Dear… This Is Me

Inspired by this, I thought I’d join in. Why not? Once I work out how to put the button up, I will.

Week 1: 10 things you would tell 16 year old you.

1) Apply for Cambridge – you probably won’t get in but you will regret it forever if you don’t try.

2) Really think about what you want to do a degree in and where and make that decision yourself. That means on your own. Yes, you can.

3) Don’t give up German at AS Level, or the piano and take up the saxophone now. And get singing lessons too. And tap dancing. Basically, don’t let “them” stop you doing what you want to do.

4) Ask that guy out. And that one. And the other one. Especially the other one. The more you do the easier it is to take a “no thanks”.

5) Your mum means well. Try to understand her.

6) Let people in. The more open you can be the better you connect with other humans. Really, they don’t actually care because everyone is stuck in their own little heads so what does it matter if you tell them stuff if it makes you an ally or two.

7) Stop obsessing. It will get you into embarrassing situations you can avoid if you control it now. Move on!

8) Stop being so quiet and modest. You are awesome and capable and independent and intelligent. Learn to tell people this. If they don’t like it, it is their problem, not yours.

9) The fact that you have not conquered the above things yet and that nothing seems to turn out the way you want it to really doesn’t matter because you are a survivor. You will survive the next 13 eventful years (and a lot of bad stuff will happen) and become stronger.

10) Sorry, no, it doesn’t get easier but, when in doubt, refer to point 9 above.



So, I don’t usually write personal posts. Not since my last blog. But I use writing as therapy so I’m blogging my experience last night. Or morning. It was at least post 6am.

I had a dream.

It was not a nice dream. I have had few nightmares since my dad died. But since I moved to live on my own I find that certain nightmares return or new ones appear.

It has been a while since a new dream has appeared (and I am already censoring myself – maybe in the book I am writing, one of my characters will have uncensored bad dreams).

Last night, I dreamt that I was talking to an imaginary boss at work. That boss told me that I was underperforming. That I wasn’t working up to the band that I am being paid for let alone being up for promotion. I tried to respond. But there was drilling. Really loud drilling. So loud I couldn’t be heard. So loud that I could feel my lips going numb with the vibration. No one could hear my response. So I ran. I ran out of the building (which was my current office). I ran into the street and ended up in some random streets, running, running with a random person, trying to get them to safety. I was afraid. They were afraid. I ended up at a dead-end. Big iron gates that would not let anyone through. I turned and walked back. That is when I woke.

And had to endure a job interview.

There’s no hidden meaning. It’s pretty clear. And it felt damn real.

I just had to tell someone about it.

God, I hate job interviews.



Sort of a Book Review: Dodger (Pratchett)

I think the most unusual thing is this post is that I am actually writing a blog post and I have read another book.

Another book about real live people and a made up story. Pratchett is, of course, brilliant. This is very good YA fiction with an excellent in joke that is only (partly) revealed at the end.

There is a theme developing that will soon be crushed by one of the next books that I am considering reading.

It’s probably time for a classic. It may well be Dickens. It might not be.

Very busy with life (real and otherwise). I’m swimming a lot. A lot. This is fantastic news for me and very boring for you. I will soon also be cross-training a lot. Ditto.

I have hit on a writing idea that, at the moment, I am throughly enjoying spending time playing with. I mean, properly enjoying, not occasionally dabbling with and then forgetting about. This is good therapy. It really is.

For completely different reasons, I need to spend time on my interview answers and examples.

And cleaning. And getting fresh air. Once it stops snowing. If it ever stops snowing*…

Oh! Also, I am stupidly happy that PJ and Duncan AKA Ant and Dec are all set for a Number 1. Just a childhood thing. No biggie.

*Want to read a good SF book about snow? Read Adam Roberts’ aptly titled Snow.

Tell me what you’ve been doing busy little bee…

It’s been so long I was actually shocked to see that the format has changed.

I’ve been trying to read a load of really awful books (some of which I really didn’t think would be awful…) and not getting through them.  I am half tempted to do another poll. The last one worked out OK. Why not? You have until I decide to try to read a book again. Probably this weekend. The options have changed since last time. Here:


Also, I have been working. And I went to Covent Garden. I do love Covent Garden. I’d like it more without all the French school children. I bought tea and, in a huge change from tradition, coffee.

Listening to something on Radio Four Extra that sounds like a cross between Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Hitchhiker’s Guide – it’s called World of Pub. Interesting. Turned over to Radio 2. There’s a history of comedy programme on.

Bon nuit!

I’m illiterate

I am. I can’t read at all.

Well OK, what I mean is, I can’t read like a writer. I can’t read to criticise (in the analysis form of the word not the slagging off form of the word). Rather, I’ve never been able to read to criticise easily and I’ve never really chosen to do that either.

Thinking back to school again. It was GCSE English that was the first and last time I read a novel and dissected it. It was George Orwell’s Animal Farm – rather apt for it is some sort of anniversary for Eric Arthur Blair this year but I haven’t quite worked out what anniversary it is yet. I enjoyed scribbling all over my copy bought solely for the purpose. It was colour coded and very neatly done. I may even have sketched a pig or two.

That was the first and only book I’ve ever written on. It was installed in me from a very young age that books are sacred and should never be defaced. Of course as an adult I know that’s just ridiculous. No one is going to arrest me for writing a comment or question on a book that I have bought with my own money. I still can’t do it though. I can’t write on books. That’s the be all and end of it.

This is where e-books are  going to help me massively. When reading an e-book, you can highlight and comment until your heart is content and not ever be seen to have been defacing the thing at all. Fantastic. I hope to do this one day using my Nexus 7. That is when I start using my Android tablet to read books and not just play Hangman or watch endless TV series on Netflix. That is also when I get used to the idea of reading an e-book. But that’s another blog post entirely.

Why would anyone (meaning me) want to read to criticise anyway? Well, if I’m going to take this writing hobby of mine a little more seriously and justify signing up for that University of Oxford creative writing course, I’m going to want to improve and, if I’m going to improve, I’m going to have to change the way I read books so that I can learn from them. I’m going to have to criticise novels and short stories and articles and scripts and anything else that is written down in actual words and stuff. It’s not going to be easy for me but, hey, start small and work up. Double hey, blog about it, so others can join in with your obvious unease.

I just need to decide what I’m going to dissect first. Any thoughts or comments?

Oh, yes, almost forgot. What brought about this blog post in the first place? It was this post (How To Read like A Writer) by the excellent and hugely inspiring Chuck Wendig. I’m mentioned him before. He’s the guy who does an awesome weekly writing challenge on his blog and sometimes hits resonance.


Update of the general variety

I’m not getting on very well with Celestial Matters. Such a shame because I do remember my A Level physics teacher waxing lyrical about how brilliant it was that the book is set in a universe where the laws of physics are literally Greek. I have to agree with him that I find that idea incredibly interesting but I am completely unenamoured with how the author felt the need to include Greek Gods and slaves in this as well. Also, I can’t get into the mindset of the main character. I really don’t want to give up on the thing. Might have to pick something else up in the meantime. This is usually fatal but nevermind.

I’m on leave from work next week. Burglers beware I am still at home. Lots to do. Happy with my flat at the moment. I’ve gotten rid of a great deal of stuff which makes it tidier and much less cluttered. I also have flowers. I do like having some nice flowers about the place.

I think today’s job will be writing a story and some comedy to wake up my pan galactic gargle blaster fried brain. Let’s see what I can do.

Oh, just turned Radio 4 Extra on to Garrison Keillor’s Radio Show – The News from Lake Wobegon. How fantastic.


Book Review: Carter Beats the Devil (Glen David Gold)

And as if by magic, I finished this at about half 12 last night. What an excellent book! Thanks to the last-minute vote on my experiment and to James for recommending it in the first place.

Where to start?

I suppose I should say (as I should have said for Hudson’s The Dazzle) that Charles Carter and various other characters were real live people. There’s even a cameo by Houdini. Houdini! I have to say I find magicians much more interesting than the interwar fast set, if just because of the sheer brio you must have to spend a life on stage deceiving people. As usual, in these cases, I wonder how much of the story was true and how much a fabrication. Certainly, you can perform more outrageous magic tricks on paper than you can on stage, except that, I read in the notes that the tricks were all based on those that were performed at the time. Well…

I like this book because I was fooled into forgetting that Carter was a real person. The story has so many twists and turns that fit so incredibly well together, I was never bored (the book is over 500 pages long). In fact, I did something I haven’t done for a long time, I actually savoured reading it. It’s a romance, a who-dun-it, a coming of age story, a comedy, a tragedy but mainly an adventure. And it’s a debut book!

I had to wait until near the end to find my favourite line though, then two came along at once (discounting “Paddock’s Storage House” for obvious reasons), oh, and I learned a new word: Horripilation (Goose bumps!).

In short, I loved it and was, quite frankly, impressed. It gave me horripilations (see!).

Read it. Don’t delay. Read it now.

I’ve been waiting to read the next book since my A Level Physics teacher mentioned it 12 years ago…

Celestial Matters (Rickard Garfinkle).

Black Carrots

Yesterday at work I got everything done that I needed to do which included reading an article on how your online presence can negatively affect your chance of getting a new job. Did I mention that I did all my work that day? All of it.

Also, we had a wonderful conversation which veered from our usual philosophical and law related debate and onto old game shows (Blankety Blank – why a cheque book and pen?) and black carrots.

Black carrots? Yes! I had a drink from the M&S van (M&S delivered straight to the door – pure luxury) which was meant to be a  treat but which, sadly, tasted exactly like Calpol. So I looked at the ingredients which included black carrot concentrate. The drink was diet pink lemonade!

Well, I had to (after work) google this weird unheard of vegetable and apparently it *is* a thing. And look! There is a carrot museum! I have had hours of fun perusing. Look at the recipes! Carrots in art, carrots in literature, carrots in history but my favourite is carrot musical instruments. Watch this space….

Do you know any other black vegetable*? Why not leave details in the comments below for further discussion?

*not dark purple

Write. Right.

For a short time I am allowing myself to call myself a writer.*

As it is snowing, I am stuck indoors (Ich hasse Schnee) and I want to do something constructive. So, as I have decided that my hobby is writing and it is not something I do regularly enough, today is the day to start to plan something wonderful.

I started a book and, against everything that any writer has ever said to me, I’m not going to finish it. I don’t like it. I wouldn’t pick it up to read it myself. It is not the genre of writing I want to write. It can’t be amusing and it isn’t science fiction.

In short, it’s my bloody hobby and I will do what I want.

I have ideas for science fiction all the time and they need to be explored more. It is the genre I am drawn to more than anything. So, that’s what I am doing today. Exploring some more ideas and trying to shape them into a story or even a book.

Anyway, I am also motoring through Carter Beats the Devil.  Which is proving to be another excellent book.

*Disclaimer: This post is not a procrastination. I have already written today and started to plan the rest of the story.


The Next Book

Well, it didn’t go as badly as I thought it would. Thank you to the 9 people who voted. That is better than none, in fact it is better than 8. It is not better than 126 which is the number of Twitter followers I have. Miserable sods all 117 of you.

EDIT: A late entry for Carter Beats the Devil. Thank you the the 10 people who have now voted. This may change everything!

The results:

  1. Last Bus to Woodstock (Colin Dexter)   (2 votes)
  2. The Shape of Things to Come (HG Wells) (2 votes)
  3. The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins)  (2 votes)
  4. Carter Beats the Devil (Glen David Gold) (2 votes)
  5. The Truth (Michael Palin)  (1 votes)
  6. Inconceivable (Ben Elton) (1 votes)
  7. By Light Alone (Adam Roberts) (0 votes)
  8. Abe’s Legacy (Margorie P Dunn)  (0 votes)
  9. Swiftly (Adam Roberts) (0 votes)
  10. Night Music (Jojo Moyes)  (0 votes)

Firstly, you all obviously need educating to the delights of Adam Roberts and Jojo Moyes. Secondly, I can’t believe you almost made me read The God Delusion. Honestly. Finally, looks like I have the casting vote so:

Right, good. I’m going for Carter Beats the Devil. Well done that last vote!