Tag Archives: an author with children

The traditional MTM Christmas Post #scrooge #bahhumbug #chaosfairies #jollyjapes

Well, that’s everything done for another year, despite small scale assistance from the Chaos Fairies. Presents given, card sent … well, OK, they’re sitting in the post box still I expect but I put them in there before Christmas day, on Christmas Eve to be precise, so it’s done.  I even managed to get a newsletter written to go into them, despite 40 minutes of making paper jam until I realised that the printer had eaten the small cloth I use to clean my glasses and it was clogging everything up in there. Well … it is in a rather dark corner, but I did feel very middle aged when finally, with the help of a torch, I discovered the cleaning cloth, which I hadn’t, hitherto, seen, in my defence it was black – despite multiple openings of the printer and inspections of its innards.

To my unbridled delight, the Christmas pop songs in the shops until our ears bleed (from about September) factor has now passed. Let’s listen to the Phil Spectre Christmas Album. Mwahahhahargh! No. Let’s not.

We’re in Scotland this year, which is always a longer visit than when we go to my Mum and Dad so there was even less point in decorating our own home than usual. Even so we put up a tree and in a fit of rare unscrooginess I went and got some of those gel window decorations, you know, like stained glass: two reindeer, two snowmen, two Santas and two er … penguins? Mmm. First window done, and with a snowman on the second only half complete the cat had already eaten one of the Santa’s hands and a leg. I had to guard them jealously after that but apart from a brief run in, during which one of the penguins nearly lost his feet, they have survived. Note to self, might not do this next year.

The journey to Scotland passed uneventfully enough, although there was some massive rain and we drove through some of the biggest puddles ever! Much to McMini’s joy as it does all fly up well if you trundle through at speed – aka hit an unexpectedly deep one. We did some last minute shopping, sent the last cards and then I managed to drop my mobile phone down the toilet. Sadly this was as I stood up to flush. On the up side, no number twos were involved. I grabbed it out of the loo yes my desperation not to spend £500 on a new smartphone was enough for me to plunge my hand into a loo full of wee without a thought. I suppose my Dad has weed over my feet enough times, during loo assists, for me not to care any more. I did run the phone under the tap in case the wee was corrosive. Then I took it to bits and laid it on a paper towel over the radiator to dry.

After borrowing a phone from McDad in-law, I then took McMini to one of the best Christmas Even Christingle services I have ever been to. Hello to all at Melrose Episcopalian Church, thank you for that. Basically, short prayers to begin and end and a strong onus on learning through play: a dimly lit church, plus torches for the children, a hunt for a selection of knitted crib figures, ‘I need you to look for Joseph and Mary now … yes … they are both wearing skirts … well, every marriage is different.’

It was a very amusing script which made all the main points without labouring them and was delivered very well by a bloke who looked and sounded like he was Armstrong – or is it Millar’s? cousin. Even better there were loads of kids, far more kids than adults. McMini had a gas and so did I, especially singing the Calypso Carol which I haven’t sung since I was in the school choir aged 10! Mwah hahaahrgh! Ah memories. It was even warm in there, too.

Church ticked off our list, it was back to check on the phone. I took a bit more of the back off and discovered a few more patches of ‘water’ which I dried off. But luckily the main foreign body present appeared to be pocket lint: still dry. I need a smart phone because I have to be able to run secret squirrel dual authentication on my parent’s internet banking app. I do need a new one, and I’m saving up and will have the money in a few months but it isn’t there now. So I really didn’t want to shell out for a new phone, or even buy a £20 cheapy one. So I waited, with every appendage crossed and hoped that my phone would survive it’s excremental dunking.

Probably the best present of all, for me, was the moment when, late on Christmas Day, I put my phone back together, powered it up and … it worked.

However, the whole episode made me think of a TV programme I watched a couple of years ago, when they were talking about the kind of yuck you find on every day items. They took swabs. The results were gross. My wee phone, which actually really is a wee phone, now, in the truly urinous sense of the word, would clearly have had them all gagging.

I have to report that it was only 24 hours before I said ‘aye’ for the first time instead of yes.

Afore I go, if you’re looking for interesting books, I wanted to give you the heads up about a promo that’s currently running over at sci fi author Patty Jansen’s site. Basically, Patty has noticed that there are a lot of authors out there who are struggling. Perhaps, it’s because, as she herself points out, when life is tough, often, one of the few ways a person can still earn is through writing.

The books are all full price in this one – although ‘full’ in most cases is still excellent value for money – there’s a giveaway to win one of Patty’s books and there’s a donate button which is the main point, as she is using those donations to give grants to authors who are struggling financially.

So far I haven’t read all of the books but the ones I have read have been excellent, so if you think you’d like a look, or think you would like to recommend you can find it here:

christmaspromo

And that’s it. Merry Christmas and all that malarky.  I hope your festive period has been eventful and fun – in the right way. I see that Death Year 2016 is doing it’s best to carry off as many people before it ends – although deaths peak at this time of year, anyway. Good riddance to it, anyway. Here’s to 2017. All the best to everyone and may the phone of your endeavours never fall into the lavatory bowl of failure.

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Evaluation is the name of the game … or is it just spin? Some career decisions

Have you ever had one of those days when the cold hard truth hits you right between the eyes? Yeh, well, I’ve been having a bit of a wake up for some time now but last week the shit hit the fan. Then, a comment from one of you lovely peps made me think, a lot. More on that story … later.

There is a nagging worry, in the back of my mind, that I’ve come over as a bit maudlin recently. It’s not my intention and I am basically happy but I have realised something about what I thought was my current, temporary, state of affairs. It’s not temporary. In fact, while there may well be different people involved, I’m probably looking down the barrel of the rest of my life.

This raises an issue.

Some days I feel a bit like this.

Some days I feel a bit like this.

Like everyone, I want to be a good mother and wife and a kind and dutiful daughter. However, if I’m going to be those things to any effect, I must ensure that I also have an identity and a life beyond them – even if there’s only time for it in a low key way, it has to be there. My problem is that with the way things are now, I can’t do all those things at the same time. Not to the levels I have set myself. I have to lower my sights. And I have to accept some home truths.

  1. If I am unhappy and unfulfilled I am crap company.
  2. To be happy and fulfilled I have to like myself.
  3. In order to like myself, there are certain commitments and duties to others that I am required to perform.
  4. It is essential that I am a sane, level-headed and likeable human being.
  5. There is a certain amount of me time, and sense of having my own life that is required for me to be a sane and likeable human being. There has to be space for things that aren’t my duty: interests hobbies and yes, my job.
  6. My duty is taking too much space for the career plan I have followed up to now and that is making me frustrated and irritable.
  7. The duty can’t be shirked although it can be streamlined a bit if I can get myself to relax and reduce tension levels enough to increase my efficiency … or just achieve anything approaching efficiency, full stop.
  8. The career plan therefore has to give, or at least be altered to one that’s achievable.

In short, I have to re-establish the illusion that I am in control of anything beyond my reaction to events (even if it’s not true).

The fact is, sitting in hospital with my mum on Sunday was one of the most harrowing things I’ve done. She clearly felt terrible, she was unable to speak – or at least unable to say the words she was thinking after the first few minutes awake. And I didn’t want her to suffer, but I didn’t want her to leave me. I knew she would, most likely, be fine in a few days but even so, bringing in the DNR notice for them to see was difficult.

She’s a lot better, and though she’s still in hospital it is mainly because the Social Worker can’t see her to evaluate her until Monday and I haven’t the stamina to get her home and then try and organise that on my own right now. And I think she needs evaluated.

So all this stuff, all the administrivia that surrounds looking after Mum and Dad; dealing with the NHS, the social, their finance people, their carers, their bank, their utility companies, the folks who deliver their milk … all of it takes time. On top of that, watching my parents suffer takes emotional stamina and energy. My concentration span is drastically reduced, and my frustration at the way every tiny task seems to mushroom into a Herculean labour, normally through my own stupidity or forgetfulness, means my default state is one of intense frustration. My anger-o-meter is always at the red end of the dial, even though I am, essentially, happy.

Other days I feel more like this.

Other days I feel more like this.

On top of that, I’m a mum. For those of you who haven’t had kids, having a child is like having your brain stirred, constantly, with a huge wooden spoon – especially if your kid is as adept at mental par cour as McMini. It’s wonderful but it coddles your thoughts. And while I can express the frustration I feel about my life to him, through the medium of humour usually, I must be careful I don’t unwittingly take it out on him in other ways. And sometimes I know the anger is in my voice, anger that has nothing to do with him, and I have to reassure him that if I sound angry, it’s just frustration with other things, and not his fault.

The net result for me, is that I feel as if I am clinging onto my own identity by my fingertips. That I am little more than a kite buffeted back and forth in the air currents of other people’s neediness. This is not a good place for anyone long term. I have to look after my parents. I can’t not. I have to look after my son. I can’t not. But I also have to find some way, among that, of looking after me. Because if I go down, they all do. And that won’t help anyone.

So, apart from running away from my life and never coming back (not an option) how do I sort this out?

Well, the writer bit of my brain that is bored stupid with Real Life and wandering off is still well and truly with me, but as careers go, my authorly efforts are not going that well.

Basically, I thought that with each book I wrote I’d make roughly the same amount of cash. However, I seem to have plateaued at the K’Barthan Series. After I’d finished the four K’Barthan novels I really needed something straightforward so I wrote a stand alone, Escape From B-Movie Hell. It bombed. I naively thought that everyone who read and enjoyed my four other novels would automatically think, ‘Yeh, I’ll buy this one.’ They didn’t. To be honest, I think I’ve sold less copies of Escape this year than I sold of K’Barthan 3 or 4 in my worst month. Therefore, since 2015 I’ve been kind of stuck in a rut going nowhere, a four book wonder, because in real terms, for all it’s done, I might as well have sat on my arse from July 2014 through to December 2015 and not have written the fifth book. It’s a pity as I had a gas writing Escape and I love the results. I just re-read it, it’s far and away my best book yet but the market begs to differ.

Thus, I have learned that new stuff is not working, and that I can’t afford to take 18 months writing a book which doesn’t work. And THAT means … well, it means I have to make a plan. Also because my periods of writing time are shorter and less frequent, I take a greater proportion of the hours available getting back into the plot of a big complicated book, slowing it all up even more. So, here’s what I’m thinking …

Though my brain is desperate for the regular escapes from Real Life that only writing can deliver, it is in a state of permanent mental exhaustion.  That makes the risk of burnout omnipresent. Full length novels are tricky and another series like the K’Barthan Series will be extremely difficult.  Scratch 6 years for a four book series, in MTM’s new reality we’re looking at a minimum of 15. That’s a long time to wait before I have another two or three books that my readers – or possibly a new group of readers who like that series – want.

However, I need to achieve stuff outside the care zone. My brain needs to write, for sure, and it needs to see projects start and evolve and finish so I can earn enough to pay for my mailing list and the production of new books. For that to happen, with the hampered state of my mental capacities right now, I need to write is something simpler or shorter. So that’s what I will do; write shorter, less complicated books, which I will sell for a cheaper price. And they’ll be about K’Barth. The stories will tie in with the big books and when there are enough, I will have one of the 20k books permanently free, give one or two of the others to folks who’ve signed up to my mailing list and charge real money for the 100k plus behemoths.

Two cyber buddies in writing in my genre started producing short stories as well as novels last year and I have been watching their results with interest. One’s publisher had a minimum ebook price for a novel that was quite high, so he decided to write some shorter things that he could price lower, one just wanted uncomplicated as well as complicated. Both have found that folks are reading their low priced short stories and then moving on to the longer more expensive stuff. They are also getting less complaints about the more expensive stuff being … well … expensive.

So that’s Plan A sorted. MTM’s planned releases for next year: three short books about K’Barth – if I do well – or two if hospital time is at a maximum. They’ll retail at 99p/99c and Gladys, Ada and the punters at the Parrot and Screwdriver will definitely feature in one or two of them. If you have any favourite characters you’d like to know more about, let me know in the comments and I’ll do something about them. So far I have a lot of votes for Gladys and Ada, several for Big Merv and one for General Moteurs. I’ll try to keep the shorts coming reasonably regularly, although if either parent dies I probably won’t write anything for ages afterwards, but I digress.

As my brain can’t do complicated right now – even if it does want to do writing – this looks like a neat solution. Even starting the first short, last week, took the pressure off. Suddenly the full length novel I’m writing, which I’d got a bit stuck on, has started moving again. It’s not about K’Barth so even when it’s done, only a handful of people will read it, but I’ll like it and that’s what matters, so that’s plan B, write a big novel at the same time as the small ones.

Which brings me back to the comment. Someone pointed out that my blog is quite informative and is kind of a book on its own … and that got me thinking. The thing about the blog is, it’s all planned out, well, it isn’t but I know what I am going to say before I start. So it did occur to me that I could write a generalist series of pamphlets about publishing books yourself. It would be a series called, ‘I fucked this up so you don’t have to’. OK no that’s the only-in-my-dreams working title. It would have to be called something a bit more anodyne and sensible like ‘Mistakes I made so you don’t have to’.

The point is, I wouldn’t have to think much to do those, it would just be a case of crafting them. The knowledge, and the trains of thought, are already in my head. I wouldn’t have to imagine or research much. I’d just explain what I have learned. It might be fun. So that’s plan C.

And there, finally, you have it. MTM cares too much. MTM is an authorholic. MTM will switch the pressure from completing long books to completing some short ones that are fictional and non fictional and then the long books can go quietly on in the background at the same time.

The strangest thing is that’s not a huge change in plan. I’ve just shifted the emphasis to shorts in the foreground and behemoth novel in the background. However, somehow, put that way, it feels like it might be achievable.

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Meet Bugly: #Whovian #JollyJapes

This is a before and after shot of the new friend McMini and I have created because … I dunno idle thumbs? We have too much time on our hands? Probably a bit of both. We’ve named him Bugly because he’s blummin ugly bless him. Anyway, Bugly is about to go on a road trip, and he’s going to be sending us selfies from all the lovely places he goes to which I will post on here, unless it’s just not funny any more. In which case I won’t.

apologies to everyone who has already seen this, I got my media muddled!

So here we are.

image

Before .. An ordinary Ood.

After!

After!

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Wait! I’m not ready! #GirlsNightOut, 26 days and counting!

You may, or may not, remember various posts I’ve done on here about my lovely bruv who runs marathons despite being ‘middle-aged, unfit and fat’ – his words and it’s a lie because he’s definitely NOT unfit – or that fat. Anyway, having seen his fine and shining example, watched him routinely raise over a grand, and given him a tenner each time, I thought maybe I should have a go.

I mean, how hard can it be?

Yeh. No. Actually I did know the right answer to that one.

As you may be aware, and if you aren’t, I may as well tell you, I am also middle-aged, comfortably upholstered fat, unfit and I have arthritic knees which contain one less sound ligament in each than normal people’s knees. This made me think, some years ago, that maybe I should eschew the idea of marathons or any other kind of run. Because I can’t run, because my knees don’t do that kind of thing any more, I can only walk, so I’d never qualify for a marathon. I wondered if I could find a cause I care about, with an event that has slightly less rigorous entry criteria, and try er hem … walking. Possibly even briskly (if I took enough chocolate along with me to power the effort) but never tracked one down.

I kind of gave up on the idea, I had a baby anyway, and we moved house and did child rearing and stuff. And it was all lost by the wayside for a bit. Except that in recent years, one night a year, hoards of ladies have walked past my house in flashing bunny ears. I wondered:

  1. what on earth they were doing and
  2. whether I should join in.

Two years ago I plucked up courage to open the door and ask one of them what was going on.

‘Girls’ Night Out,’ she said.

None the wiser I went and looked up Girls Night Out on the internet. It’s a sponsored actual walk! For a fantastic place, our local hospice.

Last year I nearly joined in.

This year … I’ve signed up.

It’s gentle 6k ramble round Bury St Edmunds, at night, wearing the aforementioned flashing bunny ears, yes, in the dark, in pyjamas. (Note to self: there are pyjamas and pyjamas, buy a set of pyjamas you can wear in public.) The local Hospice – St Nicholas’ Hospice – were wonderful with a friend’s relly when he was dying and since the question of hospices and hospice care is in my mind at the moment, for my parents, it is something that resonates with me. They ask each walker to try and raise £100 for them.

‘Booyacka!’ I thought when I read that. ‘£100 is easy money! I only need to persuade 20 people to give me a fiver. Surely that can’t be too hard? And 6k? No problem.’

Except that while it might have been easy when I signed up, that was the end of the summer term. After 3 terms of going to the gym 3 times a week with only the shortest of breaks in between I was at the apogee of my yearly fitness levels and the lowest yearly knee pain level. Anyway the walk was ages away, I had time.

However, the date of this walk is now coming up fast. And it’s in the first week of September, at my yearly fitness nadir, after I’ve spent 6 weeks drinking and eating more than usual, going on holiday, doing larks with McMini, ignoring my physiotherapy exercises or doing no exercise at all. Some of my shorts no longer fit and dressing myself each morning is more and more like draping camouflage netting over a Zeppelin.

Ah.

Indeed, now I’ve looked at the map and my thoughts are more like this:

‘Fuckorama! What have I done? Can I even drag my fat bottom 3k, let alone 6?’

Yes, I’m facing Blimpageddon!

And on top of that, I see far fewer folk in the holidays than term so I have failed, epically, in my mission to persuade 20 people to give me a fiver – although one kind soul did give me £10 via Facebook. Thank you, you know who you are.

In short, it looks, very much, as if my effort at charity fundraising is going to die on its arse. But it could be worse! I am sure it will be great fun, we’re going to the pub afterwards and I could have signed up for the 14k route.

So, the walk is on 10th September. I have about 3 weeks to try and get fit. Two of them are summer holiday blimp time so I will have to take moments out of eating, play and high octane resting to kick some donkey and get into shape.

On the up side, according to my Fitbit, I do walk about 5 miles every day, although I’m not 100% certain I can trust it. I mean, it thinks two hours sitting in my car driving to Sussex is a 5 mile run which either means it’s hopelessly inaccurate or it’s picked up on my mood and is lying to me to keep up my morale.

I am going to be updating my progress sporadically on the justgiving page they’ve … well … given me which is here. So if you want to read a bit more about my efforts I’ll be mostly talking about it there or using the #GirlsNightOut hastag on twitter – although, depending on the quality and availability of wi-fi on our upcoming road trip, there may be a two week gap and one week’s intense solid build up as I hone my athletic prowess.

If you want to take a look feel free, you can even sponsor me if you like. That said, sponsorship, though welcome, is certainly not required.

So here we are on Day 1 of my get fit drive. I have achieved 40 squats while cleaning my teeth and taken down a tent. Oh yeh. Go me.

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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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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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A free box, an embarrassing parent and over 100 #free #scifi_books!

This week I have mostly been cheating and taken my blog post from my monthly round robin email, but when you get to the bit about free sci-fi books you’ll understand why, because it’s good.

Patty Jensen Promo 3-5

This week as McMini and I trundled home from school we noticed a large wooden box in someone’s front garden. It was big, big enough to accommodate a full grown adult well … a small one anyway, and it had a sign on it saying, ‘free please help yourself’. Shameless skip-shopper that I am, there was no way I was going to leave it there, but sensitive to my McMini’s sensibilities I asked him anyway.

After a brief discussion as to whether the box was the free item in question, or whether there’d originally been something else on top, which some other enterprising local had already removed, we decided we’d take the box, paint it and use it to store some of McMini’s gargantuan collection of lego. Even though we were 99% certain it was the box they were giving away we decided to make our exit a sharp one. The box and its garden were only a few hundred yards from our house so it wouldn’t take long to nip home.

Except that when it came to moving the box my arms were not long enough to carry it by both handles so the exit was not exactly sharp. It involved puffing, panting, pigeon steps and lengthy stops for protracted bouts of breathless wheezing and giggling. After ‘carrying’ it about five yards in 10 minutes, some kind local took pity on us and took the other handle. We got it the rest of the way in about 30 seconds flat!

McMini told me I was ‘awkward’ which is 7 year old speak for ‘a complete and utter embarrassment’. I told him about the time my Mum made me join her in our coat cupboard to hide from some on-spec visitors and he decided that, perhaps, I might be a bit less embarrassing than I could be. The box is now in our garage, awaiting filler, sanding and painting. You can see from the bike next to it that it’s quite large… yes, I’m posting a picture of a box for you to see because I find boring stuff so incredibly interesting! Mwah hahahahrgh! But then if I wasn’t obsessed with the minutiae of life, I probably wouldn’t write books

Continuing on the subject of getting something for nothing, I wanted to give you the heads up about some free sci-fi and fantasy books that will be up for grabs this weekend: over 100 of them!

Renowned Australian sci-fi author, Patti Jansen has got together with a bunch of over 100 other sci-fi and fantasy authors who, in a moment of March madness, will be giving away their books for free. The theme has two streams: books that are in Kindle Unlimited – although I believe many of those are going to be free to non Kindle Unlimited Amazon users for 5th and 6th March – and free first in series on Kobo; they’re free whatever.

Patti has kindly included a link to download the Kobo app, for any amazon only users who might want it. More details can be found on the giveaway page, which is on Patti’s site.

So, to sum up:

I got a free box, and you can get some free books.

To take a look at the books in Patti Jansen’s Insane March Promo, click on the picture at the top of this page – not the box, that’s in the middle, anyway, the super promotion thingummy – or, slightly easier, click this link here:

Patti Jansen’s Insane March Promo: http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

 

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Filed under Blimey!, Free Stuff