Monday, July 30, 2007


It's been a long time since I've updated the progress of the 7G1s and, my friends, I know you are on the edge of your seats, because under sevens soccer is everybody's idea of a top sporting event.

The weather was against us for the longest time. Weeks without a match, weeks without training, weeks of small boys weeping every Saturday morning when they saw it was raining yet again. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the sun crept out again and... we got crushed 5-0. Oops. The next week, though, the team were back on form with a 3-0 victory and this week a 4-0 victory, with Soccer Boy scoring twice in each game. Ah, mummy's so proud!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Has Harry Potter manipulated me?

*No spoilers in this post, honest. I wouldn't do that to you.*

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I bought a book on the first day it was published. You know the one...

I'm not a frantic fan (with respect to those who are...hi jj!). I like the series; no more than that. I've read them all, mostly a year or so after publication. So why did I rush out and buy this one?

It was the spoilers, my friends, the spoilers. I never like to know the ending of a book before I've read it. I'm not a Last Page Looker. With the panic and furore about extracts on the web, reviews that reveal the plot and the general chit chat in the media about Harry's possible fate, I realised that sooner or later I might tune into something that would tell me what happens before I get the chance to discover it for myself. That would annoy me, and annoyed koalas have teeth and claws and a family to use them on.

So I bought the book. And after I bought it and made myself part of the fastest-selling-book-ever-on-the-planet phenomenon I started to feel slightly...dirty. Something started nibbling at the edges of my brain. It was the memory of the devious ways of marketing men. Of sweaty fifty-year olds that flick through catalogues of pretty young things commenting on their boobs, then pick 200 of them to leer over in the board room, and then send the chosen beauties to city bars to order a specific high-alocohol drink simply so they can tell the person next to them how yummy it is, like drinking chocolate pudding, and then move on to another bar to do the same thing, and again, and again, and again...

So what if the spoilers, the reviews, the general chit chat that the publishers, the agents, the marketing men are all so upset about are not an accident? What if behind the scenes the marketing men are rubbing their chubby little hands together and saying:

'Top hole Aubrey, that little 'accident' in sending out early review copies really worked! You even fooled the New York Times into doing our work for us! Now the muggles will rush out and buy the book as soon as possible so they don't find out the ending before they read it!'

'How about that spiffing little spoiler you managed to arrange by losing a manuscript on the train! Sheer genius, Carruthers.'

'And all those fake blogs Geoffrey's been working on down in the basement. The ones he's been writing for the past two years, simply so he can start posting hints and discussions that the muggles think come from real people!'

'I say chaps, it's been a team effort and we are all simply marvellous! Another Choccy Fizz? It tastes just like dessert you know. Chin chin!'

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Here's a something...

...from the start of a short story. It's up on Evil Editor at the moment, and doing OK, despite the harrowing topic. It's a hard one to write, but I'd like to finish it, even if I have to do it bit by bit.

Ethan had the face of child, but the scalp of an old man. Tendrils of blue veins reached out under the pale skin, curving and parting like rivers searching for the sea. Rivers in winter, sluggishly winding under ice, compelled to struggle and flow to their destination, even when the surface lay still and silent.

Nothing in this room smelt of life, nothing offered freshness and perfume; only the sharp, nose-biting scent of intervention, blended with bleach, vomit and old food. On the bed Ethan was barely a wrinkle under the crisp-cornered sheets. The only thing that moved was his dummy, pumping in his mouth under closed eyes. The suck-suck-sucking sound of him working at the little rubber teat pulsed rhythmically against the humming of the machines propelling the medicine into his system. The machines that were keeping him alive.

Abby should have got rid of his dummy. Told him that if he’d give it to the poor kids Santa would bring him a special present. That’s what I did with my kids.

I suppose he can suck it for as long as he wants now.

‘Visit,’ her mother said, when she met me at the supermarket. ‘Please visit. They had lots of visitors at first; from the pre-school, from playgroup, but now…’ Her eyes gleamed bright with uncried tears, her mouth burst with unspoken words: ‘now there is no hope.’

‘They need their old friends,’ was what she actually said.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

And after three months of procrastination...

...I'm finally into the rewrite of the novel fondly known as 'Maureen'. The first draft of this was young adult; but something bugged me about that and it turns out that Maureen was actually grown-up the whole time - well, at least on the outside. How she becomes adult on the inside is kind of the point of the novel, along with a bit of a murder mystery.

It's also going wholeheartedly into dialect, well, not to an incomprehensible level, but I've learned from some of my recent reading, that, yanno, it's OK to write the language that I heard around me throughout my childhood. As a Scot, I have the right, and hopefully the ability, to do that. I have a slight concern that it might be a turn off for some readers, but I'm not going completely Irvine Welsh and I'm doing very little phonetic representation. I loathe people who write dialect as 'Ah canna do verrrry much the day.' We're not idiots in Scotland. We're perfectly capable of realising that although we may pronounce 'I' as 'Ah', that's not how it's written, also the rolled 'r's are completely normal to us and not something to be remarked upon (we're sorry for those of you that can't say the 'r' and the 'ch' sounds, you poor dears). I'm trying to show the dialect via the vocabulary and the rhythm; with a minimum of phonetic representation and no 'och aye the noos'.

Interestingly, writing and thinking in my home tongue is bringing it out of my mouth too, and I think there's been a marked increase in the strength of my accent in the last week or so, not to mention some new words for the kid koalas to learn. Ah, the multicultural life.