Tag Archives: author parent

Evolved or spun? Meet my shorts. Born Free: news, views and free books … #giveaway #sffbooks

First of all, thanks to everyone who responded – in the comments or by email – to my rant last week. My folks are a lot better, which is heartening, and their new boiler is fitted. Things are calm for the moment, although I’ll probably have to try and get them to a funeral some time in the next couple of weeks. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I also did reasonably well at the Bury Christmas Fayre this year, in fact I ran out of copies of Few Are Chosen, which was a good predicament to be in but also a bit annoying. I did £470 over three days, £12 more than I did on my best year, in two, but a full £170 more than last year – although they hadn’t put me next to a stall selling brand new, best selling kids and teen books for £1 a pop this year, which was a relief.

There has been more time to reflect over my life and career this week, to, and I am feeling on a slightly more even keel. I have stepped down as editor of the parish mag, freeing up a minimum of seven hours a month and after Roughseas’ question in response to my last post, I started a short story to explain exactly how Betsy Coed did end up running the Bordello on Turnadot Street. Amazingly, it’s moving along nicely and I now have a princely 4009 words in the bag – only 16,000 to go then. Not so bad; if I keep up progress at this rate, it’ll be done in 4 weeks. It won’t, of course, but I will be done a lot quicker than I usually am and might even manage to squidge a second in before the summer holidays begin.

At the same time, the longer stuff has started moving again, so I’ve written a couple of thousand words of the work in progress, too – which is the first in a series and not set in K’Barth. However, I have made the usual discovery, a third in, that what I’m really writing is book two. So I’ve had to take stock a bit, go back and start book 1.

Isn’t it bizarre? Nothing has changed, I’m still trying to write a mix of full length novels and, in an ideal world, some shorter stories to go with. However, instead of seeing it like that, I’ve simply switched priorities, put the short stories as the priority and the novels on the ‘in an ideal world’ back burner, swapped a difficult goal for an easy one. The result? Suddenly I’ve made more progress on both in a week than I have in the preceding two months! So it just goes to show how important it is to look at things in the right way – or perhaps, that I’m so credulous that I can even do spin and puff on myself! Or possibly CBT.

Anyway, a propos of the shorts, I’d really appreciate your help with something. If you have a burning question about K’Barth, the back story to the series, the back story to the characters, anything characters do ‘off stage’ over the story line of the series, can you let me know what it is in the comments? I will then answer it, using the medium of the short story, because a few questions will really help to get this kickstarted.

Second thing, I am taking part in a giveaway this month. A group of science fiction and fantasy authors have got together and we are all giving our books away for free. You don’t have to sign up to anyone’s mailing list or jump through any hoops, AND you don’t have to be tied to one particular book retailer. You can go to the page for your favourite retailer and download the books that interest you.

To find out more, just click on this smashing graphic, here.

pattyjansenpromodec16

 

 

 

 

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Filed under About My Writing, Author Updates, General Wittering

I want to be straight! (Yeh) I want to be straight! I’m sick and tired of taking drugs and staying up late.

It occurred to me, the other day, that it might be prudent to try and explain why it takes me so sodding long to write a book. So in this gargantuan half rant, half post with a dash of tirade I am going to try. Basically, it’s about admin.

Frankly, I think I may be unique in the extent of my total and utter inability to organise anything easily: be it myself, others, things I find it incredibly hard to sort them out. Indeed, I would probably have a second life to live if I could somehow claw back the endless hours I spend looking for my glasses and my keys.  Also my life is ruled by Murphy and his law, no, not Murphy; Sod. Presumably that’s why, in the perfect irony, I have been given a life where I have to organise a lot of stuff, mostly to do with other people’s lives. Because I’m shit at it and someone up there thinks that’s funny. Like the time I declared that I’d never ever marry a lawyer … and the right man came along and of course he was, indeed, is, a lawyer.

This time of year McOther’s working hours go crazy, he has corporate events to go to at the weekends, the NFL play matches at Wembley which, as he spent his formative years in North America, he is desperately keen to attend – also at the weekends – and they make a 40 minute game take hours … Suffice to say, McMini misses his calming presence. So do I. This year, my organisational inability over the months coming up to Christmas seems to be particularly bad. I know I like variety and I know I have a sense of humour but it would be nice if just once I could organise one single smecking thing and have it go according to plan. Not that I do plan. Ever. Because there’s absolutely no effing point. But I do kind of, prime stuff and expect … results of a certain nature.

Case in point. This week. This week is not so different from any other week in my house other than that it’s got me feeling a little down. I don’t know why because this is my life, this is how I live but I’ve found myself wishing I could be one of the normals. To explain what I’m talking about … well … here’s the story so far.

We arrived home from our half term trip abroad rested and ready for action, except my iPad – which I had dropped for the second time before we went away, breaking it for the second time, Gorilla Glass my arse – decided to die on the Sunday night. Properly. So, as the folks who were going to fix it for £50 when they got the screen hadn’t rung in three weeks I decided I’d better get my wallet ready for a spanking and try the Apple store.

A few minutes later, I walked into the kitchen and just happened to notice McCat popping in, with grey feathers hanging out of his mouth. He had a squint round as if checking the coast was clear and made to head out. I shut the cat flap knowing that there was a body out there, one he was going to bring in, disembowel and eat bloodily and messily on the beige carpet outside our spare room.

No.

Not happening.

Looking out into the garden to check I could see a lot of feathers in the light from the kitchen window. It looked as if someone had burst a pillow out there. So McOther and I concluded that there would, indeed, be a body. On his mission to put out the bins McOther had a look and discovered that contrary to our expectations there was a live victim. A pigeon, looking very sorry for itself, with few wing feathers, a bald neck and absolutely NO tail whatsoever. Inevitably, we christened him Kojak.

There wasn’t much we could do for Kojak at 8.00 pm on a Sunday night except leave him and hope he recovered, the reasoning being that he’d be gone or dead in the morning. Monday dawned and Kojak was not dead but unfortunately not gone either. I would have to rescue him.

Bum. I didn’t really have time for that.

So I chalked him up as another thing to do after the school run and my, now, inevitable trip to the Apple store with my smashed and non-functional iPad. I locked the cat inside and off we went to school.

Surprising joy from the Apple store. The iPad hadn’t really died, it was just pretending, the smashed glass was lifting and not conducting so well so the screen was beginning to stop working. I decided to skip the folks who hadn’t rung me about the screen in 3 weeks and took it to another store. Yes, the fellow told me, he could fix it and would do so by that afternoon at 4.00pm (thank you Sod, who rules my life and knows the school run has me going past there at 3.30pm).

I left it and went to the gym for dodgy knee maintainance. That done it was home to find out what to do with Kojak. After about an hour surfing the internet which only told me that a trip to Norfolk was required – 30 miles away but probably at speeds of no faster than 30mph the whole distance on a good day. This was not doable in the time I had left if I wanted to present myself at the school on time to get McMini. In desperation I rang the Vet’s.

‘Bring him here,’ the told me.

So I captured Kojak, which took a bit more doing than I expected, because he’d perked up quite a bit, and carried him round to the Vet’s in a box.

kojak

Kojak in his box looking surprisingly perky

Kojak despatched to safer climes, I returned home, released the cat, cleared up the thermonuclear weapons-grade pooh he’d done in his earth box, washed up breakfast and even managed to write about 3 words before it was time to go collect McMini. We faffed about long enough to be able to visit the shop mending the iPad at 4.00 and discovered that the people who mended it last cocked it up and broke some stuff – including the wifi transmitter, which explains why it was so shit. So he would get the parts and call me when they were ready. (Does this sound familiar?).

Tuesday passed without incident – or contact from the iPad menders. Wednesday was visit-the-parents-day and the journey to and from Sussex was surprisingly smooth. Only a small stop at the Dartford Tunnel where I received a text to say that my iPad was ready for collection and arrived home just too late to be able to pick it up. I also discovered that I’ve driven my car through a hole somewhere, the tracking was out and I had therefore spunked an extra £15 worth of petrol on the trip on a smooth journey with no major delays – it having used the entire tank instead of the usual two thirds. Having a quick look round the car as it was parked at the pump I saw one front tyre was a little low. I drove over to the air line, which someone else arrived at just before me, of course, and while they did their air I opened the boot and rummaged about for my car’s handbook.

I found it, but I also found stern warnings about putting air in when the tyres are hot. The car must have been stationery for 3 hours minimum. Then, I must drive no more than 1 mile from cold and then check the air. I must not drive no miles. One mile it must be, two was too many and three was right out, one and only one mile must I drive etc.

Overjoyed that here was another bit of administrative shite I could piss my precious time away doing, ie go get the tracking done and the tyres balanced and do the sodding air, I felt a little deflated for a moment. Then I remembered. Never mind, at least something had gone according to plan. I was going to get my iPad back.

Now, when I go in my car to my parents, my fibit thinks that I am running up and down 300 flights of stairs and walking about 40,000 steps. It kind of buggers up the averages so I take it off and do it up round my bra strap, where, strangely, it ceases to log all non-existent activity. Clearly despite being jiggly, my jiggly bits are not as jiggly as … well … you know. You get the picture. This means I had taken it off and snapped it round my bra as I left Mum and Dad’s. As I approached the traffic lights at the end of the road ASDA is on, I’d remembered I must put it on again. By the time I pulled up at the ASDA petrol forecourt I had, of course, forgotten all about remembering.

While I was filling the tank the empty road outside ASDA filled up with traffic as the council offices emptied at 5.30 so I took my place among their 8,000 employees, most of whom seemed to be in cars, queuing for the lights. It took me 20 minutes to get home and I broke the good news about the iPad to McOther and had a lovely chat with McMini. I went upstairs to have a shower and put my pyjamas on before supper at 6.30. Then I looked at my fitbit. It wasn’t there.

I took a rain check on the shower. Instead I searched my car – even under the seats, a process which involves feats of contortion few humans, other than lotus owners, are capable of – and failed to find my fitbit there, either.

Arse.

I drove to ASDA. Was it there? Was it bollocks?

I asked at lost property, ‘No,’ the lady informed me. ‘If it hasn’t been found after half an hour it probably won’t be but pop in when you are here next week.’

I trudged back to the car park, cursing myself for being such a spacker.

When I got home McMini threw open his arms.

‘Mummy, I’m so sorry to hear about your fitbit, come and give me a hug so you will feel better.’

As I hugged him tight and looked over his head to the kindly face of McOther it did occur to me that every cloud has a silver lining.

Sometimes life feels like this ...

Sometimes my life feels as if it’s like this. Other times …

Welcome to my world.

… it’s more like this. Welcome to my world.

Wednesday night poor little McMini had another bad dream about the air raid siren. Who thought World War Two was a good topic to teach 8 year olds? Seriously? Nobody with an 8 year old kid, that’s for certain. He was so scared he was shaking, a couple of times his fear has been enough to make him throw up.

Thursday I went to the shop to pick up my iPad. I discovered that the shop didn’t open until 10.00 am. As I was on the way back from the school run this was a bit of a pain. So I went and did some shopping, did another knee improving session at the gym and went back to the store at 10.30. It was still closed. No note of explanation, according to the door and their website, it was working hours and should have been open it just … wasn’t. I texted the chap who had let me know the iPad was ready, asking what gives. He explained that his colleague would be there on Friday, definitely and we arranged a time for me to pick up my iPad. Disgruntled at schlepping up the hill for nothing I grumbled my way home. Oh well, at least it would be there the next day.

In the evening, I went to a skiing lesson. Yes, buggered knees aside, I thought I’d give it a go because McOther and McMini can do it and want us to go on a family skiing holiday. But I have to see if it’s physically possible first. Hence the lesson, the third of three, which started at 7.00pm. It’s in Ipswich, 30 minutes down the A14 … or not because it was blocked. The minor roads either side were gridlocked and it took me an hour and a half to get there. On the upside, I found out enough in advance to leave early and only be 15 minutes late.

This morning, Friday, I locked my keys in the house. It says a lot for the regularity with which I do this that I forgot to mention it until the last edit of this tirade, and that I was back in, picking them up and locking up properly in about 30 seconds, causing McMini to exclaim,

‘Mummy you are just the best burglar ever!’

Pshaw! M T blows casually on fingers. We weren’t even that late.

But that’s what I mean. Nothing, and I mean nothing goes according to plan. If a simple 10 minute phone call can turn into five hours of endless buttock numbing tedium it will. If something that should be straightforward and simple like, ‘please can I have this?’ is able to turn into five days of wrangling, begging and pleading, it does. Nine times out of ten it’s my own fault or because I’ve been a total dork and missed a deadline or some step that the normals take in their stride. What is going on? Is everyone else’s life like this or is it just mine? Maybe my people skills are crap. But really, what is so difficult about,

‘Can you fix my iPad.’
‘Yes, you can pick it up tommorow.’
Next day: ‘Hi I’ve come to pick up my iPad. I see your shop is actually open at the times the notice on the door says, and at the time I arranged to pick up my iPad and pay you money.’
‘It is, indeed, madam. That’s how the retail business is usually conducted.’

This morning I made sure I was doing something interesting in the time until the iPad repair shop opened, at 10.00. I had breakfast with a friend. Again, I gave the shop a bit of slack. Again, at 10.30 they were still closed. I sent a stinking text to the fixit man saying his colleagues were tossers (politely, obviously) and asking when was he next in. So I’ll be picking it up on Monday.

And in the middle of all this stupid shit, I’m trying to write a book. And I had two hours to work on it today. But I couldn’t. Because I’m too smecking cross. So I did another welter of overhanging admin and wrote this, instead. If I could give up writing, I would, but I need it. It’s like some horrible drugs habit. I’m a high functioning authorholic.

You see this is the problem.

My brain hates admin. It wants to concentrate on the important things in life like making shit up and … I dunno, listening to music, drawing, or the view, or the next joke. If I have loads of crap to remember to do it gets kind of fried. So if all the stuff I have to remember, like making bank transfers, checking cash, booking dental appointments, going to them, booking a slot to get my car’s tracking done – going to the post office to collect the parcel that some dickwad has sent me with £2.00 to pay because they didn’t put enough stamps on it, in case it’s important (it never is) – if all that total wanksputle starts to overwhelm my brain it just thinks, fuck this for a game of soldiers I’m off and then it buggers off somewhere, and I wish I knew where but I don’t. It just switches off.

And it switches everything off, including the important stuff that I’m interested in and actually want to remember, like that cunning plot twist I’d thought of for my book, or remembering to put my watch/fitbit back on, or forgetting that my iPad cover comes off and it drops out sometimes … onto the floor … and breaks.

And I end up giving myself even more administrivatative shit to sort out because I’ve forgotten deadlines, and then I end up getting even more pissed off and frustrated and angry that the majority of my span on this earth is going to be spent sorting out mindless shitty shite for me and others who can’t do it without my help. For the rest of my days. Oh yes, and in between all of that there’ll be lots and lots of chronic knee pain. The outlook for the rest of my life is incredibly bleak.

No wonder I need to escape.

And yet … for all that. I know I’m happy. Because it’s friends and family and the people around a person who make their world, not this shit. I just wish … well … that there was a little bit less of the shit sometimes or that occasionally, just once or twice, when I tried to do something, it went … OK it’s never going to go according to plan but maybe if it could just go wrong the way it does for normal people?

So there you go. Here’s a joke. You have to read it out loud though .. and to be honest its a bit crap

What do the Portugese do with their cars?

I told you it was crap.

On a final note, McMini had a Boy’s Brigade meeting tonight about a mile from our house so I drove there and then went to ASDA to do the tyre pressures on my car. You’d think I’d have managed that but no, it turns out that air, these days, costs 20p. And I left my wallet at home and I don’t have a 20p piece anyway. So although I’ll be in the right place in the right circumstances tonight, nothing can be done. (There’s no kiosk at ASDA so I can’t get change and no other garages who do have a kiosk nearby). Then, as I unlocked the door upon our arrival home, I somehow managed to bend the yale key. I unbent it and it works now but not before we had to go through the conservatory door because, initially, it didn’t. And so the madness continues …

Joy unbounded.

 

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Filed under General Wittering

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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Filed under Blimey!, General Wittering

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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Welcome to my world…

Just a quick post before I go into low internet access mode for three weeks… not that you’ll be able to tell the difference between that and me in full internet access mode, seeing as I’ve failed spectacularly to do anything internetty for a long time. Life has just got a bit busy and when that happens, I use computer time to write and my socialising and promoting tends to be put aside for a while.

It all began with a hurriedly organised birthday party for McMini complete with cake. Mmm… Making the cake was interesting. McCat likes cake so the reason that bit in the middle of the neck is a different colour is because that’s the bit McCat excised while I was answering the door.When I came back he ran off with it. It was OK though. The rest hadn’t been touched so I cut out a good margin either side and put in new cake and new icing. Couldn’t get the icing out of the gaps though.

IMG_2408

Bakugan cake…. it’s supposed to be the little fellah at the top.

The next cake,  one for McParents’ – on my side – golden wedding. This time it was the raw mixture that got eaten while I was answering the door. I knew I shouldn’t have turned the mixer off. Came back and McCat had his head in the bowl snarfing.

All the cake making gave me a bit of an IBS attack. Trying cake mixture. I think eating some rather old smoked salmon with scrambled eggs for breakfast followed by courgettes fried with some decidedly elderly pancetta for lunch may have contributed too. Still cake made McMini and I iced it without a serious hitch, except that I couldn’t get the dates to fit and I’d planned it most carefully so I couldn’t work out why. Oh and McCat stole a sausage from my lunch plate but at least he left the beautifully (erk it’s all relative) iced cake unmolested this time.

All ready for the day, I woke up on the morning and I discovered that I had vertigo (this is how I do hayfever). Serious, 18 pints on board style spins, so I spent the first hour shouting, ‘Europe’ into the big white telephone without much coming out and waiting for the hayfever pills to kick in. Amazingly they did, the vertigo stopped and off we went. Even more amazingly, we made it in time for the lunch, with some to spare.

All went well, the cake was much admired, McMini had fun with his cousins, the grown ups had fun too and hoorah! All went swimmingly. Even better I got a big rest on the Saturday as McOther and McBrother took McMini to the fair – the vertigo was better but I still questioned the wisdom of watching a lot of stuff going round, and round and round: or worse, sitting on it while it did.

That night while looking for a shoe, I only had one pair and I could only find one – because I’d washed the other one and forgotten that I’d put it behind the curtains where it would get a nice 2 hours of sun on it to dry it before I got up. This simple fact obscured temporarily, I was searching the house. Heard Sis In Law call for my brother. Great, she would almost certainly have clocked and seen the shoe. I looked over the bannisters and there was my sister in law, lying on the ground at the bottom of the stairs wrapped in a duvet.

“Er that’s quite an unusual place to stop… are you alright down there?”
Not really, I’ve broken my ankle.”
“Ah,” gulp. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’ve done it before.”
“Right. I’m guessing you heard it crack?”
“Yep.”
“Ah, that’s enough to convince me. Tricky, hang on…” I trundle down the stairs to join her.
“I think I’m going to throw up.”
“OK… let’s get you a bowl.” I run and get bowl. “Did you hit your head?”
“No, I held onto the curtains.”
I look at the curtains in front of the door, clearly she has grabbed them, the hooks have broken one by one and they’ve fallen down, lowering her gently to earth as they do so.
“Lucky! OK, I’ll go and get McBro.”

McBrother appears and suggests going straight to A&E but I persuade him to call 999 so we get a paramedic to evaluate her first before moving her. Sis in law agrees she’d like us to do that. McBrother calls ambulance.

“Ooooo!” calls my Mum from upstairs, “Can I press our red panic button?”
“No,” says McBrother.
“He’s ringing an ambulance,” I tell her.
“OK.” She sounds disappointed.

I am sent to stand in the road waiting for the ambulance. They have verbal directions from McBrother but they will not find our house if they use sat nav. This is because Google Maps is convinced that our house is not where we live, but somewhere a few miles away. Every now and again I contact Google and explain where it really is. And they usually write back to tell me that an adjudicator has looked at my request but that I am wrong. Growing up there, is clearly not enough.

There is a problem with this though, I only have one shoe, but luckily Sis In Law’s shoe has broken in Worthing at the fair and she’s had a bit of a spree while buying a new pair and bought some crocs, too. I slip my vile feet into them and then, weird of weird, put on my panama hat despite the fact it’s 10:30pm and dark  (what in the name of heaven is that about) and trot dutifully out into the road. The ambulance is lost and I run, or at least, I do ‘the gait’ because I can’t run, down the road to it. It arrives and it’s a car. There is no room for me in there with them so I tell them where to go. I run along after them. They drive past. I wave my feeble torch. They stop. I show them.

When I get to the house a few minutes after they do, they are evaluating Sis In Law.

So, the long and the short after this examination was that we discovered she had broken her ankle, on Brighton Gay Pride night, when a lot of other people in the locale, after injudicious amounts of dancing and alcohol, had broken their ankles – and other bits of themselves – too. There was a one and a half hour wait for an ambulance – but that was OK because the Paramedic car had come in about 10 minutes and we had the all clear to take her in ourselves. But the 2 hour wait in casualty (even in Worthing) was a bit more of a bummer. Fair play to her and McBrother that they made the lunch the next day, successfully consumed a heavy meal on a couple of hours sleep and were rather more awake than I was.

“How was your weekend?” a friend asked when I got back.
Was that out of the ordinary for a trip to my folks? No, not really.
“Same old same old,” I said.

On a side note, they’re going to give my Mum a new hip. She finally has a date: slap bang in the middle of our holiday. It’s a worry but less of a worry than when she was in limbo without one. Perhaps that’s why for  have been even more numerically challenged than usual this week: worry. It does make me a bit more ditzy. Let’s forget about that, though and look at some photos. First: the Golden Wedding Cake. Remember I couldn’t work out why the numbers didn’t fit?

Cake: Before...

Cake: Before light dawns, can you spot the deliberate mistake?

Yeh, well, as I was about to serve it up, my uncle noticed it had the wrong date. Yes, I’d put 2005 instead of 2015. A bit of an, ‘ah now I get it,’ moment. Of course the numbers didn’t sodding fit. They were the wrong ones. It’s not even as if I got the date of the marriage wrong, as in 1965, it the bleeding date NOW. Oh well. Luckily it was easy to scrape one side of the O off and turn it back into a 1.

Cake: After, with the RIGHT date.

Cake: After, with the RIGHT date.

Then, two nights ago we had some folks for dinner and when I asked how many McOther said, “eight with McMini.” I translated this as 9, which means I managed to lay an extra place… for a person who didn’t exist… and even worse to not actually notice until I was serving pudding.

So there you have it. My family is still a group of people that THINGS HAPPEN TO, my cat is a mentalist who probably has some kind of feline eating disorder and I’m completely fucking bats.

Never mind… At least there was lots of cake.

My brain and my life.

My brain and my life.

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Marathon Man and Team GB: A Personal Appeal from Me.

As you know, I don’t normally talk about my family, mainly because I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to know about them and that they, in turn, would be absolutely horrified if I did. However, today, I’m going to make an exception. This is a personal post, about my brother, and at the end of it, I’m going to ask for your help. I aim to beg in an amusing way, without putting anyone under pressure, but if you think you’ll be uncomfortable with that feel free to make a swift exit!

Right, if anyone’s still here, on we go.

Today, I’d like to tell you about a very important event which my brother, Giles Bell: A prime examples of er,  middle aged athleticism if ever there was one; a man in the peak of physical fitness – see photo – is going to undertake with a team of other brave sporting gentlemen: Simon Sowdon, Will Hughes, Paul Vicars and Andy Weston.

Giles Bell, the apogee of sporting prowess is the one on the right. As you can see, he's very tall which is why he's having to concentrate extremely hard on not smacking his head on the speaker mounted at a height that is well above danger level for most of us. I apologise to the lady in the middle for not knowing who he is. The lady on the left is his wife. ;-)

Giles Bell, the apogee of sporting prowess, is the one on the right. As you can see, he’s very tall which is why he’s having to concentrate extremely hard on not smacking his head on the speaker mounted at a height that wouldn’t normally bother most of us. He is holding a special, yeast and hops based vitamin drink he uses to run faster. I apologise to the lady in the middle for not knowing who she is – or at least not remembering, I’m sure I do know. The lady on the left is his wife, Emily. 😉

The five brave souls of the Famous Five, or Team Giles Bell – or Team GB unless I am unable to call them that for legal reasons – are going to be taking part in the Shrewsbury half marathon to raise money for the Scleroderma Society. They’re going to try to make it look really difficult by completing it in under two hours.

“God made me for a purpose but he also made me FAST and when I run I feel his pleasure!”*

Being such  fine athletes it will be difficult for them to run that slowly, so they will be making it look hard with as much sporting hamminess as possible. To this end they are studying videos of premier league football players showing pain and undertaking a heavy schedule of grimacing practise in readiness. Speaking as someone who can’t run or walk more than a mile and would have to be dragged round, or perhaps pushed, St-Cuthbert’s-Mum-style, in a wheelbarrow I can only stand in awe and admire (phnark).

Why the Scleroderma Society?

Well, because Giles has just discovered that his youngest son, Reggie has scleroderma. It’s an auto immune problem which can cause painful joints, tightening and stiffness of the joints and skin, fatigue and in unlucky cases, it can affect the internal organs. There is no cure, it’s just something you have to take on the chin and learn to live with, rather than suffer from.

Reggie, for added cuteness. ;-)

Reggie – for added cuteness 😉 – looking very serious while holding an owl.

There are two types of scleroderma:

  •     localised scleroderma, which affects just the skin
  •    systemic sclerosis, which may affect blood circulation and internal organs, as well as the skin.

Reggie definitely has the first and it looks as if he may have both, which is a pretty harsh deal for a six year old: think Lupus, rhumatoid arthritis, chrones disease or the like. The effects are treated with physiotherapy and immuno-suppresants. Reggie will have to have treatment to stabilise the condition to start with. Over a 2 year period he will have to ingest some fairly hefty chemicals: suff that’s usually used in chemotherapy – although in much lower doses. He’ll have to have weekly blood tests and he will probably feel pretty knocked out for most of that time.

Currently, there is no cure for scleroderma and very little funding to find one but the Scleroderma Society is fighting to achieve it. So if you have any funds spare that you’d like to give to a good cause feel free to sponsor Giles who is raising funds for them, by clicking the ‘sponsor Giles’ just there, or using the link below. I’ve added two links about the disease, too, to give you a feel for what Reggie is up against.

  • If you want to know more about Giles’ bid for sporting prowess (his post is much funnier than mine) or would like to sponsor him, his VirginMoneyGiving page is here.
  • If you want to know more about Scleroderma, there’s an excellent explanation on the NHS website here.
  • If you want to know more about the Scleroderma Society, you can visit their website here .

* only Giles will get this joke.

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Even More McMini

Oh deary me, another one of those weeks, I foolishly volunteered to do a blog meme, thinking I could easily rustle up three victi er hem sorry, three nominees to pass it on to. I have two happily queued up and ready but can I find a third one? No. I have four but two who will break the chain. Even worse, it’s only as I answer the questions that I realise I’ve actually done something very similar before.

Note to self. No memes. No blog chains. Nada. Zilch. Ever again. Why adding a few million links to a blog post should take so long I don’t know but it does. Also, as I’m facing a couple of weeks sans internet, I’ve been scheduling some posts to appear in my electronic absence. Unfortunately, this means I’ve spent all week working on my blog without actually posting anything.

Chaos Fairies 1: Efficiency 0

Never mind, onwards and upwards. I thought I would share some of the latest gems from McMini, so here they are.

On April Fool’s day…
W
e went to the park. Wisely, because the lavatories are at the opposite end to the swings, we went to the bogs first.

“Mummy I need a poo,” said McMini.
“Oh dear, do you? Alright, hang on and I’ll come in with you.”
McMini stood in front of the loo with his hands behind his head.
“Shouldn’t you sit down for a poo?”
“No. I’m only having a wee.”
“Might I suggest that you hold it and aim it for greater accuracy.”
“Oh no Mummy, I much prefer doing it like this, and it’s alright I don’t need a poo. It’s April False day remember? I was just falsing you.”

I put him straight, on both counts.

On his reading assignments…
“Mummy I wish I didn’t have to read a book every night, they are terribly long.”
“Yes, they are but a lot of them are quite fun and you read them very well. Anyway, you don’t remember to change your book every night do you? So technically, you don’t read one every night.”
“True…”
“So what happens if you fail to read your book?”
“We have to sit with one of the big year olds and read it the next day. And it’s always the same big year old.”
“You don’t like that, then?”
“No.”
I laughed at this and told him that I thought ‘big year olds’ was brilliant. I kept forgetting it and asking him to remind me.
“Oh Mummy you really are a porridge brain,” he rolled his eyes. “Come on, say it after me, Big. Year. Olds.”
“Big year olds. Right.”
“Got it?”
“Got it.”

On biology…
I told him he was getting much taller and that I couldn’t believe he grew inside my tummy. He stopped for a moment in shocked silence.

“Mummy, I didn’t grow inside your tummy. I am a boy. I grew inside Daddy’s tummy.”
“No, it takes a man and a lady to make a baby but everyone, girls and boys, grows inside the Mummy.”
“Oh. Are you certain Mummy?”
“Very.”
“So did I just grow?”
“No, Daddy helped.”
“How?”
“Well, men and ladies are made to fit together. The lady’s bits go in and the man’s bits go out like putting a plug into a socket. Then they have a very special cuddle and it makes a baby.”
“Can I have a special cuddle Mummy?”
“Not with me sunshine and certainly not yet. Special cuddles are only for grown ups.”

This was the point where half of me was standing outside myself, looking at what was going on, thinking “holy shit how did I get into this?” The key with these, is to offer enough information to shut them up without them a) getting more interested or b) saying or doing anything weird at school. I think I got away with it but I am beginning to understand why they used to feed kids all that bollocks about storks.

In church…
Loudly, during a particularly quiet, prayerful bit.

“Mummy, I have just done a fart and I can smell it and it’s a really stinky one.”
“Would you like to nip out and have a poo?”
“No, it’s OK, Mummy, I am fine.”
A few seconds later.
“Actually Mummy, I do need a poo.”
There was giggling from the other members of the congregation as we walked out.

At the Altar Rail…
After a lot of lively chat to me about robots and lego StarWars figures I told him he must try to be a little quieter now because people around us were trying to pray.

“Why don’t you try saying a couple of prayers? I’m going to.”
McMini screwed his eyes tight shut and buried his head on his hands. I knew he was really concentrating because only his legs were wriggling. After about 10 seconds he looked up.
“Mummy, I am having a lovely chat with God.”
“Good stuff little one. You carry on.”

Another at the alter rail conversation:

“Mummy, you’re not going to die soon, are you?”
“I hope not. I will at some stage because everyone does but hopefully not yet.”
“Are Annie and Poppa and Gramma and Pappa going to die soon?”
“Not for a while yet, I hope.”
“But they will die before I do?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”
“Where do we go to get new Grandparents to replace them?”
“Well… it doesn’t work like that. They’re relatives, so when they die, there’s no-one to replace them.”
“Oh…”

Later that day….

“Mummy Annie laid* you. Who laid Annie?”
“Annie’s Mum, my Granny [name redacted].”
“Oh… who laid her?”
“I think my great, great Granny’s name was ….”
Long thoughtful silence.
“I see….”

On Manners….
While Enthusiastically Eating a Jaffa Cake, also in Church.

“Mummy look! I am ripping it like a dinosaur.”

Still in Church, still in a quiet bit…

“Look!” McMini held up a picture he’d drawn. “he is a baddy cowboy.” McMini then coloured his eyes in brown. “See? He has brown fire coming out of his eyes!”
“Brown Fire sounds like a euphemism for something else.”
“No it’s not brown fire Mummy. It’s pooh. He has pooh coming out of his eyes in big brown pooy streams.”
“Ah…” I replied as the people in the pew behind started giggling. What else could I say?

On school…

A sweet, friendly guest asked him, “Are you at school?”
“Yes.”
“Do you enjoy school?”
“Oh yes,” he said with enthusiasm.
“What’s your favourite lesson?”
“Lunch time.”

On history…
McMini told McOther a long and complicated story about a little girl called Frank who had hidden in a house under a bed from an evil soldier called Hitme. We later discovered that one of his friends had been to Holland over the holidays where she had visited Anne Frank’s house and told McMini all about it.

On cleanliness…
When I was trying to hurry him up going to bed – which takes a sod of a long time, believe me…

“Please will you stay here and play some more, Mummy?”
“I wish I could but I can’t. I have to go and cook your Dad’s tea and have a shower.”
“You don’t need a shower Mummy, you’re very fragrant as you are.”

In Church…
As the Gospel was read from the middle of the aisle, McMini moved over to where the bloke with the incense thingummy (the thurither) was swinging the incense container (the thurible). Slowly but surely he held out his biscuit, kippering it gently over the smoke. Needless to say the thurither (try saying that with your mouth full) started swinging it a bit further in McMini’s direction. Finally, wee man shuffled back to me, kippered gingernut triumphantly in hand.

“Mummy that incense smells delicious!” he said.

* Like an egg as in gave birth to.

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