Category Archives: Blimey!

More lovely authors to discover from #instafreebie

Just a quick heads up today about a sci fi and fantasy promo I’m taking part in this week. It’s on now and runs today and tomorrow.

It is organised by Sff author C C Ekeke along with our lovely friends at Instafreebie. A number of authors are offering free books there in exchange for signing up to their mailing lists. If you find the book isn’t your bag you can easily unsubscribe from the list, you should find links on the emails the authors send you. But hopefully you will discover some great books by authors you enjoy hearing from.

To find out more about the promo click on the lovely graphic. And if you are not signed up to Instafreebie and would like to join, you can easily do so here.

Find out more about the promo here:

october-if-artwork

The promo ends tomorrow so now’s the time to get in quick.

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A little light relief #jollyjapes #sillypictures

Things have been tough recently at home. Just trying to help my parents who are elderly and suffering from a fair bit of memory loss, sorting the care, trying to keep someone between them and the horrible folks who keep ringing them and duping them out of money. We are winning but it’s tough. So I have neglected my blog somewhat. My heart is too full to say much so I’ve not said anything.

Although on the upside I have been making quiet progress on my books, the Box Set of the K’Barthan Series is in final, final, edit and review copies have gone out to my fabulous Reading Ninja team. So until I have more information for you here are some pictures. A kind of trade test transmission*, if you like, only funnier.

It's Sean the sheep, it's Sean the sheep ... he even hangs around with those who ... actually I'm not sure who he hangs out with to look like this. He was Meditarranean chicken.

It’s Sean the sheep, it’s Sean the sheep … he even hangs around with those who do not … throw food away … ever. He was Meditarranean chicken. Two months ago. Gulp. It wasn’t my fridge.

McMini and I had haircuts last week, I swept up the cuttings and put them in the compost bin. Later when I opened it I found something that … well, check this out. Donald Trump’s ‘hair’ has escaped and is hiding out in our kitchen bin.

hairtoday2

 

I don't think he approves ...

I don’t think this guy approves of my jokes …

* only a tiny fraction of you will be old enough and British enough to know what this is, by my theory is that even if only one person will get the joke, it should be made!

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The difference between intention and delivery. How not to prepare for a charity walk. #girlsnightout

You may remember, a while back, I posted about a charity walk I decided to join in with for our local hospice. It’s a 6 mile walk through and around the centre of Bury St Edmunds, wearing flashing bunny ears and my pyjamas. Obviously I’m a middle aged lardette with completely fucked knees so this, for me, is …  a suitable challenge. Indeed, my knees were so shite I cannot actually run, not even, literally, to save my life (well … it was my son’s but that’s another story). Although I can walk quite briskly, and I can ride a bike. However, even so, what I’m saying is, I had clocked that if I wanted to walk 6 miles I should probably do some training but at the same time, I was thinking, it’s only six miles, what can go wrong? Quite a lot of things it turns out.

Time, like gravity, has not been my friend on this one and I suddenly realise that the walk is tonight – as ever is. Waterproofs optional but probably required. Note to self, don’t forget the light up stars umbrella.

And guess how much training I’ve done.

Mmm hmm.

In my defence, it was the summer holidays and I did go for a fair few walks, even if I couldn’t get to the gym, but then I got hit by a galloping dog which is surprisingly painful: similar results to a medium/hard cart horse kick although a friend of a friend ended up with a broken leg so I probably got off lightly. It resulted in an impressive 8″x4″ oblong bruise and some pain. While avoiding full impact with the dog I, unfortunately, did something to my hip. So when I went on holidays, where we were going to do a fair bit of walking, the hip based ‘something’ manifested itself, loudly, through the medium of pain. I grimly gritted my teeth and carried on and the pain got worse. Obviously, because I’m a hypo, I convinced myself that the dog bruise had resulted in dvt. I went to the Doctor when I got home.

Actually, I’ve just pulled a muscle in my hip. So obviously I wasn’t being a drama queen about that or anything.

Never mind, my legs hurt all the time and there aren’t many hills, I thought. Surely I can limp round. So I have rested it all week.

img_2404

A yes, the week’s ‘rest’. Now this is the kind of punishing training schedule I’m talking about.

As the crowning glory of my ‘preparation’. Last night, I went to bed early so that at least, if I wasn’t ready, I was fresh.

But unfortunately, I woke up almost immediately and then, in tag team with my son, spent the rest of the night enjoying some vile sweatathon chuck up bug which involved much enthusiastic driving of the porcelain bus. McOther blissfully slept through it all. Indeed at one point, I woke up on the bathmat in the bathroom – because I’d felt too sick to move back to the bed – bathed in sweat, face stuck to said mat with a pool of my own drool, to hear my son calling me. I called out to McOther, but all that did was bring McMini to our bedroom and from there to the ensuite, where he was treated to the joyous sight of his mother shouting ‘Europe!’ down the big white telephone while trying to hold her hair out of the way of the technicolour torrent, while at the same time, avoid getting any on her pyjamas or the lavatory seat.

On the upside, when I’d finished, I felt so much better and at least I could leave the bathroom long enough to take him upstairs and tuck him in, after which, everyone in the house went to sleep in their own beds until morning.

As McMini started his chuckathon a bit earlier than me he was, as he put it, ‘full of beans’ when he woke up while I definitely felt a bit ropey. However, after a very pleasant hour spent with him, sitting in my bed together reading and … well … he’s 8 so I’m afraid he was also comparing the intensity of our farts – his were smellier so he thinks he’s been iller than me … he’s gone to football club. Meanwhile I, I have gone to ground. Even the cat has let me sit here unmolested so I must look grim although I am feeling a little better.

If the walk had been this morning, I confess, I would have been in trouble. As it is, I’m sure I’ll be fine by tonight although I might give the bacon buttie and the pub at the end a miss. Most of these things only last a day or so. But with the Olympics just finished, and the Paralympics in full swing, it did make me realise how hard it must be for real sportsmen and women when they prepare for their events. All those hours spent training, the special diets, the sleep regimen, trying to time it so they achieve peak fitness on that one specific day and then the big event comes and they have a cold, or a period or a sick bug and suddenly their performance is 10 or 20 percent down or they can’t even compete and it’s all been for nothing. It just makes me admire their dedication and discipline even more than I did before because even after that, despite preparing for every eventuality, they are still at the mercy of random factors.

If you want to donate anything to the hospice for my undertaking this moronic exercise, you’re welcome to do so. I have raised £150 so far, most of it off internet, so at least I’ve reached the minimum target. You can find my just giving page here:

https://www.justgiving.com/Fundraising/M-T-McGuire

My cat has just typed this \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ which is clearly what he thinks of the whole thing and I feel like a gentle snooze with something warm on my stomach so I’m going to follow his example and get some serious rest in.

A bientot.

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And it’s another one! Win a #Kindle Fire and 30 #fantasy #books

Hello everyone, after a long week, here, eventually, is the other giveaway I was telling you about. Thirty stonking fantasy books and another chance to win not only a copy of every single book in the giveaway but also, a Kindle Fire. The giveaway actually kicked off on 8th August but you’ve stacks of time as it runs until 26th. The prize for this one is also a kindle fire, oh yes and a copy of each of the books shown in the graphic. Check out these books! To go to the giveaway page and enter, click on the picture below, or this link:

http://www.cjbrightley.com/giveaways/win-a-kindle-fire-and-30-clean-fantasy-ebooks/

Best of luck.

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Just another day in paradise!

Come the winter we are hoping we might be able to go skiing so in order to prepare, it occurred to us that it would be smart if McMini and I actually had a go at skiing first. So today, it was McMini’s turn. There’s a dry slope not far from us so off we went. He took to it well and it looked ace. I am very much going to try it when term starts.

After we were done, we decided to make a day of it and we went on to Aldeburgh for lunch which was lovely. After we’d eaten we took a stroll, bought an ice cream and sat on a bench to eat it, overlooking the sea. Even though I checked it for turds before sitting down I still failed to notice that one of the ‘special Aldeburgh seagulls’ had laid a length of cable that a Doberman would have been proud of, and of course, I sat on it.

Aldeburgh

Aldeburgh: taken while sitting in seagull pooh

As the resulting cack smearage made me look as if I’d extensively soiled myself I tried to clean it off. Half a bottle of water poured over the affected area merely made it look as if I’d lost control of both orifices. And now I also had pooh smeared on my hands! Lovely! Once I’d rinsed my hands with the rest of the water and rubbed liberal amounts of hand sanitiser over them we took stock. There was only one thing for it. I deemed it imperative that I changed into some pooh-free trousers or shorts at the first opportunity. But I had no spares so I was going to have to go into a shop looking as if I’d shat my pants, explain what had happened, and hope they’d let me buy some.

20160320_160321

The seagulls in Worthing are much more genteel

Aldeburgh has many clothes shops and right now they all have sales on but, even with 70% off, a pair of shorts was coming up at £35. Hats off to the folks running them, though, who were perfectly prepared to let me try and buy despite my effluvia-covered togs and accompanying smell.

However, I began to despair of replacing my rancid shorts until I noticed the Sue Ryder charity shop. I popped in there and got a very nice pair of chino beige pedal pushers for £4.50. Phew.

I had planned how I could zip my anorak up round my waist and remove my trousers in the high street but although I’d worked out how it could be done without flashing my arse to the entire neighbourhood, I can’t say I was looking forward to it very much. Many, many things could have gone wrong.

But all’s well that ends well.

So that’s a relief.

A quiet day here, then. Same old, same old. How was your Saturday?

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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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Careful with that axe Eugine! Drama at the garage: how MTM learns there are two sides to every argument.

Yesterday, I went to see the Old Dears. As you know Mum has had a stroke and Dad has a kind of dementia. These last few weeks he has had very limited mobility and been close to incontinent. We have newly brought in 24 hour live in care.

It’s hard.

As you can imagine my parents’ situation takes a lot of my mental air time right now … it seems I’m a long way into innerspace. What is interesting is how that has changed my perception of the world around me or perhaps, my ability to read it.

Check this, this is my Fitbit readout from yesterday.

FitbitBollocks

As you can see, my Fitbit is ADAMANT that I went up 157 floors. What I actually did was walk the usual 5 miles or thereabouts, probably, go up the stairs maybe 10 or 12 times? And do a 280 mile round trip in my car. For some reason, the way the steering feeds back to my hands convinces my Fitbit that I am walking. On the way home I put it on the seat beside me, at least then it only thought I’d walked half a mile (rather than the 3 miles it thought I’d done on the way down).

While I think I was a bit lardy yesterday, sitting around in a bucket seat listening to music for most of the time. My Fitbit thinks I was a physical dynamo doing 107 minutes of elevated heart rate activity. That figure was more like er hem … zero.

So, it just goes to show that two separate views of the same series of events can throw up completely different results depending on the presence, or absence, of one or two vital pieces of knowledge. You know I wasn’t an exercise dynamo yesterday because I’ve told you my Fitbit measures the bumps in the road as steps. Someone else without this critical piece of information might look at those stats and wonder, from all the stairs, whether I climbed the Empire State Building, or if I’m a triathlete.

Yesterday, this lesson was highlighted to me through the familiar medium of my making a complete tit of myself: I failed to understand the differences between the way someone else was seeing my actions and the spirit in which I knew they were made. In all things, it seems, communication and sensible clarity of thought are key. Pity I’m so crap at them, as this massive, completely unnecessary row I’m about to relate will demonstrate …

It’s a bright sunny Wednesday morning and after dropping McMini at school I walk back home via the market, pick up the car and set out for Sussex. I have about a quarter of a tank of petrol so I need to fill up.

Because it’s on the way and one of the three cheapest, I go to Tesco’s.  Now, Sainsburys, you have to pay at the Kiosk, Asda, you can only pay at the pump and Tesco’s you have a choice of both. Tesco’s has 3 or four rows of two pumps just far enough apart for you to get through and park if the two first ones are in use but one of the far ones is free. Unsurprisingly, with petrol prices rising by approximately one pence every day, it’s rammed. I pick my side and wait. Next to me are two builders’ lorries with a white Honda civic at the first pump and very quickly there is nothing at the second. The other side of me was a big lorry, blocking the way through. No-one was queuing there and a woman parked at the pump in front of the lorry was filling her car.

As you know, my Mum has had a stroke, so I am kind of feeling that I want to get to her and Dad quickly. I am therefore delighted when the woman parked at the pump in front of the lorry holsters the petrol nozzle.

Brilliant. I’ll nip through and reverse into her spot when she’s gone.

Except, Unfortunately, like most Tesco’s customers, she clearly finds it more convenient to fill up her car and queue for 5 minutes to pay in the kiosk rather than using the very much swifter pay at the pump option. I, on the other hand, prefer to wait 10 seconds for my credit card to be authorised at the pump, spend two minutes filling up my tank and then go. So I watch her go in to pay, note the queue is 7 or 8 deep so she’ll be some time, and wait.

We all sit there and I listen to the song, ‘Help’ by the Beatles in its entirety. Neither builder’s lorry drives through to the empty pump at the front of their line. Neither of the cars in front of me move – they are still filling up – and the lady whose car is still parked in front of the lorry is still queuing in the kiosk. Some time during the next song on my stereo, Mr White Honda finishes filling his car and sticks the nozzle back in the holster.

I feel pity for the builders when, like the lady in front of the lorry, Mr White Honda turns out to be a true Tesco’s petrol customer who, like the lady, spurns the faster, easier pay at pump option. Into the kiosk he goes to queue.

As I sit looking at the empty pump, with nobody using it, it occurs to me that I could have filled my car to the brim and departed a couple of times over. Tine is ticking on and I’m getting twitchy. I wonder, if I go to the empty pump, swipe my credit card, fill up and go before the driver of the white Honda returns to his vehicle, would that be queue barging? Surely if I am not holding anyone up or inconveniencing anyone it isn’t? I’m not pushing in, or holding anyone up, I’m just using something no-one is using while it’s free. Even better the folks behind me don’t have to wait for me. Yes, win-win. My brain, filled with, 24 hour care requirements, sick parents, etc agrees. The builders are clearly waiting for the white car so if I’m quick it’ll be fine. So I drive through and park up. As I get out of my car a man runs up to me shouting,

‘Excuse me! Excuse me!’ he yells, managing to imbue words ‘excuse me’ with an aggression and menace I never knew they held (I doubt he did either) ‘Can’t you see there’s a queue?’
His shouty vehemence puts my back up at once.
‘Yes I can but it’s not moving.’
He gets up to me a bit and raises his voice louder.
‘You’re jumping the queue.’
‘No I’m not, nobody’s using this pump.’
Two can do shouty, my friend. I am surprised at the volume of my voice as I bellow my answer back at him.
‘That’s because he’s bigger than I am,’ he makes a sweeping gesture at one of the lorries, ‘and he can’t get through, we’re waiting until this car goes and then we can both drive up together.’
This, delivered as if I’m a complete idiot for not knowing the bleedin’ obvious.
Ah note to self, there’s a hidden builder’s lorry etiquette to the art of buying petrol which must not be interfered with by mere mortals at any cost. I didn’t know that.
‘So? I’ll be gone before that happens.’
He looks more annoyed, indeed, as he reiterates that I’m jumping the queue and … yada … the blue touch paper catches and off he goes into space. I’m fully expecting him to start poking me in the chest with one finger such are his levels of vehemence. I feel bullied and at that mere thought, something in me unravels, the red mist descends. I tell him my mother is ill and I am in a hurry. He tells me that he’s sorry about my mother but that’s not his problem.
Obviously the precious 90 seconds I will delay him are far more important than the well-being of a vulnerable, ill old lady
(yes, I actually think this madness as he rants at me)  and so it is, that I, too, completely blow my top, for only the fifth time in my entire life, and join him in orbit.

More arguing ensues. I would write it down if I could, but to be honest I haven’t a fucking clue what I said, although I’m pretty sure I managed not to swear, which was a minor personal victory and probably the only positive I have to take away from this experience.

All the while as we harangue one another I am aware of three things:

  1. He doesn’t seem to be understanding anything I’m telling him.
  2. But this is unsurprising because my arguments are getting less and less cogent.
  3. There is something important I have missed that would defuse this.

I know that this whole situation is based on false impressions and wrong information. I know that I can stop his aggression in its tracks, stop him shouting at me and make him leave me alone. His angry bullying is totally unreasonable and inexplicable and this simple thing will allow him to understand that, but I am too angry and hurt to remember what the thing I need to remember is. I can’t speak or think coherently, I can only shout back at him. I want to step away from him. I want to ignore him. I want to take the fuel cap off, stick my credit card into the slot in the pump and fill up. I want to prove that I’ll be gone well before Mr White Honda gets back, well beyond the point when either lorry can can move, anyway. But I am afraid he will snatch the fuel cap from me and throw it into the hedge or try to physically restrain me. And then the police will be called, and I will never get to my parents.

Then I see that the woman who was filling her car at the far pump, in the row the other side of me, the one which is blocked by the lorry, has gone. The driver of the lorry is still filling it up, still blocking her pump from anyone else. ‘Alright, I’ll go over there, and I’ll still be gone before you get to fill up.’ I shout storming into my car and making a massive hash of parking it over by said pump.

And I would have been, of course, had I not been so apoplectic with rage by that time that I had to go and have another go. First I accosted the wrong bloke by mistake,

‘Oh bless you, sorry love,’ I tell him with a pat on the arm and then go to deliver a bitterly sarcastic apology to Mr Shouty for his totally unreasonable anger at me for not understanding builder’s etiquette, which, obviously, was very criminal of a non-builder and obviously I should have understood. But it’s his friend filling up the tank – who is clearly a decent bloke and gives me a genuine smile. Except I am too angry at being subjected to such a stream of unreasonable ire that I am unable to say the word etiquette and we both laugh as I stutteringly explain the cause. Obviously Mr Shouty has to come back then and protect his friend from what he probably sees as Angry Entiled Woman and has another go at me. I am still fully lit and so, channelling my inner fishwife I give just as good as I get. Telling him that I hope he’ll be treated with equal sympathy one day if his mother gets ill and he is trying to get to her – which is true but totally pointless,not a reasoned or rational argument and therefore pretty much redundant.

And all the while, Sensible M T is standing beside me, in a slightly out-of-body-tastic kind of way, watching in horror as I Basil Fawlty my way around the forecourt saying,

‘What are you doing?’

At last I listen to it. I have to, because I am, literally, spluttering with rage. Can’t get any coherent words out. Not at all. I go back to my car. Angry with myself for giving in to what I interpret as bullying from an aggressive male playing dog in a manger.

It takes approximately 90 seconds to authorise my card and top up the tank with 24 litres of petrol – oooooh and another 4 or 5 seconds to get a receipt. One of the cars I’d been queuing behind slows down, opens his window and calls out to me,

‘He was wrong and you were in the right,’ he said. I thank him. Perhaps he’d paid at the pump too.

It was only about 10 hours later that I realised what went wrong. I never told Mr Shouty I was paying at the pump. He and the other builder in front of him were in commercials. They probably use fuel cards or cash or some other means which entails dooming them to pay at the Kiosk forever, whether they want to or not. Pay at the pump was probably as dead a concept to Mr Shouty as it is to nearly every other Tesco’s petrol customer. It would never have crossed his mind that I was going to pay at the pump, bypass the kiosk completely, and be gone in under three minutes any more than it crossed my mind that I was not. He must have thought I was going to cut in and then stand in the kiosk waiting to pay for ages after Mr White Honda had gone. So then he’d have to wait for the other builder bloke to fill up and stand in the kiosk for ages, too, before he could get near a pump. And a commercial takes a lot longer to fill – he was probably putting a hundred odd litres in, not 24. In addition, we judge things by the parameters we’re used to, so he may well be thinking of my fill up would take about the same amount of time: ie much longer than it does.

Yeh, Mr Shouty probably believed he was looking at a delay of at least 20 minutes. No wonder he got in a strop. I think I might have been just as shouty, myself, if I was in his position and and I was reading what I saw that way.

So what can I learn from this? Apart from the fact that I get even more like Basil Fawlty when I get angry than I thought and must, therefore, keep my cool at absolutely all costs.

If I wasn’t already aware that stress and worry switch some important parts of my brain off, then, after trying to have that argument, I am now. Presumably that’s also why I drove up to the school in a thunder stom just now to collect my boy, only to remember that a friend’s mum is picking him up from school tonight, taking him round theirs for tea and dropping him off here! Bonus points there M T.

Communication and calmness are essential. Perhaps, this is the most important lesson; that communication is the name of the game, that calmness, even calm rage, is a better bet if you need to have a reasoned discussion but most of all that two different people can read polar opposites from the same information.

If I’d managed to stay calm and explained what I was doing properly, I doubt the slanging match would have happened. But if he hadn’t come up to me all shouty aggression, I might have managed that.

Assumptions … in any situation we and the other people round us make snap judgements and assumptions based on what we see. Sometimes they’re shite.

Would Mr Shouty have listened to my explanation? I don’t know. I do know that if it happens again, I’ll bet the angry person a tenner that I can fill my tank and be gone – without the kiosk and without any inconvenience to them – in under 3 minutes. I won’t collect though, because the odds are stacked against them to the point where it’s almost a scam.

Sigh. I’m such a plank. Never mind. At least I can laugh at myself.

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