Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's get writing!

I know many of you wouldn't call yourselves official "writers" but I also know that amongst my regular readers there are some hugely talented "unofficial" writers. So I just wanted to let you know about a few writing competitions that may inspire you to put pen to paper!

The first is my own little competition over at the The View From Here. I hope you read my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith ( see my link bar) in which I discussed the latest phenomenon of Monster Mash. Now it's your opportunity to write some mash too! So why not pop over to The View and see the details. The Closing date is the 23rd September and I'm looking for a really silly piece of writing (about 500 words) to take the prizes. Nothing would please me more than one of my blogging friends to win so please, please have a look!

Secondly, if you find the idea of writing comedy too hard Gary Davison has a flash fiction competition (250 words) coming up shortly on his site. There's a host of far more glamorous prizes to be won so keep a look out for it! (Again, links for Gary's blog are on my side bar.) 250 words isn't a lot to write but nevertheless it's tough trying to write a interesting but concise story; it really gets the brain cells ticking over ! I've only tried it once (see my dismal attempt at [D]isconnected [C]onsortium ) but practice makes perfect so I'll probably be giving it my best shot too!

Thirdly, there's a short story (7 -10,000 words) at Legend Press on the theme of a "Journey". This competition is part of the Legend Press Short Story Reinvented Series and the best of the entries will be published as a collection in the next issue of the series. How good is that? Too good an opportunity to miss. So get writing now!

See you all soon!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shocking, Disturbing News!

Oh my goodness, I have just had some deeply disturbing news! My good friend Mrs D, in whose villa we are staying in Cyprus, has sent me a highly informative document with all the relevant info we will need for our stay - from taxi firms, supermarkets and tourist locations to telephone numbers, doctors surgeries and, of course, of vital importance - the location of the iron. It is an extremely thorough document and obviously designed for a complete thicko such as my good self who hasn't the vaguest idea about what she should be doing. In fact I'm still wondering what size of suitcase to buy for myself... and we leave in a week's time. Oh dear!

Anyway, I was taking all of this in my stride until I read the following...

"Next to the toilets there are bins. It is not recommended that you flush the toilet paper down the toilet, this is common in Cyprus so please use the bins provided. There are several large bins at the start of the estate for all to use and they are usually emptied twice weekly. There are more bin liners of many sizes in the cupboard under the sink."

Ohhhhh my God! What am I to do? Has Mrs D forgotten that I have 3 sons who could compete with Zeus for the title of Toilet King?! And as for the good Mr T......Heaven help me! I shall be emptying the bins daily, perhaps hourly and forced to wear the nose peg, gas mask and decontamination suit that I normally save for emergency loose bowel situations.

Ohh woe, woe is me!

I sincerely hope these bins have been constructed on a par with a nuclear reactor otherwise there maybe a sudden population decline in Cyprus during our stay.

Right, I know it's late at night but I gotta go... I just need to checkout the cost of bulk ordering fragrant nappy sacks online. Hmm. Maybe I can just get them shipped straight to Cyprus?

Gez, a woman's work is never done.......

Music Monday; It's Magic!

This last week has, I hope, marked a change in fortunes for my family as not only was my car parking fine rescinded but, more importantly, my elder brother got married! It was a warm, intimate wedding with only the closest of friends and family present which befitted a "second time around"wedding for both partners.

Some of you will remember that my elder brother's former wife died tragically last year. Subsequently, my brother assumed total responsibility for their daughter. While some relationships might have been stretched by the sudden arrival of an unexpected child 24 hours a day, it has been heartwarming to see how my brother's new partner welcomed his daughter in such sad and difficult circumstances. Their marriage now marks a new step for them as a family unit. Hopefully, it will be just the start of many future happy and healthy years together.

Now during the wedding reception there was some rather unusual music in the background. ( Well not the normal wedding sort anyway!) I suspect most people didn't notice due to the consumption of some rather large amounts of alcohol and the general lively conversation. However, I did! The first couple of tracks I recognised but thought no further of it and then a track came on and I realised my brother had been delving into his record collection. For confirmation, I turned around and mouthed "Did you put these together?" He nodded in affirmation and a smile passed between us of our shared musical tastes.

It's likely my brother and I share similar musical preferences because we are a little closer in age. There is only a 2 years age difference between us whereas there are 4 years between my sister and I and 4 years between myself and my younger brother. Over the years we've both listened to music as diverse as The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Ultravox. However, without a doubt, my brother's knowledge of music is far more extensive than mine and many of the bands I came across during my teens, who were not obvious pop sensations, I first heard thumping through the bedroom ceiling from my brother's room. Maybe I wasn't so keen on The Clash, The B52s and The Skids but I kinda liked Nils Lofgren, XTC and, of course, the group I'm playing today- Pilot.

This is a great song and you know what - that title seems rather appropriate for a wedding.

It's Magic......

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Newsflash! (and other stuff.)

Well would you believe it, I actually had a response from the Car Parking company!

Now you may wonder why I sound so surprised. I'm not sure how it is with all you folks abroad in your respective countries but I'm pretty flabbergasted because I've become accustomed to not receiving responses from companies and indeed many other institutions in the UK. And as for customer service departments - there's more chance of my having a conversation with a purple 6 legged alien with 4 eyes than actually getting to talk to someone who knows their subject.

Anyway, the good news is that I've been absolved from my car parking ticket - without even producing my ticket! I've got to admit it was not the result I was expecting; I'm not used to things going my way. Maybe fortune has, at last, begun to shine on me! I suspect the administrators decided to take pity on me because of the cruel circumstances of my fine and my being such a poor downtrodden, overworked, lonely housewife.... with only one leg....

Hmm.....wait a minute. Maybe they thought I was one those nutters who write to newspapers and radio stations and rant about moral injustices? Perhaps they thought I might bomb their offices, go on a starvation diet or even handcuff myself to one of their parking meters in order to bring attention to their hideous plot to milk the middle classes of all their hard earned cash?

Hmm..... could be....

Not that I would ever, ever do such a thing. Well...not whilst I've got a blog anyway.

Besides those pink fluffy handcuffs would look far too silly. And the starvation diet.... well it's a nice idea but um (cough, cough)...not very likely. Although, a bomb I could manage. Easy. I can work wonders with a milk bottle and some Stilton cheese you know.

Oh well it's 3.30 am and I'm having another bout of insomnia so I might as well continue. Well you'd hardly know it was summer here due to the appalling weather we've had lately. Nevertheless I've been out and about with the boys. In between parking fines and car crashes we've spent the last 3 weeks at various tennis tournaments and young Ben is on top form having, in the last 2 weeks, picked up 4 tournament wins to add to a whole host he has already won this year. Last year it was Master Jacob's turn to pick up the medals but here they are pictured together just after picking up wins in both their age groups at a tournament earlier in the year.

Gez. What a pair of rascals! Although I don't know what's happened to Master Benedict's ears in that photo. Looks like I need to get the sellotape out. However, I've got to admit that's a better photo than some of the ones I took on our trip to Wimbledon earlier in the year:

Okay, I'm not saying I've got a problem taking action shots but well after about 500 shots I thought maybe I' better do some stills instead. Anyway, wanna take a guess whose legs they are?

Well here's the owner:

Elena Dementieva.

And yep those legs are spectacular up close. Beat Venus Williams' anyday. Just a little more definition. This was her cruising to an easy semi final win over somebody (can't remember now - sorry!)... whose legs weren't quite so impressive.

Not that I'm jealous of those legs. But nobody, and I mean nobody, mention them again. Okay?

(And get that comment out of your head Gary Davison. Cos I said NO!)

Here's one of my favourite piccys from Wimbledon:

This is the Austrian Oliver Marach taking up what I call the "Get out the ****** way or the ball's gonna hit you on the head" position. I'm sure there's a more technical description but you know I don't actually know it. Maybe just "crouching"? Gez, I shall have to do some investigation (but not at 4 in the morning) in due course. Now this isn't a position you see much in junior tennis - unless you play doubles with Master Ben who has one mean serve. Boy, can he blast 'em down. Believe me, his doubles partner stays well out the way - just in case Master Ben delivers the odd stray ball. Regretfully, I must report Master Ben has quite a developed sense of humor for an 8 year old. In fact, he frequently "dabbles" with the opposition. He lets them win a few points, see a spark of possible victory light in their eyes.... and well then he pulls out what Master Jacob refers to as "The Emergency Serve" and then annihilates them. I mean they can't even get a racket to it!

Ho, ho, ho.

I shouldn't laugh should I?! But oh well... some of those tennis mums are so darn pushy sometimes I can't but help have a silent giggle........

Naturally, young Master Ben inherits his serve from moi which is one of the strengths of my own game. Unfortunately, rather more of my balls tend to go astray. No reason really - I just like hitting Mrs P (Housewife Extraordinaire in Training) on the back of the head. I keep telling her to take up the "crouching" position but she's far too dignified.

I just hope she doesn't sue me for brain damage in due course.

Oh... I've just written a book review for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame- Smith over at The View From Here. If you want to know about the latest literary craze of Monster Mash pop over and take a look and discover what I think about zombies let loose in Regency England. Hmm...time to hit the sack I think.

See you soon!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Music Monday; Say What You Want!

One of the best things about blogging is having the freedom to express yourself, to Say What You Want. Sometimes it really helps the healing process to get things off your chest.

So it's time for me to say what I want. Loudly.

Why, O Why did I have to get to get a ****** puncture! Why, why, why????

(Screams akin to a woman just about to have all the blood sucked out of her by Tony Blair reverberate across the Home Counties....... )

Why, why, why???? Someone please tell me the answer!

And no - the story doesn't end there. Unfortunately.

Why, why, why did I have to hit the kerb?? And no, not just a normal itsy bitsy kerb but one of those stupidly high ones outside multi carparks which are strategically placed for maximum denting?

(Yep, you know what that means.)

Isn't it bad enough that people leave their cars (and gates) parked where they shouldn't? And what about those selfish people who can't pull out at junctions without having a man waving a red flag in front of them? It shouldn't be allowed! And now, not only do have to put up with these appalling inconsiderate persons, I have to be attacked by a vicious 2 inch nail and a badly constructed concrete kerb with a personality problem.

I tell you it just isn't fair. I swear to God I am doomed to walk this earth in the afterlife as a ghost strapped in a hideously malformed Ford Cmax.

Right, I feel (marginally) better now. Although that could also be on account of the large bottle of whiskey on my desk.

Anyway, here's someone else who says what she wants, and a lot better than I do.

Fab. Want to hear some more Texas?

Thanks Sharleen . Things can only get better. Well maybe.

So long as I start walking everywhere.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Letter of Complaint

Vinci Park Services UK Ltd,
Milton Keynes Partnership Parking Office
PO BOX 597

Dear Sirs,

Ref CPN EG10570492

Please note the following;

• Cost of 4 cinema tickets; £18.00
• Cost of soft drinks and popcorn £ 12.00
• Cost of car parking £ 4.50

• Cost of gust of wind flipping over car parking ticket (supplied with no adhesive) £ 30.00

Total cost of outing (excluding petrol and stress) £64.50

Morals of this outing;

• Never expect an employee of Vinci Park UK Ltd Services to follow his heart or his morals.

• Always expect the worst from your fellow human and you will not be disappointed.

• When parking using the facilities of Milton Keynes Partnership always supply your own Sellotape, glue or adhesive.

• Always pray to God for calm weather.

• Remember to carry your blood pressure tablets and/or paracetamol with you at all times.

Finally; remember that everyone is always guilty unless proven otherwise – except in a court of law.

Yours with deepest affection,

Jane Turley


On a cold blustery day during an English summer I, Jane Turley, formerly a polite, patient, law abiding middle class woman finally blew my top. In doing so, the transformation was complete.

I became Victor Meldrew

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Social History; Life in the Countryside during WWII

About 4 years ago, young Jacob was sent home with a worksheet from which he was to select a homework project to do over the holidays. Now generally I'm inclined to think these projects are a complete nightmare and should be retitled "Parent's Homework" - or even better "Parent's Headache" because it's usually mum or dad who ends up building some hideous monstrosity out of paper mache and tinfoil.

However, on this particular occasion, one of the challenges was to interview an elderly person about their childhood during World War II. Now a project that required no glue or paint was quite revolutionary and rather appealing to a weary mum like myself so as my mother was coming to stay for a few days I decided to ask her to tell a few stories about her youth into an old cassette recorder. (I should point out that I don't think mum was that keen on being described as "elderly" but nevertheless after a glass of wine she didn't put up too much resistance.)

Well as it happens Master Jacob couldn't speak loud enough so I took over (see I told you it was my homework!) and eventually after lots of umming and ahhing and a lot of giggles my mum and I succeeded in producing a recording of truly amateurish proportions. Yep, I mean really, really bad. I think it would be safe to say I haven't got a future as a radio presenter. Oh well! However, as it turned out, the tape was the only one sent into school (the other mums sticking to the tried and tested formulas) and proved a big hit with the school children who loved some of my mum's descriptions, particularly about food.

Well after much fiddling about (and I mean so much so that I've had to resort to alcohol to calm my nerves) I've eventually managed to transfer the tape, edit some of the long pauses and produce something I hope will be of interest to social historians. I've also uploaded it to an archive site where I hope it will stay as a little permanent record of life during The War. I'm afraid, at best, it's still a pretty amateurish recording - but hey, I gave it my best shot!

So here it is. A little piece of history. I hope you can play it, although if you can't it's possible you maybe able to do so by uploading Quick Time media player.

Finally, as I'm sure some of you will remember, my mother died unexpectedly last year so I guess this little keepsake has become something really rather special - and I have to admit that, just for once, I'm glad I did my homework.

NB; The recording is approximately 13 minutes long.

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...