Thursday, November 27, 2008

Revealed: The Face of McKoala

I'm in love with this new following feature, which enables me to keep up with everybody's new posts without browsing for hours (I still may or may not reply, heh, heh...). By the way, am I missing anybody? Is anybody lacking a recent visit from a marsupial with attitude? Tell me and I'll start stalking, sorry, following you.

A side effect of this wondrous new gadget is that my profile pic is popping up everywhere as a grey-headed Mr Nobody. Could this be any less appropriate?

And so...I reveal...the true face of McKoala. Am I as cute as you thought I was? No, I'm cuter, right?!

Koala family health update: I'm almost back in full action, but won't be allowed to lift anything heavy for three months, therefore Mr Koala is now delegated to supermarket shopping and laundry baskets, yippee! Grandma Koala still in hospital, but now I have been released from house arrest I will go and visit her this weekend. Recent phone calls and demands indicate increasing return of vigour in Grandma although release date remains changeable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Say it like it is

Princess loved our holiday in Scotland so much that she says she wants to go and live there and play with the little McHaggi every day. Soccer Boy says, no thanks, Scotland is too cold for him. Dilemma? No!

'OK,' says Soccer Boy. 'Next time we go we can just leave her there.'

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Joys of Freelancing

In my real life, as far as I have one, I am a freelance copywriter. This means that I am lucky enough to make my living by writing. 'Lucky' is a tricky kind of a word, though. A slippery, dippery, wippery kind of a word. The reason for this is simple. Clients

There are many breeds of client. Most are nice, normal people with perfectly good manners, who lack the ability to write and recognise that, hence their need for me. Others are nice, normal people with perfectly good manners, who lack the ability to write and do not recognise that, hence the tinge of grumpiness when they call and say "the designer said I'd better call you before we printed any of this". I can usually pleasantly prove that I can write better than they can, while remaining friends, and these relationships usually end with professions of gratitude and a loving promise to call me next time they need a brochure. Others are pus-oozing monsters with no manners whatsoever who lack the ability to write, but deny that, and make my life a total misery to the point where I wonder why they even employ me. Silly me. It's to torture me, of course! And in one case, make me abandon my chosen career for six months while I recovered from his pus-oozing awfulness.

While I know you long to learn more about the monsters, today we have a short post about The I-Did-It-Myselfers. I-Did-It-Myselfers are always the loveliest people, often with a slightly frail quiver to their voice, which makes me be extra polite to them on the phone, in case I should accidentally break them. I-Did-It-Myselfers really, really want to help, which is, believe it or not, not always a good thing.

When I ask for 'a few bullet points', I-Did-It-Myselfers provide pages of close-typed text, which take hours of reading to pick out the three things I actually need to know. When I ask for 'a brief bio', I get an entire life story. When I ask for 'any existing literature', I get a postman's-back-breaking package consisting of every piece of paper the company has produced in the past fifty years; including copies of their order forms and invoice layout. Not really necessary for a DL flyer about their new widget.

I-Did-It-Myselfers are so lovely, and so fragile, however, that it's impossible to explain to them how to be more helpful, because all they want to do is be helpful, and if they tried to be any more helpful they would actually frazzle themselves into a tiny pile of ashes. All I can do is say 'thank you' and grit my teeth as I plough through the forest-slaying piles of info (these people always send paper), using hours of non-quoted working time, all so that I don't hurt their feelings.

Because, however troublesome I may find their efforts, they have gone to an effort. They have tried to make my life easier. They are nice people, who, any time I need anything, will always answer their phone and do their best to find it for me.

They are, at the end of the day, My Client.

*McKoala Family Health Update*

Considerable improvement in everybody's condition over the weekend. I can now walk almost normally, rather than shuffle, although I still can't sit for long. Grandma Koala is much stronger and may even be released from hospital in a day or so (although they've said that several times before).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's in a name? #3

I just read a book in which one of the characters was called 'Jem Stone'. And nobody seemed to notice.

Any recommendations for my convalescent reading? I'm going through a book a day at the moment so Mr Koala will be sent to the library again very soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still not quite firing on all cylinders here. Thinking about doing lots of things. Not actually doing any of them.

Grandma still in hospital with massive headache. Nobody knows how many stitches she has, because the consultant says he lost count half way. Hoping she'll get out later this week.

Mostly I'm reading. I have many intelligent things to say about my reading. Not actually saying any of them.

I'm popping up randomly here and there on the blogosphere, but this is not the time to look out for me. I think Paca's Teddies will lynch me for a woeful performance in the quiz this month.

Well, if I've been up for two hours, it must be time to go back to bed now...

Friday, November 14, 2008


Here, but owie. Post surgery not quite as awful as I had thought, but a bit tired and sore now and mostly located in bed/on sofa. Got home from hospital yesterday; within a few hours mother-in-law had a fall and is now occupying my vacancy in the hospital. As my nephew put it, 'as soon as one comes out, another one goes in'. She's had many stitches in her head, but apparently no concussion and should get out later today. Her accident happened at the kids school where, bless them, an off duty ambulance officer and nurse (both parents) were on the scene. They worked hard, but they couldn't stop the bleeding that has traumatised half of the infants department; we're still getting calls from parents of freaked-out kids who want to ensure that Soccer Boy's Grandma didn't bleed to death. No, and she is issuing orders from her hospital bed about where her cane should be positioned, who to call and where her car should be parked etc., so we're hoping for a quick recovery.

It never rains but know the one.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Poor me

I have to go into hospital later this week to have an operation. Nothing serious, no need to panic, just something that needs to be done and now is apparently the golden moment to do it.

I'm not looking forward to it. I seem to have a very low pain threshold. There will be moaning. I'm hoping I get some of the good-quality painkillers I got after I had Princess via the stomach slicing method. They made me very happy for an hour or so and then I fell asleep and woke up again just in time for my next dose.

Apparently I'm going to be largely out of action for two weeks. I've set up a complex play date schedule for the baby koalas that I hope all my friends remember, because I'm pretty sure Mr Koala won't. Visions of abandoned children in the schoolyard.

Kind of hoping I'll be able to stagger to my computer chair, but nothing is guaranteed.

Yeah, yeah, any excuse to avoid Paca's rainbows and teddies quiz. It might be different if I were winning....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Name Thieves

I'm sure you all know about the Baby Name Thieves. You know, the friends, old and new, who are pregnant around the same time as you and who, in the middle of discussions about stroller brands, stretch marks and Braxton Hicks contractions, steer the conversation around to baby names.

'Caspian-Romeo if it's a boy and Amaryllis-Francine if it's a girl,' you confide. 'How about you?'

'Oh, we haven't decided yet,' she says. Then when baby pops out around two weeks before yours (these people are always slightly more pregnant than you) and you get a flowery message announcing that their angel has landed, funnily enough the name is Caspian-Romeo or Amaryllis-Francine. And if ever taken to task, they will airily deny any memory of the name conversation and avow that Caspian-Romeo or Amaryllis-Francine has been their favourite name since they could lisp around the teat of their own baby bottle.

And you have to call your baby John.

It is now my painful task to announce to you that the Baby Name Thieves have cousins. The Novel Name Thieves.

It turns out that my perfectly wonderful first novel (yes, yes, the one in the bottom drawer, no need to remind me) shares its title with the name of a rock band. My second (yes, yes, it's still unsold, no update, again...) shares the name of a blogger. My third I think is as yet unstolen (perhaps because it is very long). The fourth, half finished novel, shares the name of a song. The fifth, well OK, the idea in my head that may or may not ever be written, but which already has a title with which I am very pleased, I discovered in the library today shares the name of...another novel.

Who are these evil people, the Novel Name Thieves? How do they find me? Is this an alien probe situation?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Use 'em - or kill 'em

I've just read a book - rather a good one, I thought initially - that boasts a useless character.

This elderly man appeared at one meal, at which he had to be helped with his food. Occasionally the writer mentioned the number of chairs or people at other meals, which a quick tot-up showed meant he had to be present. Although he was never fed again, not that she mentioned anyway. Once she referred to 'the old man' being helped into another room.

That was it. He had nothing to say, nothing to do, except hang out at the dinner table and not be mentioned.

So why was he there at all? I've thought my way around the symbolic stuff - nothing. Family balance, that kind of stuff - nope, nothing. His presence, as far as I could tell, was completely unnecessary. I wondered if he had had more of a role in an earlier draft, which was then cut, leaving him voiceless, faceless, needing only a chair for the head count.

He was a problem though, when I thought about the book afterwards. This man, who needed help to feed and walk, what was he doing the rest of the time while the family were out and about? Who was looking after him? Rather than just being a presence without consequence, he became a problem in my mind; a loose end that undermined the realism and credibility of the whole story. So what had been rather a good book slid down my mental ratings chart to slumber somewhere at the bottom of the 'well, I won't read that one again, or probably anything else by this author' pile.

If you don't really need a character, if a character has no character, please, please get out your sharp red pen and kill 'em off.