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.

Monday 30 September 2013

Oi George!

...couple of things. Won`t keep you long because I know you`ll be busy at the conference.

OK..`Help to Work.` It`s like this. I can`t imagine how soul destroying it must be to spend a month, a year...a couple of years looking for a job.

I guess, after a while, you feel pretty rejected and worthless. Over the years,I`ve talked to lots of good, honest, hardworking people who`ve written hundreds of job applications. Sometimes, they don`t even get an acknowledgement, never mind an interview. It chips away at your confidence. Makes you wonder if you`ll ever feel the pride of a hard earned pay cheque again.

It`s rarely their `fault`, of course. It`s a combination of economic factors and sometimes, bloody bad luck. But weeks roll into months, then years and now, before they know it, they could find themselves on this new `Help to Work` thing. Look,everyone knows we`re in dire straits. No one wants to see countless millions handed out willy nilly to people who have no intention of working . OK, so now you say that there`ll be no `something for nothing` any more. And that people who qualify for the Help to Work scheme will be doing `useful work to put something back into their community; making meals, for the elderly, clearing up litter, working for a local charity.`

You`ll be careful,though, won`t you, George? Because I can think of some people who`d feel the whole tone of this `launch` sounds like they`re in trouble. To blame. Being punished. You can understand where I`m coming from, can`t you? I did a quick check of what goes on during community service, and the community payback schemes. The ones you get put on when you`ve committed a crime.

Various tasks...including `removing graffiti` and `clearing wasteland`.Sprucing up places like community centres. Granted, there`s a supervisor watching over you, and you have to wear a hi-vis vest. But you can see how people who are long term unemployed might just feel that they`d drifted into a community service scheme for criminals while they`re out, cleansing the community on your `Help to Work` scheme,can`t you?

Oh and the other thing. It`s one for David, really but I guess you got involved...and you`ll probably see him for a quick snifter tonight, so pass it on if you get a mo--thanks.

It`s about that tax break thing for about four million married couples.Worth a couple of hundred quid a year.
I know David sees it as giving married couples a bit of a pat on the back for entering a fine institution..and that many senior Tories see marriage as the best way to give children a strong start and a more stable future.

It`s just that....not all of us feel that way.

I know you`ll be shocked but I think my daughters are turning out just fine, in spite of the fact their parents never married. Some people choose not to. Many people are raising fantastic, happy children , *even though* they never walked up an aisle. Many more are in single parent relationships, either through choice, or after the trauma of divorce or bereavement. So...can you see how giving a gold star to families who`ve done it `the Sam n` Dave way` feels pretty unfair? Marriage isn`t a rock solid guarantee of health,happiness or stability--for the couple, or their kids. Help families in need, please, whatever shape, size or gender they happen to be. Marriage is one way. But please don`t try and tell us it`s the `best` way.

Cheers. Enjoy Manchester. Check out Primark. Massive. :)

Saturday 21 September 2013

Don`t forget me....

I write about loads of stuff on this blog. Family, friends, gin, chocolate, my dancing daughters, being an extra on the telly,running (really badly...) and my passion for travelling anywhere really...Trafalgar Square,Times Square, Rome, Marbella, Normandy (Nice is next ;)  ) 

Life is sweet, pretty much. And in the mix, is my Dad, who has Alzheimer`s. By chance, I`ll be with him on Saturday September 21st...World Alzheimer`s Day, so his partner/carer can get a much deserved day out. So here`s one I prepared earlier, with apologies to you if you`ve read it before. A piece about a trip to Kent six months ago. I`m driving through the night again in a few hours because I hate M25 jams....then I`ll sleep for a few hours and wake in time for breakfast with dad. So here it is....(Merry Alzheimer`s Day...!) If you also love someone who has this devastating condition, could you retweet this for me or pass it on another way? I hope you see those glimmers of hope and light today, too.

It was good seeing him.

I got there at lunchtime, armed with a promised picnic of treats. He was in his usual chair, angled, as ever, towards the television, glancing over, even though the screen was off.

Once a broad shouldered six footer, he`s frail now, so doesn`t tend to get up for visitors. But he returned my hug, kiss and smile and his eyes had that welcoming twinkle of recognition.

`Wasn`t too bad today on the motorway,` I ventured. `About four hours`.

`Oh?` said my dad; unwittingly about to deliver a low blow.`Where from ?`

And that`s how it is when someone you love so dearly, has dementia. It`s a slow decline, but you cling on to crumbs of comfort; feeling secure that they still know you. And they do, really. They just can`t be sure, any more,where you live.

I don`t know how he feels. But I sometimes imagine a huge jigsaw. As you grow from childhood to your adult years, more pieces are added. People, places, experiences.There are the really key segments; your family, your partner, your home. Stick them in the centre somewhere. Further out, holiday shots, pictures of the homes your children move to when they grow and leave; pieces showing the smiling faces of your grandchildren.

Then maybe, as the Alzheimer`s develops, it`s as if the pieces get removed, one by one.

Lunch came and went. Sandwiches, sausages, little pork pies, a box of profiteroles; coffee. The plates were cleared but dad`s padded lap tray stayed in position as I chatted with Phyllis, his partner. He didn`t really join in. He looked up often, towards the telly, but nothing doing there. He gazed back down repeatedly at the picture on his tray--some kind of farmyard scene.

My heart sank again, as I realised he was tapping his finger against the detail in the picture in front of him.

After about 15 minutes, and during a gap in the conversation, he looked up.

`Four`, he said, quite assertively, eyes bright, with almost child-like pride. `There are FOUR dogs in this picture`.

This is how it must be, I thought. To lose your mind. And that`s when it hits you. That the fog of dementia is becoming more dense; slowing everything down.

And when it lifts you: when a shaft of light pierces through the fog. When you find that spark, that memory or talking point from many, many years before, that cranks the memory back into action.

It was one we often return to. The Harrow and Wealdstone train crash of 1952, which claimed 112 lives. Back in the mix because Phyllis had talked about a local historian`s interest in the event, and in dad`s involvement. As I`ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, dad was a young PC on duty at the time, helping casualties. They put his picture, grim faced, traumatised, in the evening paper that night.

Bizarrely, this grim story became the shaft of light on this gloomy day. It put dad centre stage again, feeling a more adult pride this time, reliving the hours spent crawling under mangled carriages, part of the team heaving up the wreckage up to free victims, crawling into the tightest spaces to offer assurances and shots of morphine to the trapped.

`I could do it`, said my dad, who`d been digging coal at 14. `Just like those mines, see? Lying on your side. Squeezing along the tunnels. Squeezing under that train.`

Sixty years before.The darkest memories. The utmost clarity.

Two days later I came home and read the excellent blog by Duncan Jones, ( ).

His mum also has dementia, and he writes movingly about her decline, and the expected, but dreaded moment Duncan reached recently--suspecting, for the first time, that his mum didn`t really know who he was. Heartbreaking. And a moment you never want to experience.

I always feel I`m a few steps behind Duncan, but walking along the same route. Looking for those shafts of light in every conversation. Always wanting that twinkle of recognition in their eyes...

Comments on Twitter:

 Thank you for writing about your Dad; I lost my Mum to Alzheimer's - the longest goodbye.

Beautifully written & very moving > RT : OK it`s dementia. But don`t forget me... 

and 5 others retweeted you

Monday 16 September 2013

Fridge magnets. Really?

Well OK.

It`s about fridge magnets.

Sort of.

I used to turn my nose up at them. But then....they started arriving on the fridge door...joined by various other mementoes. Some of which have been there a good long time.

Am I the only one? (Help me out here......) It`s just that some little scraps of paper make me smile.So I stick them up on the door...along with the magnets. And considering the number of times I`m in and out of the fridge every day (shut up...) can see why I`m generally...a very smiley person. (And have to do a lot of running....)

So: here`s the challenge. Do you have a more eclectic mix of receipts, recipes, notes, tickets, scraps of paper, pics and er....magnets than this? Or is it just me?

And never mind what`s on the shelves inside....can you (oh hell...) actually tell all you need to know about a person....from their fridge magnets? 

Thanks. Want a cheese sarnie while I`m here? Choc ice? Glass of wine........?

 (PS: Yes OK..there`s a lot about food.`s a fridge, goddamit. Cards and pics from eateries in New York,Greenwich and Shrewsbury. Stuff about losing weight next to a flyer from the fabulous Julia at Toot Sweets chocolates...... mmmmm. Magnets from Aberdovey and the Shard and from eldest daughter extolling the virtues of bad parenting. Poster about Brighton Rock, starring same, eldest daughter. OK and Dame Helen Mirren. Flyer from the fantastic Get Your Wigle On drama group for Annie....youngest daughter in it. Tickets to Manchester Airport (was off to Rome),the Rome Metro and the night boat to Normandy .Pics of Juliet and Alice now and then.A flyer about the Big Busk ((yep; still...because it was all just so brilliant )), the flower card from one of the best newsreaders in the BBC on the day I left ((he`s so sweet))....a pass to BBC TV centre to be an extra in a movie there...oh...and a recipe for a coffee mousse, not yet made).

It`s just me, isn`t it...?

Happy Monday :)

I agree a fridge can tell a lot about you... ;-)

my fridge is similarly decorated ! Lots of magnets , tickets , photos, memories of holidays, days out & happy things :)

There you go. What does that tell you? Apart from the fact that we drink too much beer?

Saturday 7 September 2013

Summer? It`s a wrap.

The train to Manchester on Thursday was baking. I was glad to be wearing a summer skirt and T shirt. The next day, it was lashing it down on the city streets, and I was freezing on a film set. Like all the extras, I ended up borrowing a waterproof jacket and plastic poncho from the lovely wardrobe ladies. Then, late at night, I shivered all the way back to Shrewsbury.

While there might still be some gorgeous, sunny days ahead; autumn`s in the air. I wrote part of this a year ago, after a rotten summer, when we were sharpening our pencils, flogging frocks and crocs, and eyeing up supermarket stewpacks.

This year we`ve had some sizzlers. I reckon it`s easier to face the chilly weather ahead when you can still see strap marks on a fading tan.

So here are those autumn thoughts. Not least because I seem to have nearly a thousand more followers on Twitter than I did this time last year. If you`re one of them...thanks. Slide over here for some apple crumble and custard: 

I woke up today to a tweet from chef and food writer Sabrina (@SabrinaGhayour), about  how much she loves September, and the autumn `mists and mellow fruitfulness` so beloved of Keats. She even copied Ode to Autumn in her message,a poem I used to know off by heart.

Yes, it`s beautiful to feel the sun on your face, relax in your garden and run free in bare feet. But in recent days, I`ve started looking longingly at my boots again : high black suede; shiny conker brown; little ankle boots with tip tap `look at me` heels. 

Out shopping, I found myself stroking a charcoal grey angora jumper and wriggling my fingers into the tips of soft tan leather gloves. I`m longing for those Aberdovey days when I can pretend the beach is mine during a brisk walk or a bracing run against the breeze. Only after a pause for hot chocolate in a cafe overlooking the sea will I start my lazy meander over the Welsh hills to home.

Much as I love throwing open every door and window at home in the summer, months later, I still get a thrill out of battening down the hatches with a gale lashing against the glass, knowing there`s a casserole cooking and a basket of logs for the fire. I was born in December and often wonder if it`s the same for all `winter babies`.

We`re not quite there yet, mind. There`ll be apples, pears and damsons to pick, and a little cottage in Normandy to visit where the branches are already heavy with walnuts. So I`m wrapping myself up today in my softest, pinkest pashmina. The colour`s summer fuchsia. The feel is...just a gentle, warm touch of winter. Might just wear it to the beach.

Monday 2 September 2013

Life`s little!

I`ve just opened a drawer and found that mystery pound coin again. The one my friends discovered down the back seat of my car on the way home from the pub. It caused much hilarity and debate, in the car, and later on Twitter. I mean...look at it.

Someone who *is* Roy, or knows him, has put his name on a pound coin. Maybe in a pub game or draw or something? Anyway, that mystery remains.So did it get in my car? I know only one Roy, and he`s certainly never been near my car...especially its back seat. But I couldn`t bring myself to spend the damn thing until I`d solved the mystery.

Maybe you can.

And so while you`re at it, and as you`re probably brighter than me , I`d love it if you could also throw some light on other apparently simple things...that I just don`t get.

1) Men who strim every sodding tree; every week. Let it grow. Or help me patent a device that plays nice funky tunes instead of the motor noise, so that I can dance while you strim.

2) People who really dawdle when they`re approaching a red traffic light (and hold everyone up.....) because they can`t be arsed to change down through the gears and put the handbrake on.

3) Motorists who drive round multi-storey carparks with their ticket in their mouth.

4) People who get their tiny baby`s ears pierced.

5) Hotels which don`t have power points near the bed to recharge your morning- alarmed phone. Now I`ve got to pad across the room when it rings, see?

6) Postmen who are still driving round in Salford Van Hire vehicles instead of Royal Mail red ones. What`s going on?

7) Weight. How come it goes on so much faster than it ever comes off.

8) People who aren`t on the transplant register. It ain`t gonna hurt you. But it could save lives.

9) Drivers who don`t put their lights on at dusk and dawn. The meter won`t run out, you know.

10) People who say: "Is it cold...or is it me..?"  If you`re cold, you`re cold.

Help me with any of that? Or...what`s puzzling you today? Please unfurrow my brow, because I can`t afford Botox and wouldn`t do that anyway. (OK: 11) People who do Botox

Happy Monday!! :)