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Thursday 29 March 2012

Who's Driving This Bus?!

'Buy! Buy! Buy! Petrol's running out, the diesel's all gone! Buy! Fill your tanks! Fill your jerrycans! Queue up for hours at a forecourt only to see a harried service attendant wheel out the closed sign just as you reach the entrance! Buy! Buy! Buy!'
I might be over-egging it a touch, but this was the government's line ... yesterday. Today they are offering slightly more measured advice, telling us to tank up once we're down to a half. I have a sneaky suspicion that it might have been a cynical attempt to create a panic over the threatened tanker driver strike, thereby turning the fuel thirsty public against the strikers before they've even set a date.
Funnier still is the rush of high-ranking politicians all lining up to be photographed eating pasties. Now, I like a pasty, but I have a hard time believing that it's a regular feature of the prime minister's diet. And yet, there he was, pasty in hand, insisting he's something of a fan but doesn't mind at all that his chancellor has added VAT to them because their policy is 'fair taxation'.
What he failed to mention was the confusion over the implementation of the new tax, which only applies when the item in question is served hotter than the ambient temperature. This could potentially lead to a situation where pasties will once again be VAT free during heatwaves!
Do you ever get the feeling that nobody's really in control?

Monday 26 March 2012

Billy of Boldre Wood Preparations

Preparations for Billy of Boldre Wood are progressing well. The ebook is largely prepared, including illustrations. The cover artwork apparently needs some tweaking and I still need to write a snappy synopsis - I should actually be doing that now, but I seem to keep finding other things to do!
Release date to be confirmed very shortly.

Update to Quirky Tales

He who fixes the computer has added a new page to Quirky Tales to make it easier to find the most recent stories. The website now sports a 'Latest' page, with links to the last five stories. Hopefully it will make it easier to navigate the library, as it's now getting rather full!
Here's the link to the new page:
Happy reading!

Saturday 24 March 2012

New Story!

There's another new story on Quirky Tales today. It centres around a group of bewildered residents who are evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night. The police are on high alert, but things don't turn out quite the way they expect.
If you want to take a look, here's the link:
I hope you enjoy it.

Friday 23 March 2012

Dylan the Donkey

I called in at the pet shop this morning, for no other reason than I like looking at the rabbits, and the chinchillas (who are always asleep), and the hamsters. I chuckled over the rabbits who were ganging up on the member of staff who was clambering around inside their enclosure, cleaning the glass, and I cooed over the snoozing chinchillas, and then I left, empty handed.
I don't have any pets, unless you count the endless line of sparrows and robins and blackbirds who demand food on a daily basis, but I can appreciate their appeal. There's a part of me that would love a dog, until I look at the nice new carpet, or hear stories about pet insurance and vet's bills, then suddenly teddy bears seem to have a lot going for them!
With animals of a cute nature clearly at the forefront of my mind today, I stumbled across an irresistible article on the Daily Mail website, featuring some of the new arrivals at the Blair Drummond Safari Park:
I'm pretty sure I could find room for little Dylan the donkey, regardless of new carpets and vet's bills!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Alternative Budget

Nick Ferrari (LBC) launched the search for a democratic budget on his radio show this morning, inviting listeners to phone in with their ideas for the budget. He then compiled his own budget incorporating as many of the suggestions as he could 'afford'. It sounded a little like the studio was disappearing beneath a veritable blizzard of hastily scrawled notes, but the end product does, I think, offer George Osborne something to think about. (I suspect he won't be too worried about the future of his position!)
Favourites among the ideas were the daily £1 levy on every single traffic cone placed public roads by companies, thereby encouraging them to complete roadworks faster whilst also raising much needed funds. A 10% increase in nurses' pay, plus a box of chocolates on their birthday, sounded reasonable too!
For his full, listener inspired budget, here's the link:

Update on The Hobbit

Perhaps realising they had been rather foolishly heavy-handed, the Hollywood lawyers have decided to permit The Hobbit pub to continue trading under the name - although the exact terms are not yet known - for a small licensing fee.
In a show of continued support, Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellan, both appearing in the forthcoming film, have said they will pay the fee.
I'm still not sure the legal posturing was really necessary, but I suppose it's true what they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
For more information about the story, this link will take you to the article on the BBC news site:

Monday 19 March 2012

Tales From the Café Volume Two

The second anthology from Café Three Zero is due for Kindle release at the end of the month. It's a collection of stories by the various authors within the group, this time inspired by the theme 'Red'.
My story is a supernatural thriller: 'The Last Guardian' - When the forgotten Last Guardian dies, a complacent world once again finds itself facing an old enemy.
I'll announce the release date here once it's confirmed by Café Three Zero.

New Story

A new short story has now been added to the Quirky Tales library. It's the story of a literal minded newspaper reader's response to a worrying news article. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Another Reason to Like Stephen Fry

As if you needed another! Mr Fry has now waded in to offer his support for the beleaguered pub 'The Hobbit' in Southampton, currently facing legal action from the Hollywood bigwigs for copyright infringement. As bizarre as it sounds to us Brits, they actually own the rights to the name and are threatening action against the pub, despite the fact that it has traded under the name for over 20 years.
For more information, here is the link to the BBC news story:
J.R.R. Tolkein was an English writer, who wrote the Hobbit back in the 1930s. The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are part of our literary heritage - they are part of our language. As much as I love the movies, we shouldn't have to surrender our language and heritage to them.

Anonymous Coffee Drinkers

Starbuck's are increasing their policy of asking their customer's names when taking their order. It seems to be causing a degree of consternation among some, who insist they have no desire to be friends with the staff, or that they simply wish to retain their privacy. Personally, I don't have an issue with it. At least when they place a coffee on the side and call 'Kay' there's no confusion among the half-dozen people waiting.
It does offer up a chance for some mischief though. After all, there's no legal obligation to give your real name. I'm going to position myself close to the bar in future to see how many 'Your Majesty's, 'Anon's or 'Lord Lucan's turn up for their cappuccino.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Natural Britain

I was looking for a funny news story to cheer me up this morning - I'm feeling a little grumpy - but it was a gallery on the Telegraph's website that caught my eye. The first picture alone is enough to soothe the most petulant of moods. There's probably nothing better than natural Britain in all its glory to make a person feel better:

Sunday 11 March 2012

New Story

A writing challenge prompted me to write a piece inspired by the brilliant 80s sitcom 'Yes Minster', written by Anton Jay and Jonathan Lynn. I won't pretend I'm a match for their satirical skill, but I had a bit of fun writing my piece based, predictably enough, on budgets and overspending. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it. If you'd like to know more about 'Yes Minister', please take a look at the BBC website:

Thursday 8 March 2012

Survival Tip for the Mean Streets

Being mugged is not funny. It's a serious assault and should always be treated with proper solemnity. However, a mugging story I heard on an LBC news bulletin today had me laughing out loud. I'm sorry. I'm ashamed of myself.
The fact that the victim was a 15 stone man, and the assailant was a fox might have influenced my reaction. It apparently took a shine to the man's shopping and could only be persuaded to cease its attack when the man relinquished his garlic bread. I think that's what makes it so funny, though I'm at a loss to explain why. After all, the thought of a fox with garlic breath is not a pleasing one!
Intrigued, I did a quick search for more information and the Telegraph came through:
Remember, it's a jungle out there. Always carry a sacrificial loaf of garlic bread, just in case!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

A Surplus of Silk

I'm not fond of spiders, I think I may have mentioned this before on this blog, so you'll perhaps understand why a story in the news today gave me the shivers. It's the story of the Australian town of Wagga Wagga,  evacuated during the recent floods. Residents returned to the town once the danger had passed to find the whole place covered in silk woven by millions of spiders escaping the rising waters. At first glance, the photographs appear to be snow scenes, but it's basically a giant spider web!
I fear it could be a strange dream night tonight.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Fantasy Philanthropy

I often dream about what I would do if my numbers came up on the lottery. Naturally, I'd pay off the mortgage, buy a new car, replace the aged and overworked clothes in my wardrobe, etc. etc. A large part of the fantasy involves sharing my newfound wealth with my family, thereby dispatching all our money worries in one fell swoop.
And then I imagine all the other people who could be helped by a donation (anonymous of course, I'm modest that way!). All those people needing medical treatment, or who had Christmas ruined by a burglary, or the play group closing due to a drying up of funds - oh, the people I would help if only I won the lottery!
But then this morning, whilst still awaiting my big win, I read about someone who's already doing it. In the town of Braunschweig, a mysterious stranger is sneaking around leaving envelopes stuffed with money on the doorsteps of deserving people.
It's a great story, I just wish it could have been me! Now, what did I do with that lottery ticket?

Thursday 1 March 2012

Billy of Boldre Wood Edit

I shall allow myself a very small victory punch to the air this afternoon. I've finished the edit of Billy of Boldre Wood - hoorah! I'm not there yet, but hopefully I shall soon be ready to make it available on Kindle. Here's the artwork for the forthcoming eBook:

Watch this space! Release date to be announced soon.