Saturday, December 29, 2007

Achievements & Targets

Words written73,359>100,000
Shorties plotted4640
Shorties written1926
Flashes written3110
Poems written35
Novels completed11-2
Novels plotted40
Novels started21
Total Submissions53100

Thursday, December 27, 2007

T'was the Night Before Christmas

And some bugger, not in his 4x4,
Let his car roll into my driver's door.

The bugger in question had been delivering something to a nearby house, and had left his handbrake off. When he reappeared, he was non-plussed, then arrogant, then oh-so-contrite. His behaviour was really odd. He got back in his car and drove off, so I telephoned the police. (This was a Bad Move.)

"Hello, I'd like to report a driver. I think he was drunk."

"Right, Madam, what's your name, address, mobile number, home-telephone number, car registration, car make and model? What was the other car's make and model, registration number? Where, and at what time, did the accident occur?" [Accident?]

"The drunk driver? He's still out there somewhere. You might want to MAKE A NOTE OF THAT..."

In what direction were you travelling? At what speed? Were there any witnesses? Why didn't you exchange details? It was a reportable accident. You'll need to visit to your nearest police station within forty-eight hours to present your documents."

"You WHAT?" I took a Very Deep Breath, and reminded myself that I am a Good Citizen. "Okkkay."

It being Christmas Eve I had only until the afternoon of Boxing Day (small boy's birthday) to present myself and relevant bits of paper, so I decided to go straight away. I was given the name of distant (but nearest with "front desk") police station, open until 8pm. I went home, found my documents (this only took an hour), bundled the kids into the car and drove three-quarters-of-an-hour through rush-hour traffic to the nearest police station, open until 8pm.

It was shut.

I spent an age ringing the bell and banging on the door (there were lights on), but no one came. The kids were frozen. I was frozen, and seriously grumpy. I picked up the yellow phone by the door and made my feelings known the to (actually very helpful) chap at the other end. He made a record of my attempt to present myself, and said that they'd probably send someone round. Fine.

We had a nice Christmas.
On Boxing Day, I had my first-ever at-fault accident - but that's another story.

Today, a nice CSO telephoned to tell me the opening hours of previously-closed police station.
"I know the opening hours. I spent quite a long time looking at them."
He told me anyway.
"I thought someone was coming round."
"Oh, no, Madam. You'll have to visit the—"
"I spent an hour on a round trip of twenty-five miles, plus twenty minutes arsing about on some freezing doorstep with three tiny children. And you want me to do it all again? I wasn't the drink driver, you know? I was the Good Citizen. You want my documents, you come and get them." Grrrrr.

Now I sit, with a narrow-eyed smile, awaiting my summons for failing to produce my documents.

I can't wait.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bohemia is Alive and Well and Living in Putney

I visited a wonderful house yesterday evening, ostensibly for a business meeting to discuss the redesign of a website. Supper was part of the lure, and there was lots of good company and conversation too. I will try to describe the house and the people.

The house, at first sight, appeared to be a normal house in a respectable residential road in Putney. The books, however, started immediately. In the porch, in fact. Piles of them. The hall was lined with bookshelves, floor to ceiling in places, stuffed with books, nay, overflowing with books. Piles of the things lay everywhere. Up the stairs and as far as the eye could see. It was marvellous.

I was ushered into a room in the middle of the house. It looked like a kitchen (it had lino, a dresser, crockery, mugs, etc., and the fridge-freezer), a utility toom (ironing board and washing baskets), a library (lots more books and shelves), a study (desk, desk chair, paperwork, more books), a dining room (dining table, chairs, condiments, supper).

After a while of gazing around, I had to ask, "What do you call this room, then?"
"It's our living room, really, though we just call it the middle room."

The people were great too. My hostess was a dear old friend of my father's whom I have known since childhood. Also present was a friend of hers who "lives upstairs", an old boy from Essex who talked a lot (about the Royal Mail, and Singapore in the 1950s), and a very civilised chap from Brighton who didn't say much at all (he didn't get much chance, actually). There was an occasional call from the back room where my hostess's husband, who is sadly an invalid, resides.

During the course of the evening two young men wandered through the middle room wearing their overcoats. I haven't a clue where they came from - outside, I suppose. They idled into the kitchen proper, clattered about a bit, then idled out again with bowls of soup. I have no idea who they were.

The whole thing was really wacky, and really nice. I felt absolutely in situ. I was sad to leave.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Pint of Sloe Gin

You know when you meet people, and you like them straightaway? That was how it was when Martin and Jo, distant cousins of himself, came to our house yesterday for the Christmas Tribal-Gathering. They were a lovely couple, and we were really lucky to have them with us all day.

There were about sixteen of us in total, and we had a huge feast of indeterminate courses. In fact, it was not so much a feast as constant grazing. There was also Winter Pimms, wine of various colours, beer, a selection of soft drinks, and himself's home-made sloe gin. This year's batch is particularly fine. It has a delightful pink colour and a kick in the back of the head. We all had a small glass each. Very Nice.

Now, I love sloe gin, and declared that I would have another. When I went to the kitchen to get it, I noticed a bottle of Shloer (white grape, raspberry & cranberry flavour), which was exactly the same colour as the gin next to it.

Tee hee hee!

I poured myself a huge glass of the stuff, and idled back into the sitting room without saying a word. Only step-daughter was in on the joke, having been in the kitchen at the time. I had two more of these glasses over the next hour or so, raising my glass each time, but receiving only raised eyebrows in return. No one said a thing!

When it was time for the lovely Martin and Jo, and a not-so-distant cousin to leave, there was a bit of a panic. Their train was due in eight-minutes, and the station is three miles away. My car was the only one with space to get out, so I threw them in the back, and made a dash for it.

The windscreen was quite fogged, and the first stretch is a thirty limit, so I took it easy; but as soon as the derestricted signs came into sight, I floored it. I changed down for the double bend over the railway bridge, and floored it again. No train in sight - so far so good. But by the time we reached the crossing over the side lane I could see that the barriers were down, and I'd have to really get going if I were to beat the train to the station. I heeled round the next lots of bends at sixty-five, and headed for the causeway nudging something rather more over the limit.

It had gone very quiet in the back.

It was only then I remembered that I'd not owned up to the joke about the gin...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Your Messages: I'm In!

I am really chuffed to have been selected for the Your Messages anthology. Like others I've been having to keep this under my hat since Tuesday, which has been hard! But this morning, the list of selected authors was published on the Your Messages blog, so I can finally let on.

They have chosen my contribution from the 10th of November - the one I call my 'muse' piece - which was my favourite, and the one I thought had the best chance of being selected.

I am glad to see a couple of blogging-buddies in the list (one with two pieces selected - well done, she-who-we-no-longer-name-by-name!); but I am sad to see serveral notable omissions, including one blog-pal who made fine contributions almost every day. I was certain that she would get at least one piece in, if not three. This is a great shame, and a reflection of what a hard job it must have been for them to choose.

Himself and I will be going to the book launch in January, thanks to Jane. She has offered to look after all three children from about 5pm (the worst possible time of day) in addition to her own three small kids. As she contributed to Your Messages (under a pseudonym), but was not selected, this offer is particularly gracious, and I love her all the more for it.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Simple Word-Meter

There has been some muttering recently about word meters going on the blink, so I've made a very simple one that will stay put. It is not clever (or stylish) like Zokutou, and you have to input your own percentages, but it isn't complicated, and it works. And you can choose from six lovely colours!

You can find it here. Any problems or questions, let me know via a comment on this post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Blogging Award!

I have been awarded a 'roar for powerful words' by Lane. Thank you, Lane. I am honoured!

This award comes in the form of a lion from the Shameless Lions Writing Circle, and he can be found in the right hand column of this page. I hope they didn't mind me changing the colour to match my blog!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cat in Trouble Again

When we bought our nice new bookcases, I scoured the shops for some nice bookends to go on them. You know, nothing tacky, but not to expensive. I looked and looked, but I never did find any.

This evening, (while writing Christmas cards), I heard a scrabbling behind me. Rudy had jumped on to the laser printer (which is on the floor), and was scattering sheets of paper from the top of it. He continued scrabbling for quite a while, but I didn't pay it much attention. I was just glad that he had stopped trying to rub his ear on the end of my pen:
M_r & Mrs A.____ Carte______r,
54 Lovela________n____d Drive,
We___st Su_sse_____x

Yes, thanks, Rudy.

I managed to ignore his antics for quite a while, until he off-loaded a wodge of books from the shelves above and dumped them on the printer. I turned round then, I can tell you.

Rudy is a big cat (not fat, just big), but he had managed to squeeze himself into a tiny space and look quite cute (and innocent) in the process. I have absolutely no idea how he did it, despite being less than four feet away at the time.

And doesn't he make a lovely bookend?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Importance of a Good Self-Image

I wanted to share with you the small boy's drawing of himself on the school's Christmas tea-towel.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's Official: The Cat Has First Call on the Computer

And I had to ask everytime I wanted to use the return key...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pete-the-Repeat Parrot

My Dad gave us this for Christmas last year. Pete-the-Repeat Parrot comes from the school of singing fish and dancing gerbils (you know the sort of thing). He repeats everything you say parrot-fashion (i.e. twice). So, if you say: "Hello Parrot." He says: "Hello Parrot-Hello Parrot," but faster, and in a squarky voice. Oh, and he flaps his wings.

Now the really great thing is that the small girl repeats everything Pete says. So the conversation goes like this:
SG: Hello Piyot. (Piyot = 'parrot' in small-girl-speak.)
PP: Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot.
SG: Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot.
PP: Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot. Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot.
SG: Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot. Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot.
PP: Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot. Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot. Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot. Hello Piyot-Hello Piyot.
And so it goes on, with each of them getting faster and faster, and squarkier and squarkier, and both of them flapping their wings, until Pete's recording time runs out and they start all over again.

It's good entertainment when we've got visitors.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Room of my Own: Progress Report

Yesterday, himself helped me clear the tops of the bookcases; we found lots of lovely stuff to throw away:
• manuals for software that we don't have anymore.
• fourteen empty box files (yes, I'm sure they'll come in handy one day; that's the problem)
• a duplicate copy of Chamber's Dictionary.
• a box of (get this) 3.5" floppy disks (I haven't used these since I was, ahem, at uni.)
• two dozen ZIP disks (ditto + a few years).
• loads of free computer-magazine CDs for Mac OS7.5 software (PC users, read: Windows 3).
• a broken "Pete-the-Repeat" Parrot (he's great actually, but we have a working one too)
• a rather large quantity of dust.

The bookcases are on my side of the study, but himself didn't let that worry him as he pulled everything down, and dumped it all on the nearest available surface for me to sort. His part of the job took approximately eight minutes, whereupon he left me to do the rest. Consequently, my beautifully clear desk now looks like this (again), and I can no longer see my picture of the loft.


I'm wondering how many times I'll have to ask him to do something about it, before he does something about it...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Adorable Children

Himself has a birthday today.

Sometime around six thirty (am) I became aware of a conversation going on downstairs. Now the small boy (nearly 5) can get up when he likes, but the small girl (nearly 3) is not allowed out of her room before the clock chimes at seven (when the baby gets up). She had quite clearly ignored that rule this morning.

Having been working on my Message until after midnight, I really couldn't be bothered to fetch her back to bed. There were no sounds of struggle, so I left them to it.

Shortly before seven, I heard them coming up the stairs, whispering. They were dragging something heavy. There was some discussion while they stood outside our door, until I heard a quiet "Yeah, let's go in. Come on." They crept into our room, and stood silently beside the bed for three whole minutes until the clock struck the hour.

They had retrieved all Daddy's presents, from the various places in which we hid them yesterday evening, put them in a bag, and had brought them up to give to him.

How's that for adorableness?

Final Message

Phew. Final Message just posted (00:14). What a struggle that's been today (not helped by various offers of help from various small children). Several times I nearly just posted it, even though I wasn't happy with it, but Himself encouraged me not to give up (this was just before he said, "right, I'm going to bed"). I'm glad he kept me at it, though. I'm pleased with it now.

I've done all but the first four, and have enjoyed myself ever so much. I'm not sure what I'll do with all my free time now. Oh, yes...Christmas.

I forgot.