Fuzzy Headed…

I feel fuzzy headed today. It’s my own fault, really. I know I can’t burn the candle at both ends, let alone in the middle too.

So I guess that means no sympathy for me! Well, fairy nuff (the Fairy Nuff being where pixies and elves and fairies go to buy their little boots and tunics – they can never get their size in M&S, Primark or Monsoon).

My sinuses are playing up too. No change there. I seem to live on snorts of Sudafed nasal spray, it being more of a staple diet than meat and two veg sometimes. That’s adding to the fluff slowly replacing my brain cells, a sort of candy floss Blob devouring the contents of my skull.

As such, it’s a little difficult to concentrate. I’m managing work, which is a task in itself, particularly today where I seem to have a variety of issues to deal with, but it’s the ‘other’ stuff I seem to have trouble focussing on.

I’m part of the way through the South Sea Bubble, the finale to Alison DeLuca’s phenomenal Steampunk saga that began with The Night Watchman Express. This book was my first foray in to the genre, and I didn’t know what to expect, but the characters and situations and excitement are so well written, I was hooked. I’m honoured to be beta reading the ‘Bubble’ and I’m rather sad that I know it’s coming to a close. The characters are my friends, and Mana is one of my favourite character creations (next to Dory from Finding Nemo).

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Still, the ride aboard the Express was thrilling and it opened my eyes to a genre I’d not even ventured near previously.

But, with my sinuses and my fuzzy headedness, I’m haven’t given the book the attention it deserves. Also, I need to address various points on my website and other places. I gave myself a list this morning of things I needed to do at lunch-time, but when the break came and I’d eaten my lunch, I couldn’t think what I’d listed (doing it mentally when I know I should write it down), so I ended up getting to the book with only a few minutes to spare.

I had to get my fix, though.

It isn’t helping that my daughter, not yet two, is lactose intolerant and was inadvertently given something to eat at a get-together the other night that contained exactly that. We were told it was safe. When we checked… Let’s just say it’s not pretty when it wakes her (and us) at 3 am.

Last night I had the chance to go to bed early. My wife was ill herself, so went to bed before our two year old. I put the wee one to bed then, with my older daughter, went out for some shopping and to put petrol in my wife’s car (I’d had to use it for work due to losing my keys (found now)). We got back, I tidied the kitchen, my daughter went to bed herself, and I sat down to watch the latest episode of Person of Interest. Just chill for a little while.

Hmmm…

Famous last words.

I had my tablet with me (the touch screen, Windows 8 variety – non-medicinal). I was looking for images for a children’s book I’m planning. Eventually Person of Interest finished. That should have been my queue to down tools and retire for the night. It was around ten-thirty.

Ah… There’s that second episode of Labyrinth to watch… It’ll only be on an hour. Less if I fast forward through the ads. Labyrinth is a two-parter based on the Kate Mosse book, not (something which elicited groans of disappointment from my older daughter) a new version of the Jim Henson/David Bowie classic film. I’d tried the book, but it didn’t grab me. I think maybe a new Odd Thomas book came out, and I’ll pretty much drop anything for that.

Still, I’d give the show a go. Well, I had done the first episode. It was… ok, I thought. I liked it, but, like the book, it didn’t quite grab me. Not quite enough excitement, but worth the watch.

But… it was on for two hours, not one. It was now well after midnight.

Oops.

Then up at 7 am this morning for work.

So THAT’S why I’m fuzzy headed.

Someone do me a favour and kick me, next time. Yo, Shaun. Get your backside up them stairs and get some sleep.

Tonight, OK?

I had a point to this blog post. Can’t quite remember what it is.

Got a fuzzy head, you see.

Maybe I’m just ranting at myself. Telling me off for doing something I know I shouldn’t. Like touching a door with a ‘Wet Paint’ sign.

Well, I consider myself told. I’ll do better next time.

Well… I say that…

I think I’m writing this so that I’m actually writing. I’ve had the ideas for Mortal Sin, the sequel to Sin, and want to get on with it. I want to enter his head and see what madness lurks there. But I know I’ll sit at the screen and go “Erm…” My mind can still wander and wonder, however, so I can berate myself and use it for a purpose. After all, ‘tis better than to write than to want to, isn’t it?

Oh, talking about Finding Nemo. How pleased am I that there’s a sequel, and it’s Finding Dory?

One word. WHOOP!!

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The Not-So-Grand National…

The Grand National.

It’s a race. Not just any race – a horse race. Not just any horse race – one of the biggest. Not just any biggest horse race – the sort that gets ordinary people, who never walk into a bookies at any other time of the year and never switch the television or radio on to listen to the commentary of any other sporting event, to place a bet.

Now mental patients, asylum residents or (as certain orderlies call us) ‘The Animals’, are not normal. Ignoring my own… I suppose… PARAnormality, my friends are a little different. They see the world through a stained-glass window, one which casts assorted shades upon the world within and without. In more than one case, that window is shattered, or at least cracked, and the view is warped – a distortion of reality dragging the mind on a rollercoaster of reason with psychosis are its sick bag.

The orderlies thought they would give us a little fun and excitement. Nice of them, no?

No.

They ran a sweepstake. Let everyone take part. A fiver of their allowance to pick a horse. Sat everyone down. Changed the TV over from MTV to Channel 4.

And they’re off.

Of course, the orderlies had their fun. They prompted and cajoled. Pushed and conspired. They weren’t idiots. Well, that’s debatable, but they’re not naive. They knew.

At first, there was silence. A hush that is almost never heard – though hushes are generally not heard anyway – in the Recreation Room. All eyes were on the screen. A hands were clasped together, either in anticipation or prayer. All eyes were wide.

Rainbow Hunter. That was the first horse out. Brian, one of the Cornercopias. It was his horse. His five pounds. His chance to run free.

He cried. The tears were silent at first. They raced down his cheeks as the equine combatants raced around their track. Then the sobs took over and his body shook.

The orderlies laughed. Their first victory.

And so it went.

As horse after horse dropped out, resident after resident had their own drop-outs. Whether it be with fists of fury, as Brendan Blessed, who believed himself to be an angel and who had an almost permanent broken leg due to thinking the imaginary wings on his back gave him the gift of flight discovered when James ‘Don’t Call Me Jim’ Carton’s horse was pulled out by the rider. James, never Jim or your face would take, sometimes, weeks to recover, lashed out at the closest thing to him.

Brendan’s head.

Or whether it be in manic misery, the way both Edna and her sister in everything but reality, Mabel, dealt with their steed’s failure to complete the course. They’re cries drowned out the commentary and the shouts from the other patients yelling for them to be quiet. They huddled on the floor in each other’s arms, shaking, their tears becoming a flood that made Brian’s seem a meagre tributary to their Nile.

Seventeen horses finished.

Half of those were chosen by my compatriots, the winning three included.

Mine came third. Bender Benny’s was second. Luscious Lucy’s mount stormed in at first.

Not one of us ended up collecting our winnings, not least because, when Auroras Encore proved odds in such a race were the stuff of dreams (meaningless and with as much substance as air), individual losses and successes merged into a collective furore that swept the room like a tsunami.

Four hours later, order was restored, thanks to the kindness of Jeremy, the dominance of Dr. Connors and a unhealthy dose of whichever drug was your respective version of finger-licking-chicken. The orderlies had smiles on their faces for hours after that. They’d had their fun. They’d split the proceeds. They’d massaged the maelstrom that a room full of patients can become.

I wonder what the collective term for a group of lunatics might be. I’d wager on ‘A Stampede’.

The Grand National.

A race. Not just any race, but one which can take your reason, plonk it on the back of a horse and hurl it around the asylum.

A race, in here, with no winners.

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The Case of the Appearing Temptation…


 

I’ve been naughty.

Sorry, but I have. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t want to, in fact. My willpower needs willpower to get some willpower!

I’ve just eaten a Snickers.

I know. How bad am I?

I didn’t want it. Wasn’t hungry. No pangs twisting in my stomach, crying out Audrey II-like, “FEED ME!”

No. I was fine. I’d had a round of toast for breakfast. Well done, thanks, not anaemic and looking as if the bread has been waved in front of the toaster for a few seconds to get the implication of heat. No waiting for it to go cold before buttering either. I like it hot, thanks.

Lunch was a couple of rounds of bread with ham. An apple, satsuma and banana. A small packet of crisps. Cheese & onion, to be precise. The crisps were an additional treat. Usually it’s sandwich and fruit and that’s all.

I do admit to having had a finger of shortbread around half ten with a cuppa. They’d been brought in but one of my team. It’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Anywho. That’s it. My evening meal would be around six-ish, though I don’t, as yet, know what it’ll be. But I was full. Wasn’t even thinking of food. I’d just made a drink for us all, so had a cup of tea and some water next to me. Getting on with work.

Then…

She had to do it.

She just had to…

I heard the noise first. The tear of the wrapper. The smell of chocolate and nuts. A SNICKERS!

Why, oh why, oh why?

You see, then I was thinking about food. Then she had to say (she being one of my team) that she’d not eaten and only had a stash of rubbish in her drawer. Rubbish being crisps, more chocolate, another Snickers, cup-a-soup and the like.

I walked away. I did. Adamant that I’d wait until later, but without the stripe across my nose (oh, that’s Adam Ant – I always get them mixed up).

Then…

She just had to, didn’t she?

She just had to…

“Do you want one?”

My hand was reaching out. I watched it move. Horror screamed within the confines of my mind. ‘DON’T DO IT!’ But my hand didn’t listen. My hand didn’t care. My hand wasn’t going to turn away for anyone.

“Yes, please.”

No! My mouth! In cahoots with my hand! Ganging up on me! I was surrounded!

Dejectedly, I surrendered. I knew when I was defeated.

It was right nice, though!

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The Case of the Vanishing Idea…

Don’t you hate it when you get an idea, but then, when you’re in a position to actually do something with it (write it down and CREATE), the idea is gone? Just on the outer edge of your memory, dancing about, leaning in just to tantalise and tease you before jumping back out of reach?

Don’t you just hate it?

Hmmm…

I’ve been struggling, a little, with Mortal Sin. Not in a religious way, but in a creative one. Mortal Sin is the sequel to Sin and I was stuck fast with the whats, whys, whens and who-be-dos.

The ‘where’ was easy. I was – or rather am – setting it, once again, in Grimsby. They say ‘Write what you know,’ and I know Grimsby. Not quite New York or London, but it was founded by a Dane trying to protect the heir to the throne of another country from assassination. Not too shabby an origin, methinks.

I’d come up with some ideas, including a ‘half-way house’ where the our man (though he doesn’t know he’s Our Man) is taken by a woman feeling sorry for his plight. I knew exactly where this house was going to be. Welholme Road. Large homes overlooking the People’s Park. Perfect. Enough room and rooms for the various odd tenants to come and go and to gradually become more… well… ODD.

Luckily, I know someone, my wife, who knows those houses inside out and can give me highly detailed plans and information about the layout etc. From the type of flooring to the colour wallpaper to the light switches, I can get a real image of what they look like inside. Not that I’ll necessarily go into that amount of detail in the book. You need to picture it yourself – but I will be able to picture it myself too.

Even if yours and mine don’t quite match, that’s fine. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but we’ll both be walking, pretty much, hand in hand.

But the rest. Sin’s DEAL. What of that? Well, I had inklings. I had musings. I had odd samples of script all worked out, though they’d be forgotten by the time I came to that scene – if I ever did. But the actual MEAT, the food on which the hungry reader would satiate their appetite? Well…

A friend at work, yesterday, asked me if I’d watched the new Jonathan Creek on BBC1 on Monday night. I hadn’t and I kicked myself for not realising it was on. Jonathan Creek, for the un-initiated, is an offbeat detective show starring the wonderfully strange Alan Davies as a magicians ‘assistant’ (in that he’s the one who comes up with the illusions). He finds himself tied up in various murders and mysteries which have the police stumped and his unique outlook is the only thing that can solve them.

Jonathan Creek is… different. It’s comfortable and quirky and fun and I always enjoy it. As such, I wasn’t too happy that I’d missed this episode. The show finished a couple or more years ago, so I wasn’t expecting it to resurface. On Monday night, oblivious to Creek’s resurrection, I’d been watching Broadchurch, an excellent drama series starring (amongst other familiar faces) ex. Doctor Who, David Tennant. So, last night, tablet in hand, I watched Jonathan Creek courtesy of the BBC iPlayer. And it was a welcome return indeed – not disappointing in the least.

So? And?

And. I don’t know what, in the programme, prompted me. I really don’t. But, something in that 90 minutes of conundrums and disappearing bodies, an idea popped into my head. It wandered around for a while, letting me concentrate on the show, and then, as I lay in bed, it expanded in my mind and became a plot. It became a three course meal for those ravenous readers. That was it. That was what would happen. That was the what and also the WHY.

Then I fell asleep.

Then I woke up.

Now I’m sitting here berating myself, once again (for this in not the first time) not having a notepad beside my bed.

The idea has faded. It’s stepped out for a moment and may be sometime. I can just see its shadow, and its Cheshire Cat grin as it knows I’m trying to grab hold and I can’t.

Maybe I’ll look the other way. Pretend I’m not interested. Maybe then it’ll step back within reach and I can lunge, notepad in hand, and snatch it back up, shovelling it back into my brain like coal into a bucket – fuel for the fire. No, it’d be more cramming it in, like the last pair of pants into a suitcase that you have to sit on to zip up, knowing you’ll be over the weight restriction and, once opened, you’ll never get it packed quite the same.

Either way, hopefully we’ll be reunited, like Jonathan Creek and his not-quite sidekick Sheridan Smith. Let’s hope the puzzles will be solved and the end result won’t be a crime to the literary world. Eh?

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