One of a kind

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When the stars peppered the skies, pinpricks of light in the silent night and the dark fabric of life, 

you said I was beautiful – one of a kind –

but, 

by dawn you had changed your mind. 

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Because we were teenagers

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It’s many years ago – sometime at the end of the 80’s – and I’m listening to that song. The one with the mournful synths, the one with the words seemingly plucked from deep inside me – the words I would share with you if only I could be sure you’d understand what they all mean. In my living room it’s a bit cold, we just welcomed autumn, a shiver runs down my back and the cat gives me one of his contemptuous looks for no reason at all. I start the record again, the needle trembles, settles, the record cracks a little, just like firewood in the old chimney – I sit back down on the floor, I could listen to this record a hundred times and more.

The phone rings, a strident siren, nobody in 2019 would ever be able to stand it but back then, as with all the other big, clunky, loud 80’s machines, we were used to it. It’s still ringing – I swear it could wake up the dead – I answer it because I have a feeling it’s you. Yes, it’s your voice, I was right – it’s a sign.

“Don’t speak for a bit, listen to this.”

The phone is plugged into the wall, I pull the cord as far as it will go, and hold the receiver next to the speaker.

“Are you there? Now, listen.”

It’s an order. it’s a prayer.

The shiver returns though I don’t feel the cold anymore, I’m nervously twisting the phone cord around my fingers – halfway through I stage whisper: “this bit coming up, you gotta love it.” I don’t know if you can hear me over the record player.

There – the song is over. I let the silence stretch for a number of seconds so I can pull myself together, I’m hoping you fell in love and need time to recover.

“Well?…”

An agonising beat

Wow…yes…wow.”

I hear hushed wonder, the tone is right, you got it – my gift wasn’t wasted.

The next day there is a kiss, and we’ve got many more phone calls ahead of us. But it was the music, the synths, the words – it was the record player that did the trick, that really started things.

Forget Spotify and the über modern hi-fis, forget instant sharing, forget digital and iPhones – none of it has ever been as intense – as real – as the old record player and the ugly clunky grey phone stuck to the wall.

And it wasn’t just because we were teenagers.

A whole year & another birthday

For as long as I’ve had this blog, I have never failed to post a little something on my birthday. So, it’s a bit late this year – my birthday was on Saturday – but I’ve put this together: it’s basically a few pics going back over the last 12 months. To be quite honest, I’ve enjoyed this short walk down memory lane, though I appreciate none of you will know the moments and stories behind the pics so this is really for me rather than anyone else. I’ve gone from blonde back to Brunette this year and it feels right as I’m in a really good place right now, I’m back to being me – fully and unapologetic-ally.

Here are all my blurry and not at all professional snapshots.

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I can totally do sweet and innocent…

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I was on my way to a ‘free speech’ rally in London (yes, again!)

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Last year, we – France – won…
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The World Cup!! This is the day of the final and I’d been ill for 3 days but who cared? Not me

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Mermaid-like

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Mermaid-like again

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Don’t ask me…
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I’d just been to a funeral – feeling despondent…

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Somebody had just called me a ‘free speech warrior’ in a NEGATIVE way…

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Red poppy day –
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The New Jeeves book was out!
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This was meant for a special someone…
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Not sure why I was looking so angry – I was tired is probably why

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Ending it all on yesterday – I was about to brave the wind

The cover for Unfinished Business. Is here.

The release of a new book is almost as exciting for the beta reader as it is for the writer. Please go and like the original post – thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Never judge a book by its cover – What you should think.

Always judge a book by its cover – What people really think.

This is one of those blogs on which I upload the picture before I’ve written anything. I’m probably too delighted to put words together or something, but after a few years of tapping away like a mice doing home improvements the new book is ready. Not only that but it has a cover. Unfinished Business, the stand-alone sequel to the Life Assistance Agency, to provide its full title, is ready for the world that is not necessarily ready for it.

The cover is amazing, which I can comfortably claim because I had nothing to do with it. It is courtesy of http://www.nicandlou.com whom also did the first one, so there’s that all important continuity familiar to dog breeders and Star Wars fanatics.

I’m so…

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How useful are Writing Prompts?

This, by Tom, is brilliant and v. funny – please, *please* visit his blog and like the original post, thanks 😊

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“True life is elsewhere. We are not in the world.”Arthur Rimbaud

#Writingprompts, if their 20,000 Instagram usage suggests, are very popular, although some way off #cutekitteninbucket.  I’ve never been a fan of writing prompts. They sound too deliberate, like intending to do shots before you’ve left the house instead of spontaneously deciding eight tequilas is a good idea from the moment you reach the pub.  To be fair life is a writing prompt, as anyone who’s written a To-do list with testify. However, I was recently exposed to the most fantastic inspiration for writing at my local B&Q. No, I wasn’t lost, nor was I asking directions to the nearest record shop.

These days there are hash tags for everything, although there’s an odd sweet sense of fresh territory when coining a new one on Instagram and #DIYWritingPrompts was a new one.  At least it was yesterday. Imagine being…

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Blog Update

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I haven’t updated my blog in ages and I feel kind of bad about that, but I’ve been incredibly busy – I might write about it soon, when I get a little bit of time to do so. In the meantime, here’s me late last night, I’d just returned from a talk in London on “Freedom of Speech” – yes, I hear you, even you at the back. You’re rolling your eyes and mumbling: “does she talk about anything else these days?!”

Fair enough, but I do actually talk about plenty of other things (oh yes, I do) It’s just that this is something that matters greatly to me and if I’ve become a bit of a free speech warrior, it’s because those types of warriors are needed at this precise moment in time. Last night, in the heart of Westminster, people from my tribe, people from all over gathered for a principle, for a basic right – one that won’t be taken away from us if we can help it.

Aaaaand I’m done – see, that wasn’t so bad 😉

Happy Ending

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I dig out the old typewriter

as I want to drunk write

a crazy flamboyant story

Moulin Rouge style

only the whore doesn’t die

but lives happily ever after

having renounced her ways

stopped hawking her wares

for a handful of rose petals

a treasure chest filled with hope

wild kisses beneath a lamp post

silhouettes backlit by the storm

a canary bird waking up at dawn

twirling on its perch, notes emerge

from its tiny beak a power surge

powerful as waves on a fractured shore

there lies the beauty of being a writer

tap tap tap go the keys

you can rewrite, relive, tweak

each and every bit of the story

my whore has red stains on her cheeks

vivid colour induced by satisfied lust

I’ve taken out consumption, disease

added drama I deem alluring

it’s perfect now as it is—romantic—

tempestuous, but with a happy ending

*This was written and posted 2 years ago, but I like it enough that it’s worth reposting*

Unfinished Business: What’s So Good about Sequels…?

Please visit Tom’s blog to read and like the original post, thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Most authors will be familiar with having finished writing a novel. Sometimes it’s completed for as long as 24 hours before another rewrite is underway. That’s fine. That’s how novels are written, but my 79,000 words of Unfinished Business have been sent to the publisher. There are no more late night edits to be undone in the morning. It will be bound up in proofs the next time I see it, safe from any more changes. It seems a long time ago that a friend suggested I write a short film and I came up with the idea of a retired 80s wrestler who morphed into a character even bigger than Ricky ‘Nasty’ Bashcraft, or Giant Haystacks.

Just as its proprietor Scott Wildblood needed a wingman The Life Assistance Agency now has a companion, as there’s nothing worse* than a novel sitting alone, full of friends and enemies bouncing off the…

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What’s the best thing about being a Writer?

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

With New Year intentions often to write a novel in a year, or in some cases a month, this is a good time to consider what’s so bloody great about being a writer. I do wonder if some people get writing confused with reading. One is a strangely magical experience, which tingles otherwise untouched parts of you, like sausage rolls but without the guilt. The other is the challenge of typing whilst simultaneously wringing your hands and swearing quietly.

Perhaps it’s despair at such sudden disappearance of Yule Logs from the shops after Christmas that drives people into the collective arms of writing groups, or perhaps it’s just to emulate all those fantastic books read during the holidays. But don’t be rash, those rather delicious afternoons with nothing to do but…

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Bonne Année – Happy New Year

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What a year 2018 has been…

I started it bottle blonde and I’m ending it as nature intended: brunette.

I finished my Master’s.

I argued with far too many people on Twitter.

I read a truckload of books, too many to count, but here are the ones I particularly enjoyed – in case anyone is looking for random recommendations:

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

Patronising Bastards – Quentin Letts

Lethal White – Robert Galbraith

The Nix – Nathan Hill

The Destroyers – Christopher Bollen

See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Priestdaddy – Patricia Lockwood

This could hurt – Jillian Medoff

Marlena – Julie Buntin

Sing, unburied, sing – Jesmyn Ward

The Chalk Man – C. J. Tudor

Grist Mill road – Christopher J. Yates

Death in Bordeaux – Allan Massie

Dark summer in Bordeaux – Allan Massie

Cold winter in Bordeaux – Allan Massie

End games in Bordeaux – Allan Massie

Magpie murders – Anthony Horowitz

Ill Will – Dan Chaon

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

Narcissus and Goldmund – Hermann Hesse

Sapiens: a brief history of humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton

The death of Mrs Westaway – Ruth Ware

The woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

Snow Blind – Ragnar Jónasson

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

The Marriage Of Opposites – Alice Hoffman

And my all-time favourite this year, and also the one I finished only yesterday: The improbability of love – Hannah Rothschild.

(I absolutely adored this book)

I did take too many selfies…I could say I’ll try to stop doing that but…who would I be kidding – I’ll most probably be as bad next year.

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I ate too much generally (definitely far too much chocolate) drank too much alcohol but I worked out almost everyday. I took long walks on the beach and out in the countryside, I got lost among trees, I danced in my house, outside it, I laughed, I cried, I tried hard to remember that life is all too short and you’ve got to take the time to do the things that matter to you. I’m stating the obvious, I know, but who cares, it’s the truth.

2018 started with a real low: I lost my beloved grandmother in January, and ended with a high: there was a very special 2 year anniversary this December…such is life: pain & happiness and a range of other emotions in between.

Happy New Year to all of you lovely, lovely people – I’ve got high hopes for 2019.

*the pics are last week’s (19th) before a night out in London – I haven’t taken any selfies since…they might as well be the last ones to appear on this blog in 2018*

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