Sunday, July 28, 2013

Travelling light

So there I was, yesterday, and my little sister Ellen Jane, she of the horses and dogs, wanted to travel to Burnley to see our family who live there - Kenny, Jean and various neices, nephews etcetera.

"But you are working Sunday night!" said I.

"We can drive down on Friday night," said she, "have a good night out on Saturday and you can drive back Sunday morning while I have a kip in the back!"

"Oh," said our hero, "so no drinking for me because I'm driving, is that the plan?"

"Spot on," says she.

"Well," said I, "you can cough up half of the petrol money then."

"Tight bastard," said she unkindly.

So, last night at about ten-thirty or so we set off, her doing my head in and me resisting the urge to chuck her out of the car.

All went well, very light traffic, until we got to Scotch Corner where I pulled in for the loo.

"Go to the loo," said I.

"Sod off!" was her response. "These places cost a fortune."

"It's free!" I cried, but she wouldn't have it.

"No," says she. "We will wait until we are on a country road and you can pull over while I go behind a bush."

So, following the directions of the sat-nav faithfully, I duly turned into a layby on the A59 just outside of Ripon......and got stuck. We were well and truly kaput.

"Idiot!" she cried.

I phoned our Ken. "Come and get us."

"Can't until the morning," said he.

All night, stuck there in the dark with her, Ellen Jane, all wrapped up and sleeping like a baby while wearing MY socks for her poor cold-arse feet. I sat there, freezing and slowly changing my mind about euthanasia - not for me, for her. All sodding night, shivering like a dog crapping a bone - no fun at all.

Kenny turned up at half-seven and duly dragged us out of the field we were stuck in, sniggering all the way - and he has been telling the family about it ever since. I may never live it down.

So, two things you should know for peace of mind:

  1. Take no notice of sat-nav instruments, they were configured by idiots.
  2. Don't take Ellen Jane with you.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stranger than fiction

Strange things are happening these days.

When I say "strange" things, I don't mean anything bad or problematic, just that I seem to be moving into a strange world recently - the world of computer literature, Amazon and Kindle accounts, all of which is a bit strange to me.

It would appear that all of the years I spent writing, a lot of it drivel I must admit, but with a grand total of thirty-two novels, it wasn't wasted effort. Once written, and, in the writing, winning five awards with the five entries I made into competitions, the next step would logically be to start on the publishing trail. So that is the current plan with a little help from family and friends.

Incidentally the awards won were all Koestler Awards and they were The David Astor Award, The Galberg Award, two Gold Awards and a Platinum Award. So, it is fair and honest to describe myself as an award-winning author, is it not?

Then, through the kind patronage of a great friend of mine, I discover that I can actually put my stuff onto Kindle and folk will pay to download it to read - so that is the plan.

First, I need to have stuff in a format that lends itself to on-line publishing and we have no idea (yet) what that format may be. However, I know someone who does and when he turns up later this evening that is what we will be doing, putting something onto Kindle.

The novel I intend to begin with is "FREDDIE", the story of a young fellow and his upbringing in the roughest area of Sunderland - The Barbary Coast.

Let me tell you how it all started.

Originally I just wanted to write a sort of dedication to an area long since changed out of all recognition, so I wrote a letter to the Sunderland Echo asking that anyone who lived in the Barbary Coast and who had a story to tell should write to me. I got lots of response and the story more or less wrote itself. The oddest part is that the story, pure fiction I might add, has been named as the best account of life on the Barbary that has ever been produced. One fellow from Monkwearmouth has read it and swears he remembers some of the action in the book. He can't have - I made it all up. But the description of the area is so perfect that it seems to be true. And that, my friends, is the way to do it. The line between fact and fiction is so blurred that it cannot be seen.

As I said, things have been a bit strange lately.

The Voice In  The Wilderness

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gremlins and suicidal mackerel

Anyone who would normally expect to read drivel from me at least once a week may well be wondering where I have been - or there again, probably not. I mean to say, I would have to think an awful lot of myself to think anyone gave a fiddler's fart whether I wrote or not...or, as the Irish would say, "I'd have to be up myself." Well, I hope I am not.

Having said that, there is a good reason why I have been incommunicado for several weeks - it's computer problems again. There are, I am sure, some folk who will remember how self-satisfied I was when I finally managed to get somewhere with one of these things without Andrew breathing advice into my shell-like. My brother had all the equipment needed to ensure my success with the infernal thing and I was quite complacent. Three desktops, three laptops, printers, scanners - the works. Everything should have gone swimmingly, but once again that fickle ould whore Lady Luck decided to take a hand. My brother also has a teenage son who is about as responsible as a snowflake for an avalanche. The lad, bless him, had been on every computer downloading all manner of rubbish until the computers weren't just running slowly, they were barely functioning. So, everything had to be completely cleaned off and all rebooted. (Incidentally, I have no real idea what I just wrote, I merely repeat what I am told.) Anyhoo, that all took a week or so and when they all came back it was only to discover that there was a massive problem with internet connections because of my brother's Wi-Fi connection, incompatible with that of whoever had rebooted our computers. So, it all had to be done again, so I asked him to reboot mine with Windows Seven, which he has - Windows XP has been consigned to perdition now.

What does it all mean?

It means that I am back online again at last, hooray for technology - give me a fountain pen anytime. While all that was going on I have not been idle, I have been slowly rejoining the world of family.

Last week we went fishing a couple of miles outside of the piers here on the Mackem Riviera and I caught five mackerel, not bad for a learner. The fact that mackerel practically commit suicide by catching themselves is neither here nor there. We only came back in because my brother-in-law got sick!

On Friday, after I had seen the probation, we went horse riding - brilliant!

I shall be doing both at regular intervals.

Hopefully the gremlins have now gone from our system.

The Voice In The Wilderness