Thursday, 27 February 2014

atheist and Scorpio

I am one of those people who annoy religious types.  I am not just an atheist.  I am an atheist who objects to people talking about religion as if it were true.

My kids go to school in Scotland, where the schools which are not Catholic call themselves non-faith schools, and yet they get taught about Diwali in the context of what 'they' do, and about Christmas in the context of what 'we' do.  They get taught the Christian nativity story as if it were history.  

I am happy for my children to be taught about religion.  Religion is incredibly important in our country, and around the world.  They need to know about religion so that they can understand where lots of other ideas have come from, and so I can help explain to them why some nasty people in my town think it's wrong that gay people should get married.  Although to be honest, I'm not sure that their Christianity really helps to explain their homophobia.

They can even choose to believe in it if they want.  I mean, they're kids, they need stories to explain the world, and to keep a bit of magic in it.  They're not old enough or wise enough to understand the real magic that's in the world.

I don't have anything against people who are believers.  I know some really good people who are Christians, and whose faith motivates them to do great things with their lives.  However, faith is not necessary to do good, and faith can be used for ill, and when it comes right down to it, I do not believe in any gods.

I believe in Santa though, obviously.

I believe in science, and reason, and I believe in the value of research and the scientific method.  That said, I believe there is a whole lot of stuff we don't know yet, and there is bound to be things that we are wrong about.  For example, I would have dismissed as disgusting nonsense the idea of faecal transplants a few years ago - on a par with drinking your own pee for the health benefits, but someone with a more open mind than I has been researching it, and finding benefits.  Awesome.

My Dad sent me something he'd photocopied from a very old book a while ago.  It was about the zodiac, but described by someone who believed in it, but didn't want to seem at all witchy.  I was reading it, and was caught by my husband (he's a scientist, and an agnostic by the way) who said 'you don't believe in that stuff do you?'.  'No!' said I, because I see no reason why astrology should be true.

And yet it speaks to me.  I keep thinking that maybe it is true, but we just haven't found the real reason for it yet.  Maybe it isn't true, but I'm ascribing meaning to it.

Either way, I do feel that my star sign describes me well.  I don't read my horoscope anymore though.

There's a little description of the Scorpio for you.  I've taken it on a lovely blog The Domestic Yogi - she's written a lovely post on dealing with Scorpio children, but it's useful for anyone with a Scorpio in their lives (or just a grumpy person).  You'll find it here.  She is way more zen than I could ever be.

What about you?  Are you religious?  What do you think of faith teaching in schools?  And, what are your thoughts on your star sign?  Am I the only one thinking this post is a bit random?!

Anyhow, this is number 49 on Fat Mum Slim's list of 50 things to blog about. I'm feeling a bit sad that I'm near the end.  You'll find my other posts inspired by the list here.  And here are some other posts you might like:

The book challenge

Words at 27/2/14 - 58,570 (up 5,917 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - early Chapter 11.
What I did last - a scene with my hero and his best friend.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


It goes without saying, doesn't it?  Everybody wants to be happy.  

But maybe not grinning like a loon happy, at least not all the time.  We want some kind of balance, right?

So what is happy?  Is it feeling like a room without a roof?  Hmm, maybe not, but great song.

Happy seems to have been coming up a lot in the podcasts I listen to lately, and it's on my Facebook feed.  Once upon a time, when I was a professional researcher, I was looking into the usefulness of studying 'happy'.  Well, I stepped out of that arena, and other people are taking it forward.  One of those people is Matt Killingsworth.  As part of his PhD, Matt designed an iPhone app called 'Track my Happiness'.  If you have an iPhone, you can get it here.  If you don't have an iPhone you can get it by email, here.  Matt has finished his PhD now, writing a paper on how focusing on what you're doing makes you happier.  He's done a TED talk on it too, it's below, if you're interested.

Matt has finished his PhD now, but the app is still available.  Why?  Because he's still researching happiness.  It is well worth taking part in his research, because it's not hard work, and it is beneficial.

I'm half way through being a participant in Matt's research (your involvement is over a month), and it hasn't actually made me more happy, but, it has made me notice things.  Firstly, it's made me notice that I'm more happy than not most of the time.  This helps me get things in perspective when I'm sad, or even despairing.  Secondly, it makes me notice things about my behaviour that aren't making me happy.  In particular, I have noticed that I'm not getting enough sleep (I've not done anything about it, but I'm aware).  Thirdly, taking part in this makes me take a moment (each survey takes about a minute to complete - three times a day), to think about what I'm doing, and how I'm feeling every day.  That gives me a chance to be mindful, and to count my blessings.

We're all aware of the idea of counting our blessings, but David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, talks about how doing this, focusing on the things we are grateful for in our lives, can bring us happiness whatever our situation.  It's another TED talk, and it's below.

There's a lot of talk about mindfulness at the moment.  This simple meditation technique which encourages us to take a few moments to stop, and bring the focus inward, seems to be helping people to avoid depression, to notice their happiness, and to feel generally better.  There's a good article on it (including instructions on how to do a 3 minute version) in The Guardian.  You'll find it here.  I haven't done regular meditation for years, I think I'm going to give it a go (like I'm going to get enough sleep!).

I am going to miss taking part in the Happiness Study when I'm done.  I've really appreciated it for making me notice the happy in my life.  I've decided that I'm going to replace it with taking part in #100HappyDays - this is a challenge to take a photo every day for 100 days, of something that's made you happy.  You then share your photo (or don't if you don't want to).  Would anyone care to join me?

To finish on another happy note, I'm going to share the song that's been going around my head since halfway through writing this.  I hope you enjoy.

So what's helping you notice your happy?  How do you accentuate the positive?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge

Words at 25/2/14 - 57,853 (up 5,200 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - beginning of Chapter 11.
What I did last - named Chapter 11.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

screaming for Expedit

This morning, as I perused my Facebook feed, I came across this news from the Guardian.

My living room... complete with 3 Expedits.
"IKEA has killed off Expedit..."

IKEA has done what?????

I noticed, when I was doing my blog post on my living room the other day that IKEA had discontinued a lot of the stuff I love in the room.  I'm sad about the rug, but it's all good, despite appearances to the contrary, IKEA can only hold so much stuff... but at least the Expedit survived.

I love Expedit, if we could have one in every room I'd seriously consider it.  I don't want IKEA to discontinue it.  Apparently there are 20,000 Facebook users who agree with me.

But worry not, because IKEA is only ditching Expedit as part of its plan to use less unsustainable wood.  It's moving to a new supplier, and is just changing and renaming Expedit.  So Expedit is dead.  Long live Kallax!

Kallax looks a lot like Expedit, except it's got less sharp edges, and narrower surrounds.  It's also more scratch resistant.  Gizmodo have done a great piece on it, if you're wanting to know more about the change.  It's here.

Pic from Gizmodo

Personally, I'm breathing a deep sigh of relief.

Do you have an Expedit?

The book challenge
Words at 25/2/14 - 57,853 (up 5,200 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - beginning of Chapter 11.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his boss.
Also today started a first draft of a sci fi short story.  At least I'm trying to make it short!

loving these blogs

Used to be that I'd get up in the morning and check what was happening in the world with the Guardian app on my 'phone, but now I'm over that.  I have a news-addicted husband who'll tell me anything big, and anything that's really interesting will pop up on Facebook somewhere.  

Nowadays I'm loving blogs, and the place to get my fix for that is Bloglovin'.  I just tell Bloglovin' what blogs I want to follow (you can follow mine on Bloglovin' - there's a link on the side there), and then it updates itself with all the new posts, so in the morning, I open up Bloglovin' and I've got my own tailor-made magazine of awesomeness.

However, there are a lot of blogs out there, and they are not all, ahem, awesome.  So I've taken to my Bloglovin' feed to find you some top blogs which are worth adding to yours!

I have to start with the incredibly fabulous Fat Mum Slim.  Your writer is Chantelle, an Australian mother-of-two who is incredibly savvy with this whole social media thing.  She blogs recipes, lifestyle, blogging, photography, and all sorts of other stuff, and lives by the motto 'living life inspired'.  She's certainly inspiring.  Chantelle's was the first blog I got addicted to, and the thing that sucked me in was the Photo-a-Day challenge.  Her blog is really well put together, friendly, and also really useful.  I wish my blog could be that good one day!  You'll find it here.

Betty Pamper: plus size hottie
My favourite British blog is the gawjuss Pamper and Curves.  I want to look like Betty Pamper, the writer, and I can find out how to with this great fashion and other stuff, friendly, approachable blog.  I also love the design of this blog.  The colours and the top banner are great, but the way the whole thing has been put together is also very impressive, and works soooo well.  Betty is on blogspot like me, so I've copied some of her ideas to make my blog work better.  Thanks Betty!  You'll find it here

Another Australian blog I love is Woogsworld, written by Mrs Woog (otherwise known as Kayte Murphy).  Hers is a blog on things that cross her mind, and her mind is a fearsome and fabulous thing to cross.  Mrs Woog comes across as the kind of woman I would like to go to the pub with, but I'd be a bit scared, as I reckon she's the type that you'd drink the night away with.  Mrs Woog shares her life, with lots of pictures, humour, and just a dash of swearing.  She has passed her awesome genes on to her kids, one of whom managed to convince his teachers he was called Horatio, and her other son, Jack, who is happy in his fabulousness (and has a tough Mum to keep him that way).  This was one of my favourite posts of hers, standing up for Jack, but I'd say she's just generally worth following.  Find Woogsworld here.

You may have noticed that I love film, fantasy, and feminism, and someone else singing from the same hymn sheet (but doing it so much better than me) is Margot Magowen of the American blog Reel Girl . She is wise in the ways of gender representation and girls, and she is not afraid to call it. What's more, she is right.

There are lots of other blogs I could recommend to you, but we'd be here all day so I'll finish with a man, because we've not had one yet. Ben Wakeling is a young British father and very funny blogger, with a gift for noticing what mums really think about Mr Bloom. He blogs at Goodbye Pert Breasts (the title was his wife's idea apparently), about fatherhood, CBeebies and poo, amongst other things.

I would love to know what your favourite blogs are?  Please let us know, and include links.  

I know some people have been having trouble commenting on my blogs.  If you look at the botttom of the post, there will either be somewhere to comment, OR (if you've got a few posts there) there will be a bit saying the number of comments already there.  Click on that, put your comment in the box and go ahead.  Depending on how much Google knows about you, you might need to identify yourself in some way.  This is to protect me from trolls, not to allow stalking.  Your email address will not be revealed, even to me.  You might also have to fill in one of those picture things that prove you're not a robot.  Again, this is to protect me.  It's a faff, but it's not malicious, and it's great for future readers of the posts if your comments are there.  Thanks.

I've been working my way through Fat Mum Slim's list of 50 things to blog about. This is number 48!  You'll find my other posts inspired by Fat Mum Slim's list here.  I'm not including other links today because I'm sure you've got enough to read right here.

The book challenge
Words at 20/2/14 - 57,441 (up 4,788 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - middle of Chapter 10.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his boss.
I need to get writing - it's been five days!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

talking abortion

Oh this is a tricky one isn't it?
Love this home-made banner from
a brave student confronting
anti-choice protestors in Cambridge
pic from The Cambridge Student

I mean, it's not, of course.  A woman's body is her body, and it is totally her right to decide what happens to it.  There is no way that a woman should be forced to have a baby if she doesn't want to, that would be barbaric.

This has for years been more of a debate in America than it is here in the UK.  Here in the UK we are pretty clear that a foetus does not have rights.  Women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion.  After a fashion.

What I mean is that women who manage to get the consent of two doctors early enough in their unwanted pregnancy have the right to choose.  It would be easier if women just had the right to choose, wouldn't it?  Obviously, abortion is a medical procedure which should be carried out by professionals, but just as in many areas people book themselves in for services like physiotherapy, women should be able to book themselves in for an abortion (so long as it falls within medically accepted guidelines).  Abortion is not something women choose to do for a laugh (if you fancy a laugh here's Bill Hicks on abortion).  If the charge is levelled that women are using abortion as contraception then what's needed is better access to contraception (this is desperately needed, but that's another story).

Anyway, I've noticed that there seems to be more and more discussion of foetus' rights to life of late.  In Britain.  I don't like it.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not that we shouldn't be thinking of the foetus, but, a foetus has no rights.  It is a foetus.  Thinking of the foetus before the woman is leading to a lot of patronising of pregnant women, most of whom want to do the best they can for the life growing inside them, and who are quite capable of making their own decisions.

In England at the moment there is a test case going on, seeking damages from the mother of a child with foetal alcohol syndrome (the mother must have drunk at least 6 units a day during her pregnancy, causing permanent damage to the child).  One court has already found the mother guilty of poisoning the foetus while it was in her womb, leading to permanent damage.  However, another court has stated that this is irrelevant because a foetus has no rights.

Obviously giving your child foetal alcohol syndrome is not a good thing.  But it would seem that the woman in question has some bigger problems to contend with.  If we give foetuses the right to not be poisoned, then will we also give them the right to not be terminated?  What do you think?

The test case also raises the issue of our right to inflict life on a person, especially a life which is very damaged.  There's a Chinese proverb that says that if you save a life, you become responsible for it.  Similarly, women are expected to take responsibility for life that they create (no-one's going after the man who chose to create an unwanted life with the mother of the English child).  At first glance it seems clear that people should not have the right to inflict life where it is not wanted.  But that way eugenics lies, and Hitler showed us why that was a bad idea.

I feel bad for the little girl in the English case, and for her biological mother.  I hope they both get the help they need, and that the court throws out this conept of foetal rights with the contempt it deserves.

There's a really great article on this in the Guardian.  You can find it here.

Also in the news lately it's come to light that some of the organisations providing abortion counselling, which the NHS refers people to, have been giving misleading, loaded mis-information, making abortion seem more dangerous than it is.  Including telling women that getting an abortion will make them more likely to sexually abuse future children.  It's clearly bollocks, but if you're in an emtionally difficult situation, which a woman seeking an abortion often is, how do you cope with stuff like that?  The organisations involved have promised to make sure staff training is up to date, but the NHS is still referring people to them.

I thought we had this issue sorted, but once again abortion is becoming a battle ground to fight for women's rights to control their own bodies.  What's with the backsliding?

I believe you're all reasonable people, so what are your thoughts on this mattter?  Thanks in advance for being respectful and kind in your responses.

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 20/2/14 - 57,441 (up 4,788 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - middle of Chapter 10.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his boss.

Friday, 21 February 2014

loving this room

What's your favourite room in your home?  And why?

Mine is my living room.  

Why?  Because it works.  We play in it, rest in it, spend time together in it, relax in it, work in it, sometimes even nod off in it.  We live in it.

That's not all though.  I love my living room because it's nice and colourful.  I love a bit of colour in interiors, if not in my

My living room is a homage to IKEA and to colour.

I especially love:

I really love Love and Rockets, so the album is
still in there in case I ever need it...
  • my red Expedit unit (details below)
  • my lamps - a little green one beside the brown sofa, a red standard one in the corner, and the glorious Sanderson lampshade on the 'big light'
  • the rug
  • and my 'Express' LP.  You can hardly see it in the big room pics though, so I'll give you a close up.  Express is by Love and Rockets - if you don't know who they are you can check them out here).  I wish I'd kept hold of the rest of my record collection.  Not because I'd still play them, I wouldn't.  But I'd love to have three records to put up on the wall as a tryptich.  I'd keep 'Express', and I'd add The Sisters of Mercy's Temple of Love EP (the 1983 one, because it's a better picture (see below), again, if you don't know what I'm talking about you can find the Ofra Haza 1992 version here).  I'd also have to have Joy Division's Love will Tear us Apart (see below), because I always used to have that poster on my wall, and I miss it (here it is for those that don't know).  I do love Joy Division's songs, but I prefer the covers to be honest.  There are a LOT of covers of this song, but I like The Swans best.
The walls are still a bit blah (by blah I mean empty and painted white), apart from the fab big photo my brother gave me, but I've no idea what to do with them, and Kenny is under the impression that we're going to get a projector one day!  I don't want walls cluttered with pictures, but I don't want so much space either.  My cousin has suggested stretching fabric over big frames, which could always be changed.  She also recommended using the rug as a starting point... it made me wonder about hanging the rug on the wall.  Sadly IKEA don't make that rug any more, so I'd need a different rug.  Do you think that would work?

I only just painted a room in the house for the first time this morning... and no-one noticed (it was the bathroom - I painted it grey, but apparently it just looks dark white)!

I would like to get another couple of boxes for the Expedit units, to make them a bit tidier, and I'm going to mix up the red and green again, although someone keeps putting them back!

But I do love my living room.

If you love it too, you can get a living room like this.  Here's where to find the stuff.

Expedit units.  They're awesome
Find them here
The Expedit units were from IKEA, as are most of the inserts.  I am a massive fan of Expedit units.  Have you got any?  The Dronna boxes that are just a very few quid are great for simple storage, and if anyone is going to IKEA I would like two of these ones below, while they've still got them, please.  They've got them in lots of other colours too.

The rug is also from IKEA.  It's been discontinued.

The green sofa is from IKEA too.  It's a sofa-bed.  They still make the sofa bed, but not that particular cover.  But they've got other colours.
The Karlstad sofa bed from
IKEA.  I LOVE this cover.
Find it here

Sorry to say the spindle lamps were from Tesco but they have been discontinued.  I can't find alternatives.  I think they must have gone out of fashion.  Hmph.  I can't find a lamp I like anywhere at the moment.

Fabulous lampshades in lots
of styles and sizes.  Get them
Lampshades though are another matter.  I love the Sanderson Wallpaper lampshade we bought on Ebay, and the person who made it (really well, at a good price) has lots of other fabulous lampshades.  I'm wondering if I can get away with getting a new one for the green lamp.

So, what's your favourite room, and where did you get your favourite stuff?  Curious minds people.

I've been working my way through Fat Mum Slim's list of 50 things to blog about. This is number 47!  You'll find my other posts inspired by Fat Mum Slim's list here.  Other posts you might like include:

The book challenge
Words at 20/2/14 - 57,441 (up 4,788 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - middle of Chapter 10.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his boss.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

getting dressed for work

Today folks I'm looking for your advice.

A chemist (scientist chemist, not dispensing chemist) I know wore this T shirt to work on a dress down Friday.  Now personally I am of the opinion that there's dressing down and then there's dressing DOWN and if your clothes put you at risk of disciplinary action (chemists really don't want to suggest they're cooking crystal meth, even if Breaking Bad is a really good programme) then you've gone too far.  I'm not sure dress down Fridays are a good idea anyway.  I mean, if you can do your work perfectly well dressed down, why bother dressing up?  And if you can't, why do it?

I'm not well qualified to write about work wear.  I'm a full time Mum and a part time writer, and really I could wear my jammies for work without any hassle (apart from the school run - I'd put a bra on and some proper trousers for that).  Even when I worked in an office, I wasn't very good at doing the whole corporate dress thing.  I was disciplined as a civil servant for not dressing smartly, as a legal secretary I wasn't allowed to take files to court because I wasn't wearing a skirt (and the hair didn't help), and I was regularly sent home from school for not respecting the school uniform.

I do hate school uniform (more on that here), and I think the manufacturers of polyester have some sort of conspiracy going to make people wear polyester trousers, skirts, and jackets for school and work (because would people choose to wear it if it wasn't deemed 'smart'?).  I do not understand the fashion rules.  In particular I don't understand why it is smart for a man to wear a tie, which is basically a silk scarf.  If you're going to do that, then why not something more fun?  Like a scarf?

However, my mother in law has brought me round to the idea that school uniform is good.  It's good to have something for the children to rail against... so that people don't rail against things that actually matter.  I get that now.  But I don't understand why it can't be something more practical.  

2014 workwear H&M style
Pic from a fashion blog here
I think that if I return to work in an office one day I will actually buy the whole polyester uniform thing, to save thinking about what to wear, and because it's pretty easy to look after.  And I will constantly think that the polyester is nasty.  I will have pins between the buttons on the blouse so it doesn't gape when I sit down.  Does this happen to everyone?  I notice that the models of work wear don't tend to sit down.  Hmmm.

I remember reading that you should always dress for the job you want, rather than the job you're in.  So I guess I should be dressing very comfortably now, in the hope of becoming a published author.  I'm currently wearing jeans and a jumper, so I'm on track.

Steven King at work.  Pic from here
I could go for that workwear

But what do you think?  If you work outside the home what do you wear?  What do you think you should be wearing?  What would be practical?  What is with the polyester?  What are ties about?  And high heels while we're at it?  And do you think that the chemistry guy should have picked another T shirt?  I want to know your thoughts.  And if you've got any top shopping tips please do share them!  Advice please!

I've been working my way through Fat Mum Slim's list of 50 things to blog about. This is number 46!  You'll find my other posts inspired by Fat Mum Slim's list here.  Other posts you might like include:

The book challenge
Words at 20/2/14 - 57,441 (up 4,788 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - middle of Chapter 10.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his boss.

saying happy birthday to Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison.  Born 18/2/1931
Pic from here
When accepting an award for her book, Beloved, in 1988, Toni Morrison (whose 83rd birthday is today - 18th February 2014) said that she'd written it because there was 'no suitable memorial' to America's African slaves.  

She said:
"...there is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby...There's no small bench by the road...and because such a place doesn't exist, the book had to."
This remark inspired the Toni Morrison Society to start placing benches at important sites for American slavery.  Their first was placed in July 2008 at Sullivan's Island, South Carolina - where around 40% of the Africans enslaved in America arrived.  In placing the benches the Society aims to create an outdoor Museum of Slavery, both in American and abroad.  Around 10 benches have already been placed, with another 10 planned.

It made me think about slavery in Britain.  I'm not talking about modern-day slavery here, although it's as big a problem as it's ever been, but rather remembering the people who came from Africa into slavery in Britain, when slavery was allowed, or indeed, who were sold on from here.  Where would we put our benches?  Liverpool docks?  What do you think?

Happy birthday Toni Morrison, thank you for being always inspirational.

Other posts you might like:
The book challenge
Words at 18/2/14 - 56,350 (up 3,697 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - middle of Chapter 10.
What I did last - scene with my hero and his best mate.

Friday, 14 February 2014

meeting Mr Right

This pic is actually an HD wallpaper.  You can get it here
As the last fireworks fizzled out and we welcomed in the year 2000 I struggled to hold back the tears.

My best friend had just announced her plans to start a family, and I was thrilled for her (and I'm thrilled to be a godmother to her fabulous daughter), but I knew that my own relationship was going the same way as those fireworks.

We should have given up already. We'd known for a few months that it wasn't working, but we weren't quite ready to move on. A few weeks later, he let me know that he was ready. There was no 'us' anymore.

Single, on a rubbish salary, and saving up to go back to university, at the age of 26 I went back to my Mum's.  Mum was good to put me up, and charged me a low rent so I could save up for Uni, but it didn't work.  We were both used to having our own space.  I needed to find somewhere else to live, but where?

All my friends were already in flat-shares or with partners.  I could have afforded to get a rubbish bed-sit.  But I couldn't have afforded much else.  I certainly wouldn't be going back to Uni any time soon.

So I sat myself down and had a think about what I really wanted out of life.  I decided that the things I really wanted at that point in my life were twofold:
  1. I wanted to go back to University to get better qualified and get a better job.
  2. I wanted a man who was good looking, funny, good to his friends, intelligent, not afraid of commitment, wanting to have kids, and capable of having a good career.
Not much then!

I decided to stay at Mums for as long as I could to save up money.  It seemed to me that the best way to find an intelligent man was to hang out at University.  Meanwhile I was working at University, so I started checking out the staff.

I started stalking the staff pages of the University intranet.  Working by department.  Happily there was a brief bio for the staff members, and a photo.  I started eating lunch in the refectory.  This was especially good in the holidays when the pesky students didn't get in the way.  I met a lot of lecturers and researchers doing this.  One of the lecturers I met in the refectory arranged a date... but he phoned me just before it happened, to let me know that he'd actually got back with his wife.  Perhaps he had forgotten to mention her?

I noticed that two of the men I was interested in were going to the pub together with a bunch of other men on a Friday night (I hadn't followed them - they went to the pub next to my bus stop).  So one Friday night I went in.  I feined meeting a girlfriend, and asked to sit with them so I wouldn't look like I was alone.  I ended up seeing one of the men... until he didn't turn up one Friday and his mate told me he was actually engaged.

Despite my stalking behaviour, things were not going to plan.  Things at home weren't going so great either.

Hall of Residence - the refectory is pictured.
The food may not have been good, but I
neither made it nor washed up.
A friend of mine brought to my attention that the University was looking for wardens for its Halls of Residence, and that I was eligible to apply.  He warned me though that most wardens were blokes doing their PhDs.


I got the job, and was the last warden employed at the biggest Hall of Residence.  I was in a rubbish flat, but that didn't matter.  I was out of home, with free rent and food (in a refectory - no cooking - result!), and a whole lot of time to spend with 18 other wardens.  Only four of them were women.

I made friends, but I didn't get a boyfriend.  The guy with the fiance had put me off stalking however, so I concentrated on hanging out with my new friends.  I went to the pub with them after work on Fridays (to a different pub).  I drank A LOT.  I formed strong friendships, which are still intact, and I met a lovely man.  He was good looking, he was good to his friends, he was funny, he was doing a PhD, he was Scottish (he said gurrrl for girl, he wore a kilt to special occasions), and he wasn't afraid of commitment.  How did I know?  He was in a relationship.  Still, I thought he'd have friends of similar worth, so I hung out with him.  I laughed a lot.

One day he wasn't feeling so funny.  It was a Wednesday, and we had to sit at High Table in the refectory because that was tradition.  I sat next to him.  I asked if he was OK, and in his incredibly gorgeous Scottish accent, he told me that he wasn't really OK, because his gurrrlfriend had dumped him.  Back then, people didn't say OMG.  So I didn't.  I said that was rubbish, and I didn't know what to say.  And then I got out of there.  Because there was no way I wanted to be a rebound... but I wanted to be there when he stopped bouncing.

Reader, I married him.
And there I was.  And he was surprised that I was interested, which was about the last time he was ever surprised at anything, because if I have a thought I say it.  His accent has softened, and he no longer says gurrrl, but it is still lovely, and he still wears kilts to special occasions (he has to - his Uncle has a kilt hire company).  He still makes me laugh, he's still good to his friends and he is terribly terribly clever.  He's not so much a Mr Right as a Dr McKee, and I'm very glad I met him.

Have you found your Mr Right/Ms Right yet?  If not, are you looking?  And if so, how did you meet?

Other posts you might like:
The book challenge
Words at 16/2/14 - 55,707 (up 3,054 since challenge began)
Where I'm at in First Draft - beginning of Chapter 10 (one chapter on).
What I did last - scenes with my hero.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

writing a book

I am trying to write a book (very trying as a teacher of mine once said).  I've got a vague plot, I've got characters, I've got more than 50,000 words, but what I haven't got is on with it!

I took part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, and got a lot done, but not enough.  I was glad to get a lot done, but relieved to have a break from it at the end.  Writing a book it turns out is hard work, and it takes ages.  But do you know what?  I've just got to get on with it, so I am declaring my goal here:

I am going to finish the first draft of my book by the end of the summer holidays.

That might seem like a long time to you but I've got an awful lot of other stuff to do, and this is a very big book (probably - or it might be two books, it's not sure).

How am I going to achieve my goal?
  1. I am going to set aside 1 hour for writing it two days a week.  I know it's only two hours a week, but doing an hour a day as I did for NaNoWriMo meant I didn't get any social life, and my house was a tip.  I can't do that much again.  Not while my time is so sparse.  To make sure I do this I've just put it into my Google calendar in RED.  And then rescheduled the first hour.  Sigh.
  2. I am going to shame myself into action by sharing my story stats on here.  Not that you're likely to be interested, but it will help me.  A bit like getting stickers at Slimming World.
  3. I am going to avoid other distractions.  Like entering writing competitions (unless they're totally interesting, maybe, but I'll still have to do my time, and I promise not to look for them), and indeed, like blogging.  I love blogging, but the baby must come first.  Then I'll blog about the baby.
So let's start this thing...

The book challenge
Words at 12/2/14 - 52,653 (starting point for challenge)
Where I'm at in First Draft - part way through Chapter 9
What I did last - transcribed some interviews to help with dialogue.

This post is inspired by Fat Mum Slim's post on 50 things to blog about.  The full list of posts inspired by the list can be found here.  Here are some other posts you might like: