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The sun was up, frost on the ground, weatherman said it was going to be a cold day, and boy, he wasn't wrong.
But you know, it didn't matter. I was off to Cardiff for the day with my friend Sarah and we were spending a few hours down the Bay.
We walked our way down to the bus station and as we arrived, so too did the X4. Wow! What timing we both thought. And so off we trundled along the A470 to Cardiff.
When in Cardiff we made our way to catch the ?car bus - otherwise known as the 'Bendy bus' which would take us to the Bay and the Dr Who Experience and Museum. I'd never been on a 'Bendybus' before so this was a weird experience as we sat facing the constatina (not sure if I've even spelt that word right today) section. Very weird.
It had cost almost as much to travel the 10 minute journey on the Bendy bus as it cost for the 12 miles trip into Cardiff. Oh well, it was fun.
Perfect timing again for the Dr Who Tour, we were given our 'crystal' passes to keep around our necks while we were inside. 'These were special' we were told on entry. 'Keep them close to your heart at all times for your own protection.'
(Oh boy I thought, this is gonna be fun).
They ask us not to tell folk about our adventure, not to spoil it for future visitors. Well to be honest, I wouldn't even know where to begin. It was hilarious fun from the moment we stepped inside. Kids actively on a treasure hunt for stuff to carry to the end. Dark tunnels, spooky dangly things, the guide with enormous amounts of enthusiasm and energy, moving floors, smoke, flashing lights, screams, cries (laughter and fright).
It was the best fun I've had in a very long time.
In the last location we wore 3d glasses to watch a wall collapse for a 3d show. Well, not being used to 3d stuff, yes, I ducked.
If you are a Dr Who fan or simply liked the old, new or current Dr's then you'll probably love the whole experience.
The Museum holds the various different TARDIS Boxes used throughout each series. The monsters are practically all there. And not forgetting the Dreaded Daleks.
There is loads to see for any one looking for a couple of hours out somewhere different.
Later, Sarah and I strolled along the Bay toward Coal Exchange and had a look around inside before we ate in a food place called Il Iguana (or something like that). They had the best tasting burgers and salad and chips we've ever tasted. (I seriously didn't think a bog standard burger could taste so remarkable - and I have no idea what they put on the salad but I'd never tasted anything like that before either - chips I think were sweet potatoe fried in something different, perhaps it was sweet chilli, but what ever, it was a stunning meal for less than £8).
Well, our timing for the Bendy bus back into Cardiff was superbly timed as before, and once on the Hayes we wondered the christmas market for a while, had some hot chocolate and chocolates and caught the bus back home.
A splendid day out.
I've helped offer bits of advice on the Cloud but I wanted to find a way to widen this. So, as a start, in January 2015, I'm launching the 'Indie Spotlight' which will give indie authors an opportunity to be featured on the Literary Lightbox blog which has had over 70,000 visits this year. I'll be featuring one or two indie authors a month and it will cost them nothing to apply or be featured because this is a gift from me to help those who have worked so hard on their books!
I'll be selecting authors based on their commitment to their craft and the inspiring stories they have to tell. One of the conditions is that the author has worked with an editor or book doctor to make sure that, first, they've done everything they can to make their book the best it can be. I'm not recommending any particular service as I want to remain objective but, as you know, there are many great services out there!
If you'd like to find out more, please pop along to www.literarylightbox.com/indie-spotlight to find out more.
If you do make a submission, please mention you're from the Cloud in the comments at the end so I know.
I am contemplating a huge research project based around a
who is also a great, great grandfather - someone whom I did not know existed -though I was aware I came from a family with a tradition of writing.
Both a literary agent and a book doctor, st York, felt that the character I wrote about in a biography had not come alive and I trying to think of a different approach.
I had mentioned this journlist in a previous biography. I am considering being a foil to this character. Had I attempted this before? This is a 300 word extract from the biography I wrote. It was something I could not resist aand I am sure that, if my great, great grandfather were alive, he would have given me a good cuff round the ear!!
.......He followed his profession with some success, producing some thirty volumes, earning a friendship with Lord Palmerston, and becoming one of the leading journalists of the time. He was a scholar and used his journalistic and descriptive abilities to the full in a splendidly patriotic account of the Battle of Hastings. (From the 'History of the Four Conquests of England' published by Smith Elder and Co in 1862).
After a torrid description of the battle he comments: 'The stratagems by which the invaders at last obtained the victory were of the coarsest and most ordinary kind, so that our reason almost staggers under the attempt to believe that our forefathers were really so deluded and overcome by contrivances so shallow and hackneyed'. It was an assessment of the battle based on a considerable amount of research. One third of each page consists of footnotes and references. In the opinion of Mr St John, the noted historian, the English really held the day: 'The famous infantry of England, which has since gained a thousand victories in every division of the world, gave at Hastings, a foretaste of what one day it would be'.
The battlefield is dominated by William who 'in order to propriate the papal Nemesis' takes to the field like a necromancer with a bag of relics about his neck. He avoids personal conflict with Harold 'apprehensive of the result of such a conflict, or not caring to look in the face the man whom he had assailed with so much calumny, falsehood and iniquity'. Further evidence of William's cowardice is provided but, the mass of historical evidence firmly against him, Mr St John is loth to admit that William conquered and leaves the battlefield with a final parting shot, 'On the following morning the Norman Chief, in the spirit of the Viking, gave his followers permission to rifle the English dead'.
There was no Rosemary in my life - though I wish there had been. Perhaps the Rosemaries of this world do not exist and are just the product of a male fantasy - so my vision of life is even bleaker.
I had read the book many years ago and this reading was due to it being featured in a book group I am due to attend. I do remember seeing a film version which had left me rather cold. I am sure I did not have the same feeling about the book when I first read it - though I think I have read most of Orwell.
Does anybody have the same feeling about Gordon Comstock? I was very moved by the book, but I wish the ending had been omitted; it just did not ring true.
It is with the tightest of lips that I announce that Tony 'Bits' has left this world for the next.
Tony passed in September due to complications of his complications of his many conditions.
Tony was well regarded and there are those in these parts, simple and direct souls, who have not accepted his death as acceptable and are questioning whether the hospital staff may have accelorated his demise.
I dont envy anyone who, for what ever reason, clinical or economic, may have not done all that was expected with regard to the care Tony 'Bits'. But I digress.
Once the shock and the lament passed for me, and the inevitable realization of my own demise was digested, I contemplated Tony 'Bits' impact upon my own life.
There was a memorial service at the church as well as at the charity shop ... and the scrap yard in Swindon.
Me, and those like me, his friends, chose to rip the piss out of Tony and his ailments rather than to heap false empathy and sympathy on him. We treated him just as badly as we do each other. We treated him equally bad.
Recently, on the Cloud on the Friday Laugh, I have seen those, who like me, have made light of mental and physical disability. And I have seen those who are uncomfortable with it.
My mate Noah has Downes Syndrome. He is three now and he is the second bravest soul I have ever encountered. He is my niece/god-daughter's son and, although his parents are supportive of him, his grandfather has not been capable of accepting his circumstances.
His mother is fiercly protective of him and to date, Her-indoors and I are the only ones she has trusted with looking after him overnight.
When I take him to town, I can see, when I introduce him to people, how they respond. Some are openly kind and yet others are guarded or awkward with it.
From this, I have begun to introduce him as My Favourite Vegetable. I openly joke of his condition to let people get used to it and to help them accept him. This seems to help people accept and come to terms with him. Hopefully they will help him in life. Hopefully I will not have to help anyone come to terms with his condtion.
In honour of Tony and Noah and the burdens they faced and will face with their conditions, I give you the reprise of my old blog.
For without them, my life would be lesser.
Prop’s Pubs# 14
The Swan, Radcot
Downstream from Mudflat are a number of villages along the county border. I was passing that way as I was coming back home from picking up some Land Rover parts over in Cirencester. It was a drive I had done several hundred times over the years, Land Rovers being what they are.
I pulled in to The Swan near Radcott to wash the dust from my mouth as I normally did. I ducked my head through the 18th century doorway and walked to the bar. To my request, the barman poured me a pint of Weston’s Much Marcle Cider. Things were looking up.
I took the top off the pint, well, maybe the top quarter and I turned around, happily in that fleeting bliss that all men know when holding their first pint of the day. The bar was traditional in the sense that John and Beth, the owners, had never invested money to modernize it and thus didn’t have to spend money later to traditionalize it. The low ceiling and exposed beams gave to some, a sense of claustrophobia but it never bothered me.
I looked around to pay respects to all and I noticed Tony ‘Bits’ sitting at a table over near the fireplace. Tony was there with his black lab, Brutus, having a late morning pint and looking at a local newspaper. Tony was a mess, he had several physical disabilities, some genetic and most acquired. He lost his arm in an industrial accident, the settlement of which provided him a small pension.
Tony, among other things, has a prosthetic arm. He bought
it at an estate sale after losing his National Health Service one
when he rode his bicycle into the Kennet and Avon Canal after
last year's cider festival.
It is a second-hand hand. And it is three sizes too big. He refused to part with it and the waiting list on the NHS for a replacement of a prosthetic limb lost while drunk is quite long in the west of England.
He spent hours one morning last winter shaping the hand bit into a grip which would hold his pint glass. Finally, he was ready to unveil the new arm on the world, or as he knew it, them lot down the pub.
We had stopped in there on our long way home from a match in Cirencester to lick our wounds and anything else we could get near.
He looked like a fiddler crab when he came to the pub and
everyone started to hang their coats and hats on his great big
Tony clumped up to the bar and ordered a pint from the coffee machine ... the lens on the left side of his glasses had fogged up and that is the only eye he can see out of. Finally, Beth came over and put a pint of Pheasant Plucker in front of him and Tony reached into his pocket for the price of it with his lesser bad hand, (the live one) and while turning around, his claw swept three pints of cider to the floor.
Shouts and screams followed and Tony didn't get much change from his £20 note after Crazy Ron, Doug’l Watson and Dave Taylor demanded restitution. The change he did get, trickled through his plastic fingers and into the spilled cider on the floor.
Doug’l, (so named not as a contraction for Douglas or Dougal but as a contraction of ‘Doug will’ because Doug’l fuck anything, ) picked up the wet change and put it in his pocket.
Finally, all was settled and Tony, through fogged lens, aimed his claw (known affectionately as 'Thing' as inspired from the Addams Family) at his pint. The room slowed to silence, pool games and conversations stopped, the telly sound was reduced.
Tony’s one good eye seemed magnified as it winked and rolled in concentration at Thing and the pint as the distance between them closed.
With the skill and daring of the Gemini 8 Astronauts, Tony connected Thing with the Pheasant Plucker. The silence was tangible. We were seeing not just Tony connecting Thing to his pint, we were seeing mankind's perseverance over adversity.
It was Barnes Wallace. It was Winston Churchill. It was Johnny Wilkinson....
The claw swept around, Thing steadfast, and the pint level.
Tony pursed his lips in anticipation for his reward as the pint drew nearer.
The tension and anticipation was unbearable… He strained,
he squeaked a bit, and he even stood on his toes…..
The determination, the genius, the perseverance...
… the arm was too long and he couldn't get the pint to his mouth.
I was reading this blog last night and I found it quite helpful and quite accurate with details. This would be a good blog for new writers because she covers the basics and doesn't go into to much detail and blow your mind. But she is based in America so not sure how much her getting and agent/publisher information is correct for this country.
She just gives some basics "rules" on writing.
Her youtube Videos - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcBJEXnouU0&list=UUgvu0q49l3BfsMyp9WSTQLw
Hope this helps