Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Friday 22 July 2016


Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the death of a remarkable and much loved lady ... my Mum. 

I miss her today so much as a valued part of my life. To me, she was more than a mother. I knew her as a Playmate, my Best Friend, a Woman, a Visionary, my Soulmate. As a child, she widened the boundaries of my world, injecting a powerful concoction of dreams and imagination whereby ordinary objects became something very wonderful and magical, leading me to write stories from an early age. In later years, we talked and shared about anything and everything. We'd swap clothes, go on holidays together or have weekends away. They are times I treasure today as I remember. It is from her I drew my inspiration and my strength, as well as a firm faith in God. We spent her final ten years writing a book about her wartime fiance, made up of her diaries as a young girl, and letters shared between herself and Special Operator Flt/Lt Henry Victor Vinnell, known as Vic, before his untimely death on 27 November 1944 alongside the man who was to have been Best Man at their wedding a short while on, Canadian Pilot Flt/Lt Jack Fisher. They were flying their usual aircraft Mosquito DK292, affectionately known as 'N for Nina'. There is still a mystery surrounding their death and the operation they were on at the time. Both in their early twenties, they served at RAF Foulsham in 192 Squadron, RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group, Bomber Command - a secret Group of Squadrons based on airfields in Norfolk, UK. Their prime task was to identify and jam enemy Radar; but they also worked with the Resistance, Bletchley Park, SOE and SOD, picking up and dropping agents into enemy-occupied territory. It is Mum's wartime story which led us to become founding members of the RAF 100 Group Association of which today I am proud and privileged to be worldwide Secretary, for the past twenty-five years working with veterans and their families.
Anyone wishing to read my mother's wartime experiences and learn more about the special love shared between Nina and Vic can obtain a signed copy on receipt of £12.00 + pp. I now only have a certain number of copies left of the original publication as I am in the process of having their story re-published under a different publisher for the future, with additional information.

Both Nina and Vic will continue to be remembered as their names are spoken during our annual RAF 100 Group Reunions in Norfolk alongside that of Canadian Pilot Jack Fisher, Vic's friend and Pilot who was to be Best Man at their wedding a few days on. They remain part of a worldwide Association of kindred spirits which continues to grow as younger generations join, with members in daily contact. Mum would have loved the very real connection we enjoy with one another.

What actually gave rise to this writing today, written in memory of Mum, is that completely out of the blue, when at a particularly low ebb on 19 July, the day on which, last year, I read my now ex-husband Tony's email telling me he had another life in London and would never be coming home; a miracle occurred. Someone was reading my blog, in particular the piece I wrote about my two great uncles, Will and Arthur, brothers killed in WWI. She felt compelled to write to me, and in doing so, opened an unexpected door into the past. She is the daughter of my maternal grandmother's youngest sister. For the next few hours it was an absolute delight to follow in the footsteps of those who had gone before, sharing stories of a past age. She completely turned my day around, chasing the shadows away, and we continue to correspond several times a day.

Thank you, dearest Celia, my now sister-cousin! xxx

Tuesday 12 July 2016


 Copyright: Janine Harrington

Mr B. lives with his wife in a sleepy little village in the north of the country. He travels south to work, staying away from home, arriving back at the end of the working week. At first, it is a three day week, and the time he spends with his wife therefore like a long weekend. However, work commitments change. Soon, he is away all week, returning late Friday evening, his mind distracted by mobile and laptop which dominate his life; before travelling back early Sunday morning, leaving just one precious day to spend together. She is alone most of the time. But he doesn't seem to mind. He says it's the way his life has always been, she has to get used to it. At first, he would take her out to dinner to celebrate their 'Togetherness'. But this changes over time, until the one day she has to look forward to is spent catching up on chores, her disabilities making it difficult for her to do some things in his absence. His wife loves him with all her heart. She believes in him, trusts him implicitly, hiding nothing from him, open and honest about her feelings, willing to put up with absence and hardship because this is her Soulmate, someone she will be with for the rest of her days. This is a very different world to relationships she has experienced previously which have always ended in pain. She cherishes the time spent together all the more because of the past.

Mr B. also has a young lady in the south who he is infatuated with, and who dominates his thoughts. He also has a house from which he commutes to work. More and more he is able to spend time with her ... but still he craves more. Somehow it isn't enough. He buys new furniture for a house which will become their home, spending less and less on his wife in the north. Work is like a pastime, a hobby, he enjoys it so much. He is a quick learner, a team leader, and he has time to think and plan, moving people around like pieces on a chess board. He pledges allegiance to both women, unable to give either one up. One is his wife, the other his Mistress. He knows inevitably one will undoubtedly usurp the other. In the meantime, he has to be careful. There are appointments to keep in the north as well as the south. He is careful to keep finances secret, paperwork hidden, any trace of either life hidden from the other.

Mr B. is living a lie. Someone is going to get hurt. And it's unlikely to be him ... because he is The Controller.

Can a man live two parallel lives?

The answer has to be a resounding 'Yes'!

But then again, isn't true love about giving all of your Self to one person? Doesn't loving someone also include trust, loyalty, honesty, respect, care, understanding, support, concern ... and so much more? There is definitely no room for deception and lies.

Shame on the man who makes this his way of life!

I say again: Someone is going to get seriously hurt. More than that ... their heart will be broken. The long-term effects devastating. The consequences of such action damaging beyond repair. It can even lead to death. Since the birth of the website Ashley Maddison, there have been suicides of wives whose husbands have secretly been having elicit affairs. I understand as I write this, that because of the devastation caused, the website has been banned in Australia. It is a subject which really is serious.

So how does it work?

It's a question which has been plaguing me for the past year.

So ... you meet Mr. B. and share a meal together. At first, you want to take everything he appears to be at face value. He's putting on the charm, the kind of image that draws you in, and which, let's face it, is attractive. You talk, share, ask questions, respond in kind, and if you are older, exchange past baggage, or at least as much as you feel is appropriate at the time. If you've been hurt in the past then you're going to tread careful. You'll want evidence of what he says, if you're prudent and don't want to risk being hurt again. You need to know he's kosher. That everything he tells you is true and checks out. If he's older, maybe he's been married before ... once, twice, maybe even three times. It happens.

If this is the case, it's vital to know how those past lives panned out.

Remember, there is HIS truth. There is HER truth. Then there is THE truth!!

No, it doesn't have to happen all on that first meet. But it's important to bear in mind that often we hear what we want to hear, what we need to hear, because already we're smitten. Love can creep up on us unawares. Before we know it, we're sucked in, and it's all the harder to dig ourselves out without getting hurt if the time comes. But there's that old adage which keeps creeping into our subconscious: 'once bitten, twice shy'. Somehow, we have to be sure. But how? It's not like we get to look in a crystal ball and see the past the way it was. All we have is his word, first impressions, day-to-day experiences shared. Okay, so he talks the talk, walks the walk. Past marriage(s) failed because of  'affairs'. On his wife's part, that is ... she went off with the accountant ... the neighbour ... the boss. Or else something went wrong with living arrangements ... she bought a dog he didn't like and without his permission. Ah! She almost caused him to have a car accident because he couldn't sleep at night with the TV blaring. There's a familiar theme already emerging in the telling if we dare but stop a moment to look and recognise the sign of someone unwilling to accept blame or responsibility, or admit to any kind of failure, much less trying to put things right, talking and sharing differences and situations ... isn't there? So, what did he do in response? He walked away leaving her the house. Sounds fair enough ... unless you consider how she might pay the mortgage, whether she worked, and if he paid a settlement figure enough for her to get her life back on track. Then again, who divorced who? How can we be sure? Children? Strange if they're not in contact. Yes, of course he paid maintenance. What kind of man would we think he is otherwise! And yes, his life has been nomadic, with no real permanency. How could it be any other way when he has to be where the work is ... don't you know contractors live in B&B anywhere in the UK, sometimes abroad!!

In our case, first meetings happened while he was between contracts. He moved in, bringing belongings out of storage.

Life moved on.

Nine months out of work living off my savings, and finally a contract when we're travelling together, staying at a B&B. He leaves for work early morning, arriving back at night to share a meal. It's a different lifestyle, but quickly becomes a way of life, one I could assume would continue for the future. No worries with having the ability to work anywhere using a laptop. Besides, Home is time shared ... being together. It isn't really a place.

Trust builds. It feels like solid ground. Secrets are shared. Where would they hide anyway? The fact that he always uses 'techie stuff' is because he's that way inclined. Isn't it? Mobile phone is always on, always taking calls, texts, emails. Communication on the run. 'Crap text ...' becomes a common phrase used as texts pile in one on top of another in an evening. Just because you want to share quality time together is your need, not necessarily his. At least, that's what he says. 'Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same?' becomes a favourite saying. And you take it to heart.

So when did that other life begin?

I still don't know.

I can't accept his explanation that he met her passing in the street ... their eyes met and ...

No! It doesn't sound true. Try walking down a street and catching someone's eye enough to say you've fallen for a stranger. You only have to try it to know just how impossible that actually is on the move, never mind seeing enough to form a relationship. Besides, how does the exchange of details happen?

Much more plausible is the fact they met online. Otherwise, why keep shutting down the computer late at night when I repeatedly ask when he's coming to bed? And later, why name the website in a text to me, telling me to take no notice of it being hacked on the news? His details got on there by mistake? I don't think so!! And then there's the name which unwittingly drops from his lips in talking to me ... both in sleep and awake. It isn't my name, nor a name I know. So it begs the question, how many women came before her? How many others were there who he might have met while saying he was attending an interview, or meeting someone from the car club? Easy done!

But let's step back, rewind time to when he's between contracts. Plenty of time to get bored being a workaholic, caught in the tedium of everyday life. 'Same old ... same old ...' Is that how it's always panned out for him in the past? Once life settles into a routine, that old familiar taste for pastures new leads his fingers to tap the keys onto dating websites, window shopping to begin with ... where's the harm? Then finding someone to meet, talk to, get to know, sending texts or emails in an evening while begrudgingly watching telly with the wife.

An engagement happened during a coffee break, if I remember correctly. 'Shall I put the ring on my finger?' 'Yes', he replied, somewhat distracted by what he was viewing on the computer. And that was it. No romantic proposal, down on one knee, no special moment in time. Then some way down the line came marriage. I managed all the arrangements. But then, was marriage enough to stop window shopping online, viewing other female faces? Why would it? It can so easily become habit-forming. Especially when it's already a part of someone's psyche! I signed all the papers to make the wedding happen. Now I ask myself the question: did he really want to get married, or was it something he went along with merely to keep the peace? There wasn't family attending on his side ... that's explained away. Yet, still one wonders. Questions are asked. Questions stick, like flies caught in a web. The wedding is a small affair. No onrush of emotion. He is almost emotionally detached. A short ceremony at Gretna, then he rips off the regalia my nephews have carefully decorated the car with to show off the newly-weds, and it's a mad dash down motorways to catch the ferry to France for a honeymoon at La Rochelle. I'm seasick during the crossing, so no fun there. And we've bunks to sleep in!! One week on, I'm wondering where the holiday went ... the romance ... the sense of magic, specialness, wonder ... love, when aimlessly we've walked down streets he's easily bored of, unable to understand it seems what they're doing there, how to enjoy a holiday, what it takes to make it special.

Home again, and life returns to become much the same as before. Nothing has changed ... or has it? Again, the question: 'When did his parallel life begin?' 'How long was it going on?'

Finally, the contract in London ... the one contract I didn't join him on. He didn't want me to.

A house in London suddenly comes into the equation. Or ... was it already there? Somehow, the impression was that he was staying in B&B. London rates? Prohibitive! But then, he's on a good wage. Where then does the money go? And more and more, why can't he come home?

Something is wrong.

It starts as a feeling. But then, because of past hurts, instinct kicks in, screaming at me from the inside out that something else is going on ... something I don't know. It's a warning! 'There's nothing wrong. It's all in your head. You're delusional. Paranoid. For God's sake, woman!' Oh, how much I want to believe that's true! To hang on to the dream. This is the Forever Man, right? For the rest of our days we'll be together, right?


Because one fine day it's my birthday. He spends the day. But somehow it's become important to get everything done, in its place, like there's no tomorrow. Why can't the day be special? Why can't we go out for a meal? Celebrate?? And where's the usual 'Art Deco' card I love so much? Why is everything such a struggle, a stress? The following morning, early, he's gone ...

... out of my life ... stepping into someone else's dream ... someone who has been there awhile.

Simple really, when you know how.

It's the spaces that are filled with the other woman, not you. You feel because you're married he'll be faithful and true. You judge him by your own standards, especially when you've not been married long. You've looked for the obvious signs of something being wrong, but none are forthcoming. So you feel bad for even looking, guilty and upset you can ever imagine he might be cheating on you.

The email arrives two weeks on ... filling the spaces suddenly with images and colours you don't like, colours you remember too well from the past, images which remind you of lies, deceit, betrayal. The email tries to blame you. 'You pushed me into this ...' Was that in reference to the fact that, despite loving the place where I live which has been home before he ever came into my life; in a desperate bid to make things come right again between us, still sensing something was very wrong; I offered to move closer to his work? To save him driving long distances. To spend more quality time together. To have him home at night. To be there, able to do things for one another, with one another, especially over weekends, when couples come together.

Now reading that email one year on, that changed my life forever, it makes sense. 'You pushed me into this ...' In other words, he wasn't ready. His house in London was still being altered, furnished, fitted to his requirements. The needs of the other lady in his life were still being nurtured. She has a family? Yes, that would fit. So okay then, there were still things to be sorted. But my unexpected suggestion about moving, or at the very least, sharing B&B as we used to in the early days; made him suddenly panic. It shifted his focus onto his wife ... when it was now all about The Mistress. He wasn't ready to switch them around. That's why the sudden pressure from him to divorce, offering to pay all divorce costs, just to get it done.

Out with the old ... bring in the new!

But then, is this the way he's always lived his life?

I wonder.

Oh, and this doesn't only have to be a male-only psyche. Females do it too! They fall in love with the 'Honeymoon Period' ... the first flurry of feeling for another, when the world seems sweet and beautiful and everything's going their way. But when you're the one who ends up trashed, with a past you can't look back on without having everything smeared with lies, not knowing what to believe any more; a future where dreams are shattered, and a present you can't live with except on a moment-by-moment existence ... with days you can't see the point in living any more ...

... then look in the mirror, and you will see me, because that's where I am right now ...

One Year On!

Copyright: Janine Harrington

Saturday 2 July 2016


One moment in time was to define the lives of two young men and how they would be remembered forever. They were my great uncles. I never knew them. My maternal grandmother (Nanny) with whom I shared a close relationship, never spoke of them. Yet their photographs bear witness that they lived ... dying young before their time, soldiers serving their country during World War One.

William James Croman in Army uniform
WILLIAM JAMES CROMAN was Mary Ann (Carter) and Joseph Croman's eldest surviving son - their firstborn, James J. born on 22 January 1880, died (cause unknown) at the age of one year and ten months, on 19 November 1881. William was born on 9 May 1881, in the year his elder brother died.

Typical of the day, he was one of a large family, ten children together with 'six motherless children' who Mary and Joseph his parents 'adopted'. On 3 October 1908, at the age of 27, he married Eliza Healey and they had three children, one of whom died.

Will was a Railway Signalman living in Limehouse and working in the Bow district of London where, for extra income, he joined the Poplar & Stepney Rifles. Lance Corporal William James Croman was therefore already a soldier when war broke out in 1914. At 33 years old, he joined the 2/17th Battalion London Regiment in 1914/15 by his regimental number: 571685

After training, his Unit proceeded to France with the 60th (London) Division in June 1916 where he served in the trenches on Vimy Ridge until November that year when he moved with his battalion to Salonika. 

Here they remained until June 1917 when they were posted to Egypt and took part in the campaign in Palestine throughout the rest of that year, including the capture of Jerusalem.

Will is sitting in the wheelchair
However, in July 1917, Will was badly wounded and sent home to convalesce ... before being sent back into the fray to re-join his regiment in Egypt in 1918.

In May 1918, Will with his Unit returned to France where they joined the 30th Division to take part in the fourth Battle of Ypes in August - September, advancing across the Messines Ridge.

He was killed in action on 28 September 1918 when, on this day, the 2/17th Battalion London Regiment advanced from Wulverghem and captured Ontario Farm and the Kruistraat area, pushing on to the crest of the Messines Ridge near Wytschaete. Given his place of burial and its proximity to Wulverghem, it seems likely he was killed in the early phase or actual advance. 

He is buried in Dramoutre Military Cemetery in Heuvelland, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Arthur Birkett Croman pre-war
ARTHUR BIRKETT CROMAN was the sixth son of Mary and Joseph Croman, my maternal grandmother Emily's younger brother. Born in Birkenhead on the Wirral where his family moved from London; he was named 'Birkett' after the head of a river, and educated at St John's, Birkenhead.

On leaving school, he became an apprentice printer by trade, and was 23 years old when war was declared, whereupon he enlisted in Liverpool and lived in Poulton. He was a wartime enlistee, becoming a Private in D Company, 21st Reserve Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment; sometime in 1916, known by his regimental number: 52295.

On 4 January 1916, he married Florence Louise Liggett at St Michael's Church, Liverpool, and lived at Sherlock Lane, Wallasey, 58 Limekiln Lane Poulton, and Beresford Rd, Dingle, Liverpool.

Arthur & Flo's Wedding, 1916
On 22 July 1916 Arthur was wounded. Nothing further is known either about his injuries, or whether he was deemed unfit enough to return home to convalesce.

What we do know is that he went on to be posted overseas in 1917 where he joined the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, part of 19th (Western) Division. He served with them in the Ypres Salient and took part in the Battle of Messines in June 1917. By July, his battalion were holding the trenches on the eastern side of the Messines Ridge, opposite the village of Hollebeke.

It was here that he was killed in action on 19 July 1917, on the day his battalion were in the process of being relieved after several days in the line. It is said that an Officer had been speaking with him just moments before a shell burst into his trench.

He is buried in Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery.

Extract from local paper announcing his death

Both Will and Arthur were ordinary people living in extraordinary times!

Their full story was shared initially in my book: 'Brothers'.

However, with the last copy in this format now sold - although a few secondhand copies may still be available through Amazon - their story is now featured in: 'High Wood' published by available either direct from their website, or from Amazon.

We WILL remember them!