Tuesday, 27 April 2010


I thought nobody was reading this. Or, of those who have possibly glanced at it, none cared enough enough to comment. 

Apparently I am wrong. 

Apparently the comments thing wasn't working.


Fixed it now! Hopefully. 

Seven things that make me grumpy...

I've been tagged by Nickie at typecast with this meme - she thought it suited me - and so I am doing this post before I forget. 

1. Facebook.  Or, rather more specifically, some of the stupid apps on there. So-and-so is 50% happy today? Oh really? Do they know this because they answered four questions and the app told them so? Were those four questions: are you happy? Are you sad? Is your favourite colour soft pink, grey or blood red? Choose the animal that best represents your mood - kitten, slug or raging swamp-beast. Do these people not know if they are happy or not, or is the app a way of yelling to the world "Ping me! I'm having a miserable day today."

And following directly on from facebook is... drum roll please ...

2. text speak . I don't know whether it is my age(rapidly heading towards 'mature'), or my nature (pedantic) but text-speak annoys me. And not just text-speak but the complete bastardisation of every word some people write. You need a translation device for most comments. I am thinking of creating a group on facebook. It shall be titled "I thought you were intelligent until I read your status updates" and I shall disqualify any potential member who writes 'better' as 'beta', 'mates' as 'm8s' and 'boys' as boiz'. Consider yourselves warned. 

3. the new remote control. An odd choice you may think, but let me explain. For all the years we've had cable TV, we've had the same type of remote. Grey, big buttons, reassuringly heavy. Chuckable. I had my cable box replaced this week and with the new and snazzy box, came a new and snazzy remote control. Very nice looking, all blue and silver. Except the damn thing is lighter, especially at the front of it. You press one of the ridiculously small buttons and the damn thing turns over in your hand. I keep pressing the wrong buttons, they are stupidly small, almost halved in size. It's got quick launch type buttons to get to the settings and ondemand quicker. Yeah, just what I need, for the kids to be able to access the PIN codes without having to trawl through six or seven menus first. I'm not impressed. 

4. Horses on verges I live on an estate where there is a high number of Traveller families. Not in caravans for the most part, but normal houses. It's not the Travellers themselves that make me grumpy, it's their horses. I'm no big fan of horses, I'd rather not have to walk anywhere near an animal that is twice the size of me, has teeth the length of fingers and comes complete with iron bolstered kicking apparatus. But often, I get no choice. Wherever the is a sizeable patch of grass, you will often find a horse tethered up. And not only on verges but also the gardens of empty houses and the grassy play area that surrounds the local playground. They are bad enough when tethered, but when they get loose, an annoyance becomes a danger. This isn't a rural village, it's an urban housing estate, I don't believe horses belong here at all. 

5. Crowd roar on football video games I get that it's part of the whole experience of being at a real life football match, I know it comes as a package for live games, but for the love of all that is claret and amber striped, why the hell am I listening to it in my own house? Dh is a lover of the beautiful game, and a lover of the beautiful console equivalent, and I respect that. I don't mind him playing, but the noise is grating. "WooooooooAHHHHHHHHHooooooooooAHHHHHHHhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" There's no words, no rhythm and no respite. Because it's low in tone, it carries through walls and floorboards, because it crescendos to a screaming frenzy it seems to be louder than the game would suggest. It's annoying and tedious and now I have a headache. Bah.

And on from that...

6. People who play music on their mobiles without earphones. You're on the bus, it's packed but fairly quiet, you're already irritated because you have five bags of very heavy shopping and you're sharing your seat with a fidgety six year old and then the worst happens. Some arse with a phone gets on and all you can hear is noise. It's probably meant to be a chart hit, but the tinniness of the crap speakers make it impossible to actually tell*. It could be bhangra, it may even be the world's finest singer doing a cover of your favourite tune ever. All you can tell is that it is annoying.  *Unless it is a rap song filled with expletives, in that case, the lyrics will be crystal clear. 

And finally, the last thing that is making me grumpy this week:

7. Me. Ever had one of those weeks where you just annoy yourself? My head doesn't seem to want to think (that'll be the football chanting induced headache then), no ideas are forthcoming for either of the two assignments I have due in soon, I can't seem to type at all ( my favourite button is the delete key) and for some odd reason, my toes are hurting. I am just grumpy, inside, outside and all the way through like a stick of rock. 

Passing this meme onto these ladies:


Monday, 12 April 2010

Unicorns, flying cats and other stuffed stuff.

The world is a weird and wonderful place, filled with eccentric people and fabulous animals. And this is nowhere more evident than the seriously creepy/magnificent / unusual (delete as applicable) collection going under the hammer at an auction house in Dorset. 

The entire contents of Brading The Experience museum are up for sale, waxworks and taxidermies mostly. Including rogue taxidermies of creatures that simply don't exist: unicorns, flying cats and a yeti (although the jury is still out on the yeti's non-existence).

Taxidermy is a art that seems to be coming back into vogue. The Victorians loved it. In the days before conservation, it was perfectly acceptable to bring home an actual lion from your travels abroad, have it stuffed and displayed in your study. Assuming you could afford it. Although most taxidermies are not that big. 

These days, it's a specialist art. Not many people know how to do it, and not many people are interested in learning, but there are still some taxidermists left. Some doing it as an art form, others as a business. 

The biggest collection of taxidermy I've seen is at Cliffe Castle in Keighley. No lions, but plenty of birds, rodents and creatures of the British countryside. It's quite a thing to see animals preserved in such a matter. So lifelike you'd think they are breathing. In fact, when we took dd1 and ds a few years ago, dd1 asked if they came out of the cages at night. It's not hard to believe they would. 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

How do you know you suck?

When I started writing, almost thirty years ago, I really didn't care how good I was. That's easy for a four year old. As long as you can write your name and all the letters facing the right way, you're golden. 

I started writing actual stories when I was about seven or eight and still didn't care. 

At thirteen I got my first typewriter, not only could I type stories and make them look printed, I can type faster than I can write longhand. This was about the time I started showing my stuff to other people. And they all liked it. So I figured I was pretty good at it.

I wrote all through my teens, got a couple of poems published, stood up at the Love Apple once and did some stuff onstage. What did I care? I was a teenager, fearless I was. 

I wish I still was fearless.

It's a funny thing. The more you learn about your craft, the less you seem to know. In my early twenties I decided to get serious about writing novels and bought some books on the subject. Bad idea, I succeeded in killing my muse for about ten years.  Why? Because I wanted it to be better and for it to be good and done properly. It's taken me a long time to realise that there is no proper way to write. Each writer's ways of getting that story down are as individual as the writers themselves. 

I went back to writing in 2004. I had come across something called National Novel Writing Month and thought I'd have a crack at it. I had a few ideas but no outline, no tightly plotted line with action points marked in red pen. I struggled through it but I did it.

The year after, I failed the challenge entirely. It wasn't a writing problem so much as a life getting in the way problem. 

The year after, and every year since then, I've won, and won comfortably. I've given up going into it with anything more than some nebulous ideas scribbled on bits of paper. I let myself leap into the unknown with no plot and just then everything develop.

Call me an OLPer (organic linear plotter - I think) or call me a pantser (as in flying by the seat of-) the label doesn't matter. What matters is the realisation that I do not plot and I do not plan and I simply cannot sit down and draw up a plot-line with action points on it. 

So I'm writing again now. Good stuff. Now the problem is, how good is it? Worth reading? Worth publishing?  The only way I'm going to learn the answers to that is if I let people read it. I'm assured that it's definitely worth reading, publishing may be another matter. When I've polished the novel enough to send out, then I'll know. 

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Cracks fingers and settles down....

Been a while since I posted. Yep, another blog, dead on the net. I'm so fabulous at this writing everyday thing. [sarcastic smiley]

Well, since I'm stuck on the current novel, and also stuck on the Uni Assignment, it seems the only form of procrastination left (which still falls within the remit of writing) is blogging.

I am spending far too much time on the internet reading forums, playing games and not being very productive. Now that spring is here and my brain has finally realised it has a conciousness, I am hoping to be more productive.

Of course I'm making all the normal promises to myself about giving up smoking (ten days so far, the nicotine replacement is working well enough), eating healthier (um... let's just pass on that one) and taking more exercise (moving swiftly on...) I'm making promises about more specific things. More time outside, more time being social with people I can actually look in the eye, and more writing.

So, back to the blog. And back to being a blogger with something people may want to read, and not a bookmark that you might remove after having it six month because the owner never bloody updates.