Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I *heart* Lesbian Nurses - The Kick Ass Cool Competition Edition, Plus: Even More Books To Give Away

Ok Kids,

Christmas is over and, like me, you'll be all skint and stuff. So I have a treat for you. Those lovely chaps at Tonto have donated three copies of 9987 to ease your January woes. And, cos I'm dead nice and things I'm going to sign them, and give them away.

For nowt.


See, you'll all have stuffed yourselves full of turkey and stuffing and brandy and wine and rum and beer and pudding and cheese and chocolates and anchovies and syrup and milk and biscuits and small, round, vegetables.

So you'll have to do a bit of work for it...

Here's the deal:

In order to win your very own, signed copy, of 9987 (and, if you like, you can have it presented to you at the launch on the 29th Jan - assuming you're coming...) you need to get your typing fingers all stretched out and nimble.

9987 takes place, primarily, in a DVD rental store with the narrator watching people milling about the store, speculating on their lives and judging their movie tastes. The customers play a very important role in the narrators life, and so I think a few more customers might do him some good.

To that end I want you to create a customer. I want you to bring them to life. I want to be sat behind a desk in a DVD rental shop and to watch them wandering the shop. And I want you to do all this in no more than 25 words.

Quite the challenge I know...

But hey, what good will 2009 be without pushing yourself a bit?

Please email your entry to with your name and address before the closing date of January 17th. 

To keep up to date with 9987 news and events join the facebook group I *heart* Lesbian Nurses.

And remember, 9987 is available here and here and other places too...

Good Luck, and Best Wishes for 2009.


Fiona Robyn is also giving her book away here. It's one I've already added to my wish list and I've heard some really really good things about it. It's not out until March but you can be the envy of your friends by nabbing one of the free advance copies she's giving away. 

Go have a look, you won't regret it. Honest.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Don't Read My Book!

New problems. New things to worry about. New things to mark.

It has come to my attention, and why it surprises me I’m not sure, that people have been reading my book.

Now, yes, I know. I had sort of expected this. And yes, I know, it is surely a good thing. I am assuming that these people who are reading the book have paid for the book and so surely riches cannot be far away.


People are reading my book. At work, sat in the staff room, people are telling me how far through they are, asking me questions, and saying nice things. This is all very good, I am aware of this.

But I don’t know how to respond. I find myself changing the subject. I find myself avoiding the staff room.

Because I know what’s coming.

Although it’s all nicely, darkly comic to begin, it goes a bit … well … odd, toward the end. It all goes a bit… twisted… toward the end.

And of course, in all my wisdom, I wrote in the first person.

And so people think that it’s about me.

This worries me.

If you’re one of the few that’s read it, you’ll understand why.

You’ll understand why the thought that my parents might read it terrifies me. You’ll understand why I envision some awkward conversations.

To those of you buying my book: Don't read it, just stroke the cover a bit...

Monday, 1 December 2008

Holding My Book. Dancing A Hula. Misplacing A Student Union.

And so, suddenly, things seem a bit more…

What’s the word?



Proper Mint? How.

Well yeah, I think that does it. Proper Mint. How.

Because it’s been a very, very exciting week for me.

I’ve struggled, quite a bit really, since I found out I was getting published. I was chuffed, obviously. Grinning secretly between lessons and when no one was looking. I had, whilst writing 9987, planned great things for the day I got THAT phone call, received THAT letter, heard THAT news.

But when it happened I felt, well, I dunno. I was excited, ecstatic, euphoric, erudite (ran out of ‘e’ words there, went for a fairly poor English Teacher joke here…). Strangely though, amongst people, even amongst friends, I felt embarrassed. It just felt too… distant. Too flimsy. Too much time for something to go wrong.

Somewhere in the back of my head a withered, grey haired little man, stroking his beard sadly and sucking at the gaps between his teeth. He was shaking his head a lot and cackling at moments of publishing related excitement.

Even when I saw the cover, I was dubious.

Even when I had the t-shirts sorted, I was reluctant to relax.

I have been widely ridiculed for my inability to answer simple questions about my own book. I have blushed at the mention of Lesbian Nurses.

This week has been different.

This week has been kick ass cool.

This week I’ve felt like a writer.

It all began in the Bath…

I was invited, quite a while ago actually, to go down to Bath Spa University. (MY university. Oh yes. And a very nice one it is too. It has muffin stealing squirrels.) They wanted me to have a chat with some undergrads doing the Creative Studies in English Degree. The one I was doing when I started writing 9987. So I went.

There were some niggling problems. Getting up at five in the morning to catch the plane (oh yes, quite the jetsetter me), the fact that someone had moved the Students Union (and the truly terrifying fact that when I found it at 3:30 no one was drinking. At all. Soft drinks all round. Muchos disturbing, I fear for the students of today.) and of course, a slight problem that the group of students I was expecting to chat to were slightly larger (in number, not stature) and in a slightly more formal setting that I was prepared for.

So I walk into a lecture theatre facing one hundred and eighty people. Some were making notes. Some had laptops out. One may have been sleeping.

Luckily I HAD been drinking in the Students Union.

So. I talked about Prostitutes. I discussed Magical Pub toilets and alternative routes to Narnia. I did a little Hula Dance to demonstrate rhythmic prose. It was most successful.

Oh. And I failed completely, twice, to answer the question – Why was the book originally titled Lesbian Nurses?

Cos I’m mint.

But, hey, it was fun. Then Carrie Etter, poet, lecturer, pint buyer, took me for a drink. Which I felt I needed.

But then.

Then BIG things happened.

Then I got an email.

Then I took a drive.

Then I collected a pile of books.

And all of them,

Each and every single one of them,

Had my name on.

Ten, count’em, ten pristine, ever so pretty and real and strokable and actual copies of my actual book.

They’ve got pages and words in and everything.

And, suddenly, I found it a bit easier to talk about it.

I found it strangely exhilarating to show it to people.

I acted a bit smug, and I think I had a licence to.

I am so very, very chuffed. How.

(and no, before you ask, yo ucan't have one of the ten copies. They've all been given out. The first one to someone who makes me grin. The rest to people of various import after. And Caroline got a special one from the publishers. So sorry kids, all gone.)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Actual News About Actual Stuff Which Is Actually Interesting Rather Than The Stuff I Usually Post Which Is Actually A Bit Crap. Actually.


It's been a while I know. But hey, things happen, things distract me and, to be honest, I've had other, more important things on my mind. Count the commas kids - an English teacher you say? Ha! No wonder the kids are all stupid and spraying walls with misspellings and poor punctuation. That's all me that is. 



Actual News About Actual Stuff.

Firstly the book launch is all sorted and stuff. Oh yes. And it's not just in a mate of mines garage. No, it's in a real life place. The Opera Piano Bar. Yes. Fancy no? It's got a bar and music and seats and tables and a bar and me and t-shirts and books and me and a bar. 

So you are all invited.  It'll be proper mint, how.

Plus, (and strangley far more exciting) the T SHIRTS are ready!

Oh yes, step right up folks and own your very own "I *heart* Lesbian Nurses" T Shirt. It's even tinkerable. And, you know, Christmas is just round the corner, it'll make a great gift for just about anyone*. C'mon, all the cool kids are wearing them...

Anyway, when I get a bit more info about the launch I'll let you know. 

But I'm muchos excited

Things are going well. Book launch, t-shirts, a string of grin tastic weekends, Disco Kettle almost in new kitchen. Things are going well. And it scares me...

(*children, parents, grandparents, prudish aunts and disapproving neighbours not included)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Beginnings: A Retrospective, A Hope and a Packed Disco Kettle

With the book out in but two months (oh yes, I will assume your copy is already preordered) and with my foray into the world of the MA, plus with a beginning at home - The Best Possible Thing, I think, I've been tempted more and more to think of this as Year One. 

When the book comes out in January I will have finally realised a long held ambition. Possibly the only ambition I have maintained, or that has remained, since I started school. I will be a published author. People will read my book. And I have been thinking about how chuffed that knitted jumpered little boy would be feeling.

Of course, the fact that my first Official MA Assignment is a Personal Reflection based largely on why I started writing may go some way to explaining my current introversion. So, anyway, I've decided to share a little bit of it. Not a lot, just a bit. And it's got a reference and everything...

"At some point, some distant, out of focus day, the whole thing seemed to slip away from me. Somewhere down the line, at some setting hour, the game became too important. I remember staring at bruised, dark, swollen clouds and being somewhere else.

I remember I started to make notes.

I remember making sure that I would not forget the game.

The name was never important. The characters were never really important. In the games we played our protagonists were all much the same. I was I was I was I. Strangely I was always injured. Strangely I was always captive.

At some point, some rainy, lonely afternoon, the whole thing seemed to slip away from me. I started making notes. I did not show those notes. I hid them from friends. I folded them into a space between my wardrobe and the wall. These notes were private games.

I remember I was playing games, my friends played Games. Rules. Systems. Tactic. Strategies. I kept making notes. Sometimes the notes were in sentences. Sometimes the sentences were connected together. And somewhere down the line, in some loud and crowded classroom, the game became more important.

We can never give anything up.” Said Freud, and I think that perhaps he had a point. “We only exchange one thing for another… [when a child] stops playing he gives up nothing but the link with real objects, instead of playing, he now phantasises.”

I remember the toys becoming much less important. I remember them becoming unnecessary. I remember phantasies. I remember one sentence following another. I remember crossing the boundaries of that first page. I remember the fresh page, the sparkling white, the faded blue lines, and me starting it part way through an idea. Those pages flowed.

At age ten: eight pages is a mammoth task. At age ten: eight pages is an achievement unmatched throughout history. At age ten: eight pages is a release of something powerful. At age ten, at some point, someone will tell you to stop.

The content is unimportant, a story based on bluetac is an achievement I will only manage once and I wish I’d been able to keep a hold of the book. What is important is that I did not stop. What is important is that I wrote a game about a hedgehog. A game about a scientist. A game about a rock named George."

Proper mint no? Thank you for allowing me my self indulgence...

Plus: Disco Kettle is all packed.

I move into my new place at the end of the month. Got a bed ordered and everything. DK is muchos excited, he's even volunteered to do a photo shoot once he's in the new place. He's been posing  and Fffssssttting for the last few day practicing. He's even been working on harmonising his Bing with the microwave. It's all very sweet.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Of Undergoing Identity Crisiseseses

Right. I've had a busy week. Obviously there was Spain - which was, you know... Well, I've lost weight, lets put it that way. But I'm not blaming the booze. Oh no. Something is going around, honest. It's not ALL my own fault.

But last weekend I've also been Dahn Saarf. Innit. Wiv me spoons an pearl suit an apples and pears and other fruit salad stuff.

And now I'm knackered.

I did get to go to a costume party though. And, horribly, it got me all wondering again...

It's this whole juggling thing again I think, different bits, extra arms, occasional shift in priorities. Gets confusing.

I am, generally, during the day a Professional and Caring Teacher - able to Educate and Inspire and to Look Very Busy when people arrive during my free lessons (much like now - the sound of typing is always convincing.)

Most evenings I play at Hugely Successful Author (at least in my head I do - it is generally a role characterised by glazed eyes and me staring into space...)

Two evenings a week I also get to play at Dedicated and Conscientious Student, with added bonus of a secret I'm Actually Already Getting Published superhero pants which I wear beneath my jeans.

I also get to play at Star Striker on a Friday night. At least during the first half. Second half I'm knackered so I play at Lumbering Defender instead.

Of course I have a favoured role I get to play, feels like my most natural I think - generally get to play it on a Weekend, sometimes on a Wednesday. It a Grinning Like A Tit role and is, most definitely, my favourite.

So anyway.

I'm sat on the Tube (dahn saarf), on a Saturday - please note, no longer Halloween, in a giant yellow duck suit. And too my left is a five foot nine baby. With beard. To my right is a four foot ten crack whore. Without beard. And I'm sat there, whilst a German tourist snaps pictures.

And I know exactly which roles I favour, and I only wish I could play them more often.

On the upside though - regardless of role, my wonderful hair remains the same. Largely due to the glue thats in it.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Madrid By Numbers, Plus: My Brother Is Stealing My Underwear...

Ah Espania. Madrid. How cool eh?

Holidays are great aren't they? Sun, sand (at beaches at least - not so much in cities I grant you, but I did spot some sand filled fire buckets in our hostel which I sat in for a bit...) sangria. For breakfast.

And Madrid is kick ass cool.


I have made a list, because lists are also cool. Obviously:

1. At 4am, hopelessly lost, on a Saturday night, there are still bars open in which to "ask directions from the barman"...
2. At 4:30am, having just been pick pocketed, the thief, upon noticing that my wallet was, in fact, empty, returned it with an apologetic smile and then gave me directions.
3. When you buy a round of drinks, you get free food. On bread. Oh yes.
4. They serve incredibly efficient and tiny and powerful coffees. With biscuits.
5.  You are not, in anyway, frowned upon for drinking with breakfast. As long as it's from small glasses.

It was, in short, mostly geet mint, how.

Yes. Mostly.



The free food has been stood for a while...

... And has gone a bit funny...

So. On Monday. A very hot and sunny and lovely Monday. I was very. Very. Very. Sick. 


All day.

I even hallucinated a bit, lay on the bed, drenched in sweat, listening to the sounds from the street... Actually thought myself in a market at one point, everyone in traditional Spanish clothing, small children playing in the square. Bulls running rampant through the streets. Tomatoes hoyed from alleys. Great stuff.

Good job really seeing as the only scenery I got to enjoy that day had tiles...

Ah well.

Still, I did get to see the train station's indoor jungle. Which made it all so worthwhile...


My Brother Is Steling My Pants.

Bit odd this I know. And slightly embarrassing. But was informed upon my return my Brother's Girlfriend that, due to extreme lazyness, he has been nicking my undies.

I find this very, very, weird... 

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Juggling Without Monkeys, Plus Disco Kettle Packs His Bags

Me and my brother have a dream.

It is  glorious dream.

An ambitious dream.

It is a dream that cold change the world (or at least the service industry)

It is a dream the RSPCA are unlikely to share.

We dream of Monkeys.

Waiter Monkeys. 

Waiter Monkeys who Juggle.

We'd make a Mint.

But more importantly it would help me out. Cos I'm not much of a juggler. I juggle three ok. As long as the stuff isn't breakable obviously.

See, problem is is that maybe. Maybe. I took on too much.

Firstly I'm still working. Suprising I know - people haven't discovered me as yet. Secondly there is the MA, which is fun - but still, it's a lot of work. It is, horribly, more important to me than work.

Lastly there are new and exciting developments in my personal life. This takes up a lot of my time. And I'm not complaing, really I'm not. It is, in fact, priority number one. It's proper mint, how.

And yeah, I know. I said I could juggle three. I remember, it was only a few lines ago. But, see, problem is - they're all breakable aren't they?

I could cope with working breaking - but it would bugger up two and three wouldn't it?


Me and my brother have a dream.

We dream of Juggling Monkeys. And they could teach us so much.


Disco Kettle Packs His Bags

Me and DK got ourselves a new place.

Oh yes, I'll let you know when we can afford the heating to have a warming... see what I did there?

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hey Everybody, Hey Dr Nik - Step One

My name offers two potential jokes to friends and family.

1. Nik (and because I'm bearded and inept) as in Dr Nick from the Simpsons.
2. Jones (and because I really, really want a fedora hat) as in Dr Indy Jones - Yes I know, his real name's Henry, but still.

Now for these jokes to be truly successful I need a better Prefix. Mr is OK. It's fine, really. No offense to all those Misters out there. But I want something more. Because, for these jokes to be really, truly successful. For me to really get the most of my name, what i really need. Is A Doctorate.

Oh yes. Dr Jones.

Of course, I could just buy one. I realize that. And it's not as if I'd ever really use it, so it's an option.

But if a joke is worth doing, it's worth working hard for.  

So that's what I'm doing.

I'm doing my MA.

Then I'm going for a PhD.

Then I'm buying a cape.

And a Fedora. Obviously.

Jokes aside though this can only be a good thing. It's a Creative Writing MA. It is impetus to write. It is pressure to write.

It is an excuse to write.

I. Need. This.

Already I've got my first mini asignment done. Comes in at a nice, neat 500 ish words. In script form. It's a description.


I'm trying new things.

Impressed much?

Thought so. It's proper mint, how.

Sooooooo. This means new work of Disco Kettle - I've descaled him. This means a new role for my Magic Writing Dressing Gown - I've washed it.

This means new and exciting ways to avoid marking - so i've left it all at home.

S'gonna be fun, like. 

Monday, 6 October 2008

Of Getting Nothing Done

So... What? Three weeks into the school year and how many words completed? Oh yes. That's right. About none.

It's tough this. I really try. I really do. I spend break times and quiet parts of lessons mentally jotting down sentences I like, paragraphs that work, chapters that thrill.

But nothing gets done.

Perhaps thats why I'm so desperate to get fired - Too scared to quit, too terrified of committing myself.


Or not. I love the job, love the kids. Hate, HATE, The marking. 

Ah well. All those scribbled notes in my planner. All those passages etched into my skull from so much refining, so much questioning, so many tried and rejected alternatives. All will be so useful come half term. I'm aiming for 5,000 words over the week. Quite modest I think, but I need it. It will keep me from going a touch mentalist.


Back to pretending to mark...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Of Possibly Being A Bit Mental

Year 11 Boy: Sir? When I'm not at school...

Me: Yes, Year 11 Boy?

Year 11 Boy: When I'm not at school, do you still exist?

Me: Probably not no. You're homework still exists though...

And as bizarre as this was for a conversation starter it did stir up the old grey matter a bit. For the vast majority of the world I do not, in fact, exist. At no point do I cross their minds, at no point do they stumble across me in the street, in a bar, in a gutter. I am not a real person. To people who've never met me, I do not not exist. And, in all fairness, even some people I have met question how real a person I might be.

Which is sort of why I'm grown a bit more comfortable blogging. I started off only talking about the book - cos I wasn't comfortable with anything else. And now look? Philosophy. Sort of.

Anyway - I like this cos most people who read my blog don't know me. Have never met me. Have no idea what I look like, are unaware that I'm typing wearing a Dangermouse T-Shirt and shorts beneath a Big Winter Dressing Gown.

I might live on your street. I might be your neighbour. (Sinister no?) Worse still: I might educate your children (duhduhduhdummmmmmmmm) Terrifying isn't it?

Unless, of course, Year 11 Boy is correct. Unless of course I don't exist. This whole thing could be an entirely randomly selected group of letters accidentally created by some bug in the Blogspot brain.

Would explain a lot...

Oh, me thinks I hear a *Bing*

Or do I?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

My Most Wise Mintor Signs A Great Many Books, Plus: Liverpool Fans Drown My Sorrows


I went to Chester (ish) this weekend for Caroline's signing. I did initially test out the widget to breaking point to see if it indeed have magical powers and could transport me physically, as well as mentally.

But no. It is not yet that magical - perhaps the next one will be.

So I got the train instead with Evil Cake Fiend (she baked, which was lovely. But made me carry them and wouldn't even let me steal one. Not a single one...) at stupid hour in the morning.

Still - the signing was really good. Caroline looked busy and impressively cheerful throughout. I drank coffee and read Black Boxes (so far, so mint - it's a bit rude though so i had to hide it from the families which surrounded me in the coffee shop.) She even signed my copy. Even mentioned Lesbian Nurses for me which made made me proper smile, how.

Then, finally, I got cake. And buns. And more coffee. And most importanly met loads of fellow bloggers. Took me a while to begin to unravel the Blog Names from Real Names and for a time couldn't shake the feeling i was in bizarre suburban based spy thriller. But, as no hencemen appeared, I eventually relaxed into it and quite enjoyed myself.

I resisted the urge to jealously punch Caroline's New Mint, largely because he was actually really nice and quite entertaining. He was also equally awkward about revealing the storyline to his forth coming novel - so that made me feel better. What I did wheedle from him made the book sound pretty interesting too, so I may yet end up hating him (kidding. Or am I? Yes. Maybe. Who knows? No, really, kidding.)

Anyway - I'm back at work doing nothing at all useful now and feeling more like my old self for so shamelessy wasting my time. Soon I will go and steal someone's biscuits or scrounge ket from the kids. Later I will have a coffee. I will breifly consider marking as I make my way home. I will remember that I left my marking at school when I get home. Bugger eh?


Liverpool Fans Drown My Sorrows.

Despite my proper mint day on Saturday all was not great. Stupid bloody Toon. Messing up my day. And Caroline's oldest laughed at me when he discovered my dirty footballing secret (he did have the decency to turn away and giggle quietly though, he's obviously well brought up...)

Anyway - there I was, at Liverpool Lime Street waiting for my train, propping up the bar upstairs, when a Liverpool fan spotted the Newcastle Keyring which dangles from my Man's Bag (It is very manly. Honest, like).

So, a very big thank you to the Liverpool fans who insisted on buying me drinks to help ease my supporters pain, and thank you all so much for travelling with me to Leeds and keeping me entertained and the rest of the carriage so obviously irritated. It was mint. how.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Hiding Behind Piles of Green Books

So... another back-at-work post, once more from behind a pile of Big Green Exercise Books.

I'm hiding or, perhaps, I am camouflaged. Blending in seamlessly with my academic surroundings, child's exercise book open on the desk in front of me, no one just has realised their mistake. No yet has spotted I am a fraud...

It astounds me that I am allowed to do this. I teach, stood at the front of the room, or wandering about making suggestions and corrections and, occasionally, fairly poor jokes. And all the time I am convinced I am about to be found out.

At some point there will be a knock at the door and all this will be over.

I've got the right degree, I've got the right teaching qualifications, I can talk the talk and generally I think I'm pretty good at what I do... But I'm blatantly not an adult. I'm a twenty something year old child.

I am playing hide and seek with my Head of Department, crouched behind the Big Green Books. How mature am I?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

A Weekend Just For Me, Plus Disco Kettle Makes A Grand Return

Ah Saturday morning. Just. And here I sit in my Big Winter Dressing Gown, having eaten a leisurely breakfast of last nights pizza. Sipping contentedly at my coffee.

The weekend stretches out before me, and will be proper mint, how.

Because I've finished aaaallllllllll my marking.

Oh yes.

All done.



Well... When I say finished...

See, in a rush to escape at the end of Friday, I may have accidentally, and I must stress accidentally, left the Year 7 tests at school. Whoops.

Ah well. 

So, this weekend I have almost nothing to do but to boil my Disco Kettle. And write.

I am, actually, quite excited.

1000 words? Between me and DK we've got this covered (pulls up Big Winter Collar, listens for that long missed Bing). 

Cheers DK, lets get to work... 

Monday, 15 September 2008

(Note to Self) Reasons to Read and Not Bin Memos

As a highly trained and dedicated professional educator of today's youth, it is absolutely necessary to remain organised. To this end I have created my Very Own Filing System.

It really very simple and has the benefit of a natural Built In Streamline System which regularly alerts me to important items whilst less important, or worse - circular, memos are relegated to minor inconvenient characters...

It goes something like this:

1. I go to my pigeon hole and collect my post/memos/telephone messages etc.
2. I return to my room. Which, by the way, is in another building and a good five minute walk.
3. I pile it on my desk.
4. It stays there.

Now I know what you're thinking: That this is not a filing system. That it is, in fact, a pile. You are wrong.

See the beauty is in the simplicity of the system.

If something is important then eventually someone will come and find me and ask why I've not done something. So then I do it.

Otherwise, after a two week period I can safely assume that it's all rubbish, brush it from my desk and into the recycling and start a brand new pile.

Genius yes?

So far it's been spot on.

But something has been happening lately. Something underhand and sneaky.

Someone has been phrasing Memos thus:

Unless you provide a reason against us stealing your free periods to make you scrub the boys toilets using your own tie - which we have noticed you have not been wearing - we're going to do it.

Cunning eh?

Of course, this is where my filing system has broken down.

This week I have:

Missed an Exam invigilation.
Had a Drama Class arrive during my free period.
Failed to handout Letters from the Government.
Not attended a meeting with the Head of Year Eight.

I may have to develop a new system...


Send good vibes Caroline's way, she deserves them for being both lovely and, so far, Black Box-less. Hopefully tomorrow will see it all sorted. Much Love and Crossing of Fingers. 

Thursday, 11 September 2008

A Proper Educational Debate On The Benefits of Caffeine and the Evils of Free Cheese

Since I'm back in the swing of things now, educating this, lecturing on that, inspiring a little here and there - mostly there, I admit - I thought I'd quickly share some things that I have learnt this week.

1. The Benefits of Caffeine.

Ah, where to begin? 

Well, firstly, in a building that remain heatingless until October the First - which is, apparently, the date when the weather will begin to turn and our glorious summer will end. So be aware - it keeps my hands warm, all wrapped tight around my mug.

Secondly, holding a cup of coffee in indisputable truth that it is, in fact, biscuit time. When wandering the corridors stuffing my face with Caramel Digestives I get frowned upon. When I do exactly the same holding my coffee people smile and nod and are bizarrly friendly. Possibly they are after their own coffee and biscuits. This is a hint I refuse to take.

Thirdly, children hate the smell of black coffee. Really. Thus black coffee is an ideal way to protect said Caramel Digestives. Simply waft your coffee mug toward the biscuit packet and watch them scarper, leaving you with all the biscuits in the world.

Lastly, it is, I'm fairly sure, what keeps me from death.

2. The Evils of Free Cheese.

This is not just a: don't eat the free stuff from the Deli type thing. 

I think we all now that Morrison's lace their free cheese with heroin to provide you with instant, orgasmic gratification and an immediate addiction which no amount of cheddar will quench, no matter how often you eat it, how many different dishes you add it to or how often you rub it across your chest.

No no. This is a: Don't be fooled by the free cheese and crackers at the pub. It will make you thirsty, thirstier than you have ever been before.

Then very sick.


All over the place.

It will also make your place of work fall over and wibble the next morning, it will make the furniture kick you in the leg and will give you head aches.

That is all.

Class dismissed...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Opening the Boot of my Car...

Throughout the summer the boot of my car has remained unopened.

I was, vaguely, aware that there was a reason for this. I was, vaguely, conscious of the fact that I had made that decision - to stay out of the boot of my car. There was, I think, some fear there. Something, something deep and dark and possibly wet in my head whispered and hissed whenever I approached.

This fear did not extend to the boots of other people's cars. No shivers, no creeping itchiness tickling at my spine when other people opened their boots. In fact I even travelled between pubs in one friends boot. Didn't bother me at all. Bit cramped, yes, wasn't easy to hold my pint upright I admit, but scary? Whey nah.

I couldn't quite figure it out. I don't think I wanted to figure it out. 

Shopping for one, it all fits on the front seat.

Travelling bags for one, it all fits nicely across the back seats.

Transporting peoples from A to B. That's what seats are for. And with bags? That's what laps are for.

It is, lets be honest here, very easy to never use the boot of your car when you have no dependents/desire to clothes shop for days at a time.

First day at work, I admit, I was tempted to open that boot. But I was strong. So laptop, iBook on an extended - very extended loan, box of new books with which to line my shelves, selection of new posters, jacket, tazer. All of it fit neatly onto the back seat. All nice and cosy.

By this point I think I'd already decided that whatever was in there was going to stay there. I had deduced, cos I'm proper clever me, how, that the boot of my car must contain one of the following:

1. My football kit.
2. The remains of numerous packed lunches.
3. A nest of small rodents, possibly mice or frogs.
4. Bags of things that were meant to go to the tip.
5. A body. Possibly belonging to a former co-worker/student.

But one by one, since work has returned these have proven to be untrue.

1. Friday came. I played football, wearing my kit - not pants and vest - and kit was clean. Ish.
2. The remains of numerous packed lunches were, in fact, being stored in my former filing cabinet. Former because it had been liberated from my lair by the new Head of Drama. He wasn't best chuffed, like.
3. No unusual noises, brakes and lights still worked, nothing had eaten through the back of the seats in a desperate bid for freedom.
4. Stuff destined for the tip is, still, littered around the porch.
5. (So far) all staff and students accounted for. Did wonder briefly when the Head of Music was missing for first two days, but has since been spotted wearing a white panama and a waistcoat.

So I had no choice did I?

Tonight, as the sun slunk miserably behind the moors, beneath brooding back clouds, I opened the boot

I sooooo wish it had been a body.


Hands up please if you know what this is.

Yes, you at the back? No not you. The not so greasy one. Yes?
That's right. Have a gold star.
You are absolutely right.

It is, in fact, the pile of coursework I took home to mark over the summer.

And yes, for a second star? Fantastic. That is spot on.

You're right. It is due back to the class tomorrow so they can redraft in time for the Deadline.

Can we go to the pub? Yes. Yes, I think we'd better...

Sunday, 7 September 2008

And So Ends A Geet Big Summer, Plus: Planning For Days Without DK...


Well. That's it then isn't it? Come 7:15 tomorrow when my alarm goes GGNAADRRTTTT - my summer ends.

I'm not best chuffed, how.

I've spent the summer playing at being a writer. I've worn my dressing gown everyday (I've washed it overnight), I've drank heartily from steaming cups of DK's coffee. I've scribbled endless ideas and doodles across a notebook.

But that's it. A writer no more until October half term. Seven weeks in reality.


Today is my Planning Day. I am planning on planning today. At somepoint. Maybe. In theory.

Well, no, not really. Who am I kidding? The more I plan the more things go wrong. I'm better when I wing it, or so I tell myself. And at least that way, if I haven't gotten as far as I intended there is no proof.

On Friday I got professionally managed (not as fun as you might think, and unfortunatley not a slang term either... Ah well). 
What targets would be reasonable for me to achieve this coming year? I was asked.

I could turn up, at least 75% of the time. I suggested. No.

Ok, I can stop piling books and stacks of paper on my desk so no one can see me and then pretending to be the Ghost of Essays Past. I suggested. No.

Fine, how about if the date I write on the board is never more than three days out? I suggest. No.

So it was decided for me. Proper work, proper targets, proper responsible adult once again.

I already miss the summer.

What's the bet that tomorrow is the sunniest, brightest, warmest, most glorious day we've seen since June? Course it will be - because tomorrow I get blackout blinds fitted so I can use the Interactive Whiteboard they bought me...

Ah well, it's nearly Christmas at least.


Days without Disco Kettle. Days without my dressing gown. It just seems so unfair. We do have a coffee machine in one of the art rooms. It has a siren. But it's not the same. And the biscuits will be own brand....


Monday, 1 September 2008

Balls To Employment, Plus DK Cocks Up, And I Erect A Tent (not really, just wanted one more penis reference in the title.)


Here is my plan...

I play football on a Friday. Well, I stand on the pitch and run about a bit. Sometimes I fall over. But anyway - some of our Sixth Formers play with us.

They started asking me when they were due back for lessons.

So I made up a date, somewhere toward the middle of the month.

A friend of mine has a daughter who is in my form. They started asking when they were due back for lessons.

So I made up a date, somewhere toward the middle of the month.

Do you see what doing there?

The Head of Year 11 rang me to ask when we were due back to start lessons.

I told him we went back last week.

It amuses and confuses me that people continue to have faith in my Work Abilities. It astounds me that no one seems to have realised that I am, wholly and spectacularly, useless.

But, of course, no matter how useless and inefficient I become, no matter how honed my Looking Busy Skills may be, it still cuts into writing time. I still have to turn up physically, even if rarely mentally.

So I thought long and hard (more penis jokes... always witty)

I may have solved this. I may have found a way to sit with my laptop, to wear my dressing gown, to slurp at my coffee, and never set foot in Work again.

I've bought a Lifesize Cardboard Cutout of myself.

Of course of it's own this would mean very little, no one will be convinced. It's just stupid. Yes?
Ahhh, but no, see. Because, right, this CardBored Me, right, comes with a speech bubble. Oh yes. So I scribble on something witty and/or inspiring and that'll seal the deal. No one will be any the wiser. I'm thinking of "Work harder, especially you Connor..."



DK: Bing


Me: This is cold.

DK: ...?...

Me: You're not funny.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Answering Sensible Questions, Plus: I Do Some Maths

Bit of an odd thing this.
Well, no, not very odd. Quite understandable really. Perhaps what I mean is this:
Bit of a frustrating thing this.

Here, on my blog, I can say, pretty much what ever it is I want to say. I don't always, because of course some statements are definitely better off being left in my head. But I could if I wanted to.

See, here, I'm quite happy saying things about 9987. I don't, not often, I am fairly comfortable doing it. For example:

It is mint it is mint it is mint it is mint.

See? Very easy to do.

Meet me face to face however and it's another thing entirely.
Slowly word has crept around friends and family, family friends and friend's families, friend's of friend's and people I work with, or have once worked with, or went to school with. Etc. This, I tell myself, Can Only Be A Good Thing. People are interested. People tell me they are already preordering (I was, briefly, in the top 40,000 list on Amazon..)

But, increasingly, people have started asking me questions. Have started being interested and wanting to talk to me about it.

This is muchos bizarre. Tres weird. Geet unsettling, how.

They say lovely things like: Congratulations, I heard you're getting published. You must be proper chuffed, how.

I nod and smile.

Then they ask quite sensible questions, things like: So, what's it about then?

And I'm stumped. And I blush. And I try not to make eye contact and mutter stupid things. Sometimes I say:

Lesbian Nurses.

Then they, too, avoid eye contact.

Sometimes I say:

Loneliness. Lust and Unrequited Love

And they say 'Aawww' and I see the pity in their eyes.

Sometimes I say:


Sometimes I say:


But never do I say this all at once. And never with any explanation. And always with the suffix - Sorry, I'm parked on a double yellow, I'll catch you later.

Face to face, I'm fairly crap. Ask about someone else's book. Ask me about SAT's revision or GCSE coursework. Ask me about football. Ask me why my flies are undone or why I'm wearing a dressing gown in the middle of the street. Ask my why I'm cradling a Disco Kettle and pointing out the sights to it. Anything else I can do.

This is a bit of a problem...

So I've done some Maths. By choice. On my own. And I've shown the workings out.

I have 172 Days until 9987 is released.

I have 172 Days until I really, really have to be able to talk about my book without feeling like a tosser.

I have 172 Days until I really need to be out of my corner and into a spotlight, even if only briefly.

I have 172 Days.


Before my Great Big Assault On The Spotlight though, I would very much like to promote someone else.

Caroline Smailes' Novella 'Disraeli Avenue' is now available for Pre-Order. It'll be out in time for Christmas, it's proceeds are going to a very, very good cause, ad if you loved In Search Of Adam as much as I did it will, I'm sure, be worth every penny. For more info stop by Caroline's blog.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Distractions, Distractions and A Complete Lack of Willpower

Where is all the coffee gone? It is what powers my brain.

You've drank it.


Hello, sir. Just the coffee? Is there anything else?


Are you sure? We have some lovely Watercolour flavoured chewing gum.

No. Yes. No.

(A patient pause from smug tilljockey)

Ok then, fine. I'll take the red flavour.



You sure? Not even a tenner?


(A patient pause from smug tilljockey)

Ok, yes,

Hello sir, you look like a man with a tenner. Would you like a pint of Sweaty Whisker Real Ale?

No. I'm busy. Not got my words done. Just needed coffee.

Are you sure? You can really taste the reclaimed farm runoff? Only two quid.


(A patient pause from the all knowing barmonkey)

Ok. Just one though.

Good afernoon young man, you look like a man with eight quid in your pocket. Care for a copy of Radiator Decorator's Monthly?

No. Words. Busy.

Are you sure? It comes with a free Tom Jones In Profile Stencil. Only four ninetynine.


(A patient pause from the unnervingly round magazinepimper)


Well hello there, you look like the sort of bloke to have exactly three pounds and a penny in your pocket. Would you care for this delightful ceramic bust of two dogs going at it nasty, which I was about to sell on ebay?


Are you sure. It has nipples on?


(A patient pause from the ebaybotherer)

Ok then. But I want it in a bag.


No. Too busy. Words.



(A patient pause from the Disco Kettle.)

Ok fine.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


I went to Roz and Stephen's book launch yesterday.

It was Mint.

I mean, obviously I expecting something good - Roz is already part Mint, like my self, but it was, overall, proper mint, how. So there.

Great little basement theatre setting with bar and barman I got to confuse and then befriend, we even swapped rum drinking advice.

But no, just, great - Becky Owens was a perfect choice, simple piano driven songs, really emotive and she did really well getting a gang of (reasonably) sober adults to make trumpeting noises. Great stuff.

Oh yeah, and there books and things. Plus another really good idea - having actors read perform sections of the two books. I liked that. Cos there is no way I'd be able to read my stuff out. I had to be dragged from the darkest corner I could find to talk to people... Honest.

Anyway, it got me thinking - What do I want for my launch?

I've already decided on lunch - that was Greggs... Hmmm Greggs. But now I'm thinking - Launch.

What to do what to do?

Tonto say I can have a go thinking up ideas, and they assure me we have plenty of time. But even so... I'm impatient...


I've set up a 'Bloglite' type thing and have put a link somewhere over on the right there.

I want some ideas. I want some suggestions. I want someone to volunteer to do things for me because impatience does not necessarily translate into energy. And I'm a very, very poor planner.

So, when you have a minute dive over and do something helpful :)

And once again, Roz, Stephen: Mint. Just, you know, Mint.


I met my Most Sage and Wise Mentor yesterday.

I was terrified - what if she didn't like me? What if this, finally, was the end of the mint. I was hiding and shaking a little little.

She was, is, lovely. I'm so pleased to stay part of the mint, so pleased to make a new friend.

Caroline you are proper lovely, how x

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Winter Offensive


I'm not having this. I'm fed up.

All you people, yes you, with your 'Oh, where did the summer go?' and your 'Not til long til Christmas.' It's not on.

It's no wonder the sun is so shy, so eager to hide, so lacking in confidence when the slightest bit of cloud have you searching through your decorations box looking for tinsel. Can't you see what you're doing?

I have three weeks left of my summer holiday (yes, I know, but I work hard, occasionally. In fact I vividly remember a Tuesday in April when I turned up to teach all my lessons, and marked stuff, and planned stuff. So there. But anyway.) and I'm not giving up on summer until I'm back on coffee making duty in September.

It doesn't matter that DK has been feeding me Lemsips for the last few days because I have a bit of a cold. In fact, no, scratch that. I Am A Man - Thus I have Exploding Head Death. Not a cold at all, it is in fact a serious and life threatening condition.

Nor does it matter that my insistance in walking home from Pubjob has resulted in me getting soaking wet and cold every night this week.

In fact, I'm even chosing to ignore the fact that I went into Matalan for a decent shirt yesterday and found that all the summer clothes are now gone, and large, bulky coats and jumpers have sprouted from the squeaky lino flooring.

None of this matters. I accept the fact that Winter is the natural state up on my frozen hilltop. That's not going to stop me fighting for the summer though. I will wear shorts dammit. I will saunter about in t-shirts. I will eat picnics, even if it's from the front seat of my car because the parks are all now swamp.


Oh good, Lemsip time.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A Recommendation # 2

I was going to have a go at the 'Classics' list that Caroline tried on her blog a week or so ago, but then decided that, you know, being an English teacher I would be frowned upon and shunned - forever cast out of the stafroom and denied biscuits - when people realise how few of the list I'd read. I think I only managed about half of them. So instead I'm going to suggest a writer who should definitley have been included:

Haruki Murakami.

He is proper mint, how.

"Haruki Murakami is quite possibly the most successful and influential cult author in the world today. His books are like Japanese food — a mix of the delicate, the deliberately bland and the curiously exotic. Dreams, memory and reality swap places, all leavened with dry humour. His translator, Professor Jay Rubin, says reading Murakami changes your brain. His world-view has inspired Sofia Coppola, the author David Mitchell and American bands such as the Flaming Lips. He is a recipient of the Franz Kafka prize, has honorary degrees from Princeton and Liège, and is tipped for the Nobel prize for literature."
For more info go here

I've read 'Catcher in the Rye.' and its ok - Don't hit me, stop throwing things at your screen. Come on, admit it. It's good, it's fine, there is nothing wrong with it, I'm not criticising it. Honest. It just didn't do much for me. I found Holden Caulfield - well - a bit of a dick. Sorry. I just couldn't connect to him. I tried. I read it twice, never again.

My Dad gave it to me, an old second hand copy, which I still have, because he said it was one of those books you have to read, at a particular age. And yeah, it was. I'm older now, wiser, more mature, more handsome, hairier, wearing my dressing gown and I'm glad I read it. But it made little lasting impression on me.

'Norweigan Wood' was different...

See, me, I like a bit of the surreal. Maybe thats why 'Catcher in the Rye' didn't really do it for me, maybe I was just too young to really understand it, I don't know.

Anyway, the reason I'm going on so about CitR is because I think Norwegian Wood is a very similar book. It's a coming of age, becoming an adult, sort of novel. I also found NW spoke to me in a way CitR didn't. I connected to it. Possibly because it contains nipples. Who knows.


"The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. The story's protagonist and narrator is Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his days as a freshman university student living in Toyko.

Through Toru's reminiscences we see him develop relationships with two very different women — the beautiful yet emotionally troubled Naoko, and the outgoing, lively Midori.

The novel is set in Tokyo during the late 1960s, a time when Japanese students, like those of many other nations, were protesting against the established order. While it serves as the backdrop against which the events of the novel unfold, Murakami (through the eyes of Toru and Midori) portrays the student movement as largely weak-willed and hypocritical." - I stole this from here

To be honest the storyline wasn't incredible, it was enough. The troubled Naoko created enough tension, and enough heartache, to keep the story moving, to keep Toru's character believable.

It is the quality of the prose which wins me over - a lot of credit must go to his translater Professor Jay Rubin.

Murakami writes of very simple, very mudane acts. His work is peppered with descriptions of the everyday, of preparing meals, of household chores - but he manages, always, to suggest something magical, something very important just out of our reach. It is a skill I wish very much that I possessed.

More impressive, and more poignant I think, from my perspective, is the sense of isolation he creates, the characters, the places - huge bustling cities like Tokyo full of noise, excitment, danger, mystery - and yet despite this, or perhaps because of this anonymity, his characters so often feel alone. Feel disconnected. Like Holden Caulfield. Yet this sense of the magical, this sense of a higher, or at least greater, power, this suggestion of fate makes the character's situations seem more - meaningful - I suppose I mean. They seem to have a purpose, even though they don't know it themselves.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Try 'Norwegian Wood' and please note, it has a kick ass sound track to it, then try this one.

Kafka on the Shore - It's little weird. In fact it's a lot weird, very surreal, but so worth it.

"Comprising two distinct but interrelated plots, the narrative runs back and forth between the two, taking up each plotline in alternating chapters.
The odd chapters tell the 15 year old Kafka's story as he runs away from his father's house to escape an Oedipal curse and to embark upon a quest to find his mother and sister. After a series of adventures, he finds shelter in a quiet, private library in Takamatsu, run by the distant and aloof Miss Saeki and the androgynous Oshima. There he spends his days reading the unabridged Richard Francis Burton translation of A Thousand and One Nights and the collected works of Natsume Sōseki until the police begin inquiring after him in connection with a brutal murder.
The even chapters tell Nakata's story. Due to his uncanny abilities, he has found part-time work in his old age as a finder of lost cats (a clear reference to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). The case of one particular lost cat puts him on a path that ultimately takes him far away from his home, ending up on the road for the first time in his life. He befriends a truck-driver named Hoshino. Hoshino takes him on as a passenger in his truck and soon becomes very attached to the old man.
Nakata and Kafka are on a collision course throughout the novel, but their convergence takes place as much on a metaphysical plane as it does in reality and, in fact, that can be said of the novel itself. Due to the Oedipal theme running through much of the novel, Kafka on the Shore has been called a modern Greek tragedy"

Yeah, I know. A bit odd. But go with it. Murakami is not universally loved in Japan. Younger readers see him as a great cult author but many critics find his style to 'Western' he has often been accused of betraying tradtional Japanese Literary traditions.

Here though, we see a mix. The same blend of humour, popular culture. The same surrealism, but with a stronger link to Japanese religious traditions. And yes, more nipples.

I don't want to go on and on for much longer - you can read blurbs, I don't want to retell the story to you, I don't even want to offer you a huge personal reflection on his work. The beauty of these works I've made as clear as I can.

They bring magic to my daily life, they make me feel important, they stop me feeling alone. They have nipples and always, always good music.

Please Enjoy

Monday, 11 August 2008

T Shirts, The Future Of Shameless Self Promotion

Here's me.
Or at least part of me.
And here is my T-shirt.
I know full well that it is (slightly) pathetic and desperate to put your name on a T-shirt, but I don't care. I bought two of these, one for me, one for The Brother. My plan was for the two of us to wear them to work. (He works at the pub with me. In fact he is my boss, which he loves as he's the younger one and doesn't often get Power.)

But he said we weren't allowed.

We had to wear our Official Wetherspoons Dulliforms. So I was upset and a little relieved because wearing it in public was actually becoming more and more worrying. Besides wearing a t-shirt with my name on the back felt a little, well, crude I suppose. A bit up myself. I mean, I am a bit up my self, I was tempted to comment on the fact that the photo doesn't show off my wonderful bum, but again - that would be very arrogant of me wouldn't it? The point is is that I don't want everyone to know how arrogant I am. I have a bit of shy thing going on. For no particular reason.



Slightly relieved that I couldn't wear it to work I put my dressing gown and tried to write. But The Brother had other plans.

So we went to work early.

In our T shirts.

And pulled poses, like the one above - which is not at all a girlie pose, Caroline, it is,in fact, a super hero pose and one which Disco Kettle taught me. Although I will admit that he does it better than me - for an hour. Much to The Brother's delight I pulled my poses going redder and redder and redder.

But women did come up and stroke me. Which, of course, made me go a very deep scarlet colour.

So now you know, and, as a bonus, you can go and practice your own super hero poses. Which are in no way girlie.

Friday, 8 August 2008

A Skin For 9987

Too excited for preamble, so, without further ado...
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Is mint, no?
Not only that but it turns out I'm available for preorder from Amazon. Really. Wow. I have never, ever, been ths excited. Not even when I met Geoff off Byker Grove.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A Very Long Drumroll

Hehe... I know something you don't know...

This morning the lovely people at Tonto Books sent me the cover for 9987.

It is fairly mint, I'm proper chuffed, how.

So, I'm going to keep it to myself today and, you know, just stare at it and stroke it and stuff.

But tomorrow, tomorrow I dress my baby


Wednesday, 6 August 2008

DK Goes Mental

(doors slam, feet pound the corridors)
(a phone drops to the floor: hello? hello? can you hear me? hello?)
(a panicked foot crushes the phone: hello? he-)
(distant sirens, children wail)
(A frantic knocking, a muffled cry: help me, I can't get out.)
(Please, I'm locked in. Isn't anyone there?)
(Oh God, please, please, is anyone there?)
(A woman screams, the banging on the door is desperate, a body slamming against unyielding wood)
(A woman is screaming: Oh God, this is it, tell my mother I - )
(A single beating heart, pounding in your ears.)
(A woman faints.)

Monday, 4 August 2008

A Cross-Genre, Trans-Format Fusion Of Creative Energies. And Disco Kettle Has A Bath.

Yes you heard right.
Cross-Genre, Trans-Format Fusion of Creative Energies.
Ironically I am discussing Creative Energies because, today, mine are horribly lacking. Maybe it was last nights bottle of wine. Maybe it was because I found myself watching Reality TV Shows at three o'clock this morning. Maybe it's due to my grief over missing nipples. I just don't know. But anyway, here we go.
Quite simply, I am talking about music.
Yes, I know. I know, stop it. Distracting surely. Silence is what is needed to write. Silence and coffee. And magic dressing gowns. I know, I know.
But I find silence quite intimidating. Even at work I'm the same.
(Class scribbles away in silence. Just the sound of pen to paper. A cough. A sigh.
Me: ... Ok kids, stop it. You're freaking me out. Say something or it's detentions all round. Especially for you. Yes, you.)
Here's how it works.
Depending on the chapter or scene different types of music are required. Generally speaking I find 'trip hop' as a good general backdrop. (I had to look up 'trip-hop'. It's an actual thing you know.) Rjd2 has worked well, as have Death In Vegas. Cos they're weird. They're all disjointed and mixed up and, bizarrely, stuff I hate in any other circumstances. I did try Jazz, for the weird disjointedness. But Jazz gives me nightmares. Yeah, I know.
For today my plan is this:

1. I have a scene in a park which involves hallucinations or the scary kind. This is a Death In Vegas scene. But, it's also outside so I will interspace DIV with The Coral, their first album, Obviously, because 'trip-folk' (and yeah, I made that one up, but it sort of fits) is good for any outdoor oddness.

2. I have a coffee shop scene filled with a yearning and aching and loads of unrequitedness. This is a Bush scene. Because no one does pain quite like Gavin Rossdale. Maybe because he's married to Gwen Stefani. I don't know.

3. I have a short scene in the main protagonist's flat. I think this will be the Pixies, because their lowfi lyrical madness will lend themselves nice his frame of mind.

Hmmm... That's a lot of work. Right well, I'd get past Part Two then.
Part Two: Disco Kettle Has A Bath.
Somehow DK has smeared himself in beans. I really don't understand how. I turn my back for one minute. So before jobs 1,2 and 3 can even be properly considered DK needs a bath.
I'm not having him delivering coffees splattered with greasy orange gunk.
Filthy filthy kettle.

Friday, 1 August 2008

And So I Have To Ask Myself: Where Have All The Nipples Gone?

I have just finished writing a Chapter of Novel 2 - FSLL. This is obviously a good thing. In fact the whole thing is going quite well, I have some bit and pieces I want to redo later and they are highlighted in yellow. I also have some adjustments I want to make to a character, these are highlighted in blue and come with a handy comment bubble.
But I worry.
I really do.
For you see, I have just finished writing a Chapter of Novel 2 - FSLL in which my main protagonist is in a strip club.
And not once have I mentioned Nipples. I fear I may be unwell.
9987 has nipples in.
So I have to ask myself: Where have all the nipples gone?
There is an easy fix to this. I could just go back and put some in. But somehow the tone of FSLL doesn't lend itself to nipples.
(I know, I was surprised too. What book wouldn't be better with nipples?
"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
"Juliet, show us your tits!" )
I fear I may be growing up.
Disco Kettle doesn't see this as a problem. But he has different tastes, there is nothing gets his water bubbling like a supple flex of power cord, like a shiny plug pin. In fact I think he has a thing for the microwave, they regularly 'Bing' together...
But I digress.
Where have all the nipples gone? I can only assume someone is stealing my nipples.
So if it's you, you unscrupulous fiend, stop it. It's very upsetting. Nipple thief.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A Recommendation, If I May Be So Bold

The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly.

'Everything You Can Imagine is Real'
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: 'Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king.'
And as war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled into a land that is both a construct of his imagination yet frighteningly real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a legendary book . . . The Book of Lost Things.
I first discovered John Connolly through a desperate and vague Christmas request (always a risky stratedgy I know, but it pays off suprisingly often) a few years ago. I'd asked, quite simply, for short stories. I received quite a few. The most impressve one though was Nocturnes, by John Connolly. Partly it wa sso impressive as it was Hardback. Plus it was a deep, beaten purple, like a bruised book, designed to look old, worn. And it was a first edition. And it was signed. So there.
Anyway, most of the stories in Nocturnes I read and reread, I even used one as a basis for a short I film I did with some retrobate Year10 boys. Bizarrely though, after that, I forgot all about him.
So one night I'm lying in bed, listening to the Weekender on Radio 2 (a programme on which I will one day be mentioned. Oh yes.) and I'm listening to a review of The Book of Lost Things, and it sounds really interesting so I stop reading my book and pay attention. I'm dithering over buying it when I hear the authors name. Then I'm sold.
I'm a big Fairy Tale fan. The proper Fairy Tales, the ones about murder and rape and fear. This is why this book appealled to me so much. I plays with Fairy Tales, it expands on them, it twists them, it does wonderfully creative things to them - The Snow White character whom the Prince ditched and so has let her self go, bullying the Dwarfs into providing an endless procession of food. The Prince on a quest to find his gay lover, shunned by this Kingdom and his father.
I've tried reading Angela Carter before a number of times because I know this is something she enjoys too, The Bloody Chamber I managed, but often found it off putting wading through the language. Her prose it beautiful, is poetry, but I often find th story has been lost somewhere. In The Book of Lost Things there is no such problem. The prose is simple, elegant and from this is dramatic and often poignant.
There is a balance between the world we know, a one in which a young boy is confused by war, by the loss of his mother, by the arrival of a new woman, of a new baby, and the world in which David finds himself, the nightmarish world of Fairy Tales and myth. One world in which David has no power, no control and from which he tries to lose himself. The other,the mystical landscape he discovers is a world in which he has importance, in which he tries to find himself and over which he gradually realises he has some power.
At the heart of the book is a emotional journey of acceptance which David must tread in order to come to terms with his new life. Decisions he must make order to survive, decisions he must make on who survives. David is a vunerable character, a boy searching for his mother, for a father figure he believes he lacks. He wanders, clinging desperately to those around him for support and comfort. He truely is lost.
This book isn't perfect, occasionally some episodes lose focus. The odd tale seems sandwiched in simply because it sounds good, but they are all well written, darkly comic and sinister.
It is The Crooked Man that I left with, I took him home, bought him a drink and he was mine. The Crooked Man, part angel, part devil manipulating David, controlling the world around him and hiding a truely disturbing secret - and some images that remain with me long after reading the book. He feeds Davids insecurities, he nurtures his jealousy, he guides him and tricks him in equal measure. He is terrifying and alluring. He could well be one of the best anti-heroes I've encountered.
I've gone on a bit, and no, it's not because I'm stuck with my own writing. I just wanted to offer a holiday read. It's not for everyone, it's not exactly an emotional journey or a rollercoaster ride. But it tugged at my heart strings, it had me turning pages furiously and staying in when those around me danced and drank. Not many things manage that.
John Connolly's website is here
You can buy a copy of The Book Of Lost Things here
Or, if you can, go to your local library. Mine serves coffee and biscuits on a Tuesday.