How Important is it to be well-read?

This is a really fab blog by Tom about being well-read – I adored it! Go read & like the original post, folks 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

My mother is probably the wisest person I’ve ever known. She’s not schooled, she’s not well read. But she has a philosophy of life that makes well-read people seem like morons. –  Gene Simmons

How well-read you are has been a standard measure of intelligence, social kudos and pulling power since the written word was invented. In fact, it’s hard to resist conjecture that it was invented simply to impress other people. And this lingers, despite a digital age of commuters watching TV box sets on public transport, or publicly declaring how moronic they are by playing pointlessly additive games such as the ubiquitous Candy Crush. These activities are for unplugging the mind, not engaging it. Of course in some circles to have concluded the Eggsteroids level in Angry Birds is greatly admired, but it isn’t quite the same as being well-read. Not yet.

Being well-read is a…

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How important is Writing Blog Posts to Novel Writing…?

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Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“It is named the “Web” for good reason.”
David Foster Wallace

I can’t believe I’ve now been desperately thinking of things to blog about for four years. When I started I had little idea what blogging was really about, and now I truly have no idea. I think blogs exist mainly so you can get annoyed, and then say rather pointedly to yourself that you’re going to bloody blog about it, because there’s clearly a readership out there for articles on drivers’ inability to park without taking up two bays. Of course unless you do blog about it within 2 minutes you’ll have forgotten all about it and probably driven off anyway. Blogs are the modern equivalent of writing to the Times.

It’s like all those notes in your phone that were Pullitzer prize winning novels, but now read more like a free-associating dead-head in 1960s San Francisco mumbling…

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No rhyme, no reason

Bikini body in the sun, half-cocked gun, a summer weapon, a sassy siren sensing and inviting desire, it was a wave rushing towards me, I was riding the crest, eyes closed beneath my shades, heat spreading between my legs, 

but suddenly it all changed, no rhyme, no reason, what the actual fuck was going on, my crazy brain switched moods randomly, I’ve always been my own worst enemy – it was

a senseless dream starting with a less than vague promise of sex and ending with

Van Gogh penniless and in despair trying to drown himself in the deep sunflower fields—which had long haunted him—their colours and shapes having intensified his misery.

What does it all mean? 

I woke up tangled in my sheets—

I had too much to dream 

last night

What IS it about Fashion these days..?

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Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Ooh fashion
We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town
Beep-beep, beep-beep

David Bowie. Fashion.

What do our clothes say about us? I don’t mean when they’re crushed together in the laundry basket wondering who’s next to be washed, and cursing the current favourite top that barely lands before being whisked off to be cleaned – although I can see that as the next Pixar movie. No, I mean what do they announce about ourselves to the world that might otherwise stay silent. I don’t just mean band tee-shirts that marked some final tour in 1978, the one that’s not had the good times rinsed out since.

You can complete character profiles based upon little more than the type of sandwich someone habitually eats, so clothes are a dead giveaway. That there’s more hashtags for yoga pants than there is for yoga itself tells you all you need…

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Daughter

Slowly the sun goes down

Splashing dying embers

In her mane

Of untamed hair

With regret he pulls down the shades

To keep the scented summer

Fragrant with life

Outside

A subdued light

Tinged with tiny pools of dark

Invades

Her domain

Sleep softens her features further

He – the faithful sentinel watching over

his delicate flower –

Can’t help but fret

His chest feels tight

Aware the world

Will reach out with eager fingers

She will know hurt

He will contemplate murder

But for now the princess,

Just turned seven

Dreams still intact, untouched

Rests peacefully

He kisses her sweet cheek

Pulls back the covers

One last look, lingering, tender

For now she’s safe

Her innocence preserved

*Photograph found on Pinterest, try as I might I couldn’t find anyone to credit for it*

P.S. for whatever reason, WordPress is not letting me reply to older comments so I apologise to anyone who’s left thoughts on previous posts – I didn’t mean to ignore you, honest!

The Importance of Reading Books

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Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Life doesn’t happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn’t write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children’s books (“I’ll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep”) but I’m blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults. — Sir Terry Pratchet

I’m aware that this title appears to be advertising the bookshop of Berkshire’s leading commuter town, but it’s been drawn to my attention by no one that I’ve been so busy blogging about writing books that I’ve not looked at how to read the blasted things. Every reader knows how to buy  books – see a previous blog : https://lifeassistanceagency.com/2018/12/28/how-to-buy-books/ –  but reading them is an art form itself.  In a modern world of boxsets, bagels and Brexit it’s a wonder anyone is reading, yet the literary…

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Staring down the barrel – How To Start a New Novel

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Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck

To be honest this should read how to start a new blog, as I’m sure I’ve started one like this before. Yes. All writers have been here before: the hinterland between the joy of completing a novel and the niggling sense that it’s time to start another. Life basically becomes a decision between buying a dog, or writing a new novel. Mind you a book doesn’t plead to be walked or fed, although it does rest its head on your lap and look up at you expectantly; wondering when you’re going to do something. I only ever had the ambition to write one book, I thought that would be enough, but it’s strangely addictive.

Unfinished Business was published last month as a continuation of the Life Assistance…

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How to live with Writer’s Block.

By Tom, about writer’s block – please go and like the original, thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski

What awful timing, or perhaps it’s related. My new novel UnfinishedBusiness is published and I’m struck down by what feels like something I don’t want to name, no, not a STD, but writer’s block. Despite a launch party last night that included four Spanish women without  word of english to their name arriving to buy a signed copy of the novel for one of their brothers, I’m looking at Unfinished Business with the sense it was a fluke; never to be repeated.

I can’t recall if I’ve written about writer’s block before, I must’ve blocked it out, which is exactly the sort of crap joke that suggests it’s time to step away from the keyboard and do something else. Anything. Just stop writing. Mind you writers aren’t capable of much else, unless it’s the…

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Once

We escaped gloomy cages

Breathed new air outside the musty pages

Of the books we’d sheltered in

For so long

We were bewitching birds brought back for a single song

Dried butterflies,

Wings untied,

Briefly swelling with life

Drunk on sun & scented promises

The sweet sound of stolen kisses

For a little while, we were allowed

To fly once more – high, above the clouds

It didn’t last

It never does

Alas everything must die

Go back to ashes and dust

But,

I’ll always remember

How once we emerged

From the cocoon of past winters

Notre-Dame

I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?

Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.

We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.