Sunday, 30 September 2007

Dig For Victory!

Today I decided to take full advantage of the gorgeous autumnal weather we are experiencing in the UK (well, at least, in my part of it) and go to the Dig For Victory Harvest Fair in St James Park, London.

Dig For Victory was a second world wartime slogan, calling to all still at home to bolster their meagre rations with as many vegetables and salad items as their gardens could grow. The Harvest Fair was recreating what people would have been growing in the 1940s, along with a bit of a free food fest, to be honest. Hooray for free things!

Of course, this is all tied in with the book, as anything that can help me get some 1940s flavour is all good with me, and luckily I managed to coerce a couple of pals to wander along with me and peer at veg. Only the best days out when I am in charge...

But it was fab! I was particularly fascinated (if that is the right term) with broccoli. If I had ever thought of how it grew at all, it was as some sort of green cauliflower. But it is this huge plant thing, and the bit we eat is actually the flower. We marvelled at the lettuce, nodded at the beetroot, pointed out brussel sprouts... but as with all exhibition type things, you do the worthy bit first (read the posters, ponder the exhibits), and then you go in search of the fun bit.

Well, we could smell the fun bit – volunteers were cooking up a storm to the right of us, using fresh home grown ingredients. We had pumpkin pie (delicious) and hot corn on the cob, settling down on hay bales to eat, watching children make scary corn dollies and rather sweet paper flowers. It was one of those I Love London sort of days…

Friday, 28 September 2007

C’mon – motivate!

Where is Mr Motivator when you need him, huh? If I had had some dude in nasty Bermuda shorts and a bad baseball cap leap into my flat and tell me to start pumping that keyboard, then perhaps I might have got some work done this week, as well as a potential Crimewatch spot warning people of the ‘Bermuda Terror’. As it is, with no Mr Motivator, my motivation was at an all time low and I cannot quite explain it.

Was it because it really is, no word of a lie, blooming cold in here? Yes it is the heating’s fault, I try to negate it by turning on the piddly little heater and then practically hugging it all day, but this behaviour warns me that fingerless gloves and potentially looking like Steptoe’s niece could well be in my future, neither of which make me happy.

Was it because my other half was home sick for two days? Yes, it was, let me unfairly blame him, as that was a great excuse to ‘not do so much work, if any, at all’, and to instead eat chips at lunchtime and watch clever films, where I sit there and go ‘but what’s happening?’ every five minutes.

Was it because my project manager friend took me out for an end of the month pep talk and got me squiffy on wine? Yes, it was, as that meant I had to take off Thursday feeling poorly, which is no doubt the start of a nasty flu bug and not anything to do with the fact I had three glasses of red, of course not.

Or, was it because I got so bogged down searching for a 1948 song with lyrics that suit a particular bit of chapter, that I managed to spend all week pulling my hair out over it?

I think the main answer is D to be honest… still, I have gone with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Heart Stood Still’, although it is still not quite right… I was also thinking of Doris Day’s (or Patti Page’s) Confess, You Call Everybody Darlin’ (Al Trace), Little White Lies (Dick Haymes), Rumours Are Flying (can’t remember) or Peggy Lee’s It’s A Good Day.

The only problem is none of these are quite right… maybe an earlier song… See, a scene is being played out in a garden, but music from the wireless (or gramophone) deadens the voices, so the music becomes like the soundtrack to the action… So it has to represent the scene, which is a suspected adultery on the part of the husband being spied on by the wife… Any ideas gratefully received!

Oh - and Blogger thinks I am German again for some reason... More biscuit crumbs dropped down an important keyboard somewhere?

Monday, 24 September 2007


Oh dear, I inflicted a poem on you yesterday – what was I thinking? Other people celebrate the start of autumn with informative posts; I offload vaguely down-beat poetry. I apologise profusely.

The worst thing about writers what-don’t-quite-write-books-yet (i.e me) is that you tend to assume that all your words are worthy greats. Therefore, all your little scribbles are to be saved, just in case they harbour undetected as of yet genius. In the worst case scenario, you will have saved poems you wrote as a typically depressed but of course acutely insightful teenager, for that one day when you are discovered. Of course, I have a wealth of these poems. And now I have an audience – bwhahahaha (laughs like a James Bond baddie whilst flicking through batch of poems marked The Teenage Years Volume 10). Run, good people – run while you can!

It was the same with Art. I find it impossible to throw away drawings and paintings I have created, even if and in some cases, especially if, these creations are to all intents and purposes, a bit shit. No, my mind thinks, these will come in useful one day! I might do something with them! A bonfire springs to mind as an answer to both questions, apart from a) I live in a flat and b) you never know, an art critic may one day come around for dinner, spy my portfolio, ask to flick through, shout Eureka and phone the Tate.

But anyway, back to autumn. I love this time of year, the air feels cleaner, the sky brighter and the colours of decay hint at past summer glories. To me, it is a time of promise, of exploration, a new beginning for one and all. Oh dear, I feel another poem coming on…

Sunday, 23 September 2007


I walk by the river, water dappled with sun
Pondering people and places, things I haven’t yet done
Looking at autumn creeping into the shadows,
Leaves turning golden, berries pregnant on boughs
I scoop up a conker and smile at its perfection
Safe in my pocket, saved from a small boy’s collection
Thoughts obviously still in a 1941 adventure
Small boys today don’t need toys provided by nature
I smile at people walking past, making the most of the weather
It’s the little things in life that cannot be bettered
Make the most of this time, and try to forget that it’s sand
So precious and precarious in the palm of our hand.

Friday, 21 September 2007

More bloody details

I originally had my characters (Florence and Arthur) down to be from a small village in Cambridgeshire ‘Sussex’, when it is actually ‘Suffolk’ (Sussex being a fair distance away in the wrong direction). I originally wanted them to go to a London theatre for their honeymoon in 1941, only to discover that most of London was being blitzed up to May 1941 so why would any sane person go into town if they didn’t need to be there? And they could have got married later, but in the war why would you wait? And they couldn’t have got married sooner, as Florence only reached 18 in 1941. *headsdesk*

I have to remember this isn’t important – this is not a war story, and doesn’t need to be so involved on that part… oh hang on, later I want them to get a train in to London for the Coronation, so that means they live… *consults google map*. Pants. Big fat shiny pants, I think they will have to live closer in, but then, but then… *consults google map again*.

Sod this for a game of soldiers, I am going to go yoga and buy a ton of post-it notes, that should help me solve what is supposed to be going on around this story!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The devil’s in the details

How far back does a back story go?

The chapter I am writing is set mostly in 1948, and of course, I want it to be authentic, and my characters to be thinking, wearing, listening and eating things that are all from that period in the UK. That is research I expected to do. However, I have just spent four hours reading up about what my character’s husband would have worked as upon leaving school in 1934, when I am not even sure if I will actually touch upon this anywhere in the chapter, let alone in the main story. And the fact that her brother was killed in Dunkirk, when I don’t think I will be saying anywhere at all that she even had a brother! This is research madness! This is research Gone Wrong!

My problem is the Internet. There is so much information and none of it really answers my questions direct, so I end up clicking even deeper, getting more absorbed in rationing and cheese puddings, in the age people left school, and wartime posters. And I totally disappeared in the BBC’s People’s War website, which is a great resource but not the easiest way to find information. It would be much better if there were sub categories under the main headers, so you click on main header The Blitz, for example, and then get London, Regional, Occupations, Bombing etc. But no… that would no doubt mean you could find what you want within 10 minutes – this website wants you to stay forever!

I find myself longing for books, big weighty tomes that I could pull down off the shelf and flick through until I find what I want without having tons of internet windows open. I think it is having everything running on the same screen that drives me mad. But then again books would take just as long, maybe the real problem is I am not framing my questions accurately enough in google.

And... I do like it when my characters become real to me, as that means you can see them from all angles, so to speak, but sometimes they can take on a life of their own. An example is I wanted Florence’s husband to have been in the RAF (of course, me with my interest in war birds! Definitely RAF!), and to have done some sort of printing apprenticeship, which again follows my interests. But no, I just know if this character was real, he would have been in the Army, and done an engineering apprenticeship instead. Why is that?

Agatha Christie's famous male detective was Poirot, a Belgian. In the books, one of his friends is an author called Ariadne Oliver, who writes detective stories based on a man from Finland. In the books, Ariadne rues the day she ever made her detective a Finn, as she continually got letters from readers pointing out mistakes. Ever think this was Agatha's way of sounding off? I sort of can imagine how she feels...

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


1) I got my new mobile delivered, it looks confusing the way only new mobiles can, but hopefully it will stop accidentally managing to bump the number 9 three times in my handbag and connect me to the emergency services.

2) I have decided to ask a friend who is scarily good at writing and editing (although she doesn’t yet do either professionally) to look over the first three and a bit chapters for me. Even though she would do it for free, as that is the sort of nice person she is, I suspect it will be a day’s work, so I am going to pay her a little something, which feels only fair. Besides, I did budget for this, as I decided from the start that I am going to do everything as thoroughly as I can, and it is so easy to miss errors in your own wrok.

3) I decided against the life coaching (which saves me some quid), mainly because I never budgeted for it, and I have a dread of running out of money too soon. I still think it is a great idea though, but I do have my own kind of support group sorting out my timetable, reading my work and generally believing I can do it, which is nice. I think if you didn’t have that sort of support in place then a life coach can be invaluable.

4) I have finally worked out how to get the heating on in this flat, J will be thrilled, thrilled I tell you. I may not have to resort to wearing all of my clothes at once and constructing some sort of typing tent from under the duvet.

Apart from that, blogger has decided I am German for some reason – it tells me I can publish my entry or view blog in German, at least I presume that is what it is telling me. I only know how to say ‘Can I have a drink please?’ in German, so it could be telling me anything. It has done this for a few days so far with no signs of changing back anytime soon; I suspect someone in Blogger HQ has dropped some biscuit crumbs down somewhere important, and is hoping none of us notice...

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Duxford 2007 Air Show

A weekend or two back, I went with a pal to see those magnificent men (and women) in their flying machines at Duxford Air Show.

A little way back, you may recall I went to see Rougham air show and got completely hooked. I especially love war birds (as they are called) from the first and second world war, as well as those planes such as the Extra 300 whose clever pilots can make them sort of wiggle around in the sky. I’m not quite so sure why I love the war birds so, is it the Rolls Royce Merlin engines that make them growl so majestically? Is it the fact that Lancasters in particular look so heavy they shouldn’t be able to fly at all? Is it that everyone, men and women, were so brave back then? I don’t know, but I do know I feel a thrill down my spine seeing these planes in the air.

And air shows are fab! The commentator will be a bloke wandering around speaking into a mike, cracking jokes only the most hardened visitor will get. You are bound to be in a large queue for a cup of tea / for the ladies just when you hear a plane take off. Families spread out on picnic blankets, dogs lay with their noses by the sandwiches, men will be holding things that look like megaphones but are actually triple zoom mega cameras, and re-enactment societies will be roaming around in full uniform. Cagoules will be pulled out of the smallest pockets when the weather looks rainy, but no one will ever think of going for shelter. Children will hold inflatable spitfires. Old ‘uns will be in deckchairs near the front, with a few veterans wearing gleaming medals. If you are into it, then it is a great day out.

A quick mention for the pilot who died when his Hurricane plane crashed at the recent Shoreham air show, according to witnesses he seemed to steer away from the crowd when he realised there was a problem. He was flying as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, and in my opinion is every bit as heroic as the men whose memory he helped keep alive.

My Duxford air show photographs on Flickr

Monday, 17 September 2007

Monday, Monday

Today I surprised myself and cracked on with Chapter four. Yes! Chapter four already – well, the timetable says I have to do a chapter a week from now until mid-Jan, so I have to get cracking – no room to slip! I have to say, this timetable malarkey is a fine thing, I also now have a giant whiteboard behind me with the timetable written on in shaky letters.

It is the sort of whiteboard you see in large boardroom meetings, those very official looking things that have company profits and graphs and weird HR acronyms scrawled upon them. But instead here it sits behind me, and is a constant reminder for me to Get Cracking and Stop Looking Up Old Music On Youtube!

I do try and resist youtube, although it is the source of all wonder. Today I only put in one song, Cry Me A River, sung by the lovely Julie London. We sang together, Julie and I, shocking that she was out of tune in one spot but luckily I was on hand to save her. I wonder how thick the walls are in this flat? And for your viewing pleasure, and to increase my knowledge about what I can do with blogs, without further ado, I present...

Julie London - Cry Me A River
(from the film The Girl Can't Help It, 1956)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The Alternative Cabinet War Rooms

Today was the first day of Open House London Weekend– over 600 buildings of architectural interest open up to the public, all for free. Hooray for free things! Most buildings you just rock up and enter, or queue if they are busy, but some you have to pre-book, as there might be a tour or limited access.

If you are very organised (which I am not), then you will have bought the guide book in August and have booked places to visit such as the Home Office, Trellick Tower and The Gherkin. If you are semi-organised, you will have downloaded the PDF guide for £3 and have ticked your route. If you are the sort that burbles around quite happily, you will have headed into town with an A-Z and happily stumble around until you find a building that has a green ‘open house weekend’ banner draped across it.

Last year I was the sort that burbled, and went to find St Pancras Old Church believing it was the station, and instead, funnily enough, it is an old church. This year I determined to be different and pre-booked a place on the tour of ‘Paddock’ – which is Winston Churchill’s war bunker – the alternative Cabinet War Rooms should London have been evacuated.

Paddock is in Neasden, and it took us a few fly bys around the A41 and the A406 before we found exactly where we should be heading. Luckily, we spotted a group of people in hard hats hanging around a residential road, and since there were no cups of tea in sight, we presumed these were not builders, but instead were open housers. The flutter of a green banner confirmed we were in the right place.

Apart from holding two cabinet meetings here during the Second World War, Churchill never used this bunker. He thought it was too damp and too far away from London, and on both counts he was right, although it is a far sight damper today. In fact, it has stalactites and stalagmites growing down there, it is that damp!

The cheery souls that were guiding us around the bunker were from subterranean Britannica, and that is one of the nicest things about Open House weekend, the fact all the volunteers are so friendly and informative.

Down below ground it was chilly and wet. The bunker is quite big, with two floors, and many small square side rooms leading off the main corridor. Lots of the rooms had tape across the doorways so you could not enter, and everything was in different stages of decay. Although it has lighting and water gets pumped out, it is being left to rot, quite frankly. Old filing cabinets hang at angles, air conditioning units glisten with water, the telephone system looks like an old wine rack and the two main war rooms are mouldy. But still, it is fascinating to see… my pictures are here

Friday, 14 September 2007

On not Being a Domestic Goddess

I decided to bake a cheesecake yesterday.

This is such an unusual occurrence in our household that not only did I have to go out and buy all the ingredients, but I had to also buy a cake tin, and please, can someone shout down from on high STOP YOU CRAZY FOOL in the style of BA Baracus from the A Team next time I get a bright idea? I am supposed to be saving money *she wails* especially if I do these life coaching thingummys, but there I go, good intentions in one ear and out the other, blissfully thinking that a £10 cake tin is such a bargain, when I don’t actually cook. The next time this cake tin will be pulled out is when I give it away to John’s mum.

But in the meantime there I was, using a recipe printed from Delia Smith online, and covering the kitchen in biscuit crumbs. The first hurdle was the 50g of butter. I have no scales, so whacked off a chunk, melted it and poured it into the biscuit crumbs. It disappeared, so I repeated the process. A lot. This seemed to work, although it was surely over 50g now. Mmm a nice buttery cheesecake, I thought happily.

The next hurdle was the actual cheese – I should’ve bought two tubs of Philadelphia. Oh well, I thought, it just won’t be a deep cheesecake. It will be a buttery thin type of cheesecake. Into the oven it went, and I felt well proud of myself. “I cooked a surprise!” I told John gleefully. “Great,” he replied, warily. We both looked in the oven. “Is it some sort of biscuit?” he asked.

There endeth my Domestic Goddess career.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Life Coaching

I got a free life coaching session today, with the quid pro quo that I would write about it afterwards in hopefully glossy terms, hopefully for a glossy. Before the session, my thoughts on life coaches were a bit sceptical, as it seemed to me to be a glorified form of counselling, a bit of an indulgence for people who could afford to pay. But afterwards I surprised myself by seriously thinking about going back.

It is an indulgence; there is no other way to describe it. But we indulge ourselves in so many things – cigarettes, alcohol, just ‘one’ piece of cake, those new clothes, that DVD – and none of these will make you feel as good for so long. So why not forego some other indulgences and try something that is designed to help you achieve your aims? At least, that is the way I am now thinking, which does make me wonder if there was a shiny pendulum clock within my sight line in the room...

“You will come back, you will come back…”

Of course, I talked about wanting to finish this novel, and not only finish it but to find an agent who is willing to go that extra mile for me and a publisher who will be thrilled to take on my book and get it out into the world. Scarily, we gave this ambition a date – Feb 20th 2008. Blimey…

We also talked about my confidence (lack of), which is probably something I need to address, such as when people ask me the age old question ‘so, what do you do?’ I nearly always mutter to my feet something like ‘umm, sort of write stuff, articles, that sort of thing’, which isn’t the most prepossessing way of announcing what you do for a living. Interestingly, we worked out that although I do write articles and get published, I seem to have decided a long time ago that unless I am an author with an actual book in the shops, then anything else I do is meaningless. Talk about giving yourself something hard to live up to…

It was actually quite painful in places talking about this, I do hate people suddenly seeing the ‘real me’, as I guess I keep myself quite hidden. Even here… is ‘Jayne Ferst’ my real name? Maybe… but maybe not! I remember once telling a teacher I wanted to be a writer, and he considered me thoughtfully before saying that most writers are nearly always on the outside of life looking in, and he could see that within me… do you know, I nearly cried, it was awful to hear him suddenly speak my heart. And today, even though I was not cold, I was shivering as we were speaking, which apparently was because I was talking about something that meant so much to me.

Anyway, before I waffle on into oblivion, we set targets and goals to achieve ‘for next time’ (yeah, I did notice that!), and I felt very positive, like I had just offloaded some junk that was taking up space. Is this worth swapping some pleasures for? I seem to think it probably is… let’s face it, the more people you have rooting for you, the better, right?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Being a grump

Ye Gods, am I grumpy today. Nothing at all has gone right – I have spent all day waiting for a new upgraded phone from Orange, in the hope that the next one won’t constantly unlock itself in my bag and gleefully send blank texts to everyone in my phone book beginning with ‘A’. Needless to say no phone has appeared, yet here I have sat, waiting faithfully, if somewhat fretfully as the day has gone on.

Although, of course, it is not like I had to take a day off work to wait for them, now that would be hugely annoying, and I would hope at the very least heads would roll somewhere in Orange HQ. But I have had to keep pulling back from interesting Chapter 3 developments to check the time, look out the window and wonder where on earth where these phone deliverers, which sort of stops the flow, and I gave up entirely at one point to mooch around the flat, which wasn’t exactly productive. I called Orange but after finally pressing 4, 2, 1, 1 and whatever else combination of numbers that get me through to a real, live, slightly bored sounding person, the best they could tell me was to call back after 6pm and they would try and track down my phone. Well, ta for that, nice to know they are on the ball.

And it has been freezing today! Honestly, I sit here in a t-shirt and a jumper, track bottoms and long socks (not glamorous stuff this), and wonder what else to put on. By the time it comes around to proper winter I will be writing from under a pile of blankets, wearing every item I own. Yet I know that this is some odd quirk of mine, as J will quite happily saunter around in normal summer attire whilst I hunt for gloves.

Writing wise, well, yesterday was better than today I have to admit. And tomorrow I am away all day and all evening, which leaves me Thursday to fling some words at the computer in time for my Friday deadline. And now (glances at time and sighs) would be the time I feel most like cracking on, when I said I would cook dinner tonight… Why is it I feel most inspired when I have to push off and do something else?

Sunday, 9 September 2007


The old saying goes ‘you learn something new everyday’ - and people wouldn’t say it so much if it wasn’t true. I was recently reading a story about the circus that mentioned Scaramouche, who is a commedia dell'arte character (Comedy of Humours), whose companions included Harlequin and Pierrot. These characters are considered the ancestors of the modern clown, but it wasn’t that fact that pleased me. No, it was the fact now I knew what Queen was banging on about in Bohemian Rhapsody!

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?


I’m not totally sure how old I was when I first saw the video to Bohemian Rhapsody, but I do remember being convinced that Roger Taylor was a girl. I was pretty young at the time, and my brother would laugh his socks off.

Cue video…

Cue brother, sitting with friends. “Go on then, which one is the girl?”

Me, confidently: “That one!” (Points to the right).

Sound of laughter for a while. Listen to Freddie giving it his all.

Brother: “You still think it’s a girl playing the drums?”

Me: “Yeap.”

Brother’s mate (that I not-s0-secretly fancied): “Why, his name is Roger?”

Me: “She has long hair.”

Brother: “They all have long hair.”

Me: (a bit confused) “She sings like a girl!”

Brother and his mates go a bit quiet, as that is a definite high note Roger reaches there, so I have a point. Brother checks where mum and dad are and surreptitiously turns the volume up for the rock bit.

Brother: (after the rock bit) "He’s not a girl, you’ll see in a minute."

Me: "Girl."

Brother: (smugly) "Watch the person banging the gong."

Me: (thinking) Gosh that is rude, that girl has her top off…

I may be older and wiser now, but I still say 'girl'. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 8 September 2007

The Importance of Ctrl + S

Back up your work and press save! Go on, humour me and quickly do it to anything you have open on your desktop. Done? Phew, what a relief. Now if only I could go back a day and tell myself that…

It is not like this is a new phenomenon. I have cried over Word before, when I realised I had lost days of work. In one spectacular moment of foolery, I watched my iMac warn me time and time again that its battery was dying (the date and time kept going haywire); all the while thinking I’d back up the hard drive to disc the next day. Now, that was painful.

But have I learnt my lesson? I have a pile of blank data discs at my side, waiting for me to start the huge bother of reaching across for one (agh!), leaning down to insert it (gah!), clicking on My CD Writer (yawn!) and dragging the files across (total boredom!). So, naturally, I haven’t done this yet.

I also made the mistake of assuming I was saving my Word doc as I was editing yesterday. But apparently not… It was late afternoon and I was staring in puzzlement at a sentence that managed to pass through all the tenses in wild abandon. My eye wandered, and I saw a little envelope icon to the left of the tool bar. Hmm, whatdothatdo

I clicked, and the browser window went all weird, looking like I was about to email an open Word doc. Back away, back away! I hit close. ‘Do you want to save first?’ asked Word. ‘Certainly not!’ was my reply, I don’t want to save this weird email template!’ So I hit close, Word shut down and I lost 13 pages of edits.

Random Hysterics is not a game I shall be playing again. Word, you have been warned.

Friday, 7 September 2007

A good first sentence?

I finished the first draft of chapter one yesterday, which weighs in at 7,200 words. Today is the first time I get to sharpen my fingers and start editing, and I already hate the first sentence. So I have chopped it, and fiddled with it, and simplified it, and now I doubly hate it.

Oh Lordy… Let’s look at what has been voted a good opening line and see if I can get any clues. In Feb 2006, the American Book Review voted for their top 100 favourite first lines, and they chose ‘Call me Ishmael’ from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

I also like the following:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 1984

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... Tale of Two Cities

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." Lolita

It was a pleasure to burn. Fahrenheit 451

"Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." The Stranger

They seem to be a total understatement, what seems on surface to be a minimal amount of information (call me Ishmael), yet even those three words give the reader clues – the narrator is a man, we can guess his nationality, and he gives orders.

Or it is something to make you wonder why – why are the clocks striking thirteen? No clocks strike thirteen in our world, so what world are we in here? Ze future…

Or it is a contrasting image – you don’t often get ‘pleasure’ and ‘burn’ in the same sentence. You might get ‘pleasure’ and ‘set light to’, but burn indicates pain rather than pleasure. ‘The best of times, the worst of times’ also gives us a parallel image – how can something be great and awful? So does ‘Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know’ – we are ingrained as a normality to love your parents, so why does this person not know or care when their mother (very formal) died? What happened here?

Or you could start with sex - "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins" suggests lust and infatuation with a beautiful female. Who exactly is this captivating person? Well, read on, suggests that first line…

Maybe deciding on a good first line is like choosing a band name for yourself - everything sounds a bit feeble until you get your first music deal. Who'd have thought Pink Floyd or Squeeze would sound so good - I cannot see Blue Floyd or Cuddle headlining a show, can you?

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Interview answers

I had to answer three short questions this week, that will run in one of the magazines I write for occasionally. I was allowed ten words to answer the following (questions in bold, my answers below)...

Style icon: Grace Kelly or Kate Moss?
Grace Kelly, grace by name, grace by nature.

Do I use Facebook?
Not at all! Although it doesn’t stop me getting invites…

I spent the summer…
Drinking Pimms.

Eurk, I hit send and then thought those answers are really crap. See, I do prefer Grace Kelly’s style to Kate Moss’s, mainly because Kate gets told what to wear and when she is on her own time she seems to slope around in whatever is comfy. But Kate is obviously the ‘cool’ choice… and it doesn’t help that I reached for a tired cliché to describe why I prefer Grace Kelly – still, tricky to say in ten words that I prefer black and white photography, that the pictures I have seen of Grace are mainly black and white and that she is always pictured looking classy, which I admire. Although saying that, these were the days before being papped sloping around was considered the norm, so I wouldn’t see pics of Grace Kelly farting around in baggy jeans with a Starbucks coffee like you do Miss Moss, which could change my opinion (stops herself about to go around in a circle).

And I avoid Facebook like the plague (another un-cool point, I feel), because I seriously do not need another time waster to my day. I already know everyone’s email that I want to know, being on Facebook just gives me another way to contact the people I already contact and therefore another thing to check, and I have more than enough things to check already. It doesn’t stop people asking me why I am not on there though, or getting invites… The whole thing smacks of a Friends Reunited craze to me, and who still checks that out eh? Eh? Exactly.

And drinking Pimms… for a start that is just a line that means nothing, I don’t want to say anything personal here, yet wanted to sound, oh I dunno – fun? Why did I put that? And Pimms, a nice drink but associated with braying twits (see advert). Again, unoriginal to choose that brand of drink and it is not even true, but who wants these answers:

I spent the summer…
…nervously pacing around my room, trying to feel confident.
…watching re-runs of House, Life on Mars and Top Gear every night.
…in Tesco, trying to think up healthy lunchtime diversions.

See? So the answers I actually gave make me sound like a ponce-y safari suit wearing luddite, with alcohol problems. Great…

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Driving Test

I thought I had failed.

In fact, I was convinced of it, 5 minutes into the test. There was a lorry ahead with its hazard lights on, and I was slowing down for it, in preparation to stop, when the Test Man suddenly said ‘stop!’ which made me stop a lot harder and quicker, even though I was stopping anyway. We drove off again and I thought ‘well, that’s that then’ and proceeded to treat it like an even more expensive driving lesson, reverse round that corner (check), drive on the motorway (yup), go through the 20mph zone (check), even make a bit of small talk with the Test Man as we were going around. I remember thinking that it was such a shame I had failed, as the rest of the test seemed okay, so it was with a slight air of doom that I completed the bay parking and waited for my sentence.

‘I am pleased to say you passed…’ I have never heard anything so sweet. He said that he had been too hasty saying stop, when I was already slowing down, and that the rest of the drive was excellent! By now I was too busy thanking everyone between tears, so only heard about one word in three, but I gather my license appears within four weeks and then I am officially on the road!

Not that I have a car yet… There is no room in the budget for a car! In fact, there was no room for any other lessons, so it would have been a right problem if I had failed. But just to know I can drive is such a relief. And now I am on track for my dream car, a VW Camper Van… yes, really! What I will do is drive a bog standard Fiesta or Corsa for a couple of years, just so I get the swing of it, and then see if I can go for a camper. I have always wanted one; it’s the hippy within y’see. I might not grow my own veggies yet, but the potential is definitely there… It has to be a two-tone 1960's one (mint green and cream), and I was going to customise it with white daisies. And here it is...

Ah, one day...