Smashing Lemons

It seems like the world has been out against me in the last few weeks. Life has been throwing lemons.

Let’s start with the end of last week and the coming of Guy Fawkes night. I have nothing against fireworks per-se, fireworks are a good thing, especially when they’re bright and they’re colourful and all pretty like. I also don’t mind them when they’re kept to a reasonable hour. But when they sound like artillery shells and carry on until eleven at night for three nights running- That’s not good. In fact it is that sort of thing that starts the serious Guy Fawkes night grouches off. Unfortunately I can see where they’re coming from at the minute, I really can. When you’re working late and you have the sounds of ordnance exploding over your head it is irritating, especially when you don’t hear them coming. All you get is the massive, frightening explosion. I have nothing against fireworks, I really don’t- But when you’ve had to put up with three nights of loud noises in this way you’re driven to the brink of madness.

Then there were the road menders. After having to put up with weeks of noisy building work from across the road- They were re-tiling a roof it turns out- WHO HAS THEIR ROOF RE-TILED IN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER???? The council decided to perform some much unneeded road maintenance right outside my house. Cue an awful lot of noise whilst I’m trying to work (are we noticing a pattern here?) and after a while I started to get a throbbing headache. By the middle of Tuesday I was crawling into bed with T.E Lawrence and wishing for it to end… And I had important marketing/promotion work to do!

Then the worst thing that could ever happen happened- my Laptop, upon which I have written at least one million two hundred and sixty thousand words, decided that it was time for it to die. It went suddenly, deciding on Thursday morning that the hard drive and the operating system didn’t exist and refusing any attempt to restore it or repair it. I knew it was nearing the end of its life, it has been running solely off the plug for six months, the CD player hasn’t functioned for years, the u key was missing, the casing had a crack across it and the fan didn’t work… But for it to go suddenly like that was heartbreaking. We’ve been together for almost six years- I have had friendships that have lasted for less time than that. I had most of the important stuff backed up but it still took a lot to its grave- The last few weeks work, the second draft of the movie, that sitcom pilot I wrote, about five videos I had lined up to edit. One of those videos, which was to be next week’s, was called ‘Experimental Fish Curing‘ and it was one of my best. The old laptop also took with my first three unpublished novels- I thought they were on my flash drive but I must have deleted them at some point.

As far as problems these are minor- I’ve had to put up with some noise. That ordnance? It was only for a few hours across a few nights and there shouldn’t be any more now. Yes, it was annoying, but there was nothing I could do about it. You can’t stop people from letting off fireworks at this time of year and if you want to blame anyone for the fact that they sounded like artillery shells I’d say blame the manufacturers for making them more bang than perzazz.  The roadworks and the people having their roof re-tiled (IN NOVEMBER, SERIOUSLY!) I can’t do anything about either. Councils love sending out the road menders, even if there is nothing for them to do, so there’s always going to be roadworks going on somewhere and right now it looks like I’ve been lumbered. With any luck they won’t be around for long. Soon enough the council will decide to dig up another road somewhere and I’ll be left in peace. The only thing I can do is crawl into bed with T.E Lawrence, pull the covers over my head until silence reins once more.

Then there’s the laptop- I’ve only lost a few weeks work and nothing major. I can always rewrite and it won’t take me too long because I know exactly what it is I’m writing. I might even find a better way of writing it. And the same with the videos. There’s only one I won’t be able to refilm (about mushroom growing) and ‘Experimental Fish Curing’ might no longer be as experimental because I now know what the result is. If I refilm that one I suppose that I can just do it in a different way- Less an experiment and more of a cookery demonstration sort of thing. There was also a bit of a lighting issue which I can now resolve so overall this loss might turn out for the best. And I was never going to publish those first three books anyway so their loss is really no big deal. I suppose they’ll just become my version of Shakespeare’s lost plays- People will talk of them but they’ll never see them.

Lemons… Ripe and ready to chuck! (Image courtesy of beliefnet.com)

I suppose, eight hundred and eighty words in, I should get to the point of all this. My point is that life will continually throw lemons in our direction. I’ve had plenty of them over the years. When I bought my first computer (a Fujitsu Siemens) I chose it thinking that it had a floppy disk drive- It had a thing that looked like it might be a floppy drive but when I got the machine home and set up I found that it wasn’t actually a floppy drive, it was just a useless thing that looked like it might be one. As all my stuff was, at the time, saved onto a floppy disk, this was a bugger. That lack of a floppy drive was a lemon and whilst I hated it at first I worked around it by double transferring the files through another computer and my first flash drive. In the longer term those files didn’t matter anyway. It was only my earliest proper attempt at a novel, Salador, and there isn’t even a single trace of that left now. My first laptop was also a Fujitsu Siemens and when that died in the middle of my second year at university and that was a real pain in the grass as it was only a couple of years old.  My only reasonable choice was to cross the city to PC World and buy a new one, the same one that has only this week given up the ghost. Then when I left university I thought I would only be in this dump for six weeks but it turned out to be far longer. One year later I was fast running out of money and hope and my future prospects were looking bleak. I had one option left to me and I ran with it… Five books later I’m still running with it and trying to run even faster. Not long after graduating I near-irreversibly locked myself out of Facebook and thanks to it using my university email account (which had been shut down by that point) I had no way of getting back into it. I did the only thing I could- Made a new account and took the opportunity to have a friend clean out. Some of those I did want to keep as friends didn’t respond to my new request but these days I don’t miss any of those people I didn’t refriend (by my choice or their’s) at all. I don’t even notice they aren’t there or remember who they were these days.

These were all lemons and life threw them at me, them and a whole load of others. People say that when life throws you lemons you make lemonade- In other words, make the most of them, find something good in them. I have a different analogy, and one where the meaning is probably clearer. When life throws you lemons smash the shit out of them, preferably with a cricket bat (or a baseball bat or any other long, shafted implement.) Those lemons aren’t a nice thing to have chucked at you and at times they can really piss you off. How can you calmly make lemonade when a great thwacking lemon has just hit you on the head? You’ll feel much better if you take a cricket bat to them. And sometimes, if you see them coming, you can even hit them away before they get to you. Sometimes, I will admit, we can’t do anything about the lemons- We can’t smash them with a cricket bat and we can’t make lemonade either. These are the lemons such as the fireworks and the road menders and all we can do is put up with them, take the hits and do our best to ignore them. There’s no use crying over them. Just be positive… Don’t see the negative side of things and always look for the good.

Advertisements

PRESS RELEASE | D.S Proctor

A Welshman lies dead outside Chester’s Grosvenor Hotel… He’s been murdered, shot through the back with an arrow. The catch? This murder might be totally legal… So begins my latest book, D.S Proctor. And is there much more to say than that? Other than that the book then follows the titular D.S Proctor as he investigates, there really isn’t much.

Book CoverI could tell you about D.S Simon Proctor- A middle aged cop with an old fashioned view of policing (It’s about protecting Law and Order in his view). Unlike other fictional cops he’s not an alcoholic, he doesn’t have a drug problem and he isn’t haunted by any personal demons… Although he is divorced. But you’ll find all that out if you read the book. And you’ll find out about the brilliant side characters as well- Proctor’s son, Corwen, The ex wife who thinks she’s Audrey Hepburn, the exceedingly dimwitted Francesca Chalmers, the rather chill journalist Rhyddian Barnard…

This is a simple story about a murder and about the law- Can it really be legal to kill a man in cold blood? It is short, only a hundred pages so most post people will read it in a day or two, but I have a feeling that this is one book that will stick with you for a while. The characters, whilst I’ll admit that most of them pass through the plot likes leaves on the wind, are some of my most memorable. And the last paragraph… I smile every time I see it.  I hope other people will like that bit too.

You can buy the book on Amazon- Ebook only at the minute, i’m afraid. I really wanted this one to be available in print but, sadly, it’s not long enough for that. But never say never… A print copy might be made available if it sells well enough. The link below is for the UK store but it’s available worldwide (just change the .co.uk to your local equivalent.) I hope you like this and if it is your first time reading my work then I can only bid you welcome and promise that you’ll have the time of your life.


 

Book link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017NSKHHM

Also, check out my ‘Releases‘ page for links to all my other book.

Adventure Awaiting: London

It’s getting to that time of year again. It’s cold, the leaves have fallen and the rain is falling. Money is, as it usually is at this time of year, thin on the ground and the prospect of another Christmas in this dump is making me glum. Every year I say ‘this is the last one’ but I haven’t been lucky so far. This year though, with my ongoing hunt for a publishing deal/fame & attention in full swing it may well indeed be the last one. But as decent a goal as that is and with every penny going towards achieving that goal and with every hour spent either writing or building a name for myself there’s been almost no time for adventure- Not near and certainly not far. I might end up heading to Chester again but if I do then it will probably be work related.

And how long has it been since I was last abroad? Eight years? That is too long by any standards and as soon as all this business is done and I can afford to spend a week or two not working I think I’ll be off to Italy to practice my Italian skills. Florence I think… Firenze! I’ve wanted to go down to Italy by train for a while so maybe I’ll do that, make a huge adventure of it- Stop off in London and Paris for a couple of days along the route.

In fact, whilst I’ve got this downtime I can be planning, planning the big one for when the task is finally done and I can get a long couple of weeks away. I should start with London. I’ve been to London once before- A school trip at the end of year 8 that was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster- It was as bad as almost vomiting in the house of lords (It was the heat, not the working class rebel in me) and having to single handedly preventing the dorm room from being invaded by chavs- And then I got lost in Windsor Castle thanks partly to my being weird in front of Zara Phillips. So another visit is definitely on the cards. I’m never going to see it all in one go and certainly not in the space of a few days (say… Three and a half?) so I should just pick out a few things I might want to do.

Continue reading

‘He’s Not A Spy’

Oh look… There’s a new James Bond film out. That’s nice… He’s plastered all over the television and mass media and all the while the whole world is busy calling him a secret agent or a spy. But here’s the truth- James Bond IS NOT a spy. Think about it- A spy works in the dark, in the shadows. He’s an enigma to the ordinary man on the street, his life is shrouded in secrecy. But James Bond walks into a room and then introduces himself by saying ‘The Name’s Bond… James Bond.’ And that’s the least offensive of his crimes when it comes to secrecy. The man is actually a disaster zone, leaving nothing but ash, rubble and dead bodies in his wake. He’s such a tornado that ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus should have been the latest theme- It would have been a better choice than Sam Smith’s recording of a pig being tortured. Even Ian Fleming himself said that Bond is not a spy. He called him a tool, a blunt instrument wielded by the government when they need a dirty job doing- Interestingly, ‘Blunt Instrument’ is even the title of a piece on the Casino Royale Soundtrack.

Other spy movies have characters who are much more deserving of the title ‘spy.’ Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible films for instance. Ok… So wrecking half of the channel tunnel with a helicopter might not exactly be subtle but at least for most of the time he knows the value of discretion. He doesn’t walk around shouting ‘HI I’M ETHAN HUNT!’ And sometime’s you won’t even know that he’s there because of those cool (if implausible) masks he has. Jason Bourne, as awful as I found his films, has to be discreet by the nature of his situation. He can’t go around destroying whole islands as the men who are after him will find him if he does that. Even Austin Powers has more discretion than Bond. In fact, I can’t think of any spy who is less discrete when going about their business than Bond is.

All spy films are exaggerations They’re supposed to be an entertaining fantasy. Fictional spies are actually nothing like real spies. Real spying requires patience, lots and lots of patience. And waiting. And not revealing oneself by walking into a room and announcing your name. Real spies are essentially discreet data collectors, is what I mean to say. Now if every spy film was just that, men collecting information, the genre wouldn’t exist because we’d all get really bored really quickly. There are, of course, more ‘realistic’ spy films but there is still an element of the fantastical about most of them. There has to be to keep them from being dull. But regardless how realistic a spy film is supposed to be, in order to qualify as a spy the main character must still follow some basic rules. He must be discrete, cling to the shadows where possible. If he’s openly flaunting himself, announcing himself to everyone he meets and causing chaos he can’t be called a spy. He’s something else. In Bond’s case he’s a ‘blunt instrument,’ as Ian Fleming described him. So PLEASE can you all stop calling him a spy?

‘Then how do you explain ‘The Spy Who Loved Me?’ cries one person at the back.  I give a mean, vengeful stare in response.