Illustration by John Tenniel
Why I’ve been “a bit quiet” lately (because, according to several –unconnected– people, I have been….).
To celebrate my finishing the academic year, Kate and I took a couple of days off last week — we went to Dorset and spent a couple of days down beside the sea. On Thursday Kate went to the Royal Bath & West (Agricultural) Show and returned clutching plants for the garden, while I manned the fort – or in this case, the in-law’s garden.
And it was our 23rd wedding anniversary as well on Saturday (anyone know what wedding that is, if silver’s 25?) on Saturday. I got Kate the usual – chocolates, CD (Goldfrapp’s Supernature, ‘ cause she likes a good toon) and a book – David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day. Kate said as I opened mine, “I’ve only got one thing for you this year.”
Only one thing: Only a November 1939 first edition of The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll ! I wondered why she was quizzing me about what he wrote about a week before. In passing I’d mentioned that I’d never read ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ – something I put right in the sunshine on Saturday afternoon.
It was a low key anniversary, but sometimes they’re the best sort. And it’s nice to know that we can still surprise each other -occasionally- even after a quarter of a century….
Well, that was nice; two days of reading (the original Earthsea Trilogy for any of you who are interested, reacquainting myself with Le Guin’s almost pitch-perfect prose) interspersed with dog walking in the sunshine and dinners out in the evening.
We left Poole at about 7.20 this morning, and when we’d cleared the traffic down in Dorset (not helped by lorry drivers incapable of reading the signs advising them that the road ahead wasn’t wide enough for them) made good time to the campus.
Which was oddly deserted. A fairly large minority of students weren’t in today, presumably because they were working on assignments, but the effect of the first sunshine on a semi-deserted campus and my being back after a ten-day absence was to make the place feel quite unfamiliar.
I’m sure things will settle down again in a day or two, and it’s no bad thing to have a feeling of dislocation for an SF writer.
• March 21st, 2011 • Posted in General
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We journeyed back this afternoon with sunshine strobing between high hedges, making the drive difficult but enjoyable. Apart from the temperature, it could have been a late spring or even early summer day.
It was actually a glorious day all round — families and dogs out on the beach in the sunshine. It’s been a great twenty-four hours in which to re-charge my batteries, ready to rundown to the end of term.
Back to work tomorrow, the last Monday for four weeks and for the last time this year.
• December 12th, 2010 • Posted in General
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We’ll be heading south in a little while, so I’m racing to get this done before we go — I’m never quite sure how good internet reception will be down there. We were due to go down next weekend, but Kate’s been getting a little stressed about the whole Christmas thing; part of that is worrying about whether we can get down there before Christmas to drop the family presents off, or whether we’ll get snowed in. If we head down this weekend, the whole issue becomes moot.
And I can afford to take a weekend away, since I finished the revision of Ultramassive yesterday, and am reasonably on top of university work. In fact, I’ve been using the worksheet to control my workload rather than it controlling me, to establish where I’m neglecting key particular chunks of work. I find it far more helpful to look at work at a strategic level than simply scribbling down tasks piecemeal.
It’ll be nice to have a break from the routine, and (maybe) go for a walk along the beach. Weather permitting, of course; that’s always the caveat at this time of year. Although it’s generally warmer along the south coast, it also tends to be wetter. Pictures like this one -taken last February- are the exception, rather than the norm.
Back tomorrow for the last week of term. Wow! Where has the time gone?
• December 11th, 2010 • Posted in General
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Not just another Monday morning, of course. As (at least) one of my lecturers noted, it’s the start of the academic year. And it’s my first Monday for 3 weeks, during which time the dark has encroached noticably. Not only was it pitch black when the alarm sounded at 5.30, but it was still dark when I took Alice out at 6.45 — it’ll soon be time to move to the winter dog-walking timetable.
I must admit to being profoundly depressed first thing this morning, especially at an item on the 6 o’clock news (about which more tomorrow) but as always after 2 or 3 hours woth of writing -at the end of which I’d revised a short story to submission stage– I was considerably chirpier.
Writing; my drug of choice.
• September 27th, 2010 • Posted in General
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We got back from holiday yesterday, and I’ve gradually eased back into work, clearing e-mails and reviewing the latest Interzone here, while watching the Grand Prix. It looks, sadly, as if Hamilton’s challenge is done for this year. Whereas mine is just beginning…meanwhile, here’s a nice picture of the latest Interzone cover by Warwick Fraser-Coombe
• September 26th, 2010 • Posted in General
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I’ve had my pre-holiday haircut, joining Kate and Tourette’s Dog in the Shorn stakes, and found on my return that even the vegetation was getting in on the act; a pair of tree-surgeons have arrived to trim one of the beech trees that gives the house it’s name. It’s a lovely-looking tree, but it’s now dangerously close to the overhead power lines. Good timing, considering that we’ll be on the road for Poole in another couple of hours — they couldn’t have cut it much finer… (boom boom!)
We’re heading south to dog-sit for the in-laws in Poole, and I’m looking forward to ten days of walking on the Purbeck Hills, lying in and take-aways.
I have no idea what internet connectivity we’ll have. In theory there’s wi-fi, but they’ve already had connectivity issues so hopefully I’ll be logged on as usual on Thursday.
Or it may be that the next time I surface will be at Fantasycon on Saturday. Angry Robot have pulled stock of three new titles (including Damage Time) which aren’t available for another three weeks out of a magic hat somewhere, and I’ll be joining Andy Remic and Mike Shevdon in the dealer’s room to sign copies.
To get to Nottingham for the 12 o’clock launch requires me to catch the 06.25 train… for which I’ll probably have to surface in the dark (whimper) …you’ll probably hear the groaning on Saturday all the way up in Nottingham! Still, it’ll be good to catch up with the extended AR family, plus various other old friends from previous Fantasycons.
So I’ll either see you here, or at Nottingham, whichever occurs first.
• September 15th, 2010 • Posted in General
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It’s a warm, damp Saturday afternoon that doesn’t seem to be able to make up it’s mind what to do.
Since I’m on holiday I’m not doing much work, although I’ve critiqued one piece of flash today. Instead Kate and I did a little shopping and lunching in Bath (the all-you-can-eat Lebanese mezze is highly recommended), and this afternoon has been spent watching rugby league and listening to cricket — when there’s some play.
And catching up on other people’s blogs. One of my new favourites is Madeline Ashby, who I first read in Shine. Her blog is as elegant as her fiction, and makes me grind my teeth with envy at the apparent ease with which she posts. Her latest entries muse about Stanley Kubrick, Playboy magazine and avocadoes. Head over there and enjoy.
• May 29th, 2010 • Posted in General
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I realized as I got up this morning that I only have five more days of holiday. I have no idea where the time went, since we seem to have done very little, but it seems like only a day or two ago that I was waking up on the Friday before Easter and thinking, three whole weeks of no uni!
They, whoever the mysterious ‘they’ are –aliens perhaps, or tribal elders?– say that time passes faster as one gets older. What they don’t really hammer home is that it hurtles by as if you’re on the Cresta Run, so that the seasons seem in memory to become a series of stop-motion snapshots; flick! It’s winter and snow carpets the ground; flick! now it’s spring and leaves are shouldering their way out of the buds. flick! Now it’s summer, and heat and languor hover just above ground level. flick! Here comes autumn again…
But for now it’s spring, and out in the garden, the wildlife is stirring…
• April 14th, 2010 • Posted in General
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It’s been a day for remembering things almost too late.
I intended to post a chapter or two from Damage Time on the blog, and as we were walking Alice along the seafront at Clevedon, I slapped my hand to my forehead in best Homer Simpson fashion as I thought of it. Fortunately we got home at a reasonable hour, so here‘s Chapter 2. It’s short enough to be squeezable in at Suite101, unlike most of them — so why not scatter chapters across the cyberverse in best Hansel and Gretel mode?
But before that, I’d had another doh! moment as I went to clip Alice’s lead on her collar, only to realize with a sinking feeling, that she didn’t have her collar on…so faced with a choice of a fifteen-mile return journey to fetch it, or some lateral thinking, we turned her lead into an impromptu choke-er, string.
It seems that the amnesia running through the novel may be catching. Or perhaps the novel is my way of coming to terms with my Emmenthal-like memory.
Chapter 3 is here, by the way.
• April 8th, 2010 • Posted in General
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