Friday, 24 July 2009


Incredibly, I don't have swine flu. Yet. But I do have several friends with it, so it's probably only a matter of time. So I am holding my breath and holding my breath amd hoping hoping hoping but not quite daring to hope that tomorrow morning I will be able to go on a months-ago-planned cycling holiday with my son and my dad. A generational velocerous sandwich, if you like. But... me and plans, lately... [squeezes eyes shut tight and hopes very hard]

I don't have swine flu but I do have a gardening bug, which sees me going to bed - well, all right then, bath - aching, tired, covered in mud and very happy each night. So I don't have time for much else. But I do have a garden bursting at the seams with green waste which is stupidly hard to get rid of so I'm going to BREAK THE LAW (eek, oo-er, etc) and have a bonfire tonight. I expect I'll catch fire and become horribly disabled and unable to go on my cycling holiday. Or I'll create a gigantic smoke cloud which will coincidentally fell all train drivers in the vicinity and make it impossible for me to reach my destination, or I'll start a huge city fire, the worst since 1066 (no, that sounds wrong. 1466? 1664? ah feckit, it was in London, quite a long time ago, the number six was involved and possibly the number four), the houses will all burn down and fall on the train tracks...

...but if THAT doesn't happen then I will be travelling the country for the next week or two while Mr Other Half Man guards the homestead. Hurrah!

Right. Time to climb a ladder. Have secateurs, will create more green waste. Enjoy your swine flu. xxx

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Life Begins

Well, that's it, I'm 40.

Funnily enough it feels pretty much like 39 did, only slightly better cos I had a brilliant weekend away camping in the countryside and am feeling the benefits. Loads of people turned up, I went swimming in the river, and I have discovered the definitive answer to the question, How To Do Camping With Kids? The secret is to choose somewhere reasonably close, and (crucially) accessible by train. Then one parent (the one who is a bit weird and gets untold satisfaction from packing bags and cars, unpacking bags and cars, pitching tents, dismantling tents, packing, etc) (ie ME) goes down in a car jam-packed full of STUFF in the morning, spends all day chilling out in the countryside, drinking champagne, putting up tents, blowing up beds, making everything organised and tidy. Then the kids and the other parent arrive by train. Everyone has fun for a few days. Then the kids go home by train and the anal parent packs everything away at her leisure and plays a live Stone Roses CD very loud all the way home. Sorted!

Of course, on our return we discovered that one of the happy campers now has swine flu. I spent yesterday afternoon with my older son in a rammed health centre, queueing for tamiflu for the stricken friend, who is under house arrest. It was weird. Giant signage everywhere directing people with flu symptoms to another part of the building where some poor soul sat behind a desk with a face mask on. We, on the other hand, were peered at before being granted admission to bored-looking staff who herded us all under a "Flu Friends" sign. I am a friend of the flu. There were sandbags too, but they looked a bit abandoned. I suspect somebody picked up the wrong URGENT SITUATION guidelines and panicked in the wrong direction for a while before coming to their senses.

I'm assuming we'll all get it some time this week, but it makes a change to anticipate family illness instead of being taken by surprise. I'm just not making any plans for the next few weeks, and working on the basis that those already made will probably come undone.

In other news, I dreamt last night that I had a new agent, which was very exciting, except that she insisted my book should be called Memento Ravia, even though neither of us knew what it meant - or even how to spell it - and she hadn't actually read the damn thing. Still, it was exciting for about five minutes. She was blonde, flighty, posh, young, and called Jemima. Or maybe Felicity. There's a surprising number of them in publishing.

Oh, and a couple of Russian speakers have emailed me and duly had signed copies of the book posted off to them. Fuck knows what they'll make of it, but it's kinda nice.

Right, I need to get my third novel into some kind of abandonable shape before the swine flu gets me.




Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Birthday Begins

This evening my friend insisted on coming round and giving me 40 birthday presents, because they couldn't easily be brung to the Birthday Proper.

Because I am Very Stupid Indeed, it took me several texts and several presents before I finally rememberd that, in the context of this birthday, the number 40 was significant. I thought she just happened to have acquired 40 presents for me, cos she's a bit prolific like that and is the manager of a charity shop. So anyway. For every present (they were numbered and had to go in a particular order, and every single one was wrapped, and had a numbered tag with a clue on it) I had to remember what I was doing for that year of my life. Which was mathematically confusing, because we were drinking beer and I am a bear of little brain and I was born in July on the turn of the decade, so every year of my life encompasses exactly half each of two of your earth years, and one of them ends in (Age minus one) and the other is (Age plus one) but I can never remember which way round it is, so we spent a lot of time saying things like "When you were 28 it was 2007, no 2008, no..." until we reached 39, at which point I screwed my face up yet again and said "Well, it must have been 2009..." and Ally said, "you opened lots of presents..." and I said, "I had a baby! Three days after my birthday!"

...and when I was 40 my life suddenly came together and everything made sense for the first time in ages.



Well for fuck's sake, how do [i]I[/i] know???

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Filmy Stuff

I've been feeling guilty. Because I wrote a not-altogether-good review of a book written by someone I sort-of know, and I never normally do such things. It felt like it was all right because I didn't believe the person in question really existed. Except that he does, of course he does, but then again he doesn't, probably. But he does. But... etc.

Well, anyway. This kind of blog post doesn't really help. Blah blah holes, yadda yadda digging. But in some sort of vague attempt to redress the balance, I'd like to draw your attention to this film review blog here, cos it's rather good and nobody seems to have noticed it yet.

We Easily Believe...

I've just been watching Big Brother, where one woman has already been the unrequiter in two love intrigues. I love watching human interaction played out under such a microscope. The set-up may be artificial but nobody can act for that long, so the stuff that happens between people is very real. But anyway...

So there's this bloke, fancies a woman, she doesn't fancy him back. But he won't see it. He keeps finding evidence that she must be interested in him, and refuses to accept anything else.

The obvious reaction as an observer is to laugh and call him a fool. Everyone else can see what he's blind to. And having watched this happen so often to women I know... a man who won't take no for an answer... is boorish and demanding and then sulky when he doesn't get what he wants. I get impatient and annoyed with selfish fools such as this.

But the other thing which drives me mad is when women encourage the delusions by being a little too friendly, bestowing the occasional chaste kiss, generally giving just enough encouragement that the idiot can convince himself of whatever he wants. Having been close to women who do this kind of thing, I know they often don't mean to tease or manipulate. They just don't want to hurt, don't want to disappoint, are hopeless at saying no or being frank about how they really feel, but mistakenly believe that the chasteness of their responses is enough of a hint that they're not really interested - rather than the clutched-at straw it inevitably becomes.

But then. I suddenly remembered this weird 'relationship' I had with a bloke, back in the early 90s. We worked together as service chefs, at a pizza / pasta restaurant in Manchester. I was besotted with him. He was all quirky and enigmatic and he had good taste in music and a lovely purple cord jacket (isn't it funny the things that stick in your mind?). I was forever inviting myself round to his flat and just kind of... hanging around. We had various odd sexual encounters, and he kept me at arm's length... but not far enough that I gave up the chase.

I knew he wasn't in love with me or anything like that, I knew it was all rather one-sided, but he gave me just enough rope that I thought it was worth tugging away at it.

Poor man. I was like a kitten that's found the end of a tampon, somewhere inappropriate.

One time I insisted it would be a good idea for me to stay the night, and we could just cuddle. Which we did, me of course in as little clothing as possible, but next thing I knew he was sucking my elbow. Which quietly led to even more delightful stuff. But this was the least ambiguous of our encounters. Another time he had given up trying to get rid of me, so suddenly announced he was having a bath. And I of course invited myself into the bathroom, and next thing we were flicking foam at each other, and in any other circumstances this would be obvious flirtation... but nothing happened. He got out of the bath, put his clothes on and we ate toast. Once he came round to my flat, submitted himself to a certain amount of finger-sucking and then abruptly announced he was going home. At which point I became all whiny and disappointed, so somehow we ended with me naked in the bed, him kneeling by its side, with his coat on, and basically shutting me up before going home.

Looking back, it's pretty effing obvious that he never fancied me. But he was rubbish at saying no, and I was determined to snatch at the tiniest piece of positive evidence or encouragement and ignore everything else.

There's a quote I use a lot, it's from a 19th century mentalist called HJ Burlingame, and it forms the basis of my second novel. It goes like this:

We easily believe what we ardently desire to be true.

Oh deary me, don't we just?

Monday, 6 July 2009


Yuck. I don't like it much, but I think it's probably sensible to make my non-anonymous website a little less new-career-unfriendly. Which means removing anything to do with sex or drugs. Including this double dactyl, but it's one of my favourites and I don't want to lose it altogether so I'm putting it here instead. So there.

Jessica Parker can't
Act her way out of a
Brown paper bag.

Co-actress Kim says that
Sarah can't come unless
Aided, the slag!

I should probably point out I don't have anything against Sarah Jessica Parker. Or people who bear resemblances to horses, or indeed slags. I mean actual slags, rather than people who bear resemblances to slags. Not that I have anything against them, either. In fact I've been known to be a bit of a slag myself. And proud of it. Right. Glad we cleared that up. I'm not that keen on Sex and the City though, I have to admit.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Hot weather and an awareness that inactivity will soon cease to be an option, have combined to make me super-lazy. Hence lack of posts.

But I just thought I might mention I've got less than a week of under-40-ness to go. It's my birthday on Friday. I'll be celebrating all (next) weekend with somewhere in the region of 50 close friends and family. Rah me.

Friday, 3 July 2009


Hello new people.

[waves at new people]

If you stick around, I may write about cat poo, cancer, neighbourliness, cultural differences and Islam.

Then again I may not. You'll just have to take your chances.

But hello anyway. It's nice to see you here.