Tag Archives | Work in progress

Role Reversal

A year ago I retired from a long-term part-time job, which gave me plenty of time for writing. I intended to transform my life and re-brand myself as a full-time professional writer.  So why have I written so little and had no time to edit my fourth book, the first draft of which was completed over six months ago?  Much essential PEP (pruning, editing, polishing) is still to be done.  The reason for the delay is that during the summer there’s been a significant change in my role and occupation.

After a working life of several decades, and some years later than normal people, my DBH (dearly beloved husband) is to take AIR (active inspirational retirement).  The DBH has decided to ‘boot himself upstairs’ and become Non-Executive Chairman (NEC) of the family business, whilst I have been promoted to the position of New Executive Director (NED). Board meetings will no longer be held in our bathroom at 0630 every weekday morning, but will now happen on 29th February.  AGM’s will become DGM’s (Decadal General Meetings). Junior directors are invited to be present but discouraged from participation. The NED knows that discussions with the NEC about business will be limited to the hours of 1045-1115 and this only on the third Wednesday of each month.

This means that the POL (pattern of life) had changed here at home in Dorset.  We endeavour to be more organised and yet more relaxed.  To clarify how this is achieved, one asks:  what does the DBH mean by ‘active’ retirement?  This DOS (daily operational schedule) will give you some idea:

0630-0730 The NED gets up, does household tasks, eats breakfast and is at her desk by 0800.

0830-1000 The NEC wakes up, listens to Radio 4, drinks tea, reads, rises, showers, and descends.

1010 The NEC has his breakfast, reads the paper, and prepares for the day.  At 1120, he goes outside to the rear lawn to practice his putting with the aim of improving his handicap at clockwork golf. The cats, Oscar and Ella, (O&E) are banished from the rear garden at this time as they have a habit of racing after his golf ball and batting it away from the hole.  Family and friends (F&F) are allowed to observe but not permitted to make comments. (If weather is inclement, the DBH practices snooker in the games room, to improve his chance of winning against his son).

1130 NED has finished with responding to the day’s batch of emails and opens the post, including a letter from NAS (the Non-Abbreviation Society), which informs her that she and DBH have been expelled from membership. This causes her no regret and she moves on to deal with more significant matters.

1315 DBH prepares his own lunch, pours himself a single glass of wine and at 1330 commences eating.

1333 approx. NED dashes in from the office, throws some food on a plate, wolfs it down and returns to work at 1400.

1430-1530 The DBH has his PLD (post lunch doze) in situ (in his kitchen chair) or, if fine, outside on the swing chair, during which time birds are forbidden to cheep. Guests and Grandchildren (G&G) are requested to keep silent during PLD.

1545-1715 Three times a week, the NEC works out on the rower, jogger and bike at his Weight Reduction Programme (WRP). On other days he takes a hike round the land. The NED is exempted from this activity but any G&G are encouraged to accompany him. On Saturdays this is obligatory.

1845-1930 The NED metamorphoses into Loving & Sympathetic Spouse (LASS) and prepares dinner. 1900 The NEC now becomes Amazingly Genial Husband (AGH) and pours drinks for her and F&F.  Important: White wine must be no more than 12˚ in temperature and no less than 13% in alcoholic content.  LASS frantically tries to serve dinner on time.

1930-2130 Dinner.  Red wine, which was opened at 1800 to allow it to breathe, is served by AGH.

2140 AGH retires to sofa in Monks Room for PPN (post prandial nap) which may involve sleeping in front of the TV, when O&E are discouraged from jumping onto his lap and flexing their claws into his thigh.

2150-2230 LASS retires to bed, sliding swiftly into sleep.

Anytime from 23.10 until 0140 AGH wakes and goes into PAD mode (perambulation around drive) where, unobserved (except by nocturnal O&E), he muses on life, gazes at stars and hugs trees. Sometimes owls hoot. AGH then quietly locks house and goes upstairs to bed without disturbing sleeping LASS, G&G and F&F.

It is important to remember that timings are rigidly adhered to. The ROOL (rhythm of our life) must be carefully preserved. We have shared this schedule with F&F so that when they come and visit, they will be able to slot in snugly with the new arrangements. My plan to become a full-time DPW (dedicated professional writer) has been placed on hold.  But I live in hope.

 

Abbs and Acronyms

indexWe hear a lot about Apps and rather less about Abbs, unless you happen to be into bodybuilding. People who talk about their abbs are generally into flaunting their well-toned abdominal muscles. But an ABB could be an abbreviation of ‘Abbreviation’.

Some years ago, over a few glasses of wine, my husband and I decided to form the Non-Abbreviation Society. We deplored shortened names, such as Rodge for Roger, Bex for Rebecca, Seb for Sebastian, Sooze for Suzanne, Ant for Anthony, or Ginnie for Virginia. Such savagely pruned names were an abomination.  AGW (Another glass of wine?)  Gloriously beautiful names like Penelope, Leopold, Francesca, and Orlando should be allowed to roll off the tongue and not have their wings clipped. DMMD! (Don’t mix metaphors, darling!) I had a friend who was married to somebody called Martin, who was a delightful man, and she always referred to him, even to his face, as Mart the Fart – and I used to wince when I heard it. Even if she knew something about him that we didn’t, it was still horribly unkind.

MBH (my beloved husband) and I made a habit of creating silly societies. Some years back a Swedish acquaintance told us we were disgustingly politically incorrect, so we decided to invite selected friends to join the Politically Incorrect Peoples Society, or PIPS.  Clearly we had by this time blackballed ourselves from our own Non Abbreviation Society, which our son had always referred to as NAS. He was never allowed to join! PIPS proved to be a good dinner table entertainment, and we even got as far as designing a tie and scarf for it – a smart navy background with a neat scattering of lemon pips in pale yellow, though we never went into production. We doubted whether people would pay for the privilege of joining our society. They all thought it was a bit of a joke.

Perversely, witty and complex abbreviations soon became more fun than eliminating them, and when we came across small children, whether delightful or disgusting, angelic or awful,  we would refer to as an ALP or an OLO.  This was coded language for ʼappy little person or ʼorrible little object.   Our non-abbreviation society became NONABBSOC and we then decided that acronyms were more fun and, as MBH aptly put it, ARS – which means, of course, Acronyms Reign Supreme.

Our lives are full of acronyms.  We don’t think twice when we read ASAP and we don’t blink at FYI.  Most of us are familiar with TTFN – Ta Ta For Now;  KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid;  and NYOB – None of Your Business.  And there are a whole raft of new ones used in texting and messaging such as BBL – Be Back Later; KIT – Keep In Touch, NP – No Problem, and LOL – Laughing Out Loud.  This reminds me that, some years back, I used to refer to my brother’s girlfriend as his LIL (Live in Lover), and after he married her and later on divorced her, she became my SOL (Sister-Out-Law).

There are many groups and societies which use acronyms – such as AA , and I particularly  approve of MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Whilst on the subject of mothers, I recall that my mine, when she was laughing elatedly or driving fast (she often did both), had a habit of using words with 00 in the middle and repeating them, such as ‘boom boom’. She used to use ‘zoom zoom’ when overtaking cars, but if she swung out and realised she didn’t have the time, which rarely happened, she would shriek ‘mooz, mooz’ – and dive back – ‘zoom zoom’ backwards – got it?

It’s useful to have coded messages that don’t offend others but which can be used in company to agree on a plan of action. So MBH and I concocted some useful acronym, such as LUGTHOOH (Let us get the hell out of here) and HICSHAM (Help! I can’t stand him/her another minute).  Inevitably the insults became more personal, and on occasions at a drinks party, when I was holding forth to a group of people with glazed eyes, MBH would sidle up to me and say in a stage whisper ‘YABOB’ (You are being obsessively boring), and I would hiss back: ‘YIKSO’ (Yes, I know. Sod off!). We have the odd DOOM (Difference of opinion moment), but we never resort to GBH.

MBH’s most recent society goes under the acronym, PHIB which he pronounces ‘fib’, and its stated aim is to Put Humour Into Business.  As he and I spend most of our personal life doubled up in laughter, it seems appropriate that this should spill over into working life too, and because it’s such fun we’ve decided to encourage others to follow suit.

Since I spend a lot of time in my study, writing, reading … dreaming, I have developed the habit of leaving notes to remind myself of things I must do when I have time (TIMDWIHT) – such as ‘Buy Cat Food’,  ‘Cut Toe Nails’ and ‘Send Thank-You Letter’. I have a sheet of address stickers which are perfect for the job, and these reminders get stuck on the lamp, the telephone, the computer, a framed photograph or a paperweight. Inevitably, to save time when trying to fit in all non-creative activities into an ever decreasing window of time as my deadline get shorter and the spaces in between writing sessions gets less, these notes get shortened to BCF, CTN, and STYL. I waste precious time concocting witty acronyms and outrageous abbreviations, and then spend hours later on trying to work out what they mean. After all SSS could have meant ‘Send son socks’ or ‘Stop seeing sense’ or what it really meant : ‘Sow spring seeds’

I spent 15 minutes last week trying to decipher  PRAY, which is clearly important as I had stuck it three different places,  until I finally worked out that for once I hadn’t used an acronym at all.  I was reminding myself of the need to pray ‘continually’ as St Paul says. I then found two stickers which said PFE, and it took a while to work out this was not a spiritual exhortation, but simply a reminder to do one’s pelvic floor exercises.Acca and Abbs

I’ve had huge fun wasting the morning by writing this blog, but I really must get back to WIP (work in progress) on my next book. To conclude,  I should like to wish you all PEACE & HOPE in 2017 – Pursue Excellence And Cherish Everyone  & Hang Onto Positive Expectations.

Isn’t life Gr8?

Winterborne Slepe

Winterborne Slepe is the name of an imaginary village in Dorset, where much of the action in my new book takes place. Whilst I was searching for an appropriate name, I drove through a small village in the eastern part of the county called Slepe. The name appealed to me, and I hope that the residents of that village don’t mind if I borrow the name, but alter it slightly.  I have also discovered that there are a number of villages and hamlets in Dorset, which are prefixed by the word Winterborne, sometimes spelled Winterbourne. So what does it mean?

A ‘bourne’ is an Anglo-Saxon word for a stream which flows from a spring.  So a ‘winter’ bourne is a stream that flows only in the winter and often dries out in the summer, leaving dry beds or stagnant pools with green marshy grass. Much of Dorset is chalk downland with clay valleys, and in the winter the porous chalk is saturated with rainfall, but in dry summers, the water table falls below the level of  a stream’s bed so it dries out. This is what happens with the water courses in many of the Winterbornes,  but not with all of them and not every year. It rather depends on how much rain there has been.

Bridge_across_a_small_chalk_stream,_Winfrith_Newburgh._I live in a village with the word ‘bourne’ incorporated into the name, but our stream is not a ‘winter’ borne, but runs the whole year round, flowing through many gardens and along the main village road.  It might be a low trickle in the height of the summer but it gathers strength in the autumn, and in the winter I am always surprised how much water hurtles down.  It occasionally floods, when there has been torrential rain.  Now, in glorious May, the stream is in docile mood, dancing past our house chortling to all  the grasses and plants along its banks.

I have been doing research for my new novel all winter and creating characters and thinking about the plot. I have been longing to start the writing process. Earlier this month with the advent of spring,  I began putting words on the page. I set the scene in Winterborne Slepe. It takes time to write a book and I probably won’t finish it before the winter comes, or perhaps not until next spring. But however long it takes me, I’m going to enjoy it because I love writing and telling a story.

And I’ve still got to dream up a title for my book!

 

Moving on to new Work

I woke up the other morning with a bunch of plot ideas in connection with my next book, a novel to be set in Dorset. In the earlier part of the year, I was doing research on the locations and working on the back history of my main characters, but I’ve only mapped out an outline of the story and need to work on this.   The new project was inevitably put on the back-burner whilst I wrestled with the editing process, corrected proofs and worked with the publishers of ‘The Lost Journey Homeward’.  Then I’ve had to get involved in the promotion of the novel, now that it’s published, and I’ve had a number of book signings and events already with quite a few coming up soon. But bubbling up from within my head, like a spring of water that won’t stay below the surface, are ideas and enthusiasm for the book I now want to write.   Get out the notebook.  I’ve another story and it’s a work in progress.