A remarkable woman

Sometimes I read a book that has such an impact on me that I know it will remain with me, provoking thought and reflection in me. Talking to Myself by Anna Raeburn is such a book. It’s a remarkable book in that it was written at a time when Anna was already a well known woman.
I enjoyed this book, turning each page to see what was to happen next, drawing me into Anna’s world, her adventures, triumphs, and misfortunes. It enchanted me.
Anna grew up in the town of Middlesbrough on the coast of northeast England into a warm and loving family. Though she did well in grammar school her interests were more toward the world of theatre and the arts. Her parents and her sister were important in her life and yet by her 17th birthday in 1961 she arrived in London, cashed in her return ticket, fell in love with London, and courageously set out to become famous. And indeed she did.
The descriptions of places she lived and people she met brought visual imagery to me, almost as if I was with her. London was an exciting place and she met many people, expanding her horizons, learning of the strangeness of other behaviors and cultures, surviving illness, struggling with a series of poorly paid office jobs, moving from place to place, always working hard with the vision of success in her mind.
By the time she was 19 she set out for America. I laughed at her description of ‘terrible Tenafly’ and being a live-in domestic housekeeper, poor wages, and not at all nice employers. I loved the way in which she ventured into Manhattan, began acting classes, and met an enormous number of people, found Greenwich Village, in thrall to the sexual freedom and drug culture of the times. Not that she lost herself in it. Anna was determined, and bold, frequently introspective about herself, making observations about others that would lay a foundation for her later life.
Anna was what was to be described as a liberated woman, a pioneer in exploring relationships.
By the time she returned home to England a few years later I was in delight at what I was reading. As a man it gave me a vivid insight into gender oppression and a woman’s view of sex. Illness and the stupidity of men afflicted her though at times she did find love. She kept moving from place to place, making observations, determined, and working hard.
She moved into the world of writing and public relations, was hired by Penthouse, and returned to America on a publicity tour to launch Forum, a sex magazine. On returning to England she soon became known as a good speaker, giving presentations to various groups and made her debut on British TV. Another short return to America for a publicity tour followed.
She became a columnist for a magazine, Woman, was interviewed on TV by David Frost, became a radio personality, and from her column in Woman and her radio program dealing with sexual problems and relationships soon became known as England’s ‘agony aunt’. Much that she doesn’t like the term.
There is much more of course of this wonderful book, finding love, having her son Taylor, becoming ‘the Anna Raeburn’, but I urge you to buy this book and enjoy the pleasure I have had in reading it.

Gender oppression is a horrid thing. I found an article about a Tuareg girl in Niger to be uplifting: http://tinyurl.com/zuoaa6j

I was fascinated to read that European languages and some  Asian languages have a common origin in the not too distant past. I was enchanted to listen to a reconstruction of that language by a linguist. Maybe I’m biased but I think I detected some phonemes found in Gaelic: http://tinyurl.com/pvsjcv6

Do you know carbon emissions stopped an Ice Age: http://tinyurl.com/jbko43k

Scientists are eagerly searching for a distant planet thought to be about ten times the mass of Earth out in the distant region of our solar system: http://tinyurl.com/heo3pq8

February 27, 2016



Retreating from Year Zero.

In my retreat from Year Zero, needing relaxation, I delved into my science fiction collection and read a novel by Harry Turtledove. It’s one of his alternative history series. This one is Worldwar: In the Balance. It’s about an alien fleet invading earth. Their long distance probes from thousands of years before recorded a world in the neolithic period. They were stunned to find that humans had advanced so far, so fast, in such a short time. They were equipped with jet planes, tanks, trucks, troops, and advanced weaponry up to atomic weapons. Earth was in the middle of World War II. Earth fought back. All the familiar people are there, Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Hitler, Hirohito. A much greater war began. Turtledove is an excellent writer and it fit my preference for speculative fiction, based on the known laws of physics, engineering, chemistry, astronomy. I enjoyed reading it.

You’ll note I use tinyurls to give links. It’s easy to do. Just browse tinyurl, go to the site, and within seconds you can contract a long http: link to a short version. It looks much cleaner.

I have a long list of books I intend to read. I’m the sort of reader who likes to read line by line, sentence by sentence, drinking in the flow of words, feeling almost like I’m watching a movie, and at the end putting the book down with a sense of completion. So I don’t often reread a book, unless many years has passed. There are exceptions. One is the mother tongue, english and how it got that way, by Bill Bryson. Sometimes I like to read from it to friends, surprising them with observations about the English language we are speaking in. The book itself is a pleasure to read. He writes about how the flexibility of English, with all its variants and dialects, has made it a global language, how the wealth of vocabulary sets it apart from other commonly spoken languages. He properly points out words in other languages that do not exist in English. Should you decide to read this book I think you will finish it, as I did, with the thought that English has an inherent advantage over other languages, sometimes in quite startling ways.

One of the pleasures in my life is reading about another step forward in conquering disease. I can feel the thrill of discovery, the joy of young scientists, and have chagrin that I’m no longer young and working again with research teams. So when I read that a major advance against blood cancers has been reported I was thrilled. It’s a stunning advance in immunotherapy against cancer. It will begin many more clinical trials with this approach, refining and tweaking, triumphs and setbacks, until at some point we will be able to look back and see the beginning of the conquest of all cancers.


In the meantime there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. One simple step is to take a daily supplement of Vitamin D3 and set up regular blood tests with your physician to find out when you have reached an optimal level of Vitamin D circulating in your blood. The facts are known. The evidence has been accumulated. Most people have sub optimal levels.



I’ve been drawn into the world of tweeting and finding it fascinating. I’m promoting my own book Survival by this means, accumulating followers, learning new things. I like to learn and grow.


Stand up, look up, look out, see the wonder.

John Fahey, February  17, 2016

Recent books I’ve read.

There are books that have an impact on me, troubling books, that I’m glad I read because they increase my knowledge and awareness.

Camp of the Saints is a novel published by French writer Jean Raspail in 1973. It is a controversial novel about the end of western civilisation. It has received international acclaim. The translated first American edition was in 1975. It was an apocalyptic vision of the inhabitants of the Third World rising from their misery and forcing the West to share its space and resources. In 1973 it could have been viewed as science fiction. In 2016 as we follow the events in Europe, with over a million migrants fleeing war and economic disasters, reaching countries ambivalent about accepting them, it is a chillingly prescient novel. It is a haunting book.

A non-fiction book, Year Zero, A History of 1945, by Ian Borumna, published in 2013, is a grim book, well written, that should be read. The end of that horrible world war and the aftermath, tens of millions dying from vengeance, a new world order rising from the ashes, made me wonder if the world had gone mad. There are accounts in this book that have caused me to retreat from the world for awhile, to contemplate and mourn. It is estimated that 60-85 miliion people died. It’s going to take some time before I can turn my thoughts to other books. Now I know that when I was a baby in a crib in Stockton-on-Tees in northeastern England the population around me was seeing newsreels of the death camps and concentration camps in cinemas, with soldiers at the exits to force crying and vomiting people back in if they tried to leave. My imagination of that is too vivid.

So in the weeks ahead I will return to my passion, reading about the moving frontier of medical research and discovery. Reading about a cure for multiple sclerosis within reach, about a cure for Diabetes 1 on the horizen. Not treatments, actual cures. And my mind can find comfort that scientists are working on ways to give to us an optimal healthy longevity.




So as I read about the past, I’ll look to the future with sense of awe and wonder.

February 9, 2016