Monday, 31 January 2011

XXL catch up blog

There have been blogs running round in my head for DAYS but my head wasn't in the right time zone to instruct my fingers to do the writing (apart from the huge effort for The Magic Faraway Tree, but that was for a blogathon and HAD to be completed on the 30th - I'm such a goody-two-shoes)

SO here is a random accumulated blog, possible because I've just slept for TEN HOURS STRAIGHT which must be some sort of crlncxn record. Note to self: In order to sleep very well on my return home, go skiing all day. Problem solved.

1. The most annoying thing about Canada is the wall sockets. Stupid pathetic skinny little two pin things. My macho BRITISH plug (THREE pins and sturdy and somehow BRITISH) in its pathetic Canadian adaptor with only two silly pins keeps falling out of the wall. And then my netbook isn't being charged when I think it is and I get dire warnings about critical battery life.

2. Every crowd has a silver lining. When we were staying in Vancouver, in a block of apartments we had THE most inconsiderate neighbours who began to party at about 2 a.m. The first night wasn't so bad because I was awake anyway, it being 10 a.m. in my mind.

The second night WASN'T okay. It occurred to me that if only they turned the music up a bit LOUDER so I could hear what it was instead of having to endure this incessant thumping which caused me to strain my ears in an effort to identify the tune... TUNE? Yeah right. I can tell you for a fact it was nothing by Simon and Garfunkel.

I think they got a bit of a shock when, at about 3 a.m. a very irate bearded British man in striped pyjamas barely concealing the paunch (Pete) pounded on their door and demanded that they turn it down. "She looked quite scared when she answered the door," he said. Terminator 4. I always think complaining while dressed in striped pyjamas is so DIGNIFIED.

The silver lining bit? I read a WHOLE book (How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff - wonderful) AND I suddenly had a genius brainwave about how to extend a 5 minute monologue into 30 minutes for the TV series.

So THANK YOU, you inconsiderate, ASBO-deserving, low-on-musical-taste neighbours in Rosellen Apartments, Vancouver. You have changed my life.

That's enough for the moment. It's 6 a.m-ish. Time to limber up, do those stretching exercises, ready to...make a cup of tea.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

'Kid In The Front Row Blogathon' - revisiting my childhood in The Magic Faraway Tree

One of the blogs that I follow is this:

It's jam-pack full of great posts - thought-provoking insights into screenplay writing and the film industry. And all created by a mystery man (Or woman? Or possibly Creature From Another Planet?) who never lets his/her/its mask slip.

So he's just Kid In The Front Row - who has great ideas (sometimes) and this is one of them - re-read a favourite book from childhood and blog about it. I'm a sucker for a interesting interlude, so on the plane over to Vancouver, in between watching all those films and wishing I could lie flat and that the screaming infant across the aisle would just...(insert own imaginative way of silencing screaming infants) - I read:

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

Sadly not the very edition I read as a child but the very same copy I read to MY children when they were, well...children.
Oh Saucepan Man, I loved you then, I love you still. And everyone should have the opportunity to visit The Land of Magic Medicines.

It made me smile. And it made me regret that today we are all SO up our own bottoms, SO concerned with political correctness that innocence has somehow been sacrificed.

How many children's books today could be about a little boy called Dick and a little girl called Fanny without raising a salacious smirk? (I did SMILE but it was FONDLY) How many could contain the sentence 'He wiped Dick with his hanky' and have the word 'queer' as the most frequently used adjective?

It's sad. I got to wondering - is it what I'VE become because I'm older than I was when I was a child (surprising, that!) and my mind belongs somewhere in the gutter or is it what SOCIETY'S become?So jaded. So cynical. So CAREFUL.

I favour the latter interpretation. But then, I would, wouldn't I?

I must confess I was glad to finish it by the end - it WAS repetitive - and I DID get weary of good girls Helping Mother In The House while the boys had so much more fun Digging Potatoes For Father In The Garden.

I should have read it out loud to the screaming infant across the aisle...I'm sure she'd have been rendered silent.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tourism is the march of stupidity

Is it now, Don Delillo?

Possibly. Because in Vancouver it's raining. In Vancouver it's 3.30 p.m. but in my brain it's 11.30 p.m. My brain wants to be in bed asleep. My brain does NOT want to be trailed round all the Places That Must Be Seen In Vancouver.

Vancouver is lovely though. Even in the rain. Especially Granville Island. The public market has fruit stalls piled high with pyramids of expertly-balanced and polished Mr. Sheen-shiny fruits and vegetables. I can't believe they didn't use superglue to hold them in place. It was very tempting to choose a cherry from the bottom of the pyramid. But I didn't.

"You're expected to be stupid." (to continue with Don Delillo) "The entire mechanism of the host country is geared to travelers acting stupidly. You walk around dazed, squinting into fold-out maps. You don't know how to talk to people, how to get anywhere, what the money means, what time it is, what to eat or how to eat it. Being stupid is the pattern, the level and the norm."

Sad irony. In general, I hate tourists and all that they stand for. But today I was one.

Heathrow Airthoughts

Had thoughts at Heathrow, writing thought in Vancouver.

Thought #1, as we arrived at the Long Stay Car Park: It was perishing cold and windy. I thought 'hope it's not this cold in Canada' - last report was that it was minus 28...!

Thought #2 - in departure lounge. How goddamned MISERABLE everyone looks. It's WORSE than a dentist's or a doctor's waiting room, yet everyone's off on some Big Adventure to Canada, to Vancouver, one of the most lovely cities in the world. What's WRONG with everyone?

On the plane I watched:

 'Social Network' one and a half times because I fell to sleep approaching the end of the first time. Thought it great but not 'King's Speech' standard when it comes to Oscars.

'Never Let Me Go' - if ever I could choose to write a screenplay, create a film, this would be IT. Completely beautiful and heart-wrenching and all the more chilling for the idyllic surroundings.

'Catfish' - a fascinating documentary about a woman who created a fantasy world on Facebook. So sad. My heart bled for her. It's gripping.

Well, in English time it's 2.30 a.m. and I'm pretty wrecked really. Here it's only 6.30 p.m.!

Would it be rude if I went to bed?


Nighty night.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

"I did not fully understand the dread term "terminal illness" until I saw Heathrow for myself. "

That was Dennis Potter in 1978 and that will be me tomorrow! Us. Me and Pete and Talia Tim (travelling in the real not the virtual world, for once)

I quite like Gatwick, but Terminal 3 at Heathrow is one of those places that dulls the spirit and sucks the life-blood out of you with its squalor and dreariness. I'm taking some good books and I shall lose myself in one of those to keep the energy vampires at bay in the departure lounge.

I've said goodbye to Poppy and Alfie and they have promised to be very well-behaved while I'm away.

I AM taking my netbook and I fully intend to keep blogging, but the timing will be all askew - PST not GMT.

I'm now trying to forget the Orson Welles quote I just discovered: "There are only two emotions in a plane:  boredom and terror."  I checked the in-flight movies on Air Canada and we are promised 'Let Me In' and 'Never Let Me Go' and, best of all 'The Social Network' - so you can hush your mouth, Orson.

If you're a burglar reading this - don't bother - we have house-sitters so the house will be occupied at all times.

Anyway, I have highly-trained security mice patrolling day and night.

Next blog - Vancouver. See ya!


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?

Hmmmm! Geek alert. I think I've caught some sort of virus. Me that is, not my computer. I've possibly become infected from spending too much time communicating with Son, Talia Tokugawa, (his virtual name) and Nephew, Jez, (a name which SOUNDS like a virtual name)

The thing is, yesterday I spent a happy few hours pasting HTML code on to my website. More worrying is that I ENJOYED DOING IT. More worrying still is that I UNDERSTOOD WHAT I WAS DOING - even down to being able to correct the code I had copied wrongly.

This is SCARY. You can see the results at - or, to be more precise, you CAN'T see the results because it's HTML code :)

The exchange below is about where I was (ask Talia and Jez!)

Caroline: Why isn't my e-mail working?

Talia: The internet is full.

Caroline: Great! Now what do I do?

Following instructions, Caroline unplugs her computer and holds the cable over the waste paper bin.

Caroline: I wonder if I'm supposed to see anything while it's draining?

(This, courtesy of another Dilbert cartoon)

See what I mean?

But NOW, I'm a fledgling techie geek girl...

Ask me ANY techie question and I'll...

find the answer on Google. (Well, it's a start!)

Mouse in stand-off situation, by the way.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Just For A Moment - film update - second blog of the day!

 I wrote a short screenplay, semi-autobiographical,  a while back, which was taken on by the talented Mike Ritchie.

I'm being very patient about its completion because, for both of us, it's a labour of love. I'd much rather it was finished with care, not rushed out just for the sake of it. Here is the latest from Mike, who has just set off on his travels until the autumn:

"I’ve also been unable to finish my current film project, Just For A Moment, which is tantalisingly close to being completed, but not quite there yet. This one I hope to get wrapped up in the last few months of this year and then I can give it a decent push into various film festivals.

It’s an intriguing and beautiful short story, written by Caroline Coxon (who still hasn’t seen any of the footage and I hope will forgive me for the futher delay), and is something of which I am very proud."

I'm sure it will be worth the wait. Something to look forward to later in the year.

Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.

The mouse score so far TODAY is...TANTARA...Caroline 1 - Mouse 0

The larder mouse is now safely (I hope) in her new home Somewhere Along Perryman's Lane, High Hurstwood (the village where the yard is located)  This morning, the trap was shut. I picked it up carefully. The sides of the tube felt warm. I transported it in Olive Oyl and opened it near to a field shelter. At first, nothing. Thought I'd been HAD. But then, the most ADORABLE little mouse popped out. And then she was gone.

The trap is now under the vegetable rack, stuffed with cashews and peanut butter. Those onions are looking quite chilly without their skins...

Today...revitalising my website at - that's once I've written a riveting article about the use of pizzas in psychiatric rehabilitation. See! TOLD you it was riveting. You'll just have to read the article, won't you?

Apart from the mouse success I was all fingers and thumbs up at the yard, which doesn't bode well.
  • Went into Katcha's box, Katcha still in it, to tie up her haynet. The door slammed and the kickplate dropped down so I had to climb OVER the door. The door is quite high. Katcha was bemused.
  • Let Saffi into the Mares' Field. She headed off. I turned to pick up Meg's bucket. Saffi had sneaked back through the gate and was striding purposefully away to meet and greet the ponies in the Dip Field. I had to run after her. She picked up speed.
  • Was leading Izzy to her patch. She was a bit behind me. Suddenly-THWACK- she head-butted me in the back. Why? She wouldn't tell me.
I'm hoping to remain in one piece long enough so I can break a few limbs when skiing.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

"If you invent a better mousetrap, the government comes along with a better mouse.”

Ronald Reagan SOMETIMES said clever things! At any rate, I think the government's been interfering with MY mouse population. Too cunning by half, they are. (Mice not members of parliament, although maybe both?)

Today's score. Mice- 2 Caroline- 0

In the larder, the mouse managed to eat all the cashew nuts without triggering the trap. In the sitting room, I had a late night snack of Applewood Smoked Cheddar. So did a mouse, because I forgot to return the packet to the fridge. Mice are very neat eaters - a perfect crescent of tiny nibbles.

Plan B with the trap - glue the cashews to the end of it with peanut butter - that way the mouse will HAVE to go all the way in. Then it will tip up and the mouse can stuff herself silly until the morning. I have a feeling she'll soon be like Winnie The Pooh having eaten too much hunny in the rabbit hole...a mega-mouse.

I'm full too, not with hunny but with plans. This trip to Canada is going to be used to get super fit and regulate my food intake. It's also going to be used to research teenage fiction because I'm thinking that this might be where my future lies. I have two screenplays written that I'm confident will translate well into that genre. Just think - when the novels are successful, I'll already have the screenplays written when Hollywood comes knocking on my door...

Yes, siree!

Boy, are there some really CHEESY quotes about dreams! Applewood Smoked Cheddar Cheesy. Or even Colliers Welsh Cheddar Cheesy, which is strong to the point of cauterising the roof of your mouth.

This quote's not too bad though. I think it can be read without the need to reach for the sick bucket:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I always loved C.S. Lewis.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

“In baiting a mousetrap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse.”

That's a Greek proverb, that is. I would have written it in Greek but...

This is the score today. Mice 1 - Caroline 0

The thing is, I DID catch a mouse - or rather, the humane trap did, carefully baited with honey-roasted cashew nuts. Nothing but the best for my mice.

I went into the larder and the trap was shut. Result! I picked it up and rocked it gently back and forth. Certainly no cashew nuts in there but it didn't seem as though there was a mouse in there either. How on earth could that be? (Little did I know that the mouse was bracing itself against the sides to prevent motion-sickness.)

I had a brainwave then. I would open the mousetrap inside an empty dog-food bin - a plastic container about 18 inches deep. I did this - and out popped a little mouse, its tummy bulging with several cashew nuts. I was just saying 'Aaaaaaaaaah! How sweeeeet!' when the mouse, from a standing start, jumped vertically two feet into the air, over the side of the bin and disappeared behind the fridge.

Curses! Or should I say 'Rats!'?  (No, I won't say 'Rats!' because, as much as I love little meece, I DO draw the line at their bigger, scarier relatives.)

The trap is set again with more cashew nuts. The mouse is no doubt chuckling behind the fridge, saying to herself 'if you think I'm going to fall for THAT again, you're going soft in the head, Mrs. Cashew-Nut-Provider!'

We shall see...

Friday, 21 January 2011

Morning hasn't broken so why fix it?

Do you know what? It's so much harder to write a daily blog when things are going WELL!

Mother Nature's still on holiday so no tsunami at the yard or hailstones the size of golf balls. Alfie behaved himself. Black Dog under control. A slight panic about managing to get everything done was averted by working in the evening.

I feel quite lost. I'm just going to have to INVENT a crisis.

I know - the mouse invasion. I love the mice in our house. I leave peanuts out for them. Last night, they managed to eat through the sturdy plastic tub which holds the peanuts, so I didn't HAVE to leave any out for them. Self-service mice.

The only time it bothers me is when they catch me by surprise. I say THEY - it could be just ONE mouse who's very busy to the point of mania. I never see more than one at a time, so I don't know.

Yesterday, I was getting potatoes out of the vegetable basket and noticed a lot of nibbles, then a mouse jumped out and I jumped too. A while back, I was pouring porridge oats into a cereal bowl and with them came a mouse - a live mouse, like a treat in a box of cereal only more fun. N.B. I didn't eat any more of the porridge oats because I know that mice don't have bladders...

The thing is, when we're away, we have house sitters and I'm not awfully sure that they will share my love of little furry creatures with long tails and nibbly habits. I didn't actually MENTION the mice when showing them round Chateau Coxon.

I have some humane mouse traps, so I'm going to try to catch the aforementioned mice and take them on their own little holiday somewhere just far enough away from the house that it takes them about ten days to find their way home.

Then there are the rabbits...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

There's something wrong with the weather...

It's quite scary.

This morning when I went out there was no snow, no frost, no rain, no wind, no NOTHING apart from ordinary sort of dull sort of weather that you wouldn't bother to mention at all if you weren't struggling to think of something to write about in your blog.

It was positively EERIE at the yard. I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting a tidal wave to creep up on me from behind or a little hurricane to develop suddenly and catch me unawares, but no. NOTHING.

“The thing that a lot of people cannot comprehend is that Mother Nature doesn't have a bullet with your name on it, she has millions of bullets inscribed with 'to whom it may concern.”

Today, Mother Nature appears to be on holiday!

This time next week, I will be too. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Look at you with your poncy elbows!

That was what Tessa, dear friend and riding teacher, was shouting out to me on our lesson this morning!

"How long have you been riding?" (I think it's about eight years now.) "All those years of seeing THIS!" she said, flapping her elbows like a manic chicken on speed with an electric prod up its bottom, "I never thought I'd see the day,"

So it's official. I have poncy elbows. Quite a good start to the day. Shame about the rest of me.

I'm trying to think of other uses for this surprising attribute. I'm failing.

Today is going to be a good writing day. How can I tell? Because today was a good riding day and the two things seem to go hand in hand. Poncy elbows aside, Alfie went like a dream. Here he is:

 (He goes even more like a dream without ME on his back, weighing him down)

And my brain? My brain is cantering freely, with no need to kick it on or smack it sharply with a whip.

Yee hah! A cowboy day.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday

The girl done good with the sunshine yesterday. Today, the weather's following my fine example. What is that strange bright light in the sky? Oh yes, it's the sun. I'd almost forgotten what it looked like.

But, yesterday, having driven five hours home from Blackburn after a very long day, wouldn't you think I'd be able to sleep?


At 2.30 a.m. I was still worrying that I wouldn't be able to get everything done today. Then I was worrying that since I get up at 6.30, even if I managed to fit everything in, I wouldn't do a very good job because I'd be too tired to function properly. Then I was worrying that I wouldn't even WAKE UP at 6.30...

BUT - I DID wake up at 6.30 and I HAVE done the dogs, and the yard, and ridden Poppy, and taken the hire car back (stopping at the garage en route to fill up with petrol TWICE because the first time I didn't put enough in to meet the 'five-eighths of a tankful' requirement - don't get me started!) and I HAVE paid the oilman and got the mince out of the freezer ready for the spaghetti bolognaise.

And NOW, I'm wondering what all the fuss was about.

BUT - I haven't started work yet. And I have LOADS. Permission to panic, Mr. Mainwearing?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Blue Monday?

"Blue Monday is a name given to a date stated to be the most depressing day of the year.

According to a press release the formula is:
\frac{[W + (D-d)] \times T^Q}{M \times N_a}
where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na

This date allegedly falls on the third Monday of January."

And that's today!

Let me see...

a) It's raining and hardly light even though it's nearly nine o'clock in the morning.
b) I'm all on my own in a hotel room, won't be seeing my horses or my dogs...or Pete.
c) The hotel is in Stoke-on-Trent
d) I'm about to visit a psychiatric hospital then drive to Blackburn to visit another psychiatric hospital
e) Then I have to drive all the way home to Sussex. Five hours, maybe?

Hmmmm. It's tempting...

BUT, no. I'm going to designate Monday, 17th January as RAINBOW Monday and have a brilliant day and make sure I bring some sunshine wherever I go.

So there!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

It gets late early sometimes

I'm on the road. Well, that's not strictly true - roads aren't that comfortable. And not exactly safe.  If you must know, I'm sitting up in bed in a brand new Holiday Inn in Stoke-on-Trent. Some people know how to live, you see! And I'm one of them.

I had a lovely time earlier with my nephew and niece and niecelet, Jez, Tracey and Zena.

Tracey is very clever with my brain. She captures all the random thoughts that whirl around in there and then arranges them into some sort of order. She has to use string and sealing wax to keep them in the right place but it seems to work.So now, with her help, marketing my stories will be BETTER.

And Jez is very clever in the kitchen. For a techie geek boy who supports Spurs, he's a very good cook. Indeed. And it's fun watching football with someone who's just like me. That's to say, cares so much about his team that it's absolute agony to endure any match unless they're leading by at least three goals with two minutes to go and the opposition is down to nine men.

And Zena, aged 7 months, is very clever at hitting things with other things and smiling adorably and then making our ears bleed with piercing shrieks. She's an absolute poppet.

What a lovely family!

Busy day tomorrow. I shall tell you all about it. But not yet, because I can't predict the future.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Is it just me?

I think it must be. Pete said it was so that's confirmed then.

I know I am very attuned to the feelings of horses but sometimes I think, surely some things are just COMMON-SENSE?

This morning was very blustery. I took Poppy out for a hack. Along the road was a bright orange van with ladders on the roof. Bright orange vans are quite scary things. Didn't you know that?. They're so BRIGHT and ORANGE, and anyway, Poppy thinks to herself, 'last time I came along here, there wasn't that bright orange van parked just there.This is WORRYING.'

Ladders on the roof - an added hazard. Ladders aren't MEANT to be on a van roof. They're meant to be propped up against a wall somewhere.

But, Poppy is a trusting soul with confidence in me. 'It's okay, girl. Nothing to worry about,' I say, pat her on the neck and we head on past.

When we are EXACTLY level with the bright orange van with ladders on the roof, the builder chappie materialises from nowhere,  grabs one of the ladders and pulls it off the roof with an ear-splitting SCREEEEEWEEEK.

Poppy jumps three feet in the air and several feet sideways (okay, I know she's only got four feet) and I am  glad that I'm an experienced sitter-onner of spooky horses. The builder looks at us like we're incompetent buffoons who shouldn't be allowed out on the road.

Once Poppy's heart rate has settled down to something like normal and she's stopped dancing along the road sideways on tippy-toes, I am left to ponder 'SURELY it would be common-sense not to do that?'

Is it just me?

Friday, 14 January 2011

My wellies are half empty

That's because I'm an optimistic sort  of person generally - when Black Dog is behaving himself. So - my wellies are NOT half full, they're half empty. Of freezing cold, muddy water.

It's meant to be a British tendency to complain about the weather. I LOVE weather, but am lucky enough to be able to return to a warm, dry house after being out in it. However, it would be pleasant, just OCCASIONALLY, to be able to set out in the morning to the yard when it's not a) dark b) throwing it down with rain c) blowing a gale.

It would also be quite pleasant not to have to struggle through knee-deep mud when turning the horses out. A couple of the horses have Very Big Feet (Spot and Saffi, I'm talking about YOU!) and they inevitably contrive to splash mud and water over the top of my wellies.

But, as I said, I'm in a positive mood, so here are the advantages of the current climatic conditions (first I wrote climactic, but didn't think it looked right, though it might be approprate)

  • my curly hair gets even curlier and I LIKE that
  • my thighs are thoroughly exercised struggling through the mud
  • the yard is easier to sweep when its wet
  • errrm - I've run out of positive things rather too quickly...

Here are the advantages of insomnia:

I wrote three Twitter stories, in 140 characters or less, for a contest. It was fun!

Am I allowed to be miserable now?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

On the perils of becoming fond of inanimate objects

Last night Meegie the Omega went off to her new home. I was upset. She's a wonderful old girl who has been a faithful friend for ten years. I hope they look after her properly and treat her with the respect she deserves.

Yes, I seriously hope that. And then I feel a tiny bit insane!

I'm thinking I'll just have to stop this anthropomorphism because it hurts. Should I now refer to Peregrine Printer as 'Dell 3110 cn'? (Oh, he was teasing me yesterday, claiming I'd pressed 'Pause Printing' when I hadn't at all!) Should I call Olive Oyl 'Landrover Freelander Kalahari Softback 1796cc Estate'?

I don't think so. It makes my world sound positively dystopian.

It's much the same as with the horses, not of course inanimate. I mean attributing human emotions to them. But it's NOT attributing, it's TRUE.

This morning, I took Poppy up to the sand school. It was A LAKE, apart from a small island in the middle about six feet in diameter. I put her on the lunge rein and stood on the island. She looked at me askance, ears slightly back, and said "If you think I'm going to go round in that water, you've got another think coming, girl!" Then she tried to go round me ON THE ISLAND! She DID move away but was clearly most put out that her pretty feet were getting wet.

Here's Poppy on a sunny day.

Now I must sharpen some pencils. (No, they aren't individually named) I don't even USE pencils, but I find it a practical way of delaying getting on with my writing.

Oh, a lovely P.S. I DID contact Meg Rosoff and she DID reply, almost at once, to my delight. It's such a joy to come across kindred spirits by chance - only I think it was destiny.

But I would, wouldn't I?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The three Rs

Reading, riding and 'riting that is.

I was just about to write a thoroughly original blog about the similarities between riding and 'riting - apart from the fact that they are easily confused if you mutter. Then I thought I'd Google the phrase just to see what would come up and I found, to my chagrin, that there's a very good writer called Meg Rosoff who THOUGHT OF IT FIRST.

Her blog is WONDERFUL. Something to aspire to. I'm almost tempted to change her name in this blog and conceal the link so you won't swap allegiances. I AM going to contact her because we seem awfully alike - apart from the fact that she's very successful and I'm not (yet)

Here is the link anyway, just to prove I'm not a cowardy custard. 

Now, perhaps THAT'S the bit where my horoscope is going to come true?

This is what I was going to say - Alfie, boy horse, and Poppy, girl horse, (but Alfie in particular) are incredibly good at sensing when I'm feeling a little bit tired or not quite so gung-ho as usual. They take advantage quite shamelessly, refusing to move forward, resisting at every turn, devising endless strategies to make riding more tiring and more frustrating.

Plan A: stop dead everytime I say 'Good boy, Alfie' as though that means 'You may stop dead now, Alfie. I think you've worked hard enough.'

If, THAT doesn't work, there's always...

Plan B: 'Okay, so you want me to go faster, Caroline? I'll show you going faster then." and set off at a million miles an hour gallop with a few fly-bucks thrown in for good measure.

Closely followed by, when I pull him up to save breaking my neck,

Plan C: "Huh! Well, if I can't go REALLY fast, tell you what, I'm not going to go AT ALL!"

That's Connemaras for you. Well, MY Connemaras. And, by the way, I'm not a completely rubbish rider.

What's that all got to do with writing? It's just the same. It can sense when I'm struggling, even the tiniest bit, and does it help me out? Does it HECK! It stops dead, resists, evades, runs out of control, bucks and bolts until I'm either in despair or scared witless. mood changes, then, just like riding Alfie or Poppy, it can positively FLOW, it's effortless, obedient, moves along at EXACTLY the right speed, turning when I ask it to...

That is SUBLIME when it happens.

I just wish it would happen more often!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

How did it get so late so soon?

I'll tell you how. Blame technology. I do. I have spent  great deal of precious time this morning...time that I could have spent procrastinating about writing...battling with my printer. My printer is a LIAR. My printer kept on saying there was no paper in his tray when there WAS. Why would he do this to me? Don't I dust him and keep him plugged in and talk to him politely and thank him when he has performed well? (One out of four ain't bad)

It transpired that the settings were incorrect after I re-installed. It was set on 'Letter' instead of 'A4.' Why couldn't he have just SAID? Why couldn't he just have said, quite calmly, "I'm terribly sorry, Caroline, but my settings are incorrect and I am under the mistaken impression that there is the wrong sort of paper in my tray." Instead of making up all that garbage about "there's no paper in my tray."

WHY? Perhaps it's because he's an inanimate object with no sentient brain?  A mere machine. Impossible. All my possessions have personalities and character traits. And names, very often.

And Peregrine Printer is a stubborn bastard with a communication problem.

And now it's lunch time.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the mad daughter of a wise mother.

That's a little dose of Voltaire for a Monday morning. Well, we all need a bit of culture, innit.

Yes, I look at the stars in wonder. The stars in the night sky, that is. Orion, with his belt, is like an old friend, and possibly the constellation that MOST resembles the thing to which it's attributed. Cancer? I'm sorry but I've never encountered a crab like THAT. A stick insect amputee maybe.

I know many of the constellations and for that I thank my father, who showed me when I was a child. He had a telescope and one of those Philips' Planispheres a bit like a circular slide rule. (I just had to look up what it was called and came up with an image of the EXACT one we used to use together. How wonderful is that?)

He's somewhere up there himself now but I haven't found his constallation yet.

I also look at my stars in the newspaper. Sometimes. Do I believe them? Yes when it suits me. If it doesn't suit me then I dismiss it as a load of old cobblers. But THIS week, horoscopes are true. It's written in my stars.

Here you go:

Leo: You can at last begin to make real progress with a project that you were forced to shelve, so focus on the details of your plan this week. Unexpected feedback from a friend, and support from those who count, is due to help you make new contacts who can transform your chances of success in the months to come.

See, what did I tell you?

So come on, whoever you are...make yourself known to me.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams

Thus spake John Barrymore, American actor, early part of the twentieth century.

But today, I'm thinking about David Seidler who wrote the screenplay for 'The King's Speech." Here's me, bitching inside about having to rewrite ANYTHING...EVER and how many drafts did Seidler complete for "The King's Speech"? FIFTY.

Not only that, but he started researching the screenplay about thirty years ago. When requesting permission to write it from the Queen Mother, she said "Please, not in my lifetime. The memory of those events is still too painful."So he waited - for twenty eight years.

It's a magnificent film. A magnificent screenplay - at times laugh-aloud funny, at times seat-squirmingly excrutiating. Most evocative of all for me was the reminder that members of the royal family are human beings who might not actually WANT to fulfil their destiny, but some of them do. That takes courage of a different sort to guns and glory, to triumphing in battle, but it takes courage nonetheless.Oh how we love to scoff at their life of privilege...I wouldn't want that life. Not for a single heartbeat.

And David Seidler had the same sort of quiet determination and courage. He's 73 now and just been signed by United Talent Agency.

You don't HAVE to be out there hustling and attention-seeking and headline-grabbing.

You just have to keep going.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

What fools indeed we mortals are To lavish care upon a car...

With ne'er a bit of time to see
About our own machinery!

Courtesy of John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) if anyone's interested.

Yes, siree!

Olive Oyl has arrived. We went to Haywards Heath to collect her and here was the conversation on the way over.

Peter: Are you going to drive her home?

Me: Yes, I thought so. She is, after all, my car.

(A few minutes silence)

Peter: It's just I was might be a little nervous. You know...driving an unfamiliar vehicle.

Me: Nope.

(A few minutes silence)

Peter: The thing is, I'm thinking maybe I should drive her home.

Me: Are you? I'm sure I'll be quite okay.

Peter: Well, I'd be able to check if there were any faults if I drove her.

Me: Would you LIKE to drive my new car home then?

Peter: I think it would be a good idea, don't you?


I'm not complaining that much really, because he IS now giving it a thorough clean inside to get rid of sticky children remains and nauseating air freshener smell so I can replace it with wet dogs and Eau De Haybale.

My maiden voyage will be tonight when we go to the cinema to see "The King's Speech."

Can't wait! (to see the film, that is!)

Now, I wonder if Peter should drive? It's going to be dark, isn't it? And the lights might not work unless he tries them first...

Friday, 7 January 2011

Drowning writer clutching at self-help books

I'm not drowning actually. More, being spun round in a whirlpool of ideas and projects so that I hardly know which end is up. So what do I do? I buy another book about screenplay writing that might be THE ANSWER.

Then I don't read it.

I'm being hard on myself. I NEVER think any book is the answer, but I know that every book has something in it that works FOR ME even if it's contained in one sentence in the middle of Chapter 8, so the experience of reading and the expense of buying is never wasted.

So I DO read the books I buy, but in a skimmy sort of way, hoping to discover the one sentence in the middle of Chapter 8 without bothering with the rest of the irrelevant crud. 'Irrelevant crud' is a bit harsh, but you know what I mean.

My latest purchases -  "Save The Cat" by Blake Snyder, "How to write a movie in 21 days" by Viki King (yeah right, that IS clutching at straws, I think, but I haven't read beyond the first few pages yet so I'll let you know in about three weeks time) and I just updated Final Draft 7 to Final Draft 8. Why? More features in it that I probably won't ever use.

I'm about to purchase "Invisible Ink:A practical guide to writing stories that resonate" - because two writers that I really respect (Rusty and Chris) have recommended it - and if 'A bullet for Penguin Pete' came out of it, then I want some!

I think part of it is acknowledging to myself that I AM A WRITER. Writing is NOT a pleasant but worthless hobby.

Convinced? No, me neither.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

It's nearly Easter!

It must be because Tesco told me so. Not in so many words, but the Cadbury's Creme Eggs and the Lindt Easter Bunnies (other chocolates available) are on display. Let me check...oh no, they're right. Easter is on April 24th so there really isn't that much time to stock up.

It is over this sort of thing that I descend into The Territory Of The Curmudgeon. I once complained to Customer Services at Tesco when the Christmas tree went up at the beginning of November and received very short shrift..."Most of our customers LIKE it." Well, THIS customer DOESN'T.

The thing that REALLY annoys me is hot cross buns. There is absolutely NO NEED for Tesco to put crosses on top of their buns all the year round. They could so easily sell them as teacakes or currant buns, but no, they have crosses on them. Hot cross buns are only to be eaten on Good Friday. So there.

Well, I think that's enough of the ranting. I don't want to give the impression that I'm small-minded and all Bah Humbug. The fact is that I LOVE Christmas. I'm like a child. But to me, Christmas starts about December 20th and

I absolutely hate taking down Christmas decorations. It's either that or the tax return. Mmmmmm, life is full of exciting choices.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.

Well, I'm here to tell you that P.G. Wodehouse was WRONG.

No more bad hair days for ME. I'm off to see the lovely Caroline at 'Now' in Uckfield and she will make me look good and feel good, as if by magic. I'm going a bit bluer. More blue than purple instead of more purple than blue. Not all over. "Today, I'm going to record my hair. Tonight, I'm going to watch the highlights." (Somebody called Jay Somebody said that first)

I gave Alfie a haircut today, obviously in the hair-chopping mode, me. Alfie is my boy horse. He has a beautiful, long, thick black tail. Trouble is, it's SO long it trails on the ground. Yesterday, he had what I call 'mudlocks.' The bottom six inches were formed into beads made of mud so he actually rattled as he moved, like a wind-chime.

Perhaps I should suggest it to Caroline?

Maybe not.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A day without sunshine is like...night

A not-so spectacular eclipse, mainly because my view was obscured by clouds. There was, however, a strange light - a sort of yellowish-grey light if that's possible, so maybe THAT was as a result of the eclipse? Or maybe it's just a yellowish-grey sort of day.

First day back at work for everyone - well, for those who don't work in the holiday period, at any rate.

I had this plan to hit the ground running. That was a good plan. The unfortunate omission in the plan was - which direction should I run in? So, mainly, at the moment, it's round in circles. 

Note to self: plan better plans in the future.

There's nothing for it, I'll have to write a list.

A list of what?

(Insert sound of Caroline banging head repeatedly on desk)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Deliberando saepe perit occasio

That's Latin for 'Occasionally my peritoneum deliberately seeps.'

No it's not.

It's Latin for 'The opportunity often slips away while we deliberate on it,' actually. Opportunities often slip away for me when I spend my time thinking up silly translations for Latin phrases.

Today is the last day of the holidays. I want to hit the ground running tomorrow so I'm starting today!

I have an article to complete about speech and language therapy in the fields of mental health and learning disability. I'm lucky. My work is always so interesting. Or rather, I always find my work very interesting. You have to wonder whether that says more about my work or about my insatiable curiosity to Find Out More. Whichever the case, I'm lucky.

I forgot to mention completing my tax return, so I won't.

Then...the world is my oyster.

What a useless sort of aphorism that is, to be sure. The world is my bivalve mollusc which lives in marine or brackish habitats.

Hardly. It's SO much better than that.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy

Okay, so I'm not the most computer-literate woman in the universe, but I'm not bad, either. I DID manage to create my own website and my own eShop, both fully-functional. It was a struggle, yes, but I did it in the end with minimal help. (Tim's 'three hour rule' worked wonders for my cyber-self-esteem)

BUT since my computer has had everything uninstalled and then reinstalled with Windows 7 which wouldn't operate and uninstalled again and reinstalled with Windows XP, I have no sound system.

"You haven't reinstalled the driver,have you," says Peter. Duh!

Yesterday, I spent a great deal of time searching for the driver CD in order to reinstall it. Well how was I to know that I wasn't looking for a Dell CD for the speaker system but a C-Media CM18738 4 Channel PCI Sound Card CD ? Double duh!

Today, I have the right CD for the right soundcard.

BUT when I try to install it, it says 'Hardware not detected, set-up will abort'

"Computer rage is a heightened physiological response with associated feelings of anger and frustration resulting from using a computer or other complex electronic device. It may result in the physical assault of the computer or similar item, possibly leading to the device incurring more damage than it had before."

Tell me about it!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Well said, Mark Twain, but who knows...maybe this year will be different?

I have PLANS - I wouldn't say they were resolutions, just PLANS - to get my creative work out there, instead of my usual cycle of Write something-Feel pleased with it-Do nothing with it-Store it on my computer-Look back at it occasionally-Say, "Did I really write that? It's quite good. I MUST do something with it"-Still do nothing with it-Castigate myself for being so useless.

My resolution, if I have one at all, is to be resolute!

I have enlisted the support of my niece-in-law, Tracey. She has just left a career in marketing to have a baby (the adorable Zena) My approach has always been scatter-gun  - contact this person, do that, try this, oh that's a good idea, why not try that, where was I? who am I? What day is it? Did I do that already? I can't remember.

I am confident that with Tracey's help, things can be more logical and ordered.

Good luck, Tracey! I hope your New Year's resolution is to be totally BRUTAL!