Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Friday 28 December 2012

2012: The best bits

2012: Truly a life changing year. From  Mexico (in my kitchen) a little hideaway in Normandy, to Paris,  New York , Trafalgar Square, Bath , Kent, Blackheath, Greenwich, Soho.... and  many other places in between.  If you had anything to do with these smiles....or are one of my army of fantastic friends, old and new, thankyou.
Wishing you and yours health, happiness and lots of love, fun and frolics in the year ahead xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tweets by @janemcintyre12

Sunday 23 December 2012

Running at Christmas? Are you MAD?

(Did you find this on Twitter? Pls RT for me? Go on...I`m always RT`ing your stuff ;)  )

And so this is Christmas. It`s ok to eat and drink more. Add a few pounds. Skip the morning run.

That was my thinking, as I lay all cosy in bed this morning. Until I sorted myself out. I know--there`s nothing like a self righteous ex smoker to bore the pants off you, banging on about the benefits.Or a `fitness freak` trying to force you into a 5K. (A whaaat?)

I`ve never been a regular smoker (apart from the school- uniformed, More Menthol phase in the forest* ) so I can`t tell you how good it is to stop. But I have felt like a lardarse, and I don`t want that feeling ever again.

`All` you have to do, they say, is to eat less, and move more. If I`m in the right zone...I can train my brain to want less food. Way less. `Moving more` can be a challenge though, especially in the winter.

You need to want to do it. The duvet dreaming was fabulous. But it gave me time to realise I hadn`t done any useful exercise for days. These were my....

....ten good reasons not to run today:

1) It`s effing cold and windy out there.
2) You know you can`t run with the wind against you.
3) You`re a bloody crap runner.
4) You might die of a heart attack and plop into the swollen Severn.
5) No one will actually know whether you go running or not anyway.
6) It`s two days before Christmas. There`s stuff to do.
7) You can just eat fruit today.
8) You might twist your ankle and not be able to dance at the party, or even just pose in heels. 
9) Just swim more. You like swimming.
10) It`s so cosy here.

I fessed up on Twitter. And there was beautiful Annie (@mossofbath)...saying she`d just got back in from her run. ( A proper one.She`s well fit. Really.)

That was enough. I got dressed, tooled up with trainers, ipod belt, pink running jacket, shades and gloves..and hit the road. Randomly, ELO`s Hold on Tight blasted through my (furry, gorgeous) headphone speakers by way of a starting pistol, and I was off.

False start. Too fast. Here`s the thing, you see. I`m actually the world`s worst runner.Yes I DO get out on my #morningmile as often as I can. But then I stop and start, miss a couple of days, get out of puff, get distracted, give up, walk a bit, take a picture or two, chat to the neighbours, and realise I`m not really building up my mileometer at all.

So, I`ve decided that has to change. I need to be able to get out there and run for five miles, more, eventually, without stopping, and while sustaining a steady breathing pace. But it`s not going to happen without a bit more effort and self belief. So I stopped on the bridge over the flooded River Severn, took a picture for the hell of it, and carried on running. And told myself this stuff. So it`s to remind me, really. But if it helps you too, or even makes you scoff with derision, that`s OK, because I did it anyway.

Note to self: Ten damn good reasons why you need to run today:

1) It`s cold out, so you won`t get hot and sweaty.
2) You`ll feel fantastic when you get home.
3) Someone might have washed up while you`re out.
4) You can listen to loud music that no one else in the house will like (see above); sing it, loudly even, and nobody will complain.
5) You promised yourself when you were going for radiotherapy at lunchtime every day for three weeks, and saw a lady running along the Welshpool Road, that when it was all over, you`d do that too, to celebrate being well. She`s still running. C`mon. You promised .
6) Instead of finding excuses, think of the thousands who`d love to be `able` enough to wear trainers and use their legs.You`re bloody lucky. Get the hell out there.
7) Yes it`s only two days till Christmas, but you`re actually ready for it. Jamie (@jamierothwell on Twitter) says he`s *going postal* in Asda. You don`t have to.
8) The dress is size 12.  
9) You`re not going to die young like mum.You`re going to stick around, remember?
10) Yeh, it`s tough running against the wind. Hard and tough. But then you turn round , and the wind carries you home. You`ll feel it in the small of your back, giving you a gentle push, like a running mate.
11) `Shuffle` might land on `Rock Me Gently` by Andy Kim. You like that one.
12) Exercise boosts mental agility. You could learn to count.

OK...over to you. I`m serious. Running tips welcome!

(Oh and PS: That thing about smoking Menthol More in the woods, during double tennis? Scroll down and read `Teach Your Children Well....` Go on, please. I risked a bloody detention for that. Every bloody week, actually.)

Sunday 16 December 2012

Connecticut. Love, loss--and legislation.

A glorious, chilly, sunny Sunday morning...somewhere deep in the English countryside; a couple of miles from home. A shop, selling broadsheets and tabloids in a stand; side by side in grim solidarity; their front pages a paper patchwork of grief.

 It`s what I`d come for; `the Sunday papers`; knowing they`d be full of Connecticut. The kind of story that you`re not sure you can continue watching when it`s on each gut-wrenching detail unfolds.You can look away, mute the sound, shield your eyes as if you`re watching a horror film--but this happened. This was true.

I don`t know if it hurts more, hearing details like this when you`re a parent. Any humane human, with an ounce of compassion, can relate to this one; can`t they? I tried to imagine the unimagineable. You can`t get close. I rewound to a family holiday at Disneyworld in France. Peak season; packed park; crude,clashing colours, a deafening cacophony of cartoon choruses; everyone clamouring and queuing to hug Mickey and Goofy; smiling; shrieking with delight.

Then: bang. Silence. She wasn`t there.

Our youngest; aged eight,  had slipped from our side. Your heart pounds. Your mouth is, in an instant, dry. Your vision is blurred. Your voice won`t work; won`t rise above a whisper, cracked, curdled; unheard against the pulsating, rocking, now mocking rhythms all around you.

There we were:a father, a mother, a sister, tiny dots in a heaving mass of millions, calling; saying, one name, again, and again; with growing, palpable, panic. You grab at people--have they seen her? know..eight; you think she`s eight, blonde haired...wearing what? Your mind is blank. Pink, probably; but you have no idea what your child is wearing that day. Oh, what--you`re not English? So you can`t even help? You`re enraged. It`s been one minute.

Then three minutes; then six. Then the happy families around you turn, in your mind into grotesque villains, accomplices in some unspeakable plot. A career writing, reading news headlines sends your brain into overdrive. You sense each man; every man around you has played his part in grabbing your child, passing her to another man, and another, out of the park, out of Paris, and you glare, and scream her name louder, angrily now, and the panic is pounding like nothing you`ve ever felt before; a panic you never, ever want to feel again.

Seven minutes, eight, close to ten; now; your voice is fading; you`re alone in the crowd, you`ve split up, gone your separate ways; gasping, grasping at uniformed staff, guessing wildly which way....  no one`s helping; everyone`s the enemy; and, before she is found, safe, you`re sure, as you fear the worst, that you`ll soon want to harm yourself badly, jump off a cliff; but first, kill whoever has done this; whatever `this` is, to your precious, trusting child.

Fast forward to today. And you multiply that panic ten billion times over, a hundred billion maybe and then some, and it doesn`t come close, nowhere even near it, to the panic of the Connecticut families, hearing something`s happened at the school ; and it might have happened to their child.

I got home, and tried to read the papers` version of this unspeakable tragedy. I scanned the headlines; but my eyes jumped to a quote from one of the tiny survivors, a boy, trying in the best way he could, to comfort his teacher and his classmates, as she locked them away from the gunman. ` I know karate,` he said,` so we`ll be OK`.

And you realise that at that age, you do think everything will be ok. You trust people. And you should be able to do that.

I`ll read the rest later. I just feel I owe it to the parents caught up in this, to understand what happened, and to try and get a sense of their loss, and to tell them here, in the only way I can, how much I feel for them; and will think of them in the days and months ahead.

You just hope that, along with sympathy and prayers, and love ; there`ll be legislation . Action. Some kind of awakening. To at least reduce the risk of this ever happening again.

Thursday 13 December 2012

No go on...I`m listening.....

Bit busy. Can`t stop. Could write my own words--but the stuff I`ve overheard this past week has been classic. Do you do this--hear snatches of conversations and either stifle a giggle in the street......or want to butt in and find out more?

I do. Must be my journalistic training; always on the look out for a scoop.

These aren`t scoops, but they`re all true. (Watch out if you`re ever sitting behind me on the bus, by the way...)

1) "I`m going to try for that performing arts place in New York. Haven`t told mum yet. She thinks it`s free in America. It`s a hundred thousand dollars."

2) "I love a log fire, me.With those orangey bulbs, you know, glowing...."

3)"She`s booking Lanzarote. But he thinks he`s going to Ron`s in Coventry..."

4) "It`s not rats and mice you need to worry about. It`s them bed-bugs...."

5) "It doesn`t bother me going out in these rollers. They`re designer. "

6)" If you`re going to park in a loading bay, but not, you know, load....then pretend to load something, just for the cameras"...

7) "Just get them a bloody bottle. We don`t like `em.`They never come round. Wrap it and that, like. Then we`ll  have it."

8) "Look Archie! The Christmas giraffe!"

9) "Oh of course. Cobblers are shut on a Thursday, aren`t they...?"

10) "No I`m not. Because you know what happened LAST time I was in a jacuzzi....."

Monday 3 December 2012

The 12 HEYs of Christmas

They`re everywhere. Glossy women`s magazines with smug pictures of Dawn French, Fern Britton, Livia Firth and Cat Deeley on the front; boasting that they`ve got Christmas `all wrapped up`.

Party canapes, making one bottle of Cava go six ways, the perfect gift guide, the ideal LBD for your shape,and that vital Christmas Day hour by hour cooking countdown will all be there. Along with
 `tantalising` glimpses into how the other half spend their big day, and some tips on `making time for me`. (Just buy one in your life, and stash it away until next year because they don`t change much.)

Or read this.

Sorry if it`s a bit irreverent. I do realise that for some, Christmas isn`t Christmas without a bit of stress.

But it doesn`t have to be. So here are my 12 `heys `of Christmas. Hey! As in revelations. Many of which I learnt the hard way...but now that I`ve seen the light, feel I ought to share with you, as it`s the season of goodwill. It would be incredibly irritating to write HEY! at the start of each one, so just think it, OK?

1) Children`s toys. Get them now. And secretly assemble them in the office, or up in the loft or somewhere. This advice comes to you after a decade of discovering, on Christmas morning, that toy kitchens, plastic play houses, ride-on horses, Barbie Jeeps and magical castles can take HOURS to put together. That`s if the instructions are in English, and you have the time and the practical skills required.Trust me on this, or risk toddler tantrums and cold turkey.

2) Christmas cards: Optional. Has it got to the stage where you have so many to write that it`s become an RSI inducing ritual? Do you actually know the names of all the family members on the card you`re writing this minute? Are you so tired and bored that your signature just a GP`s scrip-scrawl ? Maybe think about making a donation to your favourite charity in lieu of cards instead. And while we`re on the subject of cards, don`t write `catch up in the new year !!!!` if you don`t mean it. If you said it on last year`s card, or they did, and you haven` ain`t gonna happen.

3) Christmas cash--one year, me and my sister realised that we were just sending cash up and down the M1. I`d send her a voucher, she`d send me one of the same value.And then we`d send cash to each other`s children. Each envelope cancelled out the one received. If the grown ups in your family really do have enough `stuff`....maybe don`t march around town aimlessly trying to find them a gift--just meet up for a fab meal out sometime soon, or make a donation to a charity that really needs the dosh?

4) Cooking. It has its place.And gives millions of people endless hours of pleasure.But if you`re not one of them....ask for help. Assign tasks. Share the load. And.... psssst. Christmas markets and festive fayres sell fanTASTic cakes and mince you don`t have to bake unless you want to.

5) Turning up unannounced.`s the season of goodwill and there`s every reason to invite friends and family round for a drink, a knees up, a meal, or more. Surprises really CAN be fun. But if it`s the (not that interesting) couple you met on holiday five years ago who were `just passing` (just as you`re settling down for your favourite movie)`s not that great. Don`t be that couple. Check first.

6) Turning up unannounced...WITH BIG GIFTS. Has this happened to you, too? Not ONLY did they take us by surprise when the room was a complete bombsite with bits of toys, satsuma peel , dog hair, fractious, overtired children and broken nut shells everywhere....but did so armed with piles of presents that, like the guests, we really hadn`t anticipated. Big, expensive gifts. Awkward? Very. Advice in these situations? a) Effusive thanks and honesty  b) Effusive thanks and shedloads of booze down their necks so they don`t notice you`re not reciprocating c) posting a small child on lookout so that you can turn off the lights if said couple approach. Not advised, as children have a habit of screaming `but mummy, we ARE in...` just when you think you have it sussed. Ring first.

7) Working on the Big Day. Lots of people have to. All the blue lighters. People in hospitals. People in hospitality. People on the radio. So while Christmas is special, for lots of reasons.....don`t beat someone up literally or metaphorically, if December 25 is `another day at the office` for someone you love. See them another time.

8) The Food Shop. I remember one year, pre Christmas Sainsbury`s was so crowded that the queues almost reached the back of the store. Most big chains have opened more tills, and got faster. But why risk it? a) do it now and stuff it in the freezer and b) are you *really* going to eat two trolley loads before the shops open again (often on Boxing Day) ? Do you need it all? I reckon we spend so much, and often waste so much on `just in case` stuff. Cut back. Eat less. Give something to your local food bank.

9) Decorations. Do it your way. If a minimal, ice-white winter wonderland with everything matching floats your boat, go for it. Brrrr...but good luck. But if you`re the terraced house I passed near Crudgington last night (December 2) with virtually every brick covered in flashing, dancing lights, and you`re keeping it that way until the new year, then thanks! It made me smile on my dark, cold journey, and looked fantastic.

10) Wrapping up presents. Ohhhhhh. So much fun when there`s time. Such a toil when it`s 1 am on Christmas day and the Sellotape`s nearly finished. And all the tags have gone.I suppose it`d be easier to wrap stuff as you get it. But it`s advice I never heed so...see you at the kitchen table at 1 am on Christmas morning, probably. Don`t lose the end of the Sello, ta. Oh, and `cheap` wrapping paper, isn`t. It rips so easily that you need twice as much to go round the gift, so you might as well buy the more expensive, thicker stuff and stay calmer.

11) What Women Want. Don`t be that man with the `rabbit in the headlight` eyes in Marks and Spencer`s lingerie department this Christmas Eve; grabbing anything that`s left (often in festive red)  because `she can always change it`, and because you checked her cup fitting with the assistant who was `about her size`. Ask her. And, while we`re on the subject...ask HIM. He may not `need` any more socks.

12) Santa Claus is coming to town....He will, and the look on your children`s faces when they realise he`s been, and has scoffed  the mince pie and beer you left out...AND that Rudolph has chewed a couple of the carrots the kids selected for him ...will stay with you forever, and make all the hard work worthwhile. And anyway...they help you see in the dark.....

Have fun xx

PS: The little felt Christmas decorations in the picture are by the lovely Kerry (aka @Kerry_pt3 . You didn`t think I was that clever did you?) And ...number 11? Um...lips are sealed but check out @tootsweetsShrews at Shrewsbury Market Hall if you want to see a big smile on Christmas morning.... !

 I've Done Xmas. Everything wrapped. Stamps bought and waiting to be stuck on. Even made my own tags. I've had 12 months Jane

Monday 26 November 2012

Baby, you can drive my...Popemobile....

(Follow me on Twitter! @janemcintyre12  and also @normandycottage  ) this little baby`s up for hire at 250 euros an hour. Interested? You need to contact Paddy Dunning. He`s the Irish businessman who inherited the Popemobile, made famous during the Pontiff`s 1979 trip to the Emerald Isle, along with a wax museum.

A quick buff up and it`s ready for you to borrow. Paddy reportedly took  his auntie back to the airport in it. She`s a nun, y`know..and her trip made her the talk of Rome.

What you drive can have that effect, can`t it? You know...turn heads in the street. Evoke envy. Make people think you`re doing damn well for yourself. Or lead to uproarious laughter and downright derision.

My dad used to have a Ford 8. Really. He lent it to my Uncle Jim for his driving test. Then hid in a shop doorway on the test route to watch the fun unfold. What he`d "forgotten" to tell Jim, was that the passenger seat had rather loose fixings. With immaculate timing, Dad heard the motor spluttering down the street just in time to emerge from his hiding place, to see Jim at the wheel, as the car kangarooed past, with the driving examiner on his back, with his size eights flat up on the car roof. Loose fixings, see. *

I could never trust a car. Or love one, really. I was so deeply traumatised as a new driver by cute little motors which promised the world, but couldn`t even get me over the Hog`s Back without the aid of a breakdown truck.This was before the days of mobile phones, remember.Once, I was attempting to drive from dad`s place in Kent, back to an early newsreading shift in Southampton in a white Mini 1000. It was late, dark, rainy and cold, and there wasn`t a single house in sight when the engine decided to splutter and die. I swore, shivered a lot, whacked on the hazard lights, and may have cried. OK, I cried. There was no earthly point looking under the bonnet. So I decided to just sit there until dawn broke. By which time the radio station in question would have missed several bulletins and hopefully decided to send the radiocar out for its reader.

Luckily, an AA recovery driver had passed me on the other side of the dual carriageway, on his way to a call out. Two hours later, he was on his way home, saw my by now, very faint hazard lights, and stopped. By this time I was frozen with cold and fear and may have hugged him. Don`t ask me what was wrong with the thing, but he fixed it, and I made it home for an hour`s kip and a shower, in time to slide into the newsreader`s chair to say..."It`s six o clock; Jane McIntyre reporting..." Just.

Several more second hand cars received a vicious, John Cleese-like kicking for letting me down at crucial moments, before I decided to bite the bullet and find a brand new one, under warranty and through one of those lease deals. I truly didn`t care what it was. I rang round every main dealer in town and asked what the monthly rate was for their cheapest model. I cut back on other things (clothes, shoes, boots, nights out.... ) and clinched the deal. Four lease cars down the line, I`m happy driving alone and far from home again. But as to what it looks like, and how fast it goes ? Don`t give a damn. There`ll always be someone who has to have the biggest, shiniest, newest motor in the car park. A head turner. A headline maker. But as long as I`m driving something (anything...) which gets me from A to`ll never be me.

*Yes, he failed.

+What was your first car? And your worst? Ever been let down by your car at a really crucial moment? And how do you feel about cars as status symbols...? Love to know what you think...!  

 Loved it! Perhaps you'd like to read about "my motors?"  Hope you like it!<<

Monday 19 November 2012

Hello, who are you?!

(Follow me on Twitter? @janemcintyre12 and @normandycottage )

Hello, I just wanted to say thanks for dropping by, and either reading my blogs....or stopping *just* long enough for it to count as a page view...!

Since leaving full time work at Easter, I`ve scribbled randomly about my new freedom...learning to run...relying on my fantastic friends...and good times and bad. I`ve told you about my family, my loves and hates and some of the places I`ve visited this year, so now it`s your turn.

Checking up on who`s reading this...and where they`s great to see there are readers across the UK, in the USA, in Russia, Ukraine, China, France, Germany and Italy. Among other places. And that writing about chocolate, beer, pies and age have proved the most popular topics!

But that`s all I know. So....either in a comment at the bottom of the page, or by dropping me an email via the link on my profile page, please introduce yourself and tell me where in the world you are! And if you write a blog, I`d love to return the favour and read that too.

Thanks again!


Someone ill? Look away now....

So here`s your scenario.

You`re in your local high street. And something catches your eye on the other side of the busy road. You realise a bloke`s keeled over and hit the deck.

Do you :

a) gasp and feel incredibly sorry for him...and carry on with your shopping...
b) assume he`s probably had a heavy session at the pub, say `tut`, ...and keep walking...
c) belt over the road, zigzagging through the traffic, to see what you can do.

If you answered a) or b), I don`t really want to know you. If you mentally ticked c), then well done. And if it`s me in a heap on the street, could you come and check I`m ok too, please?

The thing never know when you`re going to trip or fall ill in a public place. Nobody does. And when you`re young and fit and 22, you hope it isn`t going to happen too often. But it did today, to my daughter, who was commuting on a rush hour train into Waterloo station in London. With no real warning, she felt ill, and collapsed.

She`s better now,and is getting checked out. But in the telephone conversation we`ve just had, I realised she`d probably encountered all shades of humanity on that train, and has been left feeling pretty saddened by the experience.

There was panic--with someone pulling the emergency lever, bringing the train to a halt.

There was, she realised, on coming round...some irritation among the regular commuters whose schedule had been momentarily thrown out of kilter.

There was some kindness--with a fellow passenger offering her a seat (albeit, I`m told, a little grudgingly...).

And there was some hilarious giggling from a group of schoolgirls.

At Waterloo she gingerly got off the train, then, feeling wobbly again, stood for a moment on the platform. At which point another young woman, dark haired, and possibly Spanish, stopped the whoosh of commuters heading for the exit gate, to ask how she was. She then offered my daughter a steadying arm, carried her bag, checked where she had to get to, and made sure she was well enough to continue her journey.

I`d like to thank her for her kindness...we all would. But what went wrong? Was this symptomatic of an uncaring city where commuters are never keen to look fellow passengers in the eye, let alone catch them when they fall? Or were people just worried they`d do the wrong thing and make a medical emergency worse?

Once, someone--an elderly visitor-- collapsed in a place I used to work. There were probably a dozen or so members of staff in the building at the time; none of the usual trained first aiders, but competent, intelligent people you`d like to think you could rely on in a crisis. And usually, you could. But you could see from the start of the emergency, who was going to roll up their sleeves, and who was going to be rooted to the spot in terror.

A group of us rushed to the room where it happened. He was unconscious; not breathing. Two of us somehow got him from the chair to the floor, one of us starting mouth to mouth, and one of us CPR. Someone had called an ambulance but it was one of those occasions where the town was completely gridlocked because of a number of incidents. For a few more minutes, we were on our own. We carried on, guided by the 999 team at the end of the line, relaying instructions via a colleague. In the end, the elderly gentleman we`d tried to save, got whisked off in the ambulance, and despite everyone`s best efforts, died later that day.

I don`t want a medal for trying. I never have. I just want to know that if it ever happens to me, or to you, there`ll be someone there to do their best for us, or to anyone else who falls ill.

Excellent charities like St John Ambulance and the Red Cross offer courses to help us all deal with potentially life threatening emergencies. It would be great to see more people learning the skills they offer, so that at least something is done until the professionals arrive.

Today, it wasn`t life threatening, but nobody knew that. So a special thankyou to one young woman in London today, who saw another alone, and in trouble, and went out of her way to check.

OK now--but did you see her out cold on that crowded train?

++How about you.....ever helped in an emergency, or even...saved a life? Are there times you`ve looked back, and wished that you`d done more? Maybe you`re a first aid trainer or a paramedic. What more could the public do if they`re first at the scene of a real emergency ? Do you wish more people were trained in basic CPR?

 bless her. Just read it now, I just don't understand some people, thank goodness for that kind lady. X

 Coincidence after reading your blog today: my wife helped an old lady who'd fallen face first on pavement. So many wouldn't.

Monday 12 November 2012

When you say nothing at all.....

Did you see that bit in the Sunday Times magazine about who talks the most? Matt Rudd referred to a survey suggesting that women speak 21,000 words a day; men, 7,000. Really?

Most days, it would be pretty tough to calculate your talk-tally, whatever your gender.

But today, for me, it was easy. I`ve just totted it up. And realised that since 10 a.m; (it`s now nearly 5.30 p.m ) I`ve spoken eight words out loud. All day.

These gems were; at Asda: `Pump seven please.` Thanks`. And ....` F*CK, that was close` (to nobody in particular, ten minutes ago, when I almost posted my i-phone, instead of a letter, into the little box down the lane).

Today, I`ve had jobs to do around the house, emails to write, three days away from home to plan, and a satnav to set. I`ve been on Twitter, (quite a bit ) written and received texts, listened to the radio and run a mile and a quarter through the kitchen (on a treadmill) while singing (loudly, and badly).

So it hasn`t been silent. Just without human conversation . It`s felt fine. And donkeys` hind legs the world over are a little safer.

Being at home during the day is such a contrast to all the years I spent in screamingly noisy newsrooms; sometimes longing for people (certain people in particular...) to shut the hell UP. Some days I`d have killed (probably) for a bit of quiet. God knows what the decibel levels were like in the early days-- the constant drone of banter, the clattering of (yes, really...) typewriters, and phones ringing non stop. Oh and London traffic right outside the door. There were subs shouting at you from the other side of the room because they didn`t have your copy...then shouting at you all over again once they`d read it. B*stards. These days journalism can be a whole lot still get the banter and the shouting ...but there are no thundering qwertyuiops, and many of those calls to contacts get replaced by a quietly tapped out email. Oh and the offices are double glazed.

Decades later, in my home `office`, I know that if I get cabin fever I can make a call or send a text, and meet up with a friend. I feel incredibly lucky to have the choice. And at some stage this evening, the house will be full of noise and news, company and cooking, laughter and chat, TV and music....and I`ll enjoy that too.

Real silence can be a luxury. It can be so powerful and poignant, as we saw this Sunday, when a nation stood together on Remembrance Day to think about lives and loves lost; selflessness and heroism. But true, lonely silence--that aching, `nobody`s calling`, `no-one to talk to` kind of silence must, at times, be deafening, and desperate. I hope I never hear it.

+How about you? Would it drive you mad to be alone in the house all day? Do women `really` talk more than men...what...all of them? I`d love to hear what you think.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Breast cancer risk? You tell me....

My mum , Jeannie Morris

So-another week ; another debate about breast screening, and whether it causes more harm than good.

An independent review into the value of mammograms  reportedly showed that for every life saved, three women had treatment for a cancer which would never have been fatal.

That treatment might be radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery; all with their own side effects.

More information for women will now be made available apparently; to help them make an informed choice. The national cancer director, Professor Sir Mike Richards is quoted as saying this issue has become an area of `high controversy`.

You bet your life it has, Professor.

But should I bet attempting to make my own decision about the course of treatment I should have, if a little undiscovered planet is spotted in that galaxy of stars on the radiologist`s screen?

The answer is--I don`t know. It`s like the heating engineer telling me my boiler might last another year; might not. But with a £500 overhaul.....I`ll definitely stay cosy. Or a car mechanic offering me a temporary fix,or a brand new engine to be on the safe side. Who knows?

But as far as breast cancer goes; I know too much. Mum was one of six sisters. Four of them developed breast cancer; three, including mum, died from it. Each was given the facts, and made decisions about their treatment as best they could.

The two eldest had the recommended mastectomies. One died, one went on to have a second mastectomy and has survived into her eighties.

The youngest of the six sisters watched it move through the family, and opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction; a course of action a cousin of mine has chosen as well.

Mum wasn`t on a screening programme--she spotted her own cancerous lump at the age of 48--weeks before she was due to marry a man whose first wife had died...from breast cancer. She had her own decisions to make about her treatment, and even whether she should go ahead with the wedding. She opted for minor surgery and radiotherapy; and the wedding. Not the mastectomy that doctors suggested would have been a safer course of action.Was she right?

You can only give patients advice and ultimately leave the decision to them. I don`t doubt that what her husband-to-be had gone through, swayed her decision. But did it kill her? Should she have gone for more radical surgery to try and eliminate the risk? They had seven years together before the cancer really took an aggressive turn, went on the march, and despite every possible form of treatment available, included the mastectomy she`d tried to avoid, mum died .

My family history means I was lucky enough to be offered a place, some years ago on a clinical trial which compares mammography with MRI scanning. And then to be offered annual screening.

And then suddenly, we were talking about my generation. Last year`s scan spotted a little blip on the radar; a condition called Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. I tried to focus on the `stuck in a duct` bit, rather than that `carcinoma` word, which no one wants to hear. I had surgery to remove the affected area and some tissue around it. Then there were three weeks of intensive radiotherapy; which for the most part involved me sprinting in and out of the treatment centre in running gear and trainers. My brain told me I was *fit*; so I shouldn`t be there. The staff were brilliant. I was, compared to many waiting for treatment, completely blessed, but I hated every second and couldn`t bear to meet anyone`s eye, wearing shades most days in the waiting room, and flinching when someone called out my name. I kept the treatment a secret from all but my closest friends and colleagues. That meant carrying on working full time as a breakfast show producer, getting up at 3.30 am.

After it was over, with just a three inch scar and some tiredness, all I could feel was immense relief and good fortune: it was a high grade `blip` caught before it had invaded the surrounding tissues--at which point, apparently, I would have been advised to have a mastectomy. Would I have gone ahead with the surgery? I truly don`t know.

I know plenty of women whose cancers were found early, and who are quite sure they owe their lives to screening, and in some cases to the treatment that followed. Cancer charities seem to be recommending that you go ahead with screening if you`re called for a mammogram under the national programme.

And then, increasingly, you`ll have to make your own decision about anything they find. If you`re waiting for an incisive,well considered conclusion to all this--I don`t have one.

If the oncologist I`m booked to see in a couple of weeks,or any other doctor in the future finds something wrong with me, I want to be treated like the intelligent human being I am, to weigh up the options and statistics, and help shape the events that follow.

But --and excuse me for sounding weak here--a part of me still wants to say you know what? You`re the one in the white coat. I`m crap at stats. I truly have no idea. Please decide for me.

Friday 26 October 2012

In other news....allow yourself a smile.

In the papers. On the air. All over the screen. And maybe in your life. Achingly sad and disturbing news. It`ll always be there, and the day it stops affecting you is the day you`ve lost all compassion.

But if you move your head a half turn ... jewels that keep on shining in your life: or the people you meet, the places you go...glint a little, catch your eye...and give you a smile.

I really hope you`ve had some of those moments this week. Just for the hell of are mine:

--Seeing our eldest daughter collect her degree. And realising I was holding my breath with anxiety as she headed for the stage, just as I`d done in her first school nativity with a home made tinsel halo wound precariously round her head. This time, the stakes were higher. And so was the mortar board. Way higher. Perched less than securely on silky hair. The slippy graduation gown resting lightly on her shoulders was actually hiding a backless dress *for later*. Would it stay, or would it go now....Oh...and the steps to the stage had to be negotiated in four inch stilettos. Yeh, but like the 2:1 BA Hons...she did it; and left the amazingly uplifting ceremony at Greenwich University with hundreds more young graduates and their families, beaming, and brimming with pride.

--Watching our youngest daughter share that pride at her sister`s achievements; and the thrill of being part of her big day.Then a day later, hearing her on the phone bubbling with excitement about the part she`d got, after a string of tough auditions and callbacks, for her college show.

--Standing beside St Paul`s Cathedral this week, in total awe as ever at its beauty, marvelling at how Sir Christopher Wren and the hundreds of men involved in its construction in the late 1600s ever achieved it.   Then noticing the sign for the old Roman route of Watling Street over the road, and knowing that if I followed its path`d more or less get me home to Shropshire.

--Listening politely to the beauty counter assistant trying to flog me a pot of face cream containing *actual diamonds* for £80; happy that mine`s a fiver from Aldi.

--Getting whistled at in Greenwich Market (face cream must be working, then?!)

--Seeing a train conductor called John on Virgin`s 1343 from Euston yesterday bothering to stop and say hello to every passenger. And smiling.

--Hearing the ticket seller at Greenwich station say he loved my purse, but adding "not that I`m camp or nuffink"..!

--Battling through driving rain and peasouper fog in France late on Saturday night with a teasingly unreliable Satnav to find dear friends had turned on the lights and heating at my destination for my arrival--and had left a big bag of walnuts on the kitchen table too.

--Back in England, finding there was more fog on my way home up the M40. Cheered hugely by the sight of  a tiny Fiat inching past with a registration plate which included the word *Yay* !

--Sitting at the kitchen table with coffee and toast this morning with a million things to do, but all the time in the world to do them.

Monday 15 October 2012

Stop, oh yeah, wait a minute Mr Postman...

....bill, leaflet,leaflet,flyer, bill.

Is that IT?

Today`s post.

It arrived at 1.30 pm, and contained only demands for cash...and a clutch of junk mail. The postman didn`t even ring twice. (There`s no doorbell, to be fair...)

Anyway, I`d been meaning to register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) for ages. It`s the organisation which says it can stop you getting junk mail .We get way too much. And it goes, (all of it...) unread, into the recycling bin. Pointless.

So I attempted to register online. Maybe you`ve tried it. You can add the names of up to five people who live at your place. I got to the fourth, and tried to move to the next page. It told me I`d added something that wasn`t `a valid name`. 

Really? Frustrated, I had another bash. I *even* tried to spell my daughter`s name the `French` way. Rien. Maybe it was the Mc in McIntyre baffling the system? That Celtic mix of upper and lower case, all in one surname? Nope. Wouldn`t let me proceed. I know: maybe the confusion of more than one surname daring to live under one roof? I had no witnesses; no cake, no ring, no junk mail shredded into confetti...but I did the decent thing, and married myself off. Still nothing. Our names were `not valid`.

Irritated; I called the `helpline` number listed on the website. I got through to a lady robot, who suggested that I punch in the names of family members, using my telephone keypad. Fiddly. No thanks. I`ll follow the website`s intoxicating promise of talking to `a live agent`.   

Meekly, I joined the queue. No irritating music either. BUT HANG ON....!!! They then repeat the automated message about all their `consumer executives` being busy, again and again and again. Yep, I could have put the phone down. But I just had to see what happened. The message happened. Twenty more times, in quick succession. Then...guess what? The nice lady said `goodbye`...and disconnected my call.

Oh dear, MPS. As a key customer organisation set up to help people reduce the amount of junk mail they get every day...and the amount of waste that family then has to recycle...sorry...but today? You were  rubbish.

 "Goodbye" :)

ps, Maybe you`ve had more luck? I`d love to hear how you got on...or how you manage your own junkmail!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

It`s Chocolate Week.Try another chunk

I love it and I hate it. If I taste even the tiniest corner, I have to finish the whole damn slab. Yep, even if it`s a family sized stonker. The kind the health police have now told chocolate companies to label as *IDEAL FOR SHARING*.Get lost. Fat chance.

I once shared an attic flat at the top of an old mansion in Chislehurst with a wonderful girl called Anita. Because a couple of the rooms were Toblerone shaped;chocolate (aswell as men) was on our minds a lot of the time. Mine (chocolate bars...not blokes...but actually...) would arrive in a rush; the result of a quick dash to the garage and a sprint up three flights of stairs to work off what was to follow. In,slam door; frenzied ripping of wrappers; scoffed. Game over.

Anita, though, would unwrap hers slowly and seductively.... teasingly breaking off just a square...then maybe another...then leaving the rest of it seminaked ; peeping through the folded back wrapper...tempting anyone (I was her only flatmate) who might glance into `her` cupboard to check out the tomato puree situation. In her mind, it was there as a little treat for herself the next night. She soon learnt that was a bad idea. Finders, keepers. You see it; you eat it. Fact.

I`ve tried the completely calorie free variety too--you know--the bar you munch in the car all alone? Nobody sees you eat it if you drive fast enough ; so you get home..and the chocolate thing never really happened. Until the scales give your secret away. Been there, didn`t like it.

But I`m staying strong! It`s been tough. I would, frankly, kill for one of Julia Wenlock`s chocolate covered honeycomb bars today, or virtually anything she produces at her Shrewsbury based business, (she`s on Twitter, too, at @TootSweetsShrew ...go my share...!) but once I know the story.These days, the bathroom scales are making me smile, and that`s the way it`s going to stay .Happy chocolate chomping if that`s what you`re up to today :) And happy chocolate week to Julia and everyone else whose beautiful creations tempt and delight us.

Monday 8 October 2012

Bad experience? Just press delete.

How far back can you remember?

I can still feel the sun beating down on me in the garden behind our flats in Ealing, one of a crowd of children spending endless, happy days dreaming up games and shouting ourselves hoarse. My friend Rosalyn taught me how to do a handstand, and,skill mastered, I then spent that entire, sweltering afternoon perfecting the technique before staggering giddy and sunburnt back up the stone steps to our place on the top floor when Mum called us back in for tea.

That November in the same garden, doubtless inspired by those `light up the sky with Standard Fireworks` adverts,all of the families in the flats held their first Guy Fawkes night. The dads, full of beer and bravado, set rockets and bangers firing off at all angles, while mums with pinnies over their coats handed out hotdogs and sparklers to the children, beside the towering inferno that was our shared bonfire. Even though my face was burning from the heat of it, I stayed rooted to the spot. I was slightly fazed by the Guy`s ghoulish leer--right at me--but also too scared to wave the fizzing wand around in the night air like the other kids, in case it set my mittens on fire.It was all terrifyingly wonderful.

You want to remember times like that, don`t you, and have an automatic delete mechanism for the days which leave you feeling lost or lonely: bitter or bereaved.

I started thinking about the power of memory today after being reminded that it`s the 60th anniversary of Britain`s worst peacetime rail disaster today--at Harrow and Wealdstone. One hundred and twelve people died in that three train smash.

Today, survivors and local people have been back to the spot to stand in silence to remember those who got caught up in the horror.

I`ve just turned the house upside down to try and find a newspaper cutting from that day.It was either the London Evening News or the Standard, or maybe the Evening Star. We saved it because there`s a mugshot of dad as a very young PC, looking shattered. He was one of a vast army of people rushed to the scene to help. He`d been crawling through mineshafts at his local pit at 14, and so volunteered to crawl under a mangled train carriage in the tightest, darkest, most desperate of spaces to help those trapped He held their hands, offered words of comfort and in some cases, shots of morphine. He`d then been part of the gang who used their own broad shoulders and brute strength to raise the carriage a few precious inches to try and drag the casualties out.

Horrific memories.Sometimes the darkest of days, like the Harrow crash, have to be remembered and then investigated so that lessons can be learned. Often,thankfully,there`s now help for people whose traumas linger,and blight their later lives.

Dad`s in his eighties now, with a brain dulled by dementia.He`s sleeping so much, and often bewildered by simple tasks. I`ve written before about how we can still share a laugh and a memory sometimes if one flashes back into his mind. That young, heroic PC went on to be a royal bodyguard, travelling the world, Katmandu, Kuala Lumpur, San Francisco,Canada, Italy,Sydney, Canberra, Mustique, staying in glittering palaces and learning how the other half live. It`s those scenes I hope he can remember. And those Ealing bonfires.

But if his patchy,fading memory has been cruel enough to retain the images it logged at Harrow, sixty years ago today,I hope it can also still register the pride his family feel today, looking back. I`ll phone him later, just to be sure he knows.


Kerry ‏@kerry_pt3
@janemcintyre12 :) your blogs alway bring a warmth with them x

andy richardson ‏@andyrichardson1
@janemcintyre12 @BeBoldPR just don't get her started on chocolate

33m andy richardson ‏@andyrichardson1
@BeBoldPR @janemcintyre12 her blogs are good. almost as good as those by mr w

38m Be Bold PR ‏@BeBoldPR
@janemcintyre12 you're welcome. Always look forward to reading your blogs!

Thursday 4 October 2012

600 on my sofa: Loving Twitter the debate`s raging again. This time in my local paper, The Shropshire Star. Is Twitter a good thing or bad? A waste of your time and everyone else`s--or a fresh, effective way of linking up with friends old and new?

Well--it can be both. But if it`s the former, then as the song`s my `favourite waste of time`.

As a radio journalist and programme producer, a tweet was a fantastic way of reinforcing news you`d just broadcast, researching a story idea,or gauging opinion on all kinds of local issues--and a great way for people with a story to reach you, too.

That`s how Twitter started for me.

But then one weekend, my daughter and  I had a hankering to escape for a couple of days to the Welsh coast; breathe some sea air. I mentioned on Twitter that we needed some ideas for last minute accommodation--fast. They came; and we booked, and had a great time. One of the tweets that weekend was from someone on the Lleyn Peninsular, offering us a place to stay in her home . We`d never met ! And although it was further than we wanted to go, Nita became a close friend.

In fact when she went into labour ....a small group of Twitter friends who, again, had never met....ended up `virtually` pacing up and down the hospital corridor as the hours ticked by. We kept each other updated, sent our love, and messages of support and celebrated when beautiful Livia entered the world.

Livia`s 18 months old now, and was here at my place the other day, sorting fir cones into neat groups for me. It kept her busy while her parents were in the other room, having a holiday nightmare (no ferries....).They dropped in mid way to Portsmouth because they desperately needed a computer (and coffee). I`ve stayed at their place too; a stone`s throw from the beach. We had fish and chips and much better coffee than they ever get here. We`d never have met without Twitter.

The people you meet on Twitter...!

Nita`s one of  a whole bunch of new friends on Twitter, some of whom I`ve met, and some I`ll probably never see in `real ` life, but who`ll share a joke, an idea for a movie, or a moan about what`s bugging them.

Take the Olympics--and our desperate search for tickets. Stuart got plenty..but also tipped me off on Twitter every time more were released. And although we never made it to London, it was still glorious to watch on television, and even better with six hundred `friends` on my sofa, reminding me that the 100 metres was on in five minutes on the other side. I choose not to follow celebrities--but followed team GB and just couldn`t help tweeting good luck to Martyn Rooney. (To get a tweet back from him after the games encouraging me on my morning mile was just amazing. Yeh, I`ve kept that one !)

My sister won`t tweet. She doesn`t get it. I`ve tried to explain that it`s sometimes the virtual equivalent of a party. The room`s full. There are loads of separate conversations going on. And you can move around the room, opting to stop and chat, or move on. You can share wine, dance, shout or sing. And leave whenever you please.

`You`re going for coffee with someone you met on TWITTER?` she asked, aghast, some months ago. And more recently...``re going to GLASTONbury? With someone you`ve never MET? Oh tell me you didn`t meet them on Twitter too? ` Yep, big sis. I did.

That`s the thing with Twitter. Fast, intimate, friendly , funny. A great place to meet people, help people, and learn about people. And always there when you need a smile.


 I love your blog. It's the only blog i've actually found enjoyable.

Dave Matthews@Delta79
want to read a great blog, you will find one here written by

 nice. i will buy you ice cream.

    and for pictures of children in shopping bags...

    Heh! Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it......

 love your take on twitter :) x

 Loved your latest blog. Summed this - and us on it - up perfectly for me!
 thank you very much. A pedant`s praise is praise indeed.
 Not sure what's come over me. Won't happen again!

 a virtual room, I like that x Anyway, I'll be in the kitchen, grazing, if I'm required. Probably* with a beer. *definitely

 and 4 others retweeted you
So how much do YOU love Twitter?!