Daily archives: November 11, 2008

Tweets today

00:26 Blog: Tweets today tinyurl.com/5ro4l2 #

01:03 We are not plumbers. #

09:53 No heating, possibly until Friday. This house is cold enough as it is. #

10:25 Blog: Must… stop… stacking… boxes tinyurl.com/5bbkzz #

11:26 Blog: NaNoWriMo first draft – Sally tinyurl.com/574pdt #

12:53 Just vanity googled myself and I’m not even on the first page of results :-(. First mentioned on the 2nd page. #

14:03 I now have an Ames guide. Let’s see how it improves my lettering. #

18:28 Blog: NaNoWriMo first draft – I want to ride my bicycle tinyurl.com/66enq8 #

follow me on Twitter

Brought to you with LoudTwitter

NaNoWriMo first draft – I want to ride my bicycle

Notes I know that some of these bits are going to contradict each other. I’m world building, and laying down the basis of the plot. I’ve also got an idea now of the format for the final version and this publishing order isn’t it. I’m writing stuff as I think of it and publisjhing it as fast as I can.

I’m going to need a bike trailer, if only to transport my stuff back from the storage. Luckily, Robinson knows where I can get one made.

I asked him about it as we set off from his house to go hunting. We make our way to the nearest section of old railway line. Lots of these old cuttings have been converted into paths. This one hasn’t been surfaced yet, but it’s been levelled and drainage sorted out.

“There’s a workshop in Fallowfield, in the market in the old supermarket. They’ll do everything from a simple fix to a full frame and rebuild. I’m sure they’d be able to build a trailer. Up here.”

We cut up the embankment and go through a hole in a tall chainlink fence, and then we’re in a ghost town. There are a number of cookie cutter estate houses in pinkish brick. From our right they devolve from finished buildings lacking windows and doors through walls without roofs to laid concrete foundations and collapsed trenches. The streets around the houses have been tarmacced as far as the trenches and point optimistically into a stand of trees. There is collapsed scaffolding and an abandoned, rusted and burnt out digger. “It’s the Marie Celeste of building sites.” I have to say.

“The company collapsed with the housing market. They couldn’t even sell the land and equipment to pay off their creditors. People sometimes squat in the more finished buildings, but they move on when they realise they can do better. There’s a big rabbit warren somewhere in the trees and when they get too frisky they come into the allotments. So I come out here and trim their numbers from time to time.”

We set up in one of the skeleton houses, its walls tumbled down in the direction of the woodland. Robinson takes the rifle out and checks it. He pops out the magazine and hands it to me to load. When he’s got the sight mounted he hands the gun to me, “Care to have a go? Get the sight set in.”

I stand against the wall, getting comfortable with the gun. The last time I fired a weapon still invades my dreams, but it’s easy to tell myself this is different. There’s a rabbit in the grass before the nearest tree. I point it out to Robinson and sight on it. He has binoculars that look like ruggedised opera glasses that he can watch the rabbit with.

Breathe in, bring up the pressure on the trigger and pull it as I breathe out. The rifle cracks and kicks very slightly. The rabbit hardly even leaves the sights. Its ears twitch at the noise, but it doesn’t move. “High and a little to the left.” Robinson tells me.

After a little adjustment I take aim again, chambering another round. This time the rabbit jumps and then falls over. There are another two near it. They seem startled by the sudden movement, but stay still long enough for me to get one. Even the one that gets away doesn’t go far, and I get it easily when Robinson points it out.

Within five minutes I’ve got six rabbits. I pop out the empty magazine and hand the rifle back to Robinson as I reload it. “Let’s go and collect them and see if we can get any squirrels.” he suggests. He’s been picking up the shell casings as I’ve fired and pocketing them for future reuse.

In amongst the trees we rest against a trunk and Robinson stands with the rifle at the ready as we listen for rustling in the branches. He flicks the gun up and fires. A small grey furred body drops out of the branches. Gun still raised, he scans the branches and fires another two times. Two more squirrels plummet from the foliage. There’s a lot of movement in the branches, squirrels moving so fast that Robinson can’t get a bead on them. He lets the rifle rest again. “Good enough for a morning’s work.” he announces.

Back at his house Robinson guts and skins the rabbits and squirrels with ease. He wraps one of each in waxed paper and bags them for me. “You’re a good shot. Get yourself a gun and you’ll not lack meat.”

“I might do that.” I don’t have a great history with guns, but there’s no point in going into that with him.

“You’ll impress your new landlady, anyway.” He has that special kind of grin and I wonder if there’s some gossip network he’s connected into.

On the way back to the house I hook a right onto another old railway cutting and head for Fallowfield. At the other end of the track is the old Sainsburys. It’s been taken over by a cooperative of local traders and craftspeople. The old car park is home to temporary stalls, a flea market of sorts, whilst the building itself houses more permanent structures. There’s a lot of recycled and repurposed stuff- it’s incredible what you can make from old car parts.

The bike shop is out in a corner, where the deli counter used to be. The preparation and storage room has been converted to a workshop and the shop itself is given over mostly to showing off the wares. There are a lot of the sit up and beg frames I’ve been seeing so many of, but also a couple of more ornate rides. The guy fettling the brakes on a recumbent looks familiar, even with all the metal in his face. He doesn’t know me, but he recognises my bike. “That looks like one of mine.” he says as I prop it against the counter.

“You built it for me about six years ago.”

“Go on! I’s looking good for six years old.”

“Yeah, well, it has been in storage for most of them.”

“Fair enough. What does it need doing to it?”

“I’m looking for a trailer for it.”

“Now that could be a challenge.” He comes around the counter to check out the bike. After a minute or so of checking the seat post and rear axle he smiles. “I think I have just the thing.” He pops back through the door and I can hear the clanking of frame against frame as he goes through his stash. When he returns he’s holding up the remains of a child’s pedal car. “I’ll put some cycle wheels on the back, cut off the steering wheel and the seat and the arms for the front wheels. Then a hitch on the back of the bike to attach it to and I’m sure I’ve got a plastic tub to bolt to it for carrying stuff.”

“How much?”

“We’ll see how much work there is. And it depends on what you’re paying with.”

“I seem to have a little bit of everything.”

“So long as you don’t want to barter dead things.” he points at the bag hooked over the handle bars. The waxed paper has leaked some blood and its pooling at the bottom. “I’m a vegetarian. I do take fruit and veg though. Or other barter.”

“I mostly have hard currency at the moment. And the other question is when can you make it for?”
“Next week. If you can leave a deposit.”

After a bit of haggling and the exchange of paper I have the promise of a bike trailer.

NaNoWriMo first draft – Sally

I still have plenty of time to get to Levenshulme within the window Sally gave me. The A6 has slightly more powered traffic on it than the roads around the centre. I recognise the smell of burnt ethanol mingled with the saliva generating aroma of biodiesel. Motor vehicles are still outnumbered by bikes though.

The address Sally gave me is on a street that runs parallel to the railway line. It’s a dead end with a park, converted to allotments, at the end. This street runs north to south, so it’s not so good for catching sunlight on the roofs. A lot of them, however have basic green roofs, boxed off and with sedum grass sprouting from them. I just hope the waterproof membranes are good enough.

The house has frames in the front garden, for peas I guess but bare now. There are still some onions and leeks in the beds around the frames though. It seems that every piece of earth that can be reached has been planted. I don’t know how many people are completely self sufficient, but a fair few must be getting close to it. It’s like the whole dig for victory thing from the second world war, only it’s going to go on for longer this time. We are, let’s face it, entering the post pollution society. Considering how far they’ve got in Manchester in such a short time I’m optimistic about what can be achieved elsewhere. This was the world’s first industrial city, responsible in a way for the advances that have led to so much pollution, perhaps it can make up for that by becoming one of the first truly eco cities.

Sally’s short and tiny, with a pretty face and short black hair. She’s wearing some sort of one piece that’s splattered with paint. There’s a moment of recognition, for both of us. She nods and smiles, a little coy, “The wanderer returns. Come in.” There’s a short corridor with the stairs at the end, but we take an immediate right into the front room.

I’m not the greatest with names, and I still haven’t placed Sally though I’m sure we’ve met. And spent long enough together for me to remember the face at least.

“You don’t remember me do you?”

“Well, erm, no. I recognise you but I can’t remember why.”

“I’m Keith’s sister. You spent a week helping me find a flat once.”

“Oh, right.”

“You don’t remember? You did that sort of thing often?”

“Often enough, I guess.”

“Keith’s dead.”

I have a horrible feeling I’ve got of to a bad start somehow, her pronouncement is so cold. “Last year.” she continues, “They said that he might still be alive, if they could have had the right drugs. But the world situation put a stop to that.” She’s started fretting, little movements like she’s pacing on the spot. She clasps her hands together, drops them to her side, puts them behind her back. “Sorry. I’ve been trying to think how I’d tell you about it ever since I got your email saying you were back in town. I think I fucked it up didn’t I?”

She tries the smile again, a little more nervous this time. I’m at a loss for words, which is bad. What she needs right now is reassurance of some form, but we stand across from each other, not quite ready to make a move. “Tea?” she asks.

“You have tea?”

“Nettle tea. I quite like it.”

“Yes please.”

She leaves the room and I take a seat. I have a feeling I made more of an impression on her than she did on me and wants to be remembered better than my sad old synapses are able. Thinking about it I do remember Keith having a sister, but I swear she was blonde. There are photos on the mantelpiece, maybe they’ll give me some information. One larger picture is a family portrait, Keith, a mousey Sally and their parents. Keith is sitting with the others around him. He does not look very well, what I first thought was a crew cut could be something worse. Tucked into the picture frame are a couple of other photos. One shows Sally in a baggy T-shirt on a beach, looking off to her left, the sea reflected in her sunglasses. In the other she’s with her brother, who looks much healthier, out on the town in a bar I think I recognise. The Sally in this picture is the blonde one I remember.

“Tea.” she announces as she comes through the door. “It will need a while to brew.”

We sit across from each other, trying not to watch the tea brew. “So. You said you had something for me?” I manage after a while.

“Keith kept some of your stuff. And your other friends put him in charge of looking after the stuff you posted back.”

I’d set up a post box, long distance, and passed the details on, and posted backups of my pictures and writing to it. I hadn’t even thought about checking what had made it, I’d just assumed it had been a failure.

“How much stuff?”

“There’s a shoe box of disks, just about. They’re in the basement somewhere, we can go and have a look.” She’s blushing, and I’m getting that feeling again. Looking for something to do, she pours the nettle tea. It’s quite nice. I’ve drunk worse, and stranger, in the last few years. “I haven’t checked the post box since Keith passed. There might be some more stuff in it. And I’ve hardly seen any of his… your friends since the funeral. Everyone’s so busy now, wrapped up in getting along. There’s my neighbours, I guess, but we just don’t seem to have the community everyone else talks about.”

“It can be hard getting to know people.”

“You never seemed to have that problem. Not from what I saw and read.”

“I’ve always had trouble talking to people, they don’t seem to have any trouble talking to me. I’ve never really understood how that works.” I pour myself some more tea. “Do you live here alone?”

“Yes. I have a spare room.”

“You’d rent it out?” This has headed off in an odd direction, but I was going to start looking for somewhere more permanent than the hotel anyway.

“I might.”

By the time we’ve finished the tea we’ve agreed terms and I’ll move in tomorrow. It’s not as if I have much to bring. “Shall we go and see if we can find your stuff?” she suggests.

We head down into the basement. I have to duck under beams that she’s too short to be bothered by. The basement has about the same footprint as the first floor, which makes it larger than I’d expected.. There are a lot of boxes along one wall and a work desk along what equates to the front wall. Canvasses are stacked on the work desk and leaning against the boxes- lots of paintings, oils or acrylics I think, of local buildings grand and small. “You did these?”

“I just started again. I think we’ve reached the point where people will pay for art again. I’ve done some shop signs as well.”

“Nice. I like the town hall.”

“Thanks.” She starts lifting boxes down. I notice that none of them are higher than she can reach. She’s stacked them herself, maybe she really hasn’t had that many visitors recently. “I think it’s in…. That box there.”

Sally hands me a shoe box. I lift the lid and it is filled with dvds, cds and thumb drives. I think they all got through, which is a hugely greater success rate than I’d expected. The ones I thought were most important, or most sellable, are backed up online or in other disks in various European banks, but this collection will add depth to them.

“Let’s put that in your room.” Sally suggests after I’ve stared at the inside of the box for a couple of minutes. “Then you can go and collect all your stuff.”

My room’s on the first floor, with the bathroom between it and Sally’s. It has a double bed, cupboards and not a lot of floor space. There’s a second floor, with a tiny studio making the most of the skylights. I can live here quite easily. Again, I’ve slept in worse over the last few years.

Must… stop… stacking… boxes

Assembler is one of those annoyingly addictive games. Stack the wooden crates so the green boxes fit in the green squares. It has quite convincing physics, objects will pivot about the point you pick them up by until it is above the centre of gravity etc.I’m closing it now, or that’ll be me for the rest of the day.

via The Quantum Pontiff