Friday, 31 October 2008

Terry Pratchett, Nation

Pratchett seems to have tackled a whole barrel load of big questions here: what makes societies work, the nature of belief, the nature of 'civilisation', the unfortunate tendency of people wearing rather more clothes to conquer people wearing less. In the hands of most other authors, it would probably seem like too much.

Pratchett handles it all with his customary skill and hilarity. Taking a simple story about a young woman (Daphne) shipwrecked on an island with a young man (Mau) and an increasing number of people left homeless by the tidal wave that wiped out the island's population, he weaves in uncouth parrots, grandfather spirits whose main concern is getting their beer on time, and a plot about finding the heir to the throne just in time thanks to the version of Magna Carta they don't show the public. It's utterly ludicrous and tremendous fun at the same time.

A Terry Pratchett book, in other words.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stuff

  • I've spent much of the afternoon deleting tab indents on the second draft of the sequel and replacing them with automatic first line indents, which is about the most boring of the sort of necessary formatting things that needs doing. Just going through quickly like that gives more of a sense of the pacing of the thing, and how it needs to be altered. My main worry at the moment is the amount of information being introduced, and making that as natural seeming as possible. I could just eliminate it, but with something intended to be a continuing series, it seems important to develop other plot strands beyond the main one, so that I can build from them later or use them as continuing elements.
  • That said, going back to something after leaving it for a while to write other things is a weird experience. Not least, that's because you've inevitably learned more about writing since then, and so the problems left in the thing are more apparent. Of course, if I can see them, I can have a go at fixing them.
  • England won their warm up match against Trinidad and Tobago by 1 run last night, having fielded a team consisting of all 11 of those players who weren't laid low by stomach bugs. I still think that Graham Swann is a much better spinner than Samit Patel, but I suspect that the England management team doesn't agree with me, so I'm not expecting to see him on the park come Saturday's $20 million match. It's almost like they think they know more about cricket than me or something.
  • One thing I do know is the name of the spectator who keeps showing up in Hull's soccer kit on the TV footage, because I happen to have played cricket with Ashley. Strange how people show up in odd places.
  • Grants to England's undergraduate students have been cut as of next year, thanks to there being more of them than expected. Aside from my own complaint about the much more limited funding for postgraduate study in the UK, I'd like to say that cutting funding so suddenly is irresponsible, since it gives the students and their families no real time to set aside additional money. Is it too cynical to note that this sort of thing might not be happening if the Prime Minister weren't Scottish, thus ensuring that his children would come under the much more generous provisions put into place by Scotland's devolved regional parliament?

Monday, 27 October 2008

20-20

The Stanford 20/20 cricket series is well underway, with the 'Stanford Superstars' (basically a West Indies team) beating Trinidad and Tobago in a warm up game two days ago and England beating domestic 20Twenty champions Middlesex yesterday. Tonight brings the first game with something riding on it: Middlesex v Trinidad and Tobago in a battle of the teams that have won their domestic tournaments. The winning team gets 280 000 US dollars, the losers 100 000, and the man of the match 20 000. All of this is building up to the 20 million dollar winner takes all match next Saturday between England and the 'Superstars'.

So, there's a lot of money, but what's the cricket like? Obviously, it's 20Twenty, so we want things fairly frenetic, and it looks like the teams are trying to oblige, but it seems that the ground is conspiring against them. You see, the whole thing is being played at Alan Stanford's private stadium in Antigua, which seems to have wonderful facilities for the crowd and players, but which has a couple of flaws when it comes to the playing side of things. The first problem comes in the form of the lights, which are apparently quite poor compared to the best day/night venues. This means that catch after catch is going down, making the fielding appear farcical.

The second problem is, if anything, worse. A combination of a slow outfield (which means that the ball doesn't travel very fast across it towards the boundaries) and a pitch that is both slow and uneven in bounce (which means that no one can time their shots properly) has resulted in quite low scoring games. Interesting for the cricket purist, but not quite the crowd pleasing spectaculars that Stanford wants. Also, there's a trumpeter somewhere in the crowd who really needs to be taught the rest of the tune. No wonder the islands aren't famed for their cavalry regiments. No one can sound the charge properly. Right, that's me done. I'm off to watch it.

Bewildering Stories

The new issue of Bewildering Stories has gone up, featuring my 'essay' Frankenstein: Monsters and Morality. If it looks familiar, it's because it started life here, as a bit of a book review.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Novel's back on

You may recall that a while back, the e-publisher who was going to put out my novel Searching ceased trading, leaving me looking for someone else interested in it. Well, it seems I've found them. One of the larger of the bunch of e-publishers that have grown up, Double Dragon Publishing, has accepted it for publication, probably in mid-2009. This, as well as being good news, probably means I need to shift my writing focus back to the on-hold sequel, and away from the revisions of what I've just written, though I'm not giving up on that by any means.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Charlaine Harris, From Dead to Worse

The Sookie Stackhouse series of modern fantasy novels is usually a lot lighter in tone than some of the others, and this, despite several killings, a minor war and an assortment of unpleasant people, keeps up that vibe. As usual, the characters are elegantly, if briefly, drawn, the dialogue has a quirky edge to it lent by the central character's mind reading, and the whole thing has the feeling of bouncing along.

The only problem is that it doesn't seem to be going anywhere in particular. There's a plot, or rather there are plots, ranging from a werewolf war to a vampire takeover to a series of revelations about Sookie and her family. All of them are entertaining in their way, but none spans the entire book. It's like Harris has written a bunch of good, engaging sub-plots and then forgotten the main one. It doesn't make this a bad book, but it does completely throw off the story arc, and leave this one with the feel of a 'loose ends and set ups' book. A few old plotlines are tied off neatly, a few old characters killed rather too neatly, and half a dozen new possibilities opened up for the future. It makes the things that might happen next intriguing, but it also means that this one is for those readers who have already read the rest of Harris' books.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Bradford

And so to the first fencing match of the season, against possibly one of the weaker teams in the division. Particularly since one of their better fencers is now fencing for us, having decided to do his medical training at Hull. We won, and better yet, we won by a distance. The foil and epee types did their parts in a way they weren't able to last year, winning their sections comfortably, so that really, those of us who don't believe in silly proddy weapons didn't have much left to do. We still did it though, winning the sabre 45-15. Good work all round.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Stuff

  • I wrote my assessed piece for my archive skills course earlier. It's remarkably difficult to write just 2000 words when you're in the middle of something that could be up to 50 times that much.
  • It's Hull's first fencing match of the season tomorrow afternoon, against Bradford. Now that the BUSA fencing structure has been reorganised, we're in the unusual position of possibly being favourites to win our league. If we can get our strongest side out with any sort of consistency, we should have a reasonable foil and epee set-up, along with the strongest three-fencer sabre combination we've been able to put out in years. It all depends on what time my unnaturally tall friend Olly gets out of his morning lectures.
  • I got hold of a copy of The Graveyard Book earlier today, though I've got several other things I'm reading first.

Monday, 20 October 2008

2nd Draft

Finished the second draft of the novel last night. Still no title. Appear to have been infected with telegramitis. Still, could be worse. Could be txt msg wr...

O bggr...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Tanka

Watching the shadows

Reflections of the fire's dance

Instead of the flames

Sometimes we need the darkness

As well as just the firelight

Phantom in the Night

Ordinarily, I quite like Sherrilyn Kenyon's writing. Her Dark Hunter series is tremendously good fun, and Acheron, the most recent in that series, actually had some depth to it, despite one or two technical flaws. This collaboration with Dianna Love though, just doesn't work.

Firstly, there's the mildly preposterous plot. Terri, working for a government agency so secretive that they can't get a decent acronym (Bureau of American Defence. Given the quality of the book, it's apt) is looking into local crime boss Mareaux, who was probably behind the death of her partner and setting her up, when a body shows up. It's supposedly that of ex-special forces man Nathan Drake, but is actually that of his twin brother Jamie, Nathan having taken his place in prison by pretending to be him. Nathan gets out and starts hunting for his brother's killer, sending the pair of them after a couple of layers of ancient secret societies. It's difficult to ignore the temptation to ask whether Kenyon has Jean Claude Van Damme writing her plots these days. Ok, I thought on reading the blurb, it's utterly silly, but no more so than some of the stuff going around these days. Handled well, it might even be fun.

It wasn't. Fun or handled well, that is. Most of the characters are one dimensional stereotypes, and that applies just as much to the main characters as the supporting cast. The authors had clearly worked out pasts for them, but having the characters tell us about the million and one things that happened to them in endless exposition does not equal character depth. Worse, the female lead, despite a supposed DEA background, has neither common sense nor the ability to protect herself. It leaves her both as unbelievable, and as the sort of helpless romantic heroine that's an insult to both the reader's intelligence and women in general.

And then there's the part where the authors forget that in the first few pages, she gets a good look at the corpse of the dead twin. And yet she still doesn't work out who Drake is when she first sees his face. There are pointless coincidences and plot holes throughout, this is just the worst, and it leaves the book feeling more like a clash between the authors than a genuine collaboration. Worse, it leaves the thing as a disappointment, because I know Kenyon can write much better stuff than this.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Alternate v Economy

I occasionally toss around terms like alternate and economy picking without thinking, forgetting that not everyone is a mildly obsessive guitarist. So, an explanation then.

Both relate to how you use a plectrum to pick a guitar. Normally, if playing on one string, you would play with alternating downstrokes and upstrokes of the pick. This makes sense from an ease of movement point of view. If you tried to play all downstrokes instead, for example, you would have to move the pick up again to be in the position for the next movement after every downstroke. Using both up and down strokes simply makes use of this movement. Because you alternate between the two, this is a very basic form of alternate picking.

The difference between what's called 'strict' alternate picking and economy picking comes when moving between strings. The alternate picker continues to move up and down alternately, regardless of their movement between the strings. So if they had just played a note on the D string (the 4th string of the guitar) with a downstroke, and were going to play one on the G string next (nothing to do with underwear, I'm afraid, but simply the next highest string in pitch, and positioned immediately below the D string physically) they would play it with an upstroke. What this means, you might have noticed, is that they would go down past the string to come back up again.

Economy picking says that this is a waste of effort, and so would play the same combination of notes with another downstroke (well, technically as part of the follow through from the original downstroke, but you get the idea.) This is because the basis of economy picking is to always move directly to the next string when changing strings, regardless of what you were doing before.

So, to play a string positioned below the one they're on, an economy picker would always use a downstroke, while to play one where they're moving upwards to get to it, they would play the first note with an upstroke. An alternate picker, by contrast, would keep going down-up-down-up regardless.

The reasons people (and by people, I of course mean myself) can't make up their minds between the two are that they, and slight variations on them, offer different advantages.

Economy picking has the advantage of economy of effort. You never have to go past a string to come back and play it, as you do with alternate picking. You can arrange things so that they barely take any pick strokes at all to play. Arpeggios, in particular, are easy with this approach (which tends to get called sweep picking once you're dealing with arpeggios) allowing you to do your best Yngwie Malmsteen impersonation. And yes, I have an Yngwie Malmsteen impersonation. I never claimed to have any musical taste. There's also an argument for saying that it produces a smoother sound than alternate picking.

Alternate picking has a few main advantages. Firstly, it's quite easy to keep track of. You don't have to work out what your next few pick strokes are, because you know it's going to be down-up-down-up... Secondly, there is an occasional tendency for economy picking to descend into mush, where you can't tell one note from the next. Alternate picking tends to give better definition to the notes, even if it is harder to do.

Currently, I'm on mostly alternate picking with the occasional sweep for arpeggios (and also some hybrid picking, which a fancy name for using pick and fingers together), but presumably you'll want examples you might have heard. So, some reasonably well known guitarists who...

...Alternate pick a lot: Steve Morse (Deep Purple), John Pettrucci (Dream Theatre), Al di Meola, Guthrie Govan.

...Economy pick a lot: Frank Gambale, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Stuff

  • I find myself writing short stories centred around beer for no particular reason, other than that a couple of nice scenes in pubs cropped up in the comic fantasy novel I've been working on. It's a useful thought that: that you can go through longer pieces and pick out little scenes that, re-done and re-imagined, might work as additional short stories. Still, since I don't drink, this is still slightly odd.
  • I've really got to get round to writing the essay for my archive skills module. It's just that, because I have to do it, I'm putting it off until I really have to do it. See, I can remember how to do this studenting stuff.
  • In the great alternate v economy picking debate, I'm back to alternate picking, again. I give it a month.
  • One of the stranger facets of keeping a blog: the other day I mentioned it in the bio for a short story, and now the lovely editory people have asked to use a poem and a short essay off here.
  • I really must get better at titles. Not just blog titles.
  • I keep writing short stories for a character I made up as a joke. The trouble is, with what's becoming a bit of an ongoing series of essentially quite daft stories, I'm not sure what to do with them next. I'm sure a thought will occur.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Free Country?

The House of Lords did the sensible thing and voted down the bill for 42 days detention without trial the other day. It's a pity though that it got as far as it did, since it represents a fundamental erosion of freedoms that ought to be taken as read. The House of Commons ought to be ashamed of itself for passing their stage of the bill. Unfortunately, we're still in a position where up to a month of detention without trial is possible, on the grounds of 'security'. Well, funnily enough, I actually feel less secure knowing that the Government could snatch anyone they wanted off the street for a month than I do thinking that a small improvement has been made in the ability to stop terrorist suspects.

Terrorism is, of course, a very emotive word. The trouble is, it's a word that's being used to destroy freedoms that our ancestors have fought over since 1215 and before. I know that people will say 'and how many freedoms would you have if the terrorists had their way?', but that is a non-argument. Two wrongs, as I'm sure everybody's mother pointed out, don't make a right. To the other common argument, that 'it doesn't matter what we do to them because they're terrorists.' I would make two points.

Firstly, how do we know that they are? That is rather the point of a trial. How many times have police genuinely believed that they've had evidence that someone has committed a crime, only for a judge or jury to dismiss it as insufficient? More to the point, do we think that these powers are being used solely on people trying to blow other people up? A couple of years ago, a man was arrested under the terrorism act for heckling at the Labour Party Conference. He wasn't a terrorist, but there was no immediate obligation to prove that he was.

Secondly, concepts of basic rights and freedoms are only truly effective when applied to people we don't like. People who are just like us, who we get on with, who we do like, are protected by that fact, not by a list of rights. It is the person whose religion/lifestyle/possible tendency to try to kill you you don't agree with who needs that protection. And, as a society, we should be extending those rights for the simple reason that next time it might be us society doesn't like.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Fishing For Worlds 2

My short story 'Fishing for Worlds' has just been accepted for inclusion in Semaphore Magazine's 2008 print anthology. Which is nice.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

In a lot of ways this wasn't quite what I expected. I suppose the main thing was that most of the pieces that have based themselves around the Frankenstein story have placed quite a lot of emphasis on the act of creating the monster. The original, on the other hand, deals with it in just a couple of pages. Where I was perhaps expecting an extensive discourse on the nature of life and on the morality of bringing about new life, this is more a book about morality, belonging, and the vital importance of human connections in making us human.

For those who don't know the basics of the story, Frankenstein gets obsessed with the nature of life, makes a creature, brings it to life, and rejects it. The monster then spends the rest of the book utterly destroying his life by preying on those around him, while simultaneously blaming Frankenstein for forcing it to be that way.

For the most part it's well written, though there are times when you can see impatience in its nineteen year old writer. The instant hate of Frankenstein for his creation doesn't strike me as entirely convincing, while the ability of the thing to miraculously track down those around him doesn't quite work either. The thing is, I'm not sure it matters that much. The centre of the story is more the monster's motivation than it is the actual mechanics of vengence. Is it evil because it was created that way? Is it evil because of repeated rejection? Do human concepts of morality even apply to something non-human?

It raises some intriguing questions about the role of other people in making us who we are. The monster, cut off from others and abandoned, is left without a moral compass. As, it might be argued, is Frankenstein, who slips into solitude well away from his family while working on the thing. When the monster wants to destroy him, moreover, it is not Frankenstein he attacks, but those around him. I suspect, on the whole, that it's a book not about what it means to make a monster, but about what others do to keep us human.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Trellis Magazine

The pdf of the new issue of Trellis magazine has gone up here, featuring my second place winning villanelle 'An Abbreviation'.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Aphelion October 2008

My poem 'Mary's Little Alien' has gone up here. It's quite an old one, but I like it, on the basis that most things work better with aliens. Especially nursery rhymes.

Archive Skills

I had my first seminar of an archives skills module I'm taking (for the credits) today, and it went all right. Even so, I can't help but feel that after years of study in archives an libraries, I kind of know this stuff already. Not to mention the fact that my major archive skill is an ability to navigate the motorway around Nottingham, where Southwell's main chartulary is located. I suppose that's one of the strange things with doing a PhD. You have to employ these different skills, and if you don't do the official training straight away, then by the time it comes to do it (did I mention that it was for the credits?) you've been using the skills for years. It makes things a little more awkward that many of the modules available are also there for MA and some third year undergrad students, meaning that I've actually done them before. It means I'm scouring the PGTS handbook, searching for relevant things that are fresh to me. Quantitative Methods for Historians, anyone? Actually, that sounds like one of the better options at the moment.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Graham Greene, A Gun For Sale

I was planning on finishing Frankenstein by this point, but this got in the way. In theory, it's quite a simple plot: Raven the harelipped hitman kills the Minister for War but is double crossed, leading him to try and chase down those hiring him. So far, so straightforward.

The powerful elements of the book come through the sort of characterisation at which Greene excelled, showing us flawed people at every turn who sometimes do what is right, but more often don't. Even those who are clearly set up as protagonists, such as Mather the policeman and his girlfriend Anne, are troubled. Mather, in the best tradition of detectives everywhere, cares more about his job than his girl, while Anne, who is quite happy with the thought of infidelity if it might get her ahead in her own career, spends about half the book helping Raven. The rest of it finds itself full of the sort of collection of de-frocked priests, sundae loving villains and hard drinking chiefs of police who would probably be taken as caricatures if they appeared in anything modern, but who appear vibrant and necessary when given Greene's touch.

Very quickly a couple of themes appear. One is whether it is possible to escape a bad background, worked through in greatest depth by the assassin, Raven, but placed in wonderful contrast to his employers too. The other, focussing on war, the desire for it, and the ease with which people can be manipulated into it, comes through, not just in the deeper plot behind Raven's actions, but also in the fictional setting of Nottwich, which has heard the news of a possibly impending war and, in some cases at least, is quite excited by the prospect.

This is one of those books that starts out looking like it will just hit the markers of its genre, but ends up doing rather more. It makes no particular claims to be more than a brief thriller, and in a couple of areas looks worryingly like its going to start following an obvious formula, but then you remember that Greene is one of the main reasons that there is such a formula, and you're free to enjoy the parts of it that are better than that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

First Fencing

Some things are inevitable for the first fencing session of the year. We'll spend an inordinate amount of time standing around waiting for things to be organised. There will never quite be enough kit to go around, and the fencers who said 'yes I'm really good' a week ago will turn out to be... ok, I guess.

Actually, one of our new sabreurs is all right, and should mean that we have a strong sabre segment in the team this year, but our perpetual worries over epee and foil remain. Actually, my perpetual worries over epee and foil are that someone will make me fence them, and at least we're probably going to avoid that.

It's just a pity really that our Athletics Union has decided to make Monday nights 'AU training night' and to cram as many clubs as possible into the evening. It means two things that I can see. Firstly, half the people who said they might give fencing a go have been given better things to do on a monday, in the form of other sports training. Secondly, we have to switch from our reasonably large training hall to a tiny upstairs salle half way through, which gets remarkably cramped with even just the dozen experienced fencers trying to squeeze in. Still, at least we've got the whole place on friday. For some reason, students can think of better things to do on a friday night than prod people with swords. Weirdos.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Haiku

Haiku's main problem:
Running out of syllables
Before you reach the-

Drugs in Sport

A second sport related rant in about twenty minutes. Clearly I have things to work through. Firstly, I'd like to do something almost nobody else does, and applaude athletics and cycling. What? You can't hear me? You'll just have to trust that I am.

It sounds daft, doesn't it? After all, they're the sports with reputations for having drug problems, and have had for a while. Now think about why they still have that reputation. It's because, despite some still fairly large problems with the system, they are catching drug cheats on a pretty regular basis, and they are banning them. More than that, they usually try not to let them back near the sport, or if they do, it's with the taint of nobody quite trusting any of your performances.

Let's compare that to cricket for a moment, shall we? The other year, two Pakistani fast bowlers submitted positive drugs samples. They were initially due to be banned, but then let off on appeal to their own board. (Though I should probably point out in the interests of fairness that I don't have sufficiently close knowledge of the events to comment on the circumstances of the appeal. It would, therefore, be a bit premature to suggest that this had anything to do with their key places in the World Cup side, particularly as the PCB pulled them out of it at the last minute. This of course had nothing to do with the suggestions that they would be drug tested to within an inch of their lives at the World Cup.)

This is the same board, mind you, that was quite willing to try banning one of them, Shoaib Acktar, for five years for lambasting their competence in a press conference. The other, Mohammed Asif, has since been caught at an airport carrying recreational drugs in his luggage.

So far, so bad. But the one that gets to me, really gets to me, is Shane Warne. Shane Warne, usually billed as the 'greatest leg spinner ever' by the press. Frequently as 'the greatest bowler ever', despite the probably greater claims of Sri Lankan offspinner Muralidarin, mostly because commentators are still convinced that he throws the ball instead of bowling it with a nice non-straightening arm. Which is apparently the greatest crime in cricket.

Not as great, in my opinion, as being a drugs cheat. As a result of a random test, Shane Warne was found guilty of having a banned diuretic in his bloodstream that is banned for its potential as a masking agent for steriod use. Thanks to turning on the charm, not to mention blaming his mother (who, he said, gave him a pill to help get rid of a few double chins for some TV appearances. Which he didn't check, because of course your mummy is never going to give you anything bad) he got away with a one year ban.

And I do mean got away. He got away from cricket for a year, healed up a persistent shoulder injury, and came back stronger than ever to win the 2007 Ashes for Australia, captain Hampshire, and then earn an absolute fortune in cricket-mad India captaining the unfancied Rajastan Royals to victory in the first IPL 20-20 competition. Meanwhile Murali faces the sort of cloud of continuing suspicion that would normally surround a drugs cheat, and all because his permanently bent arm and double jointed wrist give him bowling superpowers. Not only is it unfair, it's an indictment of a sport that used to be held up as an example of fair play.

Rules, What Rules?

There are many reasons why fencing will never be quite as popular as football is: the expensive kit, the perceived danger (Look, it was just the one person in our club who got poked in the eye. Just once) the fact that it's not usually a big, shouty team sport.

Mostly though, I think it's down to the rules.

You watch the Olympics (presumably not on the BBC, since they showed about five minutes of fencing, none of it live) and I have to admit that even I'm guessing about whose hit it is. My friend Tim, who has somehow come to be worshipped by the Irish as the God of Presiding (we sent him over there to look through some telescopes... or something) can't work out whose hit it is. Even with the slow motion I can't work out whose hit it is consistently. How is anybody else supposed to?

The biggest problem isn't the over-complicated right of way rules, or in my own lack of knowledge (tommorrow I'll be stepping into a room where I've been fencing longer than almost anybody there has been alive) but one simple point: no one fences to the rules as they are written.

It's insane. The rules say that an attack shall last one unit of fencing time (basically one step). The presidents usually give it as lasting as long as the person continuously extends their arm. The rules say that an attack must threaten the target area, but when some respected coaches point out that the modern tendency to trail the arm below waist level (and yes, I'm guilty of this) doesn't threaten much of anything, they're shouted down. The rules make no mention of a defence through distance, but we still treat it as though there is (by giving the right of way to whoever has just made their opponent miss and look silly).

What other sport would do this? Would an American Football referee say 'I know it says ten yards in the rulebook, but I'm interpreting it as eleven?' Would a cricket umpire ignore the rule about where the bowler is allowed to deliver from, giving them the sort of advantage that sabre people are getting by extending an attack all the way down the piste?

More importantly, how am I supposed to go into fencing training tomorrow and explain all this to the group of newbies I'll get assigned while maintaining a straight face?

Friday, 3 October 2008

Stuff

Things I've been doing:

  • Starting to read Frankenstein, which is ok, but seems to have a couple of minor flaws. Maybe the rest of the book will make up for it.
  • Trying to remember how to wave a sword about properly. I might actually have to make an effort to get into the university team for once, so I am.
  • Starting short stories and then deleting them. I've been trying to force myself to write them, when I'm clearly not in the mood.
  • Learning to crochet from my mother. Curiously she seems to think that 'bogie hook' isn't the proper term for the main implement.
  • Digging out all of my old paints and finding out which were dried up. I also produced a painting of a tree better suited to a ten year old, but I'm going to pretend I didn't. I'm not going to let a complete lack of any discernible talent stop me, or I'd never get anything done.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Estella's Up

The October issue of Estella's Revenge is up, featuring my article 'So Many Books...'

Scaffolding

Written after a trip to York a while ago, while the minster was undergoing repairs:

Scaffolding

The building disappears
Beneath the mask of scaffold
Pipe and wood and plastic sheeting
Exoskeletal structure

I assume the church is there
Somewhere under that wrapping
That no one's taken worse than lead
From antique roofs

This is needed, so you say
Because it would be a shame
If such a grand old building
Went to ruin