We’re all tired

I know we’re all tired. Even I was resigned to parliament voting for Johnson’s deal yesterday. I thought then we could pick up the pieces and try to glue the vase back together. But, no. More delay. Of course, whilst the press report that it’s all a disaster and everyone hates everyone else, they’re secretly loving it … and whipping it into a frenzy.

My view? How can you expect to review a document of this importance in a matter of hours? Leaving aside the fact that there could be a major hit to our GDP, the deal softens protection on workers’ rights and food regulations – which means that our government can reduce the cost of goods by cutting workers’ protection and delivering cheaper food by cutting corners on how it is grown, which will also open up our doors for cheaper imports. I don’t pretend to understand how this all works, but I believe it’s a big thing. Among many others.

Let’s see what this week brings.

I have to say we are both a bit tired. Paris was fun, but it was travel. It was lovely to see R&C, but it was more travel. And now we’re with Mum (who is fine, thanks for asking),

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Kent looking fabulous between the storms

which is more travel. We intend to stay here until after supper tomorrow. And then a bit more travel … home. Phew.

We did have a great time with R&C. Richard and I sorted out his greenhouse and we watched the rugby. Between those two events (oh, and C and I both ran) we did what we always do: discussed this and that, including Brexit. Neither of us arrived at any conclusion, other than it was all a load of rubbish.

Part of the issue for me is the 1,000 words a day. It’s not an issue at home … I do what I do. When I’m away from home, trying to find two hours to write is a struggle. Currently I’m penning this at Mum’s – with the TV on. Which is fine for the blog (sorry everyone), but not so good for writing a novel. I think I’ll be writing when Mum’s gone to bed late tonight. Ho hum.

So … sorry. Not much from us today. Hopefully more mid-week. 

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Gay Paris

I am not going to write anything about politics. I am not. Not Trump and Syria. Or 6.7% hit to GDP – the projected cost of Johnson’s plan to leave the EU. That’s without any bribe we may have to give to the DUP so they vote for a deal – that puts a customs border in the Irish Sea (said to be billions).

I’m not going to talk about that.

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So, let me talk about Paris. First our journey, which was a very long taxi ride and then Eurostar. Between the two halves, outside of St Pancras, my glasses fell off and bounced around a bit (I was watching them carefully – from a hazy distance) until they fell down the only glasses-sized crack in a drain. Argghh! You may remember that I lost my previous glasses on a beach in Tunisia – and I didn’t have a spare set with me. I spent over half of that holiday looking like an sex-offender, wearing my prescription sunglasses around the hotel at night. At that point I made myself promise that I would bring a spare pair of glasses with me whenever I went away …

… a promise I clearly reneged on.

Anyhow, we were running a little late and I could see my glasses, which was in itself a neat trick at the distance they were from my eyes, but my hand wouldn’t fit into the glasses-sized gap. C had a go (both on our knees, on a dirty road), but I stopped her for fear that she would get her hand stuck. Anyhow, miracles of miracles, Mary had a wire coat hanger in her bag … and two minutes later, shamelessly dirty-kneed, I was all a-focus again. Hurrah!

Eurostar has moved. Not physically, although the trains do motor, but more sophisticatedly. And not in the best direction. When we originally travelled, I guess we felt like the first people to get onto a plane in the 50s. It was an adventure, from the moment you got to the quite fabulous St Pancras, all the way under the tunnel until you hopped off at Gare du Nord – with the faint smell of onions and angry waiter wafting from the Seine.

Now it’s like a cattle market. The queues are akin to an EasyJet experience: St Pancras like Luton Airport on any Saturday in August. And whilst you do get a seat, everything feels a little more squashed. Which is a shame.

But Paris is as Paris was. Yes, Notre Dame has no roof to speak of. And yesterday the Gendarme were chasing the ‘Pompiers’ (firemen, who were on strike) around the Arc de Triompe [indeed there are so many police and Army patrols in the city, it is both confidence-filling and unnerving at the same time.] But, apart from that …

We did La Defence, the business district on top of the hill, which has the huge skyscraper arch that matches the Arc de Triompe (in disposition) miles away down one of the city’s

long boulevards. We caught the lift to the top, and the views are fab … but so much better was the photo gallery that celebrates photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand (until Christmas). Well worth a visit.

We graced Sacre-Coeur with our presence and had a look round the fabulously small Saint-Chapelle, with its glorious stained glass.

And I’ve run … (C did yesterday, as well). And we’ve eaten too much and drank more than we should. But I have written my 1,000 words a day – religiously. And that, my readers, is turning into a v interesting little book – let me tell you!

Next stop, Mary’s, then R&C’s for Friday and Saturday. It’s non-stop here!

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exhibition at the top of La Defence

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me looking all Michel Houellebecq

Just checking …

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on the road again …

Well, that’s been a couple of days.

I can’t remember how it all started, but we came down to Mary’s on Thursday. I worked at the school on Friday (some one-to-ones, a middle-leaders course [session 2], and a discussion about maybe doing some work with the support staff – we’ll see). Then I get a message from the civil servant procurement group who I gave a one-hour presentation to a couple of months ago – they’d like me to run a full-day leadership course for their senior team (could be up to 20) sometime between now and Christmas. OK then. I’ll do that.

I got Unsuspecting Hero back from proofer, Rosemary, on Saturday – her comments need incorporating into the rewrite. And, throughout this, I’m still determined to write 1,000 words a day on book six, which is getting far too complicated for its own good.

The problem with incorporating edits is that it’s like working with a booby-trapped bomb. As you alter it, and before you move on, you have to check what you’ve written carefully – and twice, maybe three times. Because once it’s altered, there’s no going back. People are going to buy the book with the changes you’ve made. It’s all very unnerving.

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still running (slowly)

Anyhow, I get Rosie’s comments at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning. And I’m determined to get them incorporated before close of play Sunday, as that’s the night before we get a 7 am taxi to London, to catch the Eurostar to Paris. And I don’t want to be taking my

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final, final check of Unsuspecting Hero (Edition 2)

editing laptop to Paris. And I don’t want to be editing for any longer than I need to, as I want to write book six. Having two plots, both of which are 6 years apart, is very confusing.

So, I work and work. Triple checking all the time. And, as I look through Rosie’s comments I find elements of tone that I want to change. Argh! It’s a never ending cycle. Then C tells me we’re out to supper with Steve and Pam on Sunday night (thank you Steve and Pam), and didn’t I know that? Argh squared!

Breathes deeply.

Well, I’m done. Unsuspecting Hero [Edition 2]  is out there now: e-book only. I’ll let you know when the paperback is ready. And I have managed 1,000 words a day on book six. And I have run three times. And … having just got back from Steve and Pam’s (thanks again Steve and Pam), I’m writing the blog. Because I always do that on a Sunday.

Paris tomorrow, though. Back on Thursday. How lucky are we?

Me, with my reputation?

I’m not doing politics. Sorry. I know you want me to. But if I start …

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have car, will write

I’m sat in the car in central Bristol. C’s having her eyes looked at. Initially we were going to come down on the trike, but the weather is so blooming rubbish we brought the car. Which is OK, because it means I can write this, rather than hang about on a street corner getting wet and cold. C’s phoned me to say they’re running 45 minutes late. Which is fine. I’m parked up in a loading bay just short of the eye hospital. If I have to move on, I will.

It is the calm before the storm. I think I’ve already described our itinerary for the next 10 days, but in case you’ve forgotten it does include three nights in Paris. How lucky are we? We are. And we know it. If I squint my eyes and look to the future I can see a week in Tunisia in November, skiing in January, a slab of time in Doris in Spain/Portugal/Morocco in the Spring. Our Jen has booked us into Centres Parks for a week in May. And, the latest of latest plans, C and I intend to drive to Baku (Azerbaijan – Caspian Sea) in September.

The latter little excitement is car based. Our brilliant Ford Focus will soon be on 100,000 miles and possibly due replacement – we need to get the most out of it. So, with a pin and a large map, I chose Baku (it was also one of the stops on ‘Race Across The World’). I know you can drive there as my mate Kenn, who I had brunch with today, went there by motorbike earlier this year. We’d take a tent and a stove, with the aim of staying in hotels when the price dropped to an acceptable level. C’s v excited. So am I. It’s all part of our 5-year plan to do something a little bit different every year for five years … and then take stock. This year it was SE Asia. Next, central Asia. 2021? Who knows?

How lucky are we? Indeed.

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I’ve been wearing this to bed (ran out of proper nightshirts). It’s over 20 years old. What a time that was!

Oh. I almost forgot. On Monday we drove to Cornwall so I could be ‘author in residence’ at a book club – they had read Unsuspecting Hero which, as you know, I have just rewritten but not republished (yet).  The club was held in a very posh house overlooking a steep valley with one of the Cornish rivers running to a ria. Having got a drink, and following 11 ladies into a beautifully decorated sitting room, C said to me, ‘Are you going to be OK?’ To which my reply was, ‘Eleven women, and me talking about myself? With my reputation?.’

It was a fab night and whilst I never asked the direct question, they all seemed to like the book (at least one of the ladies was already onto book three, The Innocence of Trust). A number of them promised to pen a review, which is great. We drove home that night – five hours in the car all told. My bum is now permanently Focus shaped.

Finally book 6. It is all consuming, as I thought it would. C’s idea of locking me in Doris so I can write has worked really well. The exclusion helps and I am already (an excited) 14/120k words in. And loving it. It is different again. But, of course, at some point you’ll tell me what you think.

Next stop Mary’s. And then Paris. Hurrah!

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popped up to Jen’s on Tuesday. Cassie is out there in the rain somewhere.

The joys of living in a fantasy world

Screenshot_20191001-090438_2First may I introduce you to veteran, Chris Lewis. He’s an ex-paratrooper and is walking the coast of the UK. It’s a remarkable story. Homeless and mentally not in great shape, over two years ago he picked up a rescue dog, Jet, and started an 18,000 mile journey around our coastline. His aim is to raise £100,000 for #SSAFA, the military charity. He reckons he has another year or so to go to finish the journey. His #justgiving site is here: ChrisWalks. Please help where you can.

Us? Well, nothing anywhere near as heroic, I’m afraid. It’s been a week of getting stuff done, mostly focused on an autumn clean of Doris. I’ve finished the electrics in the front cabinet and C surprised me the other day by taking everything out of the van and the pair of us blitzing her. I’ve still got a good number of jobs I need to sort, but we have made good progress.

As such it’s been a bit of an interregnum. Tomorrow we start on a whirlwind two weeks. First we’re off down to Cornwall tomorrow for a book club (an old Wells friend has offered Unsuspecting Hero for her club and I’ve been asked to come down for the debrief. I’ve done three of these before, and they’ve all been different!). On Thursday we’re off to Mary’s. I’ve got work on Friday; the rewrite of Unsuspecting Hero should be in my hands from Rosie, the proofreader, at the weekend. And then we’re going to Paris for three nights with Mary … which will be a fabulous break. We did the same thing last year, and apart from the cold weather, we had a blast.

We come back from Paris and head down to R&C’s for the weekend, and then to Mum’s for a couple of nights. It’s going to be non-stop.

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ticking along nicely

And, throughout, I’m on book 6 duty. I set myself a target of 1,000 words a day (about two pages of A4) for 120 days, which should get me through to the end of January for the first draft. I was really unsure how this would go, and I am still not as comfortable as our usual 6-week dash to the south of France in Doris where I can easily push out three-quarters of a book. Anyhow, I’ve been in this regime for 5 days, starting writing between 4 and 6 pm, some more after 10 pm and a trash edit first thing in the morning before C gets up.

I’m on 9,000 words already, that’s 1,500 words a day, which I’m pleased with. Being ahead does give me the ability to have a day off – for example, when we go to Cornwall tomorrow. We’ll see.

For the record I wrote a scene the other day which had nothing to do with the plot, or sub-plot, that I have vaguely hatched in my head. It just seemed like a nice thing to write. So I now have a new character and a new sub-plot which could be going anywhere.

Oh well. The joys of living in a fantasy world.

I’m tired …

I’m pretty tired of all the external forces pressing in on our life at the mo. Much of it my own fault. I’m following politics in the UK and the US closely and, let’s face it, it’s more emotionally charged than a teenager loading the dishwasher. [It’s the deceit that gets me, but you know that.]

The other thing is that I follow people with motorhomes and a couple of them are currently somewhere hot, with all the accoutrements of cafe culture and no additional responsibility. The timing isn’t great either. We are normally heading down to the south of France now, or, if nothing else, preparing to go. That’s the 6-week period where I get the bulk of my pending novel written. Away from the distractions; fuelled by sun, sea and sand. I bet Hemingway never had this problem.

P1640636.JPGHowever, I have made a start. Other than the interlude where I re-publish the rewritten Unsuspecting Hero in a couple of weeks, I have a target of 1,000 words a day. If I stick to that number, and I am v good at holding myself to a plan, I should have a decent first draft by the end of January – and that’s without breaking myself. I still reckon I’ll be able to turn it round by July next year … so I’ll be back on track.

Humorous factoid about my writing? Well, I have finished the Prologue – which I had in my head, with its little twist. I did that on Tuesday. Then, yesterday, the start of Chapter 1. Normally my chapters are around 6,000 words long and broken into 3 or 4 scenes. I know I have to kick off Sam/Frank … and, no spoilers, I need a new character who runs a sub-plot until they and Sam meet sometime in the future (Unsuspecting Hero,  it was Henry Middleton; Fuelling the Fire, it was Wolfgang; Innocence of Trust, it was Vlad and then, I forget her name, it was the American senator’s daughter? … somebody please remind me; For Good Men To Do Nothing, it was Austin, the father of the American drone pilot; and for On The Back Foot To Hell, it was Gareth, the Welsh undergrad in Naples). Anyhow I have that person and I know I will kick off that story soon …

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and so it begins

… but, as I sit down yesterday to write Chapter One a thought comes into my head about an additional character – a CIA case-officer – working out of Zagreb. And he’s meeting an agent in that abandoned coastal resort which C and I visited a couple of years ago. Yes! That will be fab. And one of them dies! Great. So, three hours and 2,000 words later I have a subplot which has no relevance to the main conspiracy … which I now need to mix into the book. Brilliant (he adds sarcastically).

Anyhow. I must get on and pen another 1,000 words.

As a recap. on Monday we drove to Dorset to see C’s middle sister and her husband and Tuesday was a day pottering, Wednesday we popped up to see Jen and had lunch out, and today I have worked in Doris sorting out some electrics. Now … I must write.

Is it all coming to a head?

I’m not going to bang the political drum, but it’s worth noting that with His Orangeness struggling with upcoming impeachment hearings over Ukrainegate and Boris Johnson in the mire with a likely vote of no confidence this week, further compounded by his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri (who, her friends have now said, has admitted that she was sleeping with BJ), the tide might be turning in the direction of integrity and other things good.

Now, I don’t know about you but whilst I don’t wholly care who my politicians sleep with (actually, you know, I do. I don’t want my leaders to have affairs … because if they’re willing to cheat on their other halves, then they won’t think twice about cheating on me), but I do smart when those that they sleep with somehow (miraculously) get public money. The whole thing is sticking in my throat.

But, I hear some people say on both sides of The Pond, it’s political mischief! The other side looking for dirt in order to … blah, blah.

Yes, that may be true (may be). But, nonetheless, if there is truth in both Ukraine (the facts are out) and Arcuri (we will find out), I’m uninterested in how these managed to become discoverable. I’m just glad that they did.

It does seem that both Johnson and Trump are both unpalatable characters. So let’s find some decent people with some political nous and some energy and give them a chance. Please.

Oh, and as for the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ Ads. Are they actually helping in any way? Really? For me they seem to be going out of their way to make me anxious: Brexit is coming, get ready … or else. Yes, but, exactly how do you want me to get ready, other than visit your vacuous website where my details will be logged and maybe used against me? £100m well spent … ? I’m not convinced.

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my old dad looking gorgeous. It’s funny, but he’s cropping up in my dreams now, which he has never done before …

Moving on. The weather isn’t helping, is it? But it is forcing me to stay in doors and get on with writing. I have put a piece together for a writing blogger’s website, which should appear in November. I’ve done Dad’s obituary for the Regimental magazine and, best of all, I have printed off Unsuspecting Hero. It is now with Rosie, my proofreader. Yesterday I spent some time topping and tailing the manuscript so, when I get it back, it will be a quick turn around – although it will take me a week to incorporate Rosie’s comments and have a final read through.

We’re to see C’s middle sister tomorrow for the day and then, from Tuesday, I’m starting book 6. It will be in SE Asia and is based around a global political conspiracy – no surprises there. I’m particularly excited by the Prologue, which I’m hoping will start with a twist. For those of you who have read On The Back Foot To Hell, I can assure you that Sam is back. But I don’t think things will ever be the same again? We’ll see.

And, finally, a favour. Please. If you have read any of the Sam Green books and haven’t posted a review on Amazon (and/or Goodreads) please do. You can do so anonymously and needn’t actually write any words. But all reviews are really helpful. Link to my author page is here (in the UK): review Roland’s books here!

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Thank you!