This tab contains blog posts submitted by network members. When writing a blog for your profile you have the option to submit it into this tab for other members to read.
Recently my father needed a new washing machine and being a particularly AgedP required filial support in the purchase. So I took him to a nameless domestic electrical equipment supplier and we selected a suitable machine. The helpful assistant offered that if he waited for two weeks delivery would be free and also threw in free installation and removal of the old machine by their “tech guys” - as he was most definitely an Aged P and I was haggling. It seemed like a good deal and I advised that he take it. It was duly delivered and installed.
Being old, my father, well, doesn’t do many loads of washing. He saves them up, sometimes over weeks!! Recently he used the new machine in anger for the first time, almost two weeks after it was installed. He called me to report that it was tripping his RCD breaker (electrical safety device) and that they couldn’t come out to investigate for a few days. He was in something of a crisis being low on shreddies and the like. So I drove up myself to investigate. In order to install the washing machine, it was necessary to cut off the moulded plug to allow the wire to pass through a small hole in the cupboard, and then fit a new plug. I quickly found out that they had wired the plug wrong. Specifically they had reversed the earth and neutral wires. Not immediately dangerous thankfully and it would work after a fashion in a house without an RCD. Ultimately dangerous though as the earth is a safety precaution.
This is Esther’s fault!
When I was a lad you never got moulded plugs. Your appliance came with bare wires and a little picture of how to attach a plug. But virtually everyone knew how to do it already. Some years ago, in the seventies I think Ms Rantzen became exercised over the very rare occasions when someone made a mistake. She led a campaign to factory fit moulded plugs to domestic appliances. This has evolved over the many years it has been in place to a situation where there are now legions of people that don’t know how to wire up a plug, rather than it being a rare village idiot. Although, of course, the number of plugs that have to be wired up is fewer too. But if someone has to wire up a plug the odds of them getting it wrong are greatly increased.
The nation (probably the whole of Europe) has been de-skilled! AgedP got one of the many such without "the skills" on this job. Fortunately no harm was done.
I wonder if there are more or less accidents as a result of this policy. As a race we are generally losing more and more basic skills left right and centre. The resilience and self-reliance that was once taken for granted is now a thing of the past.
It’s a shame.
Can I just say a huge thank you to all the people here who have helped me over the years to hone my wiriting, an on going process, and even more to those who have been there to stop me giving up.
If you'd like to have a little antidote to all the seasonal cute - please go and buy - it's 2.99 which is almost the same as the coffee you can treat yourself with when you sit down and loose yourself in my head for a while.
And here's the blurb to get you going:
A woman staggers into a decrepit fishing shack in the Louisiana back woods, with no memory, a gun and a bullet wound. Enter Red, a stranger in a strange place, in time to catch her as she falls.
Trapped in the sweating heat of the swamp, no car, no phone, no one around for miles, the ex-solider offers her refuge and the name ‘Margarita’.Night falls and cabin fever sets in, ripe with intense visions and confession. In the small hours Margarita discovers a cache of hidden weapons and a plan for revenge on Red, once married to her missing sister - but who’s plan is it and who’s its real target? Deeper they go, embroiled in a dark game before all the players, both real and imaginary, have fully revealed themselves.
Please spread the word if you have a moment - by blog, tweet or town cryer!
(Take a pill.)
(Blood pressure now 130-70, which is better than normal according to the nurse who takes at least three readings a day, waking me up at unsociable hours unless I could be described as a vampire, which I'm not inclined to be except on sundays, which is permissable I understand.)
I had an accident.
Bright Eyes (BE) sent me on a trip to the super-farang supermarket to buy cans of sardines in tomato sauce for our grey and white kitten - half Persian and half Thai. I call him spider-man because he claws his way up our very expensive curtains - he's cute says BE - but enough of that.
Laden with said provisions and an organic lettuce (I'm sure you'll understand my attention to eating healthy) I set off back to my sanctuary. Maybe Buddha was having a snack or something, but he wasn't looking where I was bloody going, and at one turning, my handlebars inexpicably turned inwards and I slammed my left leg into a parked motorbike.
(Take a pill.)
(Blood pressure 140-85, which is 'normal' for farangs - I raised an eyelid, but she seemed genuine.)
Am I boring you, dear reader?
Okay, to cut down to the chase, I'm in hospital (being renovated - the hospital, not me) with a gangrene leg (note, upping the stakes) and 24-hour service, mostly made up of pumping massive doses of assorted antibiotics through one tiny, nondescript vein in my left hand day and night for five days (or it could have been five life-times) until it became inflamed and they swapped to another equally nondescript vein.
It took five days to clear. By which time I felt I had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. BE fed me - the hospital couldn't quite understand the meaning of vegetarian meals as an assortment of pork and chicken accompanied their offerings. I suspect they thought I wouldn't notice (being a farang) but I guess (as I was at death's door and comatose) I wouldn't complain and, if I did, it wouldn't matter anyway.
So now I'm back at home, with just a huge hole in my leg that needs dressing every day - and nurses exclaiming that it's getting better (much to their surprise).
I'll be back on my bike soon - wrapping my legs in a suit of armour, if that's possible.
More, next Chronicle...
Proud to announce an opportunity with the joint writing team of A and K. Makansi - authors of The Sowing - a fantastic YA Science Fiction that has helped me hone my writing. I recommend giving this post-apocalyptic novel a go.
Okay... so how does my YA Science Fiction novel - Tyler Nitbone - fit into this?
For the whole of December 2013 - anyone who purchases a copy of The Sowing or Tyler Nitbone - and can evidence this with a digital receipt - will be sent an ebook of the other novel and the Divided Worlds Trilogy (by me).
Let's break this down:
Don't miss out on this December 2013 Offer.
Along with the reviewer, Christopher Howse, I found this fascinating:
"The shiniest piece of information I picked up is that, in English, adjectives go in this order:
Opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.
This knowledge is implicitly mastered by all native speakers; to see it made explicit is an enjoyable revelation, like learning to carry a tray on the flat of your hand. "
I settle down to work on my WIP, full of enthusiasm and
People are promenading up and down the jetty, past the fishermen and the ink stains left by cuttlefish foolish enough to be hooked. Focus, concentrate.
On the outside of the wall the tugs and working boats nurse the big ships safely in through the narrow port entrance. Inside the marina the pontoons are alive with people of all nations. Stop chewing the pen.
There is mast climbing, chatting and laughing, working on boats and discussions of the all important weather. The daily work is going on around me. I should be editing.
The wind gently ripples the water belying the big seas outside the protection of the Rade. The gulls fight over starfish left behind by the tide, loudly screaming and crying at each other. The freshness of the air and the mild weather feel Autumnal even though it is late November. Winter comes later here.
I’m still sat in the door. My coffee now empty, the editing still not touched. Procrastination. Enjoyable but not very productive, but I’m sure it’s not just me….
Walter Newman was a radio writer who graduated to film and went on to write such classics as Cat Ballou (which is on TV this Wednesday on C4) In some ways his story is similar to a lot of other writers I’ve written about, but one thing does make it uniquely, which I’ll come to.
Newman’s radio writing must have been impressive since his first film credit saw him writing Ace in the Hole for star Kirk Douglas and director Billy Wilder, who also co-wrote with Newman and Lesser Samuels. He went on to co-write Otto Preminger’s masterful The Man With the Golden Arm and work on both The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape for John Sturges, apparently quarrelling with Sturges on both films and requesting his name be taken off the credits.
If he worked on no other films but the above-mentioned five, that would still be an impressive CV, and yet it is not for any of these that Walter Newman is remembered. And he is remembered, albeit mainly within the industry and amongst film students. Why? Because Walter Newman wrote Harrow Alley, often called the greatest screenplay never filmed.
I should say up front, I’ve never read Harrow Alley so I’m relying on what I can find online, and believe me, there’s a lot more about the script than there is about Newman himself. The overwhelming consensus is that Harrow Alley was judged too uncommercial when it was written in the sixties, and, despite a few high profile attempts to get it made (John Huston, Charlton Heston, George C. Scott), has remained so ever since. It is a 172 page screenplay (so about 3 hours long), set during the great plague, and it’s main character escapes the gallows by taking a job clearing up plague-ridden corpses.
That’s a description that certainly clarifies why a studio might shy away from it, and yet, in the descriptions I read it is also described as optimistic and uplifting, it’s basic theme being how, no matter the circumstances, people will find a way to survive. Robert Elisberg, writing just this year (the script remains a popular cause celebre) said that, despite it being 3 hours long the screenplay ‘never lags, and remains riveting…’. To say that about a film is impressive, to say it about a screenplay is remarkable. Screenplays are not made to be read, they are made to be seen, reading them is a skill, and for a 172 page one to incite the levels of enthusiasm Harrow Alley does means it must be something very special. Of course this may also explain why it remains unmade, it will take someone with the vision to see what it could be to bring it off the page.
Newman died in 1993, he will never see his masterpiece and, ironically, if it’s ever made then his name will probably mean less and less, as he will no longer be the writer of greatest screenplay never filmed. Still, you’ve got to hope it will happen one day, but God help the director brave enough to take it on!
In the meantime, I need to find a copy and see what the fuss is about.
Just wondering what other people think about how long a piece is posted for. When I put some work up, I'm conscious of both not hogging the Critiques Forum, and not leaving my work up on a public website for too long.
The flip side of this is that I may take my work down just as someone was planning to read it or to comment. I copy and paste all the feedback into a document to keep it but I'd hate to think I'd missed someone's comments because I hit the delete button that bit too early.
Any views out there?
Barrymore somehow acquires the prerequisite intel just before the scientist's lab goes on fire, then sells the dolls to his intended victims in the guise of a little old lady. One great scene has Barrymore, standing outside a house on a snowy night, glowering up at the living room in which his final victim is sitting, while his dolls – animated by his will alone – scramble down from the unfortunate man’s Christmas tree. The victim has been warned he will die at midnight unless he confesses to framing Barrymore, and so he does – despite being wholly unaware of the doll poised on top of his armchair, hatpin in hand.
I’m not sure why I liked this film so much. The preposterous storyline – of an outsider in disguise, determined to exact vengeance on his bourgeois victims via assorted minions – seems to have struck a chord with me. Certainly, Barrymore’s camp performance is a joy to watch. It was directed by Todd Browning of ‘Freaks’ frame, and though little known today, was a hugely expensive affair at the time.
* This theme and its corollaries with ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ must be why the film is set, otherwise superfluously, in France.