Archive for October, 2010

Fantasy Or Fact?

October 24, 2010

It came in the night

The hairs of my head feel like creeping insects, my heart a ticking time bomb — fast, faster, faster… boom, boom, boom. My eyes can only focus on one thing, and that thing slowly moves and changes shape even as I stand there, rooted to the spot.
A ghost? A thing from outer space?
It looks so ugly. But what right have I to judge beauty? What right has anyone? What was it my mother used to say?
Beauty is what beauty does, or some such thing. But what is this creature going to do?
It’s moving and changing shape again…

Go to Writing For Joy to find out more — ghost or?

Ian Rankin’s Doors Open — Big Disappointment!

October 20, 2010

I don't rank this highly. Sorry Ian!

Now, first of all let me say that we have read a number of books by Ian Rankin. I can’t say we love every page in all of those stories but on the whole we consider him a good writer — like millions of other. So, we ask ourselves, how on earth did Ian Rankin’s Doors Open, get into print? Ian Ranking may be a number one best seller, but, for me, Doors Open comes nowhere near Leigh Russell’s Cut Short. I contrast Doors Open with Cut Short deliberately, because Russell is a comparatively new writer who still has to make it to the halls of fame. I can only think that Doors Open is really an early work of Rankin’s although the publishing date is two years ago.

So what makes me be so ‘down thumbs’ about this book? Partly the way it is written and the implausibility of the plot, but mostly because the central theme is flawed. Famous paintings, by different artists, are stolen and replaced by copies worked by an art student. The mind boggles at any painter being able to produce eight perfect copies of famous artists, all of whom have totally different method and subjects, in a matter of a couple of weeks (or less?), but this a mere student. Right, okay so he is a clever guy, but we are talking about oil paintings mostly by old masters. Now any dabbler of paint will know it takes oil a while to dry. A new painting actually smells quite strong and can be tacky for ages. And I would question as to whether the paint could be anywhere near the original that was likely mixed from scratch. Okay, we say that our forger is pretty good there. But what about varnish, fine crack lines and natural changes due to the life of the painting? Am I being picky? I sure am. For me a good crime story has to be credible. This one is not. True, we still have a third of the book to go, but my interest is fast waning. The so-called expert who is part of the crime certifies the copies as the genuine paintings, but to me, anyone working at the gallery would have sniffed them as fakes as soon as he, or she, got a look at them.

Sorry, Ian. But I look forward to your next novel.

Magpies Nest Publishing
Lake District Saga — Checkmate
Hobson’s Books — My novels and other works

Did I switch the light off?

October 4, 2010

Light in the gathering gloom

Did I switch it off?

Did I switch off the light? Turn off the TV ? Turn off the tap?
I know I have a problem when I keep going back to a room to make these checks. Yes, I go back feeling pretty sure I did the right actions. It isn’t just the cost and waste of fuel and water, but just as important are the safety issues. Am I going bonkers is what I ask myself, or have I a hidden anxiety that manifests itself in repetitive actions? Fears of senility?
Well, I don’t think I have dementia. I know the questions asked of dementia patients and I can answer them all. Apart from which, having lived with dementia (my mother suffered from the worst kind and her life was a living hell) I know the signs.
Is it stress? I have to admit, I have been working on the computer doing actions that require more knowledge than I possess. Not having been brought up with computers I don’t understand the language and I tend to work trial and error style. I get shown how to do things but I soon forget again. I have to go over and over to make things sink in.
I recall doing psychology during teacher training and one model was that we build on an already acquired concept. Growth comes with building on that solid foundation. Trouble is, as far as new technology is concerned foundations can change. Even some of the web sites change and grow and I can’t keep up. Or different sites have slightly (or totally) different ways of doing things. AND they will use pale text, sometimes quite small too, for important actions. I get tied in knots.
Governments want everybody to be on the Internet. Impossible. Not just because it does not adequately reach some areas, but many older people do not have the skills and computers are no-go areas. Maybe they do show ancients grinning because of their achievements at getting on line but they are a mere few. Fears of losing money is enough not to get an on-line bank account. Deafness (and foreign and regional accents) are enough to make oldies shudder and cling to their local bank, even if they have to travel to get there. The hole in the wall for doing business may be simple to most, but to some elderly it could well be a hole to lose money in.
So the computer has become important in my life for I am the one in our long partnership to use it. Not just for business and information, but for my writing and books. It has opened up the world to me. And found me new friendships at a time when friends have become thin on the ground. But I admit to getting frustrated and feel like putting the mobile toilet roll holder (it is heavy metal) through the screen. I yell with frustration as my son comes into the house HEEEEEEEEEEEEELP! Poor lad!

So that’s one thing that could be making me anxious. I guess there are a number of things though that I can do nothing about. Things I would so much like to help with, but have not the money, the talents, the time or the health to oblige.
It is then I start to look back on my life and wonder if I should have done things differently. Have I wasted my talents? Taken a wrong turning? (That is a constant thought over certain matters that were costly at the time and just as much so in retirement.) But looking back is useless. As the sands run speedily through the hourglass, I am keen to make the most of the present, while being aware of what I leave behind. No, I have no desire to go off on cruises or fly to foreign lands. Maybe I just want to be successful in my own efforts, not be a burden on others and to have the satisfaction of a job well done.
Now then, did I turn that tap off?