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  • Post and Unpublish

    I’ve unpublished Post and Publish, the novella bundle on the Kindle. It wasn’t selling. Actually, worse than not selling- the two times anyone bought copies they turned around and cancelled the order.

    There’s no feedback to tell me why the collection proved so unpopular. I wasn’t happy with the cover, I don’t think it is attention grabbing enough. And the contents were a mixed bag- everything from technothriller satire to romance/sex comedy. I can just republish some of the contents in different formats and see what works. I’ve already done that with So Much To Answer For, even before I’d killed the anthology.

    Sounds of Soldiers will be published as a stand alone on the Kindle at the end of October/ start of November. The current version- still available from Lulu– has another cover I’m not happy with. I’ve got a concept for the new cover and will begin putting it together when I have all the elements.

    I’ve also removed Global Weirding from publication. It had a cover I really liked, the premise was quite neat and I enjoyed writing it (who wouldn’t with all those sex scenes?), but it just didn’t work as a published book.


  • Weeknotes

    Yes, I know these things are supposed to be weekly not fortnightly.

    What has passed

    There have been a few things in the last week and a half which have distracted me or taken me away from work. With the exception of a friend’s birthday celebrations none of them have been good. So productivity has been poor.

    I managed to get a page of Point of Contact done for last week, but not for this. With stuff that’s coming up I don’t think there’ll be a new page for several weeks. The next page introduces some important characters and sets up part 1’s big finish, so I want to make a better job of it than I feel capable of at the moment.

    One thing I did manage was getting a book onto Amazon’s Kindle platform. Post and Publish collects three novellas and four short stories for the ebook reader (and many i-devices too). No sales yet, but it’s a little more length in my long tail. I’ve just uploaded Ruby Red, with luck it should be live by the weekend.

    The bike business is steady, after a particularly good week a fortnight ago. I haven’t got rid of any of the bikes I was working on, but others have left the building and given me a little more space. I’m also now the proud owner of a bike trailer, which should make carting stuff around easier.

    What shall come

    I may have lost any momentum I had earlier in the year. It’ll come back to me, but I’m going to take a week or three to deal with some stuff I think. Projects will be rebooted/finished as soon as possible and there’ll probably be some campaigning and political stuff to liven things up. I can’t give any definite plans for the next week or so.

    Longer term I think there may be a market on the Kindle for shorter works sold cheaply- 10,000 to 40,000 word novellas, possibly as parts of a series- so I’ll kick off some ideas along those lines.

    Next time I hope to bury you under news of projects nearing completion, starting up and in planning.


  • Nick and Nora’s Infinite Sweetness

    Perhaps it’s because it’s Boyfriend Season and I’d like to think there are women out there hunting me. Maybe I’m just an incurable romantic. Could be it’s SAD and I need a warm body to cuddle. Whatever the reason, I was in exactly the right frame of mind to fall in love with Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. I think it’s the first time I’ve watched one of my LoveFilm rentals twice before sending it back. And it’s only the second time I’ve decided to order a copy of the film for myself.

    I’m not a rom-com fan, I usually go out of my way to avoid them. In several years of a film a week on Orange Wednesdays I think the only one we’ve seen is Love Actually (correct me if I’m wrong), which was mostly sugary sweetness wrapped around emptiness. Whilst Playlist has a few of the usual cliches, it is also full of details and characters to love.

    Nick is the heartbroken bassist of the Jerk Offs- the straight third of a band without a drummer. Nora is the straight edge-y daughter of a famous father- mostly annoyed by the attention it brings her but not above using it to jump queues when the need arises- who’s in love with the mix cds Nick puts together for his bitchy ex. They meet when she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend to annoy Tris- her “friend” and, though she doesn’t know it yet, his ex. From here the pair court- alternately bonding and falling out- over a long night of alternating quests. They want to find mythical band Where’s Fluffy? and must relocate Nora’s drunk friend Caroline, misplaced by Nick’s bandmates when they stop for hotdogs. All the while they’re pursued by Tris- who either can’t let her claws out of Nick or can’t stand to think of him with someone who brings out her insecurities- and hampered by Nora’s relationship with friend-with-benefits Tal- though she’s beginning to realise what a prick he is. It’s like the start of many relationships, albeit condensed, so it’s more realistic than your average rom-com. (And I’m not spoiling it by giving away the ending. For one thing it’s obvious and for another, it’s the getting there that’s the joy of the film.)

    There’s a cool, indie tinged soundtrack, the camp Twelve Gays of Christmas (it’s not Christmas) and a cute sex scene which cleverly tells us all we need to know without showing us what’s going on and satisfyingly pays off an earlier scene. This isn’t a polished piece like so many others, and it’s more satisfyingly realistic for it.

    It’s all set in New York- mostly Manhattan with a detour into Brooklyn as far as I could tell- so there’s the game of looking for landmarks, and places I visited on my one trip there. There’s Times Square, of course, and I spotted a Max Brenner through a window in one of the later scenes. Of course, because of all the films and TV series set there, we’ve all visited NYC several times. Which is one of the things that makes the “New York You’ve Changed” series at Scouting New York so fascinating. The eponymous Scout is comparing the city in films to how it is now. So far they’ve done Ghostbusters (part 1, part 2) and Taxi Driver (part 1, part 2 should be tomorrow).

    Inspired by the Infinite Playlist (and the finite, but ridiculously long, playlist on my own computer) I want to write something romantic and funny again. I may finally get around to finishing Post and Publish, as I think I’ve been threatening every year since 2006. I may use it as a way to publish some of my favourite Spinneyhead posts, sliding them in between the fiction. I’d also like to film something in that vein, but that’s going to take a little longer. So, in the meantime, here are a few of the songs I’d put on my dream soundtrack-

    Ida Maria – I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked

    Jim Bob- Touchy Feely

    Wonder Stuff- Some Sad Someone

    Obligatory Cure song, possibly Why Can’t I Be You?

    Camper Van Beethoven- Life Is Grand

    They all date me a bit, don’t they? A definite early ’90s feel to it all. Anybody else got any suggestions for songs that should be in films but never seem to make it?


  • Your mother warned you there'd be days like these

    So no one told you life was gonna be this way
    Your jobs a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.

    It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
    And it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month,
    or even your year
    but..

    I’ll be there for you
    When the rain starts to pour
    I’ll be there for you
    Like I’ve been there before
    I’ll be there for you
    ‘Cuz you’re there for me too…

    You’re still in bed at ten
    And work began at eight
    You’ve burned your breakfast
    So far… things are goin’ great

    I‘ll Be There For You – The Rembrandts

    I was pondering the main theme of Post & Publish on the way to work, trying to make it as succinct as possible.  So far I’ve got it down to- The importance of good friends and family and how, sometimes, a group of friends can be a bit like a family.  If I’m not careful it’ll begin to feel like an obscure sitcom I remember from a few years back.  I don’t know if anyone else watched it, so I might be able to get away with it.


  • Fiction – How Deep Is Your Love?

    Neil and I have started bar billiards sessions after work on Tuesdays, whilst he’s waiting for a booty call and I’m not because Sue has to work late. We play for Minstrels. The only problem is that I keep eating my winnings.

    Things aren’t perfect with the doggy shrink, it seems. I’ve only been getting laid again for a couple of weeks and everyone’s talking at me about relationships.

    The problem is Neil’s ex, Ursula. They’ve managed to become friends, after an initial rough patch. In fact they might be talking more now than in the last few months of their relationship. This is freaking Helen, the pet psychologist, out. “She thinks that me and Ursula might get back together. She says she’s intimidated by our history.”

    “You and Ursula were together for, what, three years?”

    “Nearly.”

    “And you’ve only been going out for a couple of months. It takes a while to build up a bank of memories.”

    “That’s what I told her.”

    “Maybe you should suggest doing something neither of you’s done before. Create your own unique memories.”

    “Like anal sex?” He times these things, I just know it. I knocked over the black pin and lost all my points. That’s twenty Minstrels gone.

    “I was thinking of a weekend in Paris, but there is that.” I waited until he’d lined up his shot before adding, “I guess it’s too early for you to suggest a threesome with her best friend.”

    My timing’s not so good. He stopped the shot, looked up and gave a little grin. “You didn’t?” The boy should be an actor, I really don’t know if he was taking the piss or not.

    More Than Words

    More Than Words, by Extreme, is the “If you loved me you’d swallow” song.
    But everyone looks at me strangely when I suggest that. Is it possible I’ve misinterpreted the lyrics?
    Posted by Jim at 21:53

    Sue has a half day most Wednesdays, to compensate for the length of Tuesday. I got out of work as early as possible and went round to her flat.

    We’ve christened the living room and bedroom of the flat, several times over, and we’re going to start on the rooms in my house as soon as her period’s over. (Except the kitchens. By mutual consent we’ve decided that may be unsanitary.)

    People are complaining they don’t see me any more. I don’t care. But just to appease them I’m going to put in an appearance at the big get together on Saturday. “Can I come?” was Sue’s first question when I mentioned this.

    “Of course. I think the main reason they’re on at me about it is that everyone wants to meet you.”

    “To see if I’m good enough for you?”

    “To tell you terrible stories about my past antics, more like. Some of them aren’t true.”

    “I bet.” She had curled up on the sofa, using my lap as a pillow.

    She’s awfully skinny, when she’s undressed I can see her ribs. But she eats everything I put in front of her. I think it’s partly a metabolism thing, but I have noticed that she seems to underestimate serving sizes. As I always overestimate them perhaps we’ll meet in the middle- I’ll lose a little weight and she’ll put some on.

    “Oh.” Sue stirred. “It’s my works Christmas do on Friday. I’ll still come out on Saturday, but it’s a free bar, so I might be a bit delicate.” I stroked, her ear. She made a happy little noise. “Do that again.”

    I moved her hair aside and stroked her neck and jawline and what I could get at of her collarbone and she just lay there with the loveliest little smile. She seems to be sensitive all over to gentle stroking, and we’ve been finding the particularly sensitive bits over the last few days whilst we can’t go penetrative. I told her about my conversation with Neil. She was amused by the different interpretations of doing something new. “Have you ever done it?” she asked.

    “Been to Paris?”

    “You know what I mean. Hold on a sec.” She sat up and pulled her top off, then rearranged herself across the sofa.

    “I’ve thought about it. I’ve mentioned it. Don’t think I’ve ever suggested it. I’ve never done it.”

    “I’ve thought about it. Hell, I’ve fantasised about it. Just there. No, down a little. There, yes, that’s nice. But I’ve never done it.”

    The obvious question nearly didn’t make it out of my mouth. “Would you like to?”

    She didn’t answer, just smiled and flushed, bit her lip and went tense. After a while, when she’d come down, she pulled me down to kiss, then shifted, unzipped my trousers and reached in. I didn’t care whether that was a yes or a no.

    – – – – – – – –

    At two in the morning I woke to a blue glow. Sue was sat up in bed, wearing my dressing gown for warmth, tapping the stylus against the screen of the PDA/phone thing she has. “Whussup?” she jumped.

    “I thought you were asleep. You were snoring. I just thought of something. I had to email myself it so I won’t forget.”

    Bless her little cotton panties, she’s a geek. She’ll fit into the Friendborg with no worries.

    Brown Paper Parcel

    Whilst checking my Amazon affiliate reports I found that some of you have been ordering very naughty products. I have my suspicions, but discretion is my middle name. You’ll be pleased to know it’s been despatched and you should get it tomorrow.
    Posted by Jim at 12:35pm

    Mostly, my friends forget to go through my blog when ordering stuff from Amazon. So it’s probably a stranger who clicked through and ordered The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women.

    It just seems like such a coincidence after Neil brought the subject up. Helen and he are coming out on Saturday, and I’m not going to be able to look at them without wondering if they’ll be getting all Last Tango In Paris at some point.

    Friday night in

    It seems everyone else is having their work’s Christmas party tonight. So I’m all alone with nothing to do.
    It’s wrong to get drunk on your own isn’t it?
    Posted by Jim at 20:57

    I got a phone call at about half past ten. A little voice, slightly slurred, with music in the background. “Can I come back to your place tonight?”

    “Of course you can. You know the address?”

    “I think so. Hold on. Tell me anyway and I’ll write it down.”

    I gave her the address, and the name of the street it’s off. And the name of the street that’s off. “It won’t be until late.” she warned, “Maybe after one.”

    “It’s okay. I’ve got films to watch.”

    So I watched Ronin, with the director’s commentary so I could hear John Frankenheimer’s opinion of the car chases. Then I set about losing a Command and Conquer skirmish.

    The doorbell rang at half past one. I bounced down the stairs, struggled with the locks and flung the door open.

    The woman on the doorstep was not Sue. She was the same height, but twice as wide and probably twice the age. “Are you James?”

    “Yes.”

    She reached behind the bush by the door and pulled a little figure out of hiding. “Does this belong to you?”

    Sue’s drunken smile was infectious. She tumbled forward and wrapped herself around me. “I guess it does. Do I have to sign for it?”

    Sue was talking into my chest. “Pardon?”

    She looked up. “I told her to say that. Did you like the joke?”

    “Very
    funny.”

    “Free bar.” her chauffeur explained as Sue let me go to give her a hug. “Last year I had to put her to bed.”

    “Thanks for the lift Mary. I’ll see you on Monday. I’ll be sober then. I hope.” I grasped her coat collar as she let go and tried to stand up straight.

    “Lots of water.” Mary suggested to me.

    “And paracetamol in the morning.” I steered Sue into the house. “Let’s get you to bed.” I waved a goodbye and kicked the door closed.

    “I don’t like Christmas.” Sue announced halfway up the stairs. She tried to turn and give me another hug. “But I do like you. Can I keep you?”

    “Of course you can. But first you can come upstairs to bed.”

    For such a little thing she’s awfully hard to steer. She veered off into the bathroom and headed for the toilet. I decided to close the door on that and hope she could cope without me. I went for the promised water.

    I filled a pint glass, then had visions of it tipping all over the floor. There was a sports bottle by the sink that seemed a more prudent choice.

    She was in the bedroom, struggling with the buttons on her blouse. “Did you flush?”

    “Yellow is mellow. Remember?”

    “Oh, yeah. Here, you take this and I’ll help you with that. No, no. You drink the water, I’ll undress you.” That raised a giggle, but she did as she was told. The cap on the bottle befuddled her for a moment until she realised how to pull it open.

    She was wearing a bra, which was something I hadn’t seen before. I helped her juggle bottle, bra and blouse until she was topless, then sat her down and went to work on her shoes and jeans. Undressing a giggling drunk girl was turning me on more than I’d have expected. Sue noticed this when I stood up. “Oooh, a present for me to unwrap.” She grabbed my belt and pulled herself into a kneel before me.

    “I thought you didn’t like Christmas.” Somehow her co-ordination was back now she was unfastening me.

    “But I do like you. I told you. This is a present for waiting up for me.” With my pants around my ankles and her lips around me it would have been uncouth to refuse such a gift.

    “I like the way you go all trembly just before you come.” she told me afterwards, stroking my thighs whilst I still stood over her. I loved the way she swallowed and then licked me clean so no dribble escaped. “I’ve got another present for you tomorrow. Cold now.” She pulled the covers about herself and grinned as she watched me strip.

    Sue didn’t want to sleep, poking my shoulder and playing with my chest hair. Maybe my semen had sobered her up. “Why don’t you like Christmas?” I asked to distract her.

    “My family.”

    “You don’t get on with them?”

    “The rest of the time, yes. Well, apart from my step-sister. It’s just that it gets competitive at Christmas. Mum and her new husband want me to spend it with them, Dad and his new wife with them. So I spend it on my own. I don’t want to be part of their game.”

    I considered this for a moment, stopped the roaming finger by grabbing it and kissing it. “Why not spend this Christmas with me and my family?”

    – – – – – – – – –

    It seems I’m too hot. I cuddle up to Sue during the night, but my body heat’s too much for her. More often than not she sneaks away from me to cool down. Usually, though, a little hand will find its way back to hold mine.

    But on Saturday morning I woke to find her wrapped around me, all sweet and cuddly. I found her arm and kissed the inside of her wrist. She liked that, so I kissed up her arm to the inside of her elbow. She liked that even more.

    “Make me tea.” she demanded now she was awake.

    “Did I give you a blow job last night?”

    “You did.”

    “Yucky taste in my mouth.” Sue made spitting noises until I started pouring some tea.

    “That’s more likely the free beer.”

    “Go away. Anyway, they didn’t have any decent beer. I was on rum and stuff all night.” She struggled with the cap on the paracetamol, gave up and handed it to me.

    “That would explain all the talking like a pirate. Here.”

    She washed the painkillers down with tea. “Did I mention my family?”

    “You explained why you don’t like Christmas, yes.”

    “You asked me to spend it with you?”

    “I did.”

    “Did I say yes?”

    “You didn’t say anything. You started telling me why your step-sister is a complete bitch and then you fell asleep halfway through a sentence.”

    “Oh.”

    “Then you started talking in your sleep. I thought you’d woken up until I realised you weren’t using real words.”

    “I do that, so I’m told.”

    “Allegedly I snore.”

    “Allegedly my arse. You probably wake people five doors down.” Sue studied her blouse, deciding whether to wear it again. “I’ve spent Christmas by myself since my last year of Uni. I’ve got sort of traditions. I roast a chicken, drink a bottle of wine and heckle the Queen.”

    “Sounds like a normal Christmas. Though we don’t watch Queenie any more.”

    “Won’t your parents mind? It’s a bit late in the year to land them with a Christmas guest.”

    “Oh they won’t mind really.” We have a family history of taking in waifs and strays. The shock might be landing on them with a girlfriend. I’ve told my mother I’m ‘seeing’ someone. I think she understands the euphemism.

    Sue still didn’t look convinced. I selected a T-shirt from the clean pile and handed it to her. “It’s just an idea. It’s okay if you don’t want to.”

    “Thanks. I’ll think about it.”

    “Breakfast?”

    “I’ll grab a banana and head home. I need to sort some stuff out for tonight.”

    “Okay.”

    – – – – – – – –

    We met in Rain. Sue had insisted we make our own ways there. Neil, Helen and Ursula were already there. That didn’t seem like a good combination. I decided to arm myself with Moonraker and try to mediate.

    Moonraker’s an odd beer. I can understand how so many people don’t like it, but I’m fond of its thick, sickly taste. It’s also over 8%, so when you order your first of the night the bar staff always give you a look and say “You do know it’s over eight percent don’t you.”

    “Of course I do. That’s why I drink it.”

    “Okay.”

    Reinforcements arrived whilst my beer was being pulled. Steve’s always fancied Ursula, I didn’t even need to engineer a reason for him to join the conversation. Bert joined in just to confound him.

    Before I’d finished my first pint there were fifteen of us. No Sue, though. I was beginning to worry that I’d been stood up. But she was just waiting to make an entrance.

    I admit, I didn’t recognise her at first. I didn’t even know she possessed any dresses. It was dark blue and came to just below her knees. She sort of slinked out of her long coat and draped it over her arm as she approached.

    I admit it, I stared. People seemed to notice this and one by one turn to follow my gaze, because I swear the room went silent as she approached. She dropped the coat at my feet, wrapped both arms around my neck and pulled me down to kiss her.

    There might have been applause. There was definitely a cry of “Get a room!” When we came up for air she was the most flushed I’ve seen her outside the bedroom. She pulled my head down to whisper in my ear, “I wanted to make a good impression.”

    “I think you did that.” I kissed her neck, then her ear, then the top of her head. I wanted to kiss her all over, but I wasn’t going to get the chance. “You’re about to get the inquisition.”

    “Oh dear. Oh, and I would love to spend Christmas with you.”

    I didn’t know what to say, but Ursula arrived before it became obvious. “You must be Sue. I’m Ursula. I’ve heard so much about you.”

    “No she hasn’t. Deny everything. Unless it makes me look good, of course.” My glass was empty. I wagged it at Sue and she nodded, mouthing the words “non-alcoholic”.

    I’m a bad man. After handing over her J2O I abandoned her. Helen was looking lost. Neil had drifted into a conversation about processor speeds with Bert and she wasn’t deeply enough assimilated to join in the inquisition of Sue. I wandered over. “Hey. How are you?”

    “I’m okay.” she gestured at Sue “It’s scary, all those people wanting to know about you.”

    “I guess it is.” Helen had first met the FriendBorg whilst drinking in the Students’ Union. I’m not sure she’s fully recovered.

    She remembered something that made her smile. “Thanks, by the way.”

    “What for?”

    “You suggested to Neil that we should do something special. What was it? Create our own history.”

    I managed not to drop my pint. “Really?”

    “Yeah. He’s taking me to Paris next month.”

    I just nodded and took a gulp of beer. I didn’t know what to say just yet, because ‘take me to Paris’ sounds like rhyming slang for ‘take me up the arse’, which is what I’d been thinking.

    “She looks….. gorgeous.” Helen indicated Sue, rescuing me.

    “Yes, she does, doesn’t she. I’ve never seen her in a dress before.” Two things were beginning to dawn on me. That Sue really wanted to impress my friends and that I was in love with her. I caught her eye and smiled at her. “I have to go and hug her now.”

    – – – – – – – – –

    It wasn’t one of our heavier nights, but it was still gone eleven when we sneaked away. We managed to grab a taxi after walking a wee way in the right direction and away from the crowds, and tried not to get too steamy on the back seat. We didn’t crash, so I guess we weren’t doing anything the driver wanted to watch.

    “I have another present for you.” Sue announced as I locked the door. “Time to unwrap it.”

    I turned to find her pushing her knickers down her legs. She stepped out of them and lifted the front of her dress. Her grin was all the more sexy because she seemed on the edge of uncontrollable laughter. She backed toward the bean bag as I approached. “I went to the doctor and had him put me on the Pill. Your present is me- any time, any place, anywhere. Starting right here, on the bean bag.”

    – – – – – – – – – –

    I never did find out who bought The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. I don’t really care.

    Notes Another jumping off point for the first draft of Post & Publish. Yes there’s a lot of gratuitous sex, but that’s the best type and they’re at the beginning of a relationship when that sort of thing goes on a lot.

    Links to all products mentioned have been included because Tim tells me off if I don’t do that sort of thing.

    Other fiction- check out So Much To Answer For, or Heavensent Download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

    Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.


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  • Fiction- Venn

    On The Tiles

    Another weekend, another round of birthday parties. This week we’re celebrating Tony’s, Kate’s and Bert’s. Next week it’s Julie’s and Sam’s. It strikes me that a whole load of parents were getting jiggy in June and July. Must have been all the sunshine. So I thought I’d do a little research to find out which is the most fertile month.

    Typing ‘What Month has the highest birth rate?’ into Ask Jeeves brings back a lot of results about teenage pregnancy and how to prevent it and decreasing overall birth rates and, indirectly, this piece about the spread of disease and disorder by birth month which does, briefly, allude to my theory of a Spring baby glut.

    ‘Birth Rate by Month’ in Google has a more useful spread of results. The first one out of the bag, however, tells me my Summer Lovin’ theory is wrong, at least in South Carolina– where April is the moribund month and August the fecund. There mustn’t be much else to do in South Carolina in December, which reminds me of the old line about Iceland- ‘There’s only two things to do around here- fishing and fucking. And in the Winter there isn’t any fishing.’ Most worrying statistic from South Carolina is that the youngest mother was only 11! (They should have given her a television set.)
    Meanwhile, the rate of never married Japanese men has dropped, and it’s all because of the power of the Internet, Blueberries are good for the brain and sheep with hair are more efficient meat producers.
    I can’t help coming back to the 11 year old mother. The world’s youngest mother was five years and eight months old when she gave birth. She was afflicted with a condition that brought on puberty ridiculously early, but the most important, and chilling, question is- who the hell was having sex with a four year old?
    The world’s oldest mother was 63. Guinness doesn’t keep an oldest father record, but points to a 93 year old (there’s hope for me yet).
    And finally, recommendations on the best positions for getting pregnant (it seems that the most fun positions- standing, sitting, woman on top- are also the least effective baby makers.)

    Posted by Jim at 7:12:48pm

    It’s going to be tense, what with Bob and Louise’s break up and everything. Everyone’s been assimilated, but back in the pre-friendBorg past, Kate was Bob’s friend and Tony Louise’s. Or was it the other way around. Bert’s only been around a couple of years. As a junior member of the collective he was the one who got to have his name changed so we could differentiate him from Bob.

    The friendBorg is this sort of blob of shifting loyalties and power struggles. For a brief moment, back when I was a corporate whore and before inertia broke my heart, I was poster boy for career aspirations in the group. Now I think I’m the boogeyman of bad job decisions (“Remember children, if you’re going to quit a job, make sure you have another one lined up to move to. Otherwise Jim’s P45 will get you.”) I love all of my friendBorg and there are no other people I’d rather spend time with. It’s just that sometimes I’d like to meet someone new.

    I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m horrendously, painfully shy. Most of the people who know me would get all puzzled at my assertion. They’ve been out drinking with this merry loud bloke, or heard me doing improv on why elephants can’t drive (their feet are too big, they keep pressing the accelerator, brake AND clutch all at the same time.) But I can’t start conversations with strangers and I don’t understand the art of small talk (unless you want to discuss elephants’ driving habits, of course.) So the friendBorg is a safe cocoon. It’s full of people I know, who I’m several years- in some cases over a decade- beyond making first impressions on. They’ve seen the good, the bad, the average and unique of Jim and little short of going postal is going to change their opinion of me in one night.

    Of course, every so often we assimilate someone new, and sometimes this messes with the group dynamic or my stability.

    blonde

    Gah! I’m c rap. I don’t do the relationship thing. I certainly can’t do the chatting up thing. Not even when she’s right there in front of me. especially when she’s right there in fronmt of me.

    I’m going to die bitter and lonely.
    Posted by Jim at 3:47:28am

    I wonder who you could be talking about……?
    Comment by Steve at 10:14:37am
    How many times do I ha ve to tell you. Don’t drink and blog!
    You might get the keyboard wet.
    Comment by at 10:46:35am
    Who was she? You can tell me, I don’t know any of your friends and I promise not to tell.
    Comment by Caroline at 11:03:23am
    Get me an aspirin and don’t make me embarrass myself any more than I already have done.
    Comment by Jim at 11:49:37am
    Did someone mention squirrels?
    Comment by Bert at 2:16:03pm

    The Edge is a damn fine pub that does an evil thing. It sells Kwak. Kwak is probably the king of Belgian beers, and that’s saying something. It’s a dark lager, more mellow than pilsner and more bitter than some bitter. It’s also over 8% abv. Time was, we’d celebrate a birthday by trying to drink The Edge empty of Kwak bottles. I have many happy memories of birthdays fuelled by Belgian beer.

    Actually, that last bit’s a lie. But I do have photos.

    I rolled up at The Edge unfashionably on time. The birthday girl was there, along with Bert and Bob and a few others. “Jimmy!” Kate bounced over to me and gave me a big hug. Drunk already.

    “Hey honey. How are you?”

    “Drunk.” At least she’s honest.

    “Good for you. Let me dump my coat. You want a drink?”

    Kate picked a glass from the table, brought it up close and tipped it left and right to check the level. “Heineken please.”

    “Bert?”

    “Wyre Piddle, please.”

    “There’s a beer called Wyre Piddle?”

    “Guest ale.”

    “Okay.”

    I have this funky little thing I do with my trench coat where I shrug it off and catch it just before it falls to the floor. then I can turn round and dump it wherever. It was as I turned around that I spotted her. Lucy. I’d forgotten she was in town. Still cute. I still would. She caught my eye and gave me a little smile. Oh crap. Kate smirked at me as I set off for the bar.

    Steve swung through the doors while I was at the bar. He nodded in my direction then waved to the others before tacking across the flow of a group who were leaving and heading for the bar. “Lucy’s here.”

    “I hadn’t noticed. Beverage?”

    “Wyre Piddle.”

    “Someone’s taking the piss.”

    “She’s a friend of Kate’s you know. I don’t think she’s got a boyfriend.”

    “Is everyone going to smirk at me all night? Three Piddles and a Heineken please.”

    – – – – – – – – –

    It didn’t take too long to get Piddled out of my head. It’s not Kwak, but it sneaks up on you. Tony turned up at some point, with Louise and a bundle of others. She sat at
    the opposite end of the big table to Bob, but there was no obvious glaring. Somewhere along the line, Kate managed to shuffle me along next to Lucy. Personally, I’d have preferred to sit at a discreet distance and sneak sly glances at the fit of her top. It went quiet in our little bubble. I knew I should say something, but what? Whilst I mulled over the least cheesey opening line, she seemed engrossed in the discussion to our left. To my right Bob, Bert and Kate were talking holiday plans. Adrift from the conversation, lacking chat up lines and with full bladder but empty glass, it was time to pee and then Piddle.

    “When did you get back?” The question caught me as I was about to get up.

    “Mwuh? Uh, sorry?”

    “You’ve been away with work haven’t you?”

    “Travelling the country as an Itinerant Technology specialist.” Lucy didn’t get the joke. No-one ever gets that joke, my best material is wasted. “Yeah, I was living in hotels for almost a year.”

    “;So they finally sent you back here.”

    “Nah. I quit.”

    “Oh, right.”

    And that’s as far as I got. I knew I was supposed to ask her what she was doing these days, how everything was going in her life, whether she’d come back to my place and let me tie her to the bed so I could tease her until she multiply orgasmed, or, “Would you like a drink?”

    She studied her half empty lager. “No, I’m okay thanks.”

    Maybe I should have asked her about the bondage.

    – – – – – – – –

    “I swear the squirrels are spying on me.”

    “Squirrels?” Bert wasn’t sure what he was hearing.

    “When I open the curtains every morning one of the little bastards is staring at me. Every morning.”

    “They’re clever little buggers, maybe they’re just curious.” Steve was almost as Piddled as I, or he wouldn’t be discussing tree rats.

    “Every fucking morning? No, there’s something sinister going on.”

    “Do they have guns?”

    “No. They might have catapults.”

    “I don’t see how they can be sinister if they don’t have guns.” Bert was beginning to get into the swing of it.

    “They’re not allowed guns. The magpies won’t let them have guns.” Steve had remembered a conversation from our last time in the Edge. Kudos to him, but Bert was getting lost again. I was running out of beer. I waggled the glass, the accepted sign for ‘I’m off to the bar’, struggled up and left.

    – – – – – – –

    I wasn’t following Lucy around the room, honest. She just happened to be where I ended up. I hadn’t seen Bob for an entire two days, so I just had to catch up with him.

    The party was beginning to balkanize, with Louise’s group digging in by the emergency exit and Bob’s taking the high ground at the head of the table. I was going to be the UN. Maybe. Or perhaps one of those mercenary groups.

    Except that I couldn’t think of anything to say. “What is that stuff?” Bob asked.

    “Wyre Piddle.”

    “You’re taking the piss.”

    “May that joke never grow old. Are we going anywhere after this?”

    “You’d best ask the birthday girl. Or boy.”

    “Kate. Kate.” I did wave, but I stopped short of clicking my fingers.

    “Heyyyyy! Whassup?”

    “We going anywhere else?”

    “Don’t know.”

    “Helpful. Where’s Tony?”

    The enquiry had already rippled down the table, hopped to the other group and a reply was on its way back. “Broadway.” someone said.

    Ahh, Broadway. Sweaty, smokey, grotty little place. I love it. I don’t know who the DJ is on a Saturday, but he’s got pretty much the right selection of alt, indie and retro. Which I would dance to if anyone asked.

    We formed up either side of a pillar, waggling bottles to the beat. Bert slid over, I swear he was moving sideways. “These squirrels?”

    “Squirrels?”

    “The squirrels, are they grey or red?”

    “Squirrels? Oh, the squirrels. Grey. Thieving little incomer bastards.”

    “Incomer?”

    “They’re American. Can’t you tell? They’re fat, bossy and they’ve come over here and kicked out all the reds and taken their jobs.”

    “I thought that was Austrarlians.”

    “Whu?”

    “Australians. They come over here and take all the bar jobs.”

    “Hmmm.”

    I swear Lucy was glancing at me. At least as often as I was glancing over at her. I needed another drink.

    At some point I made it onto the dancefloor. I don’t remember what to, but I’m certain I didn’t kill anyone. There wasn’t any dried blood on my shoes, anyway. Then it gets all fuzzy and the next thing I remember is waking up in the director’s chair with half a kebab in my lap. It’s been a while since that happened. Then I went and posted silliness, then I went to bed and slept past noon.

    And now I’m staring at the ceiling and pondering it all. Relationships are odd things, and I’ll never understand them. Why risk so much heartbreak and such stupid things as a redistribution of friends when it’s all over. They take so much effort and for what?

    Apart from the sex.

    And the cuddles.

    Having someone to hold at night.

    Being part of something bigger than yourself.

    Yes, of course I want to be in one.

    Notes Another chapter from the earlier version of Post & Publish. You can probably guess that it’s from before Boyfriend Season but after A Sort Of Homecoming. There’s a plan for the novel in a notebook and another chapter half way through being transcribed. I’m dropping behind on my 1000 words a day average because of other projects, but I’ll catch back up again soon.

    The Edge is quite blatantly the Knott Fringe on Deansgate. Broadway is probably meant to be 42nd Street, which I haven’t been into in years. Kwak is Kwak. Thankfully I don’t drink it any more. Wyre Piddle is a real beer. Lucy is based on a rather embarassing crush I had a few years ago. If you know who, you know who, otherwise I’m not telling.

    Other fiction- So Much To Answer For, Heavensent, the propeller-punk sci-fi war novel, or download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

    Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.


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  • A little market research

    For want of a better description, Post & Publish is going to be a “relationship comedy”. It’s not just about romance, friends play a bigger part and family is important. I thought I’d pick up a couple of books and see how others have covered similar material. I couldn’t be bothered to finish either of them.

    T-Shirt and Genes is, as one reviewer on Amazon puts it a “blokey, mid life crisis, lose girlfriend, analyse life, get girlfriend back” book. Tony Parsons thought it was hilarious, but I should have paid more attention to the handwritten review in the front that said “This book is crap- read it at your peril”. Charlie Ellis, biology teacher and idiot, loses his job and girlfriend after not taking sensible precautions whilst having sex in the staff room. He then goes on to blame everything except himself and eventually turns into an inept stalker. As I’d had little sympathy for the character to begin with, I gave up at this point. If you’re looking for this formula done properly, then read High Fidelity (or watch the film, even).

    The Trials of Tiffany Trott is the sort of rubbish people mock when they’re deriding “chick lit”. I hope it’s not representative, because I can’t imagine any woman wanting to identify with such a vacant space of a character as the eponymous Ms Trott. She’s supposed to be a terribly successful advertising copy writer, but I’m not convinced she could even tie her own laces. 37, single and childless she sets out to find Mr. About Right, blind dates, clubbing, holidays, blah, blah, blah. I just couldn’t be bothered.

    So my challenge is to write strong characters,capable of making mistakes and bad decisions without losing the reader’s sympathy. Then I have to put them in a strong narrative with funny set pieces and a believable resolution. Piece of cake, obviously.

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  • A Sort of Homecoming

    Home (Page) at last

    Home again, home again. Or not.
    I’ve moved into my new house, which is nice. And empty. And I’ve finally got internet access, albeit dial-up, back so the world is no longer safe from my inane wittering and sarcastic opinions.
    Oh, and I managed to turn commenting on. Say something.
    Please.
    Posted by Jim at 9:16:48pm

    Something.
    Comment by Steve at 10:02:28pm
    You so funny.
    Comment by Jim at 11:32:22pm

    – – – – –

    Unfurnished. I hadn’t really thought about just how empty the house would be. Right now the only furniture I possess is the TV stand and bean bag in the living room and the computer desk and chair upstairs. It’s all very minimalist. IKEA- the Swedish god of flat pack- calls to me.

    I’ve heard that sleeping on a hard surface can be good for the back. I hope it’s true, because the only thing between me and the floor is the spare duvet. With it as a ground sheet I feel like there should be a tent above me. My two suitcases are on one side of the bed, storage with handles, and all the boxes I packed my life into are clustered by the door or trailing off to the other rooms. Maybe I could build a fort, barricade the door and feel safe from all those unfamiliar creaking and popping noises the house makes as it recuperates before the ‘morrow.

    – – – – –

    Lost and Found

    Lost-
    toothbrush, toothpaste etc.
    Found-
    Carter USM- 101 Damnations cd, which I thought I’d lost but turned out to be in a CD-R case amongst a pile of Verbatim disks I ‘requisitioned’ from my last job.
    No. I can’t sleep.
    Posted by Jim at 2:19:32am

    – – – – –

    Ah, the joy of the lie in. I haven’t found the radio alarm yet, so this morning I was woken by the shrill sound of my mobile. I turned it off, rolled over and went back to sleep. Finally rose at eleven. I was half showered before I wondered where I’d packed the towels. So now there’s a trail of wet footprints all around the house.

    I have a month’s pay due. Extra time to find a new job, one benefit of the ‘agreement’ I came to when they sacked me. So I spent the afternoon printing out CVs and figuring out where to send them. I should just relax and take the money for a couple of weeks. All in all a very, as in not at all, productive day.

    – – – – –

    Cabin Fever

    Okay, so I didn’t leave the house at all today. Which is sad, I know. So tomorrow, honest, I’m checking out the neighbourhood. I’ve been away for a while, so who knows what I’ll find.
    Posted by Jim at 11:36:41pm

    They tore down paradise, put up a parking lot.
    Comment by Steve at 12:08:03am
    I’m going to be in town tomorrow (this) afternoon. Give me a call.
    Comment by steve at 12:47:16am

    – – – – –

    New buildings going up, old buildings coming down. I was like a tourist on the bus, sat on the top deck looking left and right all the time to see what had happened to all the places I remembered. After a while I took to running ‘Dirty Old Town’ through my head, not quite humming it but doing the rhythm by clicking my teeth together. It must have looked like I was worrying at a particularly small piece of chewing gum, the funny little tack tack movements my jaw was making.

    It was certainly grey enough for a melancholy song. The big ugly concrete wall is still standing at Piccadilly Gardens. The least they could do is commission some art for it. I can’t believe they turn the fountains on on such an overcast day.

    I’d decided on any coffee shop that wasn’t Starbucks, which narrowed it down to about three. Even then I could see an outlet of the coffee colonialists from my window seat. I settled down with a copy of the Guardian and a fairtrade latte and savoured being early.

    Steve wandered in quarter of an hour later. He nodded in my direction and pointed at my cup. “Latte.” I mouthed. He nodded again and headed for the baristas.

    I made space for the tray. My empty mug went on the table behind, the Guardian curled up faithfully at my feet. Steve landed the tray and tried to move his cup onto the space that was left. “You don’t call, you don’t write…..” he tutted as he sat down.

    “Well, you know. It was only going to be two months. And then I hadn’t been in touch for two months and then…..” I made the shrug that said ‘And then everything went to shit and they decided to blame me for it.’ Everyone foolish enough to ask had received an e-mail ranting about the stupidity of middle, upper and line management and didn’t need a recap. “You using up holiday again?”

    “One day I’ll be organised and plan a proper one. They only let me carry five days over.”

    “Brazil. You want to go to Brazil.” That’s a lie, I want to go to Brazil. I must stop projecting.

    “I’d settle for Bournemouth.

    “Actually, no. I wouldn’t.”

    We sipped coffees and watched the wet shoppers go by.

    “You should have sent me a message. I could have helped you move.”

    “Everything I own fit in the back of a small van with room to spare. It wasn’t a big job.” This struck me. There was something wrong about it. “I’m sure I used to own more. I mean, I can remember when I could get everything I owned into the back of an Escort. Last time I moved I swear I needed a tranny van.

    “I must have left so much shit at my parents’ house.”

    “You don’t know?”

    “I guess I got too wrapped up in all that corporate bullshit. I….” Another shrug. I’m getting better at stopping myself. Plus, I’d had another realisation. “Oh shit. I left all my porn with my parents.”

    “What?”

    “Well. It wasn’t porn porn, you know. More sort of…… erotica.”

    “Erotica?”

    “Erotica. Stuff like books on oriental erotic carvings. And stuff.” Vague hand waving gestures that could mean anything.

    “Can we stop talking about your porn?”

    “Yeah. Sure.” Back to drinking our coffees and looking out of the window.

    “What’s the gossip?”

    “What do you know?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Well.” Steve began ticking things off on his fingers. “Mike and Rachel are engaged.”

    “Again?”

    “Again?”

    “They were engaged for the Millennium. At least, I think they were.”

    Steve shrugged. A ‘nobody ever tells me anything’ shrug. “Tom and Graeme have split up.”

    “No surprise there.”

    “Neil has a new girlfriend. I swear she’s only ten.”

    “He’s breaking the album rule?”

    “I think she was born after he bought his last album, let alone his first.”

    “Vinyl?”

    “Oh definitely his last album on vinyl. She’s much younger than that.

    “What else? Oh yes. Bob and Louise have split up as well.”

    “Shit. Now that is a surprise.”

    “Not to some of us.”

    I figured I’d leave that one alone. “Anyway, I was thinking of going record shopping.”

    “That sounds like a plan.”

    – – – – –

    3(?) feet tall and rising

    Damn those record sales! I just bought five new CDs.
    It’s true- I can resist anything but temptation.
    Posted by Jim at 6:38:27pm

    – – – – –

    Notes This is from the original incarnation of Post & Publish, written a while ago. As with Boyfriend Season, it’s going to be expanded upon. I’m seeing the story coming together as four “seasons”, starting in Spring, with Jim’s emotional progress mirroring them in some way.
    The Album Rule (a phrase first coined by Brian, and which I asked permission to use ages ago) is going to be yanked out of the Spring section and form a major part of the Summer part. Autumn is Boyfriend Season and Winter allows me to wrap stuff up. I’ll be publishing bits and pieces here then putting together a full manuscript. If you’d like to be in my test group for that manuscript get in touch.

    Other fiction- check out So Much to Answer For, the crime tale I wrote last October, Heavensent, the propeller-punk sci-fi war novel I wrapped up last year, or download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

    Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.




    Fiction, ,


  • Oh, the weather outside is frightful

    It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder, a natural inclination or the way the whole of December has become a placeholder for the commercial festival that is Christmas, but this last week before the holiday is bringing me down. It’s so hard to plan anything beyond the week and a bit of winter festival, which can be annoying.

    But motivation is at hand in the form of another Problogger competition courtesy of Darren Rowse. He wants an end of year list, looking forward or back. I’ll do a review of the year some other time, let’s look to the future now, it’s only just begun.

    To do in 2007-

    Average 1000 words a day. That should mean write every day, but more likely will be achieved in bursts of creativity. The plan is to get Post & Publish rewritten in the style of Boyfriend Season and sent to publishers and agents. Shorter stuff, like So Much To Answer For and my truncated NaNoWriMo story, will get bundled into PDFs and sold through the site.

    One product a month. At least one, this shouldn’t be an average. The best moneyspinners this year have been the Small Scale Customs stuff and the Poser backgrounds. I need to get my finger out and make, and promote, more of them.

    Talk to more people. Every so often I’ll have a conversation with someone I know that goes something like-

    Me: ‘I’m really quite shy.’

    Them: ‘No you’re not.’

    Me: ‘Yes I am.’

    Them: ‘No you’re not.’ etc.

    I really am crap at talking to strangers, and I’ll go and hide in the corner at parties (at least until I’ve had too much to drink, which is another matter). So I really need to learn some conversational tricks to get past that initial reticence. The good thing about talking to more people is that I’ll get to hear more tales, always good for inspiration.

    Move more, eat less. It might happen.

    Be happy with how I make a living. I’ve never had a truly satisfying job. Such things may not exist. But I can at least try to find one that isn’t so demoralising. Ideally I’d like to be making money from writing and my websites. I’ve said before that I’d accept living on less if it meant I was independent of an employer, and the quest to do so goes on.

    Sent from my phone. To be edited and added to later.

    (Let It Snow, Dean Martin [and many others over the years])

    Update Now with added linkage. If you can think of anything I need to do next year, please add it to the comments.


  • Boyfriend Season

    “Autumn is boyfriend season. With the nights drawing in and the weather getting worse it’s the right time to have a man to keep you warm and stuff.”

    I was with Lauren and Vanessa, a few pints into the night somewhere in Didsbury, when Lauren had dropped this concept into the conversation.

    “And in Spring you can dump them because there’s so much else to do.” Vanessa added.

    I think I did a guppy impersonation for a while. It was only later that I thought that men are at their horniest in Spring. It’s all sunny and the serotonin levels are rising again. I’d probably have been told that that’s just the way it goes.

    ———-

    Tis the season to be hunted
    Important message for the Brotherhood of Single Men!
    It’s Boyfriend Season.
    They’re after you, be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Or let yourself get caught. Whatever.
    Posted by Jim at 00:52:34am

    ———

    I really ought to have asked what a boy does to attract attention during the season. Preferably early on. It could be useful information.

    I’m not looking for a relationship, but, then again, I’m not not looking. You know how it is. And the sort of relationship I’m not looking for is a long term one. I don’t think I’m wired for one night stands, flings or seasonal affairs.

    Unless the right woman suggests it.

    So I’m meeting new people, trying to give a good impression to as many women as possible and having conversations about dating to suit the weather. There’s a whole world apart from the geeks I know and love and it’s quite interesting.

    Just so long as they don’t ask me to do tech support.

    ———-

    Sue kills mice for a living.

    Not, you know, herself, physically. She does have little hands, probably small enough to wring a rodent’s neck if the need arose. There’ll be a fetish site for that sort of thing.

    No. Sue formulates the poison that goes into those mouse hotels, or whatever they’re called, the black or brown plastic boxes with little circular doors you see on the exterior walls of cinemas and the like. Her aim is, perversely, to make the tablets less toxic. If she can kill the mouse quickly and have the poison break down there’s less chance of it getting into the food chain.

    God help me, but I found this fascinating. So much so that I sought her out after the speed dating session and we talked some more. It helped that she’s cute. Short, slim, very dark hair, pale. Perhaps a little too pale, she does look like someone who spends her days around poisons. In a room full of topped up tans, Rimmell and hair gel her unpainted pretty face drew me.

    I didn’t ask for her number. I don’t know what the etiquette is about that, and she didn’t ask me. I ticked her name on the list, however, and hopefully she did the same for me.

    ———-

    The boyfriend season thing’s becoming a meme. I’ve had a couple of comments and a few people have mentioned it in emails. I’m waiting to see how long it takes for someone to tell me it as if they think I don’t already know about it.

    In the meantime, the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Single Men is trying to imagine what sorts of lures we could be using.

    “Shouldn’t the hunters be the ones using the lures? We are the prey, after all.” Steve observed.

    “Ah, they have their feminine wiles to use as lures.” I can’t believe I said that. This is what happens when you drink strange spirits people bring back from holiday.

    “T-shirts with big targets on them.” Bert suggested, “Or that say ‘This space available to rent’ and point at the crotch.”

    “Mount me.” I offered.

    “What?”

    “T-shirts that say ‘Mount me’.”

    “Oh. Right.”

    “I was thinking more along the lines of a duck call kind of thing.”

    “What would it sound like?”

    “Wa-Hey!” Bert offered.

    “Nah.”

    “Get yer tits oot for the lads.” Me.

    “Not going to work.”

    “I have chocolate.” Bert again.

    “That…. Now that might work.”

    ———–

    I really, really hate Neil.

    Oh, okay, that’s a lie. I love him to bits, in a totally heterosexual way. But he’s getting laid, so I’m very jealous.

    She’s a Phd student, “Companion Animal Learned Behaviour.”

    “What?”

    “Pet psychology.”

    “You’re joking right? They do postgrads in pet psychology? How?”

    “Have you ever tried to out-think a cat?”

    “Fair point. So what are you doing in the pub with your sad single friend when you’ve got a hot doggy shrink to go home to?”

    “She’s got some sort of open session on. ‘Bring in your gerbil and we’ll deal with its Oedipal problems.’ That sort of thing. It won’t be done for a while.”

    “I was hoping it was because you still loved me.”

    “Nah, sorry. You’re last month’s thing. I’m just slumming with you ’cause she lives across the road. Bar billiards?”

    Two games, and another pint, later, his phone rang. “Hey honey.” he glanced out of the window at the flats across the road. “Really? How come? Oh, well, that’s cool. Just take all your clothes off and I’ll be right over. Bye bye.”

    My shot had gone so horribly wrong that I’d knocked over all three pins. Mental images.

    “I’ve got to go. Finish this if you want.” Neil waggled his half drunk pint.

    “She isn’t going to be waiting there naked you know.”

    “She might be. And would you pass up the chance?”

    “No, I guess not. No doggy style, though. Might remind her of work.”

    ———–

    Maybe Neil’s girlfriend can introduce me to a few of her friends.

    Or maybe not. The last time we went to a student party Steve and I got drunk and started reminiscing about the early nineties.

    There are only so many times you can hear, “I was only four!” before you start to feel old.

    ————–

    Larger offices tend to have a demarcation along employment status lines. The perms look down on us temps because we don’t have their security. We look down on them because that security so often leads to lack of imagination and risk avoidance. Morlocks and Eloi, where it’s always the other bunch who are the knuckle dragging devolveds.

    Karen was another of the temps at work. We’d developed a nil carborundum kind of camaraderie against the management stupidity. It was her last day on Friday, so we went for a few drinks.

    She’s quite buff, goes to the gym twice a week, to maintain the flat stomach and muscle definition. I refused the offer of an arm wrestle. Cycling does wonders for the definition of my arse and legs, but my top half is flabby and weak.

    One by one our band of Eloi disappeared, off home to S.O.s and cats. In the end it was just Karen and me. Somehow we’d made it to the Kro on Oxford Road opposite the University. It was that flux period, between the after work drinkers going home and the party animals getting dressed and heading out.

    Karen cycles as well. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Perhaps I should have suggested a ride, but there’s an inner ten year old that just can’t accept the possibility of being beaten by a girl.

    At some point before closing time we went our separate ways. I don’t strictly remember the bus ride home. Not that I blacked out. It’s just that I’ve made it so many times it all passes me by unless something particularly interesting happens.
    I can’t believe I didn’t get her number or email. I think sh
    e knows about my blog.

    —————

    Sue chose me!

    Hungover and befuddled I checked my email. I nearly blocked the message from the speed dating site. It proclaimed ‘Susan wants to see more of you!’ and I was about to mark it as spam when I recognised the site name in the email address.

    Sue put a tick next to me on the website. As I ticked against her on my page we get each other’s emails to do with as we please. I was far too hungover to do anything and decided to leave it for a while.

    Steve owed me a fry up, so I headed over. Somehow he convinced me to pick up the bacon and sausages on the way. There’s something not quite right about that.

    Bert had been photoshopping and now his desktop is a picture of Alyson Hannigan as Vampire Willow, saying “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting boyfriends.”

    We like the idea of being hunted. We don’t believe it really happens, though. Any woman caught making it easy for a bloke would be kicked out of the girly club.

    ————-

    Sue emailed me whilst I was out. Is it a bad sign that she’s capable of being that coherent on a Saturday morning?

    She wants to get together some time, tonight even, if I’m free. I guess if I take some paracetamol and drink enough water I’ll be able to pass for sentient by the evening.

    ————

    Food and drinks in Metropolitan on Burton Road. We met early evening, before the pre-club crowd filled it. It was as awkward as you’d expect at first. I bought her a drink (Directors, good call) and we found a table.

    “So….” I began, but couldn’t think of what to say next. ‘Why did you wait nearly a fortnight to tick my box?’ would probably sound too judgemental and/or desperate. I sort of waved my hands and smiled.

    “Sorry I took so long to complete the feedback. It’s been hellishly busy the last few weeks. I just got back from three days in Germany yesterday.”

    “Sounds interesting.”

    “Not really. I didn’t get to see anything of the area. It was all meetings, trips around chem labs and late meals at the hotel. I got some reading done.”

    “What sort of stuff?”

    “I’m re-reading all my Pratchett.”

    “Oh. I started doing that last year.”

    We discussed the Discworld for a while, and somehow it segued into hobbies. Thankfully, nothing Sue does in her spare time involves cruelty to small furry animals. We ate, and drank a bit more, then it became a bit too crowded.

    Her place was only a couple of street away. It seemed logical that we should end up there. It was a single bedroom flat on the first floor. I sat on the sofa and checked out the living room whilst she broke open some wine. It was good to know I’m not the only one who’s so untidy. It wasn’t messy, it was just that paperwork, books and magazines were filed in piles on available surfaces.

    She brought a bottle of white and two tumblers and sat right beside me. One glass later she was draped across my lap and I was pushing and tugging her top off.

    She’s got tiny tits with responsive nipples that seem, relatively, large. I couldn’t keep my hands, lips, tongue and, occasionally, teeth off them. She squirmed a bit, made a lot of appreciative noises and finally went tense and then limp with a little “Wow”. The flush on her pale skin was very sexy.

    Having made her come just by concentrating on her breasts I had sealed the deal. We took things to the bedroom.

    ————-

    Coffee in bed. Sweet.

    The bedroom’s tidier than the living room. Two bookshelves completely filled, a dressing table and two cupboards. The only signs of disarray were the suitcase and our discarded clothes from the night before.

    It was good coffee, too. “I buy the beans from the health food shop. They’re FairTrade.” Sue explained.

    She was wearing a big baggy top, looking tiny. Her hair framed her face and she looked worryingly young. “I nearly didn’t tick anyone from the speed dating night. I kept telling myself no-one would be interested.”

    “So what made you change your mind?”

    “You seemed a nice guy, and interesting. And I was a bit horny. And, well, it is boyfriend season.”

    Notes I did think of posting this in parts, but then decided to present it in one piece. “Boyfriend Season” was written in October whilst working on an IT helpdesk. It was inspired by a conversation very like the one that opens the story (see my own version of the Boyfriend Season post). Sadly I haven’t seen the women who introduced me to the concept since that evening.

    I’d like to expand upon this story. I was experimenting with minimalism when I wrote it and on re-reading it I think I may have stripped away a little too much. I’ve stated my aim to incorporate this into a novel about a blogger to be called Post & Publish. I see it being the second, of three or four, distinct parts of the novel. Parts 3 and 4 will concentrate on Jim and Sue’s relationship developing and the lives of their friends. I’ve only got this lightly sketched out at the moment, it’s my New Year writing project.

    Other fiction-

    So Much To Answer For, a crime story also written whilst I was on the helpdesk.

    Heavensent is the propeller-punk sci-fi war novel I recently wrapped up.

    Download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

    Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.


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  • Musing on muses

    It’s pretty certain I’m not going to hit the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. Which is a shame. However, I will have the basis of something for future development and a target. I’ve averaged just under a thousand words a day, and I’m going to try to keep that rate up from now on. 1000 words written or revised (or an illustration or page of webcomic) on average every day.

    I may publish the first draft of the first part of my nano novel here then revise it so it can stand alone as a novella, probably with illustrations. Then I plan to resurrect Post & Publish and take it in the more Douglas Coupland-y direction I imagined for it after reading Microserfs again.

    I find myself wanting to say a lot about relationships and the dynamics of groups of friends. It comes from having recently spent three days in a room with lots of beers and some of the most important people in my life.

    The aim is to write something inspired by my life and the people I know without it being specifically about them. I’m mentioning this now as a sort of pre-emptive explanation, because when I start publishing it you’re all going to go ‘But I never did that!’ It’s going to be a story about relationships. Unlike tales of murder and gun running or the nature of reality breaking down, it’s going to have stuff in it we can all relate to and recognise. Also, as it’s about a bunch of geek friends in Manchester it’ll be full of references that resonate.


  • Microserfs

    It’s been nearly ten years since I first read Microserfs, and it is the only book I’ve ever re-read three times. Despite the changes and technological advances of the intervening decade the setting still rings true. Insert Web 2.0 over multimedia and throw Google into the mix and you’re halfway to bringing it up to date.

    The heart of the story, what really keeps it from dating, are the relationships of Dan- the narrator- and his family and friends. Trapped in Microsoft shipping hell at the start of the story Dan and his housemates slowly develop lives, escape the corporate comfort that is stunting their growth, find love and mature. The diary entry structure is shot through with emails, musings on the human-machine interface and word games (entries re-imagined without vowels or remixed by file corruption). The ending, mimicking life, is totally unexpected but somehow manages to draw on several of the themes running through the book. And it can still make me cry with its downbeat optimism.

    In 1996 the BBC gave us This Life, a TV series allegedly about people my age. I could see no-one I knew and quickly grew tired of it (Attachments, an attempt by the same people to do a geek program, was even worse). Microserfs, despite being set in the, to a geek, exotic locales of Redmond and Silicon Valley, was full of characters I recognised.

    Ten years on I’m still feeling some of Dan’s malaise, a fear that I haven’t managed to grow up and get a proper life. Coupland himself remixed/covered the story earlier this year with Jpod, a dark pastiche that he wrote himself into.

    I want to write a story like Microserfs, optimistic but honest, about a lost geek’s travails. Yes, I know it would end up being a little biographical. After the current novel’s finished (first draft being typed up when I finish this) I’m returning to Post & Publish, my tales of a blogger from a few years ago.

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