Monthly Archives: September 2016

30/9/2016

heandjanatbaycityrollers_nFeeling knackered today due to being up late on a school night at the Bay City Rollers concert with Hel and Heather. It was soooo weird and nostalgic.

We got there and had civilised drinks at the bar, chatting surrounded by similar ladies (I choose the word deliberately) of, shall we say, a certain age, chatting about kids, knitting, husbands, work, holidays-just-taken – that sort of thing.

We are all a little exited but we take our seats in the provincial auditorium, nodding at the odd few who have dressed up in their bygone tartan and platforms, smiling at the many who’ve tied a tartan scarf round their wrist as was done back in the day when The Rollers surfed the world. The band comes on and we clap and cheer like an ordinary crowd. It’s not until they strike up the opening chord of Locomotion, their hit from 1971 and announce the arrival on stage of Les McKewan, the lead singer, that the atmosphere changes – just like that.

A wave of something sweeps the genteel, well-heeled ladies of St Ives and they (we) leap out of our seats, surge forwards and start screaming at the front of the stage, reaching up to the band to have our hands touched by our – sorry Les but it has to be said – red eyed, beer-bellied, jaded idol from yesteryear. The ladies are ladies no more, we have time-slipped and are girls again, teenage girls once more, screaming, dancing, chanting, singing along loudly because we’ve just remembered all the words.

In the interval I wondered what my ten-year-old self would have thought had she known that one day she’d meet an actual Roller. My sister (two years my senior) and I weren’t allowed to go to see them when we were wee but we had their posters on the wall of our shared bedroom (along with Alvin Shockermoller the show jumper) and learned all the words to Bye Bye Baby by playing the beloved record again and again on my Dad’s radiogram, lifting the stylus off the single (we couldn’t afford albums) again and again, line by crackling line until we had them by heart. (This was before even cassette recorders.)

Funny how things change perspective as you get older – what was once superlatively important becomes almost unremembered. But the echo of somethings must imprint  deeply and, remembered or not, when you trawl them back to the surface they are so fresh and real and vivid. Last night released such a memory.

Right enough of this – must embark on penultimate chapter of A363 as did nowt yesterday except final-edit a flash fiction about dead legends which I’d set aside but which I liked so much on re-visitation I decided to resurrect. There’s a linking theme to the Rollers concert in there somewhere, I know, but have no time to develop it as academia calls.

29/9/2016

Flippin’ eventful evening and  morning then. The following has occurred:

  • got a tutor at last
  • been nominated for #bestonthenet for a story I wrote for Molotov Cocktail
  • had a mahoosive leak in the wee house which has taken out all the overhead lights and the cooker and the heating.

I’m sitting in a dark corner therefore, quite warm because its a warm day, writing this before I go to buy a fan heater to dry the kitchen ceiling out.

Here’s what happened leak-wise: Harry hurt his wrist playing rugby last night and late on, at tennish, had a bath to soak his weary bones. He filled the rickerty- old-bath-that’s-been-there-these-forty-years, tip-top full of water and muscle soak, climbed his not unsubstantial self there-in and soaked for sixty seconds.

Remember this house is teeny weeny if not insey-winsey, so I heard the crackle and rush coming from the kitchen very clearly from the sitting room and shouted up to check he hadn’t left the tap running. He didn’t reply because he had his head under the water. All at once there was a huge swoosh and the water cascaded through the kitchen ceiling, right over the three gang of spotlights in the middle of the ceiling. As I looked up everything went dark.

After running round getting towels, emptying the bath, lighting candles etc. etc., we realised only half the lecky was out – all the lights, the cooker, the wifi but not the sockets upstairs or half in the kitchen – enough to boil a kettle and run the microwave and, blessing-of-blessings, run an extension cable to the wifi. (This was what the boys where most traumatised by the loss of.)

Been on the phone all morning to my Dad who’s coming to stay next Tuesday. He’s got loads of experience with flooding through light fittings as it turns out, and he reckons that the best course of action is to fan dry the ceiling with an electric heater then, when its dry, to try flicking the fuse that saved us, back on. Have no idea where the fuse box is. Suspect its in the loft – the place I never go due to decades of dust and asthma so that’s not happening any time soon. Off therefore to Tesco to buy a fan heater and a couple of clip on lamps.  Dad reckons the seal on the bath must have broken. I’ve had loads of baths but only run a few inches of water not several feet and there’s nothing showing upstairs so I reckon he’s right. That won’t be cheap I daresay because the bath has no removable panels and is tongue and grooved in, so all that’ll have to come off I expect to rectify/find the leak.

Back in the dry, I Googled my tutor to check her credentials which took a while because of her pen name, but luckily I’m quite skilled in on-line stalking and tracked her down.  She looks pretty good so am prematurely pleased whether or not I have a reason to be.

Super-pleased to be nominated for best on the net though. Don’t care if I win or not. Being nominated is a win in itself. (This is an obvious lie so please feel free to suspend your disbelief.)

Right have much to do – free-writing, the penultimate chapter in A363, house drying and all before 4.30pm because tonight me and the girls are going to revisit our youths watching the Bay City Rollers live (only just probably) in St Ives. Taxi coming at 6.45 so need to be home for then so this blogging must stop.

 

 

27/9/2016

robin_nUp at the crack of sparrows to muck out tiny overgrown wilderness that is the courtyard at the wee house. For an incy-wincy garden it doesn’t half take some management. There’s a Virginia Creeper for a start which should be called a Virginia Bolt the way it sprints around the garden, then there’s another climber in the corner opposite. I don’t know what it is but it out-creeps/sprints the blasted creeper and isn’t even beautiful. It must have been there for years because the mass of stems are woody and inches thick – more tree stump that flower stem. Think I’ll dig it out in the winter which will be job of epic proportions but it will save work over years. I’m going to do a couple of green bags each day until the garden’s cleared out enough to be useful come the winter. The first two green bags are in the kitchen ready for the recycling centre and full of the thin ends of the Virginia Creeper which had climbed as far as the roof and next door’s guttering. Surprised they haven’t complained. It is gorgeous though – starting to turn a rich autumnal burgundy, the colour of really good claret and made me feel all ‘seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness.’ A wee robin followed me round all the time I was cutting and bagging, a really chubbley little robin with a bright eye and sideways glance and the same coloured chest as the Virginia Creeper. Took a picture of him/her hopping about eating flies and other disturbed crawlies.

The reason for beginning the clearance is to make room for a mini coal bunker. It’s too expensive buying bags from Tesco and they run out it in two days if its cowd. Found a 5star bunker on Ebay for £79 with free deliver which I’ve measured up for and will (I hope) fit through the back door. Won’t buy it until the garden’s ready to receive it though – probs by the end of next week.

Writing-wise sent off the Kathy Fish stuff and wrote a wee bit of a story called ‘The Morning After The Night Before. But mostly studying – as today – the next chapter of A363 beckons.

The OU put a peculiar message on the Student Home page yesterday, saying there is a ‘delay with the allocations of Tutors’ – that would explain why I’ve not been allocated one then. Its a weird, unsatisfactory message that says not to worry and that the late allocation it ‘not in line with the OU’s expectations’ i.e. a sort of sorry and its not good enough with no remedy or guidance about what to do to allay any misgivings. They’re right though – its not in line with my expectations either. Maybe there will be more news today.

 

26/9/2016

It’s quite comforting sitting here in my new old armchair (from Ebay) in the wee house with the teeny weeny fire lit, writing away and listening to the traffic surf past outside on the rainy road. The flames from the fire shhhh like a quieter version of the tires which really rattle everything as they whizz past. The house opens straight out onto the pavement – a small pavement on a busy road – so the cars are unusually close. Its a weird, safe-but-only-just feeling which has the curious effect of magnifying the feeling of safety for me. Its probably because I grew up on a busy main road and used to like to drop off all snuggly- buggly listening to the mayhem two paces away, just outside.

It must be chucking-out time at small school because I can hear every toddler and pushchair surf past too.

Glad to be feeling ok this aftie cos I felt proper pants last night and this morning but got up at the usual 6am to muster the sleepy boys into action.

Thought I might have a wee kip when I got here so yucky did I feel, but had to get coal and wood if I wanted to keep warm, and milk and bread as well, so I pulled myself together, girded me loins and went to Tesco’s.

Shopping done, fire lit, washing in, I thought – if you’re well enough to do that you can do a chapter – so I did. I re-visited ‘Rhetorical Styles’ in the A363 book and finally understood what it was going on about. Did all the exercises in said chapter and pre-read the next chapter for doing properly tomorrow. Also did a final edit of my Kathy Fish stuff  which I will revisit late tonight then send offsky. That way it will be gone and I won’t fetish over it when the tutor group goes live on Friday.

If I do a chapter of A363 each day this week, I’ll be done and dusted exactly in time for A802 and hopefully ‘match fit’ for the opening of the academic season.

24/9/2016

Just cooked a mahoosive fry up for Harry and Murray at the wee house. They’ve got rugby this aftie so it’s allowed. Much protein was consumed and H has gone to get his hair cut at the uber-cool barbers on the high street.

Its run by a couple of skilled hipsters, masters in the art of anything hirsute – no beard is too bushy, no hair to bald to be beyond their dark trimming and polishing arts.

The shop looks like its from 1955 all bright red and dark wooden with a rotating, retro red-and-white barbers sign. (You know – bone and blood poles from the days when barbers were not afraid to carry out the odd amputation.) Hope they do a good job – hairwise not cutting anything else off.)

They do look very stylish. They have a retro van from the sixties with an old Edwardianesque logo on it – actually they are as much ‘Edwardian moustache curl’ as they are 1950s quiff – but it would only take one slip of the clipper and woof – Harry disaster. On the plus side they sell good wax so, either way, he should come home with summat good.

Anyhoo MA writing-wise been reading mostly, and doing exercises in the goddam A363 handbook. Did the chapter on Voice – no problem – all v useful but now doing rhetorical tricks. Its not really called that but, like much of this chapter, I’m struggling to remember the names of things. Parenthesis this, litotees that – yada yada yada. Am going to read it all again on Monday. Won’t have time this weekend as Bob’s coming tonight and tomorrow we’re taking Roz out for Sunday lunch for her b-day. Having struggled for half a day I decided that the best way to learn about creating mood and suspense is to read some Stephen King – read him as a writer as the A363 book suggests. This is very hard because he’s so gripping I keep slipping into reading-as-a-reader, a scared stiff, heeby-jeebied reader at that!

Scared myself half to death last night sitting in this wee, darky house reading the scary bits (which is all of)  The Shining. Seriously scary.

Made me feel a wee bit daunted cos King is so vv good at this and quite a lot of The Shining’s tension is about pace and keeping things held back for ages whilst drip-drip-dripping scary shit at you all the time. You can’t really do that in the shortest stories (and the ones I have to submit on my course are mostly v short indeed) but its a lesson well-learned for my scary novel.

Also, I was writing a Flash at the same time, about Alzheimers and the moon (its a long story.) It was going to be sad and wistful but its turned angry and wistful influenced by Jack in the Shining – he sneaked into my elderly, female, first-person narrator without me realising.

Have set that story to one side now and will re-read Monday. Its part of my submission for the Kathy Fish Fellowship at SmokeLong magazine. Have to send four Flashes and lots of other info in by 30th September. Have no hope of getting this – its just about THE most prestigious thing in Flash, but if I do it every year, one day I might be good enough to get a mention.

Right – back to the possessed snowy mountaintop hotel to scare my metaphorical bollocks off. At least its daylight.

19/9/2016

Been working hard doing background reading for my MA as well as free writing and doing the exercises from the Course Book A363 which I now have a little more love for. Think I’ve actually learned quite a lot from the problematical ‘splicing chapter.’ All good but very boring to blog about so won’t bother. Had a lovely time with Clarey at weekend who came to stay for a single sleep. Took this picture of the tiny Wisbech garden because it looked luminously green in the grey rain but it hasn’t come out in the photo – must have been the dark light. Have written a couple of Flashes that I quite like and organised my folders so been a busy little boo.garden-2

14/9/2016

strange-badgeBeen beavering away at the OU stuff in all my spare time. Re-read the first four chapters of BRB (Big Red Book – a Workbook with Readings for OU Course A215 Creative Writing) and was rejuvenated. Flushed with vigour I then dared to revisit The BBB (Big Blue Book – also a workbook with readings for course A363 – Advanced Creative Writing) and started to falter. The BRB is sooooo good and inspirational and the BBB is sooooooo less so.

Luckily I decided to do the chapter in the BBB written by the writer of the BRB Linda Anderson and found it very useful. Am now doing ‘Splicing the Strands’ which is hard to stay focussed on. (That’s probs why I’m writing this blog.)

Last night when I should have been reading the BBB I sent a poem off to the new webpage ‘Strange Poetry’ which does what it says on the tin. I wrote a weird poem in May for a weird poetry competition in Molotov Cocktail Litzine. I did this when George was very ill in hospital, then when he came home I slept for twelve hours and missed the deadline so its been sitting there ever since, haunting me.

‘Strange Poetry’ got back straight away saying that its exactly the sort of weird they’re looking for and they’ll publish it on 17th December. Will post a link when they do. In the meantime they sent me a sticker to paste where-so-ever I go in cyberspace so that’s what that is then, at the start of this post – my badge of strangeification.

Also my sad story that I cocked up sending last week, is finally up at Ad Hoc Fiction web edition.  Read it again and it still brought a lump to my throat but that’s because its personal not because its brilliant. Just glad someone somewhere will read it.

Also got an e-mail from Molotov Cocktail yesterday asking for my third person details for their anthology in which I have two wee stories. So exciting. Must write them today (I can do one third person plug for each story.) I’ve got to send them my snail mail details too so they can send me my copies of the Anthology when its out. Sooooo exiciting.

Right back to the BBB – got to do a chapter then learn how to use the OU Library.