Monday, 22 October 2018

Money or prizes?

A writer colleague of mine was asked by a prospective agent whether he wanted to write to earn lots of money or win prizes. Apparently, the two tend to be mutually exclusive (to a degree, anyway), and I can understand that. Prize winning novels don’t seem to sell in huge numbers, while best sellers tend not to win prizes (although there are, of course, exceptions. The wonderful Eleanor Olliphant is an example). I’ve read some dire Booker prize winners, and some magnificent novels that would never win prizes.

To any writers reading this: which would you prefer (prizes or riches)? As for me, I’ve long since given up thoughts of either (though what I do earn is very welcome). What I most want is for people to read my books and enjoy them. And that’s the truth 😊

Thursday, 18 October 2018

“Laugh out loud funny”...

...is the one description that really puts me off a book. It’s the literary equivalent of canned laughter, and is guaranteed to make me fail to find any amusement in a book. Humour is totally subjective. You either find a book, or a joke, funny, or you don’t, but you shouldn’t have to be told in advance. You need to find out for yourself. A funny passage in a book (for me) comes as a kind of delightful surprise, and being told that it’s going to be funny spoils that surprise. As for LOL at the end of messages, don’t get me started....

We Don’t all find the same things funny,  just as we don’t  all love the same pieces of music or even the same sunset. A few years ago, I read the funniest book I think I’ve ever read, and was literally howling with laughter most of the way through. I’ve no idea why that particular  books has stayed with me, but it hit a big funny bone, and I remember it with great pleasure (and gratitude towards the author). But I won’t tell you the title, because if you were to read it in the future, I would already have spoilt it for you.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

How to ruin a mobile phone

1. Drop it down the loo.
2. Give it a bath (well, you have to, don’t you?).
3. Dry it, then put it in your bed.
4. Turn the electric blanket on high (it will get astonishingly hot. You’d be surprised).
5. Google the problem (if you want the phone to recover, miss out 1-4 and do this immediately).
6. Ignore all advice to steep it in dry rice, as this might just rescue the situation.

Voila! Job done. Next step: down to the phone shop. Do not on any account tell them the above, or your phone cred will be in ruins.

(PS I hate my new phone, but am stuck with it 😫.)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Contentment

There’s a man in this area, perhaps around forty years old, who collects car numbers. All day every day, rain or shine, he can be seen with his pencil and his notebooks, carefully writing them all down. I stopped and chatted to him today, and he told me he’d been doing this for twenty-four years (“twenty five next year”). On my way home it set me thinking.

Here is a man who it seems is perfectly happy. He appears to have no ambition, apart from more car numbers (and goodness knows, there are plenty of those, even though he must count some of them many times over). He probably gets up every day, looking forward to another day of....collecting car numbers, enjoys what he does, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t sleep well at night. He doesn’t engage easily in conversation, but seems happy to be on his own, and while no doubt he has at some point been labelled as “special needs”, he appears to need very little.

Obviously someone somewhere is paying for his everyday, not so special needs, but somehow here is a man who seems to have it all. I for one could learn a lesson or two from him...

Friday, 5 October 2018

The ridiculous business of confidentiality

This has been an appalling week, but I’ll spare you the details. The final straw for me was when I phoned the hospital to find out how my suddenly-struck-down husband was, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m phoning to find out how John Stott is.
Very Unfriendly Receptionist (after some scuffling): he’s being transferred to the ward.
Me: but how is he?
VUR: oh, I can’t tell you that.
Me: but I’m his wife!
VUR: I’m afraid I still can’t tell you that; it’s a matter of confidentiality.
Me: well is he okay?
VUR: I can’t tell you that, either.
Me (after more protestations): IS HE ALIVE?
Pause.
VUR: yes.

Phew! But I’m seething. Confidentiality is all very well, but this is ridiculous. Would it be so unethical just to say someone is okay? Or to use hospital-speak (which I hate) comfortable? Apparently it would. In my day as a nurse, we always informed next of kin how a patient was. Not any more. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but there was no compassion or understanding. People in A&E departments are frightened and anxious, and so are their relatives. They deserve better than this.

(Btw he’s on the mend now, but we’ve had the week from hell. And it was his birthday!)

Monday, 1 October 2018

Missing....

There’s  a phenomenon which seems to recur in various areas of life. I call it the Just One Missing pehenomenom. It goes thus.:

If you get out an old jigsaw puzzle out and do it, there will be one - just one - piece missing. The same applies to old playing cards, Scrabble letters, anything really that has a lot of bits. Always, just one missing. This doesn’t matter so much with the Scrabble letters (in this case, playing yesterday with a grandson*, it was the x, which is a nice high scoring letter) as you can still play, but with playing cards it’s infuriating. My theory is that all these  pieces have joined the great missing sock party in a parallel universe somewhere...

*Grandson won. I hate being beaten at Scrabble.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Taking your ferret on holiday?

I’ve just  heard a bewildering snippet on the news, saying that if we want to take cats, dogs or ferrets over to Europe after Brexit we’ll have to see a vet several months ahead. Cats and dogs I can understand (though I’ve yet to meet a cat that would appreciate being conveyed abroad for a fortnight), but ferrets? Really?

I confess that I know little about ferrets (apart from what I’ve gleaned from the Archers, and hearing about people with a predilection for putting them up their trousers; why on God’s good earth would anyone in their right mind want to do that?), but does anyone, ever, take their ferret with them on holiday?

Any ferret-lovers reading this - please enlighten me. I’d really love to know.