Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Mystery of the Missing Pants

My presents are pants!” Husband exclaimed during our present opening session.

And he was right. Husband received a beautifully wrapped package of around twelve pairs of boxer shorts having formerly highlighted a pant crisis in the sartorial department. (American friends: we’re talking men’s knickers, boxers, underpants, undercrackers, here … not trousers.) He also received some lovely linen shirts that most certainly were not pants: they were very nice.

He packed his new shirts and his undergarments to bring away with us. Unfortunately we hadn’t quite enough space in our bags to bring enough clothes so just the other day I had to prepare a pack of clothes to go to the laundry department at the hotel.

Eventually they were returned. The shirts were neatly folded and so were the pants. I put my t-shirts away, and when Husband returned from scuba diving I told him: ‘Our laundry is back.’

However, on closer examination - not that close – the rather horrible realisation hit us that two of the pairs of pants … uhm … weren’t Husband’s.

Eeeewgh. And nastier still … they were somewhat elderly. Eeeewgh again.

We called the lady from Housekeeping … she retrieved the offending undercrackers and said “Just a minute” and then she disappeared. She disappeared for 24 hours.

I called again this morning with another bag of washing, because Husband is still short … of shorts. I gave her the new bag of washing and asked her if there is any news of Husband’s new and very black knickerknacks… She said “Just a minute…” and she’s been gone for five hours already.

Where have Husband’s pants gone? Is it the same place that single socks go? Does anyone know?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reality check




I heard from Sister-in-law that it was rather mild in the UK on Christmas day...

Here, on the other hand, it drizzled all day. These pictures were from Boxing Day!

So don't feel too envious, please.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blessings and Good wishes

On the 23rd December nine ceremonial seats appeared in the hotel reception. We were informed that the monks were coming the next day to perform the ceremony to bless and wish good fortune on the hotel. All guests were invited. First they would have the Islamic ceremony, then the Hindu and then the Buddhist. All services would take place around reception where a Christmas tree stood: this is the way the world should be.

After breakfast Husband and I went to have a look. We were invited to sit down. We saw the end of the Hindu service and then joined the Buddhist ceremony. We watched the whole thing and it was brilliant: a real privilege.

Buddhist Monks do not own things and so the Thai people give them necessities. People can buy a monk box in the shops here: it’s yellow and full of various essential items. Monks go out in the morning with their alms bowl to collect food. The hotel had prepared monk boxes and food and these were handed over as part of the ceremony. Water was blessed and the amulets from the Hindu service were blessed by the Monks (both Husband and I were given one each). The nine monks chanted. I can’t describe it. It was beautiful, not singing, definitely chanting … The monks unravelled some string and passed it over the items they were blessing and then they passed it along to the end of the row of monks – normally the string goes around the building – but it hasn’t here.

As a woman, I am not allowed to touch or make eye contact with the monks. As a Western woman … is this hard? A bit, yes, but I believe as a guest here in Thailand one has to respect their ways – or get off home. Everyone was taking pictures – all the staff – and I checked several times with different people because it felt … disrespectful … like religious tourism. In the end I tried not to worry.

Eventually the main monk got up. He was elderly and had a stick. He took the water that their ceremony had blessed and with some fine sticks tied together like a brush, he flicked it over us all. He couldn’t see so well so the manager walked with him holding his arm. As he got to us (Husband on the end of the row) he said ‘Ah, Farang’ (white foreigner.) We wai-ed to him. (Thai greeting: hands together like in prayer and you bow.) The monk asked Husband if he could speak Thai and H said ‘a little bit.’ They talked a little in Thai about how long we had been here. It was confused by Husband thinking he meant in Thailand and the Monk meant at the hotel!

All the time I couldn’t look at the Monk, although I desperately wanted to. I kept my eyes on his saffron robes and wai-ed. The Monk put his hand on Husband’s arm; he held it there to greet him and moved it a little because he hadn’t the words … And then the Monk said in slow but perfect English ‘I am so pleased to see you here.’

Quite suddenly I was shaking and my eyes were watering.




Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Memories

Our first Christmas as expats was spent back in the UK. Our second was spent with our best friends who came to Thailand. The third, last year, the children went home and I went on a Skyros holiday in Koh Chang. Husband came out to join me on Christmas Eve.

So I’m sitting here, on my fourth Christmas, overlooking the Andaman Sea. (Don’t hate me: it’s raining and yes, I do know how lucky I am.) I’m writing this on my laptop on the 25 December and questioning the irreverence of such behaviour. I won’t post it on my blog today because I know you are all having Christmas… I will post it sometime when you are back. (Are you back yet?)

I look back at my childhood Christmases and I only remember one house: the house that my parents are still living in now. We moved there 9 days before Christmas in 1972. I was six. There’s a story in that move, but not for now.

Every Christmas morning we would wake to stockings on our bed. Downstairs would be the Christmas Creatures: they were started in this house and I believe the first one was a snow man. After breakfast we would, as a family, climb into the car and drive … not to church … no. We would drive to the West Kent Hospital in Maidstone which was one of the hospitals in which my Dad was a doctor. The West Kent was a stunning building. As you walked in the front door two huge staircases would sweep up in a curve on either side of the hallway and meet in the middle as a balcony. I’m sure it was desperately ill-suited to being a modern hospital, but I still mourn its demise*.

First we would visit the wards in which Dad had patients. I guess he was here as a doctor, but as a child I hardly noticed this because my sister and I would be fed crisps, nuts, chocolates or biscuits and given fizzy drinks by nurses decorated with tinsel. We would wander through the ward saying happy Christmas to the patients and their visiting families. After we’d done Dad’s wards, we’d have two vital places left to visit. The first one was the maternity unit to see if there were any Christmas babies – this really was the highlight of our morning and I hated it if there were none. I always worried if there were two as well; what about the baby that came second?

The second crucial visit was the children’s ward. Sister T, a wizened little woman with a severe grey bun, dressed in navy blue with a big silver buckle on her belt, ruled. She had a mighty personality: loving and strict. She welcomed us with open arms. Father Christmas would visit – mostly we’d be in time for this – after all, this is what my sister and I were here for! If we missed him, he would still have left a present for us. (In 1976 my sister spent about six weeks in Sister T’s care in this very ward. She had a broken femur – thigh – in traction.)

All over the hospital we’d bump into Dad’s colleagues and their children. On the drive home we’d stop at Linton Hospital, a geriatric hospital, in which Dad often had patients, though I was less enamoured of this place. I’m not sure if it was the old people that frightened me or the lack of Christmas babies or Father Christmas.

*Later on a new Maidstone Hospital was built at Barming, where it is now and the old West Kent was knocked down. A mixture of my age and change perhaps, but the magic began to fade for me then, despite the fact that Father Christmas would arrive at the new place in a helicopter.

I loved these hospital visits: They were my Christmas traditions. In the old days, my two grandmothers would be cooking while we were out and we’d come home to our turkey lunch. (Present giving took place in the afternoon.)

So I’m sitting here by the window, Husband’s doing his Thai on the balcony and I’m wondering what I’m doing to my children by encouraging this flexible and nomadic behaviour. Will they ever come ‘home’ for Christmas when they are adults? Will they always come ‘home’, or will they search out something else?

Friday, December 26, 2008

In memory


















Today is the anniversary of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

Son and I walked a mile or so down the beach road to Noppharatthara Beach – Phi Phi Islands National Park. Just off the road, through a winding wooden pathway, is a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois to commemorate the tsunami.

I forgot my purse and we brought no water, so when we got back to the hotel we stopped at the bar for a cold drink. The bartender asked me where we had been to get hot and bothered. I told her we had been down to the memorial ... and then she told me she had been working on Phi Phi Island during the tsunami. She said 'I had to run and run; up a hill.'
You can read about my amazing adventures with Andaman Discoveries here here here here and here which has details of the work that has gone into helping people rebuild their lives in the wake of the tragedy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Now for the final in the Christmas series. These are my favourites. I made it my virtual Christmas Card this year.

I discovered these trees walking past Siam Paragon, past Siam Discovery and onto the Siam Centre (I might have got those last two the wrong way around - I get their names confused.) Anyway I saw this beautiful red tree up ahead and being blind as a bat - yes, even with contact lenses - I was almost on top of it before I noticed what it was made of. After stopping and taking pictures I walked on and saw another gorgeous tree coming up. Again, I had no idea what it was made of until I got right up close. It just goes to show that recycling doesn't have to mean inferior. There is nothing 'less' about these trees.

I love that they are recycled and still funky and urban. I love that my pictures have the concrete skytrain structure in. I know I am at the beach right now, but there is something about these trees that encapsulates Christmas in Bangkok.
I just love them.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas.
(Scheduled: I am not really here but want to finish the Christmas series.)


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Series: Eve
























I particularly love this 'tree'. It's got such a lovely 'Nutcracker' set feel to it. I just know that the minute the shopping centre closes and the staff disappear that these teddies and toys will come to life.
I had to skulk about the shopping centre hiding behind signs to avoid the security guard to take this picture. I took several pictures in my mackintosh and long lense mode from the other side of the mall, but the pictures were unsatisfactory. Then one day I was just shopping and I came down the escalator; a sign hid me from the security guard and I whipped out my camera. Voila.
(Scheduled: I am not really here but want to finish the Christmas series.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our journey & The Christmas Series

We had a hideous journey yesterday. We got up at 5.30am and made our way to Hua Lampong train station.

I am constantly astonished by how much of a witch I am without enough sleep. It’s proper Jekyll and Hyde personality change. Tea will go some way to remedying this, but even that isn’t a miracle worker. It was a good job then that I had time for a cup of tea before we boarded our train.

Now, I wasn’t expecting the Orient Express but eughhh, nor was I expecting the yuckiness that was our train. It was ancient, grubby and falling apart… and bloody freezing. Would we even make it? Clearly, as well as Jekyll and Hyde, I’m a bit of a prissy madam too.

Ah well, my resistance (and standards) are much lower than they used to be so I soon got used to it but I am seriously considering the five days on the Trans-Siberian express in the Summer…

It took nine and a half hours … oh dear god… two pink Migraleve followed by two yellow Migraleve followed by more headache and no idea if I could take anything else. The absolute worst thing about it was that I couldn’t see out of the frigging window because of condensation trapped between the double glazing. The window in the loo was open but I wasn’t that desperate. I’m not even going to try and explain the complications of using a squat toilet in a swaying train! I didn’t manage to get to sleep until about eight hours into the journey. After half an hour I was rudely awoken by Son, yelling, ‘is this our stop?’ No it bloody wasn’t. Poor, well meaning Son.

A lovely man from the hotel met us at Surat Thani with lavender flavoured wet flannels and cold drinking water. Ah bless him. There was still more journeying to do though and the next leg onto Krabi was just under three hours.

We arrived at the hotel in the dark, but it still looked fabulous. It has precipitated discussions between Husband and I about a dream house. This is strictly dream material, unless they can be built for shirt buttons. I shall post pictures of this inspiration later on when the Christmas series is finished.

I’ve woken this morning, sans headache, feeling relaxed. I’ve worked out how a character died … and I’m desperate to write. Lovely Husband has taken the kids out to explore … leaving me to blog write.

It feels very odd to have had our December 25 while you’re all on the run up to it. (I’ve only played on the wii twice but I’m beginning to be converted to its charms. I shrieked with laughter as my cow ran consistently into the fences!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

“So this is Christmas…” ♪♪♪

I shouldn’t really be here should I? Husband is setting up the new wii… he finally caved. I have to confess I don’t really understand it but then I didn’t understand blogging either – and look at me now!

About ten days ago a parcel arrived. Son and I went to the office to collect it. “Ah,” I said, “I know what this is. This is the Christmas Creatures.” Son gasped, “Can we open them now?” Of course I didn’t allow it. I rang my Dad, maker of the Christmas Creatures, to let him know they had arrived.

This morning, our Christmas morning, Husband and I were up and awake and the children, proper teenagers at last, slept on and on and on… stockings bulging and untouched. Whatever has happened to those tiny children who woke at 2am to rip open their stockings?

As they slept on, I opened my Dad’s box of Christmas Creatures. OMG. “He’s surpassed himself,” I say to Husband. “This is the best Creature ever.” Husband said I say that every year… but look – how beautiful are these?



You can go here and here to see explanation and examples of my family tradition of Christmas Creatures.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Eve


Did you know that today is Christmas Eve? Well it is for the Beatties in Bangkok. We go down to Krabi on Sunday and can’t take presents so we’re celebrating it early.

We’re going down to Krabi by train because we’d psyched ourselves up for the Trans-Siberian express (and we didn’t quite trust the airports!) Luckily we came to our senses when we discovered the kind of temperatures that journey would entail.

We’ve kind of cocked up the notion of family Christmas traditions by being expats. We used to have traditions but they’ve had to go by the wayside. I wondered if we could at least take the stockings for the kids on the right day. I asked Husband to check the train details for luggage stowability.

Husband: We’ve confirmed the arrangements for carry-on vs hold bags and it depends on size.

Me: Okay. What are the sizes?

Husband: "small enough" and "too big". Thai standard sizes!

Phew, I’m glad we sorted that out.

So Christmas day is tomorrow in our house and the 25th will be a mystery waiting to happen. Last year the children jumped out of a box at my parents’ house and nearly gave their cousins a heart attack. I was at Skyros and Husband came down to join me on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day there was a Skyros organised trip to Ban Bao fishing village for lunch and the highlight of the trip for me was seeing these monkeys on the rocks on the way.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Continuing the theme...

Today we continue the Father Christmas theme. And can I use this opportunity to say Father Christmas is what we call him in the UK (or at least we did in my childhood before we became Santa-rised.)

Cor, I really wish I got a Father Christmas like THIS in my stocking. I'd need a massive stocking because these boys are LIFE-sized and ... well ... are they chocolate? Sadly I couldn't get close enough to lick them but I'm tempted to go back to Siam Paragon and break down the rope barrier: all in the name of research. They are sponsored by the Grand Hyatt Hotel, so they really could be.




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Christmas Series

I often post pictures here of the public displays of decorations that I spot while I’m out and about in Bangkok. This year I’ve been a woman possessed.

Today marks the start of a series of Christmas decorations and we’re going to start with the craziest. Forget Father Christmas, this is Father Condom. Yup, that’s correct: Father Christmas made entirely of condoms, courtesy of Cabbages and Condoms.

Cabbages and Condoms restaurants were established to support the various development activities of the PDA (Population and Community Development Association.) The idea is that condoms should be as available as cabbages. You can read more here.








Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Smiling

There’s stuff worrying me that I can’t blog about. I’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps for the last week. Then, while I was Christmas shopping, I chanced upon this in the Siam Centre. And really, it was impossible not to smile.


There were lots of university students around (the two posing in the photo for example; note that they wear uniform!) and one lovely girl, keen to practice her English said: Can I help you? Anyway, these dressed up people turned out to be a non smoking promotion thing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Q & A

Q: When is a big bag of new (to me) books not a complete and utter delight?




















A: Ok, it’s when you’ve only inherited the books because your best friend is moving back to the UK. Chris and Carol edited their book collection so that they only ship to the UK what they really wanted to keep. Yes, we were down on the remaindered books like vultures but now I haven’t the heart to even unpack them. I’m pretty much in denial about Carol going…

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sports Photographer of the Year. Not.

I’ve been having a think; if this writing thing doesn’t work out, I reckon I could have a career as a sports photographer…



What do you reckon?

Friday, December 12, 2008

More meme


Thank you to Carol and Paige for passing this gorgeous award onto me.

The Rules
  1. Copy and paste the rules and instructions into your post.
  2. When you post about receiving this award, make sure you include who gave you the award and link it back to them.
  3. Post five winners and link it back to them as well.
  4. Post five of your addictions.
  5. Add the award image.
  6. Let your winners know you gave them an award by leaving them a comment on their blog.

Five addictions, eh? There isn’t much I haven’t already ‘fessed up to here. So, one word answers (mostly) for me:

  • Tea
  • Lip Salve
  • Books
  • Writing
  • Carbohydrates

So the next step is for me to nominate five other bloggers for this award so I pass this to the Leigh, Rachel, Yvonne, L-Plate and Karen. Note: some of these are a bit on the quiet side at the moment, for one reason and another, but they are among my favourites.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I saw this over at Lane’s and it looked like a fun diversion.


My blog is worth $19,194.36.
How much is your blog worth?



I’ve managed no writing for a couple of days as I’m trying to get the Christmas shopping done and dusted. We have, in spite of some shaky ‘everything’s booked’ moments, managed to find somewhere to go for Christmas. We’re going to take the train down south and then a car to Krabi Province. Our first ever holiday in Thailand was to Krabi and it’s stunningly beautiful with gorgeous craggy cliffs and islands.

I’ve also not written because I’ve got to a moment where I’m not sure of … quite what happens. Several subplots could happen here and I need to make a decision as to which one it will be, stick to it and then get going again. My inability to make decisions trips me up regularly.

Right now I'm off to wrap some presents.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nostalgia

Oliver Postgate, creater of Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, Pogles Wood, Ivor the Engine and The Clangers has died at 83 years old.

My favourites were Pogles Wood, Ivor the Engine and The Clangers.

Ivor the Engine was particularly important for me because he taught me about my quarter Welshness. My paternal granddad came from Port Talbot in South Wales. (Ivor the Engine was set in 'the top left hand corner of Wales.') We holidayed in Wales several times in this period of my youth. When it came to rugby, it was the quarter Welsh bit that mattered. My brother and Dad followed Welsh rugby union very closely and it was going through a golden age. Considered to be one of the greatest rugby teams of all time, the names Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams still bring back memories of take out beer and my brother and Dad roaring at the television.

My favourite character in Ivor the Engine was Idris the Dragon. I think there was some confusion going on in my head. As small children with good eyesight, my sister and I had been carefully trained to spot the Red Dragon and Double Dragon beer signs on the pubs as we drove through Wales on our holidays.

It didn’t, as it happens, have much of an impact on my eventual cultural identity… apart from still enjoying a male voice choir and a pair of fine male thighs!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Last night and Awards


I went to see The Duchess last night with a friend. OMG, who’d want to have lived in those days?

I’d never been to the Apex Scala cinema before - it was the only cinema showing The Duchess – but I spotted it from the skytrain last weekend. So we knew where to go but we were in for a surprise when we got there. It was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been renovated since. This makes for an authentic movie going experience… The building was deserted (there were only around 20 of us in the auditorium.) The attendants were wearing bright yellow Crimplene jackets - shades of Butlins in 1973 – and jolly nearly outnumbered paying guests. The basic ticket was £1.90 or you could push the boat out, as we did, for £2.30 (see left.) Apart from being freezing inside it was perfectly comfortable.


****

Thank you very much Leigh for this award: The Superior Scribbler Award. (Update: also kindly received from Debs and nearly awarded from Rachel too.)

The Rules
1. Every superior scribbler must name five other super scribblers.
2. Link back to the author and the name of the blog that gave you the award.
3. Display the award and link to this post, which explains the award.
4. Add your name to the Mr Linky List, some way down
this page, as a record of who the superest scribblers are.

I must pass it on to most deserving super scribblers too. I pass it on to Angie, Hesitant Scribe, Helen, Yvonne and I would’ve passed it on to Calistro too as she’s been inspiring and partially responsible for my finally getting on with my writing. But she’s already had it.

Now to prove that I am most definitely a superior scribbler, I must go and write more than the measly 70 words I managed yesterday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

T is for ...

I love a meme and this one is from Marmite & Tea. If you want to do it you need to leave a comment for me saying so, and then I give you a letter. Marmite & Tea has given me the letter T and the meme is my list of ten things I love beginning with T.

So, in no particular order…

T is for Tea: PG Tips is my favourite but I’ve had phases for Yorkshire Tea as well. Although I love a good strong builder’s tea, I can be quite classy too, partaking of green tea (oolong is my favourite) when the mood takes me.

T is for Thailand: I am part way through my fourth year here and I never thought I’d have the chance to live as an expat in another country. It was my first time in Asia and is my first experience living in a city. I think it is the most exciting thing ever to happen to me.

T is for TBR pile: I couldn’t live without books and my To Be Read pile needs to be well supplied. I always have a book on the go…

T is for Tootsie: I LOVE the film Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman who auditions as ‘Dorothy’ to get a part in a soap opera to prove to his agent he is employable. I can’t begin to guess how many times I’ve seen the film. I was going to try and tell you my favourite scenes, but there are just too many.

T is for Two children: I have two hands and two knees and when I got one of each gender, I thought it was perfect.

T is for Typography: I needed to take a year off between school and university because I didn’t know what subject I wanted to do. My Dad had a colleague who suggested a secretarial course that one of her nieces had done and I am eternally grateful to my Dad for sending me. I love being able to type. I love that I am fast and accurate and I don’t have to think what I am doing.

T is for Teetotal I wish: I do like a drink but the older I get the more ill I become. I stopped drinking red wine at University because I’d get a migraine before the first glass was finished. Now it’s any alcohol. Sometimes I’m stupid and over-indulge anyway, claiming I don’t care, but I do and it makes me so ill for so many days, I no longer think it’s worth it.

T is for Too much worrying: ‘Nuff said, really. I wish I didn’t.

T is for Trees in autumn: It’s my favourite season and I really miss the colours and weather in England.

T is for The Beast: which is the nickname of Husband.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mentoring

Last Thursday evening I got my second report from my mentor.

There was always the potential (in my head) that the first 10k of words was a fluke and she’d come back and say “Oh dear, what happened to the second 10k?”

But I am a bit excited. I love how she’ll say something, such as “you have a tendency to do this…” and I go and look at it thinking ‘Do I?’ and yes, she’s right, so I do. I love how she’s not spoon feeding me but is highlighting things (tendencies) for me to identify and amend: all the while being there to feedback to if I don’t understand. Personally, I think it’s important for me to learn how to spot this stuff myself and what I intend from this experience, is how to stand on my own two feet with my work.

About one scene, she said: “… far and away the strongest passage is the conversation between M and her mother in C’s study. This is packed with dramatic tension, pathos and humour, beautifully balanced in that you invite us to sympathise with both women in their troubled relationship. The narrative pace is spot on…

Coo.

Fancy that.

I worry a lot about everything narrative pace. My notion of pace is based on a woolly feeling such as ‘ooh, isn’t it about time we had a bit of a drama?’ I have absolutely no idea how to decide these things in any other way, so it’s a boost to hear that it’s working.

Today I was on ‘take Daughter and Friend to a party’ duty. I took my laptop to Starbucks while I waited for the pick up and wrote 720 words and felt myself getting back into the flow.

It’s so exciting. I am so excited.

(Please forgive the me me me-ness of this post)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Yo ho ho

I saw my first Christmas decorations in Bangkok this year around the 28/29 October. I think it was a record.

We are purists when it comes to Christmas trees: only REAL will do.

Then we moved to Thailand where there is a distinct lack of choice: Non-drop, traditional, Nordman fir, Frasier Fir, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, Scots Pine?

Nope. Here, it’s no tree or fake tree.

Rabidly against fake trees, in our first year we found a distant relative of the fir tree in one of the garden centres. I think its genetic similarity was tenuous. It had pine needles and droopy branches. All the baubles slid down the branches overnight and had to be replaced every morning. The tree couldn’t cope with our Western need for air conditioning – we’d only been here a few months – and it got sicker and sicker, dropping its needles, and then the baubles wouldn’t wait until night time to fall off.

The following year we caved.

Yesterday we built our tree (you have no idea of the pain it causes me to say this out loud.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Teetotally sober!

Yesterday’s lunch was lovely. My headache started before I was half way through the welcome glass of champagne, so I didn’t need huge amounts of will power to avoid the booze.

Still, we had a fire break out on our table which was pretty exciting. No, I’m not joking: a piece of cracker debris spontaneously combusted on our table, making quite a table decoration for several seconds. It’s a sad state of affairs when one’s first reaction is ‘Is there time to get my camera out so I can blog this?’ Really, I’ve got to get a life.

Carol and Caroline helped me build the grotto. Then, as I was ‘on duty’ as one of the ‘meet and greet’ team, I showed the ladies where to put their charity gifts in the ball room. Finally, I herded women toward Father Christmas to pick up their Christmas presents.


We appealed to all lunch guests to bring Christmas presents for the Karen Refugee children from Burma/Myanmar, living in the Mae La Camp and students at the Thai Noh Bo School. We had a fantastic result and Christ Church, Bangkok, will take the gifts to the children. It always makes me a bit weepy to see people’s generosity.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Happy Christmas already

I’m off to the BWG Christmas lunch today.

I went to look for pictures of last year’s Christmas lunch to post here. Yeah … you know what? Perhaps I’ll just leave it to your imagination.

This has been getting lots of hits on my stat counter. I don’t quite know what people are hoping to find when they search for how to make a Christmas Grotto… I hope they’re not hoping for 3D constructions. Anyway, I’ve pulled the sign out again for this year; (I think a new one might be in order next year) found the red velvety material and the white snowy fabric; packed a toolbox of equipment which might enable me to cobble together a ‘grotto’ (a festive looking area for Father Christmas to sit to hand out presents…) I’ve brought along some lovely green tinsel too.

THIS YEAR I’m staying sober as a teetotaller. I cannot afford to annihilate my writing brain
cells for a week.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

“Not with a bang but a whimper”

Well, there it is. It’s 'over'. A court ruling declares that ‘the court held the parties, their respective leaders and executives accountable for the electoral fraud committed during the December 23 general elections.’ Forgive the pessimism realism but let’s just wait and see as the ‘new’ parties are formed.

Now, we are turning our thoughts to a holiday.

Me? I’m turning my thoughts to not panicking. I haven’t written for several days and I hate the feeling of losing my train of thought. I'm busy all day tomorrow; I’ve got to send Husband to work with a costume for the Christmas party and my next Novel Racers coffee is on Friday, for which I am entirely devoid of subjects: eeeek. I won’t panic. I won’t.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This one's for Husband

Regular readers know that Husband had a horrible time getting home from India last week.

We were lucky that he wasn’t in Mumbai. But terror, being what it is, meant that I was worried sick especially as I knew that he couldn’t get back into Thailand because of the anti government demonstrations taking place in both Bangkok airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. With these two airports closed, the regional airports were under enormous strain to try and deal with everyone diverting to them.

In order to get out of India, he left Bangalore on Thursday night, not for Thailand as planned but for Singapore. Once there, a complicated plan to return to Thai soil was sketched out. ‘While you’re in Singapore,’ I said, ‘if you can get to Takashimaya, please would you swing past that nice stationery store? I’d like an orange box folder please.’ OMG. Do you remember the post about the divine Bookbinders Design shop? Oh dear, I salivate, dribble…

So lovely, patient readers, this post is for Husband, who thought that ‘Update: arrived home 7.30pm’ was an insufficient fanfare for his eventual homecoming. I present to you, my very own ‘Milk Tray Man.’ This is what I imagine his trip home, accompanied by my orange box file, was really like:










































Monday, December 01, 2008

I ♥ Book Club

My being ‘a reader’ isn’t unusual here on the blogs. Among those of us also writing it’s also a requirement, although I’ll bet, entirely a pleasure. When I meet people who don’t read (in the same compulsive way I do) they often remark on my ‘head in a book’ habit. It does define me.

I’ve always known what I wanted to read. I’ve no idea how early books came into my life (did my parents choose them?) My parents certainly never ‘managed’ my reading nor forbade anything. I was aware that my Mum disliked Enid Blyton, but both she and my Dad had a ‘any reading is good’ philosophy; they believed if you discovered a love of reading (anything) you’d always be a reader and your critical faculties would develop with maturity.

About four years ago I had a fiction reading crisis. It came upon me slowly, but I ceased to be satisfied by the type of books I was reading and then worse still, I stopped being able to choose books. It was so frustrating because I’d never been unable to select books. My lovely friend The High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation let me loose on her bookshelves. Among the ones I took and never read was Bel Canto by Anne Patchett.

Then I found out we were moving to Bangkok. There wasn’t room in my head to worry about what to read and so I just consumed ‘escapist’ novels because I needed more than ever in this time of upsidedownyness to read. This took the pressure off me and my panic and misery subsided a bit.

Then when I got to Thailand I joined a couple of book clubs. Once a month my reading was prescribed and I had agreed to read whatever it was that was nominated. (When I read in the blurb of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami that there were ‘talking cats,’ I nearly expired on the spot. I didn’t do talking animals ... but I really enjoyed it.)

I don’t always like the book club choice but I always (barring life events) read it. Brilliant books I would NEVER have picked up with being made to, are: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

This month’s book for Book Club… is Bel Canto by Anne Patchett which I’d already got.

And OMG: I’ve found the book I wish I’d written.

It’s my first 5/5 for Book Club.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mostly books

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who left good wishes here and over at the Novel Racers for me and mine during the difficulties we're having in Bangkok. I've had some wobbly moments and your thoughts and good wishes have really helped. Husband got a flight to Phuket from Singapore yesterday. He left Phuket in a taxi this morning: it's a 8-10 hour car journey! (Update: Arrived home 7.30pm)

With no coup, the kids and I went off to see Twilight yesterday afternoon. Daughter is 200 pages in; Son's read it and I have no intention of reading it. It's not my kind of thing at all and it did have flaws, but I really rather enjoyed it. Beautiful landscapes. I still have no desire to read it but I'll watch another film...

After the cinema we went into Kinokuniya - our wonderful, wonderful English Language bookshop (How could I survive anywhere without copious English books?) We went in to buy New Moon, Stephenie Meyer's second book in the Twilight Saga. We also found some Christmas presents, and on the New Arrivals table, I found this:


Kate's books are always available here but the hardback of The Secret Shopper's Revenge hasn't been available to buy here. It's always very exciting to find a Novel Racer's book here in Bangkok.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not normal

It looks like a normal day in Bangkok out of my window, but it doesn’t feel it.

Last night we heard rumours of an impending coup; that tanks were on the move; and an official suggestion that we should have enough money, food and water to hole up in our homes for three days. News reports here and here.

My husband was in India this week – not Mumbai thank god - but because of the troubles in Bangkok’s Airports he was unable to get back into Thailand, and because of the troubles in Mumbai, we didn’t want him staying in India. He arrived in Singapore this morning. All the flights are booked to other airports in Thailand so we just have to wait and see if he can get back. At least he is safe where he is.

It isn’t often I come over all lioness about my cubs. A combination of the rumours and being alone here meant I made the decision to keep the children at home today. I went downstairs at 6.30am to tell the bus monitor. I felt a bit silly actually, everyone else was going but I think feeling foolish is a small price to pay.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

MEH!

After my big graphic outburst yesterday, I decided to be equally graphic today.

This time, though, it’s Thai writing.

The former artist in me fell instantly in love with the Thai script when I got here. I have no intention of learning to read and write it (Husband can: Meh, as Son would say) because life’s too short, I’m too busy writing, I’m not bright enough. The public reason is that I have no intention of spoiling the delectable visual of the script. If I knew a word said ‘toilet’ or ‘hong nam’ as it is in phonetic Thai, I couldn’t possibly think it was beautiful, could I?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rrrghhh

See here and here for the Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok airport) reference. All my domestic worries fade in to insignificance by comparison.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10,000 big ones

I’m changing the subject from our holiday plans. There’s more than a little Mr Toad in the Beattie family personality, which I don’t wish to highlight any further…

I am going through my next 10,000 words as they are due with my mentor on Friday. On Sunday my heart sank as I began to read through. My family, whose minds were all on the snow in Siberia, were distinctly unmoved by my trauma. On Monday, I got past the first two pages, and there were definite signs of improvement. I marked up the pages (I confess, while I had a pedicure!) with big strokes of the pencil I stole the complementary, promotional pencil from the hotel in Korat… It’s a perfect pencil; dark enough without being too soft and it keeps its point beautifully so they found their way into my pencil case. (Yes, damn it, okay I stole two pencils.)

I am desisting from shovelling MORE on my metaphors. Clearly dialogue comes relatively easily to me, for which I am thankful. But! There has to be a but… But, characterisation; emotional roundness of my main character… Can’t work it out. She’s STILL two dimensional.

What to do?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Contemplating Christmas

The Beattie family (that’s us) may have taken leave of their senses.

The best holiday we ever had was in China a year after we moved to Thailand. I might blog about it at some point. I wrote two exercise books full and haven’t looked at it since. I rather thought it might be the kind of holiday that you enjoyed after the event. However, it was fabulous at the time. It made me realise what wonderful, adaptable children we’d brought up, who’d learned that they could ‘speak’ an international sign language, and they weren’t afraid to use it. I shall never forget watching Son (who learned ‘Hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Chinese) asking a Chinese waitress, who spoke no English, for a toothpick.

So we’ve been contemplating Christmas… we’re not going home, what shall we do? We toyed with a few things and nothing got me going; until now.

We are exploring the possibility of flying to Moscow, taking Trans-Siberian Railway for five days to Mongolia and then having five days there, before flying home.

Today I emailed the company to see if there is availability. I discovered on the website that it’s -40 degrees at this time of year. Hmmm. I emailed Husband, and this was his response:

-40, that's minus forty degrees centigrade (or Fahrenheit).

You do realise that is level 4 on the Beaufort Beattie Shiver Scale?

Scale shown below:

0 (+5 to 0 degrees) - cold, need jumper and coat,
1 (0 to -10) - bloody cold, need to wear skiing gear. water freezes
2 (-10 to -20) -f**king cold, colder than it gets in the UK, need to wear two sets of skiing gear, rivers and small animals freeze
3 (-20 to -30) - cold isn't the word for it, need to wear arctic explorer gear, icebergs and glaciers form, people and large animals freeze.
4 (-30 to -40) - nowhere this cold on earth, no data, similar to outer space. entire planets freeze.

I should point out, that the Powers That Be decided half way through our childhoods to change the scale, from Fahrenheit to Centigrade, thereby ensuring we never understand either. We were lucky really to understand the new money.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More stats

Did you see this in the news? Europeana an online digital library, opened recently… and then it crashed as ten million hits an hour – twice more than expected – proved too much for its servers.

According to a quote on the BBC, “Thousands of users were searching for the words 'Mona Lisa' at the same time."

This has caused me considerable worry as my own stats escalate out of control with people from all over the world searching for ‘Crystal Tips and Alistair’ pictures.

And then there’s Angie’s comment, here, about all the ‘Friday bum fun.’ Heaven only knows what impact that’s going to have on my statistics.

You know what? I’m thinking of making it a regular slot: Friday Bum Fun.

What do you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday roundup

Well, it's the end of my week in flat Khorat. Today I can write; tomorrow I go home. I can't be cocky confident just yet, but I've only 884 words to do today to make the 5000 words as instructed by Husband. (Or I owe him the money back for this little trip.)

So far I'm on 22,741 (before today's words) (OMG). My second lot of 10,000 words are due go to my TLC mentor next week and they need looking at again, cutting and editing a bit before they go. There's stuff in there that I wrote before the first report came back that I know needs acting upon. My word count will vary while I make changes so I might not update my Leigh O meter until this time next week.

After yesterday's post, here are some more arseicons:

from Pat Posner
(123numberbum) Numb Bum

from Lane
( ) Lazy arse

From Angie
(~!~) Dimpled arse
(_!_) Pancake arse
(,,!,,) Numb arse

From Debs
(vvv!vvv) numb arse

From Beast
٨ ٨
(…!...)
Rabbit doing a poo
.
.
.
.
Apologies to Beast whose ears and poos won't go in the right places.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A rude one

I was thinking of all the good signs that my writing is going well.
  1. Climbing word count
  2. A numb bum (or butt for our American friends)

And then, before I could finish my list, I got an email from my friend Jane (*waves*) that made me chuckle. Most of us use those emoticon things - I quite like the ones made up of punctuation but I don't like animated yellow faces: I think they're a bit creepy. Here's a bit of her email:

'ARSE-ICONS?'

(_!_) a regular arse

(__!__) a fat arse (or perhaps, a writer’s arse?)

(!) a tight arse

(_*_) a sore arse

{_!_} a swishy arse

(_x_) kiss my arse

(_E=mc2_) a smart arse

(_$_) Money coming out of his arse

(_?_) Dumb arse

I felt compelled to find one for numb arse, which is what I was complaining of... So how about:

(..!..) Instant glory for whoever can leave a better one in my comments.

UPDATE: I gather you can't do them in the comments box, but if you can be arsed (sorry) to send me one to 4pmteatime at gmail dot com I'll post them up tomorrow. Not just numb bum but any bum!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I ♥ the Novel Racers

Just take a little sideways look over there on the left … your left, not my left … yup, that’s it … where it says 20,000 on the lovely Leigh’o’meter. Even if mine’s gone slightly wonky, with a pokey uppy border bit on the far left, it still says 20,000 big ones.

And, it’s really 20,364 words. Now I've no idea how long my book will be, but I plucked 100,000 out of the air since I'm told I should be aiming between 80,000 and 120,000. 100,000 is a pleasing, round number. So if that's so, I've done a fifth of my book. A fifth. And most of those, I've done in the last ten weeks.

I should have a bit more humility about all this and I do apologise if I sound like I am shouting, but damn it, I am shouting. I am proud of myself.

I am coming to the end of my second year with the Novel Racers, and frankly I’ve been a bit crap – no, a lot crap. I can’t understand why they didn’t throw me out long ago because I have struggled. And some of my posts have been a load of drivel with the most boring excuses – I know because I’ve been back and read some of them. Let me apologise in retrospect.

Husband says that if I come home with less than 5,000 words I have to give him the money back that I’ve spent here. So Husband, today I’ve done 1,707 words.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Cracking mountains' Not

Here I am in Khorat, where I came for the mountains … and it’s a plateau. Brilliant: not a bloomin’ mountain in sight. It’s so flat it would give Bangkok a run for its money in the flat stakes. Oh well, at least I won’t spend hours gazing out the window.

And, you’ll never guess: there’s a school residential in MY hotel. No, it’s not one of our school residentials – but a primary school. I’m going to have to get up earlier tomorrow to beat those little critters to the omelette chef.

I had a little bit of a panic yesterday. A combination of ‘I am here to write: I must write’ terror and not being able to get onto the internet, meant that I couldn’t write a damn thing. I convinced myself that I needed the internet first… before I wrote and I couldn’t sort that out. I was waiting for help from reception. I telephone Husband and he is the kind of man who asks ‘have you plugged it in?’ so I pre-empted him and said ‘I’ve plugged it into the right hole’ which in reality turned out to mean: ‘I’ve plugged it into a hole it fits into.’ It was the wrong plug, obviously. When I eventually got onto the internet I was in a proper panic. Everything is crap, it reads like I’m in primary school, I can’t handle the story, blah blah blah.

Today I’ve woken up feeling less panicky. I will free write until I work out what comes next…

I had a look at the news, and I found this. Nick Park is one of my heroes. In an interview with the BBC, he says of his current project, A Matter of Loaf and Death, "You should do it for the fun or it, and not have any other ambitions in mind."

That, it reminds me, is what writing should be about.

Go and have a look at the BBC article: the film, due to air at Christmas, looks ‘cracking.’

Monday, November 17, 2008

Funeral

We've just had three days mourning for the funeral of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the Thai King's older sister.

Thais were expected to wear black during these three days, but the children's school and our condo also issued requests for people to show their respect by wearing black or dark colours.

The colour of clothes are important to Thais. On Mondays, the day on which the King was born, Thais wear yellow to pay their respects to His Majesty. The Queen was born on a Friday and Thais demonstrate their respect to her by wearing blue. The colours are dictated by the day - they learn the days of the week hand in hand with the colour of that day. Even the political sides in the current troubles have a colour that they wear to show solidarity to the side they support.

I took this picture on the skytrain platform.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twit

Oh good grief. In pursuit of the ‘essential items’ as dictated by school, Daughter and I went to MBK this afternoon.

MBK is one of the malls I will miss desperately when we eventually go home. It’s rather like a market in a mall – the shops are mostly small units, rentable individually or in multiples to make a big, ‘proper’ shop.

We were downstairs where the units are mostly individually let. We were tired; only one item remained on our list. Daughter was inside the tiny, cramped shop examining the thing we wanted. I stood outside, where more goods spilled out. In front of me there was a suitcase for sale and I rested my bag there while I opened it up to check out the spondulics situation.

“Oh,” I said to Daughter, “I don’t have enough money. I need to go to the cash point.” I went off in search of a money machine, found one and then made my way back to the unit. I was gone around five minutes. There, sitting on the top of the suitcase outside the shop, was my handbag, open, proudly displaying a camera, a Blackberry and all manner of detritus we women carry around with us.

I am still flushing hot and cold at my stupidity (and good luck.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Preparation

Next week my children go away on their school residentials. All of the senior school – apart from years eleven and thirteen – go away for five days, leaving the school quiet for mock exams.

Last year I went to Andaman Discoveries which is community based tourism project set up in the wake of the tsunami. This year I’m off to write for five days in Khorat in the Nakhon Ratchasima province. Famous for its silk and stone industries, I might have to take a day trip out to Pak Thong Chai where the best silk cloth is rumoured to originate. The jungle at the nearby Khao Yai – Thailand’s oldest national park – was the backdrop for the film version of Alex Garland’s novel The Beach.

I was scrabbling away for somewhere to go last week, my priorities being:

Relatively cheap
Max half a day’s travel
Mountains in the distance
Internet

It isn’t a rural idyll as it's Thailand's third largest city but it’s a change of scenery and being away gets me out of my regular ‘stuff to do’ mode.

In the meantime, my ‘stuff to do’ list is gigantic as we have to purchase all sorts of things on the kids’ lists of essential items.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fantastic feedback

Since I started the TLC mentoring, my writing habit has improved enormously. In order that I have 10,000 words to send in every six weeks, I’ve got to write most days.

I think it’s a bit sad that at my age I still need the help of somebody else’s deadline to make me do something I do really want to do. I hate the feeling of panic when I’ve left everything to the last minute so I am getting better at the motivation thing.

Knowing how brilliant I’ve found TLCs’s feedback, let me tell you about fellow Novel Racer, Caroline, who runs BubbleCow. She’s holding a Christmas Competition with a fantastic prize. It’s a lucky dip, offering a free in-depth edit and report on a manuscript of up to 100,000 words.
The deadline to enter is midnight GMT November 30 2008. The rules and details can be found HERE.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

RIP

Poor old Flicka dog didn’t make it.

Rather than relying on the exchange of information via Older Niece and Daughter I spoke to my Dad yesterday.

Flicka was very frightened by bonfire night and thunder. She’s a big dog, but she turned into a quivering jelly (8 stone of terror) at either noise. She also hated people saying goodbye (I think this is a collie personality trait.) On Sunday night Nieces had spent the weekend with their Dad and they were saying goodbye to him. The combination of bonfire night and goodbyes, and the door being left open a crack, Flicka tried to escape (okay, going outside wasn’t the brightest plan …but she was in a panic.)

Anyway, the bastard car didn’t stop. Ex BiL stopped and helped. He and Dad drove Flicka to the local vets HQ a couple of villages away but for the diagnostic MRI scan she was transferred to the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar. They called with the results while she was still under the anaesthetic. It was a close call. They could’ve tried to operate but the prognosis wasn’t good and recovery couldn’t be guaranteed.

Thanks to all who left good wishes yesterday. Sorry the news isn't cheerier.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fingers crossed

Pigtopia was brilliant. I finished it early this morning and I loved it.

Got to move onto sadder news. Flicka, my parents’ dog, was hit by a car at the weekend. She was rushed to the vets with a mouth full of blood, wibbly teeth and hopes for the best.

Yesterday we heard the more alarming news that she is unable to use her back legs and was being moved to a different vet surgery for a scan. Daughter, who had to lose her cats when we moved to BK, is devastated. We await further news. Please keep your fingers crossed.

Here are two incarnations of Flicka dog. Can you tell which one is the real one?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Books

It’s Book Club today.

We’re talking about Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures) by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson. It’s written by three UN workers who meet in Cambodia and they tell their stories through that mission, and then subsequent missions in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti and Liberia.

It’s another hit for the book club reader in me as I would NEVER have picked it up voluntarily and it was tragic but brilliant.

I’m now reading Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald. You might have seen in on my pile of goodies here. It has a lovely spine and cover (the spine is very important if that’s the way it’s presented in the book shop) which is why I picked it up.

In my own struggle to cobble together a novel, I’m strongly attracted to ‘beautifully crafted’ in the hope that I might learn something.

Pigtopia tells the story of two unlikely friends, Jack and Holly. ‘Jack Plum looks like a monster’ says Holly, ‘but his voice is sweet and soft. He also looks like an adult but he doesn’t act like one.’ With only his invalid, alcoholic mother at home, Jack wants to befriend Holly but he waits until her 14th birthday so he can make offerings and approach her when the time is right. When he does speak to her, she’s terrified as Jack is the brunt of local folklore. Jack asks himself ‘why she is so feared and is it just my big hoghead and ugliness?

Holly, despite her lack of physical development, is more mature than her peers. Things got better when her Dad left so she lives happily alone with her Mum. However, the status quo is about to change at home.

So they begin an unlikely friendship. Jack introduces Holly to the pigs that he rears in secret and Holly promises to help him with life’s practicalities.

Some of the reviews I read suggest an uncertainty whether Pigtopia is written for children or adults… they wonder from the book jacket (not the same edition as mine) and speculate whether Kitty Fitzgerald knew. But what I think… I DON’T CARE. It just doesn’t matter who it’s aimed at.

Listen: ‘Mam says that Dad was pigflesh and pigmind, a huge mucky porker what nabbed her by force, then jogtrotted off beyond the farlands when he understood what had been hatched.’

I’m about half way through and something rather awful has happened. Holly has promised she will help Jack without the outside world intruding in on his world. Jack has 'the frights' and so do I. I can’t wait to find out what they’re going to do.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Adults Only!

This made me chuckle.

Finland has released the DVD of ‘A Little House on the Prairie’ with a certificate of ‘suitable for adults only.’ The costs of having it assessed for the correct age certification are prohibitively expensive.

I doubt very much that the DVD will sell. Any adult buying it hoping for a bit of ‘how’s your father’ will be deeply disappointed.

I loved the books as a child. My mum used to read it to us at the kitchen table before we went to bed. I was ‘Laura’ because I was not such a good girl and my sister was the prissy ‘Mary.’ I was completely mortified when Mary went blind because we identified so much with our characters. My Mum said my sister and I were in floods of tears when she read about Jack the dog dying and so she had to edit frantically as she read.

Then the series came on TV and I loved that too. I knew the books so well that when the TV show started veering away from the stories in the books, I got my first taste of book to film disappointment.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kick up the backside

It strikes me as funny that I can dish out advice to someone who’s struggling with their writing – not platitudes - but something I’m sure will get them going again. But when it comes to my own crises of confidence I’m not so quick to take my own pill.

I think it’s relatively simple though… and my advice was:

Write. Write anything. Have your characters brush their teeth if it makes you put words on the page. None of it is final, is it?

I KNOW that the action of writing puts my brain into the place where I begin to … well, do whatever it is that I need to do to create the words, tell the story.

Hmmm, that’s progress. I remember a while ago saying that I knew how to get there with art (particularly life drawing – that gets me to the creative place quicker than anything) but that I didn’t know if I’d got there with writing… Then suddenly, look up there, I wrote “I KNOW that the action of writing puts my brain into the place…” And it’s true, I do know it and I have been there. It’s the place where the time passes faster than in reality.

There’s been some good news too, which has given me another kick up the backside. I am not at liberty to pass it on but if you’re a novel racer, you can go to the private blog to find out. (If you haven’t got access to it because you haven’t been on one of our meets, then email me and I will issue you with an invitation.) But sorry, non novel racers, you’ll have to just wonder.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bleurgh

Last Monday I could hardly stop smiling as went to meet Carol in the afternoon. The reason for this was the writing … the words … the pile of them grew bigger and bigger. I was enjoying it. One minute I was on 15k and then a couple of minutes later I was on 18k. Wow.

Then on Tuesday I went to the Melbourne Cup celebrations organised by the Australian and New Zealand Women’s Group where I drank too much champagne. I went home and I haven’t felt right since – and I’m writing this on Saturday.

Worse than ‘not feeling right’ for four or more days, is the fact that I’ve annihilated my writing cells.

There are lots of people around me with loved ones with serious illnesses and here I am making myself feeling utterly crapulous voluntarily. What a stupid thing to do; my poor old body.

I’ve said lots of times ‘I’m never drinking again’ so there’s no point in saying that but I do think that perhaps alcohol and I don’t really get along too well. If I’m honest, it’s not just over indulging that makes me feel awful; even a couple of glasses will do it.

The combination of feeling terrible and not being able to write … well, it’s just not worth it. I think I may have to live a life of near teetotal boredom.

I hope I still get invited out sometimes.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stats madness


Just what is going on?

I’d almost come to terms with the fact that everyone who chanced upon my blog does so through searching for ‘large spiders’ (why large? Why not big?) There are no big or large spiders here (well apart from here) and then there was that bit of Colin Firth action, here and here. And I could understand that because some people have him a google wotsit that pings him into their inbox when something's written about him.

But now, NOW, it’s all Crystal Tips and Alistair. Why? Why?

Please… will one of you tell me why everyone’s searching for them? Why? WHY?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Missing
























UPDATE: I had a little blue moment this morning. I've been away being hungover after Tuesday so I posted this to cheer me up. Of course it won't mean anything to any of you, sorry. But I thought it could ... well, stand alone, somehow.

I've come back to explain:

Back in the summer, my sister and I were sitting in the garden, under the fruit trees, at our parents' house. I think we were catching up about life, serious things... until our conversation took a detour:

Me: (pointing at the bottom of the horsechestnut tree) What's that little door?
Her: It's a fairy door.
Me: Who put it there?
Her: (in deadpan, 'how can you be that stupid') The Fairies!

I think maybe you had to be there...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I don't bake...part two






Yesterday I said that I would post Daughter on World Book Day 2004.

Here she is: two pictures for her as I loved the attitude in the close up shot.

She was Medusa.

Now I think you can see why the solicitor woman told me I took it a bit too seriously! You’d think I was in the Hollywood films the time I took concocting these costumes.







Monday, November 03, 2008

I don't bake...

Bookworm costume
... but I do make costumes. The children know that they can ask to be anything and I will huff and puff and grumble about time and then usually I will do it. But, if I can't, my Mum or my Dad can and will. That is one reason why my parents are so fantastic.

This is Son as 'Bookworm' for World Book Day 2004.

That year, I rather surpassed myself. Both Son and Daughter looked spectacular, (Daughter tomorrow) and another mother passed me in the playground, and said: 'You've got too much time on your hands...'

I was devastated; I could've cried. She was a solicitor - I am impressed because she had a real, grown up career and she baked her daughter's birthday cakes, while I didn't have a job, I just went to art college. I could make costumes but not cakes and so I bought mine from Tesco or M&S. I reckoned we were pretty even on the making front but she'd reached the finished line on careers before I'd even heard the starter pistol.

Anyway, sorry for the 'me me me, aren't I clever' post but I'm writing you know, and can't think of anything else to post.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm not worthy

Today I’m toasting those brave Novel Racer souls (here, here, here and here - I hope I haven't missed anyone) who’ve signed up to do Nanowrimo. Really, I’m applauding anyone who’s taken leave of their senses signed up for it. To me, it seems akin to agreeing to do a marathon: stark staring bonkers. I know that that kind of vomit draft is probably very liberating to some people, but I also know I just couldn’t do it.

For the rest of us Novel Racers, November is just another month that we’re writing. For me, I’m not far away from 17,000 words (update: I'm there now.) My writing discipline seems only to have emerged on signing up for the mentoring with TLC. When my mentor originally wrote and said she would expect to receive 10,000 words every six weeks, I nearly had a heart attack. But it’s doable actually. I’m managing it. What’s more important is that I manage to keep up that momentum after my six lots of 10k words because the full ms will be read by TLC and there’s an end to that offer.

Just as I know there are people on my side waving flags and yelling encouragement, I want to let you Nanowrimo members know that I might consider you out of your cotton pickin' minds, but I will be there on the sidelines cheering you on. Now, go write.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Technology

Today brings the excitement of opening up a new document for November’s postings (Really, I MUST get out more…) It’s just so clean and tidy and, well, organised – against the morass everywhere else on my desk and in my life.

1st November also marks my first full day having demoted myself. Yesterday I met with G who has agreed to take the post of Webmaster for the BWG, which I have been struggling with for some time now. I volunteered originally to be creative and not technical. I had two assistants with specialist knowledge but expats move on, and in their absence I was forced to be a bit more technological than I was comfortable with. I am, after all, more techno-twit than techno wizard.

It's not just trying to content with the techie stuff, but also wanting to concentrate on the writing... which is what I was doing before I came and blogged, so procrastinating aside, I'm off now.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween's here




Bangkok prepares for Halloween 2008












One of my favourite costumes: Son on Halloween 2006 (I thought it was last year but my records say not).

We gave untold small children in our condo nightmares that year.







Thursday, October 30, 2008

Books galore!

I’ve been having a saga with my Blackberry charges… I went to Emporium Mall to sort it out yesterday. Two lovely staff at AIS have been soooo helpful and now I’m nearly sorted out.

I can’t go into Emporium without stopping by Kinokuniya bookshop – even when there isn’t a specific title I want. There is never a time that I don’t want to stop by any bookshop: bookshops are my church. And what luck, they were just setting up their sale table. They have periodic sales where the fiction tends to be 100 Thai Baht (£1.70ish) and the non-fiction paperbacks are 300 Baht. So I bought this bundle of goodies for just 1000 baht (look at it in Baht and it sounds much cheaper than the £17 in sterling!)


When I got home I got my second parcel of the week! How lucky am I? It was a free copy of ‘An Old Fashioned Arrangement’ by Susie Vereker. The blurb sounds great so I’m very excited about reading it. I shall report back.


Bangkok Residents Note: There's an email originating from the US Embassy going around that PAD are demonstrating today between Siam Paragon and Emporium, via the British Embassy, so if you go to the book sale... take care or maybe go tomorrow instead.