Not War and Peace

Well, you can’t say that I haven’t warned you – twice. If you’ve come to this site expecting to see some great Russian literature, then you are doomed to disappointment. I’m sorry about that, but  it might actually be for the best. After all, if you couldn’t figure out from the title of this blog that Tolstoy will be amongst the missing, then you were probably never going to get on with all those plots and sub-plots and complicated names.

Anyway, welcome.

But to what? That’s a very good question. I so wish I knew what the answer to it was. I suppose, now that we have established what this isn’t, it’s time to figure out what it is.

For a start, it’s my friend Harriet’s fault. She has just been visiting and was unrelentingly nagging me about writing a blog. I have to say, her actions were totally out-of-character. She normally reacts better to not being fed until midnight and having to sleep in a room filled with dog hair. Of course, those aren’t the reasons she gave for her bizarre behaviour. She said it is because she wants me to practice writing and to get some feedback on what I write. Apparently she is tired of hearing me talking about the book I am going to publish and wants to start seeing some positive action towards that end. I have no idea why she thinks this will help. Or who, for that matter, she thinks is going to be reading this. I suppose that rational judgment is one of the first things to go when you are lacking in food and covered in dog fuzz. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned by this. I do, after all, have other friends who stay here from time to time. Wouldn’t want them all to go rogue.

Meanwhile, the deal is that I will write a blog, once a week, for a year. She, for her part, will get people to read it. If, over the course of the next 52 weeks, you happen to sit next to a determined looking woman with well-defined eyebrows and dangly earrings……run.

So, here we go.

I am assuming that anyone who reads this (hello, both of you) knows who I am and all about me. If, however, there is someone else out there who has happened upon this by chance or mis-chance, here are the highlights:

I live in London. I didn’t always do this. I grew up in New York, became an American diplomat, travelled around a bit and wound up here. I now have a British passport, a rather eccentric husband, two more-or-less grown up children and a business called FENS (, which tells the media what will be happening so they know what stories they want to cover and where to have their reporters and camera crews. We have most things from now until 2079 covered. That’s when a meteorite is due to strike the earth. We decided that there just wasn’t much point in going any further ahead than that. I know, most people don’t realise that such a service exists. Sadly. Feel free to click on the link and subscribe. I’ll give you my everlasting thanks and a personal credit in a future blog if you do.

Besides being a high flying media executive, I am also a Pet Nanny. In fact, I may be the world’s only high flying media executive and pet nanny. Aren’t you glad that you happened upon this blog? Thanks to Rupert Murdoch, everyone knows what media execs are, but for those of you who have yet to encounter a pet nanny, we are people who watch other people’s pets, mostly dogs, in their own homes, as part of their families. It’s not something that they tell you about at career evenings in school. That’s mostly because you can’t apply to become one, you have to be chosen. I fell into it because my husband is a Cub Scout leader. It’s a long story. If you are interested, I’ve written a book about it – From the White House to the Dog House. It’s also not War and Peace, but I had fun doing it.

In addition to the husband and children, I have two brothers, and their families,  an enormous number of relatives,  interesting friends, unusal neighbours, a motley collection of colleagues, friends with children and children’s friends, as well as  mere aquaintances and public figures, all of whom are grist to the story-telling mill. I also had two fairly remarkable parents and a very happy childhood. If you are looking for Angela’s Ashes, you’re in the wrong place.

I have a black belt in karate (I know, how amazing is that?) and have fairly recently completed a London to Paris bike ride, which is remarkable when you think about how fat and unfit I am. My hobbies are attempting to lose weight, cycling slowly, reading science fiction, watching rugby, trying not to get hurt at racquetball and writing nonsense.

That’s where you come in.

I really have no idea what to write about over the next 51 (aaaarghhh!) weeks. So, I am open to suggestions. Your choices are: my life, growing up in America, living in England, being a pet nanny, the weird people I know, whatever else takes your fancy.

Let me know what you would like to hear about, and it’s yours. How often in life do you get a choice like that?

So, I’ll look forward to hearing from you (assuming, of course, I can figure out how to post this).

Until next week…

Not Leo Tolstoy

This entry was posted in About Me, Friends, Humour, Lifestyle, People, Thoughts, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Not War and Peace

  1. Bob Arms says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Fun. Can’t promise I’ll be able to read your blog every week, but I’ll try.

    Harriet is right – you are a great writer.

    Umm. What might I like to hear? I’ll have to give that some thought.

    Best to you on your journey,


  2. Hello Eileen – great to see you here in the blogosphere as well as the sidestreets and living rooms of leafy South London. What would this particular reader like to hear about from you? I’d like to see an hour by hour account of one day in your life… It’d probably take you the whole of the next one to write it up. But I bet in all it’s wryly observed detail it would be more fascinating than you could possibly imagine…

  3. Nice post, NotLeo!! How about some photos of random/interesting things from your daily life ? Who was it said one picture is worth ten or eleven words… or something like that!

  4. Ben Thomas says:

    You’re officially one of my favourites. No, really. I’ve even signed up to receive new posts via email.

    You see, at first glance that statement is crying out for an exclamation mark, but I have already learned from you to use them sparingly. Which is why I know that you will be a Great Writer and I am delighted that you have embarked upon this blog. Tolstoy is worried, I can tell you.

    Growing up in America, please. I remain fascinated by the “two nations divided by a common language” theory and as we are heading to New York in October for our first ever family visit (perhaps we can take an extra mop and bucket or two to help out?), I feel we need as much background information as we can get about what to expect from the natives.

    Go girl. You have an audience of one already.

  5. Sue from round the corner says:

    I want to hear about cycling slowly to Paris – it sounds fascinating!

    I’m also very glad to hear that other people don’t cook dinner until the middle of the night even when they have guests, as I thought that was just me

  6. k8chesh says:

    About time too. Well done Harriet, great idea.

  7. jo says:

    Go girl!! About time this book of yours came into being… xx

  8. Mim says:

    Hello Not Leo Tolstoy! Am I really the first person to comment on your remarkable blog? I’ve never contributed to a blog before either so this is going to be an adventure for me too.

    Now then – as to what I want to hear from you – weird people you know must be fairly near the top of my list plus what’s the best way to remove dog hairs from sofas…oh yes, what was it like to be a diplomat in Papua New Guinea? If you got the choice all over again would you still be a Pet Nanny? I can’t help thinking of you as the Geena Davies of Wandsworth but not sure whether you have a William Hurt figure on the horizon yet? Can’t wait for the next installment. And I think you’ll have a lot to thank your friend Harriet with the dangly earrings in the days to come….Bye for now, Mim

  9. Angel Ojeda says:


    Hello, cousin, from Washington State, USA. You are an excellent writer, and I look forward to reading in the upcoming weeks. It is ironic Marge sent me your link this morning. Last night, my husband told me two of his friends may be going to London to work. I told him I have a cousin who lives there. Best wishes.


  10. Cousin Margie says:

    Hello Cousin Eileen,
    It is I, Cousin Margie from Minnesota, USA. I have been privileged to have read many things you have written via email and have laughed so hard that I cried down my leg. Okay, so I stole that from some random forwarded email, but I like it. You have such a wonderful way with words and find humor in the oddest things. You could write about removing dog hair from furniture and I am sure it would be both educational and hysterical, but I don’t want 52 weeks to pass without you telling the rest of the world what an amazing and brilliant woman your Mother was. She was one in a million and one of my most treasured Aunties. She must be so excited for the journey you are starting. Take the road less traveled (where have I heard that before), for you may actually trip over a Pulitzer Prize. I will be cheering for you all the way.

  11. james Riley says:

    What a great idea: blog improv. Before I sign on, however, I want more info. Harriet suggests you use this format to practice your craft and receive critical feedback. What do you want?
    You have a real talent for commenting, both humorously and poignantly, on real life experiences (I loved “From the White House to the Doghouse”) But can you transfer those talents and tell stories that are purely fiction? I think you can. I suggest your readers tell you a story and allow you to create a story around it. Let us know what you think.
    I also think you need to put more of your soul into your writing. So I will take you up on your offer. You are the daughter of Jim (My country right or wrong..) Riley. Describe your emotional journey from a child from Astoria to the “holder of a British Passport”.

  12. Harriet says:

    This is the aforementioned Harriet.

    To set the record straight, there was no dog hair and dinner was well worth the wait. Dangly earrings as reported.

    As for why the blog… the best way to be a writer is to write. Plus, I was heavily influenced by reading “Julie and Julia” on the flight from Boston to London. (Julie blogs about cooking her way through Julia Childs’ “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”; the blogging leads to a book contract and then to a movie contract.) If it can be done once…

    Not to mention that I’m looking forward to reading the further adventures and reflections of a high flying media executive and Pet Nanny with a black belt and a London to Paris bicycle ride under that belt.

  13. tom arms says:

    How about more about your wonderfully eccentric husband. He sounds absolutely fascinating. And I am sure he won’t mind being pulicly lampooned. After all, he is eccentric.

    Love, From Your husband

  14. John Marquis says:

    Well done, Eileen, you’re a natural.
    Tolstoy couldn’t tell a story in under 900 pages. And he wasn’t even funny. You did it in one hilarious blog.
    As one of your weirdest friends, I’ll be keeping my head down in the coming weeks. But good luck anyway.

  15. Brian says:


    What a great idea and about time too. I want you to write about anything and everything. I want to hear your commentary and musings from the mundane and everyday, to experiences like being an American in London, negiotating the public school system, how to prepare for a marathon bike ride; philosophical questions like what a black belt has done for you; or your next great adventure; as well as about your insight into politics and world events. I know it will be very entertaining and very funny, but also extremely perceptive delivered with that incredible human touch, a remarkable gift you have.


  16. Vicki Dearborn says:

    I am really lookiing forward to this…just be careful what you write about me in the category of ‘weird people I know’. Getting back to London on Friday……and looking forward to providing you with material to write about!

  17. Carla Rapoport says:

    Eileen – time for your second blog. Your public awaits.

    And hello from Tuscany,


  18. mdcs2011 says:

    I followed a van back from my Bikram Yoga class this morning (0630 start… very enlivening…). The van had signage on the back, which I think I recall said Bruce’s Dog Walking & Care Co Ltd, or maybe it was, and I thought, “what a very good idea for a business…” And here I read about you as a pet nanny… And actually, Tom, Eilleen & I did meet briefly once… in your old office

  19. Deborah Maconick says:

    sorry for belated reply – not too much in the way of internet access in the scottish highlands! I think your blog is a great idea. I particularly liked the idea of hearing abou the weird people you know, as long as I am not on that list – so maybe that could be a potentially risky topic, ending with few friends left.
    My advice would be that you should start by writing about things that you feel inspired to discuss, not topics the audience request.

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