Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Get bugging!

This post is later than I intended but is still just in time to let you know about Big Over-hearing Day tomorrow.

Promoted by Bugged, it is a mass 'happening' for writers in the UK. On July 1st they are asking you to eavesdrop, wherever you are - on the train, in the pub, at the checkout. What you overhear becomes the starting point for your writing. 

It's a great exercise in observation for writers - which of us can say we haven't caught snippets of real gems in passing from random strangers? When coming up with characters it's so important to give them different voices, and what better way to get a feel for different ways of expressing yourself than listening - really listening - to other people.

I shall be positioning myself in one or more likely locations and will post again about it if I come up with something juicy - hope you join me! The intention is to build a piece of writing based on these 'eavesdroppings' but they're often beauties in themselves:

Stressed mother to small child on Merseyrail near Bootle: 'You do tha' again an' Bob the Builder's goin' in the bin!' 

Bugged is also on here on Facebook and is organised by Glastonbury Poet-in-Residence Jo Bell.

p.s. does anyone like my new broken biro? I broke it myself.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Call for Random Facts

This is just a quickie - but do pass the idea on if you enjoy it.

Maria Zanini (currently stranded in Texas and in need of entertainment) asked her followers to post in the comments one random thing about themselves... and then carry the torch to our own blogs, list six more about themselves, and invite their own followers to do the same. The weirder the better. 

(Karen has something similar in Get on With It having been served with some kind of 'Honesty award'... some kind of ASBO I understand)

So here goes:

  1. I can recite Hamlet's soliloquy from memory (for no good reason) - which is why I am so rarely invited to parties
  2. I was once 'second reserve' on Who Wants to be a Millionaire... but nobody died
  3. I was a virgin bride in 1985 (used to be Catholic but alright now... well, I say 'alright...')
  4. I have never been arrested, but I have arrested someone ... that's another story for another time
  5. I was filing my books, CDs, DVDs, poems, herbs and spices into alphabetical order LONG before I started the library job (but not the clothes - that would be silly. They go in colour order of course!)
  6. I'm chronically indecisive, often paralyzed by indecision - I can also see both sides of every coin/ argument. 
  7. I'm a born-again gardener - grow loads of veggies, fruit and pretty stuff - but I've never successfully grown a gazebo from seed.

There we go - I've shown you mine, now show me yours on your own blogs - and drop a note in the comments box when you have!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Dogs, (no) Dinners and the Dead

Have a look at this picture: a romantic scene of young(ish) love? 

It's in the local tourism brochure - but who are the people pictured? In this case J and J - the council's graphic designers, forced to pose for the latest publicity-fest. And they REALLY don't get on! 

She's probably piercing his foot with her stilletto and he probably had something VERY garlicky for dinner to make it doubly unpleasant if they insist on a snogging shot. (They wouldn't dare).

The picture IS taken in Wirral - but I've eaten on the patio of Sheldrakes Restaurant, overlooking the Dee Estuary, so I KNOW they are freezing their tits off too. And they won't have got their dinner. That's water in the glasses.

When I worked for the council's PR team we discontinued using filed shots of the public after I inadvertently put some dead people on the front of the Council Tax demand. I don't mean they were dead in the picture (in a 'pay up or you're next' sort of way). That would have just been wrong. But they had popped their clogs since the picture was taken and the family were upset when it arrived in the post. That was when we started only using staff. They were on tap and they didn't cost anything.

I was on the Wirral Events Guide in 2009 and they wouldn't even let us pop the champagne... we had to look like we were just about to pop it.  

I'm just getting involved in Wirral Bookfest again, this time fighting in the libraries' corner and not PR's.

Here are some of the silly wittily ironic pics referencing great books that we did for the first one in 2008.

...these are all people I worked with and begged, bribed or threatened to take part... 

The beer, on this occasion was real beer on account of the fact that (a) it is difficult to replicate and (b) see 'bribe' above.

The boy with the guitar was the 'face of recycling' for years because of a picture his mum (you guessed - another PR person) took at a bottle bank when he was 5! 

J was left to his own devices while I was away last year and tried to convince everyone that a picture of someone on the loo reading 'Gone With the Wind' was a great idea! *sighs*

The hardest one was getting the dog (Fizz!) to look like she was reading. There was another dog - Goober - but he wanted his own trailer and hairdresser.

So look again at publicity shots and ask yourselves: is one arm twisted behind their back? Is that cute kid now a stroppy teen? Are they even still alive?

p.s. What do you think about the new header / layout?  I've been tinkering and I'm not so sure.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Austerity Measures

Times of austerity are here, they tell us – a reigning in (of wild horses?), the tightening of belts, the empty larder, the gathering clouds, the doom, the gloom.

But which of us can say, hand on heart, that we don't have too much stuff, that we could get by without the lava lamp, the novelty egg timer or the impulse-bought 'must-have' espadrilles crafted by the tiny grubby fingers of child labourers? (insert your own foibles here)

The aesthete would say that a life of simplicity is the ideal - just enough to eat, no worldly distractions, self-sufficiency. A loaf of bread, a cup of wine, and thou...sands of books at your local library - for now (though they wouldn't dare trying to close Wirral Libraries after what happened last time.)

If Osbourne wants a list of which services to cut back on, here are 10 suggestions of what should be first up against the wall:

  • Public sector award dinners
  • 50% of all meetings
  • Bankers' bonuses
  • 'Think-tanks'
  • Tank tanks
  • 75% of public sector PR and marketing
  • Local authorities sponsoring football teams
  • Subsidies to farmers not to grow stuff
  • The space programme
  • ...oh, and the war, the weapons, the bombs, the missiles

But don't panic! There are plenty of things we can all do to 'pull in our horns' (that's one for the Inky Fool), save money and make our own lives more sustainable: 

  • Re-use and repair old jokes
  • Shop around for cut-price air – it's just as good as full-fat
  • Only eat second hand food
  • Get rid of the dog and buy a bargain-basement budgie... some of them really go cheap!
  • Sell your soul on eBay - top prices paid
  • Use your library - spend your days sitting near the thrillers smelling of wee
  • Save water costs! Share a bath with a neighbour
  • Turn off your brain at the mains when you're not using it
  • Repair any broken promises or hearts (you might need a 'handy man' to do this)
  • Become a 'friend of the preserving pan' (pictured)

Next week:  How to grow your own gazebo from seed  

Related post: Time of the Signs - more amusing political posters