The other day I went to a family party.  It was given by a niece from my husband’s family, which happens to be an extremely large one. The place was heaving with people I hadn’t seen for years.   Now, it is a well known fact about extended families that one only tends to meet up at weddings, funerals and major anniversaries.  So years can go by without seeing them and when you do finally meet up again you find major changes have taken place.  New generations have been added.  There have been births, deaths, marriages, divorces, change of circumstances,  and so on and so forth.  It takes a lot of quick catching up, especially with any recent scandals or surprising events.

As I watched the proceedings unfold it started me thinking about the many layers that make up family life.  It’s like peeling an onion. Anecdotes were told, secrets revealed and as the evening wore on and the drink flowed, the more interesting events, even scandals, inevitably came to light.   This is of course fascinating to a writer.   The writer is an observer.  It is one of his most valuable tools.  And observing family relationships, especially in an extended family, is really fascinating for me.  I have used it in all my writing, particularly in Parallel Lines and in the second book of the trilogy, Triangles in Squares, which will be out in September.  It has probably been the major source of material for writers of fiction from George Eliot, the Bronte’s, Jane Austen and Dickens, right up to the present day.   And it will continue to be so.  The Family of Man is always with us.

A rather loose link to to the subject of ‘relations’ is the tragic story of  the beautiful lion, Cecil.  Not only did this poor animal have to suffer a long and painful 40 hour death – but it is likely his cubs will suffer now as well, being left without their father and the head of their pride. So this dreadful act has far reaching consequences.  To the lunatics who call it ‘sport’ I would only comment that it most certainly isn’t.  Sport is described in the Oxford dictionary as a ‘competitive game’.  What is competitive about causing a lion such agonies?  How could anyone take pleasure in wounding, with a bow and arrow, a defenceless (and protected) animal and then tracking it for 40 hours before killing it with a gun?  This is not skill, but a horrible sadistic act.  Let them keep their guns, even bows and arrows, for shooting each other.  Let the rest of us please enjoy our animals while they still manage to exist on this planet..