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Sunday, 31 October 2010

More exciting than Aberystwyth and a stuffed donkey. With added M.E.N.

Last week, as I may have mentioned, I went to see Doctor Who Live.  That's Live as in A-Live, not as in Living.  Doctor Who Live is very different from Doctor Who Live, obviously.  Anyway, since this week contained only elements of me doing lots of writing and also going to a funeral, I have decided to blog further upon my activities during my Doctor Who visit.  You don't want to sit around and read about me writing, do you, because that would mean me writing about writing and you reading about me writing and that might cause a sort of recursive explosion where we'd all wake up next Wednesday with our hair on backwards and absolutely no idea why we were clutching a stuffed donkey and a picture of Aberystwyth.

Yes, it's a lovely place.  But wouldn't you always wonder?

Anyway.  Where was I?  Ah yes, Manchester.  Manchester Evening News Arena to be precise.  Where I, and hundreds of other youngsters, hyperventilated our way through the appearance of Cybermen, Scarecrows, Clockwork Men, Judoon and, with the hair standing up all over my body and giving me the look of a Bigfoot that's been through the wash, Daleks.

And while every faculty of reason within my brain is telling me that these are plastic things with a person inside them, pedalling like crazy, and the voice of a bald man with a ring modulator - the rest of me is screaming behind a metaphorical sofa. Cut me some slack here, you can't overcome 40 years of social conditioning by lying back and thinking of Nick Briggs with a throat mike...those buggers are scary. Okay, so the new ones do have something of the look of an old-fashioned Dalek wearing a backpack, and the primary colour choices of a five year old, but they are still scary.

And.  Matt Smith!  Embiggened!  Leering down at us from a screen about fifty feet high and doing that gormless grinning thing!

Am slightly alarmed by this, because I assumed that we were seeing him and that he couldn't see us.  Because if he could, I am going to have a lot of explaining to do regarding hand gestures...

And when we came out I was all overexcited and had to be taken to a hotel and calmed down for a bit.  And I hadn't even eaten any Smarties or anything!

So, therein lies my discovery of the week. On the outside I'm..

while on the inside, I'm...

Only less cute, of course.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Daleks v Cherry Liqueurs. Daleks 0 - Cherry Liqueurs 2.

Today I stood up in front of some people and talked about my books.  No, it's all right, they wanted me to, or at least, no-one cried or ran away or tried to hold me down while big men came with pointy needles.  Not like last time.  Or the time before, come to that.

No, this time I was reading New Material.  That's what my underpants are made out of now, it's a miracle that holds everything in, or at least pokes it round the back where no-one can see it until you sit down and they ask if you brought your own cushion.

These are mine.  Double as a tent when you get caught out in the rain.  Also hold luggage, but buttock-lift is somewhat lacking.

Anyway.  My new material is the first few chapters of Please Don't Stop the Music, also available at Choc Lit's wonderous and near-magical page.  So I whipped it out and revealed it in front of these lovely and discerning people, whilst they ate a chocolate cream tea (which held them in place for long enough for me to get through my usual pre-reading talk - showing the emergency exits, procedures in case of a word-crash, two minutes of mumbling and one obscene hiaku) and cherry liqueurs (also supplied by Choc Lit, who know that the way to an audience's heart is through their rampant alcoholic-chocolate addiction).

This is me, doing it.  There were other people there too.  Honestly.  They are in the corner, cowering because I'd just hit them on the head with a well-placed cherry liqueur.  That is why everyone else is smiling, they are too terrified to stop.  I'm afraid I can offer no explanation why I appear to have light coming out of my nose and my grandmother's bed-jacket on, there was probably a good reason which I have forgotten on account of the chocolate liqueurs.

And it was all jolly good fun and I got to meet some lovely new people (who only ran away moderately fast when I knuckled my way over to them and introduced myself), and some of them offered to let my join their writing group as long as I gave enough notice for them to get away first.  Wasn't that nice?

And I also went to see Doctor Who Live in Manchester.  There were lots of small children there, and much bursting into tears, wetting of seats and hiding of eyes, but it was all right because my husband was there to mop up after me.  Daleks are scary.  Still, I bet I could take one out with a well-aimed cherry liqueur.

Right in the kisser with a chocolate one.  Hah.  I'm not afraid of you, I've got a box of walnut whips!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Don't look at my thighs. No, I mean it!

I have come to realise that this blog lacks a certain 'class'.  "No, Jane!"  I hear you cry.  "Surely, yours is the classiest blog on the net!"

Alas no, my friends. So, this week I had a brainwave, and decided that this week's blog is going to be classy and elite and refined, and will therefore be coming to you through the medium of ballet.

I realise this is going to come as a shock to you all, but I've been practicing 'en pointe' and I think I can carry it off.  So. First - the dance floor.  Rural Yorkshire villages aren't known for their sprung-wooden dance floors, or indeed much other than sheep and incest, so I had to obtain a floor in order to be able to bring you this Festival of Footwork, so I decided on a barn door propped up on bricks.  The Royal Ballet would be proud of me!

I don't have a barn.  But I did find a shed.  Some nifty screwdriver work, four breeze blocks and we're good to go!  They'll never miss it - they had gnomes!  Honestly.  Shed doors are too good for people like that.

Now, I don't really have the thighs for ballet, so you're going to have to avert your eyes from any action which takes place from the knees up, all right?  I shan't be wearing a tu-tu, because they don't fit and anyway would show my thighs so I shall be performing for you in a seven-seven, which is a lot larger.  Neither do I have ballet shoes, reckoning that anything that involves winding ribbons round the ankles and yet has nothing to do with bondage is just a waste of money, so I cut a couple of inches off the tops of my wellies and they fit perfectly.  As long as you ignore the kind of 'flop flop' noise.

Right, so, just to recap.  You're not looking above the knee and you're ignoring the noise, all right?  Okay.  Here we go.

Hneeryeerr! Jump jump, left leg bend, veloute...chassseur...

Oh, whoops, sorry, I'd forgotten about the hinges.  Ah well, never mind you can grow some new teeth can't you? And, honestly, your nose looks better like that.  There's far too much fuss made about noses being straight and not being able to breathe round corners, I think it's an improvement.

Right.  Here I go again. 

                                                          Like this, but in wellies. 

Canape, canape, bouillon...twist, wiggle.   And rest.

There.  I hope you all feel culturally enabled and that you all enjoyed that little thing I did with my elbows.  I know some of you think the music lacked a certain 'something' for ballet but I prefer to think that performing ballet to the output of Mister Wagstaff's Amazing Flatulence Orchestra shows a dedication to my craft, don't you?

Now if someone could find my wellies and bring them back, that would be marvellous.  And stop looking at my thighs.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Snot, Bill Oddie, and the Squeaky Nose mystery.

Here's a thought.

Here's another one.  Let's wait until they bump into each other and form an idea, shall we?  You might want to supply your own 'tumbleweed' noises, we could be in for quite a wait.

You see, I've had a cold.  And when I have a cold, all my thought processes cease to function,  I think it's something to do with my having to produce my own bodyweight in snot every 24 hours.  Honestly, where does it all come from?  And then there's the dread of being caught without a tissue - one really good projectile sneeze and me and everyone around me is festooned with something like Hell's answer to christmas tinsel.  Which is then followed by the 'furtive blow', when you have to use your sleeve or T shirt hem or hood to clear up after yourself without anyone having occasion to ask 'are you wiping your nose on your shirt?'  The good old "Is that Bill Oddie?" technique works well here, misdirecting attention (or at the very least making everyone climb underneath the table) for long enough for sinus clearance to take place.  Of course, this only works once, more than that and everyone gets a bit suspicious. After all, just what would Bill Oddie be doing half way down my hallway at nine o clock on a Friday night?

He might look innocent, but you don't want it peering through the bannisters at you, do you?

And, let me tell you, a cold has side-effects, including the dreaded 'Squeaky Nose'.  I was awoken by same, one night last week.  Lay there for a while, listening to the 'ooooowEEEEEEE' sound of my own breathing until it reached irritation point.  Got up.  Blew nose.  Lay down again.  Peace reigned for several seconds, and then the 'oooooooowEEEEEE' returned, now with added echo-effect.

Turned over.  Noise now became heavier on the 'OOOOOOOOO' with the 'eeeeee' happening in the minor register.

Sat up and poked nose vigorously with tissue.  Half brain fell out on bed.  There was momentary silence during which I lay down again and closed eyes, only to be hit with 'Squeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo'.

Got up.  Used nose drops until back of head felt like I'd been inhaling sherbet.  Wandered around house until sure noise was gone, then returned to bed.  Lay down.  'OOooooooEEEEeeeeee'.

Timing now different.  Held breath to check.  'OOoooooEEEEEEooooooo'.

Got up and shut window. Bloody owls.

This is the face they make while they're doing it.  So they can pretend to be surprised that you've caught them.

So now I'm several nights' sleep adrift, my brain has turned to mushy peas, and I have to think of an entertaining and informative subject on which to blog.

Look.  Over there!  Isn't that Bill Oddie? 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Dating Shakespearian characters and learning The Handshake.

I live in a hamlet in North Yorkshire.  There's probably about seventy other people in here with me, which is quite a lot to fit inside even a major Shakespearian character, particularly with all the madness and the murder and stuff.  I suppose it could be worse, some of my friends live in an othello just down the road, and are sick of finding hankies all over the place.  And waking up to find that you've moved into a juliet is only going to invite lewd jokes and hand gestures, and you'll NEVER be able to invite the in laws round.

Which brings me to my point of the day.  If you had to date a Shakespearian character, which one would you want to go out with?  I'd probably plump for Banquo's Ghost, who sounds like he might be up for a jolly time, and at least you'd only have to pay for one of you to get into clubs and concerts.  Plus he wouldn't eat much, so he'd be a really cheap date as long as you could put up with all the insubstantial stuff and the moaning and everything.  Either him or one of the minor ones.  I mean, going back to Hamlet again, what about Osric?  A Courtier?  He's going to be really grateful for any attention, isn't he?  Which, in turn, is going to mean lots of flowers and chocolates and pathetic gratitude whenever you take him out, like a dog which has been allowed into Hotel Chocolat.

Any takers for Macbeth?  Anyone?  Look, he's quite handsome if you ignore the blood and the knife and... okay, yes, I see your point.  You're probably better off with the witches.

Yes, I know it's unfashionable to be seen out with anyone from Shakespeare's oevre (no, not his egg, that's an oeuf.  Anyway, what the hell would I mean about you being seen out with anyone from Shakespeare's egg?  That doesn't mean anything).  Most of them are doomed to being overly 'amusing' ...yes, Falstaff, I'm looking at you, you and your drunken 'jokes', or just plain doomed.  Getting friendly with some boozed up overweight guy who cracks semi-witticisms would be just like hanging round the nightclubs in Sheffield or Hull, and going out with some of the doomier ones would be like dating a Sixth Former, all that angst and woe and bad poetry.

Angst and woe but at least his poetry rhymes.  And he isn't in Sixth form.  At least, not the one I work at. Sigh.

Oh.  And in Other News.... Kate Johnson (who is a friend of mine, well, I say 'friend', she hasn't bitten me yet or had me committed, so that's a positive sign isn't it?) has just been offered a contract with those wonderful people at Choc Lit!  So she'll be One of Us!  We'll have to teach her the Handshake, obviously, and the Walk, but after she's got those down, her Untied Kingdom novel will be one to watch for.  And so will she, if she's doing the Handshake and the Walk at the same time...