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Sunday, 30 June 2013

In which a Rolling Stone Gathers A Fan....

I grew up not that far from Glastonbury, you know. Well, all right, I mostly grew outwards, height is not one of the terrible crosses that I've had to bear,  long legs and lean muscles and all that. I've mostly made do with a bottom that is large enough to go to parties without me, on the 'physical attributes' scale.  But what I'm trying to say here is - I've spent a large portion of my life within a stone's throw of Glasto (no, I didn't throw stones at it. What are you trying to say - that I look like the sort of person who sits around flinging rocks at noteable places of interest? I did once project a pebble at the Forth Road Bridge, but that is irrelevant here...) and I've never been to the music festival.

It looks like this, apparently. Courtesy of the BBC, who are probably sitting around now groaning 'you don't know, man, you weren't there!'

There are many reasons for this. Actually, no there aren't, there are about three. One is sheer lack of arsedness, all that applying for tickets and then finding you've got them but, of the bands playing, most you have no interest in and the only one you do want to see is playing at three in the morning on the day of the heaviest rainstorm ever and they are invisible under the layer of mud and the electrics have cut out anyway so no one can hear them...bitter, me? The second is, of course, money. I no longer live within that convenient, stone-propelled vehicular transporting distance of Glastonbury, so added to the price of the ticket there would be petrol, food and all the concomitant expenses. And the third is - it's during term-time and, you know, day job and everything...  So, I've been watching on TV. Since the alternative entertainment would appear to be Wimbledon, and if it comes to skinny people running up and down and shouting 'uuuurrrgh!' I'll take Mick Jagger over Sharapininkova, or whatever their names are.

Or rather, I wouldn't have, until last night. I've never been much of a fan of the Rolling Stones. I'm not one of these people who maintains fervently that music was at its best when they were seventeen, and has never come anywhere near that pinnacle since. That all modern music is tuneless yelling and feedback and nobody knows how to play an instrument any more and that, in a musical competition they'd take The Kinks (look 'em up) over Two Door Cinema Club any day. That's not me. I mean, yes, music was good when I was young, in patches, and I can still do all the words to 'No More Heroes', but these days I don't so much pogo as weeble, but I do love a lot of new stuff. Having kids does that. It's physically impossible for me to travel anywhere by car without someone putting Vampire Weekend or Haim or Frank Turner in the CD drive (their music, I mean, not them personally. I don't think they'd fit,and if they did, the music would take second place to the shouting and muffled screaming). So, Rolling Stones - not so much.

But last night I was at a loose end - well, I was at several actually. I'd written the first chapter of the new book (yes, all right, settle down, I do write things occasionally, being a writer isn't all lounging about on the sofa eating Walnut Whips and dreaming of the day someone invents a giant caramel-filled HobNob, however much you might like to fantasise about my life). And the Rolling Stones came on TV, doing their Glastonbury set.  And, after two minutes of watching Mick Jagger waggle around like a stick that someone had wrapped in black and infected with St Vitus Dance (two minutes, incidentally, during which I repeatedly said "How old is he?") I was thinking 'wow'. Not about the music, no, you can still keep the music, although I do harbour a small place in my heart for 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', but for the fact that a bloke who is nearly seventy could look that good in black, and have that much energy.
The secret appear to be having as much body fat as a rotary washing line. So, I'm off to practice my wiggling (without putting my back out, giving grief to my stiff hip or making my wonky ankle get all enraged), on the grounds that if it's possible to look this good at seventy, I am damn well going to look that good at seventy!

I may have some work to do...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Not Liking Things

There's a lot of memes about on the internet at the moment.  No, not 'me', although, yes, you're right, there is rather a lot of me about, but that's because I've just had a book published and I'm obliged to shove my face where you can see it. These are 'memes' - defined by the dictionary on my computer (yes, I've got a real one on the shelf, but that would mean standing up and, you know, stretching and things, and I'm not allowed stretching. I've got a note and everything) as an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.  A trend, if you like. Or a nervous tic in my case. 

And it's come to my attention that a lot of these memes tend to be fluffy things. I've had the '25 things you never knew about me' one (Thanks Rhoda Baxter for that one...) which was quite tricky because, as you all know, I can't shut up about anything. So I had to do '25 Things you Never Knew About Hubble Bubble' and I think I got to about 8 before I ran out of things to say and degenerated into 'It's written using real words, built of actual letters'. I've not seen 'My Top Ten Kittens' yet (although I wouldn't put it past my friend Kate Johnson to come up with that one) but it can only be a matter of time before '12 Things I Reeeeelly Reeeelly Lurve' comes to get me (that would also be a short list).

So, I'm redressing the balance in the other direction, and giving you 'Some Things I Hate'. I'm not defining the number because I might hit upon Disgust Paydirt and come up with a very very long list, or I might be feeling remarkably charitable and only manage a couple. Either way my karma is going to tarnish somewhat as a result of this list, and I may have to suffer reincarnation as a wasp, but it's a risk I'm prepared to take for the dubious pleasure of imagining you nodding your heads and saying 'oh, so true'...

Here we go then.

People who overtake me as I'm slowing down to go into a restricted speed zone or am driving at the 30 limit through a village, particularly people who drive Saabs and live just outside Snainton, you know who you are.

Hot buttered anything. You might just as well serve the butter on the side of the plate. Or butter your own arm.

People who put empty packets back in the cupboard, leading me to believe that there are still Hobnobs to be had, thus causing extreme disappointment later in the day. Also the subset of behaviours that cause used matches to be put back in the box, and biros that have long made their last mark, back in the drawer.

Anything that lands on my face in the night. Yes, even Tony Robinson.  There's little worse than being roused from a pleasant dream to the knowledge that something just ran over your mouth.  Apart from being roused from a pleasant dream of eating something....

Pickled beetroot. Two substances that should never be combined. Like nitro-glycerine.

Stealth rain. Come on, have the decency to come out of a big, black cloud that we can see coming from miles away...Also, stealth smells, ditto.

The hour of five o clock. The a.m one is just far too early, and the p.m one is an hour filled with general ennuie before dinner and evening-proper. 

Clouds. Nothing should hang in the air like that, apart from hang-gliders and dog-farts.

And finally - hollyhocks and lupins. I have no problem with foxgloves, oddly enough, but a life-long hatred of most of the lupinate family.
Look at them. All tall and....lupiny. It's not natural, I tell you.
 I'd better stop now before my blood pressure rises beyond safe limits and I have to go and lie down.  Please let me know if you agree with any of these, or even if you wish to add a few of your own. I don't think I'll start a 'tag list', because I don't like tagging people either.  In fact, I should add that one to the list too...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Congrats to Mr Tony Robinson on his Knightification, and gratuitous picture of Richard Armitage.

Those of you who are even vaguely familiar with this blog, or who follow me in any capacity at all (except you in the bushes there, you're just weird), will know of my relentless appreciation - what some sad individuals may call a senseless fixation - with the adorable Tony Robinson. For those new to this, entirely explicable if you give me a minute and access to a Power Point presentation, love, here is a picture.

All right, I know. He's not exactly

but that doesn't matter to me. He's not the kind of man I write romances about, he's not the 'tall, mysterious stranger' type. Well, he's not the tall type, anyway, let's leave it at that. But when it comes to Real Life, the sort that's heavy on the 'taking out the bins and finding out what the funny smell is', my mind can encompass Tony much more easily than it can those hunky blokes whose main talent appears to be taking their shirt off, thrusting out their pecs and smiling winsomely.

Nothing against Mr Armitage (seen above), I'm sure he takes his bins out in a manly way and can locate the source of a funny smell in the time it would take most of us to wonder where we left that pound of mince that we're almost certain we got out of the freezer last week.But, when it comes to mental images, I can imagine Tony doing these things in an interesting way.

Anyway. My point is, that Tony Robinson is being Knighted. Yes, properly, like 'sword on the shoulder, arise Sir Tony', queen, Palace, posh suit, whole thing! My Tone! Well, he's not exactly mine, I just feel I have a proprietorial interest in him, like a sort of Time-Share God, if you will. And so this, my own blog where I may reveal my innermost peculiarities to you, my little like-minded souls, is where I take the opportunity to say CONGRATULATIONS, TONY!! And also point out that I've bought the hat, have a very nice frock which will be just about suitable for the celebrations and also to meet the Queen as long as she doesn't mind the slight smell of vinegar, and have been practicing my curtsey for days.

So, can I come with you, Tony?   Please please please? I promise not to disgrace you...

Congratulations, Tony! I knew I was right about you!
See? I can wear real clothes and hold a glass the right way up and everything... Awww...come on....

In other, equally wonderful, news - Hubble Bubble has been receiving some very good reviews, so thank you to everyone who's bought it, read it, and then taken the time to say how much they've enjoyed it!
Here's a big, sloppy 'mwha!' from me to you all!  Oh, you are up to date with your jabs, aren't you? Typhoid, diphtheria, all those...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I am the original Bakewell Tart. Now, with added Apple...

Now, if everything works out right, this blog should leap into your vision whilst I am still trotting home from my stint at Bakewell Baking Festival, where I shall be reading from Hubble Bubble and signing some books. Also eating cake. In fact, there is every chance that I'll be sitting in the car awaiting someone with half a vat of Vaseline and a shoe-horn, who will be coming to aid me with disembarkation. After all, if one is attending a Baking Festival, it would be rude for one not to sample as much of the available Baking as possible, wouldn't it? And even some of the Baking which might not be available because of, say, being hidden away underneath a large box with a heavy weight on top of it.

So, there you are, innocently reading these words, maybe with a ladylike piece of toast covered in just a sliver of waistline-troubling butter (not that you need to watch your waistline, you look fabulous), while I - now roughly the size of a small hot-air balloon - struggle forth from my car with a sound similar to that of a champagne cork being popped and with approximately the same amount of bubbles.

My nemesis
So, in the interests of entertaining you in my own absence, I thought I'd just drop by and tell you that Hubble Bubble is, as of now and until the end of the month, a Book of the Month at Apple!  Yes, 'tis true! and 'tis here...
This is the Apple Banner, and there...yes, just, that's my finger, over there on the right hand side, nestling so close up against Bernard Cornwell that I am going to have to have a few words with it... is Hubble Bubble!

Please feel free to cheer.  Or, even better, download it to the Apple device of your choice!  Now, I'd better go, it's getting warm in this car and my buttocks are taking up most of the back seat. But I think there might be just one, tiny wafer-thin slice of victoria sponge left....

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Nice pictures, Hubble Bubble coming soon to a real book format near you, and the inadvisability of raising your body above head-height

It's been a busy old week.  Usually half terms are when I get to put my feet, and every other dangley part of me which, at my age, is practically my whole body, up.  Sometimes I put them so far up that I have to stand on a chair to get them back down again, and then they fall on my head with the sound of a thousand displaced marshmallows - and if you've never been hit on the head by your own stomach as you try to get it down off a high shelf... you haven't truly lived.

Anyway, this week was not a week of putting things up. This week I was Adventuring. Firstly, I went to Oxford, where I visited my eldest daughter, who is studying there. It appears that she is mostly studying Playing Computer Games and Taking Extended Naps, but she's apparently doing work as well, although I saw little evidence of this.  We picnicked in the park, and visited the Pitt-Rivers Museum, which was...different.  Imagine an elderly aunt, who has never thrown anything away, and lives in a three-storey house which was modelled on a nineteenth century theatre.  Look.

Now, imagine dusting it. I won't, if you don't mind, because I don't believe in dusting. Dusting happens to other people, like excitement and dandruff.

Then, after a day off, in which I winched various parts of my body from the floor to approximately head-height, I set off for the other end of the country, where I visited the Ribblehead Viaduct.

It's almost totally dissimilar to the museum, except that it is also a total bugger to dust.  I also went here...

Aysgarth Falls. Not surprised, damn nearly tripped over myself.
and here...
Fountains Abbey, from the unfashionable end.
all in the interests of research, plus ensuring that as much of the country was scared of me as possible.  For, on Friday of this very upcoming week, Hubble Bubble will be released into the wild in paperback format! Yes, as a real, living, breathing thing, which you can hold in your hands and riffle at will! And, to celebrate this, I shall be appearing as a real, living, breathing thing at Bakewell Festival of Baking...

Here, I am assured, there will be tea and cake.  In fact, cake is kind of the point, not that cake is particularly pointy, although I was once on the receiving end of a rather sharp scone... So, next week's blog should contain many pictures of myself, possibly reading from Hubble Bubble. Or, and more likely, trying to shove a carefully rounded-end slice of sponge into my hamster-like cheeks.

Right. Better go now, it's back to work tomorrow and I need to lower my stomach so I can get my trousers on.