#ComedyBookWeek, two reviews.

Three weeks ago Comedy book week was looming and I wanted to join in but at he same time, looking at my diary, it was patently clear that I didn’t have time to do it justice. So I decided I would read as many books off the list as I could and review them. That’ll be a nice series of posts over the week I thought. And then I read … er hem … two books. But if all the others are as good as these, you will find a fair few new authors to follow and worlds/stories to enjoy.

The Bumpkinton Tales, Volume 1
by Matt Drzymala

Matt Drzymala’s books have been vaguely on my radar for a while. I think he posts in some of the same Goodreads and Facebook groups as me. As someone without much time, I really like short stories so I when I saw this collection featured in Comedy Book Week I downloaded it at once. They’re all based around the imaginary town of Bumpkinton. Here’s the blurb:

bumpkintonTalesWelcome to Bumpkinton!

Come in, have a cup of tea and a scone, and lose yourself in five humorous tales from the village.

Follow Father Whitworth O’Grady as he chokes on a penny, Albert Scatterhorn as he becomes the grubbiest Father Christmas ever, and Amelia Goose as she feuds with… well, anybody. Plus a whole host of characters as they attend the village’s first Singles Night with a sex-crazed ladies’ man.

Jump in and find out more for yourself…

So I did jump in.

First impressions, this kind of reminded me of Barbara Pym in that there’s a wry wit that crops up in the observation from time to time which is reminiscent of hers. The pace is gentle and this book is series of short stories so you can dip in and finish an instalment. For the most part I really liked the characters, and I enjoyed that some were rather trying, just as people in a real life village are. There was a great atmosphere of gossip created and I enjoyed the whole, does he or doesn’t he? thing surrounding a couple of characters and their reported misdemeanours. There’s a fair bit of comic mileage in the total madman in charge of the paper who, basically, just says ‘hello’ to you and then makes up some spurious interview.

However, these stories are much more than a light read. The characters have empathy and depth and you do start to care about them quite quickly, even the ones that are, frankly, a bit grim. There was a point where I almost felt sympathy for the village busybody and found myself hoping that she might find love, or something. We find out how and why she was transformed from a shy bookish girl to nightmare harridan. After I discovered her past I found her just as odious but at the same time, with understanding, came an ability to give her a little slack! And this depth and reality to the characters, and the way we find out little tit bits here and there as the stories proceed, just as we would if we actually lived there and were genuinely getting to know these people, was an excellent touch and really cleverly done. There is an intelligence and subtlety to it that I really liked.

As someone who grew up in a small village and sang in the church choir (for my sins) I did find it slightly unseating, at first, that the priest is Roman Catholic – it’s definitely more Father Ted than Rev in that respect. But if you, too, find that strange, it’s worth persevering because you soon get used to that.

So, all in all, I recommend this. It’s a lovely bit of light, gentle humour except that, like life, it works on many subtle levels and there’s a lot more to it than that.

Four stars.

Where to download The Bumpkinton Tales

The book is £1.99 as I write but should be reduced to 99p for Comedy Book Week.

Mission Improbable
by J J Green

ImprobableThe galaxy is in crisis, and Carrie Hatchett is the last person on Earth who should be fixing it.

Carrie is a low-achieving daydreamer. After providing a good home for her butt-ugly dog and psychotic cat, her biggest challenge in life is to avoid being fired, again.

But a strange green mist sucks her beneath her kitchen sink, and an unusual clerical error leads to an offer she foolishly doesn’t refuse.

The Transgalactic Council hire her to settle a conflict between the mechanical placktoids and the mysterious oootoon. Carrie must overcome her personal weaknesses and, for the first time in her life, succeed in her job, to uncover a threat to the entire galaxy.

Mission Improbable is Book One in the light-hearted, fast-paced Carrie Hatchett Space Adventures series. “…like Scully and Mulder on acid.”

As a big humorous fantasy/sci-fi fan I had to give this one a go. I think I may not have been in the mood for this book to begin with. I felt that Carrie was the most annoying, thoughtless, irritating woman and I wanted to give her a sharp rap over the head and tell her to belt up. Then something happened to the cupboard under her sink and suddenly, things began to look up, and Carrie got interesting enough for me to forgive her.

This is a much more straightforward book, in many ways, than its partner in this post. Where The Bumpkinton Tales is all half tones and subtlety, Mission Improbable is blocks of primary colours and is definitely not subtle. However, in this case it isn’t a bad thing. Carrie is really quite dim to start with, but she has a good heart and you can’t help rooting for her eventually once the author’s imagination kicks in. Because what really lifts this book is the wonderful originality of thought in it. The oootoon were inspired, I liked Gavin, I particularly liked that Gavin was called Gavin, and the placktoids are a stroke of genius. This book is a piece of light fluff, total whimsy but it’s none the worse for that. You’re looking at a reviewer, here, who has written a book about lobster-shaped aliens who are covered in marmite (vegemite if you’re Australian) scented goo. Let’s just say there were aspects of this book, and I, which were pretty much made for one another.

It was a quick read, the action clipped along at a good pace and once it got going I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot and zipped through it in an afternoon. I also got to like Carrie by the end.

OK, so this is a book of it’s type, and in this case, it’s madcap space comedy. It’s not deep. It’s not designed to be deep, because what it is, and what it’s designed to be, is FUN. That said there is a pretty solid and commendable message about not judging by appearances, listening to both sides, thinking and evaluating before jumping to conclusions.

For me, the greatest test of a book is whether or not you think about it after you’ve read it and if you do, how long for. I found that I was chuckling about some of the creatures and ideas in this book for some time. In fact I still am, as I write because the more I think about them the more delightfully off the wall they seem. So although to start with, I was thinking, hmm… not sure, as time goes by, I am looking back on the reading experience more and more fondly.

So did I like it? Yeh. Another four stars. I will definitely be buying other books in this series. It’s not deep, but it is what it is, and I enjoyed it. Recommended.

Where to download Mission Improbable

Mission Improbable is free to download, everywhere.

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#ComedyBookWeek starts today!

ComedyBookWeekWide

Oh yes it is. And naturally, as a writer of funny books, I am taking part. I’ll be reviewing a couple of the books involved on Wednesday and doing doing an interview over at the lovely Matt Drzymala’s blog here I’ll also be reviewing his book here on my blog on Wednesday, along with Missing Improbable by J J Green.

Folks with rather more drive and dynamism than me are doing a lot more. There are over 80 books involved now from a varied bunch of genres, from Chicklit to Sci fi. If you’re wondering where to find out more here’s how:

If you enter the hashtag #comedybookweek into the social media platform of your choice you will find all sorts of interesting information about the event; posts from authors involved, book reviews, giveaways and other joyous gubbins. You can also visit the comedybookweek website, here.

Many of these fine and dandy books are reduced in price, including Escape From B-Movie Hell, which is reduced to a gob smackingly competitive price of 99c/99pence. OK I won’t do the Cut My Own Throat Dibbler joke but I’ll give you a few seconds to imagine it in.

Did I mention that other authors are celebrating with giveaways, exciting competitions and other lovely swag? Oh yes, I see I did.

However, even I have dusted the moths out of my wallet and stumped up to send two of my books in signed paperback to the lucky Goodreads members who win them. You can enter those, from the 17th – 24th July, because, er hem, I got the date wrong, here:

Enjoy yourselves, and #comedybookweek, and most importantly, I hope you have a good laugh.

 

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Lost: My marbles, reward for their safe return.

Yes, have you seen my marbles because I’d really like them back.

Seriously. D’you know how mad I’ve become? Last week I leant my bike against a wall and upset some woman who thought I’d leant it against her planters. As I had taken express care to mind the planters when leaning it there I felt really put upon when she leap out from behind a wall, in her slippers, and started having a go at me. Obviously, she’d had to wait 10 minutes or so while I bought eggs and plants and chatted to her neighbours.

Then as I was leaving, out she popped. She’d clearly been waiting there since my arrival, letting her anger build, getting more and more irate while she waited to ‘have a word’. Suffice to say it was so clear she was a) not in the right frame of mind to be polite and b) very possibly a bit of a troll. Yes the smart thing was NOT TO ENGAGE. But what did I do? I had to try and be conciliatory. So she had a go at me and then I went and answered back and that just made it worse – but I had the presence to walk away then, I suppose, so a partial success there.

IamGoingNutsWhen I got home, instead of forgetting about it, I found I couldn’t let it go. So I made her some please keep off the planters signs, really nice, polite ones. I encapsulated them, put them on posts so she could stick one in each planter, stuffed them in an envelope and posted them through her door with the envelope labelled: ‘life is too short for bad karma. These might help to reduce the number of cyclists who annoy you.’

I wasted two hours doing that. All because I had to let the crap go, for my own sanity preservation, and I couldn’t do it any other way. And worse, her nastiness left my brain so coddled that a few minutes afterwards, when I popped into a shop, I left my wallet behind. After wasting two hours on the miserable Mrs Mangle-alike (80s Neighbours joke there) I wasted another two looking high and low for my effing wallet until I worked out where it was, by which time it was school pick up time and I had to rush, via the shop. When I went back and asked, they had it! Wahoo! But it took ages for the sales girl to get it from upstairs.

20150402_120319So when it was returned to me £5 lighter, there wasn’t time to say anything. Anyway, £5 is not enough to complain about, not enough to conclusively prove – certainly not until I’d checked all my pockets, handbag etc first which I didn’t have time to do on the spot because I was going to be late for school pick up and get a bollocking from the school. Later I did check. It’s not there. Someone in the shop nicked it; either the person who handed it in, or one of the staff.

In my life as it normally stands, that’s an exceptionally crap day. By 2016 standards it’s quite a good one.

However, it doesn’t stop there, oh no. A new and worrying trait has cropped up. I seem to be turning into a nimby-magnet. Yes it seems that I’m a red rag to the kind of person who feels it’s in the civic interest to tell people off.

Let me explain …

TwoWayForBikesThe latest incident in a long line was this afternoon.

Yes, once again the cause of contention was the sign at the bottom of the lane in which McMini’s school is situated or at least, the apparent invisibility of this sign to motorists. Bridewell Lane is two way for bikes and one way for cars but the sign that states this is easy to see if you coming from one direction but regulars using it from the other tell me they hadn’t noticed it until I posted a picture of it on Facebook. So I won’t be as rude as I was going to be about my antagonist this time but …

Today, as we cycled down the road on our way home, a dark blue Skoda estate stopped and waited for us. I thanked him and as we went by and I noticed he had his window open his head leaning, ready to have a word.

Clearly my troll-dar was down because I suspected nothing at this point or I’d have been sensible and ridden straight past but I thought he was going to say something nice about my son, people often do, so I slowed up.

No. He turned out to be another observationally challenged spoon having a go about my riding the ‘wrong’ way down a ‘one way’ street.

So here we go again. At what seems like an appropriate pause in the conversation I attempt an interjection.

‘Did you look at the sign at the bottom?’ I am amazed by the calm in my voice. Booyacka! Go to the top of the anger management class and take an A star MT.

That’s when I realise he isn’t actually listening. He has not paused for more than that brief moment to draw breath. He has no interest in hearing what I have to say. I suspect this is because I might be able to justify my actions, leaving him with egg on his face. Instead, he is merely spewing words over me, a spiel he’s mentally prepared while waiting for me to arrive alongside his car, a lecture I am supposed to stand and listen to, without replying. A lecture at the end of which he can drive away feeling smug and self satisfied, knowing that he’s done his civic duty in protecting the populous from ghastly women on bikes with no respect for the law! Heaven forfend that there might be a reasonable explanation for my actions. Nothing I say can possibly have any value … and of course, if it was be reasonable and he might have to adjust his view or, heaven forfend, apologise for maligning me. So he’s certainly not expecting me to answer back. Speaking is not a luxury he has envisaged for me in this scenario.

He carries on, ‘This is a one way street.’

‘No it’s not,’ I say. The tone of my voice has risen a little, less of an A star for anger management now and more of a C minus. Oh dear. I mustn’t shout at him in front of the boy.

Never mind, after the last myopic angry man had a go I have taken a special picture of the sign on my phone, I can show him that, and he will see reason. Except that it is approximately one million keystrokes and 100 years of waiting to even activate the screen, let alone find the picture and show it to him. There will be no time to explain myself before his tirade is over and he closes the window and drives away.

Arse.

‘I hardly think it’s very clever to ride down a one way street the wrong way with a child,’ he is saying.

Yeh I’m sure you hardly think full stop mister because you’d be right if it actually was a one way street.

I am thinking that it’s very stupid to have a go at random strangers unless you are certain of the facts. Although, judging by my own experience over the last three months I appear to be in a minority with this view. I am also thinking that he’s on shaky ground criticising others quite so vehemently if he hasn’t actually read the sign. However, despite the C minus state of my anger management mechanisms, I manage not to say any of those things. A small personal victory to take away from this then.

He has finished and he drives off without giving me time to reply, just as I suspected he would, presumably with a feeling of smug self satisfaction at having struck a small blow for right thinking people everywhere.

But he hasn’t closed his window.

And before I can stop myself I shout:

‘Try reading the sign you blind bat!’ at a volume that would be the envy of fishwives everywhere.

Oh me.

I tell my son that it is very wrong to behave the way I just did in public, whatever the provocation.

A little bit of me dies, inside, every time I do this. But still I cannot stop myself. I still want to smooth things over, to explain. Why does it never dawn on me that these people are not seeking an explanation. They are not expecting any interaction. They are expecting to castigate me mightily for their own personal edification and then go home thinking something along the lines of, ‘hurrumph! That told her!’

Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.

Do. Not. Engage.

And yet I do. All the time.

I seem to have become a nimby-magnet and it’s turning me into a shouty nutter. Maybe I need anger management.

So, there it is, missing, one set of marbles: mine. If found please let me know. £5 reward for their safe return.

 

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Oh dear, it’s not them. It IS me. #remain #leave

Well, this has been an interesting week. For better, or worse, Britain has voted to leave the EU. As a mum with an 8 year old in a local state school with a very wide range of nationalities attending, the majority of voters asked in my extensive Playground Polls came up Remain.

There is a reason. This:

Evilposter

A lizard with opposable thumbs in front of a racist poster.

In the absence of any real facts, and after right wring extremists murdered an MP for her pro-IN, pro-refugee, humanitarian beliefs, it was all about sticking it to the racists for us. So what I saw winning, when Leave won, was fascism and a sheep like mass of people voting the way they were told to by the Sun.

And we’re at the beginning of the century, the world economy went down the toilet a few years ago and is still only recovering. And despite that recovery it’s left a lot of people in deep, deep financial plop. Which is a worry. Because that’s the kind of climate in which fascism takes root as folks look for someone to blame and some of the rhetoric flying around about immigration and letting in refugees is … disturbingly familiar.

However, I have a handful of highly intelligent, sensible friends voting Leave. They’re good people, decent people, one is about where I am politically, one way to the right but the other two are further left. They are never going to vote for racism, no way, no how – even the right winger. So I asked a couple of them what the hell they were doing.

They put forward lot arguments which made sense – but all the arguments for both sides make sense when you uncover the facts that’s part of the trouble – but the salient point was one about how they believe the people of this country feel about politics.

Which is, that our politicians are condescending, aloof, self important and that they no longer listen to, nor have any respect for the people they are supposed to serve. My Leave friends felt that through the gradual change, over the years, from debate over the issues to personal attacks, most politicians have not so much lost our respect as earned our contempt. We believe what they say about one another. That’s why so many young people don’t or won’t vote, which is bats of them but that’s another story.

Furthermore, many leavers are every day people, but poor people, the folks who feel disenfranchised and without hope, because successive governments have stood by and let their places of work – in some cases, whole industries – die. Leavers are people who worked in our pottery industry, our coal industry, our manufacturing industry, dairy farming, fruit growing, the Cadbury factory, the steel industry. Most of our heavy industry was up north. And that’s why the folks up there are angry. The big agricultural areas in East Anglia voted Leave too. And a lot of the seasiders.

They feel that when their livelihoods and their whole communities were at risk, successive Governments, labour and Conservative stood by, didn’t step in, didn’t help. Failed them. And yes, there are probably more positve things to do than concentrate on your anger and bitterness about a past that is gone and a future that cannot be. But maybe they were just trying all that time to get someone, somewhere, to listen. And heaven knows, I graduated into a recession, I felt washed up, useless, dismissed as junk before my working life even began so I can actually really sympathise with that.

And so when the government asks for their help now their reply was a resounding fuck off, in this case, in the form of a Leave vote, to sock it to the Man. Whereas we in Remain, even if we’d thought of it, would probably have demurred from socking it to the Man when it’s just swapping one Man for another.

I suspect many people, both those voting IN and those voting Leave, may well share some very similar sentiments about our politics and politicians. We just reacted in different ways.

And in that one thing, lies our hope.

MPs have to learn from this, they have to start believing again, they have to relearn humility, that they are public servants, that it’s not about power for them but about working for us. And those who take such things seriously need to make sure that we, the electorate, realise that they, at least, are listening. They need to be Jo Cox, not Boris Johnson.

And as for tomorrow. What’s done is done. This is complicated, and it will be difficult. A lot depends on the negotiations surrounding exit. I hope Scotland and Northern Ireland give it some time to see what we come out with before they vote to leave and the UK is broken. Because it looks as if we, Britain, might actually have a chance at a new beginning, a new start. It’s up to us. It doesn’t have to be about racism, immigration and bigotry. It can be about unity, it can be like the 2012 Olympics.

Because for all my initial horror at the result, and for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth I’ve done on Facebook with my like minded friends, when we get to the bottom of things, it turns out that despite being on opposite sides of the debate, many of the folks who voted Leave are closer are closer to us than we think. And if they are we can work with that.

Here’s hoping.

Some good pro leave posts:

Roughseas – there are some good comments on this one and I had a long chat with her too: https://roughseasinthemed.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/brexit-its-real
Jim Webster, again more comment chat as well: https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/the-road-from-the-bigoted-woman-stops-here/

A couple of good pro remain posts from writers, like myself, who hadn’t even thought of sticking it to the Man:

Chuck Wendig the thinking American’s view: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/06/24/you-want-trump-this-is-how-you-get-trump/
Charlie Stross sums up the initial feeling in Remain at the result: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/06/tomorrow-belongs-to-me.html
Lee Harris – just a nice cynical post about the Remain point of view. http://leeaharris.com/brexit/
I need to comment on these.

 

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Is it me that’s nuts or them?

WARNING!!!! There is swearing in this post. Actually, thinking about it, if you are offended by swearing what on earth are you doing here on my potty-mouthed blog? No but seriously, there is swearing, so please don’t read this if effing and blinding (and ranting) offends you.

Right, if all the non-swearers have left, on we go.

Rant mode activated.

Lately, I’ve been slightly worried that I might, perhaps, be going nuts. Perhaps it’s just the mean spirited horrid climate of the EU referendum that’s making me feel out of sorts. After all, while the folks voting leave are not all racist, you can bet all the racists will be voting leave. And then you get Farage with his smug bull frog grin and his ‘At Breaking’ Point’ poster aimed at brown people. I know I shouldn’t single him out but it’s so hard not to. Well, Mr Farage, Boris and co, if you look you’ll find most of us have been immigrants at some point including, very possibly, you own forebears. My uncle has been tracing my family tree and it turns out my family has a blood characteristic that is singular to North African blood. I look as white and middle class as they come and I can prove at least 1,000 years of residence in the UK but even so, it turns out I’m secretly brown. Which just goes to show what a load of shite it all is.

Farage allegedly has Huguenot antecedents, Boris German was it? but European for deffo (cf Who Do You Think You Are) and possibly this chap although I got that off Facebook so it’s probably lies since Facebook has wiped it from my timeline!

Boris JohnsonBut we have, Farage’s antecedents, clearly asylum seekers fleeing persecution if they were Huguenots, Boris’ German, as far as I recall, was an economic migrant. So both of them get to be here because our forefathers were a little more kindly disposed to their antecedents, when fleeing persecution, or moving to a place of better prospects, than he and his ilk are to others in the same position, now.

How ironic.

Looking at historic precedent, at what happened last time the economy went as far down the lav as this last recession, is quite a worry. Yeh, the crash of the 1920s… the world economy died on its arse what did we get? Facism, not to start with, but over a period of a few years, creeping in through people playing the race and hate card to get power. Playing the blame card to explain how things were, blaming brown people or ethnic minorities or people of a different faith rather than the handful of rich people who actually cocked it up. And what are we getting now? The exact same thing. Even though we’ve seen it all before and we know it’s bollocks and that fascism doesn’t work.

The whole racist thing does make me feel a bit … well … sick. Because the only difference is place of birth and melanin in the skin and because somewhere way back my umpteen times great grandfather was one these darker-skinned outcasts. Yes peps, I’m secretly coloured! If aliens exist, small wonder they won’t touch us with a barge pole. We’re poison; a bunch of complete and utter scum. The whole human race.

Someone shared a great post on Facebook the other day about how wonderful the 2012 London Olympics were, how great they made us feel our country was as we celebrated it in all it’s different diversity. How I wish we could somehow reset to that, before the hate-fest of the last election, the Scottish in/out referendum which was fought, as far as I could tell, entirely on an attempt to ignite a nationwide loathing of the English, and the EU referendum. Because we seem to have lost that. The climate in this country seems less than pleasant right now. And after some years without incident I seem to be encountering it on the streets of mild mannered Bury St Edmunds, where everyone is usually polite. This last week I feel as if I’ve run into arsey aggressive males every which way I turn. Worse, I seem to be as grumpy as the best of them.

Earlier this week, I was riding my bike down a street in town that is two way for bikes and one way for cars. Some knobend in a car coming the other way piled past me mouthing what was clearly obscenities, going by the hand gestures. Obviously the moron thought I was going the wrong way down a one way street because he was too much of a blind bastard to notice the signs telling him otherwise. What surprised me was my reaction. I mean, I gave him the bird, obviously because he had got it wrong and was behaving like a total fucktard but I also chased him, in his car, on my bike.

20160614_092206

To be fair, bikes tend to go faster than cars at that time of the morning and I just wanted to knock on his window and make some crushingly sarcastic remark themed around the concept of him borrowing my spectacles to read the big sign at the bottom of the street. I now have a picture of it on my phone to show to the next idiot – it does happen regularly but they are usually more polite.  I almost caught up with him but the traffic was moving more freely than usual so he escaped my withering scorn. Bad that.

Then yesterday, I was riding my bike along a quiet back street in Bury to collect McMini from school. There’s a part where the road narrows and as I reached it a car came up behind me. It was a blue mini – the new try hard version rather than the original 60s icon – and it was full of young men, except to call them ‘young men’ is inaccurate because, unfortunately they were more like a group of symbiotic molluscs with a single shared brain cell… only they were less brainy than that. And they were clearly drunk as well. They had the window open and the music on loud and they were shouting leerily. It wasn’t 100% intelligible but I got enough to understand what I’m pretty certain was, ‘Get out of the fucking way you fucking bag.’ Of course, the way the driver was leaning on the hooter was fairly indicative.

When I got through the thin bit they came piling past me. Oh how I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ride very slowly along the middle of the road up to the junction, but then, that would have made me a wanker. They roared past shouting at me – not sure what it just came out as noise but plenty of f word in it – and obviously, standard procedure, I gave them the bird. A few yards ahead was a friend walking along the pavement to collect her grandson from the school.

‘Did that just happen?’ I asked her as I passed.
‘We should report them,’ she said.
‘Yeh, I think they’re drunk,’ I replied and I rode on.

Richard Cheese (Dick to his mates) driving the mini sped up to the junction went over the crossroads without stopping and then got stuck behind another car which was parking. Again, numpty features lent on the hooter. Seriously, these guys were such a bunch of monumental dick splashes it was incredible. The other car carried on doing what it was doing because it was being driven by an old man, slowly. Knob features in his mini hooted more. Old man in car hooted back – good for him. I could hear them shouting at him as I approached.

And then I was alongside them. Waiting for the old fellah to move too. And their window was open and before I knew it I was giving them a piece of my mind except that, unfortunately, all that was in there was the one fingered salute and the word ‘wanker’. So there I am leaning down to the window shouting, ‘wankers, wankers you bunch of fucking wankers’ in a kind of sing song football chanty-tastic kind of way… with a bit of the aaaaaaargh from the ‘woooooooooah your shit aaaaaaaa’ thing that everyone does when the goalie for the opposing team takes a goal kick.

I mean what?

Where, exactly, has calm, mild-mannered MTM has gone? I’m still very level-headed in a crisis but time was, if someone was aggressive and unpleasant to me, I could stay cool and acerbic. Now, I seem to have lost my capacity for intelligent thought, the red mist descends straight away, hulk smash is the go-to setting, and I seem unable to think or act with any clarity or sense and behave … well … like them. I mean, the obvious thing to say was something along the lines of ‘blimey lads, which one of you is having the baby or is this not a mercy dash.’ Because they were the kind of guys who find any suggestion of womanhood way, way more insulting than being sworn at and it would have been a light hearted way of getting the point across that they were behaving like morons. At the very least I should have told them their car was really too rubbish for them to get away with driving like that or that they’d better stop shouting because the braincell they were sharing probably couldn’t do that, keep them all breathing and allow the bloke at the wheel to drive without accident. But no. Although I confess, shouting the simple wanker line in their faces was very cathartic.

They sped away and I could hear them hooting and shouting at every other car, pedestrian and bicycle that got in their way, or even vaguely near them, while they drove through the streets of the mediaeval town as if they were in a high speed police chase with the blummin’ Sweeny on their tail.

It was only when I got to school to collect McMini that I realised England were playing Wales that afternoon and kick off was at 3 o’clock. Clearly they’d been down the pub, got a bit slammed and decided they’d better drive home for the game – possibly, in their defence, because they didn’t want to drive home after watching it in the pub when they were even more rat-arsed.

I love football, but I found myself hoping England lost, just to really piss off all the people like that Mini full of plankton, not to mention the tossers who stood round at Calais throwing money at refugee children and mounted running battles with Russian fans – yeh, I don’t care who threw the first punch, it is possible to be a man and walk away. As for taunting little children about the same age as my lad? Really? They’re all on video. So, can we close the borders please and not let them back, because they don’t deserve to live here.

In defence of my own behaviour, I know my personal circumstances might contribute, I’m stressed, there’s no doubt about that. I am trying to be mother to a small child and dutiful daughter to elderly infirm parents both of whom suffer memory loss. My parents need my help running their lives – mainly the finances – but they are able to do just enough on their own bat to make it really hard for me to keep things on an even keel. I have so much to remember that my brains seems to have gone on strike and refuses to remember anything, which means every tiny task I try to do is frustratingly slow. Each time I try to organise my son’s birthday party, for example, I have to start at dot and read up what I’ve done and where I’ve got to. In short, I suspect my pissedoff-o-meter is very close to the red zone at all times. Times are hard, a lot of folks have money worries, maybe their pissedoff-o-meters are under the same stress as mine. Maybe.

But whatever’s causing it the mood in the nation, and the world, seems to be ugly.

To have two of the kind of events I would consider reasonably unusual within days of each other – well OK the one way thing isn’t, nobody sees that ruddy sign but they’re usually less rude – has shaken my confidence a little. It’s left me wondering if we’re all sick. If I’m sick.

The sooner this referendum is over the better. Doubtless there’ll be enough racist bigots voting leave for Murdoch to get his way and the leave vote to stick. But frankly, I like being in Europe. I like the idea of trading with the people around us rather than the ‘ally’ which happily buried this country – its government knowing full well what it was doing – with lend lease. If Europe seems dominated by France and Germany it’s because we didn’t effing join in at the start, when they did, even if it was Winston Churchill’s idea – and yes, I know; DeGaulle, tosspot, veto yada yada. It’s true that, for a while after that, we couldn’t. But we can now. If we choose to. Or we can turn our backs. Isolate ourselves and watch our economy go even further down the lavvy, like it has been the last couple of weeks as the world fears leave will win only oh so many times worse. Like sub prime was a pic-nic.

Personally, I like diversity, I like different peoples and cultures and sexualities and cuisines. Diverse societies are vibrant and thriving and full of ideas. I’d happily swap the arsehats in that mini for some economic migrants from the Calais camps any day of the week. I bet I know which group would contribute more to our society. Not all gay/muslim/brown people are bad. Not all hetro/’Christian’ (they’re not)/white people are good. It’s more complicated than that. Shitheads come in many different colours. Why would we turn our backs on some of the people geographically and culturally closest to us? It’s crazy.

Rant mode off.

Ah that’s better, and hey, whadda you know? I didn’t mention hell or hand carts once.😉

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Getting my act together – Guest Post from Jim Webster

This week, please give a warm welcome to my fellow author, Jim Webster who is here to tell you about his new book. Take it away Jim …

I had a cunning plan. I was going to get organised. Rather than just write one book, have one surge in publicity which hopefully brought with it a few sales, I’d write six novellas and release them at four monthly intervals, so I’d get six surges of publicity.

So I did. I took Benor, the hero of two of my fantasy novels and placed him in the city of Port Naain. (For those who like to know about such things I guarantee no elves, dwarves, hobbits and not much magic.) I then wrote six novellas about him, each is a self contained story, which has at its heart a mystery/crime that has to be solved. I tell people they’re a ‘collection’ rather than a ‘series’ as they can be read in any order, a little like the original Sherlock Holmes tales.

The stories were written, edited and set up for publication. Thus ‘the Port Naain Intelligencer’ was ready to bestow upon a world hungry for something worth reading.

But obviously, I’m a writer, I write. So I move onto the next project and get completely engrossed in that. To the extent that I totally forgot that ‘Woman in Love’, the fourth of these stories is about to be published and I’ve done nothing. No publicity, no blog posts, no subtle hints on Facebook, nothing!

Not only that but I am of course completely tied up with the book I’m writing so I have to disentangle myself from that.

But still, if it is to be done, ’twere well it were done quickly. So I’m now ready to give you the good news about Woman in Love.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-Love-Port-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B01H04MHK4/

As the blurb says, “Asked to look for a missing husband, Benor finds that the female of the species is indeed more deadly than the male.”

Cover Woman in Love

And a little from the story:

Benor found the Insane Asylum a fascinating building. A steep-sided pyramid, all eight floors were colonnaded. There were corridors around the outside in the colonnades, from which one got access to the heart of the building. The colonnades themselves were festooned with flowers, which hung down in curtains whilst streams of water flowed down and round the walkways, meeting to form a ceremonial moat around the building.

Benor crossed the bridge to be met by an attendant in a scarlet uniform.

“Can I help you sir?”

Benor paused. “I don’t know. I am Mister Shanus Lissel’s clerk. He came in three days ago with an oath of mental incapacity.”

“Ah, visiting hours is by appointment sir, you’ll have to arrange a time at the desk and take it from there.”

“No, I don’t mean Mister Lissel is an inmate.”

The functionary sounded reproachful. “We prefer to use the term ‘guest’ sir, if you don’t mind.”

“I’m sorry. What I meant was that Mister Lissel swore the oath; the sworn oath was sent in here, but he’s just realised that he hasn’t got a copy and wondered if I could come in and take a copy for his files.”

“Ah, glad you got that cleared up. You’ll have to ask at the custodian’s office. Across the bridge, through the outer door, turn left before the guests’ door and you’ll find yourself at the office. Just knock and introduce yourself.”

Benor did as he was instructed. The outer door was an elegant affair of wood and glass. The guests’ door was somewhat more substantial. He would have been tempted to call it a portcullis, except that he’d never seen a portcullis decorated with brass filigree and stained glass. The steel bars managed to look as if they were there solely to provide the structural strength necessary to support such a work of art.

So go on, treat yourself, for a mere 98p you not merely get a good story, you get a chance to flaunt your perspicacity in front of those lesser mortals who somehow never got round to buying it.

Thank you Jim! Readers, you can follow Jim on his blog here https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/

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Lots of books for no pence… including mine #freeebooks

Yes! It is on again this weekend. Over 100 FREE ebooks on ALL SITES (wahoo!), not just Amazon.

PattiPromoJune

Just go here and start loading up your e-reader http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

 

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