Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dreary Last Chapters, A Free Book and Why (Apparently) Women Aren't Funny

Recently, I've been thinking about last chapters of novels and famous last lines as I've been writing an article on the subject for The View From Here. We've all heard, for example, of "Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day" from Gone with the Wind.

Frankly, the film was enough to put me off the book. Not that is was unwatchable but the thought of wading through over a thousand pages to hear that corny line is a just a no go for me. I'd probably find myself screaming"Oh just let him go, Love. Burn your corset, let it all hang out!"

Mind you, that's what Germaine Greer did. Probably would have been better if she hadn't.

Anyway, the last line of Gone with the Wind hardly lives up to the classic Dickens;

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’

I'm not sure what Dickens was talking about - maybe death or something like that - but to me it sounds like he just got over a bout of constipation.

Anyway, the last ever printed edition of The View From Here is coming up soon- after three years in print it was time to return to our roots on the Internet. So, the bad news is there's no more printed edition after the next issue but the good news is you'll be able to read yet more of me on the web! Okay, that may not necessarily be a good thing - but think on the positive side - if I'm writing literary articles (okay, that is probably debatable), the chances are I'm not writing short stories about golden labradors, fluffy cats and women who knit tea cosies (and probably wear them). Hurrah, I hear you say!

You know, I'm suspect the world of women's magazine is not ready for me yet. In fact, I don't think I'm ready for it. Pass me The Beano...

Anyhow, in addition to our bumper last edition coming up soon you can read for FREE, a novel by our fiction writer, Kathleen Mahler, a writer from New York and whose fiction blog Diary of a Heretic was a finalist in the Weblog Awards for Best Literature Blog, which was won in 2007 by Neil Gaiman. Kathleen's novel is called Death Knell and the premise is as follows;

When Jeanne, a recently widowed young mother, moves halfway across the United States to Lawrence, Kansas, she hopes to escape a troubled past and start a new life with her two-year-old daughter. Instead she finds she has traded one set of troubles for another. Bereaved and lonely, she plunges headlong into an affair with a married man, Kevin, and tries to befriend Kevin's troubled friend Hal. But Kevin's passion for her and Hal's jealousy create a volatile mix....

You read Kathleen's book by following THIS LINK to The View From Here where links to download it are absolutely free of charge!

Anyhow, on another matter, over the last few days I've started to catch up on some of my blogging buddies' posts which, due to being somewhat busy of late, I had fallen behind in reading. Unfortunately, this always takes much longer than I expect as I usually get hooked on some Internet trail and end up reading a whole chain of stuff. True to form, this happened when I went over to Scott Pack's site and somehow ended up on this article at Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens called "Why Women Aren't Funny" which was...interesting. I was disappointed though that the article (written in 2007) didn't have a comment section. Maybe that's the Vanity Fair policy but not giving the right to reply is pretty archaic these days, especially on the net. Not that I would have written anything offensive in reply ... but I might have said something...


Anyway, I decided to read up about Mr Hitchens on Wikipedia and I discovered he is friends with Martin Amis and attended Balliol College, Oxford.

Interesting. In a sort of dull, academic way.

Enough said.

By the way, I still haven't finished The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. Unfortunately, it "accidentally" encountered a small fire in the back garden...

Anyway, I leave you with a taster of my last printed article for The View. As you'll see I wasn't happy with some last lines of famous novels and decided to do a little revision...

Pride and Prejudice

          The newly married Elizabeth and Lydia strolled through the grounds of Pemberley idly watching Darcy and Mr Wickham fishing in the lake. Elizabeth turned to Lydia, stretching out her palm.
       “That’s six shillings you me owe me, my dear sister; I told you I could bag a husband without dropping my pantaloons.”

The Da Vinci Code;
          For a moment, he thought he heard a woman’s voice…the wisdom of the ages…whispering up from the chasms of the earth… 

            “It took you long enough, Robert. I had those clues worked out in a jiffy.”
The Return of the King.

And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
He drew a deep breath. “Well I’m back,” he said.

Rose rolled her eyes. “And about time too. That’s the last time I send you down the chippy.”

 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone

            “Oh, I will,” said Harry, and they were surprised at the grin that was spreading over his face. “They don’t know we’re not allowed to use magic at home. I’m going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer…”
            Harry woke up, clenching his wand. It had all been a dream.

The Witty Ways of A Wayward Wife

           " Where's that copy of Pregnant Widow?" said Mr T, running his finger along the bookshelf. 

           "Umm... I don't know, Darling,  replied Mrs T, filling out her application form to Balliol College, Oxford. "Have you tried the back garden?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Need a Pen Name!

I've decided I need a pen name or a pseudonym, call it what you will.

Last night I started to read through some women's magazines with a view to sending in some short stories I'd written and I realised my stories were.... probably too good. (Take everything I say with a pinch of salt, Readers.) I need to dumb them down! Yep, I need to add in a few stray dogs, some cardboard elephants (yes, they did actually appear in one story I read) or a cat stuck up a chimney. In all probability the heroine should also fall over/fall out of a boat/fall off stage so that she can be kissed by the hero in a moment of mad impetuousness. She should also work in a either a cake shop, a florists or own a small holding in the Scottish highlands where she weaves yarn for a living.

Oh, and it would also help if she has been tragically bereaved.

I want to shoot myself. My writing is not designed for women's magazines.

In fact, I don't think it is designed for anyone but me. Hmm..bit of a problem if you want a career as a writer....

Anyway, I'm going to test the waters with two stories, so I need a pen name so I don't die from excrutiating embarrassment if they ever get published. So give it your best shot, Readers. The winner gets access to my secret love child with Arnold Schwarzengger.....

Ho hum.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Alternative Therapy

I woke up this morning with a migraine. Darn it, I hate those things. The worst thing about my migraines is that they're not bad enough - they're nagging, irritating and wear me down but I can still function. This means I don't get enough sympathy! I want to be in a darkened room with folks bringing me tea and cuddly toys...but no I'm all by my tod, doing all the things I have to do anyway only with a gremlin in my head going "nah, nah, nah, nah."

Right, so I've tried all the usual remedies (which never work anyway so I don't know why I bother) so I'm going to try something different.

I going to stick my Ipod on extra loud, pop some chocolate in my mouth and try and dance my way out of it. I'm going to play Cee Lo Green, Bright Lights Bigger City. Let's see if exercise, rather than self pity does the trick....or if I end up throwing up. Let's take odds on it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Sigh of Relief

So, Praise the Lord, the world didn't end last night at 6pm as predicted by Harold Camping.

I was mightily relieved - I had my washing out.

Yep, there's nothing that annoys me more than having to bring my washing in until I'm ready for it. My record for leaving it in the garden is about 5 days. Although there was that time we went on holiday...I told Mr T is was a ploy to fool potential burglars. I'm not sure if he believed me though...

Anyway, imagine having to bring your washing in whilst covered in volcanic ash and torrential wind and rain whips your face. Not a pleasant idea - although probably cheaper than going for a face peel.

You know, it doesn't matter how much the logical side of me says oddballs like Camping, who spout  ridiculous claims about the end of the world, are just nutters -there's always a tiny part of me which carries a nagging doubt. It's not really the imminent thought of dying - that's the easy bit - it's the thought of judgement day itself which really puts the wind up me. I mean, what happens if God is as fastidious about ironing as Mr T?  I will be in serious, serious trouble. The thought of having of finding myself in purgatory ironing thousands of cassocks and angel wings....

But then, of course, I might not go to purgatory. I might go straight to hell and hell might be one giant steam press with lots of naughty housewives squashed in the middle screaming "I only burnt one shirt!"

Blimey, it doesn't bear thinking about. But I can't help it now. Just imagine eternity with a red face, sweaty armpits and every time you look up there's a line of washing baskets filled with crumpled shirts winding into the distance....

Anybody got an elixir for eternal youth? I'm feeling kinda queasy....

You know the idea of a vengeful God doesn't appeal. Somehow, I think a lot of these fundamentalists have got it wrong. Anyway, why does God have to wreck havoc on earth? We're doing a pretty good job on our own.

Right, that's my philosophical thought of the day. I'm off to watch tennis, cricket and all those lovely sheets flapping in the wind.

 I just hope a tumble drier doesn't fall out of the sky and kill me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crowns before Hats

Our Queen is 85 years old, a woman who would never have been Queen had it not been for her errant uncle. She's lived through many turgid and troubling times, times of great social and economic change, of global warfare and, of course, her own family tragedies.

She should have her feet up, drinking tea and nibbling biscuits, whilst watching the King's Speech but she's donned her best garb and flown to Southern Ireland to heal the wounds of the past. It must be arduous at her age yet somehow I think she looks genuinely pleased to be there.

I have English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish blood in me. I've always thought of myself as British rather than English although I was born in England and live in England. I'm just glad and truly grateful, like the vast majority, there is peace with Ireland.

All I can add to that is -

Thank God The Queen didn't send Princess Beatrice in that hat.

There could be have been serious trouble.

By the way the hat now £18,000 on Ebay if you fancy a gander - or alternatively wait for the hats I shall be offering for sale soon on my blog. They're almost as fetching as my cupcakes.

In the meantime, someone take Philip Treacy to the The Tower.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My New Desk

Well it isn't really a new desk - but an old family desk.

A few weeks ago, my mother's younger sister emailed me and asked me if I would like my grandfather's desk. My aunt inherited it back in 1988 when my grandfather died. She was married to a writer (I mention him in my article A Childhood in Fiction) and so she had seemed the obvious choice.

I believe my grandfather bought this desk in the late 1920s or early 1930s and used it for the remaining of his working life and beyond. I remember it from my childhood and, as I knew that it had taken a battering over the years, when it arrived I decided I would invest a few pounds and have it restored to its former glory.

There are still drawer inserts and a few other bits missing but overall I'm pleased with the result. I'm really looking forward to writing something special whilst thinking of him.

The desk is huge - and I mean HUGE! I reckon I will easily beat my record of managing to have at least half the china cabinet stacked on my desk. Only this time I'll use tablemats!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ring the Bells, Sound the Trumpets!

Gosh. I must interrupt the inactivity on this blog with some exciting news for my Lady Readers.

I just heard on the radio that Arnold Schwarzenegger is splitting from that Kennedy woman!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la, la la la la
Tis the season to be Jolly
Fa la la la, la la la la

Okay, it is kinda sad that after twenty-five years that Arnie and his wife can't hold it together...but on the other hand...


At last I'm in with a chance of grabbing Arnie's butt for myself. I mean, who wouldn't want a shy, retiring, svelte-like, sweet, adorable English Rose like me? Okay, I admit might not be actually "svelte-like" but  Arnie's an actor he can use his imagination, can't he? And as for the sweet, adorable bit - just ask all my friends.... it's completely true.

 At least on Mondays when the kids go to school.

So Arnie and that big cigar he's always carrying is up for grabs. Whoa Ladies! I haven't felt this excited since David Cameron was elected as our Prime Minister.  Mind you, after ten years with a Labour government and I probably would have been celebrating if Cheeta The Monkey had got into power.

You know, I didn't feel quite the same when Paul McCartney got divorced. Maybe it's because he wrote Hey Jude. I imagine he'd be a slushy, romantic kind of guy who sprinkles bed sheets with rose petals - and then waters them. Whereas Arnie would sprinkle the bedsheets with rose petals and then just rip 'em off. (The bed sheets that is.)

Anyway, the idea of making rumpy pumpy with someone who'd actually slept with Heather Mills is somewhat disconcerting. It's the leg thing, I'm afraid. Yep, I can imagine being in the throes of a second chorus of Hey Jude when suddenly a vision of a wooden leg springs to mind with Paul whispering; "I think it needs a coating of linseed oil, Heather. I'll do it tonight after I've sanded it down....."

Anyway, Arnie is free. Now, I've just got to break the news to Mr T gently....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back to Blogging

It's a month since I last posted. I think it is my longest absence ever from the blogosphere. So it's time to get back on the writing trail again!

As you know, it was a late Easter so it's been the school hols which means I've been busy doing the family thing. Firstly, this meant picking up Young Sam from college. So, a few weeks ago, I drove over to his digs (colloquial UK expression for a student shit-tip) where I'd hoped to be greeted with loving kisses and a big welcoming smile - instead his door opened and I was greeted by the poignant odour of Eau de Student (You know the odour - unwashed jeans and stale fish and chips) and an even more gruesome Eau de Unclean Toilet. Sam is very lucky to have his own washing facilities - which the student brochure described as an "ensuite bathroom." However, I would more realistically describe it as;

A compact chamber of minuscule proportions containing (debatable) sanitary equipment and suitably sized for dwarfs, pixies and anyone keen on potholing. Please note a lack of ventilation may be an issue for those with asthma, allergies and who generally require the use of unfetid air.

Oh - I should also point out that the students are told not to use any cleaning fluids except mild washing-up detergent as the drains run out to a environmentally friendly drainage system.

Well you know I am all for being "Green" but when Young Sam broke this shocking news to me, I looked at him... I looked at his loo...and I looked at his shower...

And I picked up the bleach and ignored the feeble, pathetic cries of the little reeds swaying gently outside in the breeze.

Yep, sometimes a mother's just gotta do what a mother's gotta do. Reeds or no reeds. Anyway, I was sure glad I'd gone prepared wearing a nose peg and a paper bag over my head.

Hmm... you know, I used to think the Klu Klux Klan were a daft group of racist bigots - now I know they just all had teenage kids at college.

By the by - did you know that David Soul of Starksy and Hutch fame used to wear a paper bag over his head when he sang?  (Obviously, this was before he became famous for S & H ) Apparently, it was because he was so darn good looking the women just wanted to ogle him and not listen to his voice.

Hmm... I'm thinking something went seriously wrong. Have you seen Hutch lately? Now I don't want to be a meanie - but if the checkout girls at Walmart gave him a couple of extra carriers they'd probably be doing him a favour.

Well back to Young Sam. Now aside from the foul stench, the first thing I was greeted with was.... wait for it.... no, not

Mum, how great to see you!

and not even

Mum, you're just in time to clean the toilet!


Mum, have you seen this You Tube Clip?

Okay, so I took a deep breath as Young Sam loaded You Tube. Would it be Debbie Does Dallas (I figure nothing about male students has changed over the last 25 years) or some other saucy little number he thinks is gonna shock his old mum?

Nope, it was this;

Student Humour. Don't you just love it.

That's the trouble with boys. They do have a different sense of humour from us girls. Although (am I allowed to admit this?) I also found that rather funny...

You Tube - it's a phenomenon isn't it? So much opportunity for humour. I'm thinking of broadcasting my own cookery class on it. Anyway, I got back home with Sam and surprise, surprise, Master Jacob and Master Ben welcomed me not with

Mum, you're back! We love you!

or even

Mum, where's tea?

but with

Mum, have you seen this You Tube clip?

Yes, I admit I did have minor palpitations at the thought of Debbie Does Dallas again but fortunately it turned out to be Justin Bieber getting shot. Which, in my opinion, is probably a good idea if you like music. Or even if you don't. Anyway, here's the clip which is (loosely) from an episode of CSI where Justin Bieber made a guest appearance. Oh, and if you don't know who Justin Bieber is (That's you Mrs A) he's a teenage boy who can't sing, and doesn't look anything like Michael Jackson. Although he does have a bad haircut.

Poor fella.He's kinda cute. I'm sure his singing is not really that bad.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Hmm...I think that hoodie is an attempt to disguise his hairdressing issues. Maybe his album should be retitled Never say Never to a Comb.

Perhaps he's got a bald patch and is doing a front comb over?

Well, I suppose I'll have to eat my words if Justin turns out to be more successful than MJ. Still, lets just hope the poor kid remains sane and doesn't try to grow an afro and dye his skin black. Now that would be ironic.

Well there you go - a first installment of what I've been up to. More to come soon - but it's now nearly 5am and a girl's gotta get some sleep. Wake me up at 7am please.

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...