Posts

What's in a Name?

Image
In a famous line from Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says 
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.


Lots of people think she’s asking where he is, but she’s actually asking, “Why do you have to be Romeo Montague?” Juliet is a Capulet, and the Montague and Capulet families are old enemies. Romeo’s name is a problem to Juliet, because it means they can’t be together.

Later in that same scene she says

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.


She has a point. What we call things is largely arbitrary – it doesn’t change the nature or existence of the thing in question. In fact, everything has many names when we consider how many languages there are which might all have different words for that rose. I’ve had three surnames in my life but I’m still the same person. 
So what’s in a name? Why are names important?

The folk tale Rumpelstiltskin, although popularised by the Brothers Grimm, is thought to be up to 4,000 year…

My Best Vegan Recipes

Image
I've been asked for these so often I figured the best way to pass them along is just to dump the whole lot online. Most of them are also Slimming World friendly. Enjoy!

Vegetable Tagine

2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cumin

1 tsp each dried red chilli flakes, ground coriander, smoked paprika, ginger and turmeric

1 large onion, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

½ tsp sweetener

350 ml vegetable stock

200g each butternut squash, carrots and maris piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Handful of dried apricots, cut into halves (leave out for syn free)

Couscous

Fry the spices with the onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes, sweetener, stock, vegetables and chickpeas and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the apricots and serve with couscous.


Veggie Burritos

3 sweet potatoes

1 onion

200ml vegetable stock

1 chilli, chopped

Tin of mixed beans (drained)

1 tbsp tomato puree

Fajita seasoning or other Mexican spices, t…

Why You Should Go to Church (even if you're not religious)

Image
One of the interesting effects of the covid-19 pandemic has been the increase in religious behaviour. Research by Tearfund and Savanta ConRes suggests 44% of UK adults now say they pray regularly, and 24% have "attended" an online church service since the start of lockdown. Churches were quick to respond to the pandemic, moving services online via YouTube, Facebook Live and Zoom, and this has made it easier for the "church-curious" to get involved. After all, it's much less daunting to watch a YouTube livestream on your phone in your own living room than it is to walk through heavy double doors into an imposing building full of over-friendly strangers.
I'm ahead of the curve because I've been attending church services on a regular basis for around the last 30 years. But you know, church is for life, not just for a crisis, and I fully endorse and recommend the church-going lifestyle, whatever your beliefs. Here's what it has done for me: It's given…

How I got published - and how you can too

Image
*** Long post alert ***
How I got published
In 1998 I wrote a terrible book. It was called "The Temple of Truth" or something similarly trite. My lifelong ambition was to be a published author, and having recently joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I had discovered that there was a thriving market for clean LDS-based literature. I thought that writing for this market would be an easy way to get my first book accepted by a publisher, after which a mainstream publisher would surely snap up my second manuscript given that I was already a published author.

For the record, I was wrong on both counts.

My terrible book landed on the desk of Covenant editor Valerie Holladay. She read it and wrote to tell me that my book was terrible, but that she thought my writing style showed promise and noted that I lived in Wales. Many Utah residents had ancestors from Wales, she told me, and would love to learn more about it. Would I consider writing a book set there? She eve…

Please Judge my Book by its Cover

Image
My new book is out next month - yay! It's been a couple of years since my last book was published and so this one is rather overdue. Also I'm really happy with it. I think it's one of my best and people might enjoy it. I hope so, anyway.

It's a Regency romance called "Her Ladyship's Secret" and here's the all-important blurb:

Thundersley, Suffolk, 1813: When Mr. Wilson, a travelling minister, arrives in the rural parish of Thundersley, Catherine Waters is intrigued by the man himself and by his connection to her reclusive and mysterious neighbour, Lady Forrester. Through Mr. Wilson, Catherine is drawn into the world of Thundersley Hall, where her cousin finds forbidden love.
After Mr. Wilson leaves Suffolk to continue his work elsewhere, the dashing village doctor, Mr. Davenport, is on hand to offer Catherine love, security, and help in uncovering the secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear. In the end it is Lady Forrester’s most closely gua…

What a Drag

Am I the only person fed up of drag shows? A parody of what a real woman is, like black face. Woman are juggling kids, rushing out a wholesome dinner, doing the laundry & cleaning, holding down a job all with period pains & leaky boobs if breast feeding. Enough of the stereotypes. It's my personal opinion that I don't like drag shows and find them demeaning. Promoting one view of being female when in my experience there is so much more to being a woman. Most of it is very unglamorous.  Sharron Davies MBE, Olympic Swimmer
No, Sharron, you're not alone. I agree with you.

Years ago blackface, including on shows like the Black and White Minstrel Show, was considered a homage to black people, celebrating the music of the American south, harmless fun. Now we find the idea of white people pretending to be black horrifying.

Why don't we find the idea of men pretending to be women, in cruel and exaggerated parodies, equally horrifying?

I find drag queens to be a grotesq…

Why I'm a Mormon* - despite everything

Image
In August 2018 I had the great privilege of teaching at FSY (For the Strength of Youth), the LDS Church's youth convention. I taught two classes, one of which included my conversion story. In this same lesson I asked a question (I can't remember what) and one girl responded immediately and boldly, "Well, I know the Church* is perfect".

There was an instant frisson and hum as the other students responded to the controversial statement. Like the experienced teacher I'm not, I resisted the urge to take up this subject, and cut off the chatter by clarifying, "The gospel is perfect. The Church and the gospel are not the same thing."

I often think of that girl, and wonder how she felt about my clarification. The words Church and gospel can often seem to be used interchangeably in Mormon circles, and if she truly does believe that the Church is perfect, then that poor girl has a rough road ahead, because it demonstrably isn't. Every time it is late paying …