to focus on this as Lax spent much of his life on the Greek island of Patmos where we escape to as often as we can. I am at the moment working on a series of Patmos inspired pieces of textile art and intended to blog about this too. And then Donald Trump became President of the United States.

The president-elect

I had followed the campaign and was far from impressed by him. I found his attitude to women unacceptable not least the clip shown of him taking about women as fodder for his own lust -  and the stories from those who had been abused. The televised debates were gripping but did not impress. I am not a Hilary Clinton fan but compared to Donald .... However, just as before our UK Brexit vote when I just knew that the results would be Leave I could sense that Donald was somehow going to  achieve the impossible. I understand the degree of alienation that explains why the UK voted for 

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Since January 2013 and our move to St Ives from East Anglia I have been the St Ives branch of the Norwich City supporters club (unofficially).  Supporting Norwich is never boring. There is the constant concern about Ipswich, the local rivals - might they end up higher in the Championship, even gain promotion into the Premiership? (All is well at present - we are 2nd and they are nowhere.) I do not envy the police at the East Anglian Derbys!

I have been married to a Manchester United supporter for over 40 years. So my original interest in football was Man U - especially during Cantona's short reign. However the take over by the Glazers and my contact with Norwich City while working as an Open University Advisor in Norwich have changed all that. However if anyone wants to watch a great Ken Loach film I can highly recommend Looking for Cantona - Eric makes a magic appearance in it.

Eric wearing the number 7 shirt he made his own.

The Education Advisor at Norwich City FC came to see me when I was working as an Open University advisor in Norwich. His job involved helping players achieve qualifications for life post football - not all would be able to achieve  the ambition of managing a team. He thought the option of distance learning with the Open University could be a solution. So followed a spell of Norwich City players coming to see me. One was the captain at that time,

Friday, 7 October 2016

Patmos - A Place of Healing for The Soul

This blog has the same title as a book written by Peter France, an inspirational writer who has a home on Patmos. One of his other books, Hermits, I referenced in my Masters' dissertation.

Patmos has been an important part of our life since 1988 when we first visited - it is a magic and healing place and we return as often as we can. It is worth the 48 hour journey. Every year we arrive in the middle of the night and get a warm greeting and smile from the same man who is on night duty in the Hotel Scala where we stay. The morning brings another greeting with a hug from the same lady who lays out the self service breakfast. We then take our trays out to eat on the terrace under the same bougainvillea. We are creatures of habit! Our first eccentricity is to walk to the beach at Agriolivado just over 4 kilometres away. There we rest under the same tamarisk trees, have the same lunch in the taverna there, now run by the great nephew of the man we first met selling grapes from the verandah of his home. Back then in 1988 the taverna food came from a very basic kitchen and was served on tables on the beach itself. Now there is a much more stylish taverna bar and restaurant. The evenings are spent eating at family-run tavernas we have come to favour - now run by the children we have watched growing up. Time passes, patterns of living stay much the same.

The island is dominated by the monastery, an important one in the Greek Orthodox Church. Its spirituality does seem to impact on my thoughts and the sense I make of my life. This year we returned with a gift from the owner of the hotel where we stay - a painting of the view from the hotel up to Hora and the monastery which was part of a series that used to hang in the hotel before its revamp.

Looking up to Hora and the monastery from Skala

There is a story I heard many years ago which reflects what I feel I reconnect with in Patmos - a reminder of what is important.

A Patmosian bay

My story:

Once there was an American businessman who spent his working life building up a successful enterprise, providing for his family and employment for many. His wife and children, however, would have liked him to work less hard, to have seen him more, and to have had holidays with him. He promised his wife that when he retired he would take her on a long trip to visit all the place she wanted to see. And this he did - they set off on their journey of dreams. Yet being the businessman he researched the work and employment of all the places they were visiting. They finally came to a small fishing village on the Mediterranean - the place his wife had most wanted to go. One morning he went for a walk along the coast where he found a fisherman asleep in his boat. He woke him and asked what he was doing to which he was told, resting. So he asked why he was not out catching fish - the reply came "I have done that". The businessman knew that the conditions were favourable for a good catch - so asked why he was not out catching more - and the fisherman replied why would he do that - he had caught what he needed and after his rest he was going to meet his friends to play boules, then go home for lunch and play with his children.

The businessman was unsatisfied. But he could make more money if he continued fishing which would mean he could get a bigger and better boat. Again the fisherman posed the question why would I want to do that?
So you could go out further and catch more.
Why would I want to do that?
Then you could buy more boats and employ others. And then you could build a fish processing plant on the shore and employ even more people ..

To all of his suggestions the fisherman replied why would he want to do that. Then the businessman delivered his final clinching argument:

When you have done all this, you can sell your business at a big profit and retire. Then you can buy a boat and find a good view by the shore, spend time with your wife, children and friends, and play boules ...

For me this story and my time on Patmos remind me of what is important in life and leave me determined to live true to that core. For me that means living my creative life. This year I have returned with the hope of my own exhibition in the Cultural Centre in Scala and work on Patmos-inspired pieces has now started. More news on that later ...

Monday, 1 August 2016


The first time I started to think about this subject was many years ago when I overheard two fathers talking. One had young school age children and he asked the father whose children were all now grown up and away from home a question.

"If one of your children had a dream you thought they could never achieve what would you advise?"

I immediately butted in:

"To follow their dream.." 

Neither of them paid any attention to me and they continued seamlessly with their very grown up discussion on the subject. Their agreed conclusion was that the parent had a duty to protect his or her child from the likely consequences of an immature and ill-judged ambition. 

It is not that I don't understand the desire to protect from hurt and disappointment but it left me thoughtful. How do we know what someone else's journey through life should and needs to be? What are these adult rights and wisdom that can legitimately trump the rights of the youngster to explore his or her own meaning and destiny in life? We can not offer total protection from disappointment but we can be there to listen to the pain. We can show how we cope with loss and hurt - and give the message that disappointment will not destroy and there are people around to care and help. 

I was able - in the end - to follow my dreams and am fortunate. They have mostly worked out. The purpose of my life - anyone's life - is to grow emotionally, psychologically and spiritually and my way has been to follow my dreams. There is risk. I might have followed a dream and then found it had all been a waste of time. I might have had to make sense of a major disappointment, deal with a sense of unfairness. But those set-backs would all have been part of my life journey, enabling my growth - a growth that I hope continues until the end of my days. 

One Christmas in the early1990s I watched a film called Salt Water Moose - I even recorded it and was so moved that I suggested that Rob should watch it. At the end he asked how many stars the Radio Times had given it to which I replied - one. His comment was "That many!" He can be grumpy. And fair play, on our fourth viewing together, he had reached four stars! 

It is a lovely gentle story of two children, Jo and Bobby, living in Nova Scotia. There is one moose living alone on a small island out in the bay and they want to find another moose, build a raft and take it to join the single moose. 

Jo and Bobby

Bobby's mother is concerned about the danger and she attempts to get Jo's Dad to join her in stopping them. His response is to say "I am not the one to say 'No, its too difficult for the likes of you'. There's plenty enough people in the world to tell her that. But what I will do is to make sure that the raft is sea worthy and keep an eye on them."

Jo and Bobby find a lovely moose they call Beatrice and after some set backs and a bumpy journey succeed in taking her over to the island to join the other moose. Such films operate at many levels - for me this is a cinematic exploration of the psychic importance of growing well and being encouraged to follow a dream and manage risks. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Politicians - some personal thoughts and memories

Politicians - Some personal thoughts and memories

I am still processing, as we all are, the aftermath of the Referendum. The result was the one I expected. During my travels across the country in early June, I saw all the Leave posters and billboards and my instinct told me that those in power would be given a kick. Nevertheless, I am surprised by how much I feel that my world has been turned upside down. And I’m less than happy with the euro exchange rate as our Greek idyll on Patmos approaches!

All this – together with the Tory leadership contest and my own journey through the memories of my father’s decline and death last July - has left me reflective. Here are some of my thoughts and reminiscences.

My father was a life-long Tory. At Oxford, he became the President of the Oxford University Conservatives. Margaret Thatcher succeeded him the following term.  When I was still junior school age I remember being taken to a restaurant in London by my parents – Margaret and Dennis Thatcher were there as part of a large group. When she noticed my father the future prime-minister came over and greeted him. I remember her remarkably blue eyes and felt she was someone who seemed soft – not at all like the Iron Lady she became.

 After he graduated he was offered a safe Conservative seat, which he declined. The reason he always gave was that he did not want to be in a position where he had to vote against his conscience. He had no private income or alternative employment at that time. So he went into industry and had a worthwhile and fulfilling working life. I was especially touched by someone I did not know who drove from some where in the North down to Aldeburgh for my father’s funeral.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The kindness of strangers - where does this fit with the referendum?

I have been listening to many discussions about the Referendum - some with very strong feelings expressed. And then I look at the UK I am living in and see so many struggling - young people without hope of getting a mortgage or a secure job - others struggling on the minimum wage and graduates who hope that their degree will lead to a job with prospects finding that they are working in Costa Coffee and have debt they can not pay. All this is due to the policies of the current government - they have gone down the Milton Friedman economic line as opposed to that of Maynard Keynes which underpinned Clement Attlee's government, post Second World war. So now we have austerity leading to worries about the NHS, schools, housing ...

How easy it is to understand the feeling that there is nothing left to give or share.  And the deficit has only halved since 2010! I hear the Brexit voices: how can we accept more? Our schools, hospitals, services just cannot cope.. how can we take in any more? I think that these concerns need to be heard and addressed - life today is not easy and is not fair on "hard working families". But the blame lies with the Tories.

The 'Leave' camp cries 'We need to control our borders!'  In times of insecurity such as we are living through today there is, for some, a desire to control what we can, to protect, to cut adrift in order to survive the storm. In contrast during the Second World war when there was a recognised enemy,  there was the sense of "We are all in this together.." - rationing meant that all had the entitlement to the same - although anyone who has watched Foyle's War will know about some of the fiddling that went on!  And at the end of it we welcomed refugees and children who were without families.

I see on television the destruction in Aleppo, the ruins of homes - this along with other factors is driving people to flee. Given a choice I suspect that the majority would like to stay in their own country, amongst their own families, friends and neighbours - instead they flee and we see the pictures of the boats crossing dangerous waters and not all surviving.

The photographer Nicole Tung has portrayed this so well.

See for A Season of Migration

 We have seen so many walking across Europe seeking safety and hope. Would we not do the same in their situation? I see the mother cuddling her child in a small boat in choppy waters; the life of the migrant is fragile. Then I look out at my world in St Ives and I see a new mother showing her baby with pride to the neighbour, another mother takes her child to school - they share the same emotions

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A trip to Bath and a Jane Austen feast ..

I have just returned from a wonderful three days in Bath. I walked miles, the sun shone and I had a great Jane Austen feast!

I love Jane Austen novels and have read them all so many times. They have always been turned to when I need to recover from exams, illness .. and while Jane writes of a life that is not quite like today the dreams, the fears, the idiocies are all the same. She portrays human nature so well.

I have in the past visited the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street and enjoyed it. So another visit was at the top of my list and it did not disappoint. This time all the staff wore Regency dress and acted as far as they could as ladies from the Regency days. At the door you were welcomed by a gentleman who was also in Regency dress and in role of the doorman - a family retainer.

The visit starts in a room on the first floor where you are invited to an introductory talk. We were gifted a lovely young lady who was really knowledgeable and gave Jane's history and story so well, fitting it in with the history of her time as appropriate. And there was a focus on Jane's life in Bath, first as the daughter of a clergyman and then later when life was harder and she, her sister and mother had to move as the money ran out. They ended up in Trim Street, the bottom of the social scale where their neighbours were prostitutes, pimps, beggars and thieves. This talk was also focused on the part

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Good endings - how vital they are!

Yesterday I dispatched the last piece of work of my Open University life - and with some mixed emotions. It is the right time for me to go - to move on to the next stage of my life and focus on the creative side. However the Open University has been part of my life since the late 1980s and I do leave with a sense of sadness and loss which I do not remember any other ending bringing in quite this way. I will lose part of my identity even though it will be replaced with the role of being a former OU tutor.

As a psychotherapist and as a client the ending of the therapeutic relationship was not easy - but then the decision to embark on therapy is not easy either. It takes courage to find a therapist, to trust him or her with your inner pain and to pour out your heart and soul.

Ending any relationship is not easy; it can be the most difficult thing we do in our lives as we handle the feelings of loss. In therapy the ending is usually begun by the therapist, although clients may also start the discussion. If an ending is agreed a date is set.  During this time how the client feels is examined together with the progress to their goals and a review of what has been learnt or gained.And also how they feel about ending what has been a significant relationship. It can be that significant issues are brought up which only the prospect of ending brings out. Feelings of both anger and anxiety can be around. And some cannot face the final session.

What I learned during this ending time in my own therapy was that I had developed an internalised therapist. I can in a time of  uncertainty find myself wondering how my therapist would have responded. For me therapy has somehow not ended - but is this my way of denying endings?

In times of difficulty or decision making I can also wonder how my grandmother would have responded and recall her asking me - "What is the decision you will be able to live with at the end of your life?"

As I reach the end of my Open University life I am facing a clear end - no more students, no more access to my online log in. Sadness combined with excitement. And also fear. How will I cope without the structure that this work provided? Will I be able to be creative in this vacuum? Have I learnt the skills of organising my time and prioritising that will still flourish?

In today's climate my ending to this part of my life seems on balance a good one. I have been able to make the decision myself rather than face redundancy as is happening to many -  and I have had so many great messages of support and affirmation from colleagues and line managers. Later in June I will be having a farewell celebration with colleagues - a classic good ending! I feel very valued and lucky.

And as I end this blog, I realise that Any Dream is virtually finished - albeit that I am delaying the sewing on of the hanging sleeve! This piece of textile art has been so precious in the making I confess     to being a little reluctant to letting go.

To conclude - this feels like a good blog ending, with nothing unfinished.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Reflections, politics, protests, life ... and Dennis

My reflective mood has continued this week.I have cause for concern. I am bored with the Euro in or out referendum already and might be losing the ability to tell the difference between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump! However it will be very interesting on 24th June watching the Tories pretend they all are still best friends whatever the outcome. And what future for Dodgy Dave?

I have for sometime been noting the political stance of the BBC which I thought was supposed to be neutral. With their existence and funding dependent on the whims of the present government it could be argued that they are playing it safe and presenting what seems to me to be at the least an uncritical stance on the present government together with a strongly critical stance on the leader of the opposition. Madam Miaow has commented on this in her blog and to my delight has described Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's new political editor as the "BBC hit-woman for Cameron.." I refer to her as the dreaded Kuenssberg! I wonder if she is invited to country suppers with Dave, Sam Cam and their neighbours Rebecca and Charlie in the constituency home?  38 degrees who are usually impartial had a petition - "Sack Laura Kuenssberg" -  started by Joe who aimed at making the world a better place. 35,000 people signed this and the number could have been higher but the petition was taken down due to sexist trolling. Both Jeremy and dodgy Dave condemned the trolling. Sadly this online abuse has weakened the point of the petition.

Another protest which caught my attention was reported in The Guardian on Friday. In a coastal town near Boston Massachusetts, for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, a group of parishioners has maintained a vigil inside the building to prevent its sale to help to pay the enormous bill relating to the Roman Catholic church's history of child sexual abuse. They point out that the church is not exactly hard up! The US supreme court has declined to hear an appeal against an earlier ruling and the parishioners will hold a final service at the end of May. But this group is not giving up. They are determined to re-energise disenfranchised Catholics who no longer trust the church. They have been raising funds for the fight, sewing quilts, holding services and fighting court battles. The archdiocese seems to place more value on property than on people.Their vigil - saying people matter - has lasted 4,222 days.

I watched the State Opening of Parliament and enjoyed watching Dodgy Dave walking side by side with Jeremy trying to make polite conversation with him. Jeremy looked straight ahead and remained silent as a potential republican would do. I thought JC dealt with this award situation rather well. I was also delighted when the Beast of Bolsover made his usual protest by remaining in the House of Commons and then quipped "Hands off the BBC!"

I also listened to Jeremy Vine talking with Dennis the Beast on his Radio 2 programme. Dennis explained he visits care homes in his constituency and sings with the residents who have dementia. There is lots of evidence that singing helps and that the memories of the music of youth remains. I do remember one lady in the home where my mother, who had dementia, was resident would stay close to the radio and sing and dance. She had what has been described as contented dementia - she seemed happy. Dennis' mother and sister had dementia. I wonder how many other MPs take the time to visit those who may no longer remember which party they voted for or be able to put a cross against a name. Can you see Dodgy Dave doing this? Well yes - but only accompanied by a television crew and the the dreaded Kuenssberg -  and for as short a visit as needed for the photo op! PR rules! Along with fiddling election expenses. His Eton education has not been wasted.

I was overjoyed by the appointment of the new ITV economics editor, Noreena Hertz. She has already come in for criticism for her lack of news reporting experience and for having "leftie" political views. She has been criticised by no less than the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph! The Mail devoted a whole page to her. Her comment so far? She wishes to focus on the job and does not intend to listen to attacks in the right wing press. Are the right wing press disappointed that their aim for UK domination has had a set back? No doubt we will find out.

And to conclude with Donovan life ... we were able to enjoy time with Merlin Porter, the son of an artist,  Jago Stone, who my husband is researching, when he and his girlfriend Bethany visited St Ives. We had a meal with them in The Sloop and while we were there he created this wonderful painting of us and in the background on a shelf are Peter Ted who was Rob's companion throughout his childhood and Sally Ann who was mine. They met Merlin - and are now immortalised!

Sloop Inn Interior - Merlin Porter - 2016

Friday, 13 May 2016

What does a textile artist do all day? Part 1

This is not the first consideration of this question but I thought I would also give it some attention.

To begin with let me share a story from this week. On Monday I got out my graph paper, coloured pencils, paints, rulers and fabrics as I thought I had an idea.Then my mind went completely blank, dead .. and in the end I gave up. All creative thought had just disappeared. I was not happy about this and life in the Donovan home for a short time was...

I did not understand this loss of creative planning as it has never happened to me before – perhaps I am very lucky.  I have made plans, have even cut out and started sewing and then realised it was not working and rejected the work but never before not been able to make a start. I looked for reasons as to why this was happening.

At the end of June I retire from my work for the Open University. Originally I had planned to retire at the end of June 2018. It is my choice to retire now but I realise that I am saying good bye to work with a large organisation which has been part of my life since the late 80s when I became an Open University student.  The Open University has changed in this time and is no longer the same as the one I was a student in – posting hand written assignments, regular tutorials and being part of a group of students, going to residential summer schools. I realise now this next step is coming with more mixed emotion than I had taken on board.  On the plus side there will no longer be the marking deadlines which interfere with creative life, the forums to monitor, the students who need extra support or the few who are unhappy – but there will also not be the lovely colleagues who have shared all this as well as the joys and successes – there have been so many of those. The wonderful times team teaching, the students who had the light bulb moment, seeing their leaps of progress and hearing from a few what their future held. I have got used to planning my creative life around all this – what will happen when these other activities are no longer there?  I am ready to go – it is the right time for me - but I also now know that I need to make more sense of and reflect further on this major stage in my life.

So what did I decide to do? Fortunately I have ongoing projects – Any Dream is nearing completion, Amish Abstraction is turned to from time to time and there is also a piece in the same pattern as Guantanamo but in a totally different colour scheme waiting to be quilted. As I quilt, peace descends and I know that the creative drive is so much part of me – it has not died.

In the meantime I have been really enjoying watching the series of reports on Channel 4 news from Michael Crick as he has exposed the dodgy Conservatives dodgy election expenses!

So what does this textile artist do all day? One answer is she muddles through with the help of trainee perfect quilters companion and reminders of the ball game!

Other answers to follow ... !

Friday, 22 April 2016

Trainee Perfect Quilters Companion Was Groomed On Wednesday

Ella Pre-Groom
Pip and Charlotte at Just Pet Care turned a rather scruffy Ella into a beautifully groomed Ella in just two hours

Just Pet Care - Facebook

Ella was very scruffy when she went in due to her harness rubbing and creating loss of coat which is now growing back after new harness bought! This is also - as the vet explained - due to Ella being overweight. She is now enrolled in doggy slimming club and it is not the proudest moment of my life taking her to be weighed and having to report on all food eaten and treats given!
When we arrived with Ella there was a lady wanting her dog tidied and Pip had to explain that they could not do this now as Ella was a two person dog! Ella does not see the need for a bath, fur drying, grooming  .. but does like the coming home knowing that she is beautiful! And Pip and Charlotte have with remarkable patience performed another miracle!

Rob Donovan, my husband and Ella's other human wrote about her on his blog
"Ella is a monster but she is our monster"

Ella has moments - don't we all. She is also very loving, has high emotional intelligence and brings great joy.
But being groomed is another matter and we are so grateful to Pip and Charlotte that they turn our scruffy Ella into beautifully groomed Ella. They are miracle workers!

Another miracle worker in Ella's life is Carolyn Boyd. She has provided both help and insight into trainee perfect quilter's companion and her internal world of anxiety. We are grateful for her guidance and that she sees the dog we love and helps us to help her.

Carolyn Boyd - Website -

I was thinking about how much easier the grooming of  our Bearded Collies Molly and Darcy was for Mandy and Kim of Pet Perfection in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
Molly and Darcy - Returned From A Walk
They went in happily and I would return to find them in their waiting stations looking great and happy. It was always reported how good they had been - a delight to groom. And visitors coming in to see them used to ask who those beautiful, well behaved dogs were! Ella could learn from her Aunt Molly and Uncle Darcy

Both Molly and Darcy were rescued dogs. After the loss of our Old English Sheepdog, Daisy, I had felt that I wanted to offer a home to a Bearded Collie who need rehoming. Quicker than I thought it would take we were asked if we would give a home to Molly aged 14 months. We were her fourth home and there was worry about how difficult this was going to be. Molly took one look around and settled. Being blonde she was the dog little girls took to on walks and she loved the attention. 
As all this had been so easy we thought that we could offer a home to another Beardie companion for Molly. We had to wait slightly longer before Darcy, aged 2 years, 6 months  came into our life. His breeder brought him to us. She had been worried about the family who bought him and was probably not surprised by hearing from their vet that he was concerned. The parents' marriage had broken
and he was proving to be an escape artist. He had been locked in a garden shed and managed to escape, taking himself off to the vets which was close by more than once! Hence the call to breeder! So Darcy arrived! He was a delightful but anxious Beardie, noise sensitive and hated being shut away. Luckily our home was pretty open plan. Thunder was traumatic as were fireworks. During thunder storms and firework time - which went on longer than I ever realised it did - he would sit on Rob's lap quaking. This lasted about a couple of years until we realised that he no longer reacted. 
I always saw Darcy as the Steve McQueen character in the Great Escape who was often sent into solitary confinement. He was not a team player, was determined dig his way out and wanted to see Berlin before the war was over.
They both lived to ripe old ages and are missed.
Ella has filled the gap left by two bearded collies wonderfully well! Can we hope that in time she will be as co-operative when being groomed?

Sunday, 17 April 2016


It was good to see this week that the Beast of Bolsover has lost none of his rage and fire. Once more, the Speaker of the Commons insisted he leave the House. I thought Dennis Skinner’s description of the present incumbent of No 10 as ‘Dodgy Dave’ remarkably restrained.

I first became a fan of the Beast of Bolsover back in the late 80s in the early days of breakfast TV. He and a Tory MP were being interviewed on the subject of MPs having other full time jobs which meant in reality they became part-time MPs. Dennis had just written an article for a Labour Party magazine which had been well received and the Tory pressed the Beast on this point.

“Wouldn’t you like to earn money from writing?”

Other questions followed about ways he could earn more. The Beast acknowledged each question with the same answer.

“Of course.”

In the end the Tory, looking slightly stunned, asked:

“So why don’t you?”

The Beast replied:

“Because I have principles and sometimes having principles costs you.”

I have been a fan – and used this quote – ever since. He enriches the House and if only others had his principles.

Leaving the sublime, I shall now consider the present incumbent of No 10’s wife – Sam Cam. We learnt this week that the taxpayer pays for a special advisor to help with her diary and wardrobe. This advisor has a salary of £53,000 per year.

I have no memory of voting for this. At a time when so many are reliant on food banks why should the tax payer be paying for such services? Previous Prime Minister’s wives and one Prime Minister’s husband have managed on their own, with the support of No 10 staff.

Sam Cam is the daughter of a Baronet. Her family have a Yorkshire estate. You could say that Dave married well. Prior to 2010 she worked full time for Smythson as creative director. She then reduced her work to two days a week. Is she still doing this?  If we are paying for her additional help for her role as wife of the current incumbent of No 10 is this to enable her to continue two days a week of paid work? Are we not now entitled to ask questions about her finances? Are any of her funds off shore? 

And when “Dodgy Dave” listed his finances including the rent on the Notting Hill house he forgot to mention his country cottage in his constituency of Chipping Norton where I believe he spent Christmas.  No doubt he managed a dinner with his neighbours and friends, Rebecca and Charlie Brooks.

I do so remember in 2010 the photo shoots of Dave in his Notting Hill kitchen with careful placement of books and other objects to create the right effect. And again in 2015 in the No 10 kitchen, modernized at their own expense. Image and spin is all in this manufactured world.

To ease a long train journey from Cornwall to Suffolk in 2014 I had borrowed a book from the library – a biography of Clement Attlee, written by Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds in 2010. I became gripped and could not put the volume down. The picture of the man, his life and the times was riveting. When I enjoy a book I never want it to end. So I found myself reading his thanks to all who had played a part in his writing. The best bit came at the very end. The author remarked that while he was writing the book he was often asked if Clement Attlee could be Prime Minister today. To which he replied “Absolutely not. You can hardly see Sir Clement and Lady Attlee agreeing to be photographed with their children in the sitting room.”

I would think highly of Clement Attlee for that fact alone!

I do have a high regard for Jeremy Corbin and am so delighted that so far he is showing no inclination to be photographed with a simpering wife in a posh frock or in any kitchen.

On another note, this week Trainee Perfect Quilter’s Companion has been on holiday in her wonderful holiday home at Joppa Farm as we have been having some electric work done in the house. We did not wish for her to become an imperfect trainee electrician’s assistant! Nor would Peter Davis, our electrician, have welcomed her determined requests for another round of the ball game!

We have misse

Sunday, 10 April 2016

On this Sunday evening I intended to blog to update on progress of Any Dream .. the quilting is underway and I can see the vision of the final piece taking shape - I was delighted by my time spent quilting - an activity which keeps me sane!

Sadly the sanity disappeared when I watched Channel 4 News this evening. The focus continued on Cameron's potential tax avoidance in the past. I consider myself to be a proud and happy tax payer -  it is my privilege to be in a position to make a contribution to social justice, fairness and equality. It  left me remembering how much the world of mental health I worked in before we moved to St Ives has been hit. And how many of my colleagues have been made redundant.

One colleague continued with his work unpaid as he was concerned about the ethics of leaving therapists without supervision.

So many services have been slashed.

Service users in rural areas had been left without transport to the drop in centre so vital for their support and recovery.

Then there are the suicides and the impact on those who worked with them. The suicides who had been declared fit to work.

All this took its toll on those still with work in the services.

I have a friend who is no longer able to work due to a work related injury which left her in continual pain and the drug regime means that she is too sedated to enjoy life. At the end of her fit to work assessment the panel watched her put on her coat in tears due to the pain  and then asked the final question - "Can you stick a stamp on an envelope?" The answer was "Yes". So she was declared fit to work.

If I still lived in Suffolk my private practice would have continued - but the referrals from the local Mental Health Service, Social Services and Suffolk Constabulary would have ended.

We are all in this together? If the stress is too much for Cameron he can at least afford therapy without any worry!

Mr Cameron - all people matter!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Yesterday we went to Kidz R Uz for a magnificent production of Avenue Q   - a great evening full of laughs. It returns in the summer and we are thinking of seeing it again

Friday, 1 April 2016

Welcome To My Blog - Louise Donovan

Louise Donovan - Hand Made Quilt - Gaza
Louise Donovan - Hand Made Quilt - Gaza

Welcome to my blog - Louise Donovan.

I am a textile artist based in beautiful St Ives Cornwall.

My main work is hand-made quilts - on a variety of themes - including:
  • Political Quilts
  • Wedding Quilts
  •  People Who Inspire Me
  • Odds and Ends
You can see more on my website - including images and the story behind each of my quilts:

Louise Donovan - Textile Artist - Website

I will be posting more here about my work and my life.