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Telling it and Feeling it

There's a big difference between telling it and feeling it, and a well known warning. 

As the old saying would have it - Don't get involved. 

It's there to protect your professionalism, and yourself. 

And I understand the sentiment, but I've never agreed. 

This week, I had the distressing task of reporting on a fire which destroyed an historic hotel, right in the heart of my beloved Exeter home town. 

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As a journalist, maybe I should have just said what was happening and left it at that. The who, what, where, why, when and how. 

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I was arranging a couple of lovely events this week - a talk to Age UK and some teaching in a fine Devon school - when I was asked a very good question by one of the hosts. 

Why do I do these events? 

Like so many of the best questions, it's a simple one and hits right to the heart of an issue. 

I suppose the answer is - because I can. Just as my wonderful riverbank friends can revel in the freedom of flight...

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(This is Malvo, newest arrival on the river, showing off whilst still looking impressively serious.)

Anyway, as I was saying, I enjoy making good use of the gifts I'm fortunate enough to have been given. 

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Killer Lines

All week, I've been struggling for a line. 

You know those moments in writing, films or plays? Where it's a time of high tension and a character comes out with a cracking, memorable line. 

"You're gonna need a bigger boat", when Jaws finally reveals himself. Or "Make him an offer he can't refuse", in The Godfather. 

Every writer aspires to creating such a classic. 

I came out with an - admittedly paraphrased - version this week, when I was talking to the Read Easy charity about the wonderful work they do, helping adults who struggle to read. 


These are some of the volunteers and readers, and a wonderful group of people they are, too. 

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The Wonder of Words

I'm preparing for an event this week which is both a great privilege and a big pressure. 

I've become the patron of a charity, Read Easy. They help adults learn to read when they may have spent years hiding their struggles. 

It's a fantastic cause, and I was flattered to be asked to help. 

But! As ever in this strange game called life, there's a but. 

I'm giving a talk about what reading means to me, and it's really made me agonise. 

You'd think it wouldn't be so hard. I give plenty of talks about writing and journalism - this is a shot from an event at the excellent Plymouth High School for Girls. 


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Going Off Script

A script is a great comfort as a guide in life, but going for a wander can be far more rewarding.

I've done a couple of careers events in the last few weeks where I set myself a challenge. 

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These are some of the fine youngsters of Exeter School, who came along to listen to my ramblings (the ladies in the army gear weren't there to arrest me; the school has proud links with the forces and it was a training day.)

Anyhow, I decided rather than have a script of what to say for the sessions, I would pop down a few bullet points and talk around them. 

I was a little nervous about how it might go. But I'm delighted to report it worked beautifully and was so very uplifting.

I felt much more free, not being a slave to the strictures of a Powerpoint presentation.

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