Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Whitton Avenue

By the corner house there used to be
Shrubbery and a recumbent tree
Where small birds liked to play.
Now there's a block-paved yard,
A useless space for man or bird
But the landlord likes it that way.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Strawberries


We have a strawberry patch out the back in a raised bed and it produces this sort of harvest every two or three days at this time of year.

Update 14/6/2019: Furthermore

View of the raised bed

Where they hide

About 1lb today?

Update 15/6/2019:
The collective farm continues its Stakhanovite production:

Update: 15/6/2019 - bigger bowl, 2lb?

Update 16/6/2019:
We sing as we harvest the crop:

Sunday 16th of June, 2019

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Meanwhile here is a testcard

I have been rewriting something this week and I can't believe how full of errors it is. It's like wood that has been completely infested with woodworm. Leaving things for a good long while helps to see them better later on, they say. I'm conscious that I haven't posted anything for ages, so meanwhile, here is a photo that reminds me I have actually done a few things in my time, had a lot of fun and made some good friends. Layers upon layers.

Corkboard in my office at home

Friday, March 29, 2019

A small child's "why?"

I will share a writing tip that I was keeping to myself. Because, what have I got to lose? After every sentence you write, imagine there’s a child in that wonderful phase when to everything you say, they ask “Why?” Then you will have your next sentence. Its main use is in getting started. It gets you from the diving board into the water. But also, later on, it might help you to resume when you’re a bit stuck for the next sentence.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sort of memorabilia lost and dog okay

Last week I was at home with a recuperating old dog. I'm decluttering the place. We're living in a terraced house beside a wide, busy city street. I put the section of concert seating that was used in a famous recording (John Lennon and Jagger/Dirty Mac?) into the front garden, thinking maybe I ought to get rid of it. I changed my mind and went back out, but a clownish Beatles memorabilia merchant and assistant had already loaded it into their van. I explain that I'm not discarding it, look inside for a minute and ensure the dog won't get out, but when I return they've already gone. And a little way along the road, they have left a long panel they didn't want. It's sticking out in the street, a hazard to cyclists etc. I walk there and move the panel straight alongside the kerb. The dog has managed to get out but he's pottering about in the front garden and goes back in with me, safe and sound.

Dad rolling a spliff

There are big bales of herbal marijuana here. I'm not too worried. Dad is game to try some and begins working on rolling up a spliff, something he has never done before, at the table. But then someone's boyfriend is coming in. I hope he's not a policeman, looks a bit like he might be, a big guy. I ask him and he says he is. He stands looking out our window. I assume he won't bother about us having or smoking dope but no, he says he cannot overlook it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"You want a little pepper with that?"


I dabble in cartooning. Sometimes I even amuse myself. I expect this gag has been done before, not sure, but probably a lot better. That's one of the problems with cartoon ideas.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Longhand return, headlights & Italo Calvino

I just can't be creative typing into a box on the screen, as I am now, after all. It's too busy, too noisy, too bright, too oppressive. When are they going to make silent desktop computers? The one I have has a solid state disc drive but still runs a cooling fan. (Notes: "Still Runs a Cooling Fan" possible bodice ripper?) I had to seek out my writing book and call up the old fountain pen out of retirement. So how did I get on? I spent a while getting the ink to flow (hint: put the nib for a second under a warm water tap). Then I wrote out something about why I'm not writing anything.

That turns out to be because I have no end in view. E. L. Doctorow (?) said that writing a novel is like driving unlit roads at night: you can only see as far ahead as your headlights reach but you can get to your destination that way, so not to worry. He might not have said not to worry. But that presupposes you know where you're going. Otherwise you're just driving around at night for no purpose. There might be novels that do that, perhaps Italo Calvino style, but more usually you need to know your ending. You don't need to know exactly how you're going to get there but when you start out, it helps to have an end in view, and I think in fact it's essential, at least for me.

So I wrote something like that in my writing book (A4 hard cover, spiral bound), admiring the flow of ink from the gold plated nib. And nothing else.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The wet edge

My son is an artist, among other things, and told me about the need to keep the wet edge going in certain sorts of painting. Don't ask me what sort, I'm here to talk about writing. So, right or wrong, and I'm not checking effing Wikipedia, I say that leaving a story unfinished for too long can make it hard to resume. This I suppose is like the wet edge that you have to keep going. Also, I read an idea recently from someone that you should stop writing each day (yes, in case you didn't know, you're supposed to do it every day - do as I say, not as I do) when you still know what you want to write next, instead of draining it all out, the theory being that it will then be easier to resume.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Writing: If I can’t do it with a light heart…

…I’m not going to do it at all. There are so many other things to do. Re-sealing around the bathtub, for one. What, that’s not important? It is. And when you realise that nothing you write will make a bit of difference, won’t stop your kitchen ceiling from coming down if your bath seal leaks, won’t stop the ivy from strangling your trees, won’t hoover the stairs, won’t do much of anything at all, then it had better be pleasing, amusing, joyful, exhilarating. Okay, let’s not reach for the stars, but it had better make me smile because if it makes me frown, it’s out the window.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Learning to write again

Imagine you were someone in popular music who, many years ago, made some records that were pleasing but that never troubled the charts very much and then you spent most of the rest of your life doing drudge work in an office till the mortgage was paid off. For your biggest hits, such as they were, you just bashed out the chords on a guitar and reeled off whatever words came into your head and it seemed to work. There was energy. People got enjoyment from it.

What do you do now? You've just realised that you don't really know how to play guitar properly at all. You try to perfect some more Travis picking, learn a classical piece, try something jazzy. You feel like you're back to kindergarten, trying to play London Bridge is Falling Down on a tin whistle and hitting bum notes. It's the same with writing. Not a day goes by when I don't think about deleting this website and throwing my hat at the writing game.

It's not that I haven't been writing, I have, but not enough and not purposefully. I start on a whim, noodle about for a while, get distracted and let it die. (Apparently you have to water these creations with words every day.) Or was it going nowhere because I never had any end in view? I think of new things I'd like to write every morning, and before I forget I write a clue to it on the whiteboard in my office. But then the day goes by, and another, and another and eventually, after weeks, I might even forget what the clue meant.

After organising my notes and fragments, which I wrote about in my previous post, I have not come to a place of easy progress with a clear road ahead. Instead, it turns out that most of what I have is unusable, poorly written and sometimes completely wrongheaded and amateurish. It's better to know that. This is part of moving on, recognising where I am and finding a way forward. The image that comes to me most often is of someone recovering from a stroke, as if my day job had been a long coma from which I have only just awoken. The world I knew has gone. Everything is new to me.