Oh, oh, oh it’s magic…

It’s a strange thing when you have too much time on your hands. The things that go through your mind I mean.

Take now for instance. I’m on a plane.

I’ve been sat in more or less the same position for nigh on 3 1/2 hours and I’m likely to do so for a further 5 1/2. Despicable Me 3 has just finished and you get to thinking,

1. Should I go to the loo, just for something to do?

2. When are they feeding me again?

3. What the bejasus is holding this thing in the air?

I know, I know – you can get all scientific on me.

You can tell me about differential air pressure until you’re blue in the face.

Yes, and thrust too madam. I thought you might put your twopennorth in!

But it’s me sitting here over the wing and believe you me, there’s very little between the underside of the aerilon (or whatever that flappy thing is called) and the tip of bloody Greenland as far as I can see.

And 39000 feet straight down looks pretty far at the moment, I can tell you.

Between us and Arsuk (it’s true, Google it. What an unfortunate postal address that is! Where do you live? Arsuk. Well I only asked!) there is air. A lot of it admittedly, but it’s not exactly heavy. We breath the stuff in and out constantly and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Can it really hold up God knows how many tons (yes I know it’s tonnes but we’re going to the USA. And anyway, after Brexit do we get our measurements back?) of aircraft, fuel, cargo and us poor bloody passengers?
Furthermore, have you had the chance to study an aeroplane wing in detail?


No? Nor me until now. Honestly I’ve seen more sheet steel in your average bus shelter. 

And rivets! Don’t talk to me about rivets! I used rivets in metalwork at school once. Not the sturdiest of fixings in my opinion.

Pardon? Yes, that was rather a long time ago, thank you for pointing that out.

As I was saying I have used the odd rivet in various metallurgical disasters and they do in my experience tend to shear as soon as you look at them. Yes, I know that there are rather a lot of them dotted about the aerodynamic surfaces, but personally and particularly now that my mind is working overtime, I would have preferred to see row upon row of nice half inch diameter bolts. In super high tensile steel!

So what is it holding us up?

I’ve had a lot of time to think.

And I have come to the conclusion that there is only on possible logical answer.

It’s magic.

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Nelly the Elephant…

Oh hello.
Come in, sit down, take the weight off.
Don’t mind me I’m a bit busy.
Packing, yes.
Pardon?
Oh, where are we going?
To the land of Nelly the Elephant.
Yes really.
What? No, we’re not off to the Serengeti!
I see how you got confused though, my fault – sorry.
By ‘Nelly the Elephant ‘ I meant Trump, Trump, Trump.
Yes, that’s it Donald J and his clan.
Well, I know, it is a bit crass insulting our closest ally like that, but hey perhaps I’ll lob a few bricks in the luggage to contribute to the wall.
No I’m not worried.
What’s the worst that can happen now Donny has his tiny *donnies* on the nuclear on/off switch. I mean old Kim Il wotsisface is only just able to lob missiles over Japan so I doubt he’ll manage to get one in the heart of Texas.
That’s where we’re going, yes.
Like before.
I’m surprised you remembered.
That’s where Kate’s family are living now. Well some of them anyway. There’s such a lot it’s hard to keep track.
So anyway, we’re taking – wait for it:-
A horse blanket.
A bridle.
Some reins.
Stirrups.
Enough leather straps to start a bondage convention.
A bloody saddle, yes I kid you not! I’ll repeat that in case you didn’t quite catch it.
A sodding saddle!
For a stuffing horse!
Then of course there’s the pad that fits under the saddle.
We had some hoof hardener too, but I’ve drawn the line there. Full of nasty chemicals, not the sort of stuff you take on a plane really –

fullsizeoutput_2denot unless you want the bomb squad to blow up your luggage.
Although you’re right, it’d save having to carry the flipping saddle I suppose.
So yes, Sue, Kate’s daughter, has a horse. Or two. Or maybe three, I’m not sure.
Yes she has told me, but I glaze over to be honest.
There’s not enough room for much else really, in fact I’m surprised that I haven’t been asked to stay behind just in case Billy Whizz wanted to go off on his holibobs to visit his American cousins. I’m told there’s more legroom on a long haul flight so he may well fit in business class. Here’s a nice picture of him – he looks a lot better since Kate rescued him don’t you think? Bless his little cotton horseshoes.
Anyway, we’re off. On Tuesday.
Expect a lot of blogging activity.

Oh – and if anyone wants to pop round to burgle our place whilst we’re gone, I’m sure my mate Nige and Misty will be pleased to see you.

*Black country phrase alert – donnies, meaning hands. No, I don’t know why either.

Trouble’s brewing…

I have a terrible confession to make. One that jeopardises the very essence of my being. In fact I’m not one hundred percent sure that I’m willing to share this shocking revelation with you, my blog loving readership, although I have in fact alluded to it in an earlier blog – I was just hoping that the situation might resolve itself.
So perhaps I won’t tell you after all.
I do find it quite embarrassing.
Pardon?
Oh, you want to hear it.
Are you sure?
Well I agree I have ‘dangled the carrot’ as you so eloquently put it.                                       Do stop giggling at the back, madam.
I suppose you’re right and after all I can’t unsay it now, can I?
I’ve gone a bit too far.
Okay, here goes.
Perhaps you should sit down.
Ready?
No no, I’m not prevaricating – again.
Here goes.
Ahem.
Sorry, just clearing my throat.
I don’t like tea.

There you have it.
What?
You were expecting something a bit more risqué?
Well I apologise, but it concerns me.
Greatly.
After all it goes to the very root of my ‘Englishness.
As a native of Shakespeare’s sceptred isle I should probably be swimming in the stuff every day before breakfast. As a Brit I’m supposed to like it.
And I used to.
Until they ripped out my still beating heart and replumbed it before thrusting it back and stapling up my chest cavity.
Sorry madam? Yes, you go and have a lie down. I’ll try not to be so graphic in future.
Anyway – perhaps it was something to do with the anaesthetic.
Put me right off. I can’t even bear the thought of drinking a brew now.
Proper tea of course.
By ‘proper‘ I mean the stuff that you might call breakfast tea, builders tea or something like that. Tea to put hair on your chest madam.
Tea to stand your spoon up in.
Tea as thick as custard.
Not that wishy washy tea that the Queen no doubt gets served on a daily basis. I’ll bet a pound to a penny that Madge would like nothing better than to wrap her regal mitts around a nice steaming mug of good old Tetley instead of that crappy green gunk she’s given.
Tea worth fighting our former colonial territories over.
Good old British tea – made in India, or China.

IMG_0149
And that brings me back to my point.
If I no longer like tea, am I no longer a dyed in the wool Englishman?
Don’t get me wrong, if there’s a game of cricket going on I’m all for lounging around by the boundary rope and applauding politely when a wicket is taken or the bowler is struck for six.
I can deride Johnny Foreigner with the best of them.
I know the main verse of the National Anthem and am quite comfortable with the last verse having something to do with giving those damned rebellious Scots a good crushing.
I do my best to keep my upper lip as rigid and untrembly as possible.
I’ve never tried, but I have no doubt that I could probably pole a punt with the best of them.
Wha..? No madam, with a ‘P.’
I live here, in Blake’s Jerusalem in the heart of the country that gave industrialisation to the world, the land that Constable and Turner painted, that Dickens wrote about in the language spoken by most of the planet.
But I now don’t like tea.
I feel like a traitor.
Perhaps they’ll drag me to The Tower, lop off my worthless head and mount it on a pike outside Westminster Palace as a warning to others not to be so fickle.
Or suspend me upside down over a vat of steaming Typhoo and dunk me like an unworthy digestive.
I’m supposed to go to the States in a couple of weeks, after this shocking admission I’ll be surprised if they let me back into the country of my birth.
I’ll be forced to live a life in exile in some coffee growing republic.
It’s been nice knowing you.

Procrastination as an art form

So – after a period of unproductive procrastination which has compromised of many hours on social media, many hours contemplative navel gazing and an inordinate amount of just plain faffing about I decided to write again.
Let’s face it, for an author procrastination is not so much a hinderance – it’s more of an art form really isn’t it?
Now I should perhaps say that I am waiting for the third ‘Misty’ book to be published, so there could have been a pinch of resting on my laurels thrown into that little mix just for good measure.
So, with my typing finger in hand – in truth it was always there, I was just using it to pick my nose – I set about editing my sci-fi/ fantasy novel.
I never liked the ending, I must confess, so after ten long years of deliberation I decided to change it.
Well you can’t rush these things, can you?
The trouble though with doing that is that there are parts of this weighty tome which allude to what the ending might be much earlier in the manuscript.
So those have to change too.
This is where the ‘writing’ as opposed to ‘editing’ comes about.
Well I’d forgotten what a pain in the arse it was, especially with the one finger keyboard poking affliction with which I am saddled.

Oh how I wish that I could type as effortlessly as Jerry Lewis in that scene from ‘Who’s Minding The Store?’ Remember that? No? Look it up on YouTube. (It’s not procrastination, it’s research).

images

Incidentally I notice that the poor old bugger recently popped his clogs – no doubt we’ll be mourning his passing for many a long year. Confused? Then you haven’t read my blog, ‘Doctor Who and the Lazarus Effect,’ have you. Do keep up!
Anyway, I printed out a rainforest of paper (this is going to be an eBook after all, so it doesn’t really count, does it?) and slashed at it with a red pen. Then, satisfied that the affected parts had been cut away, except for that bit – I really liked the way I’d phrased that, oh, oh, and that bit – that was really funny.
Pardon?
Yes you’re right.
They have to go too.
Root and branch.
Into the bin.
It’s not too late though, I can still fish them out…
Oh, all right.
Jeez, you’re ruthless you lot aren’t you.
See, now look what’s happened. That bit is now where that other part should be, the one in chapter two; or was it forty seven? Hmmm!

Don’t worry, I can get around it.
Trust me, I’m an author.

We’ll make him a her and have her do this instead of that.
Better?
That doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
Nor that.
And does this tie in with that scene I wrote in chapter three?
I didn’t think so.
Am I showing or telling?
If only I’d written it from a different perspective.
Set it in a different time.
And place.
Perhaps with other characters?

Yes, that’s it!
Of course the plot line will have to change.
And the outcome.
Thinking about it, you’re right.
It is a little bit darker than before.
And you think that it’s what?
A different genre!?
Do you really think..?
You know I think you may be right.
Now I need a new title!
And a different sodding cover.
I’d virtually sorted the synopsis and the blurb for the back.
Now I’ll have to…
Do you think that dedication is still appropriate?
No, nor me.
You know what – now I’ve got two bloody books to edit!
FFS!

Pass me that box set of Game Of Thrones.
I need to chill out.
Watch it for the third time from – well, from the beginning I suppose.
All seven series.
See you later.
Much, much later!

I might be on the telly…

So – you know how it goes.
You’re bored.
At a loose end.
Facebook has the looney left, the rabid right and the cautious centre all abusing each other for the debacle which has become British government – or lack of it.
What’s a chap to do?
I know, how about that old table up the corner, the one we inherited when we cleared Dad’s house?
Is it worth anything?
What’s it’s story?

I’ll Google it out of idle curiosity.
But what do I call it?
Well, it has a marquetry picture of Muckcross Abbey on the top and it’s a gaming table.
That’ll do for starters.
Tongue stuck between teeth I type, ‘m-u-c-k-c-r-o-s-s_a-b-b-e-y_g-a-m-e-s_t-a-b-l-e_enter’
Got a few results, so stick tongue back to where it should be.

Try this first one.
BLOODY HELL! There’s a photo of it here.IMG_0448
An exact match.
And it’s in – wait for it – the Royal Collection.
I know, I know. That’s what I thought!
Liz and Phil have one too!
I bet they unfold it every night before bed (after Corrie probably) and have a quick game of whist while they scoff their supper from the Tupperware.

IMG_0441

Well fancy that.
I need more information.
I look at other sites.
But I don’t see it. There are similar, but the legs are different.
Now let’s just quash any comments to do with me having Queen Anne legs straight away, shall we.
I know you lot.
Hmm.

I Google the history and learn quite a bit.
Apparently it’s Irish in origin.
That’s where the Abbey is, so that makes sense.
Killarney-ware, it has a name.
It was made for the tourist industry.
Bugger! that means they probably made hundreds of the bloody things.
Ah well – never mind.
That’s how the Windsor’s got theirs obviously, Victoria and Albert must have got it for their museum when they were over on their holibobs.

So I left it.

A bit.

IMG_0444

 

Until…

Someone’s posted on Facebook that May is a raving idiot, Corbyn’s a knob and no one knows who the Liberals are anymore. But here, among the vitriol is a post telling me that the Antiques Roadshow is coming to the Black Country Museum in a few weeks time.
It wouldn’t hurt to go would it?
You never know, do you?
And Fiona Bruce is a bit of a sort isn’t she?
You prefer who?
Really? well never mind. Each to their own.
And ‘guns & militaria’ is a really hot subject isn’t it? If you like that sort of thing.
Uniforms and stuff. Weapons of mass destruction.

Anyway, what’s this?
Oh. It says here that you can get in touch and see if they might be interested.

So I did.

And they were.

They even came round to our place and had a look at it.
Kate said they seemed very keen (I wasn’t there) and I had to take it down to the museum the night before the show was to be recorded.
Deep joy.

I phoned bro on his holidays – no he wasn’t in Ireland or I might have asked him to buy another one – as back up. Well you never know, a spare might come in handy.
I’m back home,’ he said. ‘Bit of a disaster, came back early – me and Sue (sis in law) will come with.
Bostin’. As they say in these parts.

So off we went.
Have you ever been to The Black Country Living Museum?
You ought to try it.
There are trams and trolley buses, an old fashioned funfair, all manner of reconstructed old buildings (including a pub). Oh look, there’s a terraced house like the one I used to have! There are old shops, a mine, a working beam engine. Well worth a look.
And today there are – cameras.

The day is hot – unbearably so, and to start with there are not many there.
I’m a bit miffed. I have a special pass to get ‘fast-tracked’ through the throng and there’s no resentful queues to bypass.
Bummer!

Sit there,’ commands the man on reception.
So we sit.
There.
It is the BBC after all. I pay a licence fee for this you know and I’m glad they’re being so assertive with my money.

Oh look, there’s old wotsisface – doesn’t he do furniture? And there’s her that does the toys. Oh, oh, over there – it’s your mate from ‘guns & militaria?’
Yes, you’re right, in the flesh he is a bit of a disappointment.
Eventually up rocks the producer.
Hello,’ he says, ‘I’m the producer. I’ll find you an expert.
I giggle and bite my tongue.
He looks at me strangely, but I resist the urge to tell him the definition of an expert.
Oh, surely you know that old chestnut.
No?
An ‘ex’ is a has been and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure.
See, you did know it didn’t you. I could tell by the groan.

Anyway, after a bit Steven Spielberg or whatever his name was comes back with our ‘expert’ in tow.
We introduce ourselves.
She’s Elaine Binning
She’s very nice. It turns out she knows her onions. Shame we’ve got a table.                               No, I was joking, I couldn’t resist – she’s very knowledgeable.
We tell her what we know about our heirloom.
She seems impressed.
Alfred Hitchcock, or whatever his name was, tells us to wait in the hospitality area, where we’ll get refreshments and some makeup.
Makeup!!!
No one said anything…
Oh well, I suppose the champagne and caviar will compensate for being girlyfied. And I must admit that my forehead is a bit shiny.
It’s a cuppa and a hobnob.
Cutbacks I suppose.
At least we get to go on T.V.
Isn’t it exciting?

I try to be nonchalant. After all I’ve been on local radio four times now and done the same amount of podcasts in my capacity as author don’t-cha know. But they didn’t involve make up. fullsizeoutput_26eThis is the real deal. I start rehearsing my BAFTA acceptance speech.

Bro and I do the thing. You know, ‘how much do you think it’s worth?’ My conservative £800 counters his wildly optimistic £1500.

And now we’re off to find out. We’ve both been smothered in foundation, powder puffed to within an inch of our lives and we’re marched with our non reflective foreheads down through Black Country streets of yore for people to point and smirk at, ready to go in front of – lights, camera, action.fullsizeoutput_270

It takes ages.
There is a chat about the table. That’s interesting, I wondered what the wood was. And it’s what!? 200 years old!
Bloody hell!
I thought 150 at most.
That’s why it’s got these old fashioned legs.
But how much?
Hang on. We have to reshoot that bit.
Someone’s hand was in the wrong position.
It’s o.k., they’ll cut it in when they’re editing.
See I know about these things now.
Has she said what it’s worth?
Am I supposed to be talking?
Or is it you?
Oh, we’re supposed to be listening, ‘with interest.’
Talking of interest it’s how much?
Hang on, can you just repeat that phrase. The microphone didn’t quite pick it up.
‘Did you say that you inherited it from ‘my’ Dad? Your brother is here too you know, shouldn’t that be, ‘our’?
I have to redo it.
Our father,’ I blurt out rather too confidently, before realising I sound as if I’m about to start praying.
FFS!
I do it again.
Has she told us the value yet?

I’m distinctly aware that my newly flattened brow is sweating profusely and my hands which I’ve had so comfortably at the ends of my arms for over sixty years seem to have developed a life of their own. What are they doing! From that camera angle I probably look as though I’m playing with my willy.

Dear God, let it be over soon.
Now what’s she wittering on about?
Not the bloody price is it!
‘All in all it is a very nice example,’ says Elaine. ‘Do you have any idea of value?’ she smiles sweetly.
I shake my head dumbly.
Well then,’ she declares, warming to her theme…

Apparently the new series airs in September.

I never did get to meet Fiona.

But I may be on the telly!

Dr. Who and the Lazarus effect…

Yes I know – I haven’t blogged for a bit have I? Sorry, what with being in the final of The People’s Book Prize and putting on the play wot I wrote, I’ve been a bit busy.

No doubt I’ll blog about those two newsworthy events in the near future, but just to show that I’m not averse to cheating here’s one I prepared earlier and posted on the blog page that time forgot.

Just a few thoughts on the timelessness of social media. Normal saftness service will be resumed as soon as possible – so here as a booster shot is, ‘Doctor Who and the Lazarus effect….’

Cue intro music – Numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, numa num num, ooo wee ooo…

I’m afraid to tell you all that I have extremely bad news.fullsizeoutput_d9
Brace yourselves.

Thingummyjig is dead.

Yes, sorry to break it so bluntly.

Old Wotsisface.

Remember him crooning that old song?
What was it again?
No, I can’t remember now either, but still, eh..?
Tut!
Those were the days.
Didn’t he marry that old slapper; you tell me, what was her name?
Yeah, that’s the one.
I think!

Sorry?
No, I don’t know. Probably cancer. It usually is.
But he did rather live life to the full. Perhaps he just wore out.
Must be right though, I just saw it on Facebook.
Shame!

Really?
Are you sure?
Hang on, give me a minute. I’ll Google it.

You’re right, you know!
Two years ago according to Wikipedia.
Heart attack in a hotel bedroom following a night of kinky sex with a prostitute dressed as Tinky Winky.
Who knew.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Tellytubbies.

I mention this because I have this morning seen this happen. Not the Tinky Winky bit obviously, I made that up.
Although thinking about it…
I forget who it was exactly. And if you think I’m scrolling through all those posts of kittens being cute, children being sick and photoshopped cloud images looking like angels then please think again.
Obviously not someone as ‘big’ as Bowie, Prince or any of the rest of the ‘A’ list crew who have so sadly and publicly popped their clogs recently and had a whole evening of News at Ten devoted to their demise.
Let’s consider the case of Jimmy Ruffin, the guy who sang ‘What becomes of the broken-hearted,‘ played at the end of so many seventies disco’s, for two reasons. 1 – there is a very nice short story about him on my website, you might enjoy it after you’ve read this over at https://www.weebly.com/editor/main.php  and 2 – I remember that it did actually happen to the poor old sod.
Yes, poor Jimmy sadly passed away, no doubt mourned by many, only to rise like Lazarus a year or so later to go through the whole process again for the people who had been too busy to notice his passing at the first time of asking.
So, bereft and saddened we share and retweet for all we’re worth to our friends. They do the same until it triggers a memory in one bright spark who says, ‘hang on a minute, isn’t he dead already..!’
Strangely this knowledge of his passing back in the mists of time assuages our mourning instinct and we do feel a great deal better than had we gone through the process when it actually happened.

Hold up a bit.
What’s this now?
Your pussy has gone missing madam?
Someone’s knicked your car, sir?rascal-running
Does anyone know this bastard that has been filmed kicking his dog?
No, they’re not very good photographs are they, but hang on and I’ll see if I can find out.

Turns out that all that occurred some time back.

Apparently madam only wanted to do some heavy breathing as she called out the hunks from the local fire brigade. Her pussy was up a tree as it turned out and was rescued six months ago.
Sir’s car was recovered after being spotted floating down the canal. Apparently the lad who pinched it was the same bastard who kicked the poor dog. Well done to whoever posted that by the way, obviously it’s far better to film this stuff rather than intervene and prevent it in the first place. Fortunately scummy was recognised though and was given a very severe telling off indeed. I’m pleased to report that he is a reformed character and lives happily with his wife and six kids in a bedsit in Chipping Sodbury.

But here it is all over again, as fresh and as good as new. And people are sharing and tweeting and bending over backwards to help what has already been accomplished.

And that’s what technology has done for us. Time used to be linear.
One day followed another.
No longer.jamesl10It loops around on Facebook.It retweets itself on Twitter.
It replays endlessly on catchup T.V.

No wonder Doctor Who always looked so confused, skipping around in time like that.
Keeping up with who’s dead and alive is like trying to remember whether Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker had the assistant with the shortest skirt.

Be honest lads – it never was about Daleks really, was it!?

 

Cardinal Wolsey and his part in the Normandy Landings – Guest Post by Ian Hutson…

Cardinal Wolsey and his part in the Normandy Landings – Guest Post by Ian Hutson…

Glad I’m following this blog…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

There comes a time in every chaps life, after he’s bought the boat and after he has begun to work through the long, long list of DIY jobs that need doing, after he’s prevaricated and fluffed around like a land-lubber, when he simply has to move his boat. I mean really move it, on the water, out of the marina to a specific location and then back again. It simply can’t be avoided.

My time came when I looked at the Cardinal’s gas system. The system for LPG, that is, I don’t mean that the boat burps or has flatulence or anything, although, perhaps in times of nautical stress…

When I read the broker’s advertisement for the boat I actually misread it, and it turns out that there wasn’t so much a “full-size cook” in the galley as there was a “full-size cooker”. A subtle but important difference…

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