Perhaps it was because my breath had clouded the window or perhaps it was the steam climbing from my bowl of mussels, but when my father-in-law asked why I had stopped blogging, I replied that I feared what I had to say was simply a lot of hot air. The world is already too full of it, I said, as if sending my words out into the ether were accelerating climate change. This is, I believe, a common fear amongst writers; their words being only so much hot air, that is. Climate change is a pressure too far!
I've had a change of heart. I have a voice, and I have decided to use it. It was Tony Benn who said that the greatest gift you can give is encouragement. I'm very grateful to my encouragers, chief amongst them my husband and father-in-law, who have convinced me to get back in this seat!
International Women's Day is a fortuitous and fitting day to exercise my voice as a woman. There are people all around the world today, men and women, who are suppressed and unable to use theirs but it is a fate still more commonly that of women. When I look back only a generation into parts of my own family, I see plenty of women whose voices were not heard, who, through lack of education and confidence, hardly dared to raise them. This is not my fate.
More personally and poignantly, both my mother and my sister were robbed of their voices through illness: my sister as a result of a subarachnoid haemorrhage, my mother as a result of her ongoing dementia.
Using my voice has come to symbolise something important for me.
The question now is: what will I tell you? That's what I'm looking forward to finding out.
I plan to be here most often on Tuesdays.
All of the wonderful photos on this blog were taken by Andrew Holman