Love Conkers All

I walked into town this morning, four and a half miles gently downhill into the bowl of London, the chalk basin where Soho, Mayfair, Bloomsbury, Marylebone and divers other of the villages that constitute the West End have their jostling, bumptious beings.

There’s that thing in the air. That thing. That thing that goes with the first yellowing of the leaf, the hint of chill in the air, the extra urgency of bicycles and the bright blue brand new George of Asda V-necks worn by schoolchildren on the pavements starting the new school year. That thing that stings the nostrils and fills the brain with an equal measure of dread and delight.

And the conkers. Conkers gleaming like jewels in their split pods. Conkers rolling into the road, splattered by four-by-fours late for the school gates. Conkers ready to be strung and swung in the playground.

Summer, spring and winter have their qualities, their affinities and associations (“Where are the songs of spring? Aye, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too” or words to that effect) but this time of year alone summons the terrors of termtime.

That thing is as delicious as it is dreadful. A terrible memory and a memory for which one yearns.

Or perhaps it’s just me.

stephen

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Emerging into the Light

A deadline met: such relief. You would think that after so many years I might have mastered the art – not of writing – but of putting myself in a position to write. Many writers are, like me, fascinated by process. From an early age I wanted to know whether authors worked by morning or night, whether they typed or wrote by hand and if so on what kind of paper, whether they had their backs to the window, drank wine, sat, stood or lay on their backs with their legs in the air.

I don’t profess to understand the reasons, but I work best in the mornings. And by mornings I mean mornings. When I have any serious piece of writing to complete I start by getting up early, about 6 say, and I sit in front of my computer screen till mid-afternoon. As the days pass the hour of rising becomes earlier and earlier until I’m going to bed at 7 or 8 at night and flinging back the duvet ready to write at 4 or even 3 in the morning.

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Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn

Professor Higgins opens the My Fair Lady Song, “I’ve Thrown A Custard in her Face” with a long string of Damns, which I am in a mood to repeat. I have a ten-ton deadline hanging over me suspended by a single human hair. If I don’t stay and stare at my screen all day every day until I have bled out a screenplay I will have my nipples torn from me like medals from the tunic of a disgraced officer and Shame will know me for her own.

Douglas Adams liked deadlines: “I love the loud whooshing noise they make as they go past,” he said. My deadline has whooshed past four times and this is now IT. I deliver or ELSE.

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Servers With A Smile

Nothing more than a housekeeping miniblog today, I’m afraid, but it might interest those of you who like contemplating the astonishing power of volume.

I have for some time now been very wary of tweeting or retweeting URLs, however worthy the cause. The high (and entirely gratifying) number of followers that I have accumulated on Twitter means that when I point them towards a site it can often get almost instantly stampeded and flattened, swamped and strangulated. Only news pages and similar big name sites can withstand such a rush. I feel like the most awful bully and vandal when, within seconds, a tenderly cared for, loved and valued site goes down. It has taken me a long time to learn the lesson. Distributed Denial Of Service style slashdotting assaults and instant clamouring of this nature is akin to thousands of people all trying to get into a medium-sized shop at the same time. The weary shop-keeper, brushing away the broken glass into the street, turns to me and shakes his head. “But you asked me to alert people to your place, you insisted that it would be fine…” I say. He shakes his head and turns his back on me. Isn’t there some sort of cartoon character or figure in children’s literature who tries to be friendly but can’t help being clumsy and breaking everything and gets run out of town? Seems to ring a bell. Anyway, that’s me.

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Office Slavery

I don’t think I need explain how much I love the world of tech. I love the software and hardware and firmware and wares of all gradations on the digital Moh Scale in between. I love smartphones and watches and ebooks and media players and social networking services and maxiblogs and miniblogs and microblogs. I love audioboo and audiobooks. I love earphones and earplugs and visors and touchscreens and MUDs and HUDs and apps and apple and applets.

And yet. Oh and yet…

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