Verity Red’s Diary (or Veri Tyred’s Diary!) takes you on a journey with Verity as she deals with leading a new and very different life after contracting M.E./C.F.S.

Written with the realism that only real life experience can provide, yet suffused with great wit and a wry humour, Maria Mann had lived with M.E. for over ten years by the time it was published, and spent many of those years writing the book in bed. One reader described the book as, “Bridget Jones meets Adrian Mole”, which as a one liner summary always makes Maria chuckle (as indeed you might while reading the book).

Scroll down for extracts and illustrations…

My very first ‘Verity Red’ book, now only available as a Kindle edition.

I’ve come a long way as a writer since it was published, but ‘Ben’ insists that he still loves it and it’s not to be forgotten… “Oh, alright then dear!”

Saturday 1st January

9.51 a.m. It’s still raining cats and dogs.

9.54 a.m. Huge, long yawn… like extremely tired person. Lay awake half the night listening to the cats and dogs.

9.56 a.m. Ben turns over again, taking his enormous wobbly belly with him. He’s happily snoring away last night’s Christmas port and dreaming away the blue cheese; curled up in an untidy pile of limbs, duvet and pillows, like his discarded papers and clothes.

9.57 a.m. Wonder if I sleep in a tidy way, neatly folded up, making gentle feminine breathing noises.

9.58 a.m. Grab some bed covers for myself and try to go back to sleep.

9.59 a.m. Eyes tight shut; brain wide awake.

10.00 a.m. Don’t want to get up till springtime.

10.02 a.m. Want to hibernate in a box in the wardrobe like next door’s tortoise. He’s a very old, thirty something tortoise, hasn’t moved around much for the last few years and likes a little nibble on something tasty when he’s in the mood; we have a lot in common.

10.04 a.m. Want to be a hedgehog but I’m too spineless.

10.05 a.m. Need bathroom.

10.06 a.m. Tempted to lie still and wet self.

Saturday 8th January

There’s one doctor in particular who makes me so mad I’d like to tell him M.E. stands for Magic Encyclopaedia (a rare form of brain strain brought on by reading too many spell books). He already looks at me as if I’m a barmy old witch. Or I could give him a long list to annoy him.

Wednesday 2nd March

Rain. Wind. Rain. Wind. Rain. Rain. Rain. A little girl and her mum had difficulty holding onto their umbrellas.

Couldn’t be bothered to comb the tangles out of my mad March hair this morning; I’m wearing a style to match the season – the windswept overgrown hedge look. I am so in tune with nature these days.

I remember the women I once saw at the Glastonbury pop festival behind the food tent. They were close to nature, and to the vegeburger mix. As they bent over plastic washing-up bowls, mulching the burger mix with their hands, their long hair dangled and sweat dripped from their hairy armpits into the ingredients.

Couldn’t face vegeburgers tonight.

Friday 4th March

There was a strange smell in the house this morning like something had died and was rotting quietly in a corner somewhere; thought maybe I’d died and when I looked in the mirror there would be no reflection, like the couple in the ghostly film Beetlejuice.

Sometimes I wake up amazed that I’m still alive. Sometimes I think the sheer effort of trying to keep my sanity will kill me. Sometimes I’m too exhausted to be amazed or think about anything… sometimes. Anyway, I’m not worried about the smell. I expect the rubbish needs putting out.

10.05 a.m. Brewed peppermint tea in a Kit-Kat mug.

Friday 1st April

9.00 a.m. Another morning. Another month. Same me. Same M.E. Same room. Same clock, second hand ticking tirelessly… tick… tick… tick… like a long, thin, white, pointy-nailed finger… tap… tap… tap… on a cauldron… one frog, one snail, one puppy dog’s tail; that’s what little boyfriends are made of. Two birds peck at the overgrown herb garden… peck… peck… peck… water drips from cottage eaves after April rain… drip… drip… drip… the witch’s garden has survived another storm… I’ve survived three months of the year… I’ve survived three minutes of wakefulness today… tick… tick… tick… a big warty toad jumps into the pond – plop!

Wednesday 27th April

… she watched thousands of tiny specks of dust frantically doing what specks of dust do in afternoon sunlight…

I was a busy speck of dust once, milling about with other specks in the great living room of life. Now the great yellow duster of chronic illness has flattened and trapped me and, like a duster that’s all used up, I’ve been thrown in the washing machine to go round and round in circles. At the end of my cycle, I’m all limp and screwed up.

… she felt slightly crazy as she sat in the stripy deck chair on Folkestone’s stony beach, staring out to sea. It started to sprinkle with rain and a chilly wind blew her hair across her mouth. Her eyes watered. She was not crying; it was the wind. She was not going to cry; someone might notice and try to comfort her and she didn’t want to speak to anyone. They might also notice her thin clothing and the soggy uneaten sandwich on her lap, and think her very silly. They might say something kind or tell her off and if she started to cry she knew she wouldn’t stop. Everyone had gone home now anyway…

Sunday 18th September


I’m a pen

With no ink

I’m a kitchen

Without a sink

I’m a kite

Without a breeze

I’m a runner

With no knees

I’m a pond

No water in it

A top with

Noone to spin it

A puppet

With no strings

I’m a bird

That never sings

I’m a drummer

With no sticks

I’m a die

Without a six

I’m a cake

Without a mix

A Magician

Without his tricks

I’m a dog

Without a bone

I’m a house

That’s not a home

I’m a door

That never closes

Something’s eaten

All my roses

Wednesday 21st September

Dreamt of silhouettes of birds circling outside the windows all night and awoke feeling as if I’d been watching an Alfred Hitchcock film. Consulted my dream book: birds in flight signify a desire to escape some present situation and also an intense idealism. An eagle often reflects a concern with matters spiritual and the ancient Greeks believed that different kinds of birds symbolised kinds of people: eagles were rulers; wild pigeons were immoral women. The Hebrews believed birds were good omens. Good.

Wednesday 9th November

Cleaned the kitchen floor. Well, not exactly the whole floor, half of it; about a quarter, really. And it wasn’t a proper clean with a mop and Flash and me standing smiling proudly at a job well done, the tiles sparkling, the enamel on the cooker twinkling, the sun shining through the window on to clear, polished work surfaces and saucepans you could use as a mirror to do your make-up. The only flashing being done was my knickers showing through a big hole in the bum of my leggings, as I crawled on my hands and knees, using damp kitchen roll (lovely autumn leaf pattern) to wipe muddy paw prints near the cat flap and crumbs near the cooker and bread bin area. I now have the energy to keep the filth at bay; I’m so fortunate. Must remember to lay fresh sheets of Adscene by the cat flap every time I pick up the dirty soggy pages, which isn’t very often.

Late this afternoon, Murphy crept into the kitchen with wet black spiky fur; he’s going through a punk phase. He’ll be wanting his ears, nose and belly button pierced next, and spend all day hanging around in bin bags. Paddy told me he’s going on a demonstration against testing on animals: he’s joining the Feral Demo-cats; I’m very proud of my ginger son. Mary is so beautiful, she’s attracting all the boy cats in the neighbourhood, but she ignores them and teeters along the fence, head held high, like Marilyn Monroe in stilettos. The boys howl outside her window at night.

Rain tapped the window pane and reminded me to lay newspaper down by the cat flap. When I left the kitchen, a gust of wind blew the paper across the floor. My teenagers padded round it, jumped onto the fridge and work tops and made pretty paw-shaped tracks for mummy to admire.