Work? Me?

Well, that’s gone and done it. I think by the end of next week I will have either secured some work – or actually done some. And, do you know what? In a strange way I’m sort of looking forward to it.

I maintained all along that if we went firm – that is lived in a house – I would have to find work. This was for two reasons. One, it would mean we wouldn’t be renting the property and would need/like to find that income from somewhere to rebalance that. Two, if we were static, other than write (and the Spring is my thinking time), what would I do with myself?

So, on that basis mid-last week I applied to two private schools and four state schools – all of them in the closest proximity to Bradley Stoke. I asked for ‘maths supply teaching’; and I reminded the state schools that I wasn’t a formally qualified teacher. For non-UK readers it may seem strange that some schools in the UK let ‘unqualified’ adults loose on children. It’s true. Private schools look for older, experienced adults (with appropriate degrees and only after rigorous interview) to fill some of their teaching gaps. And state academies and free schools have dispensation to employ idiots like me. I think that’s mostly to do with numbers – but it’s also about getting the right people in.

Anyhow, I have 8 years teaching experience. And whilst I was rubbish at the beginning, I think I was really OK by the end.

Two schools came straight back to me. A very posh private school who offered to interview me for a part-time timetable (Years 7 and 8 – bless) until the Spring and then maybe a bigger timetable for the summer term to cover a maternity gap. And a state school asked me to complete an interview form, send in my CV and then I would be called in to meet the team. Excellent. Except, the private school wanted to see me the Thursday/Friday just gone (not available – nor Monday as I’m in London hoping to become a trustee of an army education charity). Then they went quiet on me. One problem may be that I can’t start with them until week 3 of next term because we are skiing. And then, at 3.30 on Friday the state school emailed someone like me (not my complete email address) and asked me to come and supply on Tuesday – ie teach all day. Thankfully the man who received the email – he could have been anywhere in the world on any time zone – recognised the importance of the message and forwarded it to me. I got back to them, but by the time I did that it was closing time at the school.

So we’ll see. I’m still not confident the state school realises that I’m not formally qualified, and may stop me from entering the school when they do. Which would be a shame. Because at 55, with 26 years’ Army experience and 8 years as a teacher, I think I could handle a state school classroom really well. And I’d like to give it a try!

What am I after? Well a day or two days a week supply would be good. I’m not sure I’m up for a part-time, but a call on a Tuesday to teach on Thursday would work for me. We’ll see.

It was cold today in Godalming

We’re with Mary at the moment, helping out. Back to Bristol tomorrow. And, who knows, some work next week?

(Oh, and the books have stopped selling. I’ve finished updating the very positive beta feedback – thanks guys – and I’ve just finished the synopsis for For Good Men To Do Nothing. Hurrah!)

Have a great week.

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Who’s writing the script?

A shortish post this mid-week. I could (I really could) go all political on you, but I won’t. C and I are West Wing aficionados. We love it. We have just started watching it for the fifth time. The acting, the storyline(s) and the humour make ideal telly. We also watched a couple of series of House of Cards – before #metoo rightly collapsed it in its current form. But gave up as it was just too dark for us.

But now I don’t have to bother with any of that. I just keep an eye on BBC News and Twitter. It’s like watching an unscripted TV reality show, where you know that no producer or director has actually written the next page of the screenplay. Which makes it kinda fascinating, but also scary at the same time. The Jerusalem thing is just off the scale.

So I won’t go all political on you.

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Book sales have dropped right down – that’s a negative. But a positive is that my beta readers have come back with very positive reviews (thanks you lot!) of book 4 – For Good Men To Do Nothing. I have some work to do on a number of areas, but it’s all within my ability. What I will do now is start edit 4 and incorporate those changes. Then I’m going for a new tack – look to some smaller publishers and see if anyone is interested. That’ll be a post-Christmas thing.

And, because we have some time on our hands, I have applied for some supply maths work in Bristol. And two schools have come back to me in a positive way, with maybe an interview early next week. It’ll be just a bit of work, but it will keep my hand in and earn a few pennies. Hurrah!

Anyhow, have a good rest of week. Off to Mary’s tomorrow and back to Bristol on Sunday. I’m in London on Monday for an interview to be a trustee of an Army education charity. Something else which interests me.

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping anyone?

It’s been an odd couple of days. We’ve been living on Jen’s doorstep for a week (which will be our doorstep in a couple of weeks), helping out with dog walking an similar. It’s allowed us to do lots of admin and some prep for the big move in. It’s been ages since we’ve looked round the shops for anything more than a new pair of walking shoes. Our current list includes a washer/dryer, sofa, fridge/freezer and a host of smaller items. Thankfully we’ve managed to save a bit in three years of travelling, so we should just about manage

Our Jen

Shopping when you have a purpose and some money isn’t so bad. It’s the mindless shopping which seems to be this country’s number one pastime which drives me mad. Where do people get the money from? And, and you know this is coming from me, how many things do you actually need? Honestly? Stuff is transient. Experience lives with you forever. That’s why we’re determined to buy only the stuff we actually need. Lecture over with.
Book sales have dropped down to 1/2 a day. I have had a nice rejection from Amazon Studios for Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay, but nothing back from anyone else. I have an opportunity to send something to the BBC in the middle of this month, so I’ll do that. And book 4, which is looking more and more like ‘For Good Men To Do Nothing’, is with my 4 beta readers. No response from them since I dispatched it on Thursday. It is a fragile time for me…do they like it? Don’t they? Will they tell me?

Beautiful Bristol

We’ll see.
And I have just applied to be a part-time/supply maths tutor at one of those Explore Learning centres in Bristol. My problem is that I am not formally qualified and a lot of State Schools won’t look at people like me. I was on the way to getting qualified when I got a assistant head’s post at Wells. And then I was too busy to pull it off. Never mind.
Back to Jen’s tomorrow. Then down in Wells in Thursday and Mary’s for the weekend. Oh – and there’s snow in Chatel! Hurrah! We’ll be there on 5 January for 12 days. How good does that sound?
Have a great week.

Moving in…

You really don’t want me to go all political on you again this morning. But I thought I’d share a WhatsApp photo that our elder daughter sent through from The Bahamas last night. I think it sums up where we are today. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

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The good news is that book 4 (working title – For Good Men To Do Nothing) is now with my 5 beta readers. It is, for an author, an exciting and a tense time. Will they like it? Will they love it? Will they hate it (and would they tell me)? Last time, for The Innocence of Trust, one of them implored me not to self-publish because – bless them – the book was too good not to go through a traditional publishing route. Alas, I tried a number of agents and got nowhere.

Interestingly, I’ve had two nice rejections for Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay – and nothing back from 4 others including ITV.

I am going to go back round the baby with book 4. Today I’ll pick a couple of agents and, rather than sell the book, try and sell the whole package. My gut feeling is that nobody is going to be interested in a series – but I’ll give it a go.

We’re back in Bristol and will be here until next weekend (when we’re back at Mary’s for a couple of days).  Then back down here for Christmas. It seems likely that Jen and James will be moving out after Christmas, giving us time to move in (that means painting and decorating whilst sleeping in Doris!) before we go skiing. We’re really looking forward to it now. And, by way of establishing that we are indeed moving in, I have been onto a teaching agency and asked if they’ve got any supply work for an old maths teacher. The fact that I am not professionally qualified – ie, no letters after my name – is a block for some State schools. So we shall see. But, the idea of going back into the classroom even on supply excites me. However, not as much as becoming a successful author…

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Doris outside our house (the one on the right). She’s bigger than the house…

…so, keep at it Roland!

Probably isn’t good enough…

WordPress told me that my blog was ‘probably’ going to be named as ‘blog of the year, 2017.’ But, they wanted me to attend a photoshoot and an all-expenses paid interview in New York. I told them that probably wasn’t good enough and I turned them down.

Oh, and Random House have said that they will probably publish the 4th in the Sam Green series and turn it into a NYT No 1 bestseller. I’d have to attend a good number of exciting, high-profile literary events – with a lots and lots of photoshoots with really famous people. I said that probably wasn’t good enough and will self publish next year.

Do you want another one? OK – probably not. Although, from your perspective probably isn’t good enough.

What is the world coming to? Come, on. Really. Who needs TV – and how are mags like Private Eye managing when the satire is being played out before them?

And I haven’t got onto Trump’s very latest – complaining that the world sees the US through the eyes of CNN – the world’s most popular news channel. And, why don’t we all watch Fox News? That’s like Teresa May complaining that the world gets its British news from the BBC when what they should all be watching is Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

So, let me ask you all again. What is the world coming to? And this is before you mix in the whole Trump/Moore sexual predator/paedophile running sore. I thought we, as a race, had got past that in positions of responsibility. That is, if you break the law or admit to or get caught doing something abhorrent – something which should make your position in authority untenable, then you resign. And you certainly don’t get elected in the first place. If not, then as an ex-teacher, surely I’m at liberty to prey on any vulnerable young person? No, why not? That’s the message.

I may be wrong here, and this may be more of a movement than a man, but how can one person upend liberal society so tumultuously that we are all questioning where the boundary between right and wrong actually is?

We missed the third part of the excellent C4 documentary, ‘Trump – an American Dream.’ It follows his career/life from when he got the reins of his Dad’s multi-million dollar business in the early 80s. What was absolutely fascinating was a 20 second TV interview just before he was about to go bankrupt for the first time. He must have been early 30s at that point. He said, ‘Don’t listen to the reporters – it’s all fake news.’

Fake news.

That was almost 40 years ago. If it doesn’t work for the leader of the free world (sorry Angela – when you get your coalition together you can have that title) then it must be fake. Period.

Please, please don’t tell me that this is a new age that we all have to live in. From Obama – the image of grace and endeavour, to Trump – sorry, if I start writing what I’d like to, someone will sue me. Please. I’m old enough to survive this, but I’m not sure my children are.

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Just back from a icy run. What is the world coming to?

 

 

Grumpy old man

Is it good to be back in the UK? I’m not sure. What are the positives? Leaving aside being close to the ones we love, there are a few. First it’s cheaper here than anywhere else on the continent. Food in particular. It used to be ok when we were getting €1.40 to the pound, but now we’re closer to parity it is very clear that we are very lucky here in the UK. Clothes and technical stuff, as well, that’s cheaper here. C and I couldn’t believe the cost of clothes in the French shops. And we know German clothes are expensive.

Fuel. Diesel in France is the same price in euros, which does make it cheaper, but only if you shop in supermarkets. And, d’you what? I do shop in French supermarkets for fuel, but you always get the impression that you’re not getting super clean diesel. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what it feels like. Over here I always try and fill up at an Esso or Texaco next to an Asda (or similar) where they generally price match. I just feel that the diesel might be better quality. Am I being stupid?
Interestingly diesel is cheaper in Germany, but much more expensive in Italy. It used to be that diesel was cheaper elsewhere everywhere, but not so nowadays. Oh, BTW, LPG is cheaper in the UK.
And the main negatives? Well, the British public can get up your nose. I’m fed up with politics – of all colours. It’s fun to look across The Pond and take the Mikey out of the current state of US politics. But, it’s not so great here either. Jingoism and nationalism (aka Brexit) continues to wear me down. Old Mrs May is driving the thing through, even though at every turn something pops up that shouts ‘don’t do this!’. Leaving aside breaking up a pact that has held us all together since WW2, the ramifications of the process is not going to be great. No matter what the yes sayers might tell us.
And this I think is really influencing day-to-day life here. There’s a grumpiness – more than usual. It’s palpable, it really is. And I can’t see it getting any better any time soon.
Never mind, Christmas is coming. It must be, because the shops have replaced the Halloween tat with Christmas tat. Oh well.
Signing off as a grumpy old man…

Almost home…

I am writing this on the ferry. We are back a couple of weeks earlier than we expected, but at least we have finished the ‘joint’ editing of the book. That went well, it really did. I think C liked the book, and we had far fewer set-tos than we’ve had before. It’s a shorter story (117k words as opposed to 130k for The Innocence of Trust) and I think that shows. On second and third read it’s also quite complicated – which is the point, I don’t write simple stories, they are thrillers after all. So we’ll see. I’m up to chapter 10 out of 19 on edit three, and then it’ll be out to my beta readers for their review. I still aim to publish in late Spring, but could easily bring that forward. Of course, I’d need to think of a title before then.

 

St Quentin

  • How’s it been? Well, I mentioned last time round that we’re going to move into our place in Bristol. It is a small terraced house on a 1980s estate. But there’s room for Doris on the drive and it’s warm – we will still make it our own. We have plenty to do for the next month, including visits to my folk. Christmas is likely to be in our house (how does that sound?). Jen and James will be in their new house and I know they have Christmas planned with his mum and dad. Bex and Steven are flying from The Bahamas to Los Angeles to visit friends of theirs there. But we will have a lot to do, sorting out the place. We have been asked to East Anglia for New Year (thanks P&D) and then we’re due to Chatel on 5 January for 12 days in the snow. What more could we want?
But – there is a cost to going static. We will lose rental income and we will have all of the household bills to pay for, which hitherto, we have avoided. We may even have to get a TV license! To balance this I’m looking at imaginative ways to make a few bob, whilst not restricting ourselves when it comes to travel. Teaching is what I do reasonably well, so I’m looking at part-time avenues there in Bristol. Of course, in an ideal world the books would be flying off the shelves, but that has yet to materialise (although, for the record, the last time I had a ‘no-book’ sale was a single day in September.). But at about £1 a book in royalties, I’m going to have to sell a lot to counter the loss of rental income. We shall see!
And the blog? Well, I’m going to keep at it. Twice a week, Wednesdays and Sundays. I still get a steady readership, so someone is reading this rubbish…