31 December 2011

Word count will stay my problem up to and including my headstone

I finally pulled my procrastinating thumb out of my arse and did some writing, in that wonderful quiet spot between Christmas and New Year when you can live on leftovers and stay at home while the rest of the world hits the sales. I quite like my tale of satanic paper cats and their reluctant hostess.

Unfortunately, this was supposed to be my entry for an annual writing group competition with a word count of 2,500 to 3,500, and I'm at 4,500 and rising. Oops. It seems the engraved Writer's Block is destined to spend a year on someone else's shelf. It will probably be happier on a shelf that gets dusted more frequently anyway. I wouldn't want to interfere with the dawn of a new dust bunny species which is likely to occur in my house later this year.

21 December 2011

Grinch alert

Okay, I have to hold my hands up to it: I'm a grinch.

Which is not to say I hate Christmas, heck no. I love the way The Boy's excitement increases as the open doors on his advent calendar add up. I love our little family walk with the dogs on Christmas morning, and the big family gathering in the evening. I love decorating the tree and baking mince pies with sweet pastry so thin they crumble in your hands.

Nope, it turns out, what I don't love is involuntary exposure to Christmas music. Christmas songs on the radio and in the shops drive everybody nuts, so I'm just going to add myself to the end of a long, long list there, and declare that the only Christmas song I can tolerate is Fairytale of New York. 'Nuff Said, and thanks, Tesco, for using it in your advertising and potentially spoiling that one for me too. If that makes me a grinch, then we are legion.

I might, however, be in a minority when it comes to choirs singing carols.

Now I quite like choral music. A friend sings in a choir and The Old Git and I go to their twice yearly concert. Good stuff. However, I don't expect it in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

It was the occasion of our Writing Group Christmas dinner (I do enjoy having four or five different Christmas dinners), and when the group on the next table broke into a rendition of Ding Dong Merrily on High, I thought it was spontaneous and wonderful.

Then they did another one.

And another one.

And another one.

And another one.

Then they did the first one again, and I looked over and realised that this was not a spontaneous outbreak of song. They all had songbooks in front of them, and they were set up for a night of wobbling their tonsils in public. And I started a slow, irritable burn.

I'm sorry, Pain the Arse Choral Society, but it's the noise inspector in me. It doesn't matter what you are choosing to sing, or how well you sing it. What bothers me is that you decided a crowded restaurant was the place for your singalong, regardless of whether the people around you wanted to hear it or not. It's the fundamental 'up yours' inherent in that decision. One carol, sung off the cuff would have delighted me. Planning it in advance? That's just rude.

I will retire with grinchly dignity to my kitchen, and start baking mince pies. When people open their mouths to sing in inappropriate places, maybe I can just pop mince pies in. I figure with a little bit of planning, I can be both grumpy and Christmassy.

12 December 2011

It's Panto Night (oh no it's not!)

What do the following have in common?
  • Ripperella, the East End tart whose fairy godfather, Don Corleone, set her up with a man called Jack,
  • Jack the Intellectually Challenged, who went to London to become the Lord Mayor with the help of a pig called Trotter,
  • Maid Marion, who left Robin to marry Aladdin, the man who could find her hood,
  • Silvio, who helped grow the European beanstalk for the Banking Giant by fertilising it with used banknotes.
Answer: They were all characters invented by the deranged imaginations of the Watford Writers and assigned to me to ham-act for Panto Night. So, so much fun.

You guys have strange, warped minds and I love you for it. Poor Chris might not, since you made him be King Kong and ape his way across the 'stage' to have a discussion with Tarzan about loincloths.

The million dollar question now is whether the guy who came for the first time tonight will be back next week or whether he'll run away screaming.

10 December 2011

Divine Hell blog challenge - Heresy

I am dying on my arse with this challenge. Just way too busy at work. It's leaving me with a headful of sludge in the evenings. Nearly a week late and 100 words over. Oops.

“Hello Steven.” There is infinite sorrow on the Bishop’s face as the guards plant me in a chair on the other side of his desk, my hands spread out on the top. “I had hoped we wouldn’t have to talk again.”

So had I. I thought I’d hidden well enough this time to die and wake up with God instead of the Church’s doctors.

He leans forward and puts a hand over mine, stilling the tremors that rack it. “You can’t keep doing this. Please, repent and walk with us in the footsteps of Jesus.” 

I don’t answer him. My throat is locked with remembered pain of the razor that opened it and spilled my life onto the ground.


I want to spit in his face and tell him he’s wrong, that God never meant us to keep re-animating these tired bodies as we suck the world dry. But the resurrection process has left me weak. All I can do is shake my head. Lights flash behind my eyes as nanobots  falter in their painstaking task to reassemble my thoughts from darkness. 

“Oh, Steven. How many times must we go through this?” He looks over at the doctor who stand in the shadows. “Steven rejects the words of the holy prophet Dr Pearson and his gift of resurrection. Execute him tonight.”

My heart soars. They are going to give up and let me go.

But... no. “Steven, we’ll talk again tomorrow. I pray that you will be thinking more clearly.”

06 December 2011

Divine Hell blog challenge - Limbo

Oops. It's past midnight. I wonder if my flash story will turn into a pumpkin? A limbo pumpkin. What would a limbo pumpkin look like? Pale, maybe. Wraithlike. Anyway...


The letters on the sheet in front of me swim and ripple into new configurations as I stare at them with stinging eyes. There is nothing here that means anything, nowhere I can insert the crowbar of my mind and twist.

I have not passed. The vehicle of my future will stall here.

But, until I walk out, neither have I failed. I occupy interstitial space, where nothing is decided.

I turn my gaze to the clock and will time to stop, will my mind to have this new power to make up for my failure in mathematics.

Just… stop.