Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dull, dull, dull.

When is a writer not a writer? I'm not just talking about clever, established, well-known authors but the more lowly breed such as myself who write because they have to and/or they enjoy it. The answer to the riddle is 'never'.

Chores never get much more dull than supermarket shopping on a Sunday morning, this much I can tell is a universal thing judging by the glum faces on this rainy morning in our local store. Just recently, following on from discussions we had at Sussex last Saturday, I've been wondering what puts me in the frame of mind to write; in other words, what makes me get all creative. Now, I really didn't expect the answer to be shopping for our weekly trolley full of food. However, today, there were a series of announcements over the PA system, given in fairly quick succession, which were begging to be linked together to make a story. I won't give away everything just now but I can tell you that it involved the Customer Services Desk, a first-aider, the owner of the dog tied up outside and a security guard. It just set me thinking ....looks like our shopping bills are about to rocket and not necessarily because of the credit crunch.

Friday, 24 October 2008

And another thing ....

Monty and the Ginger Ninja have been blogging again today.

Dananananananananana Batman!

This is my son (number 2) as he prepares to leave for college this morning.

It emerged this morning that his college email inbox has exceeded its size limit and that the messages sent out to students to warn them of the fact that they will no longer be able to send or receive messages are not empty threats. Consequently, work he thought he'd emailed to 3 different tutors hadn't gone at all.

I never thought I'd see the day when I could actually teach him anything related to computers. How did the concept of deleting unwanted messages or having an awareness of the Sent Items Folder bypass him? I've no idea considering I thought he was some kind of techo-genius. How does he propose to explain his unfortunate situation to his tutors? Dressed as Batman, that's how. I'm not sure which aspect should be of the greatest concern to me.

By the way, it's Rag Week in case you were wondering.

I should also add that he's wearing a full-length wetsuit underneath as apparently it was rather revealing without this reinforcement.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What you need to know is

What you need to know is the way through from here to there. If the sun's up and you can't see it, then it's time to prune the hedges. If you prune the hedges, you might get to talk to people on the other side doing exactly the same and then you can always chat about finding your way to the next place.

If the ground ahead of you is muddy, the chances are that someone has been here before you. If you should catch up with them and they're at a dead end, you could share your failures and work together. If you catch up with them and you haven't really been walking that fast, maybe they're wounded and could do with some help.

If the ground ahead of you is dry and the blades of grass are growing straight upwards, it looks like you're the first to tread this path, at least for a while. Take heart in the knowledge that you are a pioneer. Every now and then, sit down and reflect on your experiences. You may find that the last part of the journey is the hardest but don't worry. Being first is always difficult but think of all the times you've walked down a well-trodden path and taken it for granted.

When you arrive, you will do something to mark the occasion; plant a flag, get a certificate or hear a round of applause. This is your moment. Eventually, the flag will seem smaller amongst a field of others and both the certificate and the applause will fade. But don't worry, it's not the end. Because this place where you got to is inside of you now and you will begin to feel hungry for another journey.

What you need to know is that although you may feel full for a little while, it's a good sign that you're starting to feel hungry already. It means you're alive.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Writing to Musical Prompts

Sarah put up some musical prompts for writing to today. I've never done this before and it was fun. There were 2 different pieces:

I want to fly, to feel the breeze stroking my armpits, my hair sleeked back from my forehead by the thin wisps of clouds rushing through it, my arms stretched wide, finger tips and toes pointed. My neck is free of weight, looking ahead, not down at the land beneath, at the shifting horizon because I'm going fast now. And there are trees; tiny and still, yes, I have a real different sense of perspective because I remember how from the ground they were heavy and foreboding and rustled in the gales. Up here there is no weather as such, just air, light and coolness.

I'm feeling threatened, it's dark. There are brick walls, dirty from the bottom up, they're chipped at the corners. At the end of each alleyway, there promises to be a light but when I get there, its corner is as dark as the last one. In the distance I can hear raucous, drunken laughter, I smell wisps of cigar smoke, doors closing and muffled screeches of tyres. A cat startles me by jumping from the top of a wall on to a metal dustbin. It lands on the edge of the dustbin lid which couldn't have been on properly as the cat clatters to the ground, meows and streaks off into the gutter. There is a rustle of paper from the dustbin, the tinkle of cans being disturbed and three rats run over the top edge, down its side; their smooth movements belie the existence of their feet and they all run in unison, synchronized and I wonder if it's just habit or calculated. The rats have gone and I am scared because I can't remember which direction I came from. I don't want to have to wait here for sunrise.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

This has bothered me

Life is still horribly hectic, not least because this was my Sussex Saturday and I had to fit in taking the children to swimming lessons beforehand. However, it was a very enjoyable and productive day. The leader of our group today provided us with the prompt 'This has bothered me' to use as a warm up exercise. Before I sink in front of the television to watch the X Factor (a bit of a contrast to studying for an MA, I know), I thought I'd share with you what I'd written, especially as I haven't been blogging as regularly of late. It's not ground-breaking fiction or anything but just to let you know that I'm still alive:

Going to the doctor's bothers me. A lot. It bothers me because first of all, I can only phone up for an appointment on the day at 8am so that element of uncertainty is always there with the apprehension attached to this impending event usually starting the evening before.

Having argued my way through getting an appointment; 'Yes, it's sort of an ongoing problem but honestly, I don't mind who I see as a) they rarely remember me which is strange considering the frequency of my visits and b), I like to spread my misery evenly'. Okay, I don't actually say that but it's implicit in my acquiescent tone, surely? Anyway, having been forced to see a particular doctor, I arrive at her door, knock inaudibly, almost apologetically and prepare to reveal the reason for my visit. Should I blurt it all out therefore risking making her think I have made a self-diagnosis or do I provide her with little tidbits of symptoms and if so, does the in order in which I present them have any impact? She might judge me to be anything ranging from hypochondriac to know-it-all.

I don't think it's any accident that patients are described as 'presenting' with symptoms. Going to the doctor is always a performance for which no amount of rehearsal can be adequate. All that bothers me. A lot.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Going around the gender bend

The pile of ironing in our utility room is only one visible representation of my workload this week. I haven't got any time to blog today except that I must share this with you before I forget. Of course, it's also a delaying tactic as I should be hoovering right now but I'm sure I will hoover all the better for having got this out of my system.

On Sunday, we went to the supermarket. Now, I've begun to find it rather irritating how there are now car washing people there, ready to leap on you as soon as you get out of the car with your head full of shopping lists. Anyway, I was driving and my husband was in the passenger seat. As we got out of the car, the nearest car wash person was on his side and they shouted out 'You want car wash lady?'. I should explain that their view of me would have been completely obscured by the height of our people carrier and the blacked-out windows (you'd want to be anonymous if you drove a people carrier too) so they were definitely directing their question at him. Oh, how we laughed, especially as he does have an extremely deep voice, even for a man. In fact, I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. Even the children repeating the 'You want car wash lady?' line over and over didn't diminish its impact. Eventually, the tears on my face dried and we went shopping.

On the way out of the supermarket, we stopped to get some diesel. I went in to pay and the cashier said to me 'Would you like a VAT receipt for that, Sir?'. So now we're even. I'm married to a lady-boy and he's married to an extremely butch woman. The implications are endless. We could swap clothes. Coincidence maybe? Perhaps. And then I went to take our daughter to gymnastics the next day and there was a sign:


Do you think I'm being a little over-sensitive?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

A change of direction

I was going to write something about having all the time in the world because that was Sarah's prompt for today. However, as I went to my blog and saw that my last posting was entitled 'White Rabbits' I'm going to go off at a completely different tangent.

Today has been another fairly trying day for one reason and another with some fairly serious issues to address, the details of which I won't bore you now. Peversely, amongst all these domestic trials and tribulations, I took the rabbits to the vet to be castrated. It started badly when I went to grab the catch on the hutch door and instead felt my fingers sinking into a fat slug. And that was only the beginning. Bramble is a slippery chap and he played games with me, disappearing as soon as I loomed over the hutch with the intention of scooping him up. When I took a few steps back (carefully avoiding the rain-sodden dog faeces on the lawn disguised cunningly amongst fallen conkers) he would re-emerge from his bedding area. This went on for some time whilst I got soaked in the rain, increasingly mindful of the time slipping away, their appointment with fear approaching and the local school-run-scrum clogging up the roads, competing for tarmac against the Tuesday visit from the dustbin lorry. Eventually, I won and it wasn't long before I had arrived at the vets victoriously having fought off the traffic which seemed to be coming from all directions. I felt like I had just run naked across a battlefield but at least we had got there.

I contacted the surgery at 4pm and said 'I'm just phoning to see how our rabbits are following their castration?'. I'm really not sure what sort of response I had anticipated or whether had put either one of them on the phone, they would have been as cheery about it all as the receptionist.

Imagine this for a moment: you can't stand your next door neighbour, in fact, the very sight of him causes you to see red and any meeting - however accidental - ends in a punch-up and one of you getting a bloody nose. He's not the sort to be reasoned with. He never says a word to you but wouldn't hesitate to urinate in your direction given the opportunity. Now then, someone has come up with a solution. You're going to be castrated. Next, the perpetrator of this deed phones up the surgery to ask how you are. What would you say?

So I've had a bad day and the perfect end to it is the discovery that Holby's not on tonight and it's my favourite programme. Still, it could be a lot worse. Our next door neighbours are very pleasant.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

White Rabbits

Happy October. White rabbits, rabbits feet for good luck and being late. Today and not just today but recently in general has been a time of running late for me.

Today I got out of bed, did an hour's worth of ironing, vacuumed the whole house, cleaned the bathrooms, got myself ready and left for my hospital appointment hoping that the house was respectable enough for the potential buyers viewing the house at 9am.

Having got about a mile down the road, I realised that I'd forgotten to place my new tax disc in the holder. Given that I would be passing the roundabout near Gatwick where I know for a fact that they film passing cars, I thought it wise to turn back and get my disc from the study. I'm not sure why I had delayed putting it in the car in the first place. Perhaps I like being late for things?

I arrived for my appointment with plenty of time which is more than I could say for those I had to see. The whole process would start again (house viewers, not hospital appointments) before 5pm, the same time at which we had to drop our daughter at Rainbows, go and collect fish & chips because we were in exile from our house, eat them and return to pick her up by 6pm. Phew!

Amongst all this, our second eldest was requesting a lift to see his girlfriend who lives about half an hour away by car. Oh, and a lift back again later. No way. Apart from the fact that I'm exhausted, I've been told that my new medication limits me to one glass of wine and this is for a lifetime. I am planning to start on Saturday. Therefore, tonight, we eat drink and be merry. Pinch, punch, the first of the month .....