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

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.


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