THE NICHE-LESS BLOGS

THE LOST BLOGS CHRISTMAS VIDEO 2017 – ONLY LOVE MATTERS

 Wishing you peace and love this Christmas and everything you are hoping for in 2018. xx

 

 MUSIC CREDIT:  MARY JENNINGS – ONE BRICK

MARY JENNINGS

14 Days and Counting and Time to press the Christmas Panic Button

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, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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.

christmas tree lights
Q: How often should I replace my Christmas tree lights? A: Every Christmas  

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.

 

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Photo Credit: https://awriterelief.wordpress.com

 

A WRITER’S LIFE – The Run Up to Christmas

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Photo Credit:  The Daily Mail

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.

Writer's Clock
http://writingnorthidaho.blogspot.com

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.

Good Editor

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 …

Blog Graphic-2

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.

OUTTAKES FROM NOVEL-IN PROGRESS

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.

Burnt out writer

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? 

A writer's Christmas

Goggle Eyed

My work-in-progress (now so close to the end) v Me.

“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, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This is what happens when you spend your weekend ruthlessly editing your work-in-progress and you can still see bloomers …

goggle eye

cant-see-the-wood-for-the-trees-snap-surveys-nsfStart 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.

 

Culinary Collapse

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.

Free to a good home-2

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.

TV Dinners

My Robot and I

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

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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.

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Robot Sophie has Saudi Arabian Citizenship

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.

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The TV Series Humans – Photo Credit: https://tvseriesfinale.com

The TV programmes Humans (2015) and Westworld (2016) were chilling wake-up calls of sexual attraction between man and machine.

Today I read a disturbing account of Agalmatophilia (sexual attraction to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative objects).

Robot Affair]
April, the latex sex doll with her 58-year-old Romeo  Photo Credit:  theladbible.com

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

 

 

 

 

Autoimmune Disease – What Causes the Mutiny​ Within?

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.

Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon and Joanne Whalley in The Singing Detective 1986

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.

Scleroderma scar
Scleroderma, not scar tissue, has been with me for most of my life

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.

AI- Disproptionately affectingwomen

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.

  • fatigue
  • achy muscles
  • swelling and redness
  • low-grade fever
  • trouble concentrating
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • hair loss
  • skin rashes

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.

Understanding the True Cause of Autoimmune Disease

by Amy Myers MD

It’s got to be worth a try.

Better still … she has written a book on the subject.

Amy Myers

 

The Canterbury Blogs

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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.

IMG_8355 3 The University of Kent’s campus with a view from where you can see the spires of the mighty cathedral

Our students are encouraged to become global citizens, to think independently and develop original ideas. It’s what makes Kent such a fascinating place to study and work.

Gavin Esler – Chancellor

GraduationThe 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.

So I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked exploring Canterbury because of the state of my health, which included the Cathedral Tour.  But I do have an excuse to return … often from September 2018 … and I will visit the wonderful cathedral then, take a boat trip up the river, go to The Marlowe Theatre and much, much more.  For I have lost my heart to Canterbury.

Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury. Geoffrey Chaucer

Blogger’s Progress After Dark

Time and Tide wait for no man
Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey_Chaucer_(17th_century)

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.  The Unicorn

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.

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The impressive Westgate, Canterbury

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.

Followed by a meal at the Old Buttermarket before ending up at The Black Griffin in St. Peter’s Street for open mic night.

A great introduction to Canterbury life after dark before sleeping like a baby on the best mattress ever at the Canterbury Lodge.

Flying Mini-Break with Bug on Board

Germ monster
Don’t leave home without me

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.

Brighton Pav
Brighton Pavilion

Moving on to Brighton on Saturday, home of the Brighton Pavilion and the Iron Boot Scrapers.

IBS1
The Iron Boot Scrapers – Photo Credit: John Brewer http://www.thevictorianphotographer.com

Bug be damned … I’m on my way.

Wrap your ears around the Iron Boot Scrapers!

“Great, marvelous, brilliant!”  – KT Tunstall

From Brighton (UK) to brighten your Monday (wherever in the world you happen to be)

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

Iron Boot Scrapers 

 

IN BRIGHTON, UK ON FRIDAY NIGHT 17TH NOVEMBER 2017?

GO SEE FOR YOURSELVES

IBS3
Photo Credit: John Brewer http://www.thevictorianphotographer.com

 

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It Goes Without Saying

Clichés are the viruses that infect your writing with diseases.
Pawan Mishra

hit the road idiom

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.

OK … the cliché and idiom counters are now officially running.  

Burning-the-candle-at-both-ends-ModernRetroWomancom

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.

Cliche

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.  keyboard

After years of sport, my joints are wrecked but I still knuckle down to daily workouts sweating over a hot keyboard.

At the end of the day and I think it goes without saying that my life seems to have become nothing short ofclichéd idiom and it’s time I snapped out of it!

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Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Workout – 4th November 2017

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.

WW Winchester

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.

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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.

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The impressive St. Alphege Building (left) venue of the Writers’ Workout

What followed was day of creative stimulation provided by:

Judith HeneghanStepping 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.

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The portrait of the girl I wrote about in Judith Heneghan’s session

Isabel RogersSmall 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 ThompsonStyling it – Narrative Voice. Tell it how you see it!

Lorna FergussonA 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.  

Adrienne the Brookham Belles
Nobody spins a yarn better than the effervescent Adrienne Dines.  Photo Credit:  Great Brookham Belles

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.

Tess The Musical – Will be officially unveiled to the public on 5th November 2017

“It’s been a wonderfully exciting journey to get to this point, and we couldn’t have wished for a better cast and technical team. We’ve had amazing support and encouragement from the likes of Sir Tim Rice and, as he delicately points out, what we now need is a producer.  If you see Sir Cameron, do let him know…”

Lyricist Michael Davies 

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.

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.

Blore and Davies
Michael Davies (Left) with Michael Blore

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.

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Jacqui Tate is Joan Durbeyfield

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.

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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.

For further information, images and interviews, contact Michael Blore or Michael Davies tessthemusical@outlook.com

www.tessthemusical.com

@MusicalTess

Stars line up for new British musical

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 …

https://youtu.be/M4mR3moIi_U

 

 

Stagey Lady

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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