Wednesday 30 October 2013

That'll teach me... browse my stats (having finished one job, and putting off another, as one does). I was looking through my blog's "traffic sources", and on clicking on my main (and rather mysterous) one, found that it is apparently a hard porn website, and was immediatley confronted with - well- porn.

Hmm. Well, as a woman, I don't particularly want to entertain myself with  full-on views of women's bits (I saw enough of those - if you'll excuse the reference - at a time when my main job was performing cervical smears). I'm not shocked - it takes a lot to shock me, as Relate cousellors are trained not to be shocked by anything - just rather surprised.

Does anyone else's blogs links with this kind of thing?

I  just wondered.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Pen friend with chutzpah, anyone?

I had a letter yesterday from a man in Indiana prison. He'd been talking to an ex-death row correspondent of mine (who dumped me some time ago) and thought I might like someone else (ie him) to write to.

He's in prison because he kidnapped two deputy sheriffs, "took their guns and money and car and badges, left them handcuffed to a tree and escaped". I can (he tells me proudly) Google him. He "caused quite a fiasco and made all the headlines and world and local news". I'm afraid I  had to admire his cheek. I bet those sheriffs felt stupid.

I did Google him, and he has a long string of convictions. He seems a sanguine kind of fellow, and his letter was hilarious. I shan't be writing to him regularly as I have another more deserving correspondent (I shall of course let him know of my decision).

 He "doesn't get much mail". Any takers?

Monday 21 October 2013

Open letter to Julian Fellowes

Dear Lord Fellowes,

I read in the paper today some of the remarks you have apparently made concerning  your recent adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

I'm afraid I have some problems with these. You say that to understand Shakespeare, "you need a kind of Shakespearean scholarship, and you need to understand the language and analyse it and so on. I can do that  because I had a very expensive education. I went to Cambridge."

Ah. So you had a very expensive education, did you? Well, bully for you. I, on the other hand, had a very cheap education (free, actually), and have never had any trouble understanding Romeo and Juliet. I know many people who are like me in this respect. How dare you patronise us in this way?

In the meantime, I suggest you leave Shakespeare alone (after all, he has managed without you for several hundred years, and will no doubt continue being loved and admired long after you are forgotten), and concentrate on correcting some of the clunky prose and glaring anachronisms* in the script of Downton Abbey.

Yours etc

*You see - you don't need an expensive education to use long words after all, do you?

(I apologise to any readers who are fed up with me banging on about Lord Fellowes, but one of the joys of having a blog is that it is my own personal platform my for own personal rants, and at least it  stops me from running amok in the streets, screaming obscenities.)

Friday 18 October 2013

Today, I saw Michael Caine outside Tesco's...

...smoking a cigarette. He had a beard.

Only it wasn't Michale Caine at all. I have a mild form of what's known as "face blindness"; ie difficulty in recognising faces. I have also recently seen Prince William in Sainsbury's,  and several characters from Coronation Street wandering the streets of Devizes.

On the other hand, I am often accused of ignoring people I know quite well, when actually I just haven't recognised them. Watching complicated films is a nightmare. Unless there is a redhead, a blonde and a very tall bald bloke (for example) I am lost. I have to keep asking John "is that the one who...?". He's very patient, but it must be infuriating. I can't tell my goodies from my baddies.

Where we lived before, I was both a nurse and a Relate counsellor, so if someone appeared to  know me, I could safely say, "how are things?", and this covered most eventualities, from adultery to piles. But it can be very awkward.

Does anyone else have this problem?

(PS I prefer Michael Caine without the beard)

Thursday 17 October 2013

Fourteen Days in May... a chilling documentary, following the last 14 days in the life of Edward Earl Johnson, who was executed by gas in May 1987 in Mississippi.

Johnson was on death row for eight years, and maintained his innocence until the end. There are huge doubts over whether or not he was guilty, but no matter. He was poor and black; even today  a bad combination if you want to get off death row.

This full-length film is now available on you tube  and doesn't  make for easy viewing. The gassing of the rabbit (when the gas chamber is tested out beforehand) gives the viewer some idea of what Johnson had to go through.

His last words were: "I guess no-one's going to call now" (to grant a stay of execution). If anyone has any doubts about whether or not the death penalty is ever justified, they should watch this.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

The bottom of the kitchen drawer fell out...

...probably under the weight of all this. I am ashamed (and now, publicly shamed) by the contents of this drawer. But you see, all these gleaming (or rusty) objects might come ine useful, and sometimes they even do.

There are at least four corkscrews (fish shaped, one with dear little arms, one of those waiters' ones, and an ancient wooden one of my father's); kebab skewers (we haven't made kebabs since we moved here14 year ago, because Agas don't have grills; and if you look carefully, you will see a small hatchet.

John says this is a cleaver, not a hatchet.  Whatever. We don't use it. But it is his hatchet/cleaver. Why did he buy it (in his single days)? To make chicken stock, says he triumphantly. A hatchet? To make chicken stock? Yes, says he. For chopping off the wings. Ah.

So - if anyone would like a corkscrew, a hatchet, or anything else you can identify from this sorry heap, do please let me know. Meanwhile, the drawer has been taken away for major surgery.

Monday 14 October 2013

Is sex loud?

A random question from my granddaughter when I was looking after her and her co-triplets at the weekend.

Just a thought for a damp Monday.

Monday 7 October 2013

Crime; one road to writing success

I'm not referring to the genre; rather, the behaviour of the writer.

Of course, we already knew this, but one way to get noticed is to commit a crime. Today, I read that Vicky Pryce, disgraced ex-wife of the disgraced Chris Huhne, fresh from prison, is having her experiences serialised in a national newspaper. Presumably, they will then come out in book form, and will sell at least reasonably well. Next, no doubt, she will be appearing in 'I'm a Celebrity', or 'Strictly Come Dancing'. From now on, only way is up.

The road to success is often paved with crime/sin. Take the Hamiltons (Neil and Christine, of 'cash for questions' fame; David Mellor - disgraced MP, who now presents a show on Classic FM). And these are only two. Jeffrey Archer's career admittedly didn't need much of a boost, but prison certainly did him no harm.

Naturally, it helps if you are a public figure in the first place, and lesser mortals like me (to date, several parking fines and a speeding offence) are not important enough to be noticed unless we resort to crimes on  a Great Train Robbery scale, but it's all worth bearing in mind.

So come on, fellow-writers (or those who could do with a little help). There must be something we can do. Any suggestions?

Friday 4 October 2013

Boring Granny...

...but here's the new arrival with big brother. Okay. I'll shut up now. For a little while, anyway.

Wednesday 2 October 2013


We've all been there, haven't we? (If you haven't, please do let me in on your secret.) And the words used by the magazine/publisher/agent remind me a bit of estate agent lingo. You have to read between the lines:

Outstanding opportunity for renovation = it's falling down
Wonderful views  = there's a tree outside, and you can just see it if you lean out of the attic window
Within easy reach of shops and schools = do you like long walks?
Cosy = it's a dolls' house
Fitted ktichen = there's a sink
The garden is laid to lawn = it's completely overgrown
Extra bedroom/study = but only a bedroom for someone under 4' tall, lying crosways

So (I suspect) it is with written offerings:

Well-worn theme = we just don't like it
Guessable = ditto
Not quite right for us = ditto
No surprises = ditto
We wish you luck in placing this novel/story/poem/article = please go away and leave us alone

Okay, okay. I know you're trying to be nice, but please just tell me I've written a lousy book/story. I can take it. I've got writers' shoulders (ie broad ones).

(And in case any of the wonderful editors etc. I've had dealings with should happen to come across this, I do know that some of these reasons are genuine, and I do love you really. Plus,  I've just had a nice acceptance, so I'm not sure why I'm rambling on about rejection...)