Not being first fish

fish in pond - morguefileIt’s Spring finally and the warmer weather – almost certainly temporary as there’s a Bank Holiday coming up – drew me out to sit by the pond. The fish were beginning to circle, half expecting to be fed but not quite remembering yet what that entails, and I was reminded of an incident a couple of summers ago…

St George’s Day, April 23rd

england flagGood ol’ Enger-land, still here and shouting the odds with the big boys despite being Empire-less and, currently, lacking any sort of government as we dangle between the dissolution of parliament and the Britain’s Got Talent final on May 6th when we pick our new Head Boy.

Of course when we do choose our new boss, we’ll be inflicting him on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too whether they like it or not. Or they’ll be sticking it to us, safe in the knowledge that they have their own devolved governments so they can vote with impunity for the party most likely to stitch up the English by making education inaccessible and prescriptions affordable to only those with an offshore bank account.

Well, we will take revenge. In an unholy alliance of tradition, spite, and quantities of home-brewed beer, we will take to the streets wearing bells, braces, and daft hats to hop around in circles, whacking at each other with big sticks. Anyone left with teeth at the end of the day is a sissy. In fact anyone who hasn’t been arrested at least twice before sun down is probably going to find themselves the subject of local gossip and suspicion. After all, there’s bound to be fights in the name of honour and who wouldn’t want to stand up for their glorious English Principles? Trouble is, a lot of the principles (and the darn flag too) have been hijacked by the political far right and re-construed to mean something entirely dis-honourable so that the elderly matron who just wants the banks to behave can find herself allied with a gang of racist reprobates in a scrap with a platoon of militant hippies. And if that image doesn’t make you want to retreat to a duck pond somewhere with teams of cavorting Morris dancers assaulting each others’ molars, I don’t know what will!

Wish us a happy day, we’re just learning to be English again and taking our flag back from the bigots. The dragon these days wears a suit and St George carries a voting slip instead of a sword. We need the daft hats to remind us we’re all human and we can laugh our way to our multi cultural freedoms.

morris dancers

Morris Dancers by Flagcrackers

This post is, evidently, super-awesome

At least that’s what the new button on my WordPress dashboard promises. I can’t vouch for that but, since some people who have activated a ‘surprise me’ feature on their blog have seemingly seen funny videos and humanising effects on their blog traffic pages, I’m giving it a go. Of course they might just have eaten an out-of-date yogurt but when I press this much larger PUBLISH button to my right, we could all find out soon enough. Hang onto your hats, here we go….

Don’t come visiting northern Europe today – we’re shut!

sky with no planes

Look - no planes!

Ok, I don’t live near a major airport but you could view this as an exemplar of the skies over GB-PLC today and it hasn’t happened before EVER! Because of Iceland’s reprehensible inability to control the behaviour of its volcanoes, pretty much the whole of Europe has been grounded and can’t expect to be on its way again until tomorrow at the earliest. Most people have been pretty phlegmatic about it; after all, it’s in rather poor taste to criticise Mother Nature, not to mention fairly pointless. That didn’t stop one chap, with a degree in Advanced Twerp self evidently, from remarking that, since the ash was not laying on the ground, he couldn’t see why his plane (which would be in the AIR with the ASH – hello!) should not take off.

Personally, I was looking forward to the spectacular sunset but I think we’ve been short-changed on that one. Maybe I can get it on TiVo…

Authors and writers in Second Life

cafe in second lifeJust a little while ago, we were talking about the kinds of support we get from other writers and how we value the small communities that build up around blogs and tweets. Some of us are beginners with little to offer except awe for those who are into their third novel. Published or not, that’s tenacity, and if so far they haven’t hooked a publisher, this may say more about the vastness of the market than the quality of their work. If you can’t find ’em, you can’t impress ’em, and as the same principle applies in reverse, getting an airing for your product is an imperative.

But how to do this? How to rise above the sheer oceanic mass of other wannabes, float above the rest on the literary tide, and (to do the metaphor to death) avoid catching a crab of a duff publishing outfit? Self evidently, social networking has to be part of the answer although some balk at its apparent trivialising and intrusive drip-feeding of drivel into every minute cranny of our day. Like it or not though, it’s here and it’s probably staying, so we’d better buy it slippers and set a place at the table for it.

I have to admit I don’t find that too much of a problem. It took me a while to get to grips with twitter and blogs but now that I have, I really do see their potential for showcasing, communicating, supporting and generally getting oneself  ‘out there’. Assuming ‘out there’ is in any mood to listen, that is. But there’s another platform that takes the whole business one step further. Suppose you could hire a smart-looking venue and invite your writer/blogger community to come and listen as you read some of your work? Suppose you could engage in discussion with all of them at once wherever they were in the world? Imagine if you could see each other, sit next to each other, have a bit of a boogie to relax? And what if you could do this without any of you having to leave your homes?

For all sorts of reasons, I spend a fair bit of time in Second Life. I had a meeting there today with a research colleague to discuss doing a joint live seminar from our simulation next week – him from one part of the country and me from another. I’ve met artists and musicians who display their work at venues in Second Life, some by streaming their music live into a purpose designed club with a multinational audience. Indigo Mertal is a Second Life designer and artisan who is part of a group called East River Community which is one of the most beautiful areas in SL that I have seen. Indigo is very interested in thinking about hosting events for writers wanting a place to meet and talk about their work, and I’m interested in passing along the idea because I think this would be a fantastic development.

And maybe also because I quite like the idea of going ‘out’, meeting up with nice people, having a great time, and not needing to run for the last bus in impossible heels. Actually, I’ll be there anyway, all you have to do is sign up and teleport over!

Here are some more photos to pique your interest:

second life cafe area second life cafe area

Maude: no place like home…

No Place Like Home

Maude ran a finger along the shelf ‘Nurse Simmons!’ she called out. ‘More attention to the dust and less to the new registrar if you don’t mind!’ continued