Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called. 

This is from a book by Jarod Kintz called This is the best book I've ever written, and it still sucks (This isn't really my best book) - he's very funny. Completely absurd and I love absurd. Yesterday, surreal, today absurd.

Noticing absurd moments with words is my favourite pastime at the moment.

It could be because I'm going slightly deaf or it could be that broadcasters mumble. Who cares? The thing is that the version of the news that I hear is often so much more cheerful than reality.

So - yesterday:

"The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has admitted his office received secret peanuts from the US..."

I like to call it Squirrel Diplomacy.

 And programme trailers are so much more appealing than usual...this, the other day, for a new Channel 4 series

"Featuring Ben Earl, master of slice of ham and deception." Master of slice of ham? SERIOUSLY?

It took me a few seconds to get to sleight of hand...

Little things...

Well, it keeps me smiling!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Neither I nor the four flippers of the sea-bear of the Boreal ocean have been able to solve the riddle of what it's like to see your film on the big screen.

Comte de Lautréamont almost said this only it was about life.

However, that's what it was like seeing Filth on the big screen yesterday. Surreal.

by Castlepup
Did I enjoy the experience? I can't say I did, exactly. It was NOT that the film wasn't good, it was just that I was kind of paralysed in my head and concentrating on the audience reaction rather than watching the film.

"They should have laughed at that bit. Why didn't they laugh? That bit worked better in the script. Was it my script that wasn't clear enough or the execution? Oh, that bit raised a giggle. Grief, my boy Tim's sitting along the row and the film has degenerated into porn chat...why didn't I think of that before inviting him...aaaaaaaaaaargh..."

For your information, regarding the porn chat...when I set about writing this passage, not gratuitous but crucial to the plot, I hadn't a single CLUE what to say. My sheltered life...

SO...research took the form of going into one of my son's bedrooms (you know who you are!) and lifting up his mattress, where he concealed (ha ha ha) his copies of Barely Legal - a dubious top shelf magazine. I scrunched up my eyes so I didn't have to see the pictures, then took notes from the (raunchy) text. 

The things we do for our art!

Including suffering unnecessarily when I had the amazing chance that so few writers achieve of seeing my work transformed into a film on the big screen!

by Matt Sesow

Sunday, 28 April 2013

People see so many movies that when they finally see one not so bad as the others, they think it's great.

An Academy Award means that you don't stink quite as much as your cousin...says Charles Bukowski.

So...today is the premiere of the film I wrote, called Filth...and, by the way, it probably won't be nominated for an Academy Award!

My name TWICE on the poster - AND spelled correctly!

And here is where it will be shown:

And this is how I feel...excited and fearful.

I've not seen it before.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

So many people can now write competent stories that the short story is in danger of dying of competence.

 Flannery O'Connor

(I don't look like her. I DON'T.)

I'm thinking we could substitute the word 'story' for 'screenplays' or indeed 'young adult novels'...there are a lot of us out there who are definitely competent.

Competence is not enough.

Here's Seth Godin's post of the day. The God in his surname is there for a reason. In my opinion. (Apart from the American spelling which I felt the need to correct.)

"As we get more experienced, we get better, more competent, more able to do our thing.

And it's easy to fall in love with that competence, to appreciate it and protect it. The pitfall? We close ourselves off from possibility.

Possibility, innovation, art--these are endeavours that not only bring the whiff of failure, they also require us to do something we're not proven to be good at. After all, if we were so good at it that the outcome was assured, there'd be no sense of possibility.

We often stop surprising ourselves (and the market) not because we're no good anymore, but because we are good. So good that we avoid opportunities that bring possibility."

Here's to courage and to endless possibility!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Grace under pressure

I'd like this to be my motto, thank you, Mr. Hemingway.

 Grace under pressure!
Very appropriate for a copywriter. Love it! (Except, reading it again, it's a little ambiguous. Grace under pressure...poor Grace...)

It's the deadlines. Other people's emergencies that suddenly become yours. They've left things until the last minute and suddenly need you to work crazy hours so they fulfil their promises.

Being gracious is the best approach. Ranting and raving and complaining doesn't make for efficiency or sparkling writing and it wastes time as well as emotional energy. I know, because I've done that.

Going the extra mile with a smile on your face isn't the same as being a doormat. Not if it's your choice.

It gives you a good reputation and, yep...more commissions!

As long as you're confident you can say NO when it really doesn't work for you...

Today, I AM!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The appearance of things changes according to the emotions...

and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.

Kahlil Gibran
So...I've decided I could never write gooey love stories. Slush is SO difficult to put down on paper. There's no depth to it, no bite, no rough corners. And that's what interests me.

Hence, my difficulties since The Wedding...

It was a fairytale wedding, radiant, full of love, magic and beauty (The word slush would demean it) - and all that, I find incredibly hard to be creative with...

It's almost as if the writer in me is waiting for some blackness - or if not blackness, at least grey or, last resort, off-white.

Be careful what you wish for, Caroline Coxon.

Last night, at 6.15, I was thinking to myself..."What I really need is some work to get my teeth into." Then THAT MOMENT the phone rang. "Caroline, I hate to call you so late but...are you busy this evening? You can laugh at me if that's impossible."

My mind is WAAAAAY too powerful.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Do not confuse peace of mind with spaced-out insensitivity.

A truly peaceful mind is very sensitive, very aware...says the Dalai Lama.

I am certainly spaced out. Certainly lacking awareness.

Not, I hope, insensitive, but I wouldn't trust me with anything important today.

Moan groan moan groan - well, I would, only I haven't the energy. Honestly, you do it by the book and this is the result. Tsk tsk tsk. I kept myself awake all day yesterday, didn't go to bed until 11 p.m. then...

Couldn't sleep.

Then did sleep...right through the alarm.

Now I'm floating...

It's quite pleasant floating, but all the time I have a vague thought I've forgotten something.

Probably where my marbles are.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Five hours Dominican jet lag and Caroline Coxon wakes in Buxted Village to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.

With apologies to William Gibson for the massacred quote.

Actually, so far I don't feel too bad. It FEELS like 2.15 in the afternoon as opposed to 9.15 in the morning. So far? Hmmm, yes - I've only been home for two hours. I may not risk going to meditation this evening, though, because I'll probably fall over...

I'll just get on with some work, then...

shall I?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Shod with wings is the horse of him who rides on a spring day the road that leads to home.

Bai Juyi said this, rather beautifully if I might be so bold as to mention.

It's been the most wonderful week, but now it's time to go home. Home, where my thought's escaping, home where my music's playing, home where my dog lies waiting silently for me...and my horses.

The last day was limbo-like. Not as in bent backwards dancing under very low poles but as in being neither here nor there - wanting it to last but thoughts straying inexorably towards England.

Determined not to waste a single moment of sunshine but thinking I really should be packing.

Not much looking forward to the goodbyes...and hoping the return journey will be a whole lot better than the outward one. (The first part will be because Laurie and Irene are on the same flight!)

The happiest of times for me with my boys and their girls...a time I'll cherish forever.

I shall meet passport control, Miami Airport, with a serene smile on my face...well, at least for the first two hours in the queue!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

Edna St. Vincent Millay and me. We will.

Working hard on the beach, getting sand-blasted. Nature's own exfoliation, the wind and the sand. One has to suffer for one's sun tan.

Suffering I have been, Caroline Of The Gypsy Skin. Not. Serves me right for saying, "Oh, I NEVER burn." Well, I do in the Dominican Republic.

They don't miss a trick here to make money...a small bottle of sun tan lotion...27 US Dollars.

So instead, I lay with hands folded across my décolletage by way of protection. Am expecting spectacular lines.

It's not that interesting, sunbathing all day, blog wise, as you will have noticed.

So here are some things I saw...

The Wedding Crasher having her photo taken with another group of strangers. It's sad. Imagine her holiday snaps - a whole album of her beside different people she doesn't know at all. I wonder if she'll make up names for us and little stories about the fun things we did together?

Then the two brilliant rainbow-hued macaws, having their photographs taken while perched on top of people's heads. I do hope they crapped out of revenge for the indignity of it all.

More locals coming up to touch my hair... It's not as though Caribbeans don't have curls, but I guess they don't have tumbling curls like mine - brown and gold in the sunshine, with random streaks of blue, purple and turquoise.

Not many people do.

Happy days!

Friday, 19 April 2013

You must do the thing you think you cannot do

I might be wrong but I'm guessing Eleanor Roosevelt wasn't talking about snorkelling.

So, today a trip on a Real Genuine Pirate Ship, me hearties, to go swimming with sharks. That is, as opposed to swimming FROM them at high speed.

Sharks? Pah! Don't bother me in the slightest. Even when the commentator announced cautiously, " Sharks are almost never aggressive." But apparently, these were vegetarian sharks. Of course they were. I regretted the salad and tropical fruit I've been eating all week.

Sharks. No problems. Snorkelling, sheer blind terror panic-making, for me. I just hadn't got the technique. The mask kept filling up with water. I was choking and spluttering and thinking I'd drown. If there's a news broadcast about the level of the Caribbean dropping by several inches...it's in my stomach. Sharks were far from my mind. Staying alive wasn't.

For 87% of the time in the water, I was struggling. Like a fish out of water. Ha ha ha. But then I got it. I did see the tail end of a shark, laughing to himself at my ridiculous performance...but I had conquered the fear. I thought.

Next on the menu was 'interacting with stingray' - possibly the most bizarre and ridiculous thing I've ever done in my life. I did quite enjoy poking a small fish into its square mouth, but being massaged on the back by a stingray? Well, I was weeing myself with laughter so just as well I was in the sea. (That might have compensated a little for the amount I swallowed.)

I didn't like the idea of using a wild being in this way, but who knows? The stingray might have been enjoying itself. It was hard to identify a smile though.

So with my three minutes of experience of successful snorkelling in the shark pool...yeah, ready for the open sea! Not really. There were waves. The Caribbean lost another few gallons and I was so very nearly sick and only saw one stripy fish.

Overall, not the best day in my marine life...but at least I DID IT.

The ensuing green complexion matched my eyes.

There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other, by just being yourself.

It's funny, I thought after the wedding, the magical wedding yesterday, that this blog would be easy to write.

Thing is I don't like gushing. And there's very little I can say about Jamie and Breanna's wedding that wouldn't be gushing.

Oh, don't get me wrong...there were lots of glitches and hitches. The wedding had to be delayed by an hour because of a tropical rainstorm. (Aren't those magnificent though? Completely blue sky. Sudden clouds. Torrential rain for seven and half minutes. Blue sky. England could take a few lessons.)

Then there was The Wedding Crasher. Not a glitch but slightly weird. While waiting for the ceremony to start, before we were seated, she appeared. I think everyone thought that someone else knew her. There she was, chatting away, asking to be introduced, posing for photos with this person and that, at her request, taking photos herself. She didn't come to the wedding but later she was lurking outside the reception. Who she was, we'll never know.

I know what it was. She was entranced by the occasion, the presence of love, of families uniting, forgetting all their differences and all the humdrum worries that consume our every day life so often...and thinking, not about themselves, but about the wonder and the magic of Jamie and Breanna's marriage, in a fairytale setting that was real.

Gush alert!

Suffice to say, I believe it was the proudest day of my life to see my three sons, grown into such fine, handsome young men, behaving with such grace. And together for the first time in forever. To see Irene, my future daughter-in-law, beautiful and pregnant with my boy Laurie's baby, conducting the wedding ceremony with such elegance and charm. To know that Breanna was properly part of our family and we of hers.

How proud could one mummy be? Not any prouder than me.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days

...said John Steinbeck.

The world I live in has variety. We travel to different places. That doesn't seem out of the ordinary. In fact, it would seem out of the ordinary if we didn't. Aeroplanes? Whatever... like buses, no?

Yet here, in the Dominican Republic, I've met people whose world is different. Part of Breanna's family come from Yellowknife, in the far north of Canada.There are polar bears in Yellowknife. The land of the midnight sun, where Japanese tourists visit to make babies because, in their culture, to conceive under the northern lights is considered to be very lucky. And, you know that programme 'Ice Road Truckers'? - Yellowknife features on it.

So, lovely Great Aunt Reta from Yellowknife, in her seventies, is here for Breanna and Jamie's wedding. She had never seen the ocean...until Monday when she was swimming in the Caribbean.

Another auntie, from Oshawa, Ontario, had never been on a plane. An uncle hadn't taken a holiday in thirty years. And there's us, flitting all over the place like busy mosquitoes, taking bits from here and from there, chewing up and spitting out.

The people we've met are kind, grounded, people. Steady. Not in a hurry to get anywhere fast. Completely cherishing this once in a lifetime experience.

They say travel broadens the mind.

Makes me wonder a little.

There's a whole lot to be said for staying put too being sure of one's roots.

Not so cool Caroline Coxon

I mean, you'd think I'd manage to be cool, after all this preparation. Cool in the Caribbean heat, which was about 29 and when we got off the plane it was like jumping into a sauna. Woomph.

Three uncool things about yesterday:

1. I have two bikinis, from way back when we took summer holidays. I brought them with me. "Wear the yellow one," said Pete."My favourite." Ever obedient, I put the bottoms on. The knicker elastic was so perished and stretched that they fell straight off.

2. So I wore the other bikini on the beach. Fortunately lying on my front, there was a per-CHING snapping sound and the back strap fastening flew across the sands. Undignified exit. Safety pins didn't work.

So now I have two half bikinis. The top and bottoms kind of match.

3. On a trip back to the room from the beach to get a bottle of water, I thought I wouldn't bother with the sandals. The walkway was so hot, I ended up running.Well, more hobbling at speed. Fast. Very fast. I now have BLISTERS on the soles of my feet...

So not cool.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A bit of a sense of humour failure

It was all going so well...

Got to Heathrow and parked the car with oodles of time to spare and treated ourselves to a coffee and pastry in Carluccio's while we were waiting for the Check-In desk to open. (Yes, we were THAT early) Fortunately...as it turned out, because we hadn't realised that we needed something called an ESTA (?) in order to enter the US...even though it was only a stopover in Miami...

"You can apply online," said the lovely BA girl, "but sometimes it can take two hours..." Panic, panic, off to Caffe Nero where they had a computer, struggled to find the website, to fill in a long form THREE times (one for each of us) all the while pumping pound coins into the slot because the Internet sessions only lasted ten minutes, heart thumping, blood pressure rising, but then...PHEW, it all came through and we made the flight...

It was all going so well...

Then we got to Miami International, to discover that the queue for US Passport control was at least two hours long...TWO HOURS?...slightly less than the time we had to make the connection for the flight to the Dominican Republic. "When you miss the flight, I guess someone will tell you how to go about catching the next one," said the grumpy airport official, pointing to large signs saying that due to government cuts (let's all blame Obama, shall we?) they were short staffed so things would take a little longer than usual...

FINALLY, after two hours, another official took pity on us and moved us to the (very short) queue for US Citizens only and we got through...

It was all going so well...

We ran to Departures, only to find that the special bottle of champagne, bought for the happy wedding couple in Duty Free Heathrow, wouldn't be allowed on the plane as hand luggage, so we had to go back again, empty a bag and check it in as luggage for the hold...

And then I couldn't find my boarding card..."You really have to control your scatty behaviour," said Peter helpfully. "It just doesn't work, does it?" I was issued with another boarding card...then I noticed my boarding card in Pete's shirt pocket, where he had put it, not trusting me to remember where I had it...

By this time, by the way, we'd been travelling, for over twenty hours, on about two hours sleep the night before...so, yes, I experienced a bit of a sense of humour failure.

BUT, it all evaporated in a flash, when we arrived at the resort and there was my boy Jamie and his lovely bride-to-be, Breanna, and all her family waiting for us.

And just look at our bath!

It's all going so well.

Monday, 15 April 2013

I hate technology. It provides so many different channels of loneliness.

Every time you check your email and don’t see a new message, you know that, even though people have the ability to contact you at any time of the day from anywhere on the planet, no one is interested in doing so. Phones are constant reminders that 160 people you know fairly well have nothing to say to you most of the time ― written by Adi Alsaid, in Somewhere Over The Sun.

Well, it's one view but not mine. To me, technology provides so many different channels of friendship.

I've friends across the world - friends that I'm very close to, who live in my heart, and yet I've never met them - not in person, at any rate.

Sneery cynics tell me - 'That's not the same thing as REAL friendship, FACE-TO-FACE meetings...' No, not the same, but just as special. Not INSTEAD (which could be deemed as a bit sad) but AS WELL AS...

I'm going to have such a wonderful week with my real live family. I can't wait.

I'll miss my friends, though, if the internet access isn't too hot.

See you when I can!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

And it was good to be a little island. A part of the world and a world of its own, all surrounded by the bright blue sea.

By Margaret Wise Brown, from The Little Island

I feel terribly ignorant.

Off to this not-so-little island tomorrow, without having a clear idea of exactly where it is, and even worse, not realising that Haiti is part of the same island. Devastated Haiti.

"Three years on from the quake, its evident reconstruction has been fatally undermined by greedy and incompetent outsiders."  - from the Guardian.

So this is where we'll be...the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana. Yes, a part of the world and a world of its own, all surrounded by the bright blue sea.

We're very fortunate.

We'll have an unforgettable time.

One thing I shall try not to forget while we're there is...

the other side of the island.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Only one shopping day left 'til tomorrow.

Off to Tunbridge Wells...

...to kit Peter out for theDominican Republic.

Funky swimwear...

Sun tan lotion...

Knotted hankie...

Yep, ready to go. Proud to be British.

Friday, 12 April 2013

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you...

...but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.

  By Frederick Buechner, writer and theologian

Here's a box of tissues because this is going to be soppy. I can feel it coming on. (Sniff, sniff.)

 I can't wait until next week.

Next week we're off to the Dominican Republic. As far as I'm concerned (she lied) it could be Wolverhampton in the rain. The important thing is that for the first time in so very long, we'll all be together - that's to say me and Pete and our three boys, Tim, Jamie and Laurie.

And for the first time EVER we'll all be together with Breanna who's marrying Jamie on Thursday, and with Irene, Laurie's fiancée, expecting a baby in July.

And we'll be together with lots of Breanna's family and friends too.

Jamie and Breanna live in upstate Ontario. Laurie and Irene (currently) live in Whistler, BC - and we live in the south of England, so we don't get to see each other very much. God bless Skype and Facebook, I say.

Oh it's going to be such a magic week...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

You shouldn’t never regret something that made you smile

Bei Maejor (That's the name of someone with a predilection for double negatives!)

I don't ever regret things that make me smile. Here are some from yesterday:

My new watch which isn't very good at telling the time.

This cartoon:

Then - I went to Sussex Stationers and the young boy at the till said how much he loved my hair and how it perfectly matched my jacket...

That made me smile, big time! That made me feel good for the rest of the day!

They're all such little things but because they elicit smiles they make a HUGE difference.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous I say try routine: it kills you far more quickly.

Paul Coelho said this. Do I agree with him? Not entirely.

 The jury's still out.

The fact of the matter is that I LIKE routine - but I also like adventure. For me it goes like this. My morning schedule gives my day structure, makes me feel safe and comfortable and THEN I'm in a position to go for broke, take risks, interrupt the predictable, rocket out of my comfort zone.

The danger is, as I've found out sometimes to my cost, that when my routine is disrupted SO AM I - not always, but sometimes.

My morning schedule is very precise, but I'm not alone! When I'm driving to the yard, I see the same lorry, going in the opposite direction. We pass each other at almost exactly the same place at almost exactly the same time. Then, I overtake a man in a fluorescent jacket walking his Staffordshire bull terrier. If he's before Perryman's Lane, I know I'm a little earlier than usual...or he's a little late.

It's like clockwork, that part of my life. It feels good. I don't think it kills me, I think it supports me.

If Lorry Man or Dog Walker isn't there, there's a bit of a gap for me. Just for a moment.

I wonder if it's the same for them?