Verity Red (Veri Tyred) is back, with her mischievously wry wit and bad hair days. She still loves a chocolate treat, watching Coronation Street, collecting stray cats that appear on her doorstep, and Christmas gift catalogues that appear on her doormat. Her new love is sending text messages from her mobile phone, and she is going to learn to love jigsaw puzzles.

Verity’s diary begins on 1st September, because in previous months, all her precious energy has gone into writing a book (Love & Best Witches) and getting it published. Christmas gift catalogues have started to arrive with the post, and she is looking forward to curling up under a blanket of warm cats, while her fingers do the walking…

Friday 3rd September

Oh God. I’ve actually written a book. One hundred and fifty three whole pages. Will anyone buy it? I need to promote it. I’m not well enough to travel about doing book signings, but many people who have M.E. are housebound anyway. Those well enough to attend a book signing would find standing in a queue exhausting. Well, I’d like to imagine there would be a queue. More than three people would be quite nice.

Must promote my book. It would be much less effort, so much easier, if I could just dream about book signings. Must get a grip on reality. I would love a review in the winter edition of InterAction. Will ask Ben to email the Action for M.E. charity. It would be so fantastic to get a review in time for Christmas, but I think it may be too late for that. I will try. Nothing ventured, nothing strained.

It’s too late to ask the M.E. Association for a review, their autumn edition of M.E. Essential is out next month. I’ll ask Ben to email the man in charge of editing and advertising, Tony Britton, next year. A review or advertisement, mid October, would be perfect timing for a witchy book, just before Halloween.

Oh God. I may get awful reviews, it is a rather eccentric book. Will anyone want to read a book about a witch who has M.E.? Fans of J. K. Rowling’s wonderful Harry Potter books, possibly. I will have to keep my fingers crossed. My broomsticks crossed too. Must remember to ask Ben to email Action for M.E. soon, I have a memory like a leaky cauldron.

Monday 27th September

More catalogue browsing. I like the vintage-style wallmounted wirework mannequin. Sometimes you feel like a wall-mounted mannequin when you have M.E. Stiff. Lifeless. All you do is hang around the house all day.

Tuesday 5th October

Received a lovely reply from Colin Barton of the Sussex and Kent M.E./CFS Society today, saying he would happily include the advert for my witchy book in the winter edition of his newsletter. Wonderful!

I parcelled up a copy of Love & Best Witches with a letter of thanks, a cheque for thirty five pounds, and a donation to Colin’s charity. I’m looking forward to seeing the advert for my book. Finally done. Completely completed.

Saturday 9th October

Bloom catalogue arrived today, full of beautifully colourful silk flower arrangements and small silk trees in pots. I’ve never liked plastic or silk flowers, but since I’ve had M.E., the thought of plants that don’t need tending have a certain appeal. A certainly huge appeal. A blooming good idea!

Saturday 16th October

Thursday 21st October

Today I received a letter from the Chairman of the Kent and Sussex M.E./CFS society, Colin Barton. He thanked me for my donation to their appeal; saying it would improve the lives of people affected by M.E./CFS across Kent and Sussex, which I thought was really nice.

Ben received an equally lovely email from the press and publications officer at Action for M.E., Clare Ogden. She said they were planning pages of their next issue of Inter Action, and thought it would be grand to use an extract from my book, about eight hundred words, and some blurb about me. She also asked for five copies of Love & Best Witches, for their readers give-away. I will send seven copies. For luck.

6.30 p.m. Some blurb about me! Little me, who has M.E. In a MAGAZINE! Oh God. This is wonderful, but I can’t think of a single thing I want to say about me. All I can think is; cranky old witch, who wants to live on the Cornish coast, next door to Dawn French. My mind has gone completely blank.

6.35 p.m. I still don’t know what to write.

Friday 22nd October

6.10 p.m. Ben arrived home from work. Took off shoes. Checked emails.

6.11 p.m. WOW! Witchily wonderful! A.F.M.E. Have decided to do a double-page spread, and would like a photo of me to go with the short biography and extracts. I will have to see if I can find one, I’ve rarely had my photo taken since I got ill. But there will be a few, taken at home with my cats. I’m not going to do one of those author at desk poses, looking intelligent and writerly, with pen poised or book in hand. I never sit at a desk anyway. Or look intelligent. Or writerly. But pale and witchy, yes.

The last book I read was by the fabulous American writer, Rita Mae Brown. I love the titles of her books: Murder – She Meowed, Claws and Effect, Puss ‘n Cahoots, Santa Clawed, The Purrfect Murder; to name, only a few. There is a photo of Rita at the back of her book. She is not posing at a desk, but sitting in a comfy chair looking tranquil with her tabby cat. I will find a photo of me looking tranquil. In a comfy chair. With a cat. Purrfect.

Tuesday 26th October

On the way to the checkout, we passed aisles of Christmas goodies: bags of chocolate money, cuddly toys, stocking fillers, festive decorations and festive confectionery. I chose a wind-up penguin and chocolate snowmen, for Louise’s Christmas stocking. Then, suddenly, I wanted to lie down on the carpet, curled up with the huge white cuddly toy polar bear, and sleep till Christmas. I’ve no idea how I got to the checkout counter, and then to our car in the car park. The world went misty, and I felt like I was crawling in a snowstorm, exhausted with hypothermia.

My snowstorm gradually became soft flakes, as we drove through country lanes, past sleepy country cottages and sleepy horses of every horsey-shade, in the fading light. Ben suggested we have a relaxing drink in The Horseshoes pub, where he sometimes does an Avocado Pair gig. He said there’s always huge log fires there in the winter, and comfortable chairs. I found the energy to smile and nod in agreement, as I thought about buying a wheelchair. It was about time I treated myself to one. I had recently seen a reasonably priced chrome steel chair, advertised in Healthy Living Direct; it folds up so you can put it in the boot of a car, very convenient. I could float around Notcutts in my heavenly carriage, with a basket on my lap, so Ben wouldn’t have to carry our purchases, just push my chair.

ME: I think it’s about time I had a wheelchair. I’ve seen one in Healthy Living Direct, it folds up so you can put it in your car boot.

BEN: Sounds like a good idea.

ME: I’ve never liked being pushed around by a man, but in this case I’m all for it.

BEN: Ha ha ha!

Sunday 5th December

As I coughed my way to the bird table this morning, I noticed the rain had melted away some of the snow. My seven dwarves were peering out of their fluffy white blankets, and their little faces made me smile. For a moment I felt inspired to complete more of my Disney jigsaw puzzle, but I knew I had to save energy for writing Christmas cards and letters.

Two jolly snowmen greeted me when I opened the window marked with a number five, on Santa’s sleigh. The chocolate robin melted on my tongue, like a Cadbury’s Flake on a hot summer day. Summer seemed a very long time ago.

Gazing out of the bedroom window mid-afternoon, I saw another snowman in the car park. He was melting and his head had fallen off. I couldn’t help thinking that M.E. is like being a snowman after a rainfall. Your energy dissolves away, you feel like you’ve lost your head; and you end up feeling like a puddle of slush, unable to do anything but gaze up at passing clouds.