You may remember a few weeks ago I rose to the challenge to write a post including a camel, and even tried my hand at fiction into the bargain. Well, quite a few people liked it and wanted to know what happened next, especially my number one fan Brian. So last week while on my Arvon course I tried out my new writing and editing skills and wrote the next instalment. I also reworked the first part quite a bit, so here is the whole thing, from the beginning all over again. (It’s not long, I promise, my editing was harsh). Please let me know what you think – I can take brutal honesty – I had plenty of practice last week.

Amy lay on her back, covered by the shell of a car. Only the rise and fall of her chest marked her out from the other bodies. The sun moved slowly across the sky, as though scanning for some form of live. It shone through the broken car window onto her face, and she stirred.

Her eyes flickered open. “Well,” she thought, “that’s that then.”

They had seen it coming, it wasn’t a surprise, the only real unknown being what kind of survivor she would be. Would she battle on regardless, fighting fate at every corner, or would she just close her eyes again? As it happened, her instincts took over and, driven purely by thirst, she eased herself out from the wreckage.

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Hello – I’m back!

What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was gone? I’m hurt.

For four days and five nights last week, (yes I counted every precious hour), I was staying at Lumb Bank in West Yorkshire, formally owned by Ted Hughes, and now one of the inspiring properties belonging to The Arvon Foundation. I was staying with 15 other aspiring writers, indulging ourselves in an almost-week of writing, drinking and talking about books.

Our live-in tutors were the writers William Fiennes and Mark Haddon and they were both fantastic – so experienced and knowledgeable and generous with their time. Plus quite fanciable, which is always a bonus.

The picture is a view from Lumb Bank. You can see why you might be inspired can’t you?

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Last night I gave in to my most self-destructive instincts and went to see Sex and the City 2, knowing full well that I would come out feeling poor, fat and completely lacking in style. It’s a bit like drinking – you know you’ll feel bad about yourself the next day, but it’s fun at the time.

I’ve read some pretty shocking reviews, and it has been criticised heavily for the product placement bonanza, so as I pulled up at the cinema in my TVR Tuscan I was feeling a little anxious, hoping that I wasn’t wasting my one child free night out per fortnight. I stepped out of the car, smoothed down my Chanel shift dress and checked the time on my Rolex, gazing admiringly as the last of the day’s sun sparkled across its jewel encrusted face. I was just on time.

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Words, words, words…

I love ’em. Can’t get enough of ’em. We use words and letters every day – we talk, we write, we read. The use of language is what defines us and sets us apart from other animals.

Of course you could argue that some people’s use of language is more limited than others. Bee for example communicates chiefly in grunts and smiley face emoticons, but she seems to get by.

How much do we take language for granted though? It’s true that the actual words we use only make up a small percentage of our communication, but it’s a pretty important chunk. What would you do if words or letters were suddenly taken away? I have to admit it wasn’t a question I’d given much thought to until I recently read a book called Ella Minnow Pea.

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Yesterday, after a fleeting reference to camels, I was challenged to write a post in which camels became our only means of travel and communication. Always a girl up for a challenge, I decided to push it a step further and try my hand at fiction. So this morning I have written what is surely to become an extract from the most critically acclaimed post-apocolypse-self-discovery-tragi-comedy of our generation. Enjoy…

For a long time afterwards everything was quiet.

The water subsided and the ground was still, save for the occasional groan as the new landscape settled itself. Trees that had previously marked out the horizon were reformed as bridges between islands of debris.

The woman lay on her back, partly covered by the shell of what had once been a car. She did not move. Only the barely perceptible rise and fall of her chest marked her out as different from the other bodies. The sun moved slowly across the sky above her, as though ritually scanning for some form of live. As it moved round and shone through the broken car window onto her face, she stirred.

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I read an interesting article in The Times yesterday about Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The woman writing the piece had been to see a therapist about her chronic lateness and they had suggested she might be displaying symptoms of Adult ADHD. I read on with interest, and a lot of what was said felt familiar to me. I am hopeless at remembering names, I’m clumsy, forgetful and my children will bear witness to my habit of setting off to new places without a map, certain I will get there somehow, at some point.

I think about my career and relationship history – patchy to say the least – and wonder if this is just another symptom. It’s true that I get very bored easily, and that I worry about getting bored, so will take on lots of new projects all the time just in case. I do also have an occasionally alarming habit of drifting off into my own thoughts, especially when driving. I will often look around and have no real idea of how far along my journey I am, how fast I am going, or what the speed limit is.

I struggle sometimes in conversations too, normally with people I don’t know so well, or if I know I really have to pay attention. In meetings I sometimes find I am hearing sounds coming from other people’s mouths, but however hard I concentrate, I can’t make the words make sense, or stay in my head.

The reference in the article to ‘to do’ lists makes me laugh. It says lists are hopeless for someone with ADHD. Ask us to make a list and we will write down 100 things, start them all and then panic. It sounds all too familiar. But is this really a diagnosable condition, or just modern life as a single parent with two children and a collection of jobs?

I decide to do a quiz online, as obviously a random cyber-test is the most effective way to diagnose important medical conditions.  There are some questions that strike a chord. Are my thoughts like static in my head? Do they whizz round my brain like a pin ball machine? Well yes, but this doesn’t sound terribly scientific to me…

A lot of the questions don’t feel relevant though – I don’t have a short temper, I’m not easily upset and I don’t think I could say that I’d rather be up doing something all the time than having a nice sit down. I feel quite relieved, I’m surely not going to score highly in this case.

I finish the quiz and get a score of 70. Hmmm.

If you scored… You may have…
70 & up
50 – 69
35 – 49
25 – 34
0 – 24
Adult ADHD
Moderate ADHD
Mild ADHD
Borderline ADHD
No ADHD likely

OK, no need to panic. Einstein had ADHD after all, and sufferers are likely to be highly creative, instinctive and full of energy, so maybe it’s a good thing. I read the blurb underneath:

“It is highly likely that you are presently suffering from adult attention deficit disorder, according to your responses on this self-report questionnaire. You should not take this as a diagnosis of any sort, or a recommendation for treatment. However, it would be advisable and likely beneficial for you to seek further diagnosis from a trained mental health professional immediately.”

Immediately? That sounds a bit worrying. What does that mean exactly? Should I be phoning the local mental health team and handing myself in? Obviously I can’t possibly do that today, as I have a hundred other things to be getting on with. I need to take the bed I sawed in half last night to the tip, I have several work deadlines to meet, and I’m half way through pressure washing my patio.

I will just have to add ‘seek medical help’ to my list…

Why not take the test and tell me how you score?

Photo credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory