Tuesday, May 31, 2005
May GDR Review
All of the last remaining issues of Hunting Jack were redrafted and prepared for my last submission to KIC. 'The End' really does mean, the end. I sent them in to my editor and highlighted the last one as marking the conclusion of the story; a lovely feeling of accomplishment.
There was no time to sit back and dwell on the success of finishing the serial. With it being the end of the month, there are still some things I had to get completed that I promised myself I would. Until they were done, I couldn't relax and start thinking about the month of June. Suddenly, next month holds new and interesting projects.
I polished Monday Mornings for the Writing Magazine competition. Unfortunately the issue with the details is still in a box in the garage and could I find it? Nope. I'll have to contact the magazine's forum tomorrow to find out the details for it.
I also complete redrafted some poems and completed the article on Robert Louis Stevenson. I'm not happy with it. It has all the information relevant to the specification, but it reads quite jump-starty. It doesn't flow as smooth I would like it to, so more work is required there.
GDR Review for May
* Last 9 issues of Hunting Jack - complete.
* Complete Monday Mornings and submit - complete after 4th draft. Needs submitted to WM competition.
* Complete Whisky Snatching and submit - not done
* Write 3 new short stories - not done
* Write 8 new poems 5 new (3 Haiku poems, 2 normal - More or Less, In The City)
* Edit and complete 7 poems in WIP - 4 done (Brunette, Scotland Neglected, Swally, Bohernabreena) 1 binned (Britannia) 2 waiting.
* Write 6 kids poems - not done
* Travel article on Edinburgh Literary Figures (priority) - complete. Needs smoothed out.
Marketing and Promotion
* Compile and send out press release for completion of Hunting Jack - decided it wasn't worth it. Will wait until in novel format.
* Try to contact Leith FM one last time - done. No response. Will contact when on air next month.
* Look at possibility of advertising HJ at the Leith Festival - not possible (too costly).
Reading and Research
* Read more poetry and fiction - bought Stolen Mummies by Rick Lupert and RLS novels, Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Jekyll and Hyde
* Keep up to date with KIC e-zines - done
* Research Hunting Jack e-book - done and notes written from research.
* Write more Web Development manual chapters - reviewed existing chapters and polished up.
Things that turned up
* Deadline provided for KIC e-Book: July 15th. Decided to wait for fortnight after HJ completion to see if I still want to do it.
* Gig review of Prince Buster at Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
* Gig review of Oasis at Usher Hall, Edinburgh
* Wrote article on e-book creation and pitched to writer-on-line.com 12/5/05
* Completing Hunting Jack to novel length
* Accepted as official sponsor for PSH Poetry Competition 2005
* Rejection Letter from Take A Break for Heart of a Child. Resubmitted to Outercast Magazine.
* Heart of a Child rejected from Outercast within 24 hours
* Never wrote for ten days during the month - black hole of inspiration
* Rejection from Spoiled Ink for Loaded
Fiction - 12000 (last month 10,000)
Non-Fiction - 3630 (last month 0)
Blog - 19,200 (last month 16,600)
Despite its ups and downs, May 2005 will be remembered as the month I completed my e-serial, Hunting Jack, to novel length. Outwith my publishing record to date, it is by far my biggest writing accomplishment. It took nine months of turmoil, dedication and commitment, but it was fun and thrilling.
The month had got off to a great start but in the middle I suffered a block of about ten days of no writing. I'm not sure what happened; the only conclusion I could come to was that I was subconsciously not looking forward to completing the book.
On other projects I moved forward well. I reached new curves of learning with poetry through exposure to new and exciting poets, and I wrote a fair amount of non-fiction. I didn't write as much fiction as planned, mainly down to the fact I threw everything into completing Hunting Jack.
There was a lot that didn't get done, but finishing the book strikes them all out.
Next month I can move my GDR plan into new areas. It's almost mid-way through the year already and I have to tie up some of the larger projects for good.
Monday, May 30, 2005
The Morning After
I am no longer writing a novel - I have written one. Although it is in serial form just now, I will embark on the process of novelising (?) the manuscript in a while. There are many things I don't like about Hunting Jack; small things that come and bug me during the night and big things that torment me when I least expect. It will need a LOT of work done to it. Some characters might not be there once complete, and perhaps new ones may appear, but the basis will be the same. It needs strengthened, smoothed and to be more aero-dynamic. It must be fast and witty, enjoyable and gripping. It must satisfy me, first and foremost.
The biggest thing for me now the story is told, is not living with Jackie any more. Last summer I knew I wanted to write a serial, but I wanted a strong story that would last and give me plenty of scope for expansion within the streets of Scotland. During The Edinburgh Fringe I noticed how easy it was for street beggars to 'disappear' behind the colour and motion of the street performers. I came to the conclusion that they could just as easily perform on the street and people might notice them or think they were part of the show.
The story evolved in my head from this seed. Early blurbs of the story still exist in older notebooks, when Jackie was just a name. I started to write and after the first issue, he started transforming into a person. I tried to mould him myself but it didn't work. Originally I wanted him to be skinny with short hair. But he told me was a strong little bugger and that if I cut his hair he would less than happy. So the Jackie I know has long black locks, a sparkle in his eye and a tatty black leather jacket. He has a heart of gold, yet is very confused; a product of his upbringing.
Now I've reached the end, Jackie is as much a part of me as the glasses I wear to see the world. I have got to know him and I have learned much. He is a different person after the ordeals I put him through. He is stronger, full of purpose, eyes wide open and more confident.
During the writing I followed his footsteps around Edinburgh and this was a most surreal experience. I looked at where he slept rough, where he met Victor, where he and Katie spent time - it's all too real to just be in my head sometimes.
This is why I have to make the novel perfect. I don't just owe it to myself, I owe it to Jackie McCann; to tell his story of heartbreak and love, failure and success.
Today was a good writing day. I got four issues polished and ready for sending off over lunch. I noticed several holes on the way and plugged them suitably. Issue 76 proved a bit of a hassle and had to be re-written three times to get it right. Issues 77 and 78 were most difficult - I did these in the evening and had to change larger parts around to fit them into the slots. I was trying to put square pegs in round holes and couldn't see the answer for looking so hard.
Three more to go and I'll send them all in, then I will take a break from Hunting Jack. I will put it aside except for the promotion and marketing of it as I have just signed another 6-month contract to keep it running. During this time I will work on other things; short stories and poetry as I have been doing, but a return to my first novel WIP is calling me stronger every day.
The thought of having written a novel and working on my second one - already half finished - is as exciting as it is huge. Elation is welling within me as I write.
Thanks to everyone who posted messages of congratulations yesterday. It is wonderful to know I have friends out there from all walks of like, yet are living through the same experiences and emotions that being a writer entails.
I love this writing biz!
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Hunting Jack Concludes
I made Gail breakfast and she went to collect Laura from her Grans then take her out for the afternoon to the park. I tidied up and got the laptop started up for an afternoon of writing. Things at this stage were about as good as I could hope for.
Then Ian arrived - usually not in itself a problem - but he promptly turned off all the electricity, leaving me with no power for the laptop or even to boil the kettle. The entire afternoon was ruined and I got pretty bored and annoyed very quickly. I couldn't even help out as it was all electrical work.
When the power finally came back on I checked my email. I had previously checked with my editor and offered a month's free subscription as a sponsorship prize for the PSH Poetry Contest 2005. The offer was gratefully accepted by the organisers, who are going to send me out more details now that I am on board.
After a salmon steak dinner I got the laptop out and wrote out three issues of Hunting Jack. It was the final three isntallments and it took me until 1am to cmplete. I still have to polish up the last nine issues for the usual things and for consistency, but ultimately, it is all done, complete, finito, fin.
It is a strange feeling. There is no more to be written and the story is now told. It is, in a way, anti-climactic, but at the same time a relief. I have feelings of emptiness and little euphoria. I wonder how I will feel in the morning, because with no more sub-plots to figure out or characters to develop I feel like I am in a void.
It may take time to sink in.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
A Silver Moon
Laura was playing up all morning so I was delighted when Gail took her out to B&Q. I hated those "talks" as a child; they don't seem so long ago but whether they had an effect one can never truly say.
The empty afternoon meant I could stick on the Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Dundee United in the background, and settle down with the laptop for a couple of sneaky hours writing. Celtic won 1-0 in not much of an exciting game. Funniest moment in fact was Chris Sutton falling on his arse when taking a penalty.
I got a few words down, but not as many as I hoped for, and when Gail returned we had to go out to Safeway to get food. This took almost an hour and when I got back it was almost time to head into work for an evening shift. Good money, but I would rather have been able to go out with Gail somewhere.
Work was as tedious as you would expect it to be on a Saturday night. Nobody wants to be there and everyone is thinking about everyone else who isn't working. The air-conditioning goes off overnight and so the whole office is warm and sticky.
There was also a slight tension in the air with the lad who rang me up the other day to try and make out I hadn't done my job. The tension was caused by an e-mail from his boss who had fallen for his pathetic moans and groans. Unfortunately for him, I dissected the written complaint and threw it back at them both with the backing of everyone else involved. Quote enjoyable actually, and one of my more cutting and unmoveable letters of disgust.
I got home late and had something to eat. I watched a bit of Pulp Fiction on the TV before going to bed, leaving Gail and her pal downstairs to have a drink. I was just too tired to join them. I weighed myself on the way into the sheets - not pretty, and I now know the full extent I have got to go.
The sky was clear and the moon shone through the curtains giving me something spiritual and uplifting to look at. I lay on top of the cool sheets with the window open full to allow the breeze to blow the curtains. Silver wind - very atmospheric, even for Leith.
I love nights like this. The moon staring in, the wind cool but not cold and total silence - a benefit of having an upstairs is you can't hear anything from downstairs. In the distance I cold hear the sound of the city at night and I thought of Glasgow.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Only 3000 Words To Go
My morning email check brought with it a rejection from Spoiled Ink for Loaded. Shame that, because I felt it suited their publication rather well, but obviously not to be.
With an overnight shift tomorrow night I was kept busy in work preparing for it, but come lunchtime I was to be found in Clark's with a pint of iced water. I kept it up for the benefit of the diet. I need to detox for a couple of weeks and give my busy the best chance it has of shedding the excess weight.
The more lager Dave and Tom drank, however, only served to increase the pressure I felt at being the only non-drinker in the bar. I don't know how people can manage to be teetotal. I was staring at pints of lager willing the taste to appear in my mouth. As Tom said, "Beer is fun!"
Big Brother started tonight on Channel 4. Gail loves it, but I am growing ever more against these reality shows. They aren't even real - just a stage to give to some of the worst examples of human beings that exist on the planet.
This week alone, there are three of these shows running consecutively and on cable there are more from America. What with these programmes and the stupid crazy-frog adverts I am beginning to wonder what it feels like to take a sledgehammer to a TV set.
But the Scottish Cup Final is on tomorrow afternoon so I'll keep my rebellion till after that.
Despite a headache from lack of caffeine consumed during the day, I wrote through issue 78 of Hunting Jack. There are three left before I go back to edit and redraft the full 9 issues so it's looking good. I'm not sure if I like it though; it seems as if it might be too predictable but I keep wondering if that is only because I have been thinking about it for 9 months.
I received an email from my editor at KIC threatening to pull Hunting Jack from publication. Eh?!? I know I've been sitting on the contract but only because I have ages to send it in. I then started to wonder if I had maybe missed something about renewing a certain time before the renewal date comes up, but I couldn't be bothered trawling through the millions of emails to try and find it. I'll post it first thing Monday instead.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
So I asked him; "What did you phone me for if you have nothing to say?"
He was a tad upset. But so he should be; he wasn't doing his job correctly and was trying to deflect it onto me. No chance buddy. I play it by the book, right down to the wording of requests and procedures. There are millions of pounds of other people's money that go through the systems I maintain and I am not going to be the fall guy for your mistakes.
This is why people who do try this tactic, usually walk away with a limp and ruffled hair.
I've stuck to my eating plan; in fact, I've cut out more than I was hoping. No bread or pasta or anything similar has passed my lips. Less sugar and salt, and more goodness. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day though - will I got to Clark's at lunch? And if I do, can I get through it beerless? I need to go a couple of weeks off the bevy if I am to stand a chance.
Didn't get through any writing at all. I had to make a family sacrifice and although necessary, it has thrown my quest to finish Hunting Jack by end of the week back a couple of days. Pressure is mounting but if I can get a couple of solid hours each day from tomorrow through to Sunday I should be able to make it.
My writing group's website is down again for upgrading, as is my poetry forum. It's weird being cast loose from the group of people I have come to regard as my friends, but with email we are but a click away. Hopefully it will be back soon.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
My Friend Zander
It is a logo from the Boris Johnson MP website and is concerned with the impending French referendum on the European Constitution. I had to laugh at this most subtle of marketing ploys to persuade the French, to say non to Europe.
I was delighted to read that yesterday, the Planning Committee at the Renfrewshire Council voted in favour of St Mirren's planning applications to have the Love Street site re-zoned for Class 1 retail use and to give them permission to build a new stadium at the Greenhill Road site.
This means the club will be able to pay off its debts and move to a new purpose built stadium. They will survive! If there is to be a farewell match to say goodbye to Love Street then I intend to go. It was the scene of many of my earliest footballing memories.
Here is a blog you should go visit: Good Vibrations by Green-Eyed Lady. It's a wonderful site with some superb images to look at.
Speaking of web sites, it would seem that my friend Z, has fallen out with me over yesterday's comments regarding his website.
Therefore, in the spirit of well-to-do-ness, I have witten a Haiku poem (Haiku has three lines, no title and a syllable pattern of 5-7-5) and would also ask you all to go and have a look at Zander's World.
First, here is the poem:
My friend is Zander
he is as bald as a coot
we could be brothers
And here is his website:
~ link to website removed at requst of owner ~
~ please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information ~
Despite there being no statistic generator, he will never know you were there unless you drop him a line. So please do.
Topics of discussion most welcome are: Fingers Piano Bar, Public Schools, Rugger, Games with biscuits, lawn bowling and skiing.
I got a few hundred words written of the next issue of Hunting Jack over lunch, but never got it completed; work took precedence. With snooker tonight I know I'll get nothing done so I'm trying to squeeze as much writing in at odd intervals as I can.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Not As Easy As X, Y or Z
With another delivery due that needed signed for (an advance Christmas present for Gail heh), I had to stay in all afternoon. It never arrived - for the second time - so war will be declared on the company responsible tomorrow, because I am not taking another day off for those inadequates.
A friend (we shall call him Z for the purposes of thie blog) has recently been working on a new website and is having some problems with content. He came to me and I tried to help him focus on what he wants his website to actually DO. I've tried getting him to think about what he wants to get out of it, how much work he wants to put into it, what his interests are, and anything to get him to focus on a website that contains more than just pictures of himself out on the piss.
I've tried to help Z, but he won't listen. His website is a nice design - but there is nothing in it that will interest anyone, or at least, make them want to come back. I'm beginning to wonder why Z even want's a website if he has nothing to say on it.
Today Z asked my to put a link from my site to his. I refused in as polite and diplomatic way as possible.
Z went into a huff.
I'ver managed to stay off the bread thus far. Muesli for breakfast and veggie soup for lunch with chicken salad for dinner.
I wrote two episodes of Hunting Jack. They are very rough and need expanded in places with details rechecked and confirmed for their links. That's five issues ot of the remaining nine done. 95% there and the good bits are still to be written.
I'm glad I got two complete tonight because with Ian back from holiday it's back to the snooker club tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to playing again after two weeks off, but it doesn't help my schedul of getting all of the issues finished and polished by the end of the week.
Monday, May 23, 2005
A Hard Life
Of course when I got there, I released I need not have bothered.
I have decided to start on a fitness programme, designed to lose weight and increase my fitness back up to the levels it should be. Five years ago I ran a half-marathon. Today I would struggle to run down the road to the bus stop.
Out goes bread. It's a major source of my weight-gain and will be the hardest to give up - at the rate I eat it anyway. I'm addicted to fresh bread. I may need counselling.
Out goes lazy foods that are fattening.
In comes more salad, fish, vegetable and rice orientated meals.
In comes exercising.
It saddens me to hear about all the fighting - major fighting with riot police - between Celtic and Rangers fans over the weekend when Rangers pipped Celtic to the title. Unlike the idiots that follow both these teams, I congratulated the Ranger's fans who are my friends. They always did the same for me when it was the other way around.
There are some blogs I have noticed that use the Internet to voice and stir up opinion on this kind of thing, which just makes it worse. Most of it from pillocks who have never been to a game in their life. Having stood on the terraces for the best part of 20 years I know what I know, and I know these people make it worse through their ignorance of what can often be a volatile situation.
I am more and more of the opinion that the Old Firm is more than just a blight on Scotland; it is a cancer. It's the worst kind because it sucks in people from all walks of life, many of whom you might think are stand-up respectable citizens, but underneath it all, despite their ignorance, they are as bigoted as the drunkards in the stadiums.
I'm sick to the back teeth of people jumping on band wagons, crying because their team got beat and telling their kids there is only one way to live next to and hate your neighbour.
When will this country grow up? Ban the Old Firm. C'mon the Buddies!!
I got back on track with Hunting Jack, thought it wasn't easy. It's hard to concentrate with the drilling and sanding coming from upstairs, then when it had all finished Gail and Ian talked for hours next to me. I can't write in the kitchen and I wanted the comfort of the lounge, but this left me in a no-win situation.
I have to write hard this week so I can finish the serial and get it submitted or I fall foul of the contract. I also have to avoid having the wife fall out with me for not paying attention to everything that is going on.
It's hard being a writer.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
One Year On
Eventually I made it back and with Gail out with Laura at a party, I chilled out in front of the television with tiredness drawing over from last night. Gail had left me some Indian food for my dinner and I tucked into that then fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours. I was just so tired from the weekend but at the same time I felt somewhat renewed. Getting back to ground with my mate has helped. It always does.
Today is the first anniversary of my trip to London to see Madness appear at the Dublin Castle pub. It was one of the best days of my life. There was huge panic over the tickets and flights and with Gail on holiday in Spain I had to beg with my MIL to take Laura for one night.
The whole journey was fantastic. A day spent in the glorious heat of Camden Town, drinking with the band and the man who discovered them. Then crushing into the small back room in the North London pub to see them play songs from what will soon be released in the form of a new album under the guise of The Dangermen.
Before that day on 2004 I thought I had done and seen it all with Madness.
Once upon a time I thought I would never get to see them play at all until I saw them play Edinburgh in 1992.
Then I thought I would never see them in London; until June 96 at Madstock 3.
Then I thought I would never get to meet the band; until February 2000 in the Spread Eagle bar in Camden.
Then I thought I would never get to tour the UK with them; I got to do that several times.
Could it get better, I thought? I couldn't see how. Then the secret Camden gig was revealed and I was one of a lucky handful to get to go.
After the gig, I reflected upon the experience and even now, it still seems like a dream.
Can it get better after May 22nd 2004? I doubt it. I am positive I am now at the summit of my Madness career, for where else is there to go?
If you are in the slightest bit interested in finding out more about this gig, looking at some of the many hundreds of pictures of the day and even some video footage, get yourself over to this website I have been running since 1999, dedicated to Madness.
The Magnificent 7 - Dublin Castle, May 22nd 2004
One year on from the gig and Chris Foreman (lead guitar and co-founder) has just announced his retirement from the band. Could it be possible that not only was I priveleged to see Madness appear at the Dublin Castle, but it could also have been on eof the very last gigs the band will ever play together with all seven original members?
I hope not.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Despite booking a train for 12:30 I still managed to cut it fine getting to the station be leaving my tickets in the office. This meant taking a detour through the busy streets of Edinburgh before travelling to Waverly train station.
I got there with a bit of time to spare luckily and bought myself a paper, bottle of water and some gum, and within minutes the GNER service from Inverness to London Kings Cross pulled into Waverly.
I found my seat, next to the aisle beside a girl, and sat myself down for the 90-minute journey. I had planned to read Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson but the girl beside me wanted to talk. And boy, could she talk. I helped her choose suitable areas to buy a house in Edinburgh, which she was planning to move to. It all depended on her getting the job she was interviewed on Friday though. I recommended Leith - unbeatable.
I arrived in Newcastle dead on five to two and walked over the road into a busy O'Neill's public house. I ordered a pint of Carling Cold and found myself a seat with a table at the back of the bar so I could read the paper and watch the FA Cup Final. Craig was hoping to get finished from work early so I made myself comfortable until he arrived.
I read through the Racing Post and tried my hand at a selection for the Irish 2000 Guineas running at Curragh. I picked Oratorio at 7-4. It came second to joint favourite Dubawi. At least I'm understanding the form better.
The Cup Final was a great game to watch. Most of the Newcastle fans were pitching for fellow 'Northerners' Manchester United, who were in control for most of the game. The Arsenal keeper was in great form pulling off some good saves.
Craig phoned to say he was running late and I should make my way out to Chichester where he would pick me up at 6pm. I said make it later, since I was enjoying the game too much. Arsenal won the match; the first time ever penalties deciding the fate of the cup - the Arsenal keeper being the difference between the two teams in the end. I finished my fourth pint and headed out to the Metro once the game had finished.
I arrived at Chichester shortly before 6.30 and remembered being in the Chichester Arms on my last visit but one to Newcastle. Craig picked me up and we headed out to South Shields and to a bar called the Marsden Rattler. It's a converted train carriage and was the subject of several double-entendres by our silly selves.
We drank up and headed back to Craig's flat where we took the decision to stay in for the night. We popped round to the local hotel briefly but most of the night was spent with a drink in hand talking about life and the good old days.
One minute we were eating a dinner of pizza and mashed potatoes at 9pm, the next it was 4am and we had run out of booze.
I'm afraid, that is as exciting as this night got, but it was just what we both needed.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Could it be, perhaps, that I am feeling better because it is Friday? Or is it just a coincidence the end of the working week coincides with my feelings of togetherness? Whatever the reason, I'm happy and feeling more jolly than I have done in recent days.
I arrived in work at a suitable time to my schedule and sought to make sure I could get away at a time, also suitable to my schedule. I did this, therefore I consider the day to be a major success.
By 11:55 I was sat in Clark's with a roll and cheese and a pint of Tennent's Lager. This I also consider to be a success. Dave and Tom were already there - they are workaholics you see - and we endeavoured to make the best of our two-and-a-half hour lunch break.
I am trying to get used to the 'form' as published by the Racing Post, but it's not easy. I picked a horse in the 4.20 at Goodwood and even Dave said it might stand a chance. I was all ready to place a fiver on it, when I discovered it was a non-runner. More work required there, obviously.
Dave is thinking about starting to write his novel again, this time in first person. I can't do it. Having tried in various works to write in first person, I have always re-written the pieces in third because of my inability to work it properly. I think I am just better suited to the omniscient third person view when writing.
Tomorrow is the FA Cup Final and Dave was less than confident of being given a "pass" to go to the boozer to watch the game. So in true Scotsman style, he bought a large fillet steak off of a man in the pub for 25 pounds and took it home to Isla. An hour later Tom got a text from Dave to say he would see him tomorrow to watch the match. Wonders will never cease.
I have a train journey booked to Newcastle tomorrow. I'm going to see my mate Craig - my Best Man at my wedding - and do some catching up over a bar somewhere on the East Coast of England. It's about time as we rarely see each other these days.
Tom and me headed to The Shore for a few pints after work. We stopped in Pizza Express for a meal and Tom also showed me his new bachelor pad in Leith. It is a fantastic abode, complete with three bedrooms, a Jacuzzi and large living area. He is getting a pool table for the inset in the lounge, which should prove a major attraction for the lads.
As I write, it is the back of ten. I am shattered and as I am not long in. I am off to shave my head for tomorrow; it has been over a week now due the sunburn I received when drinking in the sun before last week's Oasis concert.
My week has been a disaster on the writing front. I have felt confused, restless and angry for much of it. This weekend, like all weekends I spend with Craig, is all about touching base - returning to zero.
By Sunday I am confident I will be ready to fire on all cylinders. Fingers crossed.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I witnessed the crumbling of what was once an empire. This Company was once a great place to work, so much so I was motivated to the extent that working from 5am to 9pm (including 4 hours commuting a day) was not in question. Now, it is a life-sucking, demoralising, soul-crushing place to be. To say I hate it, would not be doing justice to my feelings. If my company's name were Admiral Ozzel, I would crush his trachea with my mind.
My reason for such mild hostility is that I found out there will be no rotation of staff and I, along with eleven others, are stuck in this role for eternity. Not only that, but at the first team meeting this afternoon, my new team argued for an hour and a half. I sat I silence the whole way through and wondered deeply, on what the reasons are that keep me in such a place.
Couple of new blogs to check out: My pal, Dave, has started one - Happy Rants - fire over and listen to him rant happy.
Also Bobby Mackerel's fantastic,What You Leave Behind. If you like pussy cats, you'll like this!
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is released today and there are parties and celebrations all over the world. In London, Leicester Square is swarming with Storm Troopers and Ewoks, with Vader himself bopping about signing autographs. The Odeon is showing all six films back to back. Not sure I could handle it myself, but it is truly a superb thing. I cannot wait to see the film.
By the time I got home and made dinner, cleaned up and got changed is was almost 10pm so even if I wanted to write, it was too late to start anything. I felt shattered, stressed and just wanting to lie down. So I did.
I watched Question Time on BBC1. It was live from Edinburgh and George Galloway was a guest. It was a good show and I have to admit, Galloway came across quite well in the debate as did Alex Salmon, the leader of the SNP. While I don't particularly agree with either of these men's politics, they are similar to Blair in one respect; they are good, eloquent politicians. Galloway is very compelling and one can't not be impressed by him. If I were his brother, I would be heck of a worried for him, though.
I bet the Tories wish they had people like them on their team. Well they did once - Boris Johnson - but he's in the shadows now since his little misdemeanour. If he became leader I would have to consider joining him purely for the entertainment value.
Bring back Boris!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Edinburgh The Irritable
Met another bloke who clearly hates his job in a customer-facing environment; Scott in the Kodak Shop on Hanover Street. He huffed when I approached with my films for developing, avoided eye contact and thrust my receipt at me without speaking. I know I hate my job, but thankfully I don't have to work with customers. I think he might be missing his job at McDonald's.
Edinburgh just seemed to be 'out to annoy me' today. I waited patiently at the side of the road for a car to pass but it slowed down, and started to meander as if deliberately holding me back from getting to the coffee shop. So I walked out onto the road and forced the car to wait for ME to cross. They tooted when I was ten yards down the road. Cowards.
Walking down the hill to work, people kept stopping and turning in front of me. Can they not see me walking behind them? I'm not small! It's as if nobody in this town gives a damn for anyone else and it really gets up my nose. I once saw a man trip over a homeless girl because he was on his mobile phone!!!
No writing to report. I'm in danger of this being a crap month and the worry is building inside me. I do have a lot out on submission but have heard nothing for few weeks now. With two weeks to go I am still in the "do-able" zone, but I need to get my arse into gear.
I had to work again tonight which took the sting out any plans I had to write, and when I got back it was too late and I was tired. My neck is hurting and I'm feeling crappy about myself. This is not a good week. Something is out of place; something not right with the cosmos. I can't pin-point it but it's causing me grief.
Looks like Galloway is to face another inquiry over the oil for food scandal. The man in charge of his squeaky-clean company has apparently sent important papers out the country. Why?
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Galloway: Oath Blunder
I felt restless all day today. Don't know why, but I've been feeling very unsettled lately. Can't get into Hunting Jack even though I know what needs to be done. I think it is partially because I am within the closing stretch and something inside me doesn't want to see it end. But it has to, I simply can't get away from it and if I leave it any longer I'm going to muck up my subscribers. I will have to say goodbye to Jackie eventually.
Work was awful. I had to work late because of the incompetence of others. I don't mind if they read this here because I already told them today anyway. People who try to palm off their mess on me soon realise it was a bad move, and I don't care what grade they are. It's one thing doing something that is required and part of your job remit, but doing something which involved working until 7pm because of someone else's cock-up isn't. I am fair in my criticism, but terribly harsh in my dishing out of words during and after the event.
I know it won't win me friends, but tough shit - I ain't here to be pally, I'm here to make money, and telling people where to go is - believe it or not - part of the job of surviving in this place.
I watched George Galloway in conversation with the US Senate Committee as he denied the allegations against him. I found it quite entertaining to see him being so passionate in his denials in front of people who hardly know him - the American public. It's like reinventing yourself when you make new friends; you can tell them anything and they will believe it.
But the truth is, Galloway is in hot water. Yes his display was impressive, but I am still waiting to see if can produce any EVIDENCE to contradict the Senate's report. I have also heard, that because of all this turmoil, The Charity Commission in the UK is going to ask the US Senate who published the allegations, to gain more information. If this happens, it is possible a new inquiry may be held to investigate Galloway's shady selling of oil through the appeal fund for a sick Iraqi girl.
When Galloway returns from his ego-trip in Washingon, where has no doubt been only to glad to grab the headlines with his defined speech and bright-blue eyes, he may also find himself in even further hot water.
He has still not sworn the oath in the House of Commons, and will therefore not be back in London until after the Queen's Speech (which is today), and which is also the deadline when all MPs have to have affirmed or taken the oath. If he then enters the floor of the House of Commons when he gets back, he may be fined £500, and his Bethnel Green and Bow seat would be automatically vacated. This is all at the discretion of the Speaker of the House.
Shame eh? And one to watch.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Hangover From Hell
Hungover beyond belief.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Big things are expected from their sixth album, Don't Believe The Truth, and some critics have hailed it to be a welcome return to the Oasis of old; traditional UK rock with a hint of The Who and Velvet Underground influencing many of the tracks. With the sun beating down on the city and the pubs full to bursting with keen rock fans, the scene was set for a blasting evening of rock 'n' roll.
And it's in the pubs of Leith that sees the start of our story. I met up with Zander and we popped in to see Dave, Isla and the kids. Molly (with some gentle encouragement from Isla) was shouting across the local gardens, "Daddy's been in the pub boozing again!" Heh!
We stopped off in the Raeburn Hotel for the first pint of the day before heading to The Shore Bar in Leith to join Tom and Gav for the afternoon. The streets of Leith had brought out the sun-worshippers and the Water of Leith was lined with people soaking up the sun, drinking and watching the odd syringe and limb float past in the river. We found a table to sit at by the shore and made it our own for the next few hours.
Much laughter and burning of the skin ensued; in fact the entire left side of my head and face reacted as it always does with any small amount of rays by glowing uncerimoniously red. We popped into Guiliano's for a quick bite to eat; Chateaubriand (rare) and a bottle of Nastro Azzuro the popular choice, before jumping into a taxi and moving to the west end of the city and the Hogshead Bar in Bread Street.
We were just taking our seats when I noticed some familiar faces sitting near the window; Gail's Uncle Buddy, his daughter Sandra and her partner Ben. I went over to say hello and we ended up joining them for a few beers and chat about the supposed tunnel between Edinburgh Castle and Herriot's. Zander made the claim, and I'll have to check that out for authenticity.
At about quarter to nine we decided we should head round to the Usher Hall so we could get there in plenty of time and to try and get Tom a ticket (he still hadn't got one). When we got there I bumped into another old pal - Duncan Robertson - up and coming bar/restaurant entrepreneur in Glasgow. We heard from the bouncers that Oasis were coming on at nine and not ten pm as we originally heard, so we fired into the venue in case we missed the start of the gig.
The crowd was loud, taut with expectation and a layer of thick excitement floated like clouds above hundreds of sweaty heads. No sooner than we had wormed our way to the front-right of the stage, the traditional Fuckin' In The Bushes introduction came blasting out of the mega-speakers right over our heads. The intro died out and the band walked onto the stage to a tumultuous reception from the capacity crowd.
A strange silence befell the people, as every one of them held their breathe and waited for the first track, Turn Up The Sun. The crowd in the stalls launched into full leaping mode and it was then I realised we were slap bang in the mosh pit. A few elbows in the face later and Oasis were into the second song, the new single out tomorrow, Lyla. It's a great track and the perfect single release to promote the new album. It's catchy and contains some classic Oasis-type riffs.
With no chance to get a rest they kicked into Bring It On Down; a fast rolling track from their first album Definitely Maybe. Then it was time for a couple of Oasis classics; Morning Glory and Cigarettes and Alcohol pushing the crowd to almost scary levels of excitement.
Liam strutted around the stage in his usual manner of arrogance and anger. He never once removed the mike from it's stand; his trademark pose as he hit the notes and the challenging manner in which he addresses the crowd make him such an interesting artist to watch on stage. You can see he feels every word and he wears his heart on his sleeve, almost daring everyone not to agree that he knows he fronts one of the biggest bands in the world.
By this stage you could almost see the smell of B.O. and alcohol in the atmosphere as the thousands of sweat-soaked bodies cast off the booze intake from a day in the sun. The band followed with a couple of slower tracks; Stop Crying Your Heart Out and The Importance Of Bring Idle before speeding things up on the roller-coaster set with A Bell Will Ring and my personal favourite, Live Forever.
Then the first moment of controversy of the evening occurred. Liam had been seen complaining to the stage wings and banging his mike, sometimes quite vociferously. He was clearly unhappy with the sound quality from the mike or the connection between earpiece and the sound system, so he walked off stage swearing and gesticulating at the sound bloke.
This unexpected absence meant the band couldn't play Headshrinker as planned so Noel took over and the replaced the track with Little By Little. Liam came back on with a new microphone and the band were suddenly into The Meaning Of Soul and Mucky Fingers - a very Velvet Underground sounding track.
Liam and Noel, using their brotherly connection to full artistic effect, worked the emotional Champagne Supernova superbly. They flowed effortlessly into Rock 'n' Roll Star before taking their bows and leaving the stage.
The crowd wasn't going anywhere though and when the band returned they did so to a raucous roar - and Liam with yet another new microphone. Despite announcing they were going to play Aquiesce they sang Songbird. A strange choice but seemed to be greeted warmly.
The next song of the encore was one that Noel once said he would never again perform in public. In fact the last time I saw them at Aberdeen they never played it live but it was played over the tanoy after the gig had ended. So it was with great surge excitement that accompanied the first few chords of one of Oasis' greatest ever tracks - Wonderwall.
Liam belted the track out but what was even better was Noel really looked to be enjoying the song, which he penned a decade ago, and seems to have found a freshly mature approach to its lyrics. It's the ultimate crowd pleaser and so was Don't Look Back In Anger which followed it, sung by Noel himself.
Liam threw his tambourine into the crowd causing a mad crush right in front of us, then persuaded a girl who was perched on her boyfriends shoulder to flash him her breasts. I saw her turn and mouth to her pals behind, "I can't believe I just did that!" Nor could we, but nobody complained.
Oasis finished their set with a dedication to The Who (and to "the wee Krankie women" in the front row of the circle) by giving the crowd their own take of My Generation. A great end, to a great gig.
I have to say I thought Oasis were superb tonight. It's so refreshing to see a proper rock band performing with such energy and passion, throwing caution to the wind by peppering the set with so many new songs, yet keeping a hold of their roots.
After the gig we met up with Tom back in the Hogshead until closing time. We popped into a Spanish bar with a late licence then onto Fingers Piano Bar until the wee small hours. I can't remember when I got home, but when I did, I remember feeling ecstatic after a great day out - albeit with sunburn to my head - and money well spent.
Git of the day award goes to the man who attended the gig with his young, Oasis fanatical son, and being refused entrance to the concert because he was too drunk. What kind of a man does that? And what kind of a man offers the crying kid a handful of notes for their now useless ticket?
Footnote: I was holding off publishing this review until I got my photo's back on CD but the thicko in the shop blundered. They came out crap anyway, so it's just the late blog entry I'm afraid.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
I was woken at 6am by Laura whimpering about a sore throat so that was pretty much me awake for the day. It's impossible to get back to sleep with the morning sun streaming into the room. We need new curtains thick enough to block out the light. I'm sure the neighbours are getting a right good show of me getting changed at night as well.
I made some coffee and took a walk round to the shop to get Laura some throat lozenges and medicine. She made out the Grim Reaper was taking a hold of her until I whipped out a bar of chocolate and suddenly the world had been righted.
With Laura "not well", Gail and I had to cancel a planned night to ourselves. I was planning on taking her to my favourite restaurant - Le Sept - but that went out the window. I've hardly seen my wife this week and we'd been looking forward to going out together. God knows when the next chance will come along for us to do something on our own.
Laura and Gail took over the lounge for the day with videos like Grease so I ended up spending most of the afternoon listening to the football on the radio and farting about the house. I flumped about trying to find things to do: tidying rooms, making tea, cleaning the cleaning equipment, hoovering - anything to take away the boredom but it hung about like a bad smell.
I couldn't write because it was the worst case of procrastination I've had in a long while. Getting woken so early took its toll as well and I ended up falling asleep for a couple of hours. Even writing this blog took a fair amount of pushing. Bloody computer is acting up as well, hanging and crashing all the time. Feel like putting my fist through it sometimes. If only I could afford a new one. If this machine went kaput for good I would be in some real trouble. Got loads of backups etc. but it's the access to the internet that would cause me most problems. And of course to top it off my writing group forum is down for an upgrade that wasn't communicated anywhere I could see - just wonderful.
All in all it was not a good day.
I eventually gave up and went to bed with a book.
Tomorrow is Oasis day. I need to get out and let my hair - grow, then down.
Friday, May 13, 2005
A Sad Day
Stating he "was just sick of the petty time consuming bollocks that goes on in the band," as his reason for leaving, he also went on to confirm that he "won't be appearing at the Forest gigs or anything else to do with Madness/Dangermen." He did confirm he has played on some of the Dangermen Session tracks on the soon to be released album on the V2 label.
Chris Foreman will leave a huge void in the same manner in which Mike Barson did when he left the band back in 1986. Going to see Madness is never the same when a member of the band is missing, and this news is bound to shock those fans with tickets for this summer's tour. In 1996 Norman Watt-Roy stood in when Mark Bedford on bass took leave of the band, but he returned with the advent of fresh material. Chris's reasons for leaving sound more worrying and problematic, but everyone is hoping he will return to the band sooner rather than later.
So who will stand to fulfil this summer's commitments? Wilko Johnson springs to mind or maybe John Turnbull - but that's it, and at a push.
I pray this is not the beginning of the end for Madness; one of the UK's best-loved music acts of all time.
We had our final team (as we know it) lunch today at Siam Erawan on Howe Street. I had minced prawn and pork parcels to start and beef strip with chilli and Jasmine Rice for my main; it was delicious. I washed it down with a coule of cold Singha's (Thai beer) making not a bad lunch for my usual Friday fayre. The rest of the team departed immediately after the meal so me and Julz went for a drink in the newly refurbished St. Vincent to kill off the rest of the afternoon. Though I wouldn't say it is refurbished as such. It looks like all that has happened is a quick lick of ain on the walls and tables and chairs now in the place where the pool table once was. Shame.
I headed off to get Laura about half past five. Last night's tears and stress resulted in a crash course in the 4x table till way past her bedtime. Then this morning I got up early with her to try and get her more confident and able to work out the sums. At the end of it all I walked her to school and gave her a big kiss good luck for this morning's test.
Realistically, we were hoping for a result of about 4 or 5 out of 10. Given the late start and rush job I thought that would have been a respectful result to get. Well, didn’t she blow us all out the water. She got 10 out of 10! Extra ice-cream made its way onto her plate after dinner for that!!
Tiredness played a huge part in my evening and I got little done. A redraft of the London poem and some more RLS reading. Maybe the excitment of Sunday and the approaching Oasis gig is playing on my mind.
It's going to be a fantastic weekend!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
How To Be A Wally, By Colin Galbraith T.W.A.T.
To my left I noticed one of our neighbours a couple of doors down. The one who we had the "car incident" with. I had not really met him yet so it seemed like a good opportunity to make his acquaintance. He looks like an older version of me; tall, bald, bit of a belly. He was smiling at me too as he saw me leave the driveway and walk onto the pavement.
Before I could say hello, he took the imitative and greeted me with a warm "Good morning!"
"How you doing?" I said cheerfully, but with the intention of it being rhetorical.
"Not bad," he said, surprising me and still smiling. "How did the move go? You settled in okay?"
"Aye not bad, thanks" I said. "We're getting there. It's taking a while but -"; I stopped mid-sentence.
As I walked passed him standnig in his garden, talking merry chit-chat with the him all cheery and smiley, I realised to my peachy-faced horror, that he had a mobile phone pressed against his far-side ear. He was talking to someone else and I was having their conversation.
I hoped my quick thinking could get me out of it with a shred of dignity, so I kept smiling and walked away. God knows what he was thinking; crazy people from next door probably.
Talking about arses, George Galloway is at it again.
The US Senate has published a report stating there is evidence he and a French politician received vouchers enabling him to buy 20 million barrels of oil under the Oil for Food programme.
Galloway, of course, denies the charges, stating that he wrote to the senate to ask to come forward and present his case and evidence to the contrary. The Senate responded by saying, "Contrary to his assertions, at no time did Mr Galloway contact the permanent subcommittee on investigations by any means, including but not limited to telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, Morse code or carrier pigeon."
The report in question states, "In April 2005, the Vice President of Iraq, Taha Yassin Ramadan, told the Subcommittee that Galloway had been granted oil allocations "because of his opinions about Iraq" and because Galloway "want[ed] to lift the embargo against Iraq." In 2003, another Hussein official told investigators of the U.S. Treasury Department that "a member of the British Parliament benefited tremendously from the illegal trade of oil by Iraq," and specifically identified Galloway: [The source] stated that George Galloway, Labour Party, was the owner of a company  that was involved in the Iraqi oil trade scheme."
Click to enlarge
I suspect this is one of these stories that we will never fully get to the bottom of. People will argue, "no smoke without fire" and others that, "Galloway is being setup".
People should remember though, that this is the man who has consistently been driven through his political career by his own ego, underhand political manoeuvres and shady stretching of the Law. He is the man who saluted and congratulated Sadaam Hussein, was suspected of taking money from him in payment for "influence" of the Regime's agenda in the West, who has been arrested more than once for breaching UK law, who nearly faced treason charges for inciting Iraqi troops to fight the British Army and who once walked arm in arm with the terrorist Gerry Adams in support of Sinn Fein against British policy in Northern Ireland.
Click to enlarge
It looks as if nothing has changed. I quote here directly from the concluding statement in the Senate Report:
"Despite Galloway's denials, the evidence obtained by the Subcommittee, including Hussein-era documents from the Ministry of Oil and testimony from senior Hussein officials, shows that Iraq granted George Galloway allocations for millions of barrels of oil under the Oil for Food Program. Moreover, some evidence indicates that Galloway appeared to use a charity for children's leukaemia to conceal payments associated with at least one such allocation. Lastly, according to senior Hussein officials, the oil allocations were granted by Iraq because of Galloway's support for the Hussein regime and his opposition to U.N. sanctions."
This is the same man who called the BBC this morning demanding to go live on air and tell the public how clean he is as a politician - from his holiday home in Portugal!!
I rest my case.
For a copy of the full US Senate report, right-click here and select Save Target As on the following link:
US Senate Report on Oil Allocations
Back to writing.
During the day I sent in details to FreelanceWriting.com of the Hunting Jack contest for their competition section. I figured it might generate more readers. I redrafted and completed the e-book article and submitted it to Writer-On-Line.com.
I found a suitable location for the closing scene of Hunting Jack but I had to write to them to find out when they were established as their website doesn't have the details. If it wasn't around in 1995, then it's a no-go, unless of course, I fictionalise it.
I never got to do any work on Hunting Jack in the evening as intended. I had to help a worried little girl with her four times table, which took up most of what remained of my evening.
I cut my losses and went to bed with Jekyll & Hyde. Well you know what I mean! I also caught Boris Johnson on Question Time - what a scream. Get him in as Tory party leader and you never know what might happen!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
It's about this time of year I always long for London. As the city heats up and moves into summer, my thoughts return to many hot days spent in the City of London and of the glorious memories they have produced.
Most of my summer jaunts to London have revolved around going to see concerts, though there were some exceptions. Full weekends that revolved around the Madstock festivals are fondly remembered, particularly the time I got into the Riverside Studio's in Hammersmith for the TFI Friday show with Chris Evans the night before Madstock 3.
That was in 96, and in 98 we spent a roasting hot day behaving like lunatics in Finsbury Park. July 99 is full of wonderful memories because it saw my first trip to Camden Town and first visit to the Dublin Castle pub - the Mecca for Madness fans.
May 2002 saw the Golden Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty, The Queen, which I flew down for with a couple of friends for. Soho never saw the likes, nor did Buckingham Palace and the trip also coincided with a Crunch! gig at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.
Then there was the travelling; flirtatious flights with British Airways airhostesses, drunken bumbling on Virgin Railways and mysterious shenenigans on the overnight Caledonian Express train from Glasgow to London.
There have been so many trips to London and for so many reasons, I have picked only a select few to briefly tell you about. But there is more to going to London to see bands or meet The Queen. I could sit here and say, "It's just so great - there's just something about it," but I won't. Instead, I'm going to tell you, my faithful blogerettes, in the first draft of a spontaneously written poem this very day:
is alive with a million different tales
sliced through in any direction,
every kind of human of inbetween
sexual persuasions to the very extreme.
thrives on energy and motion, jams and crams
it never sleeps, there is always room
to do your thing or find a cause to join,
everyone with a point and pound to lose.
On hot sticky days and cool adrenalin nights
get burnt in a park or hide in the Tube
watch all the people and wonder why
working and living is worth the while.
Where English is not the main language
and Leicester Square is chock-a-block
with tourists and junkies and people like me,
musicians and actors, West End jubilee.
It is what you make it just get up and go,
take a walk by the river and take in the view,
sit in Camden drink out the old,
it's not drowning and it's not dead.
I overheard a conversation in work I'm not sure if I was meant to. It may be that I get my request after all, after hearing of a possible swap with another member of staff who isn't happy with his placement. A direct swap would mean both of us are happy and things may iron out to be okay. We shall see what transpires.
The Edinburgh Evening News ran an article today about next month's Leith Festival. There are some interesting attractions for a writer; poetry slams and other writing events.
The website has been updated with all this years events and I hope to get to some of them, particularly the Scottish Writer's talk with Louise Welch and the poetry slam.
I finished the article on e-book creation over lunch. Now I need to proofread it and find a market.
Back on the subject of George Galloway - friend of Muslims and enemy of Jeremy Paxman - I dug this out from one of the Respect Party campaign newspapers, justifying Galloway's decision to stand as candidate for Bethnal Green and not in his old constituency in Glasgow.
Pointing out that boundary changes meant he would have to contest his old seat in Glasgow with Labour's Mohammed Sarwar, one of the few if not the only Muslim MP in the UK, Galloway said that was "something he was not prepared to do."
Logically, this surely means Mohammed Sarwar's religion is relevant, but Oona King's race is not. The fact that Galloway wouldn't have stood a chance in Glasgow was of course not mentioned.
I re-wrote the e-book article down to 1500 words max after finding a possible market for it. I'll read through it again tomorrow and submit tomorrow evening. I tried to write issue 75 of Hunting Jack but hit a wall. I need a location suitable the events and the background to the story. It needs to have been available in 1995 and have an aura about it suitable for tension and the drama that is to unfold there.
Until I figure out where the final scene is to be played I can't go on. Tomorrow, I will search until I do.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Work dragged as it always seems to do when the weather is nice. The bosses have selected the new department structure and I never got my request fulfilled. So unless a miracle happens it's going to be pretty much the same old stuff from here on in. Me and another from my team are amalgamating with others selected from the two other teams. Fine - but they moan and bicker about the slightest thing. Even as I write, one of the old guys is over moannig at having to move desk. So effing what?
Over lunch I penned a Haiku poem and discovered two new worthy blogs, which I have added to my list on the left:
Let Loose in Leith
Ethan Winter: Novellist
I have also added the links to two poets I like to read:
You can also now translate this blog into 8 different languages at the click of a mouse's button! WOW! The technology advances, and the blog improves. *Sigh.*
If I told you of a case being heard of an 8-year old girl, accused of being a witch and tortured for 15 months you might be forgiven for thinking I was referring to the history of the Britain many centuries ago. But no, this is in the UK in the year 2005, and the case was heard at the Old Bailey in London today. What the hell?
(warning: this report may disturb)
Gail has a heavy week of socialising and she was out again with people from her old work for drink tonight. They went to the dingy basement pub, The Black Bull, on Leith Street; a strange choice I thought given it was the perfect weather for sitting on The Shore or on the pavement at the Grassmarket.
I'm not bothered though as I am going to see Oasis this Sunday, which will be an all-day and all-night party. It also gave me time to write and I worked more on Monday Morning's and get a re-write into its third draft; this time told in third person pov, which works much better.
I also wrote issue 74 of Hunting Jack; 2 down, 7 to go. Why am I getting nervous about this?
Monday, May 09, 2005
Out of the 88 poetry e-books available during the 24 hour giveaway at the PoetrySuperHighway website, mine came in as the 6th top downloaded e-book!
74 downloads in 24 hours beating some familiar names at the same time.
I'm a little humbled actually.
One of the blokes I work with went off on a rant because the search engine on the work intranet in a pile of crap. He put his name in to prove it and it came up with something totally irrelevant. Then he put his name into Google and it found something on him from years ago proving how good it should be.
Then he started to put other people's names in and of course, he came to mine. He started slagging Google off about "maybe not being quite so good after all" because it kept coming up with links to the "author and poet Colin Galbraith". There he was at his desk giving it, "That's not you - see? That's not you either! The internet is a pile of crap!" (he's a mainframe guru you see).
Then he clicked on one of the links and was astonished to discover it WAS me. His astonishment turned to jaw hanging when he realised almost the entire front page of listings were links to my own site and other sites where I have been published. Within seconds I was talk of the immediate area of my office and my literary secret was out. Not that this is bad, but I had not been making it widely known so as not to attract any negative attention in work. Too bad - 'cos it's here now. I know I shouldn't be so shy about it all but it's a big step when your peers find out especially like that. I suppose it's a bit like coming out; admitting to people there is a whole side top you that you have kept hidden takes a bit of getting used to.
It's D-day for my local football team back home in Paisley. St. Mirren needs to sell their stadium to a supermarket developer to be able to pay off their debt and finance a new stadium. If they don't the club it will fold and it would be a tragedy. It is all coming down to a meeting with the Council today. Fingers crossed.
I got home to find a nice surprise on the doorstep. I ordered one of the chapbooks written by Californian poet, Rick Lupert - also the man behind PoetrySuperHighway.com and the e-book free for all that I prepared Brick by Brick for.
Stolen Mummies is his latest book although a couple of years old now. It was written during a 2 week holiday in London and comes with an accompanying audio companion; a CD of poetry, sounds and commentary during the same trip.
Rick's is poetry I have not come across before, and so naturally, I find it very fresh. But it's more than that; it's funny, observant and parallel. It shows what can be achieved with poetry by making it accessible, understandable and totally unpatronising.
Check it out: http://www.poetrysuperhighway.com
My evening get together with a couple of my friends got cancelled so I got the laptop out instead. I wrote a poem called More or Less and also received news of two of my readers resubscribing for another month. I also made a start on Hunting Jack - the final month. The first draft of issue 73 was written but I don't like it. It sill needs work done but nevertheless, that's 1 down, 8 to go.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Lest We Forget
I showered and we all jumped into the car to head over to see Kyle, my nephew. He is 2 today and when we arrived he was sitting amongst lots of new toys, the best of which a toss up between a tricycle, a trainable robot and a remote control car.
He's doing great. Shy, but you really need to come down to a 2-year old's level to connect - something I never seem to have a problem with. I think it's a mixsture of my inner child and the fact that I LOOK like a baby makes me more approachable to kids than other adults. I get it a lot; wee babies in prams are fascinated by my big baldy head. I'll be standing at a bus-stop and a woman goes past with her kid in a pram. All I see is this wee face staring up at me and following me until I am out of sight. Strange, but true.
We had some tea and Donna (his Mum) brought in some birthday cake as well. We sang happy birthday and half way through the song I noticed his robot had joined in also - it was beeping and humming the tune at the same time. Strange, but true.
When we got home I decided to make dinner; the old favourite Marzetti being the chosen dish. We invited up Gail's pal up for dinner and Sammy and we all ate together.
I felt in limbo today. I'm tired from everything that's been going on and all the stuff to do around the house. I miss my mates but hopefully I'll see them on Monday evening. It was a rare writing night. Rare in that I just could not be arsed no matter what I thought of working on. I hate it when this happens and I hate myself. It's more than procrastination because I want to work, but my head feels cluttered and jumbled and nothing gets done.
I decided on an early night but the mess inside my head couldn't be ignored so I ended up flicking on the television and watching the VE Day highlights.
Lest we ever forget what these brave man and women did for us. It's been 60 years, but without them we would not be here today with the freedom we enjoy and take for granted.
To quote my good friend, Stuart Howie:
On this day in 1945, the allied nations celebrated Victory in Europe. Europe was once again Free. There is though a price to pay for Freedom. For Britain, the cost was around 265,000 servicemen and women. Each and every one of them deserves to be remembered, alongside the brave men and women of the Commonwealth nations, America and others who were united to defeat evil. Civilians too deserve recognition. The blitz claimed tens of thousands of lives. But the people stood firm in the face of the enemy.
The enormous effort and sacrifice made to secure victory must never be forgotten, nor the horrors of war itself. Yet we must stand ready to defend Freedom even today. Not to do so would be to betray the fallen soldiers, all those who stood up to be counted when their country - when Freedom - needed them most.
I call on you to remember, and to say Thankyou. Raise a glass, take a moment of prayer, anything to honour of the veterans who gave 6 years of sacrifice for our 60 years of Freedom.
Thankyou for our Freedom, thankyou for our future.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.
Click to enlarge
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Uncovering The Veil
My destination was L'Institut Francais D'Ecosse (http://www.ifecosse.org.uk/) off Queensferry Street to see an exhibition entitled Uncovering the Veil artist by Anna-Lisa Drew.
Through the medium of hair and photography, Anna-Lisa explores the arguments for and against the ban on the wearing of hijab in French schools. I found it fascinating and educational as I perused the images on display and read through the folders of newspaper cutouts and explanatory notes behind her inspiration for doing the work.
Many of the images were symmetrical patterns of hair, arranged in such a fashion to be almost hypnotic to look at. Others were smaller and at first glance looked like carefully wound and manipulated strands of hair - which of course they were. But on looking through the "third eye", one could make sense of the Islamic inspired images and they started to take on forms of their, almost like a cartoonists brush might - but with hair.
There was also a headscarf she designed which had one of her larger patterns designed on it, called Compromise, which I took as a real challenge of Western attitudes to the wearing of the scarf. She made a great point when detailing the reasons the women wear these garments and to their justification for wanting to. It boils down freedom of self and although Ana-Lisa argues on both sides, I came away with the impression she was totally against the ban. It is hard to disagree because she does make a compelling case against the ban.
On the introduction sheet pinned to the wall at the entrance, Anna-Lisa made the point, "shaving the hair can be symbolic of a mourning or a disenchantment to the material world." And as I stood back to look at a portrait of a woman's face, with her hair wrapped around her head to cover her mouth and nose, I caught a glimpse of my own reflection in the glass of the frame and couldn't resist a chuckle at the irony. Here was I; a shiny-headed Western bloke standing in a gallery with an overwhelming emphasis on hair and it's many meanings and expressions.
Thus, this exhibition not only made me more aware of an important issue, and not only did it entertain me, but it made me look at myself from a new perspective for several important moments.
I had time after viewing the exhibition to pop into HMV for a wee scan of CD's. Delighted and excited to see a sale was on, I parted with some cash and swapped it for a new Nirvana album of remastered versions of their classics. I also got The Story of The Clash Volume 1 and Bad Manners new album called Stupidity.
After collecting Laura from dancing and making lunch for everyone we took a drive out to the dump to ditch all our bags of rubble and garden refuse. Later on Gail went out for a few drinks with her pal and to see the Rab Howat band play at Bannermans. I spent the day in the garden doing more work on the lawn and surrounding flowerbeds. The earth needed a good seeing to and turning it took longer than I thought. I also had to trim the lawn and before I new it the time had passed 6pm.
I made dinner for me and Laura and it was half past eight at night before I was able to get the laptop out. I tuned the television into At The Races, which it had been most of the day in the background, and half-watched the Kentucky Derby races as I got to work on Hunting Jack.
The twists are now entwined on the paper plan, and it is time to write the concluding month.
Friday, May 06, 2005
A Labour Win, But The Top 5 Is Still Undecided
The most interesting seat shuffle was in Bethnel Green, where George Galloway - friend of Sadaam but no so chummy with Blair - won his seat by overthrowing what used to be a safe labour stronghold. The mostly Muslim community in London's east end fell for Galloway's eye sparkle and anti-war patter, which is designed only for Gallowy's own personal advancement and not on any genuine care about Iraq's events.
What a thorn in Blair's side this man has been and now he has a seat back in the House of Commons, I wonder how he will use it? For his own ends perhaps given he only ran on a personal agenda? Or will he actually be the one to represent the Muslim voters of London. Decide as you may.
The bomb that went off in New York in the early hours of yesterday harmed no one thankfully, and made no impact on the election either. While it was reported, it wasn't reported in connection with the election and so if it was politically motivated, then I'm delighted to say the dunderheads failed on all counts.
Morning in work was crap. Did you expect to read anything else?
Lunchtime couldn't come quick enough and I got a couple of pints in with Dave and Tom in Clark's and watched Gypsy King run a superb race at the 2.00 at Chester. Now a favourite for the Derby in June, I may just flutter a few bob in its direction.
I wrote my first Haiku poem this afternoon. I have been reading up on this form of poetry and think I can use it to my advantage in tuning my observations into the right collection of minimal words but still capturing moments, emotions and frozen thoughts.
After work I went up town to meet my mum and wee sister. They were in town to go to the Playhouse to see Starlight Express, but their meal plans went somewhat awry. Instead of a nice bar meal they ended up getting a chippy because the Conan Doyle had stopped serving and time was tight.
When they left, I met up with Zander and Brendan for a couple more in The Basement. We spent the best part of two hours deciding on the Top 5 bands/solo artists of each decade since the 60's.
If memory serves me correctly (and it may not), these were the results (in no particular order):
The Rolling Stones
The Sex Pistols
Adam and the Ants
2000's (so far)
Red Hot Chili Peppers
I finished up my last drink around 11 o'clock and headed home. Tomorrow will be an early start and the last thing I needed was a hangover to go with it.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
If you don't use your vote, you can't complain for the next five years!
Then I heard it. A tapping noise, as if something was bouncing or being bounced off of a wall or floor of the house. The noise would occur every 20 seconds or so - I know because I timed it. It wasn't loud, but it had made its presence known to me and it was now impossible to ignore it.
I sat up and listened. It sounded again. What could it be, I thought to myself. I stood up and opened the window. The sound stopped. I closed the window. It returned.
I went to the bedroom door and partially opened it. I could hear the noise tapping away at regular intervals. I moved into the upstairs hall and down the stairs in the pitch dark; still with the odd bouncing sound in the distance. I opened the front door ever so slightly and I heard the noise against the wall to my left.
I moved through to the kitchen and stopped to listen. The sound was further away so I went into the conservatory butit was barely audible. I unlocked the back door and walked slowly into the chill of the night, round the back of the building and stopped between the house and the garage. The noise was unmistakable - it was coming from the other side of the gate from the front of the house.
I unlocked the gate and saw that it was a cupboard door that had been removed from Laura's bedroom while benig renovated. It had been left against the wall and when the wind took up, it caused it to lift slightly from the wall and drop against it, bouncing as it did.
I lifted the wooden door and moved it inside the garden away from where it could be heard should it decide to bounce again. Then I realised I was standing in full view of all our new neighbours houses in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts.
At least I slept well when I got back into bed.
The day dragged. I had a team meeting in the afternoon, which ran on and on. I was glad when it finished because I had run out of doodling space on my notepa. I tried hard to disguise my delight at being able to leave but probably failed.
After work I made my weary way home, passing the illuminated Labour Party constituency office on Leith Walk. It reminded more of a bookies on Grand National day.
A letter was waiting for me when I got home; a rejection from Take A Break for Heart of a Child. I resubmitted it to another paying market, Outercast Magazine in Sweden.
I got changed and headed back out again with Gail and Laura. We went out to Toys r Us at Fort Kinnaird to get my nephew, Kyle, his 2nd birthday present. I popped in to Borders and got the latest issue of Writing Magazine and couldn’t resist a wee nosey at the Robert Louis Stevenson collection. I ended up parting with some cash and leaving with The Strange Case of of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island and Kidnapped. The first of the three also contains a full biography and other short stories so it was a good buy.
On the way home we stopped in to the polling station to register our votes. I had previously noticed the house next door to us displaying Labour Party posters in its windows. Sad I thought, and then on the way in to the station I noticed the Labour representative standing at the door of the polling station chatting the Liberal Deomcrat WAS our next door neighbour! I cracked a joke - he laughed - but whether his lot got my vote is something he'll still never know despite him aching to know.
I checked my e-mail before I went to bed and a rejection was waiting from Outercast Magazine already! I only sent it a matter of hours ago. Efficient editors or is the piece now cursed since I pulled it from WCP?
I read some pages of Jekyll & Hyde and watched the General Election results coming in but finally gave in to tiredness at around half past midnight. When I left it, things were looking like a Labour win but with a reduced majority; the Lib Dems and Tories having picked up the marginals as predicted.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
On a side not, I discovered recently that a good friend of mine, Alex Caldwell, thinks he knows music, yet has never bought or even listened to a copy of Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. This, to me, is inconceivable and so I have made it my mission to get him a copy and educate him.
I wrote up a short piece about the creative and technical process of creating my poetry e-book, Brick by Brick and posted it to a forum I visit. It was suggested to me that I rework it and try to sell it as an article to a writing magazine, so I spent some time on it. It never occurred to me I could do that with it, but there you go.
I also made a hell of a discovery when trawling through my Robert Louis Stevenson research. Although I new he lived in Edinburgh's New Town for a time, I did not know for how long or where. It turns out he grew up there from about the age of six until his twenties when he started travelling. However, the family home in question is still there!! 17 Heriot Row - and it’s just round the corner from my office!!
I just HAVE to go and visit. Apparently it is still privately owned and cared for so I am hoping to get inside - if they will let me. I want to take my camera when I do go so I will try and go round at the weekend.
Which reminds me, I am going to do the "dancing run" on Saturday morning because I want to go into town to check out an art exhibition; Uncovering the Veil by Anna-Lisa Drew. It's the last day it is running and I don't want to miss it.
When I got back from the snooker I checked my e-mail and there were about a thousand e-mails from my editor at KIC. The upshot of which is, she has put a deadline - I think - on July 15th for the e-books related to our serials.
This may present a problem. It may take me up to the end of May to complete the serial. That would give me six weeks to write anywhere between 20k and 40k words, edit it, prepare it, edit it again, prepare the artwork, final proof it and produce the complete PDF file. She also wants a synopsis in as soon as possible - another strain.
Can it be done in six weeks? I'm not so sure as I do have other things I want to do. But I also want to do this. First things first - finish the serial then I can decide.
Before I sign off for the day, if anyone else out there hasn't got a copy of Dark Side of the Moon, then go out and buy a copy. If you can't afford the tenner then e-mail me and I'll make you a copy. You haven't LIVED until you have heard such a body of musical genius. The lyrics, the guitar solo's the emotion, the feelings, the overwhelming feelings of joy, despair, summer days and winter mornings. Don't deny yourself, do YOU a favour for a change and just listen. Just listen.
Why not get yourself a copy right now by clicking on the album cover --->
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
The General Election is two days away and I have to say this campaign has been pretty much a damp, predictable squib. A lot of it has come down to trust and Blair's lack of it since Iraq. But while Michael Howard calls Blair a liar, he seems to forget people in Scotland have long memories particularly over the Tories and their Poll Tax blunder, which was his idea back in the 80's. The only parties that seem to be capitalising are the Nationals and Lib Dems in the marginal seats.
I've still not had my polling card in yet so I'm beginning to wonder if I'll even be voting. I'll give them a call because I think you can still vote without a card if you have passport and utility bill and I will still be registered under my old flat.
After work a trip to Morrison's was in order - our first big shop since we moved in. I've found if I don't go Gail seems to forget the small necessities I need, such as coffee, marmalade and cooking sauces.
I've been putting so much into Hunting Jack lately; from writing to thinking to planning - I decided to give it a break for a couple of nights. There are some things in the tie-up that aren't what I want and so I will let them fuse in my head until the flash comes.
I started work on the literary figures article; except it looks like it is going to end up as 'articles'. After sifting through the research I have dug out I started work on the first of the series of Scottish writers, Robert Louis Stevenson in Edinburgh. I also plan to do similar articles on Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, William McIlvanney, Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and possibly Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I wrote until the final episode of 'Hustle' came on; a programme firmly planted in the roots of escapism, but it's fun to watch. The plots are fantastic although a lot of them are left with holes for the imagination to figure out and the dialogue is a tad on the dodgy side at times. There are some knee-slapping moments when they glance at the camera during a cheeky scam and not only reel in the character they are conning, but the viewer too. It's sexy and sleek and the soundtrack is worth it for the watching alone.
My brain felt over-run with writing from the last couple of weeks and so I stopped and climbed into bed to watch television. There's no point in going over the top because I need to be fresh enough soon to write the remainder of the story and make it good. There is also a lot of writing in the pipeline. Changing to non-fiction for the night was good and it was a positive move because I am writing about a writer I have always gained much inspiration from.