Tag Archives: neutral

How to be a Christmas cracker

To keep you going till Friday, here are some top tips of how to win friends and influence people this festive season. In other words – how to be a Christmas cracker.

1. Challenge your friends to these ten bets you cannot lose. (Unless they read this post.) Up to you what you wager – mince pies, whiskey, truth, dare or embarrassing forfeit?

2. Confound gender stereotyping by presenting gifts of toy guns to girls and dolls to boys – as recommended by this Swedish toy catalogue.

Actually, that’s not quite fair. They’re portraying the toys as gender neutral, rather than suggesting one sort of toy should be for girls and one for boys. But still – the pictures did not look at all as odd to me as I was expecting.

Oh no! I’ve become irredeemably right-on. On the other hand…

3. To redeem myself. I’ve been driving around with a 72-pint barrel of beer in the boot (trunk). How manly.

Not a full one obviously. Mostly drunk by now. Oh, and there was the little matter of the tap coming loose and the barrel leaking. Leaking over the boot. Swilling around. Pooling in the spare wheel cavity. How stinky.

If I get stopped by the police it’ll be very difficult to persuade them that I’m absolutely sober behind the wheel.

4. And finally. You remember how I callously sent Top Boy out hiking into the hard rain, iciness, windiness and mist? Some of you (ie Nigel) were wondering how he got on – especially considering that he had to have special permission to take part as he was underage – the youngest competitor in the overnight competition. It was nasty weather – you may have seen it mentioned on the news this week – and many teams and individuals pulled out during the competition. The Grimsdyke Hike. Grim by name. Grim by nature. But – and you can probably guess where this is leading – guess who won the Senior Competition? Oh yeah. Oh yeah. He and his Scout team mates rule.

It’s okay to boast about someone else’s achievement, isn’t it?

Look. I had to tell someone.

So I thought I might as well tell everyone.

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Filed under friends, In the village

Attention seeking

Please don't invade us! It's manky here. (Bigger version below.)

Writing is attention seeking. You want readers. But there’s no guarantee they’ll like what they read. And then there may be those who never actually read a word you’ve written, but form opinions through hearsay.

Those were the fellas on my mind even before I started. My book, Blackwatertown, is fiction. But it’s set in a real time, the 1950s IRA border campaign. And it’s based on real events which involved real people.

Some people whose views I respect urged caution on me when they learned I what planned to write. Not because they feared it would be rubbish. (Or if they did, they were too polite to say.) But because they feared what people might think.

Those dread words. The book might trouble people, offend them or annoy them. Even worse – it might attract attention.

You’d imagine attention would be a prerequisite to getting published and selling a few copies. But when the normal modus operandi is “Whatever you say, say nothing” – drawing attention is discouraged.

Of course loads of people write prose or poetry, sing or create images related to violent times in Ireland. And good for them. Perhaps, like I have, they decided to put other people’s sincere concerns to one side and plough on regardless.

Now I’m close to completing my Blackwatertown story, brows around me are furrowing again. While I’m worrying if anyone will publish/read/enjoy the book, others are dreading adverse reactions. Will publication dredge up old resentments? How far might critics, especially the hearsay merchants, go to express their disdain? What might be the practical consequences? Who might be vulnerable?

When people pass on warnings to me, I do take them seriously. But living life head down, shoulder hunched is a waste. So, publishers permitting, the book carries on.

And to any critics tempted to vent their criticism in an extreme fashion. Please at least buy a copy of Blackwatertown when it comes out, before you do something unpleasant. It’s only fair.

Ireland - Not Worth Invading, Honest... This map comes from the incomparable Strange Maps website. The map title is "Cautious Cartography". Apparently it appeared in the August 1940 issue of the Irish satirical magazine Dublin Opinion. According to Strange Maps: The map purports to portray Ireland in as unappealing a perspective as possible. The text accompanying the map explains how cartography may be at least partly to blame for Europe’s misfortune: " Feeling that the present unrest in Europe may have been largely caused by the well-intended, but highly mistaken policy pursued by countries of boasting about their natural advantages and attractions, a policy which has had the not unnatural result of exciting the cupidity of other countries, our Grangegorman Cartographer has designed the above map of Ireland, which is calculated to discourage the inhabitants, much less strangers. The trouble is, he feels, that, even as depicted, the country still looks more attractive than the rest of Europe." Well, yes, that'll be World War Two, Southern Ireland remained neutral during the conflict, managing to avoid invasion by either Britain or Germany, (though many volunteered to serve in the Allied forces). NB: Obviously it's all lovely in Ireland these days. Come and invest, why don't you?

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Filed under history, My Writing