The Thalidomide Catastrophe is a book written by Martin Johnson, Raymond G. Stokes, and Tobias Arndt. Released today, I was lucky enough to be able to review an advanced reader copy.

As a journalist, I have been interested in this story for a while now; I’m working on a story that’s related to it. It was also around the tie of the fiftieth anniversary BBC documentary that I was introduced to the concept of Thalidomide. (What still strikes me-and what is further illustrated by the book-is the lack of awareness or knowledge of it.)

The tagline on the cover says it all: ‘How it happened, who was responsible and why the search for justice continues after more than six decades.’

The Cover:

The cover is brilliant, in my opinion. It’s stark-the white background, with the innocuous object of a medicinal bottle. It looks harmless, however because of the history since Thalidomide was on the market makes it kind of terrifying. It’s horrific to think that this pill-marketed on the basis of apparently being a “wonder drug”-was, and still is capable of so much harm.

The white background also makes it stand out on a book shelf; if I was at a bookshop, my eye would catch this. I’d be curious as to what it was about, etc.


Initially, I found it a little bit hard to get into. I think that after seeing Attacking The Devil, I perhaps expected too much of the book. My expectations were also flawed in this respect; the book gets into the nitty gritty of Thalidomide, not the Sunday Times campaign. (It’s not about the journalistic side. It’s the full-on, comprehensive history.)

It’s also shocking to me how there hasn’t truly been justice. I haven’t got to this particular chapter yet, however it is alleged that there was corruption surrounding the German trial. There is a lack of accountability surrounding Thalidomide, and I can’t understand that. Surely, as an empathetic human, you’d do your best to help, when you’ve caused this catastrophe?

I was also struck by the images that are dotted throughout. I have met one Thalidomider; however, I wasn’t aware of the full range of disabilities that Thalidomide caused. (It sounds silly, doesn’t it?)

There had previously been a disconnect for me; it’s all very well to watch footage on the TV or whatever. There’s a distance in that respect; I don’t think that there is with books and photos. The use of photography bought it home to me, making this story truly alive for me.

What would I have changed?

At times the book can be clunky, in the way it’s written; however, I think that is partly caused by being a book of history. It’s not a book about people; it’s the factual facet.


I think that this is a book that everyone should read, or at least be aware of. Thalidomide is known for its notoriety, however I don’t think the full scale of its history is known. I hope that this book goes towards correcting some of that, along with bringing it into the public consciousness. And I hope that this book, in its majestic state, goes towards contributing to the justice that has been denied for so long.

As a follow up, could I make a suggestion? I’d like to have a book of interviews, with people involved: so people like Mikey Argy, Harold Evans, people at the trust, etc.

The Thalidomide Catastrophe is published by Onwards and Upwards. For more information, visit their website. You can buy the book here. 

Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be gifted this book at my own request. I have not been paid to review this. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Well, well, it seems like this year has gone really quickly, doesn’t it? It seems only a little while ago that the internet was ruminating about the latest famous person who passed away.
2017 had a lot of up and downs for me; college (both), finishing my A levels (up), started my NCTJ (DEFINITELY up) and more. along the way-although some of the posts were deleted-I blogged daily. I also began to work with more brands.
I relaunched my blog on the 1st of August, and celebrated my fifth blog birthday on the 17th July; this was something that took a lot of time and effort. (As well as researching how to go self hosted-which I decided against in the end, largely due to financial reasons.)
Interviews took on a new level; I launched ‘Blogging for business’-to ask some Bloggers some questions. Nicole from A Beautiful was my first candidate. It petered out a little bit in the end, but I think I may pick it up in the new year. I also started to work with Bloggers more-such as with guest posts, and Blogger box swaps. These activities took a bit of time and energy, but where both largely worthwhile in the end.
I also created my new niche-to blog about Aspergers. Because spreading a little more knowledge is important to me. I also wrote a little bit about how I disagree with the lack of empathy stereotype, and much more.
Similarly, I also started my journalism diploma on a part time basis; this was after a scary panel interview-with the world’s worst cold!-at the Financial times. I finally have found my home, and I love. So, I started to blog about it-and it has it’s own tab on the blog. For an introduction, click here. 
I also started to go to events that are in line with my work. I got to go to the Blogger’s Ball-thanks to a Twitter draw!-and also to the book launch of The Summer Of Impossible Things. (Such a good book!) I also got to see Diana: Her Fashion Story, as a treat for finishing my A Levels.
This year took a lot, in terms of planning, writing, scheduling; blogging daily was quite the challenge. This had to be balanced with education-such as with exams and changes-as well as with my personal life. But I think I managed it, just about, with the organisational obsession that comes with my Aspergers.
Over this festive period, I’ll be slowing down with this blog-and will post in the new year when I feel like.

Until then,

Lydia XO

This is a guest post, written by Charlene McElhinney; you can view her blog by clicking here. 
Most people look forward to Christmas for the dinner, for the family reunion, for the festivities, the drink and the presents. Me? I look forward to spreading gifts across the living room floor and waiting eagerly for my parents in turn to open one at a time, the way they did with us when we were little. I look forward to my Christmas special episode of Coronation Street. I look forward to getting in to my new pyjamas; I don’t look forward to dressing up. I look forward to all of the little things. The insignificant things. The things we often take for granted.
Christmas isn’t the same when you lose a loved one.
I used to hate when people used the term ‘x-mas’ instead of Christmas and now it doesn’t phase me. I used to set an alarm and get up super early so I could make the most of the day and now I don’t bother. I used to think Christmas was the greatest time of the year and now I can’t wait for it to be over but somehow it’s here again before it’s even had a chance to finish. I used to look forward to doing a Christmas cracker with my Gran but now I can’t. It’s not the same with anyone else.
My kind of Christmas is being surrounded by my nearest and dearest, waiting patiently for Coronation Street to start, maybe partially watching Christmas films throughout the day. My kind of Christmas is checking social media to see what all my friends and followers are getting up to. My kind of Christmas is sitting awkwardly at a table with family who are eating scary food and I eat just as I would any other day. My kind of Christmas isn’t anything special but if you were to take it away from me – I would be totally lost.

What’s your kind of Christmas?

Disclaimer: this post contains PR samples that I was gifted, however this was at my own request, for the purpose of this review. 
As somebody with Aspergers, I have a bit of a ‘picky’ attitude to food-and I think it’s a hypersensitivity issue. I cannot stand membrane foods like peas or sweetcorn-the ‘snap’ when you bite down-or food that is cold once cooked. Anyway: today’s post is a food guide. These samples I have tested-for the issue of hypersensitivity, how I feel after eating them, and if I’d buy it again. Ratings are underneath each section.

Fentiman’s Ginger Beer: 

I wrote a little while ago about Rose Lemonade, and how it was new favourite thing. (Click here to see.)
Prior to this post I hadn’t tried the ginger beer; it had a flavour that was a little bit too strong for me. The bottles I found really easy to open, and I love the branding-very retro.
However I have a solution. Whenever I feel anxious about something-or if I feel sick-I go for a hot drink. So: get a pint glass, fill with hot water, add a bit of a Ginger beer, and voila! If you need it to be a bit sweeter, add a pinch of sugar. A very small pinch. Then stir it. It makes a lovely drink. Or, if you lie to bake, why not try Kruidnoten with this? Click here to see my post.

Click here to buy. Rating: 10/15.

Chewsy chewing gum: 

This was a brand that I heard about via Twitter, so I had to get in contact. Anyway: I was gifted these two cute boxes. I also really like the ethos of this brand-they make their gum from natural ingredient -so, no Aspartame, artificial colours/sweeteners, or a plastic gum base.
I really like the flavour of this gum-it tingles on your tongue! However, they aren’t sticks of gum, so remember not to swallow. (I had to keep reminding myself.) They do keep your breath fresh, and taste great. The boxes also fit really well into your handbag, and are very light-so take up minimal room.
Click here to buy.  Rating: 13/15

Hippeas Puffs: 

I never thought that I would be writing about how much I love chickpea puffs (click here to see an earlier post); anyway, this brand has created puffs out of chickpeas-different from the usual crisps, etc.
I love this brand-Sweet & smokin’ is my favourite flavour. They taste SO GOOD! Compared to my local Waitrose, I like the size of the bag in the photo above much more; they don’t hurt my teeth as much, have less of a ‘crack’, are easier to chew, and I think that they altogether have a better flavour. since writing this, I think that I have become 40% Hippeas puff-and the rest of me is 20% Blogger, 25% Journal student, and 15% writer.
Click here to buy. Rating: 14/15.

Ugly drinks:

Ugly Drinks have been kicking round on Twitter for a while now-and they seem to be the Bloggers’ ‘It’ drink. Anyway, I was gifted these four cans to try.
I really liked the way that these cans were packed, and that they were slightly larger than your average drinks can. They also have a beautiful blue hue-and the ethos? Well, it’s flavoured sparkling water! #TheUglyTruth is to take away things such as sweeteners.
I’m not the biggest fan of sparkling water, as I think that it can taste a bit flat. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Ugly Drinks; the taste isn’t too ‘in your face’, and is actually quite subtle. These drinks would be perfect for me because of this, and also as they are convenient in size-such as when travelling to lectures.
Click here to buy. Rating: 13/15.

Fellow Aspies: what foods would you add to this list?



For a little while now, I’ve been thinking; what would be the perfect day out? (A place that wouldn’t overwhelm my senses, or make me feel incredibly anxious, as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. With that in mind, I developed a bit of a criteria that works for me: needs to be quiet, serve a purpose, maybe fulfils a special interest. * So, here’s a list of ideas!


Or, more specifically, the British Library. This is the biggest library in the UK; it also has various exhibits, and books used for research purposes. Although it can be a little bit overcrowded at times, there is something very peaceful about this place. It is also very informative-apt for special interests-and has quite wide open areas. To find out what’s on, please click here. 

Night In

Maybe you don’t have to go out; maybe you can stay in instead. A personal favourite thing of mine to do is to have a film evening; go through a stack of films, have your dinner in front of it, complete with a stack of your favourite treats. Pyjamas, blankets, nail varnish and face masks optional.


Some cinema’s now how regular Autism screenings, which I think is absolutely brilliant. Measures taken include no trailers, less lighting, bringing your own food, etc. To find out more, click this link.

The Beach

This ones needs a bit of consideration.. go when it’s cool, the summer holiday’s are over, and with shoes to stop sand getting in your feet.


Again, this is something that I really love to do; at the best of times there isn’t always a lot of people, and they are dimly lit enough not to make me feel anxious. It is also apt for indulging in special interests-if you go to the right exhibition. The V&A is an excellent place for this; Kensington Palace has some good exhibits about the royal family; and the National Portrait Gallery often has little gems tucked up its sleeve.

Go local

Sometimes local can be a good thing; if travelling far makes you feel anxious, this is perfect! And if you live in a smallish town, there may not necessarily be too many people visiting.

Cat Cafe

I love Lady Dinah’s! This cat cafe-yes, you can eat your food, and be surrounded by cats-is a quiet place, has subtle lighting, and incredibly friendly staff. You can see my review of the place by clicking here. 

Where would you go for a day out?

Untitled design
* These are outings that would work for me, but as Autism is subjective for everyone on the spectrum, this list may not be a ‘perfect fit’ for everyone. Please keep that in mind when booking an outing.