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.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Life is mostly....bricks n` rubble ?

OK...apologies to Adam Lindsay Gordon *...and to you, if you`ve read all  my other rants on this blog, about flytipping.

First...the big fat tyres, down a pretty lane not far from my home.

Then there was the bulging bag of rubbish I ended up collecting on (what should have been...) my morning run.

Then I spotted a couple of sofas dumped  in a Shrewsbury bus shelter (cheek!)

And then two more sofas, and a pile of household rubbish and toys, in the same (now not so ) pretty lane.

And this weekend--well, this!

A whole pile of builders` crap from a demolition job. Once scooped up, the builder decided not to find an authorised site, but to tip it out on a leafy path in Preston Montford.

Bloody lucky, I`d say, that the sofas and toys had been shifted. Gave him lots more space, see ?

Anyway-- hopefully, this lot will be taken away soon, because (hello again, Shropshire Council...) I`ve reported it. Let`s hope there`s enough incriminating evidence to secure a prosecution.

*(PS--Oh..and today`s `headline`. Well it was inspired by Adam Lindsay Gordon`s `froth and bubble` verse. Know it? It`s nothing whatsoever to do with builder`s mess....(!) but  Mum taught it to me. I love it, and reckon it`s worth remembering !

It this.....!

"Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another`s trouble,
Courage in your own"

Saturday 20 April 2013

Beers before breakfast--and a high flying bride

OK so this isn`t going to win this week`s *Just Back* travel writing competition in the Telegraph.... (DAMN !!) ...So I`m publishing it here instead. All about how sometimes..the spontaneous, last minute breaks you book in a mad rush...can be among the best. Especially when your hardworking daughter`s about to disappear for five months in the States. What better excuse to grab a cheap flight, book a base, and head for the sun, and a few surprises....?    

Nervously smoothing a delicate, shoulder length veil, the bride moved slowly down the aisle, returning smiles from each side.

Half a step behind, the proud father and then the entourage; visions in lilac, shepherded along by the final attendant, at first just grinning broadly at those already seated, then, with glee unbridled, proclaiming proudly what many had suspected: `Three pints each, we`ve had, yeh, three already…!`

This was the 0640 from Manchester to Malaga-- also the bridal carriage for Dan (the one in the veil) and his mates, off, as their team T-shirts confirmed, for his Benalmadena stag weekend.

We`d already spotted our first `sect before marriage`, all, according to their cross-breast branding, Katie`s `hens`, cooped up in departures ,clucking animatedly; one raising an arm sky high with premature, reception-class relish when an airport assistant shouted for any final passengers for Thessaloniki : `Not this one, love,` shushed her friends.

Back on the plane, the boys were high spirited but well behaved; and anyway, their stag base was miles down the coast from where we`d be for our last minute, mum and daughter break. We relaxed. Then we landed . More hens. More T-shirt branding. This lot were `Jo`s Ho`s.` Here for “Marb`s 2013.”  Funny, yes, but we needed a weekend of peace; not peak stag-hen season.

Marbella old town
A sixteen euro bus and taxi trip restored our faith. Past the turn to Marbella, whose colourful old town streets and squares would provide us with Saturday coffee, churros and meandering time and on to a snowy mound of gleaming, marble-floored apartments nestling quietly, white on white, against the bluest skies. This was the immaculately manicured Los Naranjos development, with pools, supermarket, tapas and smoothie bars just an espadrille`s tiptoe away.

We strolled into Puerto Banus that evening, past millionaires mooring their yachts in the sparkling Spanish sunshine, and settled into front row seats in one of the many waterfront restaurants to watch the `beautiful people` go by. Many were tottering along in top to toe designer wear; their brazenly boastful carrier bags containing more of the same. A motorcade of gleaming, testosterone fuelled limousines purred past, too, some; more than once. We rolled our eyes…. and tucked into tapas.

And then: cutting through the cosmopolitan chit-chat and the click-clack of Louboutins; a very British, very down to earth group roar...of "Go on my SON !!`. Eyes right; and Mike was in sight. Sans Ferrari; and sans strides, sashaying flamboyantly down this classy catwalk in a blushingly red air stewardess style jacket and skirt with a matching hat and size ten `statement` trainers. 

He paused outside our restaurant to light a fag, blowing a smoky, pouty `hola` to the waiter--who, as it turned out, wasn`t local, or even from Barcelona, you know, but from Accrington; a revelation worthy of a bellow back down the street from Mike to his bevy of matching, pencil skirted stag stewardesses --yep; yet another pre-nup party. Actually even funnier than the bloated Bentley drivers flashing their cash and their leery smiles . And, after the pretentiousness on parade that night… surprisingly welcome. So if today`s the day, mate, all the best to you and your other half.

Hopefully, having seen your legs, you`ll be the one wearing the trousers.

Spanish escape..on the *Juliet* balcony

ps...thanks for reading! If you`re on Twitter and could retweet this for me, I`d be very grateful. Might even buy you a churro sometime.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Corrie, courage and a kidney transplant

You get to meet all kinds of people when you`re an `extra` in films and TV shows. Sometimes, you rub shoulders with the stars. But occasionally, it`s the people in the background who shine the brightest. Like Pauline Obi. I met her during a filming break in a little room opposite the Rovers, on Coronation Street. And as the cameras prepared to capture the latest dramas on set, it turned out that Pauline has a tale of her own to tell. She inspired me so much that I got back in touch with her to hear more. And I`ve focused this week`s blog on her story.

Say there`s an intruder in your house, in the dead of night.

You sense someone`s trying to get in. You`re aware of him moving about the place, but have no idea where or how he`ll strike, how much danger you`re in, or quite how you should respond. say there`s an `intruder` in your body--in the form of an incurable illness lurking there, chipping away at your immune system, making you feel anxious and in pain, threatening you with major organ failure at any time.

That`s how Pauline visualises Lupus; the disease she`s spent half her life fighting. Her diagnosis as a fit, sporty 15 year old followed unexplained severe joint pain and weight gain and accelerated into more acute symptoms, including a seizure. More recently, it caused her kidneys to fail, too, and she`s now on dialysis in hospital three days a week; pinning her hopes on a transplant.

She`d just moved to Essex to start a longed for teaching job when a regular test showed that her kidneys were in trouble, and that she was now in `pre-dialysis` stage.

`I`d been so proud to qualify, then get the job and have my own classroom`, she told me.`It felt like I`d arrived.`

And the journey there had been tough. Her health problems led to disappointing GCSEs , but she took speedy resits, and pushed through to her A`levels, a degree in Psychology, and clinched key youth worker jobs before teacher training--and that dream job in Essex, teaching psychology and citizenship.

`It was so short lived,` she said.` I had no option but to come home to Manchester for treatment including chemotherapy and steroids. It was as if my `intruder` had got in again.`

Her physical health problems are serious enough, but some of her symptoms have hit her hard psychologically, too. Not least, the devastating discovery more than ten years ago that she was losing her hair.

`I`d just come back from Nigeria,` she said. `I`d had my hair braided. As I undid the plaits, my hair fell out in clumps.` Weight gain also made Pauline severely depressed. `The disease, and the drugs I had to take meant I put on loads of weight. This affected my self image and self esteem. I visited a psychologist and counsellor, and that helped a lot.`

Pauline also knew that away from her self image issues, weight loss was essential if she was going to get a place on the transplant register. But she did it.
Pauline then....and now....

She spends her four hour dialysis sessions reading, sleeping or watching DVDs. And  when she`s not at the hospital, sometimes works as a film and TV extra `for the social side, as much as anything`.

Though she lives alone, she`s supported  by her mum and other members of her family--including her sister, who runs to raise funds, and a brother whose attempts to donate a kidney of his own to Pauline failed at the test stage.

Socially, she`s single, and dipping her toe in the dating game again..early days, says Pauline but she`s having fun, and making decisions along the way on how much to divulge about her condition. She sees her friends as much as she can, but the need for her to monitor her fluid intake `with military precision` limits the amount of alcohol and soft drinks she can consume on nights out.

And as for the future--well, a holiday ahead in Malta this autumn beckons, and she can`t wait. Further ahead? Well, Pauline knows she`s one of thousands on the transplant list, and ultimately, a new kidney`s what she needs.

`Teaching`s on the back burner,` she said, `But I do want to go back. I`ve got to stay positive, ` she added, `or what`s the point? `


The charity Lupus UK says:

+It`s an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body, and that`s the danger--principally the kidneys and the skin, also the heart,lungs and brain. The two major symptoms are joint and muscle pain and an extreme tiredness that won`t go away, no matter how much you rest.

+ Rashes, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, possible hair loss and mouth ulcers may all be part of the pattern of lupus.

+Noticeably, whilst the two major symptoms are invariably present, people with lupus can differ greatly in their symptoms and how the illness can affect them--life threatening for a few, very mild for some.

Telephone: 01708 731251


Tuesday 16 April 2013

Coming soon...!

Hi......thanks so much for stopping at my blog...and especially if you`re one of the regular readers who`ve helped push my total number of page views to way over 16,000...chugging along towards 17,000.. since I started last April. I`m really pleased!

Please check in again soon....because I`ve been talking to a really inspirational lady with an incredible tale to tell. And I met the most unusual of places!  Hopefully her story will make you smile, and also give you food for thought.

Coming up: I`ll introduce you to more people who have good reason to `love their Mondays` as much as I do--inspirational stories from Shropshire and beyond. As well as tales of travel, being an extra (Japanese soft drink ad one day..Corrie the next) .... running..(badly but not giving up...!).....and loving life SO much after legging it from Auntie Beeb.

I`d love to hear from you if you have a story to share, something you`re angry about, or news from wherever in the world you are. Always happy to put a face behind a `page view`....especially as readers are popping in from the USA, Russia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, India, all over Europe..and down the road too. Say hello?

Jane xx

Monday 8 April 2013 where the heart is...

Combined ukelele bands at The Big Busk--everyone smiled!

So The Big Busk in Shrewsbury is over. An event which filled a whole town one sunny Saturday with music and happiness--from contemporary guitar duos to opera and dancing flashmobs. With any luck, it could become an annual event. What better way to remember Ben Bebbington, who would have been 44 on Saturday. Ben, a musician, poet and artist was killed last year, and his loving family wanted to find a fitting way to remember him.

Martin from Shrewsbury Ark
This was a stunning, uplifting, positive way to pay tribute to Ben, and to raise money and thank everyone connected to the Shrewsbury Ark. The centre, near the town`s railway station, proved to be a special place for Ben, and continues to be a safe, caring refuge for homeless and vulnerable people in the town. It`s great that so many more people are aware of its work now, and that its coffers will benefit from the collections around town on Saturday.
Big Busk`s support crew

But what`s also important is that support for the Ark and other groups like it, carries on. And with it, a deeper awareness and understanding of this message: any one of us can fall on `hard times`.

People like John. He has nothing whatsoever to do with the Ark. But I got in touch with him after seeing him appealing on a local website for `pretty much everything` you`d need to set up home.

It turns out John had a good job, but was made redundant. He told me: ` I had to settle for whatever I could get to keep the wolves from the door.`

For John, this meant taking a job paying the minimum wage. And here`s how life can really kick you in the teeth when you`re down. As well as redundancy, John`s marriage was breaking down, and he was left more than £10,000 in debt. That`s since been paid off, but it`s left him with a poor credit rating.

John was able to stay with friends and family for a while--but these were all stopgap measures. The time came for him to try and branch out on his own. And on a low wage, that`s not easy, as he explained to me:

"The problem is that to find a flat you are talking £400 plus per month rent for most properties, plus a deposit of £500 plus, a credit and reference check of £200 and then have to have a guarantor. Add onto this the costs of furnishings and suddenly it is easy to see the difficulties that can be encountered."

And that`s why John, once a family man with a good job and comfortable home,  found himself on a website asking around for donations of furniture. He`s getting there, and has found a property to rent for the time being. It needs a lot of work, and is further than John would like to be from his job, but it`s a place for him to call home.

For many of the people who use it, The Shrewsbury Ark is the closest they will have to a home, or a base. They can find friendship, food, warmth, advice, and a place to shelter.

If you have a home, it`s such a haven, whatever shape or size it is, however much it cost. I had this book as a small child. It`s called `A Little House of Your Own`, by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. I kept it, because it always filled me with wonder. It had pictures of all the little places a child could call home if they needed to play house, or just escape on their own. I tried all of them. Scrambling into huge cardboard boxes and cutting out windows. Pegging out huge sheets on the washing line and weighting down the edges with stones to make a hideaway tent for me and my toys. Your own space.Your own base.

In adulthood I`ve always cherished my own home...that moment you unlock your front door--slamming it , bloody hard, sometimes, if you`ve had a bad day; shutting out the world if you need to.When I had bad times at work I`d rush home for respite during my break...even for 20 minutes. At that time, it was like an oasis in the desert.  I`m so lucky that I could do that, and it`s still my haven. I`m a Londoner and people often joke that it can take years to feel like a `local` once you move to Shropshire.

But this Saturday, thanks to the Big Busk, and its love and hope, and the hard work of Ben`s family and friends, Shrewsbury really felt like home. Where the heart is.


many thanks Jane, very well written.

Well said Jane! Here's hoping the effects of are long lasting!

 and 3 others retweeted you

Wednesday 3 April 2013 ask to take the money and run. Then what?

Blimey. It`s a year since I stopped working full time as a journalist. A job I started at 19. So I`ve got all this stuff in my head about why and when and who....

Maybe later.

For`s what I know. Life`s a beach. Get on it.