Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Be careful what you wish for.

In England (that's the dreary little island wedged between Ireland and France) we long for summer. All year round we long for it. And when it finally arrives it takes the average Briton two weeks in the blazing sun just for our skin to turn white.

    Needless to say we don't get summer very often, It sometimes happens about July, but we have to be careful, it's usually about two o'clock on one unannounced day during that month, and that's it, gone, back to the rain and snow.

    So you can imagine how happy and thrilled we were, and just as quickly horrified now that we've beaten our own thirty years record and been blasted for nearly five days with 30+ degrees, and today it's 34 C, that about 108 F in old money. That's probably old hat for people living in the mid west or California, but for us it's the end of the world.

    No water in the taps, none in the shops, and all the air conditioners are sold. Most of those had cobwebs, hastily brushed off when the entire sun came out from behind the clouds last week. All the shops I went to said they'll be restocking next week where presumably we'll have to wade through feet of snow to get there.

    You might sense a soupcon of cynicism here, but the last time I lived in heat like this was in the south of France, and that was over twenty five years ago. Now I'm old and can't bear it. I was riding my motorbike home tonight and even opening the throttle to the stops wouldn't generate enough wind to cool me down. It almost got me killed but that's beside the point.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

An interview with Arnold Pratt

Arnold Pratt is my new hero (sort of) and features in my latest novel. I caught him as he was resting between dodging two police forces and MI5, all of whom want him with a vengeance.

    "Hello, Arnold. You look a bit harried."

    "You'd look harried, too if you was being chased by the law and the secret service. Especially if you haven't done anything wrong. But they aren't going to get me. I've got a plan."

    "Well if you haven't done anything wrong, then why don't you just hand yourself in?" It seemed a logical question but somehow seemed to make him even angrier, although it was really hard to tell as what I could see of his face in the gloom was covered in mud, blood and something smelling of cow poo. I tried to steer the conversation away from anything that might involve me and by extension send me in prison.

    "Did you ever think  about changing your name?" I backed away at his scowl. 

    "Why? And before you tell me, A pratt isn't a pregnant goldfish. Goldfish are lizards and lay eggs." It was obviously something he'd been teased about before. I flinched as the ripe smell of something dead wafted from his coat. I didn't really know how to go on. He doesn't seem like a master criminal - slightly bonkers perhaps - but not actually bad. At the sound of a distant passing police car he scurried back into the bush where I'd found him. "I'm going to get them all for this. I've got friends. Friends who owe me favours. You watch; they'll rue the day they picked on me.
    With that he was gone, shambling over the field at the outskirts of the village in which he lived; or used to live. Judging from the suspicious bulge in his coat, I didn't want to be around when he invoked his master plan. He was already wanted for double murder and perhaps espionage. God help the police force and MI5; they'd picked on the wrong man.

Friday, 9 June 2017


Someone gave me a five dollar bill (US) and on the back is printed: By God We Must
    I suppose I should assume that it wasn't printed by the US Mint?
    We don't have that problem over here. Or rather we do, but as so many of our coins and notes are bent we just use them anyway. Better to get rid of them than have them taken off us and lose the value.
    Just a few weeks ago in England we changed our one pound coins. The day before, I went to the bank and gave them twenty pounds for some pounds coins - I do a lot of parking. Now it turns out that seventeen were bent. I'm going to use them, anyway as it'll be weeks before all the meters are re-calibrated for the new, heavier coins.
    The only reason I'm boring you all with this is that in my money collection, alongside a (real) silver dollar and several dozen foreign notes all bearing enormous numbers, like the sixty billion Reischsmark note, is a one hundred year old one pound note. I'm afraid to take it to the bank because my dad gave it to me when I was a child. I was going to give it to my daughter.
    Better not to know I suppose.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


The new book is coming along quite well and I hope to have the first draft finished in a couple of months. However, as I've been described by some of my less than impressed readers of being genre-curious, and to stop confusing them, I've decided to publish this one under a pen name. Why?
    'Do you think it's so rubbish, you don't want your name associated with it?' demanded my daughter in one of her rare moments of lucidity, which is to say when her face wasn't surgically grafted to Face o Gram or whatever she loves this week.

    And that might even be a part of the motive, but the main reason is that It's completely different from what I usually write.

    I've written a series of three horror novels, and a single novel which is a mixture of horror and suspense. The there were another series, this time of three Y/A SF novels, and a series of three adult SF novels, all of which have varying amounts of my version of humour.

    I also came up with a compilation of short stories which was just plain weird, and another compilation of blog entries and reminiscences about my daughter and work, which are just as strange but different from each other.

    My newest work is completely removed from all of those and that's why I decided to use another name. Just what exactly I'm going to do about publishing it is unknown.

    Do I put it on my blog? But then if I did I might as well just write it under my own name. Or do I mount a new publicity campaign in an attempt to sell it? But then if I did that, my other novels would be left out in the cold.

    I think I'm talking myself out of it.

    I wonder what the percentage is of indie writers who've spent a lot of money publicising their own work and actually made money or drawn even.

    Ultimately I just love writing and I'll continue to do it until my fingers drop off. However, just once it would be nice to worry if I left the keys to my Porsche in the swimming pool, the library or my personal helicopter.

    I did once drop the keys to a boss's Porsche in a swimming pool. Not so bad, except that they were electronic. His wrath was biblical.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

An outing with my daughter.

We had a little scare with my daughter last week and had to go back to hospital. Happily we were out a few hours later. Apparently the haematoma on her brain isn't shrinking as fast as it was hoped, and the pain was getting her down. Unfortunately she can thank me for that. I bequeathed her my absolute immunity to painkillers and anaesthetic which means that she has to grin and bear it.
    So this morning we went out to the local mall with the intention of redressing the mistakes she'd made when taking out a new phone contract without talking to me first.
    That part was relatively easy but on turning around it was to find her gone.
    It was then that I happened upon a great idea. Someone should write a Where's-My-Daughter app. That way she could never wander off. I know the temptation is great, her being female and surrounded by shops and all. And I have a feeling that the app would involve having some kind of transponder surgically grafted inside her skull. But petty details aside I still think it's a good idea which any of you may feel free to write and take the credit for.
    My daughter (allegedly) wasn't too keen but I'm just putting that down to a little residual bad humour after the accident.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

It's half term - great.

Driving in London is easily the most unpleasant job I can think of. 
    Of course cleaning sewers or the pavements after Saturday night's revelry has to be pretty bad, but actually driving in London's potholed streets must be a close third. Not only do none of the councils of which there are many, or the road and construction companies of which there are millions, never talk to each other, I'm pretty sure that aforementioned councils and construction crews go out of their way to make things as hard for us as possible.
    Remember, most of these street are about five hundred years old and built in the days when a horse and cart were considered juggernauts. Perhaps I'm being na├»ve but if there are only two routes into or out of a place, then common sense dictates that you don't dig up the second until the first is finished.

    Oh, no, that kind of logic doesn't exist in London. So this week I thought, as it's half term and most of the mad people are either on holiday, or at least stuck in Heathrow Airport where nothing appears to be working, then the roads would be, if not calm, than possibly less maniacal.
    This morning my boss's new Merc almost got squashed four times by meandering trucks or road builder/destroyers. Half the traffic lights in this misbegotten city are out of sync, and to make it even worse, the central crossing in the city, that's the city of London, and not the centre of London as most foreigners mistakenly believe (I know it's insane but we're used to it) has been closed to everything except cycles and buses. Several hundred thousand cars, trucks and motorbikes have to use that crossing every day, and to avoid it means crawling miles out of our way at about two miles per hour just to go a few hundred yards.
    For the first time in my life I'm beginning to think of something I never thought I'd say: I'm looking forward to my retirement.

    Something else peculiar has happened. I'm doing well on my new book, but I seem to have lost the ability to do it in front of my computer and these days I'm only happy writing scrunched up in the car on my tablet which has the worst, most antiquated keyboard known to man. Who are these people that give Android apps five stars? Have they actually used the apps at all?

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Occular oddities

I have a slight problem. My wife is always claiming the same kind of thing but I generally ignore her when she's in that kind of mood.
    I lost my glasses. 
    Normally that's not a problem. I don't need glasses for the important stuff, like trucks bearing down on me when I'm riding my motorbike, or plates bearing down on me when I'm ignoring my wife.
    I do need them when I'm on the computer. But not the ones I use for reading. They are far too strong and make me feel sick and dizzy if I try to use them for writing.
    I tried, anyway but the font on the screen was too big and still blurry. I tried moving further away from the screen but then my fingers were too far away from the keyboard.
    "Why don't you just move the keyboard a little closer to you," aforementioned wiflet suggested in that tone which hinted that I was in possession of serious problems.
    "You wouldn't understand, my petal," I responded, dabbing ineffectively at the keyboard which now had unplugged itself from the computer.
    "Then why don't you move the monitor further away from you?" she sneered in that particular voice she reserves for when I'm really being a plonker.
    "Because there's a wall in the way."
    "Well move the desk further back from the wall then push the screen thing away from you." Did I mention that my wife can speak in italics? I could even hear her smiling from behind me.
    I stood, ready to turn and consider physical violence when the distinctive sound of breaking glasses broke my stride.
    I don't know whether it was the shattered frames, or the amount of Elastoplast it took to repair them that made her peal of delighted laughter even more unbearable.
    I think it's time for the old spider-under-the-pillow punishment again.