Box 010: Number 5, Jean Gill

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jean Gill. She writes… well, pretty much anything but she has asked me to feature Someone to Look Up To’ a story about a Pyrenean mountain dog, in search of his perfect human.

You can find Jean’s Amazon author page here or you can visit her blog here.

Hello Jean.


I’ve just been reading up on Someone To Look Up To and and it sounds great, I love the tagline, ‘one day his human will come’. There is more about the book at the bottom of the page but before that, Jean is going to try and persuade us to vote all of her pet hates into Box 010. So, off we go, first of all, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes, I can. I’m a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a big black dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, I taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. I am mother or stepmother to five children.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

As someone with similarly multicultural origins it is nice, isn’t it, to be able to not care which of the teams you’re watching loses in the six nations. So, let’s discover what items you’d like to see thrown into the rubbish compactor of existence. What is the first item you’d like to put in to Box 010?

Individually wrapped teabags: I live in France and respect for tea here means that it’s very difficult to find teabags that are not individually packaged in small, decorated paper envelopes. Why?! Let’s not waste time recycling package material that didn’t need to be used in the first place!

I’m with you, good choice. I just loathe anything which is that hard to unwrap with my morning brain on. Please tell us what you’d like to hurl into Box 010 next.

Ticks: I’m all for diversity of species, and I understand the danger of the butterfly effect, but we manage without dinosaurs, don’t we? I’d happily eliminate this species. If you’re a ‘Twilight’ fan and not revolted by the mere words ‘blood-sucking parasites’, just look up Lyme Disease and piroplasmosis, two of the diseases that ticks carry.

Ugh, no… I agree, I see no biological function for ticks, other than to kill people, rather nastily. Onwards and upwards, what’s the third item you would like to lob into Box 010, never to be seen again.

Babies’ dummies (pacifiers). They are a filthy, artificial way of shutting up babies, who would otherwise quickly learn to use a thumb or their fingers as comfort-sucks. Dummies cause work for the parent (cleaning and fetching, like a well-trained dog) and take away the baby’s independence, often well into childhood.

Hmm interesting. I bet that one will ruffle a few feathers. Mwa ha ha ha hargh. Righty-o, let’s hear about your fourth item is.

Dog-owners with no control over their off-lead dogs: This means 99% of dog-owners whose dogs are off-lead and who don’t attach them when they see potential hazards, especially other dogs on-lead.  Can you imagine trying to care for a dog recovering from a double ligament operation and when you’re carefully walking him, someone else’s bouncy labrador  jumps all over him and damages the leg again?

The ‘Yellow Dog project’ is an international initiative to protect people and dogs from each other. If a dog is wearing yellow, it needs space, perhaps after injury or during re-education. There is no reason why dogs on leads should have to put up with other dogs’ or people’s bad behaviour.

Some food for thought there, the Yellow Dog Project is such a simple and sensible idea and well worth looking up. Very interesting. Wow, so what is number five on your list of pet hates?

Cold calls and spam: I don’t want to answer the phone to hear a stranger trying to sell me something. Cold callers have tried to sweet-talk me, bully me and have even made the big mistake of asking to speak to my husband ‘the decision-maker’. This is all made even more difficult for me because I live in France, and although my French is OK there is a 30 second delay in my brain before I realise that this person calling me by name is a cold caller. I feel my home has been invaded.

This is going in. If I have to rig the votes and force people at gunpoint to- OK, I won’t rig the votes, but I very much hope it’ll go in. Jean Gill, thank you so much for joining me for Box 010.

My pleasure.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jean’s books, click here for her LuLu shop front and, here for just about any format you like, from Smashwords. You can look at her photos as well, to find those click here. There’s also a bit more about Someone to Look Up To‘ below that.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Jaq D Hawkins when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.

Someone to Look Up To
‘If you like dogs and good stories, this is a book for you.’ – Louise, goodreads review
It’s a dog’s life in the south of France. From puppyhood, Sirius the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has been trying to understand his humans and train them with kindness…

How this led to divorce he has no idea. More misunderstandings take Sirius to Death Row in an animal shelter, as a so-called dangerous dog learning survival tricks from the other inmates. During the twilight barking, he is shocked to hear his brother’s voice but the bitter-sweet reunion is short-lived. Doggedly, Sirius keeps the faith.

One day, his human will come.


Filed under Box 010, General Wittering

8 responses to “Box 010: Number 5, Jean Gill

  1. As one who also enjoys/suffers Carmarthenshire’s weather, I can understand that France may have some attractions…

    • Yeh, Camarthanshire is beautiful when the miasma of drizzle lifts long enough to be able to actually see it.



      On 22 May 2013 16:15, M T McGuire Authorholic

    • I do miss the sea though – the Camargue is 1.5 hour’s drive from where we live now and the first time I saw that region, I thought ‘Llanelli estuary with flamingoes, white horses and black bulls – and French cuisine – yay!’

  2. Interesting choices, Jean. Between the two of us, irresponsible dog owners are getting a bit of a bashing 🙂

    *sticks head above parapet* I’m with you on the dummies. *ducks down and waits for hail of arrows*

    • In defence of Dummies… sorry but I thought I ought to…

      I, too have always thought them vile. I still do. I swore no child of mine would ever use a dummy (just the way I swore I’d never marry a lawyer and look where that got me – yes I’m married to a lawyer). However, I think most people misunderstand the reason dummies are used, which are:

      1. Because they’re better for your child’s teeth than a thumb and if it must suck something, I, personally, would rather it was something that would not leave a child with buck teeth that meant he would have to spend his entire teenaged years wearing something that looks like a greyhound harness with a bit of metal coming out of his mouth and round each side of his face; like my brother, for example, who sucked his thumb and had to go all the way through secondary school like that as a result. Nobody would wish that on their child, unless it had a lot of character. My brother did, luckily.

      2. When you have a child who puts everything and I mean everything in its mouth. Then you hear the dummy drop out and with any luck you can get to him before the laburnum seed, yew berry or whatever other dire poison berries the public park is strewn with, goes in.

      3. When you have listened to your child cry all night every night for a week, tried everything else and discover that when you put a dummy in his mouth he burbles happily for a minute or two, and then goes spark out and stays out all night why would you withhold it? We bought a job lot of unused baby stuff with two orthodontic dummies in it. We didn’t want them but ended up needing them. It’s easy enough to wean them off it after a few months.

      4. In short, if you’re a parent, you pick your battles and do whatever it takes to bring up a happy, well adjusted, socially adept child. That includes keeping you sane. If a dummy helps your child sleep and that keeps you the right side of mental it’s nobody else’s business what you do.

      5. Dummies are easy enough to blitz in the steriliser each morning.

      6. Kids do their own thing and if they like a dummy, why deny them? I had all sorts of good intentions about how I was going to feed my lad. I breast fed him, but I had to use a bottle as well. By three months he could hold the bottle himself and preferred the independence of feeding himself. I could have withheld the dummy, I could have put the unopened packet on e-bay as planned, but as older parents (I’m the young one at 40) completely on our own, I preferred sleep and so, quite obviously, did my son.

      Dummies are vile disgusting things, but sometimes necessary, and very much more pleasant than holding hands with a sucked thumb. Now that IS vile.



      On 23 May 2013 08:44, M T McGuire Authorholic

      • Good arguments! (Although I’m not convinced by ‘Kids do their own thing’… at 2 years old my son liked throwing kittens – for 30 megaseconds till I caught him).I think what really winds me up is seeing children with dummies – not babies but children – and they’re on outings with their parents, not in bed unable to sleep.., .

      • You certainly know how to make an argument, MTM. Now I’m feeling guilty for NOT giving my son a dummy when for all I know he would have loved it … but then, of course, guilt is a parent’s lot in life. We’re doomed always to wonder whether we made the wrong choices.

        Still, I’ve made it a year without using a dummy, and so I’m going to stand by my desire to banish the things — if only because it would leave us poor bewildered parents with one less choice to make 🙂

      • Oh don’t feel guilty! If he would really have loved it, you probably wouldn’t have got through a year. I do agree with Jean about wearing them out and about but they saved my bacon. 😉 Even though I loathe them.



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