A novelist writes about the mind, body and soul.


We are just back from the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, followed by a day with some friends. The festival was magical, chaotic, crowded but not too crowded, fascinating, frustrating and inspiring.  The aspiring writers who came to my one to one workshops were lovely and so was the author I did the workshop with.  But packing up afterwards was a disaster – I forgot to bring back my £66 Mac charger, my watch and a red coat. It’s awful being back: The weather is dull and the summer seems to be slipping away. I want to be by the sunny seaside rather than at my desk in London. I really need to be more positive. Exactly a year ago, I remember a conversation I had around the campfire at the very same festival. It was about how to be happy.

Scientists at the university of California, discovered that success brings happiness but happiness also brings success.  Happy people share these qualities: They are very social, trusting, loving, energetic, decisive and creative. They also did tests, which included leaving money on a pavement. The ‘happy’ people picked it up, (we imagined it was because they were open to what was around them.) I would really like to be one of those happy, loving, trusting energetic people who can embrace the fact that the weather is grey and dull and not fret too much that my ten year old son was rude to my husband. I want to be loving when I think about the fact that I am going to spend the latter part of August on the West Coast of Ireland fishing for mackeral from a boat – this brings huge pleasure to my husband and son.

The things that make me happy are different than what they used to be fifteen years ago. In those days, staying up all night, falling in love, sleeping in, travelling, going to the cinema or out to dinner with friends made me happy. These days my happiness depends on getting an early night, keeping my marriage stable, not being woken at the crack of dawn, watching a dvd, having friends over for supper and hearing my children laugh.

These days it’s my health club rather than clubbing that makes me happy.  I don’t know how I would live in this dirty, busy, noisy city without my trips to the Park Club in Acton. Here at least I can breath, see some green fields, swim in the outdoor pool and let my children run around without constantly worrying about where they are. There is nothing more exciting than swimming in the outdoor heated pool while the snow falls down. I may sound dull, but other mothers will relate. Let me just work on being happy, loving, trusting and energetic now, but particularly on being decisive, I often find it hard to make a decision, don’t you?


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