Blogathon 26/20: Putting it about

The target is 100,000 words.

I’m 25,000 words in at Stage 3 (ready for final proof and external edit).

There’s another 10,000 words at Stage 2 (had 3rd proof and 3rd edit).

And another 10,000 words at Stage 1 (had 2nd proof and 2nd edit).

(Stage 0 is construction and continual edit/rewrite until I can finally leave it alone)

The plot is mapped out to conclusion.

So it’s time to trigger the rejection letters and email.

Starting next week I shall begin sending the submission of my second novel to literary agents in a quest to achieve publication.

I’m not holding my breath because I remember how difficult it was to get the first book published.

Blogathon 25/20: George Marley?

Every Tuesday evening I have a guitar lesson.

When I started, I told Alex (for that is his name) that I was the most rubbish rhythm guitarist in the world and I had about 20 years of bad habits to correct (even though I’ve only been playing for 15 years).

Well I’ve been playing with Alex (if you know what I mean) for over a year and now I think I’m almost the most rubbish rhythm guitarist in the world, and I have hardly any bad habits left.

I have also become the world’s most rubbish lead guitarist because yes, that’s right, Alex has me playing lead parts as well as sorting out my rhythm technique.

Speaking of technique, I have accidentally developed a habit of soft-muting (using the heel of your plucking/strumming hand softly against the guitar strings) when I’m not concentrating.

This has lead to an unexpected reggae feel to whatever we’re playing (e.g., Pentatonic scales or What We Did Today by the Beatles or whatever).

It’s an interesting effect, but it’s not how the pieces were intended to be heard, so I’ll try and sort it out and revert to George Harrison.

Blogathon 23/20: Helping hand

Starting Friday this week we will have a cleaner*.

We’ve agreed on one two-hour session per week; I hope that’s enough!

She’s described herself as ‘very thorough’

I just said ‘Oh yes, thorough would be great!’

I did explain that we had two spaniels. And that they have free-rein in and out of the house and that the garden is a tad… muddy.

I just hope the poor lass knows what she’s letting herself in for.

*nb: Our cleaner is categorically not Young Masher’s cleaner who has been reported as being mysteriously AWOL This is another cleaner entirely.

Blogathon 22/20: Just a light trim

I have returned from the barber!

I asked for a light trim and a beard tidy.

While this was underway, I zoned out a little and listened to the conversation in the shop: Cars, cars, cars, football, football, cars, old schoolfriends, cars, and football.

It’s no wonder I feel like I don’t fit in.

If the conversation could be: Wales (and the Welsh), Welsh politics, 70s and 80s prog rock, 200bhp sportsbikes, bad films, contemporary literary fiction (and authors thereof), European road trips and our spaniels, I’d fit right in.

Blogathon 21/20: Confession is good for the…?

There’s a Twitter account called @Fesshole that I’m slightly addicted to.

The principle is people make anonymous confessions, and these confessions then get reposted to all of the @Fesshole followers.

It’s simple really.

Some of the confessions are a bit close to the knuckle, some are just hilarious, some are a combination of the two, and some are just sad insights into other people’s lives.

Here’s a few of my current favourites:

  • When I was at university, I lived round the corner from a pub. Whenever we needed toilet roll we would go for a pint and come back fully stocked with bog roll
    • Actually, this sounds reasonable to me
  • I had a one-off outdoor afternoon tryst with an old school girlfriend I met on Facebook then spent the following week trying to prevent my wife seeing the rash of ant bites covering my back after having had sex on an anthill
    • Ants in your pants?
  • I found out my husband looks at porn when I am at work, what he does not know is I was paid to pose for a granny porn website last year
    • Wait. Granny porn? That’s a thing?
  • Our cleaning lady has been cleaning our house for 8 years, we exchange lovely presents at Christmas, I know all about her son and grandchildren. But both me and my wife have forgotten her name and there just seems to be no way we can find it out.
    • Oh. That’s a bit sad!

Blogathon 20/20: Bowling (but not for soup)

As in Ten Pin.

I have a day off!

As it is half term we decided that I would take a day’s leave and we would take the dogs up to the Peaks in Derbyshire.

Unfortunately the weather had other ideas.

So we went Ten Pin Bowling this morning.

Unfortunately the bowls were a bit wonky, the lanes were slightly uneven and the adding-up/scoring software was a bit glitchy.

For both games.

Whodathort?

But despite these things we had a great time, though the dogs didn’t come with us, obvs.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s road maintenance contractors are still digging up the lane through the village, so as soon as we got home Sam decided to make tea for them all.

Uncharacteristically the weather has given us a temporary lull; the wind is reduced to mere tree-bending and the rain has stopped. Not for long, I’m sure, but it has stopped.

We’ll go and collect the mugs shortly.

Meanwhile, here’s Bowling For Soup and ‘1985’. Lots of parody in the video:

Blogathon 19/20: Road (not) work(ing)

With the news today that Nottingham’s Clifton Bridge is going to continue being out of action until (and I quote) ‘the end of the millennium year’, Nottingham’s road users are faced with a terrible set of decisions

  1. Drive through the worst traffic since Los Angeles was invented, or
  2. Not drive full stop

However, with the traditional seasonal change soon to be upon us, motorcycling weather will be here (Yay, I hear you cry. Yay, yay, and thrice yay!).

It will be interesting to see how (if at all) Nottingham’s traffic adapts to not being able to use 1/3rd of the City’s bridges, as the commuters look for alternate routes and, dare I say it, alternate forms of transport.

But I’m definitely looking to getting on the Ninja, putting on my filtering face, and attempting to bring my (normally) 16-minute (motorbike) commute below what will be the (not normal) 40-minute (motorbike) commute.

Blogathon 18/20: Recruitment consultants need help

I had a call from a recruitment consultant this morning.

Now then, contrary to popular belief, I’m not the kind of guy who loads up the 12-bore shitometer and gives people both barrels of shit at point blank range for no good reason…

And I didn’t do that this morning, either.

Even though I should have.

The RecCons in question (no names to spare embarrassment but she works for a company that boasts they are – and I quote – Serious about talent) started asking me about a contract I worked on in 2011.

That’s nine years ago.

As the RecCons continued to not get the point of me saying I haven’t worked in that industry (doing much the same job that I do now, but her take on this was industry-specific), it became obvious she was a new employee and trying to find her feet.

So I uncocked both barrels of the shitometer and put it down and tried, patiently, to explain to her that my knowledge of that industry was nine years out of date.

So then she asked who I answered to on that project.

Wut?

There are times when I can’t remember who I spoke to nine minutes ago. The chances of me remembering who I worked for nine years ago (for context, that was eight employments ago because at that time I was a contractor, living on three-month gigs which sometimes extended and sometimes didn’t) are slimmer than Rizzla paper.

I explained this to her.

So then she started asking how I got into ‘that industry’ – painfully showing she hadn’t appreciated that a contractor in my role works in many different industries over the course of their professional life.

So this is my point…

If I were a RecCons I would at least make sure I understood the difference between permanent employees in a specific industry and contractors who float between many different employer-types.

That’s what I would do.

Wouldn’t you?

Still, she had a very pleasant telephone manner, so there’s that.

Blogathon 17/20: No, it’s my BBC

Because I do like to appear as if I am both an irascible old git yet, in complete contradiction, a kind and considerate human being…

So, all this furore about the BBCs financial future and a shift to subscription funding and other nonsense?

Yes, I do see the point that people are making about:

  1. The woefully inadequate performance of BBC News and Current Affairs over the last five years
  2. The wholly awful performance of almost everybody who has operated under the BBC Comedy banner over the last ten years, and
  3. The wilfully one-sided positioning of the BBC in times of politically ground-breaking moments (simple hint: if someone says it’s snowing outside, it’s not your job to get someone on to disagree with them, it’s your job to get your wellies on and go and see if it is actually snowing, and where it may be snowing, and check how that snow may affect people in the whole country, not just in the little London bubble which the BBC seems to inhabit. This is of course an illustrative argument which you could apply to lying politicians or lying politicians or lying politicians).

But for all of the very many faults that the BBC has, funding the BBC must continue to come from the public purse, and must never become an elective source of income.

You wouldn’t, for example, say ‘I don’t use schools (or education, or roads, or hospitals)’ so I’m not going to pay for them.

That’s not how public-services are funded.

And again, for all its faults, the BBC is a public service.

Which is why I strongly feel that the licence fee *should* be abolished, and the BBC should be directly funded out of public taxation.

That way, not paying the licence fee can be decriminalised, meaning all those nice licence-fee chasers at Capita can find something else to do with their time.

And the courts don’t have to deal with non-payers.

And everyone funds the BBC (if they pay tax).

This is a win.

Of course the BBC needs drastic and urgent reform, but the very first step on the ladder is to fix the funding model.

When that’s done, we need to remove political interference.

And then remove the threat of funding caps.

And then make political journalism the sharp-toothed thing that it needs to be.

Only then can the BBC be re-orientated into the kind of public service broadcaster that it needs to be.