Monthly Archives: September 2012
Remember #TWANTA, my sort of Secret Santa thingy run over Twitter? (briefly for newcomers, you send a cheap but fun gift to someone I nominate, and you receive a similar from someone else. I’ll explain fully when I announce it properly).
It’ll soon be time to kick off #TWANTA2012, if I decide I’m still going to run it. Remember this kerfuffle last year, when a few turdbaskets asked to take part in #TWANTA and then completely ignored it? (yeah, click on that sentence to see the kerfuffle). I’d also like to remind you of this blog post from @davidtims, though, which will tell you all that’s good about Twanta.
Now, while I don’t want that sort of nastiness again, I’m pretty sure that #TWANTA will continue since it brings a shedload of fun and happiness to most folk who take part. What I might do, though, is limit who can join in. Last year, moved by the Christmas spirit, I let anyone join who asked, whether I knew them or not. This year I’ll only allow followers in, and even then only those whom I know I can trust. It’s a shame, but I don’t want anyone to be let down the way some folk were last year.
SO, if you think you might fancy taking part, let me, @wombat37, know and MOST IMPORTANTLY follow the #TWANTA account @twanta2012 and look out for announcements on there in the next week or two to kick the whole thing off.
You know how it is. You suddenly realise that you are driving along a road, but you have no idea where this road is, or where you are headed. The last ten miles are a blank too – did you stop at any traffic lights? Were there any crossroads, or tricky roundabouts? You really have no idea, and for several seconds you wear a puzzled frown until light eventually dawns and you realise that you’re off to B&Q for a pot of green paint.
Well, that’s how it was with me at first. It was as if I’d just blinked into existence at the wheel of this car, driving along a foggy road that appeared to be taking me through some woods. I couldn’t remember a thing about the journey I’d taken to get to this point. The car headlights were on, presumably because of the fog, but I had no recollection of actually switching them on. Not that unusual a feeling, plenty of people have experienced it.
Except that in my case I couldn’t remember anything else, either. Oh, it was pretty clear that I remembered how to drive a car, since I was managing to avoid smashing into the ranks of trees. And, hey, what about that? I managed to get around that sharp bend almost without thinking. Even changed gear. But nothing personal was in my head, nothing about me. For instance (and it’s a pretty big instance), well, who was I? I supposed I must have a name, but what the hell was it? Racking my brain, I felt like I could almost grasp it, but it was just out of reach, like when you can’t quite remember the name of that bloke who’s always in the background of black and white British films from the Fifties.
I eased off the accelerator as the fog thickened, and the woods on either side of the road did the same. I passed a road sign, which warned me that I might encounter some deer at this point in my journey. Now, how did I know what the sign meant if my memory wasn’t working? And shouldn’t I have “come to” by now? This sort of thing only lasts a few seconds, doesn’t it? I began to feel a bit dizzy with all these questions, and a seed of fear began growing in my mind.
A break in the trees appeared out of the fog on my left, and I pulled off the road into the dark gap, the beginning of a track that wound deeper into the forest. I turned off the engine. It was very quiet. The fog-shrouded trees that I could see through the windscreen looked pretty spooky, and didn’t help to ease my growing fear. I got out of the car, leaned against the hot bonnet and breathed deeply, which at least helped to stop my head spinning.
Perhaps I’d had some kind of mental stroke or, I don’t know, psychological trauma thing. I had absolutely no idea what any of those words meant, which probably indicated that I was not any sort of psychiatrist, but you have to understand that I wasn’t exactly compos mentis at this point and I was desperately trying to find some sense of what might be happening to me.
I had no idea who I was. I had no idea where I was. I was a poor little lamb who had lost his way (now where the hell had that phrase come from?). A thought slipped into the side of my mind, and before it could slip out again I clutched at it like a drowning man at a cliché. Maybe I just needed to see something familiar to ‘jolt’ my memory back into life. Like I said, obviously not a psychiatrist.
So, first things first, I started with me. I was male, and wearing an unremarkable brown jumper, unremarkable blue jeans and unremarkable trainers. I felt a brief regret that I wasn’t dressed a bit more impressively, say in a kilt with a sgian dubh down my sock, or in a cool black suit with cool black shades and cool black hair, instead of the wiry stuff that grew wildly about my head. With a little trepidation I checked out my face in the wing mirror. Unremarkable, wouldn’t you just know it? I seemed to be middle-aged, in my forties at a guess; reasonably good-looking, dusty brown curly hair beginning to thin. Brown eyes, no scars, no facial hair. I grinned at my reflection, and was pleased to see that at least I seemed to have a nice friendly smile and all the right teeth.
OK then, pockets. My right jeans pocket contained three fivers. I thought it interesting that I could recognise the woman wearing the crown as the queen, although this was not immediately helpful as the five-pound note failed to give her telephone number. I became distracted for a while trying to figure out why Her Majesty had what appeared to be a snail attached to her left ear, before carrying on with my search.
Left jeans pocket – sod all. Back pockets – also zilch. This was not going very well, I had to admit. So far I had discovered that I looked fairly ordinary, had fifteen quid, and didn’t wear a kilt. Great.
Sam Kydd! That was his name! You know him, that character actor that I was talking about. Sam Kydd. He was never the star, but he was in hundreds of films and television programmes in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties. He was in The Cruel Sea, and that Peter Sellers film, what was it – I’m Alright Jack. This brought me up short. How come I knew so much about Sam Kydd, but nothing about myself? Unless I was Sam Kydd, of course, but that didn’t seem very likely given that he would be well into his nineties by now.
I dragged my thoughts back to the matter in hand. This selective nature of my amnesia had me puzzled. I wondered why I could remember some things, such as driving and Elizabeth the Second and Sam Kydd, but not other, more important things such as who I was, or, say, whether I was married. I quickly checked my fingers – no rings, which of course told me nothing.
I turned my attention to the car. It was a blue Meriva, a few years old from the wear, and in desperate need of a wash. It had two window stickers. One told me that the owner of the car had been in the AA for ten years, and the other was from Grynigg Farm, which was apparently a Red Kite Feeding Centre. The road fund license had three months to run. I climbed into the passenger seat and opened the glove compartment, idly wondering whether there would be any actual gloves inside.
As it happened, there were. I smiled inanely as I took out a pair of ordinary grey woollen gloves such as an unremarkable man might wear. The glove compartment also disgorged a box of tissues, a CD of Mozart Violin Sonatas without a case, a CD case of the Jurassic Park soundtrack without a CD, and a bag of Maltesers. This last discovery made me realise that I was extremely hungry, so I jabbed the Mozart into the CD player and listened while I polished off the chocolates.
As I wiggled my tongue in the honeycomb, I considered the results of my search for an identity. So far, so bleugh. I turned around. There was nothing on the back seat, and nothing in the door pockets save a small pair of scissors. If the boot proved to be as fruitless as the rest of the car, I’d be knackered.
I sucked the chocolate off the last Malteser, climbed out again into the fog, and leaving the door open I walked round to the back of the car. The merry notes of the B flat sonata, K454, floated out into the murk. I pulled the latch and lifted the rear door, which rose slowly with a wheezing sound.
I think I said “Jesus!” at least three times, and “Fuck” a hell of a lot more than that. When people say that you can fall back in surprise, they’re not exaggerating you know. I staggered backwards and fell with an involuntary squeak into some damp ferns. My stomach felt queasy, and the Maltesers threatened to make an unscheduled re-appearance.
I managed to stand, and shakily took a step forward, hoping with all my heart that my imagination was playing tricks in tandem with my memory. I looked again. My god, she was still there. Oh fucking Jesus fuck. It was a young woman. She was naked, arms by her sides, legs curled up, eyes staring blankly out of her head. Unfortunately none of these parts – limbs, body, or head – were joined together.
I was pleased that I was listening to the Mozart rather than Jurassic Park.
I’ve never understood the urge some people have to kill spiders. They are innocent little creatures, doing their tiny best to get along with their arachnid lives, and helping us out by catching the far more annoying flies. They don’t want to hurt anyone; they’re just trying to get places. If they could speak they’d be saying stuff like
“Hey bro, how’re you doing? Nice morning, huh? Yeah, lots of flies, I’m trying to take care of that for you, I’ll just stay out of your way on the curtain rail, but I might have to make a run down there at some point. I’ll be quiet though, yeah? Cool, man, ‘ppreciate it.”
Kit has two HUGE ones who chill out with her near her desk in the corner, and occasionally one will go for a stroll and get scared by one of the cats. One is big and greyish and prettily patterned, named Adonis, and the other one is smaller and sort of blackish brown. Much shyer, name of Makar. Apparently. Kit imagines that the spider neighbours have little meetings where they discuss spider-drama and they hang out and they’re best friends and they’re like “hey man wanna come over, share a moth?” “sure that’d be awesome I’ll see you in ten? Gotta freshen up, y’know.”
I myself have Travelling Spider as a companion. She lives on the wing mirror of my car, and has been all over the country with me. On journeys she’ll sometimes just nip out from behind the mirror into the wind-stream for a thrill, and to see how much damage is being done to her web. I’ll miss her when she goes.
See? They’re wonderful. And yet some people just thoughtlessly snuff out their poor little spider lives, when they are just trying to do harmless spider things. It’s very sad.
So many people have asked for links to the different editions of the book that I thought it’d be sensible if I could just point out this one blog post.
While you’re here, how about a few quotes?
“Easy to read, story moving and character development good. thank you Michael. I’m digging it” – Karen Sorrell
“Amusing, fast-paced, and quite touching in places… A good adventure story with satisfyingly nasty villains and a cute hero–what more could you want? :)” – @avensarah
“Just finished your book … now moist with tears” – @greythorne
(Yeah, I did that publisher thing of adapting @greythorne’s. It was her treadmill that was moist really. I’m saying nothing)
@mikeybaer is one of my favourite Twitter people, a fine man I both admire and respect. It has just been pointed out to me that I might have unwittingly insulted him a few nights ago.
Just before the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, my Timeline featured four consecutive tweets (none of them from Mikey, and two of them RTs) that more or less ordered people not to make fun of anything during the ceremony, on pain of being unfollowed.
Now “making fun of things” is what I do, but my response, a general one (I thought) to no-one in particular, was idiotically over-belligerent, possibly due to cheap gin, but more likely to my own hubris.
Apparently, Mikey had posted a similar tweet to those I was attacking, and he may have taken my rant as a personal insult. Had I seen his tweet, I would have ameliorated my response considerably, for I’m not in the business of insulting friends. I wouldn’t have changed my point of view, but I would have made my point far more politely and with humour.
So I’m sorry if I hurt you, Mikey. I apologise for being crass and stupid. I love and respect you immensely.
I didn’t even watch the ceremony in the end. Such is life.
My book’s finally out on Kindle, and has actually sold copies. To say that I’m chuffed to little mintballs would be to use an outdated anachronism, but would be accurate. I changed at the last minute to a far better title, prompted by the horrible apostrophe used by the font I’d chosen.
As you can see, I went with cover B since that was your favourite by a long chalk. If someone could please find out WHY it’s a “long chalk”, then let me know in the comments? Ta.
Now to get a print version out for anyone out there who’d like to drop my book into the bath cos they’ve fallen asleep.
My new (but ten years in the writing) book should become available for download on Kindle sometime next week. I haven’t finally decided on a title yet either, but you can see a couple of contenders below. It’s got talking animals, but is decidedly not for little kids. Think Magnificent 7 with fur. Here’s your chance to decide what it looks like.
I’ve designed four possible covers, but can’t decide between them. Would you PLEASE help me out here by voting for your favourite or favourites in the Poll box on the right there? I’ll be eternally grateful. Do feel free to comment, too, in the box at the bottom. Here are the possibilities (click on them to see a larger version):
Based on a photograph by my good friend and estimable Twitter stalwart @scyrene, I love the rabbit’s keen eye on this one.
The background is one of my own photographs adapted rather, and the rabbit is a doodle drawn by me when I was bored of proofreading. I enjoy the rabbit gazing off into the unknown.
A bit experimental, this one, with something of a nightmarish quality. An old photo of our pet rabbit filtered to hell and back. Stark reality, scared rabbit, unnerving, oh my ears and whiskers.
Another stunning @scyrene photograph, focused on the eye with a zoomy blur elsewhere. Smaller font, smaller rabbit looking a little bit lost.
Another beautiful work of art from John Collier that satisfies my pervy needs (see Lilith). Godiva (Old English: Godgifu, “god gift”), often referred to as Lady Godiva, was an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to legend, she rode naked through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants. The name “Peeping Tom” for a voyeur originates from later versions of this legend in which a man named Tom had watched her ride and was struck blind or dead.