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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Henny Penny - not only is the sky falling in, but your release date has been put back five months.

I have acquired a Hen Borstal.

This is a temporary state of affairs, these hens have been found guilty of nothing more than minor traffic offences, plus one count of aggravated assault being taken into account.  They will be released into the community in due course, with admonishments to behave themselves and certainly not to do that bank job that they have been secretly planning in that hut of theirs, and until that time they are in secure accommodation in the middle of my lawn.

There are five of them.  We chose five because there are five of us, and that means that, while neither group has superiority of numbers, we reckon we could probably take them, should there be an avian uprising, particularly since hen-response to surprise attack seems to be less organised and a lot noisier than ours.  We haven't named them yet, they are just Prisoner One, Prisoner Two, Prisoner Three, etc, but these designations remain fluid as we can't tell them apart yet either.  I tried putting them into little uniforms covered in prison arrows and with numbers on the breast pockets, but chickens don't wear clothes.  Apparently.  So they are just know as The Chickens, in a rather Godfather like way.

They are, most definitely, planning something.  Look at the way they are all staring in different directions.  They're going to demand one of those vaulting-horse things next, you mark my words.

Of course the dogs and cats regard this new establishment as the animal version of the Big Brother house and watch every new development with keen eyes, albeit with a lack of Geordie voice-over.  There has been much communal pressing of noses to the house windows and extreme excitement every time one of the hens appears, or lies down, or scratches... it's like living with the paparazzi trying to get a shot of Kate and Wills. 

I shall be sure to let you know as release date approaches. You may want to throw a net over your strawberries, and also be prepared to buy back all your valuables from the local car boot sale.  I am trying to rehabilitate them, but there is just no helping some chickens...

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Unconventional behaviour

All right, I've done it.  It wasn't easy, and I'm quite nervous about it, after all you hear some funny stories about these things - and then there's all the drinking and carousing and I don't even know how to carouse because I haven't got a reindeer and my roller skating ability is suspect, and...

Oh.  Sorry.  Did I not mention?  I've just booked tickets to my first Unconvention.  This is run by Fortean Times and it's a collection of the weird and the wonderful (which is me), mad stuff and peculiarities (still me, I'm afraid) and a lot of intelligent discussion about the esoteric and inexplicable (definitely me).
  Like this, but with 2011 on it instead of 2010.  Unless it's being run in a time warp, which wouldn't surprise me.

So, I hear you ask, in your cute, yet shrill voices, what has any of this to do with writing and books and stuff?  Well, I shall tell you, if you let me get a word in edgeways... it is research.  Yes, indeedy. Far be it from me to attend such a gathering purely for my own interest, no.  We writers (or should that be wee writers, for I am not very tall...) collect experiences like we what are those things called that crawl all over you?  Children?  Lice?  No, writers collect experiences like picnics collect ants.  I am collecting convention experiences for my novel Starstruck, which comes out in September.  And Uncon is in November.

For, in the spirit of weird and intrigue, I am conducting retro-research.  'Aha!' I shall be able to say, for there will be no-one there to stop me, 'Aha!  This is precisely how it happened in my book (Starstruck, £7.99 from all good bookshops)!'  I may have to force some of these occasions, because Starstruck is set in Nevada and Uncon is set in Camden and there are likely to be very few other similarities between them, but I am prepared for this.  In fact, to this end, I shall be taking a pink convertible cadillac, some Valium, two bottles of Jack Daniels and a cylinder of oxy-acetyline gas with me.  'Aha!  An explosion!  This is precisely how it happened in my book (.....)'

Or maybe not...

It has just been pointed out to me that my voyage of discovery to Uncon is actually fact verification.  But I prefer the term 'retro-research'.  Sounds more 'sciencey'.  So, if anyone fancies a couple of days of weirdness and the highly strange...e mail me your address and I shall come and stay with you for the weekend.  That should put you off.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Not-very-near death experiences

Last night I needed company.  No, this isn't going to be a series of salacious confessions (for that you have to read my other blog, the details of which are known to only a few special people.  What, you don't know about it?  Well, sorry....) so I went to bed with the radio on.  This is a habit only recently acquired, previously the radio to me was a series of loud notes and a Chris Moyles jingle, and that was all.  But, nowadays, my station of companionship is Radio 4. There's something very soothing about John Humphries telling me all about the state of the National Health service, I don't even need to listen to the words, I'm just tuned in for the gentle wash-cloth of the accent, the bed-bath of consistency, the warm towel of intellectualism.

This man is the equivalent of being fed nursery puddings whilst lying under a snuggie blanket.

But.  Last night I went to bed very late, for 'twas after midnight.  And I was subjected to the strangeness which is the World Service.  Not that it was very strange really, because I went to sleep to the news, woke up occasionally to more news and, so far as I could tell, the World Service consists totally of news. Which is fine, I had it on for the company, not for the 'being stroked by velvet' things...  But then I woke up in the morning, having forgotten that I'd left the radio on.

I opened my eyes to bright light and a gentle chanting.  Then a choir started singing.  "Bloody hell," thinks I, for it came as a shock and I don't usually use profanities such as these, "bloody hell, I've died in the night!"  There followed a brief, but illuminating service, at which I was slightly shocked not to have my good qualities praised, nor any audible outpourings of grief.  I was just pondering whether or not I should move towards the light, which was quite realistic, down to the background sound of starlings fighting on the guttering and a small motorbike starting up, when I gradually came to to realise that I was listening to the Morning Service, and had not, in fact, died.  I didn't know whether to be grateful or feel really really stupid, but since no-one else was there, I don't suppose it mattered.

So I settled for moving towards the kitchen instead.  It might not bring me eternal peace and happiness, but it did bring me toast and tea. Which, sometimes, is good enough, quite frankly.

It was this or the salvation of my soul.  I think I might have made the right decision....

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Zumba, and you do it behind protective screens in a full body suit.

Now everyone, try not to fall over with shock but...I have signed myself up to a course of Zumba!  Of course I did this on the understanding that everyone should learn a foreign language, and by the time I found out that it's actually a form of dance/exercise, it was too late.  I wondered why the teacher looked at me oddly, she asked if I thought I'd find Zumba difficult and I replied 'I already speak French and German'.

I haven't actually done any zumba-ing yet, of course.  Possibly after the first two lessons I may be rendered unable to type due to sprained knuckle joints - but, as yet I am blase and full of hope that doing the zumba (I have still to attain the correct terminology - is it a verb?  Do I zumba, or do I do zumba?  Does it have a past participle?  Do I need a past participle to be able to do it?  I've got double-jointed elbows if that's any use...)

I understand that I get to look like this after a fortnight, or my money back.  Or she might have been pointing at the picture of the walrus on the other noticeboard, I wasn't really paying attention.

And here I find my true dilemma - what does one wear to Zumba?  In the picture they're all wearing little vesty-top things, well, I can tell you here and now, they're not getting me in one of those, not if I'm going to be ...doing whatever it is one does when one zumbas.  And particularly not if there are going to be other people present - I can just picture the scene; there I am strutting my funky thing, when the whole class comes to a standstill muttering 'is the human body supposed to move like that?' whilst watching my torso perform its own version of a Mexican Wave.  No.  I shall search out shops which sell Zumba-Armour, chin to groin protection wear in some kind of non-mobile fabric.  Possibly some kind of plastic body-cast.  They'll thank me for it in the end.

And then the lower half.  Pert as my bottom might be (and it is, trust me on that), it still has the capability to look like a waterbed being delivered if forced to move at more than natural speed.  Perhaps the Zumba-Armour (I'm still not one hundred per cent convinced that zumba isn't going to turn out to be some kind of martial art) could have some kind of extension put on round the back?  Like an Everest conservatory for the bum?  Purely for the protection of the other zumbaists (zumba-istas?  Zumba-doers?), because in those tiny trousers the girls are wearing in the picture I would appear to be one constant column of movement, and I fear for the flooring...

There are other concerns too.  Like my congenital inability to tell my left from my right, my innate clumsiness, the fact that my hair leads an independant life and only makes occasional contact with my scalp and my elbows, which are like two pre-sharpened pencil points.  Perhaps I will be doomed to zumba solo, whilst my instructor hides behind protective screens, watching me on a video monitor and shouting instructions through a radio-mike.  I think a lead apron might help too.

Either my instructor wears this or I do.  Not sure which.  Although I think I look fabulous in silver...  I don't know about the shoes though.

So I shall keep you posted.  Although it may be from a hospital bed, imbibing liquids only.  Or it may be from a sea-lion colony on the Falkland Islands...