Sunday, July 31, 2005
July's GDR Round-Up
I was up far too early for a Sunday morning; a trip to the 'wild' west was calling so we jumped into the car and drove off to see my parents. We got stuck on the M8 motorway thanks to a combination of heavy football traffic and the partial closure of the Kingston Bridge, so a 75-minute journey ended up taking 2 and a half hours.
Beautiful sunny weather greeted us and we sat out the back of my parent's house in the garden. I went digging about in the loft and managed to dig out all my old fishing equipment looked out to bring home with me. Talk about memories! I'm hoping to find a place to fish near Edinburgh so I can start to go regularly again. It's in the GDR as a goal for the year; besides, I miss it.
I took Laura to some spots around the garden and relayed some stores from my childhood that came to my mind; things my parents had forgotten about also. She said she likes to hear these stories but I think she was just being polite. It's part of the thing about going home for me - reliving my childhood; seeing the spots in the garden and small reminders of things that happened many years ago and feeling the glow that I can still see those things happening in my mnd's eye.
We stayed for a couple of hours then drove up to see my friends Mikey and Elaine, who have just bought a new house near where my folks live. As it was also their daughter's 1st birthday recently, it was the perfect reason to pop in.
Their house and garden is beautiful; surrounded by masses of trees and greenery with a large pond and long gravel driveway - I knew it was something special before we even stepped inside. The interior has - like ours - got that 'just moved in' feel, although they have the benefit that the house is newly carpeted and has a beautiful kitchen with an Aga cooker.
We were offered drinks - too many as t turned out - and we stayed for our dinner. Mikey saw fit to keep topping up my glass with red wine and I never noticed until the bottle was empty.
We popped in for a nightcap at my parents before we headed home and finally got back at around half past midnight. A long day packed with lots of memories with my folks and some good friends. Great day all round!
There's nothing left for July's blog entries except to round up my GDR for the month. So here we go:
* Submit Monday Mornings to WM competition - complete; pending
* Complete Whisky Snatching and submit - Complete - subbed to Critique Circle for crit
* Resubmit Heart of a Child - done Big Ugly Review 12/7 (remit: Hidden Agendas)
* Write novella for KIC e-book project (20k minimum) - on hold
* Write 1 short story - War Generations - WIP
* Read through and re-org of novel WIP - on-going
* Write 4 new poems minimum - none written
* Edit and complete 3 poems in WIP (Boxes-done, In the City and Life-done)
* Write more Haiku - none written
* Submit article on RLS to intended market - reworked into focussed article; ready to pitch
Marketing and Promotion
* Look at getting business cards made up - on hold
* Press Release for last six months of HJ - not done. KIC contract lost in post!
Reading and Research
* Read more poetry and fiction - critted several stories on crit circle forum. Treasure Island (by RLS)
* Keep up to date with KIC e-zines - complete
* Complete first draft of Web Development manual - on hold
* 13 Travelling Journals Project
Things that turned up
* KIC lost its 2nd PR person and I had to resend in all my info in again, plus extra.
* Round Table interview/article
* Interview with Devon Ellington for 13 Travelling Journals Project published
* Interview with Hey Asda! Website published
Nothing worth shouting from the rooftops about.
None really. Dip in the middle of month with regards to output but other than that, nothing major.
Fiction - 4300
Non-Fiction - 5000
Blog - 20200
A good solid month. A lot of my writing, as far as the word count goes, was non-fiction; a pleasant change. The fiction I did write in July was intense and I am very happy with what was written. I made good progress on both aspects of writing.
Exciting moment when the 13 Journals Project arrived on my doorstep. I've not published anything that has been written yet - I'll cover that in a separate blog entry first after I've sent stuff to Devon.
Plenty of story ideas taken down as well as new character ideas. Would still have liked to write more fiction however; such is the way; but I'm happy with my work, particularly after June. I wish there had been a wider spread of work but I'm not unduly annoyed because the work I did get through was creative and challenging, therefore very satisfying.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Not Quite Myself
The bus stop at the foot of Leith Walk was relatively quiet for a Saturday morning. There were no queues, no prams and more importantly, a lack of buses. I was several minutes standing at the bus-stop before I realised today is another day of strike action by those wonderful Lothian Bus drivers.
With only an hour spare between dropping Laura off at her dance class and collecting her again, the strike put paid to my planned trip into Edinburgh for an hour browsing books and records. Instead, I bought a copy of the Racing Post, and sat reading it with a cup of coffee in the Leith Walk Cafe.
I'd never been in it before, but it reminded me of a 'greasy spoon' cafe I used to frequent on the Seven Sisters Road in London. Both made extremely hot coffee and both were run by several wee wifies, passing on their years of experience raising children to the locals by producing favourite fried meals and inexpensive snacks.
It was raining steadily as I gazed outside at the shiny tarmac street and passing cars. The streets were ghostly quiet because of the lack of buses and the smell of smoke from the tin-foil ashtrays that kept my attention from wandering too far.
Half an hour passed and it was time to return to the shambles of the dance school to get Laura. Organistion is not something they seem to comprehend. She wasn't happy about having to walk home but at least I got to try out my new jacket and see just how much it could keep the rain out.
The day was slow and stressful. Laura had a number of her school pals in, and when they were joined by several of her friends in the neighbourhood the house was as busy and noisy as it has ever been - ever. Children kept turning up at the door until eventually we had to turn them all out into the street; there were too many to handle and of course I got practically no work done for the noise and kids running amok.
I did manage to order new furniture for my office, which is coming along nicely. I should have a new desk and filing cabinet withint 3 weeks.
Gail took Laura to the cinema in the evening and I used the time to write. Half way through I was hit by a coughing fit and I was unexpectedly sick; some of it splashing onto the laptop. No worry - it's the Company's. They'll give me another should this one stop working.
Before long, it was time to go into the office to carry out an installation of software on the company mainframe. Oh, what fun. Glory be.
My stomach still felt a bit dodgy and to add to it I've now started to develop a bit of a hacking cough. I took some cough medicine to try and appease it before it got too much but the dodgy stomach remained with me into the night.I'm feeling quite low today. I can't explain it - just not feeling myself.
Friday, July 29, 2005
No Words Required
Sitting at my PC in the kitchen with the rain falling outside, I listened to it making an exaggerated patter as it fell on the conservatory roof. Rather than annoying me, I listened and let my mind wander.
Falling rain is always something I have appreciated. I remember looking out of my bedroom window as a boy and watching it gather in puddles on our paved path by the lawn. All the circles increasing outward and bouncing off each other, the clouds above reflected in the small pool forming.
I like falling asleep to the sound of rain outside. I find it relaxing, comforting even, and it seems to calm me. When I used to fish for trout on the River Gryffe back home and the rain started, I would find shelter under my umbrella or a tree and have my tea and sandwiches (if I remembered to bring them). I would watch the river flow by from a spot among the reeds and branches, and it was as close to nature one could get. Such a peaceful place to be and my memories of my time spent on that river have stayed with me for years.
I worked through another run of the Round-Robin interview/article, adding more to yesterday's answers. I had left some blank while I thought about them last night and today then entered those also. I tightened up of the new-look Robert Louis Stevenson article; inserting some links to websites and a couple of photographs to give it more relevance to today.
Before I sign off, here's a picture that tells my story of the recent Pub Golf Tournament. Taken shortly after my surprising barf into a nearby gutter, it displays both the joy and the sadness of the day on my face (left) and Tom's (right). No words are required to describe my pain.
Click to enlarge
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Tales From Dalkeith
No work today and with the weather pleasant but overcast, we decided on a family day out to Dalkeith Country Park, east of Edinburgh. We got there at about eleven thirty and having forgotten the rucksack, I lugged the see-through carrier bags with our lunch while on our walk.
I took my video camera and got some nice footage of the countryside; a mixture of open fields with cattle and horses on the outskirts and inside the perimeter, large forests that blocked out the sky with streams running through the centre.
We stopped next to an ancient amphitheatre, which looked in surprisingly good condition. Though it was circular, it reminded me of the scene in Jason and the Argonauts where the blind man lived in constant torment.
Deeper in the forest we came to a large decorative gate that had been allowed to deteriorate. The grass around and within it was almost as high as the gate itself and it looked like an ancient, gothic graveyard.
Running nearby a shallow stream took us round in a circular direction back towards an opening where we could eat. On our way to the picnic tables I spotted a tree growing out from the small valley cut by the stream. It looked like a face grinning mysteriously at us.
All this of course, inspiration for another short story of a spookier nature.
During our picnic lunch, several cockerels surrounded us; their beaks not sharp enough to penetrate my skin as I fed them some bread and sweet corn. We stopped to feed polo mints to some horses; a pair of older but healthy looking animals. Actually, we stopped back to see them a couple of times through the day and each time they saw the car they came right over to us.
The clouds started to leak at about half past three just as we were leaving and by the time we got home the heavens had opened. It was perfect timing.
I got dinner out the way quickly and got down to some writing. I worked on some non-fiction pieces; editing two articles I am shortly to pitch to relevant markets. One of them - a piece on Robert Louis Stevenson - turned more into a biography after its first work through several weeks ago, and I lost the point of what I was supposed to have been writing about. So I went back and re-worked it with the submission request at the centre of the article. I now have two articles on the same man, but from differing angles.
The first feedback of War Generations started to come back from my friends at my writing forum, a lot of which opened my mind to the story and where it could go. The blinkers must have come down and I never realised because I was looking at it so intensely. I'm so grateful to my friends for taking time out of their busy lives to read it and return some excellent comments and suggestions.
I started work on the Round-Robin interview/article I am working on with some writing friends and updated July's GDR. The month is almost at and end, and I am hoping for this month to have been a good one. There's still some work to be done, but it looks like I've achieved a whole lot more and beaten the ghosts of June, which brought me down with such a bump.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The Magnificent End
For the past six years I have been running The Magnificent 7 website. It's a website devoted to the band Madness and has been a real labour of love. It started out back in 1999 as a small and shabby website; a hobby, designed only as a medium through which I could share photographs and experiences of going to see Madness play live.
As my knowledge of the Internet and of website design grew, so did the website itself and before long I moved the site to its own domain and hosting server. It started to grow outwith my control; yes I was updating it and building in new sections, but it was fast becoming recognised as one of the larger and most up-to-date Madness fan sites on the Net. Quite a compliment; but quite a drain on my time too.
The band themselves were known to pop in from time to time and e-mail me with news, info and thanks until eventually I even got to meet them all at various events in London; a dream come true and all the while, the webstire was beoming the largest Madness resource in the UK and second in the world. Following the collapse of the world's number 1, The Magnificent 7 took its place at the top of the mantle.
But now things have gotten out of control. People and companies think the site is the official Madness website; I'm not talking Jim Smith from Croydon here; I'm talking MTV, booking agencies, the media and record companies. I am becoming more and more swamped with having to deal with genuine requests for band interviews, public and television appearances and arranging for Madness to play at festivals across the UK in up to 2 or 3 years time.
Quite simply, The Magnificent 7 has a life of it's own and I am no longer able to give it the attention it deserves. Not only that, but the costs of running and maintaining the site are an overhead I'd rather lose. With my writing taking up more and more of my spare time, I am no longer able to keep the Madness community informed of the latest developments and lately, I've let it all slip.
And so, it is with deep regret that I think I will have to relinquish the crown of running the world's largest Madness Fansite. The Magnificent 7 looks to be drawing to a close. Unless anyone wishes to take over its reigns, the next time I am due to renew the server account, I shall allow it to expire. A slow death I am aware, but I want to hang onto life for as long as it can.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Buy the new Madness single
Shame and Scandal
Released Mon 25th July
Another day off work for school holiday cover. All these sporadic days off help to break the weeks up, and it makes going back into the office slightly more bearable as a result. The feeling lasts for minutes, however, and then it's back to the realisation that where I work, is the most soul-sapping, demoralising, hellish place on earth.
I worked until just after 1am last night and was quite tired this morning, but I managed to make a cup of coffee-deluxe and get showered so the day got off to not a bad start.
That was until work phoned wanting me to do a night shift on Saturday. I agreed because I could do with the money and I'm not doing anything anyway. I'll write up until 11pm then go into work. That's the plan anyway.
The sun started to peek out in the later part of the morning so I took a walk into Leith. I got some stuff to make dinner and other messages then came home and had lunch and tidied parts of the house before getting down to some DIY.
I wanted to do more than I actually got through but restoring the bookshelf is going to take longer than I envisaged. It is currently pink so I need to sand it all off before re-painting it a nice shade of brown. All the nooks and curves and the patches of tough paint makes hard going though.
Throughout the afternoon I stopped to watch the racing from Glorious Goodwood, which is on all week. I also watched the Space Shuttle Discovery taking off from Cape Canaveral at 15:39 - always exciting to watch. then I made a start on dinner; Marzetti - *drool, drool*!
I spent quite a bit of time this evening on the Internet looking at writing sites and other writer's blogs. Found one through one of the forums I'm on that I like. It's called Pendrifter; you should check it out.
I'm stuck with the G8 Story though I did think up a working title; War Generations. It doesn't work though it captures the essence, it's just not - right. I gave it another read over and I'm happy with it - I think. I've rarely written in first pov, particularly for two characters in the one piece so I hope it works.
To test out my thoughts I asked if anyone in my writing group would be willing to have a read and crit what has already been penned. They were only too happy to offer their services and I can look forward to a string of critiques on this work in the next few days.
Looking at my GDR I have some marketing work to do and some poetry I want to get down before the end of the week.
Also, there is a round table discussion with some of my friends, which arrived in my inbox this evening. I'll work on that tomorrow. And I submitted Daffodils to Glimmer Train. I had been waiting to re-submit to NFG but they've gone on haitus so I'll stick with top end markets after the praise I got from NFG first time round.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Living In Britain
BUY THE NEW MADNESS SINGLE, SHAME AND SCANDAL - OUT TODAY!!!
I turns out that despite initial communications from the Met, the guy who was shot by on the Tube on Friday was not connected with the bombers of July 7th. He was totally innocent and didn't deserve to die. A victim some would say, of tragic circumstances; others of a trigger-happy police force.
It is a terrible thing to have happened, and I can only imagine how the news was received by the man's family back in Brazil. I hope they can get through it.
Many of the newspapers and media outlets are now running stories designed to hype up the population into fighting the "police state", to work against Blair and saying things like "anyone with dark skin is now a target for gun-toting police". It's a typical reaction to respond negatively against the government and the authorities when something like this happens in such a public manner. However, I have to disagree with the media-hype surrounding this tragic incident purely by sticking to the facts:
1. The man was seen leaving a building already under surveillance by the anti-terrorist squad.
2. He was wearing a large and bulky overcoat on a very hot, sunny day.
3. When asked to stop, he ran.
4. He ran, of all places, into the nearest Tube station; scene of several bomb attacks over the last two weeks.
Faced with this information - none of it based on his religion or skin colour - the anti-terrorist unit had to make an instant choice. Do they let the man run off then wait to see if 52 more innocent people die in a bomb explosion underground? Or do they shoot to kill? I know what I would have done.
There will be an investigation as the public demands, and as always happens when someone is shot by the police, people will have to take the blame. The public are up in arms about this so-called "police state" and the "big brother" aspect of living in Britain. All of it total nonsense.
Here are some more facts about living in Britain in this day and age:
1. It is one of the top three safest countries to live, on the entire planet.
2. Living in Britain allows you the freedom to be able to walk down the street and do whatever you like with your life; something not afforded to the citizens of many other nations.
3. Freedom is taken for granted by the majority and guarded by the minority.
4. The ability to live as independent and free individuals has not fallen on these shores by luck or mere chance. It is as a result of there being no single written constitution.
5. Our Monarchy, ensures the stability and security of our nation.
The shoot to kill policy is an awful thing to have to implement in any country, but I think it is the right one. In the instance of the Brazilian man there has clearly been a regrettable breakdown both in the execution of it and in the communications afterwards. However, the facts of the incident are plain and they will do little to appease the family of the victim.
As has now been revealed, it appears he only ran because his Visa had expired. One has to wonder though, what went through his mind when a dozen SO19 operatives with heavy firearms told him to stop? Did he really think they were all there for him because his Visa had expired? My advice; if a policeman tells you to stop and turn around - do it. The police, the armed services, the security and intelligence agencies are all there to protect our right to freedom. We should not forget that and we should never take it for granted.
Unfortunately, we are at war with an invisible enemy. It pains me to say that there is bound to be casualties. But we must continue to eradicate the evil that has arrived on our shores or there will be another atrocity like July 7th. There will be more blood-shed. There will be more innocents slain. These people do not care who the victims are.
The next time you are sitting on a bus think about the person sitting behind you and say to yourself, "What if they were strapped to explosives?" Hard to imagine if you live in a city so far unaffected, like Edinburgh. If you're from New York, London or Baghdad you'll know the feeling of looking over your shoulder; watching your countrymen and women. If you live in Edinburgh imagine never seeing your kids or your parents again. Maybe then you'll realise that people put their lives on the line every day, so you can sit on a bus without that fear. Maybe then, you'll be glad these people are there to do their best to protect us.
On a less immediate note, I wrote out another re-write of the G8 Story (still untitled). I think it is finished but I think I may also have to bounce this one off a few other minds to see if it works or not.
I kept writing till about 1am, trying to figure out if I had finished the story or not; did it need more, less or just some tightening. I also got some writing done on the Fronds of Though journal. I've got a few things I want to insert in it, maybe, and once I've got them I'll almost be ready to pass it on.
I'm reluctant to comment on it at the moment because I'm not actually sure who the final audience is going to be. I'll need to think more on this aspect of it.
And of course I made my way to the record shop for 9.30 this morning to buy the new Madness single; just like being a kid again! I called Gail and my sisters and when I got home I rushed immediately for the CD player. Sublime!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
What's The Deal With Firemen In Uniform?
Go have a read at: Hey ASDA!
When I got up it was about nine o'clock and I felt surprisingly okay considering the state I got home at yesterday. I made some coffee and then Gail reminded me today was her Dad's Birthday BBQ. It would involve food and alcohol and she reminded me I had better not slink away in a corner with my hangover.
But, there was no hangover; I must have slept it all off overnight and so I was actually looking forward to getting something solid inside my stomach.
I helped Gail tidy the house then get ready and drive round to her Mum's. Gail's brother Alan joined us with his partner Donna and their son Kyle who was on good form. The weather was good for it too; a warm sun with little breeze made for ideal BBQ conditions. My heads is now slightly pink but nothing major.
Funniest moment of the afternoon came from Laura who decided to play a trick on her Grandad against my good advice. After the BBQ had finished the girls had all gone inside with Kyle. Ian had fallen asleep in the sun with a glass of rum in his hand when Laura snuck up on him, screamed "BOO!" and shook him.
Well the poor old blighter nearly jumped out of his skin. His drink flew out of his hand and the tall glass of rum and coke landed all over him and his new birthday clothes. I had warned her not to do it and thought she had listened, but she never does. Grandad, of course, exploded. It takes quite a lot for him to lose it but when he does, he goes off on one.
She should have known better, but I have to admit to having to fight hard not to explode with laughter at this latest prank of hers.
When Ian got over the trauma of it all he handed out the home-made trifle before we all headed back round to our house. Donna, Alan and Kyle came too because we were expecting visitors at around 6.30pm.
Shortly after we got back, our guests arrived. They parked their fire truck across the road from the house and it took up most of the street. It immediately attracted the attention of all the local kids who swarmed over and inside it.
Of the five firemen in total, two came into the house to talk to us about fire safety in the home. It's part of the Lothian and Borders Fire Prevention Scheme and we were only getting the talk because we know one of the firemen from the Marionville Station.
Gail was in her element; giggling and laughing away at the two firemen in their uniforms sitting in our living room. While she drooled over them I got on with the serious task of ensuring our home was safe and that we had a plan of action should the worst ever happen.
When they left, some of the kids from the street had to be physically removed from the truck so they could get away; with a burst of the siren to wake any neighbours who might be on night-shift. It was all very exciting. I'm sure the neighbours are loving us by now.
I played more with Kyle and later Gail went to see her pal, which left me time to do some writing. Mostly ideas and notes as well as some writings in the Fronds of Thought journal. Only one week to go on the GDR and it's looking good.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
The Eye Of The Storm
After five years in the wilderness, the Pub Golf Tournament of Edinburgh arrived back in town. 18 holes (pubs), 50 players, 20 strict rules and a river of will and determination from which even the most hardened drinkers took a dip before the match.
The players assembled in the Sportsters Bar on Market Street between 12 and 1pm. Shortly after one o'clock the match commenced with the first players setting off on a course more difficult than Royal Troon, and hillier than St.Andrews.
Here's a brief run-down of the rules for those still wondering. Pub Golf involves drinking; lots of it. Each of the 18 pubs is assigned a par; par 3 means you have to drink wine, par 4 a half-pint, and par 5 a pint. The par determines the number of strokes (drinks) you take to finish the drink. So on a par 5 you have to finish the drink in 5 drinks to make par. If you do it n 4 you score a birdie (-1). If you down it in 1, it's a hole in one and so on.
Other rules include the "no swearing rule" which incurs a 1-point penalty; using your right hand incurs a 2-stroke penalty; going to the toilet that isn't a designated watering hole means you score a penalty; the list goes on. As well as the normal pubs there are strategic menaces along the way too, such as the 'chill vodka hole'; the bunker hole (you have to down a shot to get out or you foul); the green cocktail hole; the one-legged hole; the list goes on.
In my group were Dave, Tom and Steve. Dave and Tom played steady games scoring holes in one on each hole, whereas my tactics involved around just trying to make it to the 18th in one piece.
After the fourth of fifth hole I started to feel the effects of not having much of a breakfast, but the intake of lager into my stomach seemed to hide the problem. Twice I failed to use my left hand (as early as the third pub) and twice my resulting language cost me more points.
By the 9th hole I was feeling the pace. Steve bowed out leaving me, Tom and Dave to soldier on. The truth was, I was beginning to struggle. By the time we arrived on the Royal Mile I knew it would take a magnificent effort to cross the finish line. Both Dave and Tom had scored holes in one on each hole so far and were clearly serious contenders for the title. News also reached us from the first group some other players were also scoring holes in one on each hole. It was setting up to be a titanic battle for supremacy.
At The Bank we hit the bunker hole and the Shot of the day contained vodka, gin, tequila and Worcester Sauce. It was hot, strong, smelled rank but we took the bravely. At The Filling Station the rule was nobody could talk and so a stream of fifty people passed through all day signalling their orders in sign language or by any means they could muster. By the time we arrived at The Jolly Judge Sandy - a pal of Daves - joined us and I was really feeling the pace. At the Carwash I faired not much better and at Bar Kohl I had to pass on the chilli vodka. It cost me a penalty but I was glad. There was simply no way I was drinking it, as I knew I would vomit as soon as it touched my lips. I was about 5 or 6 under par so still going good but I was slowing fast.
Skipping the chilli vodka didn't stop the inevitable however and half way down Chambers Street, my guts opened and several streams of projectile vomit met with the air. A stream of lager-loaded spew confronted the tourists of Edinburgh and I'm sure I saw several odd stares and people pointing at me from the corner of my eye. I certainly heard roars of laughter from my team-mates; couldn;t have missed it.
We arrived at Bar Oz and I took a seat with a pint of water but it was no good; I was out the game after 12 holes and I knew it. For some reason I rang Gail and asked if I was allowed to come home. Within ten minutes I was in a taxi. By 6pm I was home and searching for my bed.
I vaguely remember seeing Gail and Ian in the house before I hit the sack, where I stayed more or less until 9am the next morning.
As far as Pub Golf goes, it was not my finest hour. From what I heard later, Dave went on to win the tournament with 18 holes in one. Tom lost out for using his right hand on a couple of occasions.
If there were pub golf next year, I would have to be a serious doubt for entry after my dismal display. Perhaps if there's a Seniors Tour I could be persuaded to make a comeback, or maybe I'll copy Zander's tactics and sip lager the whole way round.
Pub Golf is harder than it sounds. It takes guts of steel and will of metal and my attempt was shocking; woeful in the extreme. Full marks to everyone who made it; it's one storm I will be avoiding in future.
I think I'm getting tool old for this sort of thing.
(some pictures may follow tomorrow)
Friday, July 22, 2005
Quiet Before The Storm
It's definitely heating up and looking increasingly like this weekend's going to be a scorcher. It should make for an interesting day tomorrow because the 2005 Pub Golf Tournament is hitting down. Organised by Dave in the bowels of Clark's Bar, the "round of golf" will see around 60 of us hitting 18 of Edinburgh's finest bars. The phrase "potential mess" seems most appropriate at this point.
It was a slow start to the day. I was of work on school holiday cover, so I booked two seats at the cinema for me and Laura to go and see Madagascar just after lunch. With the popcorn and drinks bought, we took our seats for the next couple of hours and watched the film. Not the best animated film I ever saw but it had its moments. Laura enjoyed it more.
After I took a trip round some of the charity shops of Leith to try and get myself a pair of Plus-fours. This proved harder than it seems. I thought thought I had cracked it with a pair of tartan trousers that I could tuck in but no luck though, as the only ones they had in were ladies pairs.
I went home empty-handed and Laura went out to play while I started to make the dinner for Gail coming home; Chicken Korma, which Laura wolfed down in about three gulps. I enjoyed it though; as I always do when it's a curry.
I felt exhausted by evening. Not sure if it was the heat or the energy I've put into my writing lately, or managing to score off a significant amount on my GDR list, but I was struggling to stop my eyes from closing by nine o'clock. Maybe it was not being in Clark's that did it, but I would have wanted a quiet night anyway what with the Pub Golf Tourney tomorrow.
So I settled down in front of the TV with a cuppa and a book; Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and waited for the new series of Still Game to come on.
And that my friends is all there is to report. Tomorrow's post should be slightly more exciting than todays; the calm, as they say, before the storm.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
One Of Those Days
The warm, sticky weather is back and I'm already dreading trying to sleep in it tonight. I had an appointment at the doctors in the morning and by the time got there was soaked in sweat. That's the worst thing. You go to the trouble of getting shaved, showered and smelling half-decent only for this untypical Scottish weather to bring you back to earth with an open pore or two.
I got the bus outside the docs and headed into town, passing a new shop on Leith Walk I never noticed the other day. It looks like a mini Borders; soft wooden furnishings with a modern look, selling books and music. I'll need to go in and check it out sometime.
Thinking about music reminded me of something I'd been meaning to do for a few days, so I stayed on the bus along Princes Street and made a beeline for HMV. I walked into the shop and I almost jumped into the air with excitement when I walked through the doors into the shop - almost empty of shoppers. House of Fun by Madness was playing over the shop tanoy and all the staff were dancing about doing the 'nutty walk' and tapping their pens like drumsticks on the counter. What made it all the more surreal, was the fact I had gone in to reserve some copies of the 7" vinyl release of Madness' new single, Shame and Scandal, which is released on Monday. The CD single will be easy enough to buy, but the vinyl release is a limited edition so I had to be sure I got my hands on one or two.
With that done I headed to work and the day sort of fell away after that. Work was duff and when reports started to come through about more bombings in London, I just knew it was all going wrong.
As I write this, it appears the attack failed because there were no casualties; none of the bombs went off. Three more Tube stations were affected and another bus attacked; exactly the same pattern as two weeks ago this very day.
After the localised panic and disruption within London, the shock of the first attack seems to be getting replaced by real anger about this. It's not an anger related to the debate of whether being involved in Iraq is the cause of all this, but it's an anger towards the people and the organisations behind it. They are being viewed more as a disease; a cancer on the nations's Capital. If these people think that they are gong to win some kind of Holy War or other kind of 'cause' in the name of a God we all share, they are wrong. This is the United Kingdom, and we will not fold to a bunch of misinformed half-wits. If you want a war, you've picked the wrong nation.
I was shattered by the time 'writing time' came round but I got through a couple of non-fiction ideas that have spawned specific articles. Couldn;t keep my eyes open though, so went to bed. Just one of those days I'm afraid.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Getting To Know Colly
Laura stayed at her Grans last night so the house was incredibly quiet. So quiet in fact, it was spooky. There is a Saturday service on the buses at the moment - because of the overtime ban - and it means the roads are strangely absent as well.
I lost Gail as a regular reader of the blog; turns out she won't get the time to read it from work very much and when I asked her what she thought of it she said, "Do you really have to put up pictures of the kitchen?"
Also, my attempt at a Terry Wogan-type joke with my readership backfired when I offended Lara into thinking she was a piece of chopped liver. I'm very sorry, dear. Please don't beat yourself up about it. Chopped liver is very nice and I'm more than happy to have you on board and regard you as a regular visitor to my little den in the Net. :-)
Actually looking at the stats over the course of a typical week, I get an average of 145 unique visitors, 66 brand new visitors and 79 returning visitors. Lara is of course, one of these and this makes me happy. Lara does a very good blog too. Check it out at: Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom
The 2005 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest (PSH) was announced today. I'm one of the sponsors who donated a prize so that everyone who enters is guaranteed something. My sponsorship comes in the form of a free month subscription to Hunting Jack, but more importantly PSH has a huge readership and the promotion potential is huge.
For more information on this competition (sponsoring or entering), go here: PSH 2005 Poetry Contest
Not much else to really talk about today. So here's a Get To Know Colin Series of Questions to get you all up to speed:
What is your name given at birth? Colin Campbell Galbraith
What is your nickname? Chas Smash / Mr.G / Colly / Colly Wobbles
How old are you? 31
What is your hometown/town of birth? Paisley
Where do you currently reside? Leith
What do you do? Write
What is your hair colour? I shave it all off so you can't tell, but I used to be a Ginger Nut
Have you loved somebody so much it made you cry? Yes.
Of all of the books you were assigned to read when you were in school, what are your favourites? Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
If you could have any kind of a job in the entertainment industry, what do you think you would do best? PA for Davina McCall
What was the last song you sang when no one else was around? I Chase The Devil by The Dangermen (aka Madness)
What are 3 of your favourite TV shows? Frasier, Seinfeld and Only Fools and Horses
Who or what kind of person do you want to spend your life with? Already met her: my wife, Gail. She is everything I ever want(ed)
First thing you notice about the opposite (or same) sex? Eyes, breasts, ass - in no particular order
Where and what would you rather be doing right now? At home writing (followed closely by being at home having sex)
What is your favourite kind of music? Ska/reggae
Croutons or bacon bits? Croutons
What are your favourite sports to watch? Beach Volleyball and the Horses
What is your preferred ice cream? Mint with chocolate chip
Which single store would you choose to max out your credit cards? Borders
What do you do most often when you are bored? Drink coffee
Name the person you are friends with that lives the farthest away? Zander: he's as far away and spaced out as you can get, man!
Last movie you saw in theatre? Star Wars III
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Red
Where do you want to go on your honeymoon? I went to Jamaica
What's your favourite sport and/or hobby? Drinking and watching the horses
What scares you? Losing my teeth
What is the best day of the year? Tomorrow
Do you like to dance? Only in my leather thong
Have you ever been in love? Are you now? If not, do you want to be? Yes and yes.
Cuddles or Kisses? Cuddles
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My belly needs to shrink a bit
Where would you like to retire? Somewhere quiet in Scotland, where there are no Neds about but has a great boozer and an Indian restaurant nearby
What is your favourite movie? The Godfather
What's your favourite colour? Red
What's your favourite flower? Red Rose
What is a personality trait in others that really irritates you? Ignorance
Approx how big (sq feet) is your house/condo/apartment, etc? No idea
What is the coolest thing YOU think you own and would like to share with us? 1) Last Madness album signed by the band. 2) Bad Manners Tour Bus Football - signed by the band. 3) Genuine 100% replica of Darth Vader's helmet and a red Light Saber.
Do you have any undiscovered or hidden talents? If so, what? Yes, but that's best kept between me and the wife
What was your first car? Never had one
Do you have any pets? If so, what? A goldfish called Smashie. His brother, Nicie, died a few years ago.
What's your favourite restaurant? Le Sept, Edinburgh
What is the most you've ever eaten in one sitting? 18 slices of pizza in the Pizza Hut Eat-All-You-Can Buffet. Followed by a box of Maltesers in the cinema right after
What has been your most scary moment in life? I really don’t know. I can't remember anything really terrifying me except fairground roller coasters!
Do you follow trends? Definitely not. Well maybe.
If you were told right now that you've won a 70 million dollar lottery, how would you spend the moolah? Get pissed, pay off the mortgage, invest some, have a big party, get pissed, go on holiday, get pissed, give some to family and friends then get pissed.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Back to Jamaica first but I would have to see the States too
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Full-time author
Ever gotten ultimate revenge on someone? Only where deserved and after much deliberation, the bastard!
Had enough of these questions yet? Yup
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Meet My Muse
First off, I have a new blog reader. I'd like to welcome my wife, Gail, to the fold of my faithful and wonderful readers. Now there is two of you, I can refer to you as a readership in the proper sense (ie. plural) and I am overwhelmed with that. I hope she enjoys reading my blog. It's how I see the world and what inspires my writing. It's about being a writer, recognising that is who I am, and growing with my art. And just to get even more mushier, I luvsya babe!!
Slept in big style today!
I looked at the clock and saw it was 8:53 am. Not the worst news for me but Gail had 7 minutes to get her ass into the office. Women never cease to amaze me. She leapt out of bed and flew down the stairs like a possessed eagle, and by the time she landed she was dressed, had done her hair and make-up and was reaching for the car keys.
Off she sped and I got Laura ready and took her down to my sister-in-law's for the day. Is that what you call her? Donna is Gail's brother's partner. That makes her Gail's sister-in-law - kind of, because they aren't married. Who knows. Sister-in-Law it is until I'm told otherwise.
Got an e-mail from my Mum - she has just finished Hunting Jack; the second person to do so. She said it was "Thouroughly enjoyable" and that she "wishes it was a book." One step at a time, Mother. :-)
Hunting Jack began in September 2004. Since then I have had a total of 14 subscribers. Of these, 7 have fallen by the wayside at one point or another (4 after the first month, 2 after the second month, 1 after the third month, 1 after the fourth month and 1 after the fifth month). This would suggest the first half of the book needs more action and mystery implanted.
Of the remaining 5 current subscribers, two have completed the full story and given me feedback, one is on their last month subscription, one is in the seventh month and one in the fourth month. So by August 9th, I will only have 2 subscribers!
Make that 3 - I just got news of someone winning Hunting Jack competition, so they get a free first month.
I'll still need to look at a new wave of promotion if I am to get new subscribers. An aggressive but tactful campaign that is easy to implement. I'll need to draw up a detailed plan and think more about this.
The woman in the following two articles, Pamela Taylor, is a member of my writing forum. I urge you to have a read. I am astonished by her bravery and very proud to be able to say I know her.
Another woman, also on my writing forum, has a blog: Bloggin' (it's been linked on the left for ages so you should recognise it). Recently she has been talking about her Muse and referring to it as a person. This concept has spread throughout our small community like wild-fire and it led me to contemplate what mine is like.
What I am about to write may lead any psychiatrists reading to reach for your business cards and forward them onto me, but here goes anyway.
I had always considered 'muse' in an artists context to be a state of mind. I hadn't got beyond thinking more that if I was having a good writing day, then my muse was on form. A bad writing day would mean no muse was prevalent. It all depended on how open my mind was and my willingness to consider it that defined whether I was "in the muse" or not.
So I looked up the dictionary.
1. v. mused, mus-ing, mus-es
To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation.
This entry supports my initial take on the subject.
Greek Mythology. Any of the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.
Bit too deep for my purpose, but nevertheless the connection between and Greek Mythology and art is interesting.
* A guiding spirit.
* A source of inspiration.
Aha! "A guiding spirit" or "source of inspiration" leads to the road where Anteann and others have gone when thinking about this, to the extent their muse's have not just grown in life but in personality too.
* A poet.
I do enjoy poetry, therefore am I a Muse with a muse?
So who/what is my Muse and what is their personality like?
My Muse is definitely a woman. She is Scottish, is slightly older than me, has an ever-changing hairstyle and wears thin black glasses. She has a powerful aura and takes no shit from anyone, least of all me. She is very confident in herself, is the life and soul of the party and loves to get pissed and go to restaurants with her pals - mostly women. She is intelligent but likes to act silly. She is arrogant, appealing and funny to work with, she likes coffee, beer and smokes more than she should.
She loves to see me writing. I'm her wee project; a sideline that she works on and likes to keep a close eye on, but shelets me go in the direction I wish. She feels maternal towards me but other times more like a sister and she may try to guide me, without undue influence.
She disagrees with a lot of what I think, but instead of arguing tries to talk me round to thinking from the other side of the fence. She wants to see me grow as a writer and gets frustrated when I procrastinate. That's when she starts to play games with me and wind me up. She gets impatient with me when she feels I'm not doing enough and she thinks I should be doing more to tell people what I am/do.
She is a hard worker and pushes me to my limit at times; working into the hours and when I should be doing other things. But she knows when to relax and let me be for a day or two. She knows what I need as a writer and feeds my imagination with some of the weirdest and wonderful ideas, which is when she's at her best.
She needs a kick in the ass sometimes too when we are not in tune. If she hasn't the energy but I am raring to go, I have to persuade her gently to get up and help me. She never lets me down. She is an early morning person but loves to work when darkness falls and that's when she sends me some of my cracking ideas - as I'm falling asleep or as soon as I'm up.
She has always been my Muse, now that I think of it and give her a physical description. It's a long-term thing; a friendship, collaboration, of two totally different people.
Told you this post was going to get weird.
Tonight, my Muse had me working on the G8 story. I have had a bit of historical research to do, which I have then embedded fictionally in the story to give it A powerful contrast and strong taste. The ending is proving slightly troublesome as I don't know which way to go. Part of me thinks I need to have the two protagonists meet and talk, part says they should meet and with only a limited discussion we read about their thoughts on each other, and the last part of me thinks I've already written the ending and there is no need for them to meet at all. I shall ponder it some more.
The Fronds of Thought journal is staring up at me. I know what it's thinking; "why haven't you written anything yet?"
It's because I've been scribbling ideas down like mad and there are some things I need to collect, things to write and photo's to take before I actually enter anything. Work is going on - prep work - but I want to it to be of free thought with a point; not just a jumbled nonsense.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Lothian Buses At It Again
Brace yourself. Seriously - hold on to your hat if you have one and if you haven't, then hold onto to something firm that can't be blown away.
Are you ready? Are you sure you're ready? Some people say they are when really, they need an extra few seconds to get into the frame of mind where they actually are ready. I'll give you an extra couple of seconds -
- okay. Here it is. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This morning, I got into work at 8am!!!!!!
Don't say I didn't warn you!! Amazing eh?
My choice was simple. Due to a Lothian Buses strike (see editorial later), I was faced with a choice; walk to work in the rain, or get a lift with Gail, which would mean being ready to leave the house at 7.45am.
I chose the latter and surprised myself how chirpy I felt at so early on a Monday morning. I was also surprised at my writing output, which was on a high. By lunchtime I had written 1200 words and done another draft of Whisky Snatching.
An interview I did with Devon Ellington for the 13 Travelling Journals Project has been posted on the official website. Click over to http://13travelingjournalsproject.blogspot.com and follow the date to Monday 18th July to read.
When I got home there was a parcel blocking the door from behind. I suspected I knew what it was, for there was only one thing I knew I was expecting in the mail. I picked it up and sure enough, it was Journal 2 of the 13 Travelling Journals Project; Fronds of Thought.
I looked at the white package and contemplated what was inside. Slowly, I opened the parcel and removed its contents. I had seen the journal and its case on the website, but holding it in my hand seemed different; almost spiritual.
I unclasped the case and slid the journal out. It was an exciting moment. Here was the journal in all its glory, safe from its Trans-Atlantic journey and waiting to begin another journey of creativity.
I felt a sense of awe and responsibility. Responsibility, because this is the brainchild of a colleague and a friend, so I want to do it justice. Awe because what I was holding means a lot to the person who created it and sent it on its way. It is not just a notebook; far from it. It has been given a life source, a meaning and that gives it a spiritual quality.
I only hope my handwriting is up to scratch when I write in it!
In total I had a good writing day. I wrote over 3000 words, edited Whisky Snatching twice bringing it to submission quality, and re-wrote the G8 Story, filling out the skeleton with detail and working on the ending.
Now, about this bus strike.
A couple of years ago I backed the bus drivers in their quest for a pay-rise. They wanted around 12% and they got it, which brought them to a very respectable level of pay and conditions. To get this hike they went on strike, just like they are doing again today.
A couple of months after they won their battle, I was on a bus going up Leith Walk. We came to a stop in the middle of the road behind several other buses; a vehicle had broken down across the road and because of the centre partition, we were unable to move.
I waited until eventually I noticed all the buses ahead of us had emptied of passengers and with time ticking on I was already late in getting to work. I approached the driver and asked politely to be let off. He refused, saying the rear doors were too far exposed on the street. I said I could jump off the front doors as they were in line with the pavement; again he refused saying we were too far from said pavement.
I thought he was joking, but I realised he was enjoying the power he held over me in front of all the other passengers. A woman with a baby in a pram backed me up, but still he would not budge. I started to get annoyed. I told him I had backed him for his 12% when they striked, he said I "shouldn't have bothered because they were always going to get the raise anyway".
At this point words of a less salubrious nature were spoken. The driver pointed to a sign, which read "Our staff deserve the right to work without fear of assault or intimidation". I asked him, "Shouldn't the sign also read, 'Our staff are a bunch of power-loving wankers'?"
With most of the bus in uproar towards the driver for letting nobody off (more people had come to the front to support my case), I took matters in my own hands and pressed the green button to open the rear doors. As I was stepping off, he pressed the red button to close them. I saw the red mist and started yanking at the doors but he was not for giving in.
I lashed out and kicked the door, then kicked it again and the door flew open. I led off the woman in the pram who thanked me for "showing that Nazi bus driver where to go." From the driver's cabin, we could all hear the driver shout, "Away and get yerselves tae fuck!"
So guys, if you are expecting any vote from me because you want 6% instead of 5% then I'm sorry. You have lost one sympathetic bus user here. I only use the buses because there is no alternative, but the way some of you treat your customers is beyond reproach. This was not an isolated incident; your drivers have a poor reputation and this is not something that happens overnight.
My message to all Lothian Bus drivers on striker today is "Away and get yerselves tae fuck!", because I will gladly walk to work each day if it means you don't get the ill-deserved 1% extra. I could do with losing a few pounds anyway.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
A Space Is Forming
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A strange quiet has descended on the people across the street. Not surprisingly it looks like they are keeping a low profile after last night's events; the only indication of anything having happened is three bin bags full of beer cans and a policeman's hat on the front lawn.
Meanwhile over in my life, I got straight into the office after breakfast. I sanded the walls, stripped the paint off the door, removed skirting and removed the window panels. It took ages and by the end of it I was black - literally black.
There is still much to do and I think Gail is surprised at my willingness to keep going. It's the vision that's pushing me; the vision of a space that is dedicated to writing. A space where I can close a door and be able to get right into creating, without disturbance or hindrance; that will be comfortable and inspiring.
At the moment I am stuck in the kitchen on an old desk beside fridge-freezer and it's constant humming. I'm between the conservatory and main part of the downstairs so everyone walks past me. This means I get absolutely no peace or privacy and it does my head in. There is no storage space or places to put my stuff and of course, everyone uses the kitchen. See for your self.
With Gail's help I started to plan the layout of the room and choose furniture. We decided where the desk and the drawers will go, the location of the bookcase and all the power points. There'll be some shelves too and of course, a place for Smashie's new tank. I think I want the walls to be Moonlight Blue (pale blue-grey type colour) with a neutral carpet (undecided as yet). The furniture is going to be Traditional Oak (I think that's its name - that light brown wooden colour) and I am going to paint the bookcase a light blue. This should create a nice open-minded room for writing in.
Here's the room, as it looks this evening.
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I told Gail I won't be working on the room every night. I have to keep a balance with my writing. Although I would love to throw myself into it for two weeks to see it done quickly, there is no way I could not write for two weeks or more until it is complete. And so it shall be; write one day, work on my office the next.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
It's My Party And I'll Fight If I Want To
Gail gave me the opportunity to have a bit of a lie in this morning, but I wanted to get up and get some things done about the house so I never took the full offer up. After a quick brunch I nipped round to the newsagent and got Racing Post and some Irn-Bru.
After making my afternoon selections I got stuck into what will be my office. Now that Laura has moved into her completed room, I gutted out what was rest of her toys, removed the bookshelf (to be panted later) and started to strip the wallpaper.
It took me most of the day but it was good to be finally making my own mark on the house. I'm determined to make a good job for my own personal satisfaction and so that there is evidence of what I know I can do. When it's done, it will be just the way want it; perfect for writing in and even better for escaping to. My own little space, with my own design.
Gail was invited out for dinner with some pals so once I got Laura settled I tried to do some writing, but struggled. A BBQ across the street turned a bit wild and by 10 o'clock the noise from the party became too unbearable to do anything. Even with the windows closed, all I could hear were women screaming to a Franz Ferdinand record and men playing drinking games and singing football songs. Wonderful when you're involved, but not so good when you're playing the sensible married man from across the street.
I started clearing out some of the directories on my PC and came across some MP3 files I forgot I had downloaded a while back. They are from a poet called Rick Lupert - of the Poetry Super Highway - and he was reciting poems over music, which he had then made available on his website.
This is the same bloke who offered the free CD in a similar vein with one of his poetry books and it is something I want to try my hand at. I will need some equipment for my PC and some suitable poems as well if I am to go through with it. Which I will as part of my e-book publishing idea.
I went to bed and lay alone in the dark unable to sleep for the noise over the road. At around midnight I got up to visit the wee men's room and as I was returning I could hear a noise from outside; louder and more urgent than before.
I went into the bedroom and cast my nosey ayes over the cul-de-sac. The noise from the street was alarming; so too was the 20 people fighting in a mass brawl. No joke - the BBQ/party had spilled out onto the street and descended into a melee. Turning into the amateur hack I once wanted to be, I whipped out my DV camera and started to film the proceedings from behind a gap in the curtain. (Just in case any crime was committed I might be able to sell to Sky News).
Men were battling with their fists and the women trying to do as much damage to each other. At this point I wondered if maybe I should phone for the police because it looked like it was really getting out of hand and showed no sign of stopping. The taxi driver caught in the middle of it all did the honours for me and 3.5 minutes later two cop cars swooped in on top of them. An ambulance was called for one woman and a man and a woman both arrested.
Now THAT is the gripping kind of borderline reality cum fiction, that living in Leith can inspire. Eat yer heart out Rankin!
Friday, July 15, 2005
A Normal Friday
At last the heat has dropped over Scotland and we have returned to semi-normality. Clouds and a cool breeze have now replaced the blazing sun and blue skies. I'm beginning to feel human, nae, Scottish again.
I got to work at a very respectable time this morning. My motivation? The newsagent on Dundas Street has only been getting a single copy of the Racing Post in and it's always Tom who beats me to getting it. Today, I was first in and got the copy, it was payday AND I also got my 10th, and free coffee from Club Sandwich. Great start to Friday!
I haven't been to Clark's for a couple of weeks now but I met Dave for a couple over lunch. We caught up over a couple of pints and watched some of The Open currently being played at St. Andrews. Tiger Woods is romping it and looks like he's going to maul the field again.
After a boring couple of hours in the office I met up with Dave and Tom in Clark's and we watched more golf over some lager before Dave left. Tom and me decided to head down to the Shore for a few more and stopped in The Raj Indian restaurant for a meal after one of his horses had a return of £80. The Chicken Dhansak was superb, though I think tomorrow I may find myself regretting the choice. I just can't resist!
I got home late and sat with Gail for a while. A program with Ian Rankin discussing the thin line between fiction and real-life was on BBC4 so I watched it before going to bed. I forget the name of the man involved, but he was a writer who found himself on trial for murdering his wife and how the story reflected the perfect ingredients of a classic mystery work of fiction. Rankin was speaking from Edinburgh, including from inside the Oxford Bar. It was excellent viewing, but I was delighted to get to my bed when it was over.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Things To Remember When Accusing Suicide Bombers
First, note to Lara, one of my regular readers. Irn Bru is a soft drink, not a beer! It is Scotland's "other" National drink, great for hangovers and is made from girders (of the type they used when building the Forth Bridge) :-)
Check out: Irn-Bru USA
Back to today.
An e-mail from Devon Ellington brightened up my morning; the 13 Travelling Journals project is GO! As she confirmed in the e-mail, Fronds of Thought is now winging its way over from New York to Leith. I can't wait to see it and enter and entry (?). Most exciting!
A countrywide minute's silence was observed at 12-noon for the victims of last week's terrorist bombs in London. Shame they hadn't told anyone in here because I thought it was a fire alarm and was halfway out the door before someone stopped me.
Boris Johnson makes some good comments on his blog about the origins of the British Muslim bombers; I urge you to have a read at: http://www.boris-johnson.com
Some quarters are concerned with the blame being apportioned to the individuals fingered for the bombings without any facts being made known. Fears of another "British Injustice" is rippling around the cities of the UK, but I would point out the following pieces of information to enable a more thorough realisation:
* British law and Justice are not the same thing. The police often know quite quickly who committed a crime but don't have enough evidence for a prosecution. They tell the victims, give them all the evidence (mostly inadmissible in court) but rarely get a conviction.
* Under UK Law, you cannot publicize inadmissible evidence because it would be contempt of court and libelous etc. But you cannot libel a dead man; therefore because they were suicide bombs, the truth can be printed.
* When police evidence ceased to be taken as the soul point of evidence, the court became less easy to convince. Which is why the likelihood of any mistakes being made is pretty low.
* Nobody rushed out to blame anyone; in fact the press were very slow in apportioning any blame to anyone or making any assumptions.
* The tone of the Government and the media has been one of caution.
* There is an extremely high chance that the Security Services initiated a media shut-down on the matter until the net was cast wider.
* There has been no dissent or denial from the families, friends and communities related to the accused. There is no alternative view of what the bombers were doing instead.
* The bomber's profiles fit a pattern of suicide bombers from elsewhere in the world.
London is planning another concert to remember the bomb victims. Lead by our man Suggs of Madness, he will be joined with Billy Bragg, Jarvis Cocker and St Etienne who are among the acts scheduled to performing at the free London United Festival in the city. The gig will take place at Burgess Park on Saturday July 16 with the aim of showing the city's defiance.
"We love London because London lets you be yourself," Suggs told NME. "On Saturday at 'London United' we will show that London stands firm in all its diversity after the terrible events of last week." Rumour also has it that Madness may make an appearance as The Dangermen.
After some dinner I wrote out a few questions and got the PC ready for the first KIC author chat at 8pm. Unfortunately it didn't work out as planned because not only did around 30 (at least) people find they were unable to get access to the chat room, one of them was the guest of honour, Devon Ellington herself!
I felt so sorry for her after having gone to such lengths to make sure it was all planned in advance, to find out that in fact, it hadn't been. I felt awful for her. Of the people that were there I met some new writers and readers so it was still a worthwhile hour spent online. I also met the lady who is due to get the Fronds of Thought Journal after me!
I wrote the second half of the G8 story; Harry's point of view and reaction, and all that remains is the interaction between the two characters in order to complete the skeleton of the story. It's very rough because most it is concerned with getting the attitudes and emotions down. I'll build in the story round about the skeleton and hopefully it will make for a stimulating read.
Footnote: 15 years ago today my life changed forever.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
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The journal, Fronds of Thought, is preparing for its journey across the Pond. Check it out in its carry-case at the 13 Traveling Journals Site (July 12th entry)
In the morning and over lunch I attained a good level of productivity. I ran through Whisky Snatching a couple of times; editing, chopping and fixing, and it's starting to look like a really good story. I reckon this has a great chance of publication. I know I say that about everything I write but deep down I know some pieces are stronger than others; I just feel loyal to everything that makes it to my Completed Work folder.
It has been written specifically for the Annual Crime Story at Writing Magazine with a deadline of next February so if it doesn't make the short list it will be a while before it sees the light of day again. It's a good story though; I'm quite chuffed.
Completed the section of the G8 story that deals with Carl and his attitudes/response to the G8 and London Bombs. I'm happy with it so far though there is an gaping hole in the plot which needs altering. Next up is the conflict; supplied by his WW2 veteran Uncle.
So with all I got through I felt no irritation when it came time to go to the snooker with Ian. For the sake of writing a few hundred words, meant I could enjoy my evening.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
I bumped into a mate over lunchtime; Colin Ross who I went to the recent Madness gig with. He's not long back from Turkey and swears it's hotter here than over there. I'm seriously considering bringing an ice pack to work and one of those wee hand-held fans that JR Ewing used to use.
I read a disturbing report today about hotels in and around London city centre doubling their room prices last Thursday. While hundreds, if not thousands of people were trapped in the city due to the closure of the transport network caused by terrorist bombs, countless commuters were forced to pay double the odds so the hotels could made a killing. This is absolutely shocking, and is not how it should have been done. So much for the old spirit of togetherness.
I wrote out some emails that were waiting in my inbox and caught up on a lot of other correspondence. I tend to loose touch in a lot of publications and so it is good to keep a tab in what kind of fiction they are looking for so I did a quick catch-up of some of my regular e-zines.
I submitted Heart of a Child to The Big Ugly Review. Their theme for the next issue is 'hidden agendas' and so I think given the right pitch, it fits quite nicely.
Unfortunately that was the sum of my writing work for today. When I got home Gail had some things for me to do; cutting up the old cabinets in the bedroom that were left in the house and moving furniture about. By the time I did all that and tidied up, made my dinner and sat down to eat it, it was 11 o'clock and I was knackered.
I watched some TV while I eat my dinner and I tell you what - ice-cold Irn-Bru of a warm evening really hits the spot.
In order to alleviate the guilt at having run out of time to write, I read through a couple of old Writing Magazines. The articles are superb and the advice well worthwhile the subscription. I keep every back issue and they go back a good few years now.
Because I have to go to snooker tomorrow night I know I will feel worse about myself if I don't get any writing done tomorrow. So, I made a vow that tomorrow I will write as much as I can before work, during my lunch hour, and if I can manage it after work before I go out. If I don't I'll start to get antsy and I want to keep July moving.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Heat Wave Fails To Halt Creative Surge
Each day is solid sunshine, unbroken cloud and sweltering heat and it is just not in my make-up to be able to take it. Others can and swan about half-naked in the street if they want, but it's just too much for me. Having to walk about in a shirt and tie isn't helping much either. Last night I had to sleep in my
Work was as dire as it could be, although the air-conditioning was working for a change. I had brought sandwiches with me for lunch but by 11am I knew I had to get out of the office so I arranged to meet Gail for lunch down by the Shore in Leith. We went to The Waterline (again) and sat outside in the sun; a decision I was later to regret.
The afternoon dragged.
I finally heard back from my mate who lives in King's Cross. I forgot he lived there and so with the bombings last week I sent him a text message a couple of days ago. Yesterday I followed it up with an e-mail and nothing - until this afternoon.
In typical fashion, he missed the entire episode due to a stinking hangover and it was only the emergency sirens that woke him out of his stupor! I should have known. If he is reading this, it's about time we got together for a catch-up and a bevvy!
I e-mailed my editor at KIC requesting an extension for the e-books and she was fine. The deadline is only for the initial wave of books and authors can submit an e-book any time after for inclusion. I'm glad - it gives me some breathing space. I'll work it in after the G8 story and around the 13 Journals project.
Speaking of the G8 story, I wrote out the first half of it this evening. It will probably take a couple of re-writes, but I simply must get it all down this week. I've no idea how long it will turn out to be but I'm not restricting myself. With it being so fresh, I'm thinking of submitting it to a broadsheet or newspaper supplement magazine as it will provide the focus for conflicting points of view in the on-going debates we are having in the country just now.
This month is going to be a good one. I can feel it. I have the right blend of GDR work, fresh projects and on-going work and I feel incredibly charged. At the rate 'm going not only will I beat my monthly word count record, but I will have some new work ready for submission in August. My list is quite dismal at the moment; in fact, here's an update.
Heart of a Child - waiting 7th submission - recently rejected by Gorlan Publications (went out of business).
The Blind Man of Cathkin Street - on sub at The Edge magazine (paying market, sf/horror/gothic).
A Bond of Faith - on sub at The Portable Muse magazine.
Daffodils - needs rewrite after getting to the latter stages at NFG magazine.
Loaded - on sub at the Barcelona Review.
The Oasis - on sub at One Story magazine.
On A Monday Morning - waiting sub to Writing Magazine competition.
Nothing on submission
1 waiting 6th sub
1 waiting 5th sub
1 waiting 4th sub
1 waiting 3rd sub
3 waiting 2nd sub
14 poems waiting 1st sub
This doesn't include the poems published under Brick by Brick - not sure how that would work as far as copyright goes.
Also, I'm looking at a project just now that would involve grouping together certain poems and publishing in further e-books so I'm not bothered that no poems are out doing the rounds.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Don't Stop Me Now!
I never thought I'd ever say it, but maybe I should look into Scottish naturism in an effort to cool down. Knowing my luck, the day I would be due to go it will rain, so perhaps not.
I nipped round to the paper shop and on my way back I saw a man carrying a wee girl in his arms. She was unconscious. A woman was shouting thatshe had fainted because of the heat and to get her some water quick. I panicked, because the girl was blonde, wore glasses and had similar clothes on as Laura when she went out to play. I ran over shouting, "Is that Laura?" and the guy just looked at me.
It wasn't and I apologised, but she was the spitting image of Laura and I thought something terrible had happened.
I got in and told Gail about it and she smiled; said not to worry. Then Laura came in demanding juice and hit us both with a pile of cheek. I went from a strange paternal feeling of pain in my heart to wishing she would go away because I can't be bothered with her cheeky attitude. I know bringing a kid up isn't easy but for God's sake; talk about a roller coaster of emotion!
Gail popped round to see her Mum with Laura in the afternoon, which gave me a chance to write. I spent some time on the beginning of a new project. It's not one I will be discussing much on this blog because it is a project that I can only get the most out of at this time by excluding it from my 'mainstream' work. It is something I need to do and it is going to be a challenge.
My youngest sister, Lindsay, popped in for a few hours since she was in Edinburgh visiting a pal. I showed her around the house and we sat in the conservatory talking for a while. I made dinner for everyone and she left about nine o'clock to head back through to Glasgow. It was good to see her; we don't talk enough, but when we do, we do!
I heard back from Hey ASAD! and my interview will be posted on July 23rd. I'll post the link here when it goes live. Also, my Featured Diarist interview will be going up on the 13 Travelling Journals website within a couple of weeks. Link is to the left but I'll let you know when it to goes live.
At KIC, we lost our second PR guru in as many weeks. I have been asked to resend all my information in again. As well as listing local newspapers and magazines they also want a list of places I would be able to do readings (gulp!) but I don't have that information at the moment. I'll have to go through a list I have and whittle it down to all the libraries and bookshops in Edinburgh - easy to reach geographically, but there are a lot of them!
I'm also struggling with the KIC e-book; a background to Hunting Jack set in the early 80's. I want to do it but we were given a July 15th deadline. With my accident putting most of last month on the sideline I have not been able to put any real time towards it. I'm going to ask for an extension but if I'm told I can't then I'll get round to it at some point anyway.
I wrote out a lot of background notes on a story based in and around the shenanigans of last week; G8, the riots and the London bombing. It's a great story but it is very complicated the way I am trying to do it. Two protagonists; conflicting viewpoints; first point of view - should be interesting.
I want to write it this week because the emotions of last week are still very fresh in my mind and I know I will do it more justice if I can get it down quick.
Therefore, something has to give and it means the KIC e-book will have to hope for about a month extra writing time. And of course, the Fronds of Thought Journal can't be far off, which will shoot up the priority list when it arrives.
So there is loads to do! July is turning into a really stimulating month. If I can get everything I want to on paper I'll be delighted and of course there is all the other GDR, PR and marketing stuff to do as well.
I love the writing game. If only all my days were like this!
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Writing Despite The Heat
When we returned I made breakfast and soaked her in more Factor-30 and off she went. I'll probably only see her again at lunchtime, when the van comes and then at dinnertime.
Gail slept solid and so I read the Racing Post - big race at York today - and read through The Herald. Then I got time to write.
Words poured onto the page and I found myself in a place where I wanted to stay. The sun beamed through the conservatory to my right and the kitchen was full of the sound of keys tapping and space bars a-hitting. You know you're in a good place when you make a superb cup of coffee but when you reach out to take a drink it has gone stone cold and numerous pages have flashed past you on the screen.
Then FIL showed up. I'm finding it harder to hide my annoyance.
Someone commented that my blog has become quite political this past week and that I stated earlier politics was not something I would enter into. This is a fair point but what I have steered away from (hopefully, I think) is revealing my thoughts or standpoint with regards to the G8, Blair and Bush, the protestors et al. I have revealed my standpoint with regards to my patriotism - and why not? My country was bombed. But you still don't know if I'm pro or anti-Bush/Blair. Nor do you know what way I voted in the recent General Election.
The reason I mention all these things is because as a writer, my writing is affected by my immediate surroundings, and all these things have had an effect on me personally. There is no reason why I should ignore these events as they impact my life, therefore impact my writing. In fact, the ideas for a couple of short stories have sprung up as a direct result.
I make no secret to the fact I detest the violence that accompanied the G8, but if anyone can tell me if I agree with what the peaceful protestors were saying, or of the outcome of the G8 was, then speak now. I'd be glad to discuss it.
In between Gail nipping out and me watching the afternoon horse races; I backed Crow Wood and it came in 2nd in the John Smith's Cup at York. I got through more work this afternoon also. Whisky Snatching is finally wrapped up as was the interview for the Hey Asda! website - including an adapted photograph of myself. I also completed a somewhat lengthy (hopefully not too lengthy) set of questions for use on the 13 Journals website.
As well as these things I wrote out the outlines for two new short stories and made more acute plans in my notebook for when it comes to some photography outings.
All in all, considering it was a roasting hot day, I think I did well to fit so much in for a Saturday afternoon. To celebrate, I set up the BBQ in the garden and moved out all our tables and chairs. We sat in the late evening warmth eating our burgers and kebabs that Gail had made up, with rows of seagulls and crows waiting on the garage roof for us to depart. As soon as we had packed up the garden was full of wildlife trying to find morsels of dropped food. I don't like seagulls - they are bullies.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Finding The Flow
And so with my morning coffee in hand, I relived all the images and updated stories from yesterdays bomb blast. The one over-riding emotion I feel today is of utmost pride towards the people in our emergency services who's carefully detailed plans came to fruition and helped save many lives. But more especially, the courage and determination of Londoners and the reaction from the British people towards this outrage, is something I feel very proud and humbled by. Yet again, it has taken a terrible catastrophe of this nature to unite our country, which many have often commented on as already having gone down the tubes.
Not so, say I. You just have to look at their faces and listen to their voices; the words they use and tone, to get the strong feeling that the age-old adage of the stiff British upper-lip is alive and well. The spirit that saw us through two World Wars, the Falklands conflict, countless IRA attacks, Lockerbie and numerous other terrorist atrocities can never be taken from our hearts. It would appear that we are born with it.
Having spent the majority of yesterday getting the house into tip-top shape, I had my day planned to a 'T'.
I would get Laura ready, take a bath and read up on some articles in Writing Magazine. Then I would take Laura out for lunch with Gail at 12 and come back and enjoy a full day of writing in an empty, tidy house.
The first part went well and then Laura and I walked into Leith and had lunch with Gail at The Waterline pub on the Shore (child friendly). Then we came back and due to the extreme heat I doused Laura in some factor 30 and sent her out to play.
It was about 2pm when I turned on the PC. Almost as soon as my hands hit the keyboard Ian walked in the front door to do some DIY. Not so much as a knock, or ring of the bell. What the feck?!? Even on a hot summer's day with Gail at work and Laura out playing, after getting everything the way I want it, I cannot get time away from FIL to write - in my own goddamn house!!!
I played it diplomatically of course; what else could I do? But despite his constant whistling and singing and banging and questions about me doing work from home (I never tell him about the writing much) I did manage to get a little work done.
Another re-write on Whisky Snatching; it's still improving in terms of quality of the plot and I worked on the answers to the questions for the 13 Travelling Journals Project. I got through some smaller pieces on my GDR; more an exercise in catching up so I can tick off some items from the GDR. I wrote into the evening but was continually distracted with the task of baby-sitting.
I got a load of words down and I'm happy with the fact I got to a good point, but I'm never satisfied with it. I never get enough done that I set out to do and it was mildly frustrating although some of the stuff I was coming up with was really good. I seem to have hit a seem; long may it continue. I just need to find solid working hours away from life without feeling I am doing it at the expense of everyone else. I just wish I was shown the same courtesy.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
We Will Not Yield
We nipped to the doctor's for a half nine appointment then stopped in the supermarket to buy some sausages and rolls for breakfast. Just as I settled down to watch an episode of Frasier there was a newsflash and I immediately thought the anarchists had gone a step too far.
At first they said it was a power surge causing a series of explosions on the London Tube. My immediate thought was it sounded a bit iffy. This was the week the SIS was expecting something to happen and my initial reaction was an Al-Qaeda bomb. It soon became pretty clear that it was indeed a co-ordinated terrorist attack on the public transport network (Tube and bus) in Central London and of course, all fingers pointed in the direction my gut told me.
Four blasts occurred that spanned from Edgware Road Station between Hyde and Regent's Park and right out to Liverpool Street. Memories of the IRA came flooding back, but since those days Londoners have become vigilant in the face of terror, which was heightened even more after 9/11.
Why then did no-one spot several unattended packages on the transport network? The obvious answer would be suicide bombers have finally broken through the intelligence and defence networks. What a week to do it in; perfect for them, sickening for the bulk of humanity.
My first reaction was shock. The incident was covered by blanket media reports and the last time I have saw anything like it was the days I watched the Twin Towers destroyed. I don't think the magnitude sunk in at first as the images filtered through because most of the devastation was underground.
Later at night as I lay in bed watching the discussion programmes and news bulletins I watched a man describe how he was trapped with hundreds of others inside a carriage underground. When he came to describe the moment they were freed to walk back up the tunnel towards the exit he broke down as he recalled being "made to walk past it all; the wrecked carriage and the bodies on the tracks."
I'm not too big a man to admit that at that moment, I felt tears well in my eyes. His pain was real and in front of me and I can only imagine the day he has had. My heart goes out to him and everyone else involved.
The panics didn't stop in London either. In my hometown there were two controlled explosions; one on The Mound where a suspicious package was found and cordoned off, the other on a number 12 bus (the bus I get to and from work!!). In Glasgow a package was also disposed of by the bomb squad. What is becoming of this world?
Having had the television on all day watching the story unfold, I suppose it was inevitable anger would eventually come. And finally it did. I wanted to post this anger last night but thought better of it, hence why today's post is later than normal.
What I will say is, these people are not human and have no respect for life. Just like the Irish "freedom fighters", these people will also be dealt with. We are an island race and we will defend ourselves bitterly to the end.
We do not buckle under the threat of bombs or terror.
We will not move to the side or realign our way of life for the sake of a few extremists.
We will not be bullied.
We will fight back.
This is Great Britain and we will prevail.
For whether we are English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, we are all British and as of today, we are all Londoners.
Back to writing.
My KIC contract has never arrived in California. An e-mail from my editor confirmed this and so I will have to send out another one. It was supposed to have been for the renewal of 6 months after it expired on June 15th! I'll post a new one out asap.
I received my set of questions from Devon Ellington of the 13 Travelling Journals Project and boy were they good. Made me think; get lost in answers; question myself. I like that and it was a lot of fun writing them.
There is a question on the web interview I am doing that is bothering me. I have answered all the questions; most of totally off-the-wall and crackpot, but the final question is one I have to ask myself! But I still can't think what to ask!
Whisky Snatching keeps evolving inside my head after I have re-written it. I can't seem to pin it down but the story is improving each time. This seems to be the longest time it has taken me to write a short story, so hopefully it will be worth it. It's an interesting development and involves a new character into the fold.
I fell asleep to the sound of sirens reverberating around the city streets; a sound I am becoming more and more used to, but less and less sure how happy I am to here it.