Monthly Archives: April 2013

How to do sex, by @doodledawne

“When a man & a lady like each other they have a special cuddle. The man gives the lady a box of eggs & sprinkles seeds on them. So… then the lady does a special whistle and the man’s flute stands up, then the lady plays a special tune on the flute and the man sings a special high pitched song.

“Then the man does windypops and falls asleep and the lady does a special grumble and has a cup of tea and a hobnob.

“The end.”

Research notes – The Nothing Song

William_IX_of_Aquitaine_-_BN_MS_fr_12473

I think you’ll like this. The Nothing Song was written in the 12th century, by the gloriously randy Duke William IX of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s grandad. According to William of Malmesbury he ‘roved the world, bent on the seduction of women’ and had an insatiable thirst for sensual passion and adventure. He once planned to establish a convent of prostitutes.

While married to his second wife, Phillippa, William was excommunicated for “abducting” the beautuiful Viscountess Dangerosa (great name, eh?) from her bedchamber. The lady, however, appears to have been a willing party in the matter. He installed her in his castle in Poitiers and even painted a picture of her on his shield, saying it was his will “to bear her in battle as she had borne me in bed”.

Phillippa was understandably pissed off to discover another woman living in her palace, and retired to the Abbey of Fontevrault, where (in a twist you you would decry in a novel) she was befriended by Ermengarde of Anjou, William’s first wife. Anyway, here’s his song about nothing at all. And yes, I am using it in 1322, my current work-in-progress.

I made this verse on sweet F.A.
There is no person to portray
No talk of love or youth at play—
Nothing, of course.
Composed while sleeping yesterday,
Sat on my horse.

Roll up, roll up!

Twitter assembled

Come one, come all to the third YSP tweetup, once again celebrating Wombat’s Wedding Anniversary. Yes, once again we’ll be having a get together at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, this year on the anniversary itself, Sunday 23rd June. Firstly, let me just give a hat-tip to @nyncompoop, whose original idea it was to gather at YSP. Follow announcements on Twitter by using the hashtag #YSPtweetup.

Daaaaaave!As before, bring pickernick food, bring chums, bring husbands, wives, kids, lovers and all the dogs you can shake a stick at. I shall also expect many anniversary hugs. We’ll have a picnic lunch before launching our Twitter army around the park, appreciating art, talking bollocks, making good conversation, photographing every single sodding thing we see, and generally farting about. Liquorice ice cream is served in the café, so that’s always a good winding down point at the end of the afternoon, after all the leg-ache.

I can’t promise that Dave will hog the camera once more. Jim's LeapI can’t promise that Jim will leap from a mighty height again, suspended only by his umbrella. I can, however, promise an afternoon packed with good friends and a good time. If you’ve been before, you’ll know the happy times to be had. If you haven’t been before, come along and discover what fun it is.

Paper bags

Last year, lots of us brought paper bags so that we could pleasure @TheFlossieTP (what better reason?) with an attempt at a Mass Paper Bag Trick (a la Eric Morecambe). Only we forgot.

So let’s try it again this year! Bring along your paper bags, and we’ll have a (likely shambolic) go at giving Floss a cheap thrill. She’s anybody’s for a paper bag. Here’s the trick performed by the originators. Instruction will be given if for any reason you *don’t* know how to do it.

Parking at YSP

It’s a big old car park. Parking is £7.50 per car for all day parking, and the machines take both cash & cards. Motorbikes are free.

 

Big chairsBuses and trains

By train
Wakefield Westgate is the nearest main line station, around seven miles from YSP. A taxi from the station costs approximately £12. London King’s Cross to Wakefield takes approximately 2 hours. For times and fares visit nationalrail.co.uk
By bus
Buses run between Wakefield Bus Station and Barnsley Interchange via West Bretton. Buses stop and depart directly outside the YSP Centre. The current provider is Tates Travel, number 96. For the latest timetable visit wymetro.com (the first bus friom Wakefield on a Sunday is 12:39, getting to YSP at 12:56. The last bus leaves YSP at 15:58, getting to Wakefield at 16:25).

 

Windy wallTimes

YSP opens at 10am, and we’ll meet up outside the YSP Centre (see the map below) , then move down to the Picnic area (also on the map) where there are several tables. Let’s hope for a fine day, but if anyone can remember an undercover place to eat at YSP, please do jog my memory.

When the spirit moves us, we can wander off to explore the park, either en masse or as smaller groups. And take ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS!

 

Map

To find YSP, leave the M1 at J38 and follow the signs. Click the map below to see a much larger version.

Map

 

Blogs of previous #YSPtweetups

2011: http://cubicscats.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/reet-champion-tweetup.html

2012: http://cubicscats.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ysp-tweetup-best-wedding-anniversary.html

2012

How to cheer an author up

ad greyscaleAfter a day when I learned that the dog I’d fallen for would not after all be ours (it’s a long story, which I might blog about later), I needed cheering up.

This fairly short review of ‘Fog’ did just that.

“I love a book that expects me to keep up. I love a book that is playful without distracting from the story. I love a book that I can’t necessarily put into a box, a book that slides me deliciously, delicately, into an acceptance of things as they are not.
Have I mentioned that I love this book?
Michael Wombat has given us a narrator who is human, engaging and flawed, with a story to tell (over a pint, perhaps) of events that he barely understands and erratically remembers, but a story that took hold of me and held me to the end.”

Ahhhhh, that feels better. You can see the review in its original form HERE.

A snippet of what I wrote today

Here’s a little tease from the happy little tale that I’m writing at the moment. Fun, isn’t it?

Jen - 1322“My mother had never known or met the dead man, but because she was different to them they blamed her. Never mind that she healed broken folk. Never mind that she delivered babies safely. Never mind that she helped the loveless find happiness. She was other, so she must be to blame. You want to hear what they did to my mother, John? They beat her before me and dragged the both of us to the burial of the dead man. There they stripped her, and they pushed her face down on top of the body in the open grave. She struggled, and cried out to me. I tried to get to her, but I was held tight by the women. They held Mam down, her face pushed into that of the corpse, until a heavy stone was brought. It took two men to carry it. They lowered it onto her back so that she could not move. Then they filled in the grave, slowly, her terrified screams eventually being muffled as the grave was filled and the earth stopped her mouth and her life. I was six years old.”

Crow and The Unicorn–shorter version

file0001307293690Crow and The Unicorn
by Michael Wombat
eBook Yes

“Crow!”

Crow sighed, teetering across the heaving deck. He descended into the reeking hold of the frigate “Miranda Kate”. The Captain glowered, a huge frown on his scarred forehead.

“Yes, Cap’n?”

“What in Satan’s arse is this?”

Uh-oh. The Captain had noticed. Crow coughed. He shuffled. He took out his glass eye and polished it on his neckerchief. Spitting on the back, he slid it back into its socket with a soft fup.

“Unicorn, Cap’n. Obtained this morn. By me. As ordered. By you,” he bluffed.

“Its horn’s wonky, Mr. Crow. It’s a wonky-horned unicorn.”

“You’re lucky to get any unicorn at all,” thought Crow, while saying “Really?”

He affected to peer over the rope between them and the creature. It resembled a horse, but from its forehead protruded a horn, spiralled, and it has to be said, wobbling as the unicorn moved.

“Optical illusion,” tried Crow, “Like when you wobble your spare leg for the lads.”

“Arseholes. That, Mr. Crow, is a loose horn. Look, it droops!”

The horn was a bit precarious. The unicorn tilted its head, and the horn tipped back into a central position.

“Our client stated,” the Captain extracted a paper from his pocket and read, “One perfect unicorn, pristine white, with golden horn so that my new bride might toss her bouquet thereupon, ensuring a lifetime of happiness and fat children, as told by legend.”

The Captain fixed Crow with his steely gaze, known across the Seven Seas to be the fiercest piercing gaze in at least five of them.

“What colour is this unicorn, Crow?” he spat.

“Mucky-grey, sir.”

“Mucky-grey!” shouted the Captain, whacking Crow with his chapeau. “And its horn? What colour do you call that?”

“Lemon-chiffon, sir.”

“LEMON-CHIFFON? IT’S WAZZ-COLOURED, YOU NONCE!”

“Wazz-coloured. Yes, sir.”

Crow scuffed his feet in the sawdust. The unicorn watched them, its liquid blue eyes sparkling with dream-dust and magic. It raised its beautiful tail and did a massive dump.

“Even the unicorn knows what you are, Crow. The client will never accept this. Think of something.”

“Paint, sir?” suggested Crow, expecting another hat attack. Before the blow could fall they were interrupted.

“Cap’n! Tis the Revenue! Their boat’s alongside!”

“Bum,” growled the Captain. He stumped over to the ladder, wooden leg striking a catchy rhythm. By the hatch stood a tall woman, fully six feet, in the purple uniform of the King’s Revenue. Her hair whipped about her face.

“Captain Bliss?” she inquired. The Captain nodded.

“Magic Inspector Laura James.” She looked down on the Captain, continuing in a bored tone.

“Do you carry Spellbeans, Dreamwhisky, arcane jewellery, or mind-enhancing Leafchew?”

“No,” answered the Captain.

“Livestock?”

“Definitely not!”

There was a whinny from below.

“Except for that horse,” the Captain flailed, “Horses are allowed, obviously, normal horses are. Being most mundane and not at all magical like unicorns are, which that isn’t.”

“Hmmm,” said their interrogator, dubiously. She threw out her dragonskin boot and strode to the hatch. Crow and the Captain panicked as she lowered herself into the darkness. They waited, hearing nothing. Then she reappeared, sniffing.

“Stinks down there,” she advised, clambering into the Revenue boat, “Get that horseshit cleaned up.”

The Revenue boat sloshed away, the steer-shaman chanting water-repelling incantations. Crow and the Captain stared at each other, then ran to the hatch. Beyond the rope, the unicorn looked bored. There was a dark patch on its forehead, but no horn.

The unicorn looked exasperated, and tapped its hoof. Crow and the Captain looked down. There, in a dark corner, lay the horn.

“Fetch that paint,” ordered the Captain, “While you’re at it, bring some glue.”

“Those the Gods have joined let none sunder,” sang the minister, “Michael, kiss your bride.” The handsome groom embraced his new wife as the guests cheered. Crow crossed his fingers.

“Anna,” the minister continued, “You may fling.”

The beautiful bride tossed her bouquet of winterpoppies towards a patchily-painted unicorn, whose horn was curiously off-centre. The bouquet landed directly on the horn, hanging there for a tantalising moment. Then the horn fell off. The unicorn did another dump.

Michael and Anna did not notice, smiling and hugging and lost in each other’s eyes. Crow polished his own eye.

“It’s true, Captain,” he said, “Love is truly blind.”

Written for Written for Anna and Michael’s Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower. Wombatty congratulations to you both!

Crow and The Unicorn

“Crow, get in here!”

Crow sighed, teetering across the heaving deck to the hatch. He descended into the reeking hold of the frigate “Miranda Kate”. The Captain stood, hands on hips, a huge frown on his scarred forehead.

“Yes, Cap’n?” Crow asked.

“What in Satan’s arse is this?”

Uh-oh. The Captain had noticed. Crow prevaricated. He coughed. He shuffled. He took out his glass eye and polished it on his grimy neckerchief. Spitting on the back, he slid it back into its socket with a soft fup.

“Unicorn, Cap’n. Obtained this very morn. By me. As ordered. By you,” he bluffed. Maybe in the dim light of the hold…

“Its horn’s wonky, Mr. Crow. You have provided a wonky-horned unicorn.”

“You’re bloody lucky to get any unicorn at all,” thought Crow, while saying out loud “Really?”

He leaned forward and affected to peer over the rope which separated them from the creature. Mostly it looked like a horse, but from its forehead protruded a crooked horn, spiralled, and, it has to be said, wobbling slightly as the unicorn moved.

“Optical illusion,” tried Crow, “Like when you wobble your spare leg for the lads.”

“That’s no illusion. That, Mr. Crow, is a loose horn. Look, it’s drooping!”

The horn was looking a bit precarious. The unicorn tilted its head to one side, and the horn tipped back into a more central position.

“Our client specifically stated,” the Captain extracted a crumpled paper from his pocket, dislodging copious gobbets of fluff which drifted to the floor. He held the paper close to his eyes and read. “One perfect unicorn, pristine white, with golden horn so that my new bride might toss her bouquet thereupon, ensuring a lifetime of happiness and fat children, as told by legend.”

The Captain fixed Crow with his steely gaze, known across the Seven Seas to be the fiercest piercing gaze in at least five of them.

“What colour is this unicorn, Crow?” he spat, taking his tricorn hat from his greasy head.

“Mucky grey, sir.”

“Mucky grey!” shouted the Captain, giving Crow a whack on the scalp with his chapeau. “And its horn? What colour do you call that?”

“Lemon-chiffon, sir.”

“LEMON-CHIFFON?” Another whack. “IT’S WAZZ-COLOURED, YOU NONCE!”

“Wazz-coloured, sir. Yes, sir.”

Crow whimpered, scuffing his feet in the sawdust. The unicorn watched them, its liquid blue eyes sparkling with dream-dust and magic. It raised its beautiful tail and did a massive dump on the deck.

“See? Even the unicorn knows what you are, Crow. This will not do. The client will never accept it. We’ll have to think of something.”

“Paint, sir?” suggested Crow, fully expecting another painful hat attack. Before the blow could be struck however, they were interrupted.

“Cap’n!” came a frantic shriek from above, “Tis the Revenue! Their boat’s alongside!”

“Bum,” growled the Captain. He stumped over to the ladder, wooden leg striking a catchy rhythm. Crow followed. By the hatch stood a tall woman, fully six feet tall, in the purple uniform of the King’s Revenue. Her shoulder length hair whipped about her face.

“Captain Bliss?” she inquired, in a light musical voice. The Captain nodded.

“Magic Inspector Laura James.” She looked down on the Captain, continuing in a bored tone. She had said these same words hundreds of times.

“Do you carry Spellbeans, Dreamwhisky, arcane jewellery, or mind-enhancing Leafchew?”

“No,” answered the Captain, peering anxiously upward.

“Livestock?”

“Definitely not!”

There was a whinny from below.

“Except for that horse,” the Captain flailed, “Horses are allowed, obviously, normal horses are. Being most mundane and not at all magical like unicorns are, which that isn’t.”

“Hmmm,” said their interrogator, dubiously. She threw out her dragonskin boot and strode to the hatch. Crow and the Captain panicked as she lowered herself into the darkness below. They heard nothing for several seconds. Then the blond head reappeared, followed by the rest of the Inspector.

“Bit of a stench down there,” she advised, clambering into the Revenue boat, “Better get that horseshit cleaned up.”

The Revenue boat sloshed away, the steershaman in the rear chanting water-repelling incantations. Crow and the Captain stared at each other for a beat, then ran to the hatch and down the ladder. Beyond the rope, the unicorn looked bored. There was a dark patch on its forehead, but no horn. The two men were bewildered.

The unicorn looked exasperated, and tapped its hoof on the floor. Crow and the Captain looked down. There, in a dark corner, lay the horn.

“Crow, fetch that paint,” ordered the Captain, “And while you’re at it, bring some glue.”

“Those whom Gods have joined let none sunder,” sang the minister, “Michael, you may kiss your bride.” The handsome groom embraced his new wife happily as the guests cheered. Crow crossed his fingers.

“Anna,” the minister continued, “You may fling.”

The beautiful bride turned and threw her bouquet of winterpoppies towards an extremely patchily-painted unicorn, whose horn was curiously off-centre. The bouquet landed directly on the horn, hanging there for a tantalising moment. Then the horn fell off. The unicorn did another dump.

Michael and Anna did not notice, smiling and hugging and lost in each other’s eyes. Crow polished his own eye.

“It’s true, Captain,” he said, “Love is truly blind.”

The Doldrums Of Despairing Self Doubt

This post is prompted by author Alex Brightsmith’s excellent blog post on Goodreads, wherein she expounds on the power of a few simple well-chosen words in the right place. Oftimes, when I read a truly skilled author like Gaiman, Fox or Brightsmith, I am in awe at their ability to spin emotion out of perhaps five or six words.

“I could never do that,” I think, and promptly doubt that anything I’ve ever written or ever will write could be anything other than trite, cliché-ridden cack which uses stupid words like ‘oftimes’. For example, here’s Alex from that very blog post – “In its place [the line] is a howl against the world, but also a beam of light back into the story.”

‘A howl against the world’; such a telling phrase. I could never come up with a phrase like that. Or at least, that’s what I imagine when I’m cast adrift in The Doldrums Of Despairing Self Doubt. The DODSD don’t strike me that often, luckily, but I’ve been stuck in one for a few days now. Usually, the way to billow my writery sails and get moving again is to write something – anything – no matter how poor, but even that wasn’t working this time. I sighed a lot and took solace in Twitter.

Then I agreed to join in a flash-fiction collaboration by a group of rather fine writers, and a throwaway comment by one of them (Mona Bliss, take a bow) suddenly flung a gale into my metaphorical mainsail. I dashed off the story in an hour, really enjoying myself, and am now once again eager to get stuck into 1322 and my other projects. I’m not so bad a writer after all, I reckon.

So if you suffer from self-doubt, here’s what to do: either write yourself out of it, or find yourself a Mona.

(You’ll be able to read the story, ‘Crow and the Unicorn’, on here in a day or two.)

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