Cyn by Any Other Word…

It’s me again.  Sin.  Your favourite not-quite-insane lunatic.  I do hope you’re well.  I thought I’d sneak in whilst that Mr. Allan geezer wasn’t looking and borrow his chair for a while to chat with someone new.  I’ve got a right one here.  A certain Cindy Harper.  She appears to be a friend and fan of said Mr. Allan and has read my story.

That makes her crazy to begin with…

 
What’s your name?
You think it’s a bitch to be called Sin? Try being called Cyn-Cyn. Most of my friends, if that’s what we should call them, shorten it to Cyn. Yes, pronounced the same as yours.
 
A sister-in-spirit then?  Well, you’ll know some of the fun I had at school then.  Yes, it is rather a ‘bitch’ to be called Sin.  And Everest is a big hill.  Where are you from?
Not these parts.
 
Is that the name of the town?  I don’t recall seeing it on a map anywhere.  ‘Not These Parts’ – Population 1?  I know there are places called Boring, Why, Wetwang (I’ve been there – my ‘wang’ stayed dry…), Middlefart and No Name, but never heard of that one.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?
Eh. *shrugs* There are worse places. There are better places. This will do for now.
 
I like your enthusiasm.  If you’re a writer/film-maker, is this your ‘day job’?
*Bitter laugh* You’re kidding, right? I’m not a writer, nor am I a film-maker. I know too many that are. Looking to have your story on the big screen one day?
 
If my story was on the ‘big-screen’, I doubt people would believe it.  I, myself, struggle to.  Tell me about your latest project.
 *Snorts* Which one? I have at least a half dozen in the works, depending on the medium you’re asking about.
 
I wasn’t talking about Mediums, unless you’re a psychic.  Or septic.  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…
Bacon. Bacon should be considered a main staple of life. Which gods do you talk to?
 
Any who will listen.  I like your thinking regarding bacon!  What is your favourite film?
Terminator.
 
Nice.  I have to admit to being a fan myself.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
I’m a writer by choice and by challenge.
 
Is it your choice to be challenged?  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
They don’t make enough paper tissues for all the ideas I have. When they get too bad, I sneeze. Then, I can breathe again. Eventually, like bad allergies, they catch up to me again. Rinse, lather, repeat as necessary.
 
You should have shares in Kleenex!  If you were in an asylum – though it sounds like you belong in one – what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
I get to choose? How novel. Let’s go for the big guns. Let’s try Schizophrenia for $200, Alex. 
 
Interesting choice.  Surprisingly, we don’t get many schizophrenics in here.  I think it’s too ‘normal’ an illness for our dear Doctor.  What genre(s) do you write?
Whatever amuses me at the time.
 
OK.  Reason enough.  What genres(s) do you read?
Whatever’s currently on the e-reader.
 
Makes sense…  If these are the same, what attracts you to them.  If they’re different, why do you think that is?
Really? You had to go there? I like variety. Variety is the spice of life. You get too much of one kind, you get to where you can’t stand it anymore. Keep it changing; keep it different. I’m not saying you can’t revisit, just don’t let it be the only thing you get.
 
Very good point.  That’s why I don’t like Cheesy Wotsits or Monster Munch anymore.  They were the only thing we had when I was young, so I went right off them.  Now.  Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Who’s cooking it?
 
Does it matter?  It is bacon, after all.  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?
Who says I want out? I just go here. I hear there’s a lot going on in here. Maybe I want a piece of it. Maybe I want a piece of you. Whatcha gonna do about it?
 
I think I may start running…
 
 
Cindy can be found throwing words at her blog (http://cmerun12.livejournal.com/) and hoping they make sense, or brightening your day in the Twitterverse at @cmerun12.  Be sure to check her out.  Just don’t let her see you’re doing it…
 
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Why are Pirates called Pirates?

Everyone wants to be a pirate. Well, when they’re young anywho. 
Well, I did at least. 
I didn’t get the chance, clearly. The days of dropping anchor, pieces of right and ‘X’ marks the spot are long gone. Perhaps it’s the reason the Pirates if the Caribbean films are so popular? I, myself, love them and I’m looking forward to number 5. But maybe it’s because everyone, at some point in their lives, had pretended to have one leg and an eye patch that had made Captain Jack Sparrow probably more well known than Long John Silver. 
 
As it is, my day job is more to do with computers, drawings and thickness readings than treasure maps, deck swabbing and cannon balls.  Saying that, I’ve not spent that much time at sea so I’m not sure if my stomach could handle the tilt and sway if a galleon.
 

Well, my family and I are enjoying a well earned break on the Balearic island of Majorca. It was a great last minute deal and we’ve had great fun. This includes getting lost on a trip to Cala D’Or and being stranded in Manacor after our bus driver had told us he went to where we’re staying but then went somewhere completely different. 
On our second day, we went to see a show. A pirate show. 
The Pirate Adventure Show to be precise. 
I have to admit, I was excited. My wife admits she went so I could. It wasn’t cheap by any means. I believe for my family of two adults, a child under 12 and one under 2, it was around £150. This included the coach journey, however. 
But, it was worth every penny and then some. 
When we arrived, a pirate jumped on the bus. Ok it was a guy in a pirate costume, but he, Raphael, was there to point out cameras hadn’t been invented yet so no photography or video was allowed. He also made us laugh. Good start. 
We went in and were taken to our seats. We’d gone for the Main Deck, which was the cheap seats, effectively, but all seating areas had a perfect view. Food was brought out, consisting of sausages, chicken portions and chips (as in fries). There was a vegetarian option if required. It wasn’t a banquet but there was plenty and it was very tasty. Coke, water and cartons if Sangria were available for free all night. Now the Sangria was out if a box, but it was still nice and wet and we didn’t mind as we were the for the show. 
And what a show!  
Parts were funny, parts were impressive and parts were breathtaking. From a brilliant comedic rendition of ‘Too Good to be True’ to acrobatics and sword fights, the show was, barring the intermission, non stop. Even my two year old (two next week anyway) didn’t stop clapping!
I can honestly say it’s one if the best shows I’ve seen. The balancing act that had a man climbing up the ship’s ropes with another teetering on his head by one hand had everyone going WOW!  There was a constant stream of laughter and applause from the audience. Myself included. 
The following night, they had a tenth anniversary show in aid if Great Ormond Street children’s hospital. 
There’s also a later, more adult, show. Maybe next year?
Anywho. If you’re ever in Majorca and you miss this, you’ll be missing something that will be areal highlight of your holiday. It certainly is of mine. 
For more information, their website is http://www.piratesadventure.com/ and they’re on Twitter at @PiratesMallorca. 
Oh, and the show is performed entirely in English. My daughter had been worried about it understanding what was said. I told her she would be fine as the spectacle would be enough. We needn’t have worried. 

 


Also, check out their trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvrTJo4RR94
 
And why are pirates called pirates?
‘Cos they ARRRRR!
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Under the Spotlight…

I hate interviews.
 
Well, I dislike them, at least.  I always feel as if I’m under the spotlight and picture myself restrained, with someone pulling a cover off a row of gleaming torture instruments.
 
Why are torture instruments – scalpels and clamps and the like – always so clean in films?  Are they not wanting you to get a nasty infection whilst pulling your fingernails off or removing your thumb from the knuckle down?
 
Ain’t that sweet of them?
 
Bless.
 
Anywho-be-do.
 
Interviews.  I don’t like them.  I remember one I had.  I forget what the job was actually for, but there were three people facing me.  It was early days in my jobbing career.  Probably only my second or third interview.  There was a window behind them, with horizontal blinds left open.  The sun was shining in the window and the blinds, as I moved my head, kept causing me to be temporarily blinded and left in darkness as my eyes struggled to keep up with the sun dipping in and out.  I could have kept my head perfectly still, but didn’t want to appear stiff and uncomfortable.
 
Instead I appeared, probably, as if I wasn’t in control of my eyes or I had a weird nervous tic.  Needless to say I didn’t get the job.
 
When Connors interviewed me prior to entry into the asylum, it was more informal.  He acted as a friend.  He smiled and offered me tea and biscuits.  His voice was soothing.
 
So, rather than an out and out predator, lunching on my discomfort, Connors was prowling.  Circling.  Choosing the best time to pounce.
 
Letting me walk into his trap.
 
Only right, therefore, that I choose to give others some of this medicine.  OK, so it’s not Risperdal or even Paracetomol, and it may well not (read ‘won’t’) make you feel better, but hey, I’ll enjoy it, and that’s what matters.
 
Of course, here in the asylum, it’s difficult to interview anyone other than the other residents.  Granted, in a good few cases, that’d be quite fun, and I may well do that, methinks, but how about others?  How about you?
 
Well.
 
I can’t do that in here.  I can’t even do that on this blog.  As much as I feel I’m sneaking about writing this diary, I wouldn’t be surprised if they (or ‘THEY‘) knew about it – although talking about it now sort of negates any secrecy, doesn’t it?  Hey, I’m in an asylum.  I’m meant to be crazy, though we – you and I – know the truth about that, don’t we?
 
Anywho.  I’ve managed to do one.  An interview.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone, OK?  I managed to ask the lovely Jan Ruth a few questions, just off the top of my head.  Of course, as I’m unable to put anything like that on here for fear of reprisal or victimisation (not just of me), I had to find somewhere else.  It was easier than I thought.  I simply hijacked another blog.
 
Yup.  A man’s gotta do and all that.  The owner of the blog, some guy called Shaun Allan, hasn’t seemed to have noticed, so, if you want to check it out before he does notice and takes it down, drop by http://flipandcatch.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/jan-ruth-flew-over-cuckoos-nest.html and take a peek.
 
If you fancy a few words with a (supposed!) lunatic yourself, chuck me an email at sin@shaunallan.co.uk and I’ll try and let you sneak in too.  Don’t blame me if, once you’re in here, you can’t get out, however.  Them’s the risks.
 
It feels a bit dangerous, you know.  I can feel the adrenaline prickling through my veins.  I’m being naughty!
 
Cool!

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A Man by any Other Word…

If you met one of your old teachers, what would you call them?  If you knew their first name, would you use it or would you feel the need to call them Mr. This or Miss That?

If you’ve read Sin, or happened by one od my interviews, or perhaps my web page, you’ll have see the name Mr. Staniforth.  As teachers go, he was one of the finest.  Ask anyone who had him and they’ll agree.

Mr. Staniforth taught English at Western Comprehensive School.  Oh, that’s the school I went to, once upon a long time ago.  He always seemed soooo tall, and he had a voice you could feel in your boots.  Strong and deep.

He still does.

As part of our lessons, we had to read ‘classic’ books.  There was Julius Caesar, as our Shakespeare piece.  The Mayor of Casterbridge was another.  Ol’ JC wasn’t bad.  I seem to recall I quite enjoyed that.  The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, was a different matter.  I didn’t like that.  I didn’t find it interesting or engaging.  My only real memory of that book, though, is one of laughter.  There’s a line where someone is described as a ‘bucket faced man’.  Mr. Staniforth asked what such a person would look like.  One of my fellow pupils, I forget who, exactly, piped up “A bit pale?’

Now, that’s fast.  That’s sharp.  That’s hilarious!

Anywho.

Another classic on the list was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  It was this book, and Mr. Staniforth’s reading of it, that started me on the real road to be a writer.  Though I’d written various stories prior to that point, once I’d seen how Mockingbird held the class rapt, and carried me away with the passion and pain of its characters, I had to – one day – be able to do that myself.  Not that I’m trying to say my own books are anything like in the league of Harper Lee’s of course.  Oh, no.  But I wanted to be able to carry people away.

After school (after I left, not post hometime), I corresponded a little with Mr. Stanforth.  I sent him some of my stories and he returned them with critiques.  It was great, actually.  His words of encouragement encouraged me, and his red lines prompted me to improve.

Then, life got in the way, as it often decides it must.

I continued to write.  I produced a variety of stories.  I ran an online magazine.  I appeared on Sky TV debating electronic vs traditional publishing.  A wrote a short story that was to become the prologue for my novel and, in the process, met an offbeat, supposed lunatic who would fill many years of my life and allow me to have a strange sort of therapy.

A couple of years ago, my book, Sin was published.  Since then, I’ve wanted to hand a copy of Sin to Mr. Staniforth.  I wanted him to see what he helped me create.  But I chickened out.  I couldn’t, could I?

Well, thanks to prompts from my dear wife and the help of a friend who’s currently living in Australia, I’ve done just that.

The address I was given was in a village just outside Louth.  A week ago today, I drove there, book in hand, heart in mouth.  I pulled up outside, walked up the gravel drive and knocked on the door.  There was a sports car parked outside, which I didn’t think would be the vehicle of choice.  There was no answer to my knock, and a letter on the doormat, addressed to a ‘Dr. Somebody’ told me Mr. Staniforth no longer lived there.

Of course, I could have simply climbed back in my car and driven off, defeated.  But I didn’t.

A man was driving along the lane opposite on a sit-on mower thing.  I asked him if my old teacher still lived there.  He told me no, Mr. Stanforth hadn’t lived there for ‘donkey’s years’.

Oh…

But, he did live right around the corner!

OH!

I was stuck, now.  I couldn’t get out of it.  I had to do the deed.

Again, a gravel drive.  Always wanted one of those.

A woman was sitting outside, reading.  I asked if a Mr. Staniforth lived there.  She said yes…

And then there I was, face to face with a man who, simply, inspired me.

And he remembered me.  The ‘short story guy’.

We had a wonderful conversation.  A catch up.  He was delighted that I had continued my writing, and it had born fruit.  He was delighted with the fact that, not only is Sin dedicated to him, but he also appears briefly within the pages. I was delighted by his delight.

He told me that I’d always had talent.
We joked that I couldn’t bring myself to call him by his first name. He’d always be Mr. Staniforth to me, and to many others. 
As we parted company, he said thank you for dropping by. He said thank you for the book. 
I said no, thank YOU for the book. 
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Jan Ruth Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…

Name’s Sin.  Just an ordinary guy in an extraordinary world, that’s me.  Say, come inside and meet the missus, as a worm once said.
 
Granted, that’s not so straight forward in the land of the strait jacket, but still, make yourself  at home – or at least comfortable.  I have a visitor.  We don’t get many in here.  Most of the residents are either forgotten or want-to-be-forgotten.
 
So…
 
Hello…
 
What’s your name?
Jan Ruth
 
Hi Jan, it’s good to meet you, even in here.  Especially in here.  Where are you from?
Cheshire, UK. I live in Snowdonia, North Wales.
 
Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?
I love living here, yes. Oh, I wouldn’t like to be far from the hills… an old Welsh legend has it that if you manage to survive a night on Cadar Idris (that’s a mountain, not a bloke) you will emerge a madman, or a poet.
 
Still not worked out which one I am, a little of both?
 
A poetic madman, perhaps?  It sounds idyllic.  As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
I’m lucky in that yes, answering wacky questions and writing stuff down is my day job. I’m now at that time of life (old but still breathing) when the kids have gone, life has slowed down and I have the time to make up stories. I also contribute to North Wales Yes Magazine
 
(Not that we didn’t/don’t enjoy our grown children. In fact, we’ve had a rather good return on them already this year with trips abroad and free technical expertise.)
 
Ah, so children are an investment for your retirement?  I’ll have to remember that.  As for writing, it must be wonderful to be able to spend your time writing, particularly in such delightful surroundings.  Tell me about your latest project.
Would you believe it’s a novel set in Snowdonia? I also have lots of material from a recent trip to New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. I was going to write a funny travel blog but I’ve found myself building stories around some our experiences instead. I’m thinking of writing maybe three novellas and packaging these together as a contrast to the Welsh settings on the other titles.
 
I can empathise.  I was in Egypt once, and it inspires me still.  So, how do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…
Bacon? It makes me feel proud to be British. I must say how good it is here in the UK (the bacon, that is). In New Zealand, pigs are something of a rarity over there. The bacon was more streak than meat.
 
Hmmm…  Yum.  You can’t beat a good bacon butty.  And, what is your favourite film?
Pass. Not a film lover at all. I can’t sit still long enough and I can’t bear popcorn. If I was pushed, maybe I’d say Babe… Oh, that was the previous question, sorry.
 
Not a film lover?  Oh I love films – and I’m not overly a popcorn lover either.  But I do enjoy escaping into a visual feast.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
I’ve always dabbled, even as a child. I don’t think it’s something you suddenly decide to do.
 
I agree, actually.  Writing tends to be ‘in you’ rather something you cna simply turn on and off.  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
I find dribbles come at the most inconvenient time, like in the middle of the night or sometimes in the bathroom. If I am fully prepared for them, laptop open or pen at the ready, then they can play very cruel tricks and dry up completely. Always carry a pad or something to mop up.
 
That’s something a certain person I know (the owner of this blog I’ve hijacked) could sdo with following suit on.  He’s always moaning that he woke up with a great idea or plotline and then it had gone by the time he’d been able to write it down.  Probably why it took ten years to write my story! If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
The voices in my head. Talking to fictitious people is considered normal amongst writers but I can imagine it getting wildly out of control when I get decrepit.
 
You’ll be in good company then!  I’ll have to introduce you to Philip.  He often seem to be talking to so many voices at once, he’s having a dozen conversations at the same time!  What genre(s) do you write?
Romantic drama with some flashes of black humour.
 
Interesting.  What genres(s) do you read?
I can read a fairly broad span in fiction but I’m not drawn to science fiction, erotica, fantasy or autobiographical type books. Having said all of that, I enjoyed The Lord of The Rings both in film and fiction, so if it’s outstanding of its type, I can read it.
 
I’ve only read one autobiography, but I enjoyed it.  I do like science fiction and fantasy, however.  And, bacon – just cooked or crispy?
If it’s from the UK crispy; rest of the world, almost burnt is the only way to go. Nice with brie.
 
My type of girl!  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?
I don’t aim to get out. I like it here, don’t you?
 
I don’t know if ‘like’ is the word I’d use, but I am, technically, here voluntarily.  Anywho, looks like our time’s up.  Visiting time is never long enough.  Thanks very much for dropping by, it’s been great to meet you.
 
Erm…  I’d ask them to bring your jacket, but it looks like they already are.  I don’t remember yours having so many straps…?
 
 
Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction. Love stories with strong, identifiable characters, about family life and relationships.
 
‘I like to think my books convey some serious threads with a good blend of humour, a balance of light and dark. Different, I feel from the majority in that I often write from the male perspective.’
 
Jan has been writing for more than 30 years and despite various dalliances with the more traditional publishing routes, she is now pleased to be an independent author.
 
Jan was born in Bowden, Cheshire, and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books.
 
Jan started writing at primary school, winning prizes for poetry and short stories. Her first novel attracted a London agent, but failed to find the right niche with a publisher because it didn’t fall into a specific category- not quite light enough for romance but not literary fiction either, sitting somewhere between these two genres. Her second novel, again snapped up by a London agent; suffered the same fate. Undeterred, Jan has continued to write, believing her market is out there.
 
 
 
 
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