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Category Archives: Daybook

Thee Too?

I’ve seen the MeToo flashes appearing and, to be honest, I’m astonished there aren’t more. But, that’s a telling thing. Even amidst this wave of confrontation, women are keeping quiet. Be it from privacy concerns, embarrassment, past trauma or fear of backlash, the participants are, I suspect, vastly outnumbered by the silent ones.

In a world where men have had a damn rude time for far too long, I’m expecting the trivialisation and normalisation to get in gear soon. Make no mistake, many men hide deep-seated beliefs about male superiority. It’s rather inevitable, as it’s what we’ve been presented with at every level from birth to now – unless we’ve had a wake-up call.

Now, let’s be clear. I’ve been part of the problem and made my excuses to myself over some egregious obsessive behaviour. (Yes, I’ve ‘come round’, apologised, and, quite rightly, lost friends.) This society is just starting to get over its infatuation with the creepy behaviours of rejected blokes trying to ‘prove’ their love. It can’t happen too soon. Maybe this will finally make it socially acceptable for that bloke’s real friends to slap him down and give him the telling off he so badly needs.

Sexual harassment is a subjective thing. Without common ground for behaviour norms, what can be banter on one side can be brutal on another. Those norms can come from within families, and many would argue they should. I would posit that basic manners and etiquette should also be taught at school. Nothing fancy, just a well-rounded balance to any malign influences that may be occurring in a child’s out-of-school environment.

Self-worth. Confidence. The most astonishing people I know of all sexes (don’t start, that’s a separate conversation) are those who know what they are, to a greater or lesser extent. They doubt themselves, they evidence consideration for others (if not compassion), they know that their selves, body and mind, are theirs and theirs alone, and their word is law regarding what you may and may not do with or to them on any level.

Respect every individual as just that. Pass no comment to another that you wouldn’t tolerate being given by a stranger to you or your loved ones. Male or female, makes no difference. This is the twenty-first century. Sexism is a hate crime that should be fought with the same rigour as all other forms of fanaticism.

You have nothing to prove to anyone except yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your body, faith, erotica and soul are inviolate and anyone who would take advantage should stop at the word ‘no’. If they don’t and there’s no-one about to intervene – which people should do! Stop treating anything uncomfortable as someone else’s problem. Step up. Step in. – then you should be absolutely sure that there will be recourse to justice and severe punishment to be meted out.

I suspect the changes needed to achieve a balance will be slow: generational more than anything. I also suspect there’s more grim reveals to come. MeToo is long overdue. Here’s hoping it effects changes where it needs to.

Finally, I think Helen Mirren’s advice should be taught to girls early and often: “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Daybook

 

The Misrule of Law

Amazon has just been fined 250 million Euros (plus interest) for tax dodging within the EU between 2006-2014.

They’ll probably pay it out of petty cash.

Laws require penalties for contravening them. If the punishment is harmless to the criminal, how can a law be enforced?

A long time ago, I heard a joke by a comedian named Emo Philips: “When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realised, the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me.

It’s a neat example of a very old adage: “‘Tis easier to seek forgiveness than to seek permission.

But when that very sentiment has become the de facto operating mode of everyone from beggars to prime ministers, then the rule of law has separated from justice. When you can blame a deity/society/minority for failings of honesty, compassion, and government, it becomes easy to accept that everything going wrong is someone else’s responsibility.

Which is a lie.

Bad things happen because good people do nothing to stop them. Yes, I accept that in a few cases, the bad thing would happen anyway. But, in a majority of cases, the bad thing happened slowly, you saw it coming, you ignored the warnings, you might even have ridiculed those who tried to warn you, and – most damning – you didn’t really care as long as the bad thing didn’t affect you. You clicked to put your name next to a disapproving emoticon and signed a couple of online petitions, but, deep down, you know you actually did nothing, and it doesn’t bother you. Everyone else does the same, after all.

Hiding in the herd. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. None of us are blameless. Too busy, too distracted, too important.

Too late.

You’re living in the world made by your indifference. I hope you like it, because – to my view – the change that’s coming is going to ruin this cosy little existence and you only have yourselves to blame.

Yourselves. To. Blame.

A quote from Riddick says it better than I can: “Leave God out of this. He wants no part of what happens next.

 

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Daybook

 

Let Angel’s Wings Be Still

As she approaches those gates.
An elderly woman –
With a beatific smile,
Butterflies on her shoulders,
Rainbows in her hair,
Flowers blooming in her wake –
And dragons at her back.

Fare thee well, mother.
May your God be as worthy
As you always believed.

Turn away, my brothers –
Your vigil is done.

Mum.
At peace, at last.
11/07/17

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Daybook

 

Surreal in the Rain

While I’m usually stoic about being caught in the rain, poor timing and a phenomenal cloudburst drove me into a shop doorway on the way home late last night.

Watching a deserted pedestrian precinct, rain hammering down, I was surprised to be joined by a fox (who was substantially less bedraggled than myself, the suave so-and-so). As we stood on opposite sides of the alcove, backs to the doors, we alternated our gazes between each other and the rain.

Standing there, the world about us silent but for the torrent of descending water, we were both caught unawares by a seagull walking past, muttering those little conversational squawks they utter when solving a problem. Fox and I watched in mystification as the bird trotted away down the precinct, turned a corner and disappeared from view, still nattering.

Within minutes, the rain had eased to a mere downpour. Fox and I set off to complete our respective journeys.

Surreal times, kids. Surreal times. You all keep well.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Daybook

 

New World Disorder

And now, like the screaming after Brexit – but in a more immediate time frame – we wait. We know we’re going to be surprised. We just don’t know what form the surprises will take.

Ignore the pundits, the howlers, the hatemongers, and your fears. Live well. Do good. Love carefully but unreservedly. Above all: have fun. Always have fun.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Daybook

 
Image

My Great-Grandfather’s Poppy

Poppy

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Daybook

 

How I Write

A question on a forum reminded me that I had promised someone (sorry!) a long while ago that I’d post about my writing process and the tech I use.

So, with no further ado and apologies for being nearly a year late, here it is:

Stories arrive as the first two lines, a mental image, or initial plot section. From there, it’s ‘just write’ and see where it takes me. 🙂 At the end, I will have a piece of work that I cunningly refer to as a ‘chunk’. It may be a whole story. It may not.

Larger pieces come together in chunks, then I write other chunks to link the original chunks, then I go back to the earliest chunks and revise them for the clever stuff I thought up in the later chunks.

For the larger works I invariably end up with a notes/leftovers file as well as the main document.

When the chunks accumulate sufficiently to be a book:

  1. Starting with a 10- or 20-pass continuity/sanity/review checking before letting the proof readers at it.
  2. Proofing & editing is two or three passes (depending on how big a kicking I get from my proofers and editors) over a two-month period.
  3. There’s usually a prevarication/denial phase between proof reviews coming back and me fixing things.
  4. Post proofing is a 5- to 10- pass process before final review.
  5. Another prevarication phase, duration dependant on the number of chapter/story bookmarks and hyperlinks I need to add to the ebook. I hate ebook formatting.
  6. Ebook creation – which is only going right if I spot a single word that needs fixing/replacing – and submission of ebook.
  7. When that has gone through to publication, there’s a final review of the master before submission for printing.
  8. Then a review or two of the print proof before pressing the green button to let them make books for me.
  9. Euphoria phase. I made a book!
  10. Dread phase. I’m sure I missed something.

I have an Excel spreadsheet for published story titles, as I have over 500 of the little buggers now and duplication is not acceptable.

Word 2003
for all text work.
CutePDF for text conversion to PDF.
Proofs are created as watermarked Word files from the master documents, then run off via CutePDF and ALZIPped for sending to my proofreaders and editors.
ArcSoft PhotoStudio for cover creation, starting with original art for front or wrap cover and working through to finished, fully lettered cover. Everything for covers saved as JPEG, with incremental stages calved off to allow rollback.
Total Image Converter to turn JPEG to PDF for printing.

I run a 3-2-1 backup strategy, which is 3 backups on 2 different types of media with 1 offsite.

Incremental backups occur daily or whenever-I’m-away-from-the-laptop if I’m mid process.

All non-secured backups are encrypted.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Daybook

 
 
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