Wishing you peace and love this Christmas and everything you are hoping for in 2018. xx
One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
― J.K. Rowling,
Our Christmas decorations are up and so is our fine Norwegian Spruce, lovingly adorned with the collection of tree decorations we have accumulated over the years. It all went very smoothly, apart from the yearly dash to the shop to replace the tree lights we only bought last year.
We are so lucky to be living in such an exciting age of technological advancement, even if tree lights only seem to survive one Christmas. I remember my parent’s one set of tree lights well, they saw me through my childhood years and still fire into action today, once you find and tweak the bloshy bulb causing the problem. Things just don’t seem to be built to last anymore.
As we sit back and admire our combined creative genius, we breathe in the smell of fresh Norwegian pine and Sparkling Cinnamon candles now circulating through our festively adorned sitting room.
After enjoying a few glasses of mulled wine and a dose of Michael Bublé’s Christmas spirit … we start panicking … it’s only 14 days until Christmas.
Monday – Had another very vivid dream. I was dressed from head to toe in red and signing autographs, having just flown another sortie as a Red Arrow pilot. I blame it on the medication myself, but I have a history of bizarre dreaming.
I must stop thinking about getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Will do it tomorrow.
Tuesday – If I was goggled eyed a few days ago, my symptoms are worse today. I think I am suffering from chronic over editing syndrome.
Have just sent out draft to alpha reader and have spotted two gaffs in the first paragraph of the first chapter. I need to step away from novel-in-progress, even it is keeping me awake at night. When I count sheep they remind me of the hundreds of unedited pages of my manuscript. So much to do, so little time and it’s nearly Christmas.
I must get up in the attic … tomorrow …
Wednesday – Started doing a few photo shoots with Cassie the Blog Dog for our Blog Christmas Specials … whatever they are going to be. Cassie’s photos have come out quite well, but I will have to borrow somebody’s Photoshop so I can sort mine out.
Not sure why I look 10 years older than last year. It would help if I could get a good night’s sleep. Then I will get up in the attic and sort Christmas decorations out but, for now, must go and do some more editing.
Thursday – Getting up at 05.00a.m. was not what I planned, but a small irritating dream gremlin was tapping me on the head saying … remember you took chapter 21 out? Well … I would put it back if I were you.
Not sure how it has got so close to Christmas and I seem to have done precious little in the way of Christmas shopping. Must sort the Christmas decorations out!!!!!
Friday – Fa, la, la, la, la, la la la …. Christmas decorations downstairs and have bought tree. Although our Norwegian Spruce is still sitting in the back of my car, I will sort everything out tomorrow. By the way … has anybody looked at my wish list yet?
“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
― Stephen King,
This is what happens when you spend your weekend ruthlessly editing your work-in-progress and you can still see bloomers …
Start edit @ 05.00.a.m. on Saturday …
Start edit @ 07.00a.m. on Sunday …
Finish edit 20.30hrs on Sunday. Arrggghhh! The forest is so dense, I can’t see the wood from the trees
I need help … I need a good editor.
I’m still smarting from last night. The indignity of it all. Cooking has never been my forte but last night was my first real fail on the culinary front after my chicken risotto was deemed inedible.
The thing is I thought it tasted OK. Perhaps because my taste and smell is compromised … the residue of the horrific bug I’ve had, but the consistency was great.
Now I know I am an officially crap cook, I have thrown all my utensils out of the drawer. My cookie has crumbled and my soufflé has collapsed.
I sense the revenge of the TV dinners maybe on the menu tonight.
One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.
Ex Machina (2015) – Alex Garland
My relationship with Alexa is in its very early stages but, so far, she is doing a fine job sorting out my playlists and audible books. But as fond of my disembodied voice-activated personal assistant, as I am, the thought of her morphing into human form absolutely terrifies me.
I am 100% behind robotic involvement for scientific advancements, such as probing further into outer space, assisting but guided by doctors during certain medical procedures. But, surely it is counterproductive to create robots to carry out everyday jobs? Creating a robot to put future generations of homo sapiens out of a job just doesn’t make sense.
And now the Dubai Doll, Sophie. The first robot to be granted Saudi Arabian Citizenship. What is that all about? Sophie’s face was sculpted to look like Audrey Hepburn. Really? Sophie has lots to say including ‘destroy humans’ although I understand has now been reprogrammed to speak about her/its desire to live peaceably among humans. What a relief.
Today I read a disturbing account of Agalmatophilia (sexual attraction to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative objects).
James, a 58-year-old and, allegedly, a happily married man of 36 years has told the world that he has sex three times a week with a latex sex doll called April. Then, as you do, post latex intimacy, he takes her out for a burger. Apparently, fellow diners don’t realise that April is not actually breathing, let alone eating. But not to worry James is saving up for a £8,000 robotic sex doll called Harmony who will talk back to him and be responsive during sex. James, who has 2 other latex sex dolls in his closet, say’s he is not cheating on his wife because April isn’t real. Well, he got that right. Perhaps he ought to take a more interest in a living, breathing human being with a beating heart and the patience of a saint … his wife.
By the way thereis a male sex robot … his name is Babrial
I feel the need to reach out to all fellow sufferers of Autoimmune Disease today as I have read a really uplifting article by Amy Myers MD entitled Understanding The True Cause of Autoimmune Disease. There is so much more we need to know about Autoimmune Disease and most importantly, what causes it.
When I was first diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease, I wanted to know why and how I had succumbed to this debilitating illness. The answers were not always forthcoming and I had no idea there was more to come.
I have had Psoriasis since I was a child. My father was covered in it, but thankfully I have never been as badly affected as he was.
The condition scared me growing up, haunted by memories of my father’s suffering and Michael Gambon bringing it all back in his iconic performance in the 1986 TV series The Singing Detective, written by Dennis Potter. Gambon plays the part of a writer, hospitalized with psoriatic arthropathy. Yes, it can attack the joints too.
I had no idea that Psoriasis was an Autoimmune Disease until I was diagnosed with Collagenous Colitis 20 years ago, Rheumatoid Arthritis 5 years later and more recently Scleroderma after my stomach started getting hard and itchy. I remember being shocked when the Dermatologist confirmed the diagnosis, telling me I had Scleroderma on my back as well. Growing up I was led to believe that the eyesore on my back was scar tissue resulting from a riding accident … when I was 9 years old. Scleroderma morphs in many different ways.
I have had Uveitis a couple of times in the last two years and have been told it will recur. There are many causes of this unpleasant eye condition and autoimmune disease is one of them.
So what triggers your immune system to attack the cells it’s supposed to be protecting? Why do more women suffer from the disease than men? Is it because you picked up superbug at some stage which zapped your immune system? Or is it because you were born with it? In my case, was it a rogue paternal gene that sparked my Autoimmune roller coaster ride? Is it hereditary?
So many unanswered questions, yet I have been on steroids for so long that I adjust the dosage myself to manage the flare-ups and put up with the side effects. We know there is no cure, but there must be an alternative. Prescribed medicines aside and we’d rather not be taking them anyway, the most common symptoms never go away.
But Dr. Amy Myers is suggesting that there is another way to manage our Autoimmune plagued lives. She is not only a doctor but someone who has battled against the disease herself. So there is nobody better to get to the root of the problem of our autoimmunity.
In this short article, Dr. Myers gives us hope that there may well to live without prescribed medication and even reverse the condition.
I dreamt vividly about Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales only stirred from my medieval slumber by a rattling noise. Possibly an ancient timbrel drum as I slowly pass by the imposing walls of Canterbury Castle with my fellow pilgrims. But no, the rattling is coming from my chest. The damned virus has slithered down from my larynx and infested my lungs. I open my mouth to speak and we quickly establish that one honk means yes and two means no.
I could have cried. This morning’s event was the reason I am here. A conducted tour of the University of Kent, but after an unparalleled Canterbury Lodge full English breakfast, paracetamol and a huge dose of mind over matter, I managed to walk 7 miles.
Hopping on a bus – the Canterbury bus service is excellent – we arrived at the leafy campus on a beautiful sunny, but chilly day. I love being on campuses. Always such a hive of activity yet no hint of stress, nobody is rushing anywhere, apart from the odd first year who is late for the next lecture. The campus at Kent Uni covers 300 acres, so having a guide is essential. And, with a stunning view like this every time you step out of the impressive Templeman Library, it’s not surprising everybody is so laid back.
The University of Kent’s campus with a view from where you can see the spires of the mighty cathedral
The University was founded in 1965 and I was blown away by their facilities, not just the cutting edge teaching blocks and the student accommodation on campus, but the added extras … the shops, coffee bars, the cinema and so much more. This is very much a multicultural student hub, our guide was an effervescent Italian girl in her third year so, with Brexit looming, I very much hope it stays that way. I cannot imagine anywhere better to devote three years of your life studying and the enthusiasm shown by both students and staff made it an uplifting experience. The presentation ceremony must be something to behold because it takes place in the mighty cathedral.
Completely wasted by 2.00p.m. I went back the Canterbury Lodge for a little R and R, before an early meal at the Bishops Finger in St. Dunstans Street. Best known for selling their chicken wings by the kilo, I went for a medicinal Monk’s Burger, which was excellent.
Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury. Geoffrey Chaucer
It was a remarkably swift pilgrimage from Gatwick to Canterbury and we arrived after dark in this historical city, checking in to the very comfortable Canterbury Lodge on London Road.
Heading for the city center in the drizzle, we quickly stumbled upon the first of many watering holes that Canterbury has to offer the weary traveller, The Unicorn in St. Dunstans Street. A fine half-timbered, 17th-century building and very welcoming hostelry.
Moving on to Westgate, impressive even in the dark. This medieval replacement of the Roman west gate was rebuilt around 1380 and the last survivor of Canterbury’s seven medieval gates. Chaucer may have passed through this gate which stills stands proud by the River Stour.
Through Westgate and into the vibrant Peter Street, so close to our first glimpse of the mighty Cathedral and this just around the corner … The Christchurch Gate. The entrance to the wonderful cathedral, an experience to enjoy another day.
A great introduction to Canterbury life after dark before sleeping like a baby on the best mattress ever at the Canterbury Lodge.
What is it about me and travelling with bugs of the viral kind?
I sit at home for weeks looking forward to a few days off-island and 2 or 3 days before I am due to travel, mucky little germs hop on to my weak spot … my trachea. Hanging on with their gooey little suckers, leaving me voiceless, at best honking like a goose, with the sore throat from Hell. When I try to swallow it feels like there’s a handful of gravel stuck in the back of my throat. But … hey …
In a couple of hours, I will be flying from Jersey to Gatwick and onward to the ancient city of Canterbury, Kent, UK and home of the inspiring Canterbury Cathedral and so many other historical treasures I cannot wait to see.
Bug be damned … I’m on my way.
Ladies and Gentlemen … it gives me very great pleasure to introduce you to fantabulous, foot stomping, toe tapping, steam punkiness at it’s very best … guaranteed to tickle your sousaphone … I give you the
I’m currently obsessed with clichés and getting rid (beware … idioms also on the loose) of the little blighters from all works in progress. Death to the cliché! And to the idiom too. It’s time for you guys to hit the road.
Looking back I wonder how I used to juggle my clichéd life. Burning the candle at both ends. It seems I used to function well on precious little sleep. As a no pain, no gain fitness freak I was up at the crack of dawn raring to go. Jogging with the dog on the cliff path, returning home to have a bath, slipping into a suit and arriving at the office as fresh as a daisy.
Idioms are expressions that do not have a literal meaning; rather, they establish their connotation by how they are used in speech. Clichés are expressions that are so common and overused that they fail to impart any real impact on your sentence.
In the middle of the working day, I would take time out for a sandwich break and challenge myself to think outside the box and write 500 words. After finishing work at 5.00p.m., I would take the dog and myself for another jog then head for an exercise class or play in a tennis match. After feeling the burn, I would socialise with friends in the bar afterward and feed my face. Go home, write some more until I drifted off and slept like a log.
These days my life is a little more laid back. I still survive on precious little sleep, but sleeping like a log or a baby is only in my dreams. Awake on the hour, every hour, I officially get up anytime after 4.00a.m. feeling half-dead.
Whilst still in my pyjamas, I write until I am ready to decide what item of clothing I will be able to squeeze into and take Cassie the Blog Dog for a leisurely walk. I walk, she goes like a bat out of Hell.
After years of sport, my joints are wrecked but I still knuckle down to daily workouts sweating over a hot keyboard.
6.00pm. 4th November 2017 … I’m sitting at Southampton Airport digesting my day which all seems a bit of a blur. I had very little sleep during the early hours of this morning as the excitement started building, bubbling up inside me in anticipation of what the day was going to bring.
The Writers’ Workout at Winchester University, part of the 2017 Winchester Writers’ Festival, for me, started on the 3rd November when I stayed the night on campus, rekindling my student days.
Despite my suspect knees, I traversed up and down Winchester University’s campus … getting to know my way around …
High on a hill was a lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
… before spending the evening in the pub across the road.
The following morning, pumped, despite being deprived of sleep, I headed for the Writers’ Workout venue, the impressive St. Alphege Building, even in the drizzle. Downhill all the way … wheee … lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo.
What followed was day of creative stimulation provided by:
Judith Heneghan – Stepping into Character. Talk about a wake up call. My first workout of the day and I got really stuck into this. Including taking a photograph of the portrait of the girl I wrote about during this session.
Isabel Rogers – Small is Beautiful. You know what? That’s so true. Edit, edit, edit … get rid of the a’s, the and’s, the the’s, the just’s, the that’s etc.
Stephen Thompson – Styling it – Narrative Voice. Tell it how you see it!
Lorna Fergusson – A Sense of Place. Have you read Lorna Fergusson’s The Chase? I suggest you do if you want to learn about a sense of place … although The Chase is so much more than that. I started reading it at the airport and had to be prised off the aircraft, book in hand, on arrival in Jersey.
Adrienne Dines – Raising the Emotional Stakes. There is so much to learn in terms of creating emotional conflict in your writing and there is nobody better to teach it than Adrienne.
I haven’t felt so exhilarated for quite some time. What a workout. What a day. It lived up to all expectations and more, I met some wonderful people as well. Roll on 2018.
00.10 5th November 2017 … Just slumped into bed in a haze of creative complacency. It’s been around 4 hours since I returned home and I am replete. Did I flex my creative writing muscles? You bet I did.
Writing a musical is a gargantuan task. You need a strong plotline wrapped up in music and lyrics that stay in your head long after you leave the theatre.
Yesterday I was presented with a musical theatre lover’s dream scenario … to be allowed access to the concept album of a new British musical that everybody will soon be talking about … Tess.
Based on the Thomas Hardy classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Tess The Musical was written by composer Michael Blore together with lyrics by the award-winning playwright Michael Davies.
The characters are bought to life in the concept album by Siobhan Dillon as Tess. We all got to know and love Siobhan during the British talent show-themed television series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Together withTam Mutu (City of Angels, Les Miserables) as Alex d’Urberville and Simon Bailey (Jersey Boys, I Can’t Sing) as Angel Clare.
I was very taken with Jacqueline Tate as Tess’s mother Joan Durbeyfield, currently playing Mme Thenardier in Les Mis at the Queens Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, who duets with Tess towards the end of the first half.
Have I whetted your appetite yet? But you don’t need to take my word for it as from Sunday 5th November 2017, you will have the opportunity to hear for yourself and join #TeamTess.
The musical adaptation is going live on the show’s website www.tessthemusical.com as part of a drive to get the musical fully staged and you will be given free access to listen to the whole show. An opportunity not to be missed for all lovers of musical theatre.
It has been an honour to have been one of the first to listen to the concept album of Tess The Musical and I cannot wait to see it performed on stage. It’s all there … the heartache, the pain and the humour of Michael Davies’s lyrics wrapped up in the music of Michael Blore. All they need now is the producer … so come on Sir Cameron, the two Michael’s await your call.
Calling all musical theatre lovers!
Am reposting Stagey Lady’s piece on a new musical call Tess, based on the Thomas Hardy classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Get to know the cast and grow to love the score @ www.tessthemusical.com. In the meantime, here’s a taster …
A star line-up is announced for the release of a concept album of a brand new British musical.
TESS, featuring lead vocals by Siobhan Dillon, Tam Mutu and Simon Bailey, will be officially unveiled to the public on Sunday, November 5.
Written by composer Michael Blore and award-winning playwright Michael Davies, the musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles is going live on the show’s website (www.tessthemusical.com) as part of a drive to get the musical fully staged. Followers and fans can sign up to join #TeamTess and be given free access to listen to the whole show.
Set in the Wessex so beloved by Hardy, TESS tells the devastating story of Tess Durbeyfield, daughter of a poor villager who fatefully discovers that they may be related to the ancient aristocratic d’Urberville family. As Tess is sent to seek respectability with her new-found relatives…
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