Monthly Archives: December 2011

In the interest of keeping our readers cosy this winter, a couple of weeks ago we gave you guys the chance to lay your hands on a Winter Reading Bundle and a signed copy of Lucy Dillon’s book, The Secret of Happy Ever After.

In order to win, we asked you to tell us which book was your favourite when you were growing up. The response we got was, as always, fantastic and we rediscovered absolutely loads of great books in the process of going through your answers. If you’re interested, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton emerged as the clear leaders, between the two of them accounting for just under half of our entries.

The winner was picked at random and we’re pleased to announce that Cathy Glynn from Derbyshire will be walking away with the winter bundle – congratulations!

Four runners up have also won themselves a signed copy of The Secret of Happy Ever After - congratulations to Heidi from Suffolk, Susan from Northamptonshire, Janet from Cheshire and Jeannette from Camden County.

Big thanks to everyone that got involved and be sure to keep an eye out for more great competitions in the new year!

Hi again Tesco Books fans, it’s David Essex here with my second guest blog.

So, it’s almost Christmas and we’re just that little bit nearer to the publication of my new autobiography. We have settled on a great title “Over the Moon”, to reflect my recent role as Eddie Moon on Eastenders. We now have a finished jacket,  I’m really pleased with the cover and I hope you like it – please do check back after Christmas to see it uploaded with a brilliant pre-order offer.

In the meantime, I‘m busy on tour with All the Fun of the Fair right up to April 2012, you can find the tour dates on my website or www.allthefunofthefairmusical.com but I will also be making some time to answer your questions.  If you’ve got any burning questions that you’ve always wanted to ask me – then please leave your questions in the comment box below and I will post my answers in the New Year.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy Christmas with your family and friends and I look forward to seeing you again in early 2012. I know I am looking forward to a short break with my family.

Every good wish for Christmas and a peaceful New Year,

Glad tidings!

David

A couple of weeks ago, we launched our competition to win a prize that every kid would be thrilled to find under the Christmas tree: all 20 of the Horrid Henry books.

The competition has now come to an end and I’m pleased to announce that the winners were:

Matt from Chislehurst, Olivia from Midlothian, James from Norwich, Emma from Toyrone and Jayne from Worcester.

Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone that got involved and commiserations if you didn’t win this time around – why not try your luck on our new competition to win a winter reading bundle!

 

As it’s the season to be jolly, here at Tesco we often have author’s in for books signings. And a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to have Lee Evans over for a book signing in one of our Tesco Extra Stores. His book, The Life of Lee, is a funny but moving autobiography charting Lee’s ups and downs on his way to the top – from his childhood on a Bristol housing estate to performing in front of thousands at the O2 arena. At the signings, dozens of fans queued up for their chance to meet Lee and have their copies of The Life of Lee signed by him. One fan even went as far as asking Lee to sign his torso, apparently he’s going to turn it into a tattoo!

Alongside the book tour, we asked our Twitter followers to send us questions for Lee. We passed them on, and he answered as many as he could. Have a look to see if your question was answered below! We’d also like to say a huge thanks to Lee for taking the time to answer these questions, and to everyone who submitted a question on Twitter.

What has been Lee’s favourite show to date? - @mcflylover01

Wired and Wonderful – it was the first arena date, and first time I ever played Wembley.

Has Lee Evans done a signing in Manchester? If not is he coming? I’d love to meet him! - @alissaanicollee

I did a book signing in Manchester Trafford Centre – it was on the 26th November…

Considering lee says he started in a one man band, what instruments can he play? - @madnessrule2k9

Mandolin, Piano, Bass, Drums, Saxophone, Clarinet, Banjo, Ukelele, Guitar

Is Lee going to do any more films? - @feakins25

Yes – I’ve written two

Hi Lee! Here’s my question .. Out of all of the tours you’ve done, which has been your favourite? - @monkeysocks92

Wired and Wonderful – as above!

Once you finish your tour, how long is it before you start to plan your next tour? - @laurendown1

Most of the next tour is already written by the time I’ve finished the last one

When does Lee hope to tour again? - @iEddiez94

In a couple of years’ time – I tour every 3 years

My question is, have you ever worked out how much sweat has come from you over the years? - @pesky__peeves

No, I haven’t worked it out!

Does it annoy him that some people only him as being the sweaty comedian? - @lady_ashlea

Not really – it’s God’s cooling system.

What was the craziest thing a fan has done? - @jane4evarxx

Behave properly! Although a few fans flew out to New York to see me on a run there – that was amazing.

What does Lee do for relaxation. I cannot imagine him ever sitting still for very long :)  - @dizzyclbb

Go to the Tesco self service aisle. That’s very relaxing.

Would you ever do another of your own tv series? Or even bring back ‘So What Now?’ - @ebiedarkins

No – I always go forward.

 

Writers always try to make their settings as authentic as possible – it’s much easier to write about a place if you’ve actually been there. But I took it to extremes for my latest book, Fair GameFair Game is the eighth book in my Spider Shepherd series, about a former SAS trooper who becomes an undercover cop who then goes on to work for MI5.

This new thriller is all about Somali pirates and kidnappings off the coast of Africa. Spider gets called in when the goddaughter of the Prime Minister is kidnapped by pirates. A big chunk of Fair Game takes place on a container ship sailing around the Horn of Africa and that was always going to be difficult because I had absolutely no idea what life was like on board a working vessel.

The internet is a marvellous research tool and like most writers I’d be lost without it. But web pages don’t give you the feel, the sounds and the smells of the real world. So to make sure that I got my descriptions right I booked myself on one of the world’s largest container ships for an eighteen-day voyage from Malaysia to Southampton. I decided on the Hydra, a 131,000 tonne leviathan with a deck the size of four football fields which carries upwards of five thousand containers. The cargo alone is often worth more than half a billion dollars.

Me In Tangiers with the Hydra

It turns out that not only was it a great way of doing the necessary research, it was probably the best working environment that a writer could ask for. I was the only passenger and most of the time the officers (Croatian) and crew (Filipinos) were busy so I was left on my own. There was no internet connection and no mobile phone signal other than on the rare occasions we were close to land which meant for the first time in my life I was able to sit down and write with absolutely no distractions.

I would wake up early and have breakfast with the officers then write all morning. Lunch was at midday and I would write in the afternoon followed by a spell in the gym or a brisk walk around the deck, then dinner followed by more writing. I ended up averaging more than three thousand words a day and stepped off the ship in Southampton having written close to fifty thousand words, almost half a book.

Steve on Hydra 4

My spell on the freighter also improved my table tennis. Each evening I played with Vladimir the Chief Officer, though sad to say I never won a game. ‘There are only two ways you’ll ever beat me,’ he said, ‘either you kill me or I let you win. And neither is going to happen.’  He was as good as his word, and while he never lost I did get off the ship a much better player than when I’d boarded.

Once the captain and crew knew that I was a writer and that I was writing a book about Somali pirates, they couldn’t have been more helpful. I was allowed the full run of the ship and spent hours under the decks, walking between the containers, and down in the engine room. The crew showed me what they were trained to do in the event of encountering pirates and how Spider could move around the ship without being spotted. The captain even came up with the perfect way of disabling the vessel so that pirates could board.

Nothing was too much trouble and I was pretty much allowed to do anything I wanted – even to the extent of being allowed to wander around the deck in a Force 8 gale in the Indian Ocean. And have the captain change course so that I could get a better photograph of an old-fashioned yacht.

Arriving at Southampton

I came away with memories that will stay with me for ever. Standing with the captain on the bridge while he pointed out Venus and Jupiter in the night sky, the swathe of the Milky Way above us, and listening to him explain how a sextant works. Sailing through the Suez Canal, the giant vessel dwarfing the blocks of apartments that we passed. Passing two convoys in the Gulf of Aden, more than forty ships of all shapes and sizes being protected against Somali pirate attacks by Japanese and Chinese warships. And being on the bridge as the port pilot guided us into Southampton.

It was an amazing experience and Fair Game is a much better book because of it. I had such a great time and was so productive that I’m now thinking of making another trip, just so that I can get some work done.

Fair Game is featured in the second phase of our Handpicked initiative, where we group books according to the ‘moods’ they’d best suit in order to help readers find the perfect next book to read. We selected Fair Game for the mood, Handpicked to Set Your Pulse Racing’, as its certain to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Sarah - “Although delivering babies must often be stressful, I imagine that there is often humour to be found in the way the fathers react to the whole process. What’s the funniest reaction you’ve seen from a new father?”

Hi Sarah,

The funniest incident I remember was when a newly appointed hospital porter was ushered quickly into a room where a woman was about to give birth. The midwife thought he was her partner, and the porter thought he must be needed. He was positioned by the woman’s head, and the midwife instructed him ‘I think she needs you!’ He kindly got hold of her hand thinking this was part of his role…and the woman accepted it graciously. The truth was only revealed when the baby was born and the ‘real’ partner arrived on the scene! Luckily, everyone saw the funny side of the story….but it could’ve gone dreadfully wrong! The porter had such a tale to tell when he got home….if he dared!

Mary - “Why do you think it is that lots of women have never heard about a birth centre and only know about hospital birth? Do you think women have more options now when they’re pregnant or is was it better years ago?”

Hi Mary,

Many women don’t know about birth centres because they have never seen or heard of them due to them being absent in the area where they live. In the 1980′s when I worked in a GP unit (like a birth centre) women saw it as a ‘normal’ option and preferred to go there instead of the hospital. Sadly hospital birth is more likely to be viewed as the safest place to have a baby, even when there are no expected complications. We could argue when things are ‘going right’, hospital is not necessarily the best place to be and can be the cause of things going wrong as women enter what has been described as the cascade of intervention. Women have much more options now. There is a greater focus on offering a choice of type of care or approaches to coping in labour. However, I feel that some of the options, for example screening tests in pregnancy, put too much pressure on expectant couples as they grapple with so much information and then are expected to make crucial decisions.

Lucinda - “With my mother as a senior Healthcare Assistant/ student nurse (degree course) in our local hospital and my sister who is a Senior Sister at St. Thomas’ in London on a high Dependency ward, I (along with various family members) are naturally interested in all aspects of nursing and medical care. My sister before her training was adamant about taking a Midwifery training course but due to advice she decided against it and undertook a ’2,000 scheme’ of general practise so that she could have an idea of all aspects of care before specialising. My question is:

1. Do you feel that it is better to get a generalised idea of practise and then decide if you are still interested in Midwifery afterwards, or should one go strait ahead for it?

2. Do you think that nurses’ standards these days (in any sphere) have dropped – or risen – due to the more ‘academic’ qualifications they are required to have as well as practical experience… And sometimes more so than the practical?

Dear Lucinda,

1. I am a nurse and also a midwife, and I have to say when I studied to be and worked as a midwife my previously learnt knowledge and experience in nursing helped when caring for women with medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. But I don’t think it is necessary to have general nursing background to be a good midwife; in fact many of the best midwives I know are ‘direct entry’ midwives.

2. I don’t think nursing standards have dropped really, but the workload for nurses/midwives has changed radically and I do feel bureaucracy and form filling has shifted the focus somewhat. There seems to be an increasing ‘fear’ culture and due to the pressure of work sometimes ‘caring’ for patients is forgotten. I believe academic qualifications are important, especially for nurses when they are expected to fully understand the implications of treatments they administer , or for midwives when they need to push boundaries to support women’s choices.

Alison - “This book is a fabulous journey through your career. Do you think that hospital trusts should be visiting schools at options stages to encourage a future as a midwife? 

Yes, there is a desperate shortage of midwives and the Royal College of Midwives are urging the Government to agree to recruit the equivalent of 5000 more full-time midwives. Going into schools to talk to students is an excellent idea, although there is no shortage of applicants to study midwifery, the problem lies in available posts once qualified.

Special thanks to Sheena for her fantastic answers, and thanks to all of you that got involved!

(Image courtesy of the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times) 


The Secret of Happy Ever AfterIf you’re looking for a heart-warming tale to curl up by the fire with this Christmas, Lucy Dillon’s latest book, The Secret of Happy Ever After, might be just what you’re after. We featured The Secret of Happy Ever After in our second round of Handpicked, our new initiative to help readers find the perfect book for how they’re feeling by grouping books according to the ‘moods’ that they would best suit. This book was included in the mood, ‘Handpicked to Warm Your Heart’. The Secret of Happy Ever After follows the story of Anna, who’s just taken over Longhampton’s bookshop. It’s her dream job, but while she unpacks boxes of childhood classics, she can’t help but feel that her own ‘happy ever after’ is yet to come about. And as things go wrong for her, Anna finds comfort and guidance in the pages of the childhood books in her store.

The Secret of Happy Ever After makes for great winter reading, so we thought we’d give you guys the chance to win not only a signed copy of the book, but also a great winter-warming bundle of goodies:

Winter warming competition prize

With a hot water bottle, thick socks, chocolate for eating and drinking, a mug, candy cane and three of Lucy’s Christmassy novels – including a signed copy of The Secret of Happy Ever After - this bundle is all you need for a winter reading session. To be in with a chance of winning, we want you to tell us which book was your childhood favourite. Just write your answer in the comments below. One lucky winner will receive the winter-warming bundle, and we also have four signed copies of The Secret of Happy Ever After for runners-up.

Lucy’s also written a lovely guest blog post sharing some of her favourite winter comfort reads …

Read more

A little while back we gave you guys the opportunity to put your questions to the ever-enigmatic Andy Mcnab. His latest book, Battlefield 3: The Russian, was released a month or so ago, accompanying a game of the same name which he also worked on, drawing upon his experiences in the SAS to offer guidance to Electronic Arts on some of the finer points of combat. Last week, Andy sent his answers back to us. Unfortunately, he couldn’t answer every question that you guys sent, but the answers that he has given is should serve to shed a little light on a writer who has always been something of a mystery to his fans.

Read more

A few weeks ago we kicked off a competition to win one of five bundles of Peppa Pig goodies, including a copy of Peppa Pig Time for a StoryPeppa Pig Pirate island Sound Book and the Peppa Pig ‘International Day’ DVD.

We had a great response from you guys. Over 150 of you got involved and although there were loads of great answers, in the end we had to narrow it down to just five of you to win. So, without further ado, the winners were:

Lorraine from Merthyr Tydfil, Peter from Worcester, Kieran from Essex, Elizabeth from North Yorkshire and Lucy from Oxfordshire. Congratulations! We hope you and your children enjoy your Peppa Pig prizes!

Peppa Pig

We also wanted to feature some of our favourite competition entries, so here are a few of the great answers we received when we asked you to tell us what animals you and your children would want to be and why:

“I’ve just asked my three year old and she would love to be a worm, so that she can get covered in mud and not get told off apparently! Am I really that mean?” (Faye)

“My 21 month old son would like to be a cat. Maybe that is because its the only word he can say!” (Kellie)

“I’d want to be an Arctic Tern, travelling the furthest out of all the birds, from almost one end of the world to another, seeing it all from high in the sky, literally a birds eye view” (Kirsty)

“”A Hedgehog so I could sleep through the winter” was my little godson’s reply” (Jay)

“I’d like to be a cheetah – seems like I need their speed to get everything done in a day!” (Lucy)

After playing Eddie Moon in Eastenders to much acclaim, I’m now back on the road for a few months with my hit musical ‘All the Fun of the Fair’. So many wonderful and unusual things have happened in my life I thought it would be a good time get my life and career down on paper in the form of an autobiography, which I am told is being released on 1st of March next year . While thinking about my life and writing it, I can’t believe it was over 40 years ago back in 1971 when I got the part of Jesus in Godspell,  and what a rollercoaster ride my life has taken! Since then it appears that I have done it all – writing and recording hit records, musicals , films and T.V.

Tesco have asked me if I will be a regular blogger over the next few months, which is something I am very happy and proud to do. I think I will try to video my next blog for you – that should be here just before Christmas.

I’ll look out for your messages and questions and try to update you between now & when my book is released. I will also think up some competitions for you and I’ve a fab idea of a very special prize, I will tell you more later on…

See you.

David