Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Questions and Answers..... and very long lists

The current wheeze on Facebook is lists. Whether they're one word answers, or facts about yourself, or just amusing stuff that you make up in desperation, it's fascinating learning more about one's mates. So far all my lists have been absolutely true... even if I am trying to put an amusing spin on it all.

So in the spirit of list making, here's my list to cover all eventualities:

1) Yes, I honestly do have six first names. No, I am not particularly happy about it, but there you go...
2) My mother and I have a volatile relationship. We frequently shout at each other. This is normal service, so please don't be alarmed.
3) I have a passion for museums. Particularly, the British Museum and the V&A. I've been a member of the V&A on and off for about twelve years.
4) My museum addiction means that a holiday without museums is complete torture to me. Heaven to me is museum shaped...
5) I have a peculiar relationship to food. I am constitutionally incapable of coping with MaccyDs anymore. Japanese, Italian or Indian are my poisons of choice.
6) I have a fairly peculiar relationship to alcohol. Champagne, rum or Jack Daniels. That's y'lot. (or my lot... depending on how you look at it!).
7) I am quite fond of rodents, I have bred mice, hamsters, rats and gerbils at one time or another.
8) I am not scared of snakes or spiders. I am however well aware that certain members of both species are dangerous to humans. I therefore choose to avoid all specimens of both. Just in case.
9) I have one hole in each ear. Piercing was not a particularly happy experience for me. So one hole in each ear is my lot.
10) I have all my own teeth. I brush them quite obsessively a minimum of three times a day. They may not be bright white, but they're strong and have never let me down.
11) I used to have a caravan. I love camping but unfortunately, I associate the caravan with some fairly unpleasant experiences. So I don't love caravans.
12) I love my tent. Perhaps not wisely, but too well. I am ye original hippy chick...
13) I speak three languages, other than English, quite badly. They improve mightily when I'm in the country where they are spoken. My goal now is to learn Japanese.
14) I love my pets. Sometimes far too well. My dog, Danny, takes advantage of this.
15) I had an excellent relationship with my father. He taught me a few things, how to wire a plug, change a fanbelt etc. Possibly because he knew my mother was a total dunce at it.
16) I never completed my first degree. Until relatively recently this didn't seem to matter, and I don't regret dropping out in the slightest. But now is the time for a change.
17) I am passionately fond of Italy. Whoever actually said "Italy isn't a country, it's an emotion" was perfectly correct. Even though the North is where all big industry and cool shops are, and it has its own beauty and charm; my favourite part is in the South, starting at Naples and heading down past the Amalfi Coast and Salerno.
18) I'm also passionately fond of water. I lived by the sea for eighteen months and I loved it. I would still be living by the sea if it weren't for certain factors, being perpetually broke would be one of them.
19) I used to live in East London, which was also near to water. It was quite a nerve wracking experience, but worth it; and I still miss it.
20) I am, like my mother, a squirrel. I keep things just in case. This is not to say that I am as bad as my mother is about keeping things: she kept the old and mostly broken television in the study for three and a half years after I bought a brand new one... just in case. Periodically we are living in duplicate. This can be slightly surreal.
21) I love art. Passionately. This does hark back to my museum fetish, but I also occasionally make art. I am a reasonably passable photographer, but I can't paint to save my life.
22) I love our ramshackle garden, even though I am fairly bad at growing things in it. This year I was planning on a few vegetables for starters. Possibly a hen or two. The Good Life it won't be, but as an antidote to the supermarket, might actually be helpful.
23) I bought a book on how to make a yurt and live comfortably in it, because a yurt sounds more comfortable and warmer than a cardboard box. This is my version of forethought and planning.
24) I dislike our governments, since the 1970s, they've proved themselves to be stupid, avaricious and unreliable. There is no need for an underclass, for disaffected dole queue bludgers, for children to be giving birth to children, for an I'm Alright Jack society which favours the obscenely wealthy at the expense of the masses. The result is the mess we're in now.
25) Somewhere in the grand scheme of things life turned out pretty good for me. I've had a lot of luck, I believe passionately in paying some of that luck forward.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A Cautionary, or should that be Corpse-strewn, tale!

Okay. I'm back in, what is for me, familiar and comfortable territory. My latest manuscript has been kicking around in various guises for a lot longer than you know, but until now had not seen the light of day. For various reasons, I held back on pressing the send button. The content for one. It contains a few scenes that have had the effect of scaring the bejazus out of the male test subjects who read it. "Winter" is darker and dirtier than other things I have written, even more so than Half Light (and that can get pretty down and dirty too).

The story revolves around Arabella, a twenty-stone, fiery tempered and individualistic dominatrix in her forties, who finds the remains of one of her clients in the alleyway next to her home. This unfortunate circumstance brings the law and its size twelves to her doorstep, in the person of Jake Turner, a young fast-track DI, who has more than a few problems of his own, not the least his stomach ulcer and his apparently inexplicable attraction to Arabella. Jake struggles to make sense of any of it, whilst dealing with his two hostile sergeants, the ever growing suspicion that he has an enemy within the ranks, and a case load that he can no longer control. His one constant being his unconventional relationship with Bella.

Under the strain, Jake's health breaks down, and he finds himself shuffled sideways into a comfortable country posting. Now living openly with Bella, who's left the life behind, they start to build a new life away from all their troubles. Until the Grey Man Killer turns up on their doorstep, and Jake must face this dangerous enemy and defeat him.

This one's quite personal for me. It deals with issues, some of which I have dealt with my entire life. Body image, control in personal relationships, accepting what we cannot control, fear, death, and running away from our troubles. Though, before anyone asks, Bella is not me. She has elements of me, and some of the things that come out later in the story are feelings I have had and dealt with. The eagle eyed amongst you, especially the ones who know about my "The Bill" addiction and my favourite character, will have picked up on the curious familiarity of Jake's surname. Entirely co-incidental. I used my normal method of surname selection, close my eyes, open the telephone directory, stab downwards with pencil (scream in pain as pencil misses telephone directory and stabs me in leg), open eyes and have a look where pencil landed. This time pencil landed in a batch of Turners. It's fate... honestly!

To facilitate the distribution of A. Winter's Tale around the universe, gathering readers like a sponge soaking up water, I've created a facebook group... hoping that my mates, and possibly their mates too... will join in the party, although "Winter" isn't suitable for the under 18s. Please feel free to join, invite your friends etc. The more, the merrier..!

Monday, 2 February 2009

One foot three inches

Of snow. England grinds to a halt. This is normal. Do not adjust your set. When I was a lot younger, I spent an unreal amount of time trying to work out exactly why this should be... but now, put it down to the marvellous British habit of muddling through. Heaven forfend that we should have a plan, and that plan should be put into smooth operation with immediate effect. Nah. Much more fun if you trust to serendipity... or that old favourite. Do nothing.

It's a good thing that I have food in the house. Because I am not going to try and hike into town. That all sounds like far too much hard work.

I am not a cold weather person. I prefer summer. I like warmth, and sun, and pretty flowers... stuff like that. Not cold, grey/white... and not a flower in sight.

Speaking of hard work. Authonomy. I have to admit that my enthusiasm has been flagging of late. Every now and again I get another little burst. But the now and the again are getting further and further apart. Hassle much? If you don't spend every waking hour Authonomising, some one else will and you fall off the ED. Temper much? Scratchy in the forums... wise to avoid if possible. Though this scratchiness has been almost exclusively male. Proving beyond reasonable doubt that man's place is in the armoury! (or that's where "he" would like it to be!). And the prize... is it honestly worth winning?

Not meaning to be funny, or rude, but some of those crits? Jeez. If the Editor's Cat, Mittens, knocked it up on the ancient battleship of a typewriter that's been stuck in the office since 1950, I wouldn't be surprised. So you stay up until one in the morning seven days a week, plugging and spamming until you meet yourself coming back, for that?? Nah. There has to be a better way.