After a sodden winter, it was lovely to get back to some real walking and ignore the doctoral work for a couple of days. My family are by no means serious hikers, but we like to knock off a Munro every year. This spring, we decided to give ourselves an early start by attempting Ben Vane.Continue reading “Ben Vane | Hiking”
Penguin, Random House
‘One last thing: writing this novel reminded me that a writer should not undervalue any tool of her trade just because she finds it easier to use than the others. As you get older you learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth. If I have any gift at all it’s for dialogue – the trick of breathing what-looks-like-life into a collection of written sentences. Voices that come from nowhere and live on in our consciousness, independent of real people…It’s this magic, first learned in the playroom, that we can never quite shake off, and which any true lover of fiction carries within him or her somewhere.’
I’ve been rather scatter-gun with my blog posts of late. I’ve had to rearrange some ballast on deck, with more attention paid to my doctoral literature review (finally completed) and work. This temporary realignment has reminded me of how much I miss blogging. I’ve certainly engaged with the writing community, but it never feels quite the same when you’re not posting your own content – the only person circling at a party with nothing interesting to say. Continue reading “Writing Idiosyncrasies | Opinion”
As we appear to be approaching another general election in the UK, it is time for the re-emergence of an oft-kicked political football – the regeneration of town and city centres around the country. This particular topic never fails to mildly irritate me; footage of politicians bemoaning the state of our high streets is spliced with interviews with dour shoppers, each telling tales of a halcyon era where delivery boys rode their bicycles over cobbles and when shoppers were on first name terms with the butcher, the baker, and the long-lost candlestick maker. Sentiments such as revitalising our towns obviously test well – politicians of all persuasions would not keep using them otherwise. Nevertheless, my initial instinct is to scoff. Why, after all, should we spend money on persuading people to return to somewhere they do not wish to frequent? Continue reading “The Town Centre – a Place Worth Fighting For? | Opinion”
As I get older and more curmudgeonly, I find that my list of things that unaccountably irritate me is growing. As such, I find it useful to explore these newfound prejudices. Why is it that the postman leaving rubber bands by my front door induces such apoplexy? Where has my teenage nonchalance gone when it comes to double parking or cold calling from PPI companies?
Today it is the turn of private registration plates. Why should the fact that someone wish to change an identification number on their car irritate me? Is it because I can’t justify the expense of changing my own VRM? Perhaps it is a sense of unworthiness; should I be offering to take the keys of the drivers of such vehicles? Running a shammy over the bonnet before handing it back to a tuxedo-clad punter after they’ve spent an evening at the craps table?
It occurs to me that there are four reasons one might choose to have a personalised number plate. These are listed below in decreasing order of acceptability to my prematurely-aged brain. Continue reading “N33DL3SS THING5”
This week Twitter has been abuzz over what is always a hot topic in the literary world. I am, of course, talking about the P-word – plagiarism. In her was-to-be-published debut collection of poems, American writer Ailey O’Toole was accused of stealing language from the work of fellow poet Rachel McKibbens. O’Toole was publicly called out by McKibbens and has subsequently had her debut collection cancelled by Rhythm and Bones Press. Since then, several other poets have come forward to claim that O’Toole has appropriated work belonging to them. The writing community, always a febrile place where plagiarism is concerned, rounded on O’Toole who issued an apology to McKibbens. So far, so ugly. Continue reading “The P-Word”
This week our four-year-old has been learning her first sight words. I, can, said, no, to, not, you, here, help, play, where, and we have all been written onto flashcards before being splatted by a fly swat as she recognises each word. She’s had great fun splatting, and it has allowed her to join in when we’re reading to her before bedtime.
I’m reminded of all the exploring she has ahead of her. She’ll tiptoe along wainscots with Arrietty. She’ll whitewash the fence alongside Tom Sawyer. She’ll grope around Gollums’ cave in the darkness and guess the password in front of the Fat Lady in Hogwarts. To have all of this in front of her, undiscovered, is a precious thing, and one I’m not a little jealous of. Continue reading “The Responsibility of Reading”
Recently there has been a furore over a scene, or more accurately lack of a scene, in the Neil Armstrong biopic ‘First Man’. Despite the American flag being shown on the surface of the moon, there is not (brace yourself here) a shot of the flag actually being planted into the lunar soil (I told you it was bad). Cue much gnashing of teeth on social media and spluttering indignation from several U.S. politicians. ‘…A terrible thing…’ bemoaned President Trump, whilst Senator Marco Rubio described the editing decision as ‘…total lunacy…’. It was an easy win for both men; they hoovered up votes on the right of their party, whilst offending a Hollywood which was overwhelmingly blue in the last election. Not being from that side of the pond, I decided to search for some controversy myself. I was unsuccessful. Continue reading “A Matter of National Insecurity”
A little op-ed piece this morning…
It can be easy to become numb to the wackiness of the internet. Today, an unscientific trawl from my laptop reveals that not only has a widow been brought to tears after opening an envelope left by her late husband, but that someone started a rumour that Cardi B’s real name is “Cardigan Backyardigan”. Leaving aside the unsustainable level of background knowledge I would need for either of these stories to matter to me, I can think of no circumstances which would prompt me to snap at this click-bait. Continue reading “Why not? I’ll tell you why…”