Automatic Pilot

When was the last time you had one of those automatic pilot episodes?


I had one today. This afternoon i left work, it wasn’t even my normal office, and got out on to Tottenham Court Road. From there things go a bit hazy. I remember wandering along, bumbling into Warren Street tube station and heading down the escalators and getting on to a train.


The next thing I know, I have travelled along on the tube, got off the train, come up escalators and appeared out blinking in to the afternoon sunshine. Nothing wrong with that you might think. However the plan was that I was going to head to Victoria and get a train direct to Crawley. Only there I was stood outside Euston station.


So, not only had I gone the wrong way, but I’d got off a stop earlier than I should have done if I was thinking of getting the train from St Pancras to Three Bridges.


I couldn’t find any traces of blood, so I will assume that I didn’t stab anyone whilst I was in my fugue state.


At least it was a nice sunny day for a walk down Euston Road.

Sweary Rant Number 1 – We Hate Tall People

Honestly, all this inclusiveness bollocks gets more annoying everyday Mainly because for everything people and companies do to make them seem more inclusive, the more they end up excluding people.


It’s very much in vogue for new offices being built, or old ones being refitted to have everything fitted at a much lower height than had previously been the case. Entrance access swipe pads and exit buttons have dropped by a couple of feet. Desks, tables and chairs are all lower down, and the worst of all, toilets in cubicles are so low, that if they got any lower they would just be a hole in the floor.


The reasoning behind this is to make all these things more accessible fro disabled people and people of limited height. What the fuckers who did this failed to take into account was tall people. Now, at just over six – one, I don’t consider myself to be that tall, especially not nowadays as the average height keeps going up. Yet it seems that most new office builds that I go to now actively discriminate against tall people.


You want to swipe yourself in to the building, then you have to bend down.

You want to let yourself out of the building, then you have to bend down.

Sit at a desk at all, here’s a winch to lower yourself down with. Don’t worry about your knees being rammed in against the bottom of the desk.

As for toilets, who in their right mind thinks it’s acceptable to have the seat at mid shin level? For fuck’s sake, the toilet seats weren’t that fucking low when i was at nursery school. I’ve seen potties higher up than that. No one needs to have to go to the toilet, only to find they can’t see the cubicle door because their head is lower than their knees.


Stop discriminating against tall people and have multiple height access, seats, desks and bogs.



Visions of Splat!

For the second time in under a year, I thought that I’d killed Charlie this afternoon.


The first time was when he keeled over like a punch drunk boxer on a hot day last year. I’d had him chasing balls and sticks around the park at the back of the house. He’d tried to walk and couldn’t. He had overheated and his poor little legs wouldn’t work. Having never had a pet I didn’t know that he did this occasionally. I carried him home only to get there and for him to run about the house like a loon.


Today was different. We’d been out walking Charlie around Southgate playing fields and the Hawth woods. We were walking parallel to Southgate Avenue, and Charlie had been chasing the ball all afternoon. I threw it down the path in front of us as normal. Only it didn’t quite go as planned.


The ball hit a dustbin by the side of the path, and being a circular bin it shot off at an angle. The angle happened to be straight down the slope and path that led to Southgate Avenue. Charlie didn’t care and carried on chasing it. We both shouted for Charlie to stop, and thankfully he did, just at the point where the path disappeared behind the hedge.


When we got to the path we could see the ball sat in the middle of the road. Well for a split second we could. Just before the number 10 bus ran it over and it disappeared up the road at thirty miles an hour.


I had visions of that being Charlie on the road. Thankfully it wasn’t, but it was enough to give us both palpitations.


I finished writing my second book today. When I typed the last word, it felt great. Then I made sure I saved the thing. Not once, or even twice, I must have hit that little save icon at the top of the screen half a dozen times,


Then I looked at the word count. Over 101,000 words. Over the last ten months at various intervals, whilst going to the writing group, writing other short stories and travelogues. Whilst working full time, and doing countless other things, I’ve managed to write an entire book.


In fact, it’s not just the single book, it’s the fact that there is plot and a plan for two other books to make it a trilogy. Granted it won’t be Star Wars, or Lord of The Rings, but if you had told me 18 months ago I would have two complete novels written, I would have laughed in your face.


The thing for this one is that it started out life as a Drabble – a 100-word piece of fiction. There was no plan to do anything else with it. But something about those 100 words demanded more from me, and so I started to write.


Of course, now that I have finished writing it, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of the journey. The first book I wrote tells me that. I edited that one four times, I’ve had various people read it for me and point out errors and corrections needed. That piece of work is now in the state of trying to see if I can get it published. No easy feat. That can take longer than writing the book in the first place. Though if it takes the fifteen years from first words written in an old edition of Surerandomality to completion, I’ll probably be dead before it is published.


I’m going to leave book two for a few weeks before I look to start any serious editing on it. Enjoy the fact that it’s all out of my head and onto paper – or at least hard drive – and relax and do some other shorter pieces. I’ve got some volunteers lined up to read it already, they can take the rough draft if they want it before the summer is through though.


Then it will be on to the next one to write. All while trying to get the first two published via the old-school methods of finding an agent or publisher to work with. If that doesn’t work after a couple of years, then I’ll look at self-publishing.



Not A Record Year

Most people who know me know that I’ve always been slightly obsessed with music. I can’t remember the last time I went more than a week or so without buying music in one format or another. It may not have always been new music. I’ve spent countless hours wandering around charity shops, second hand stalls jumble sales and car boot sales looking for music.


Over the years I’ve built up massive collections twice, having to start from scratch in 2001. Since the dawn of mp3s I’ve rarely gone anywhere without an mp3 player, and have ran out of space on pc’s, laptops, and external drives on more than one occasion.


I’ve always been a vinyl junkie, and since vinyl has been taking off again over the last few years, when I’ve bought new music it’s normally been on vinyl. Most new releases tend to come with download codes, so I have the physical thing of beauty that is a vinyl LP, and the portability of listening to it whilst on the move. I’ve probably bought a new release every week.


However, this year it’s not been like that. I haven’t been in a record shop all year. I’ll qualify that by saying HMV isn’t really a record shop, and I’ve been in there a couple of times to get presents for people, but I haven’t bought anything for myself. I’ve not looked at the offerings in the supermarkets. Sainsburys, Asda, and even Aldi have vinyl selections, but I’ve been walking straight past. Charity shops have been getting short shrift as well. Crawley’s vast array of charity shops must have seen a substantial downturn in earnings so far this year. Not even Amazon has seen any musical action. I haven’t listened to a single thirty second track preview.


It got all the way through to week twelve of the year before I bought any music for myself. Even then it was only the ubiquitous Now That’s What I Call Music release. Number 99 in what is now a never-ending sequence. I have them all, either on Vinyl through to the early twenties, or then on CD from the twenties on. It’s more out of habit now than anything else. I may have bought it, but I’ve only listened to the first four or so tracks.


I still have a backlog of tracks to listen to from albums I bought at the back end of last year. I just don’t seem to have the time or inclination to listen to a lot of music. I rarely travel that much nowadays, the hours of having the iPod plugged in to block out the general public as I walked, bussed, or got the train anywhere has shrunk down to probably an hour or so a week.


The decks sit on top of the unit next to the sofa I sit on in the living room. Yet it barely gets used. Thousands of records adorn the units on the opposite wall, yet the sense of apathy around playing any of them seems to grow by the day. So much so that I’ve committed to having a thorough sort out and selling a number of them. Something else that I’m struggling to getting around to.


Part of me wonders if I’ve hit that stage where music is over for me. A constant companion over the years, especially as I had no television for several them, it has now drifted away into a casual background acquaintance that I barely seem to recognise. Or is it that this writing I now find myself doing has taken over? Do I avoid playing music and using my senses to accept incoming stimuli so that I can concentrate on outputting streams of consciousness instead? Or is it somewhere in between the two?


I hope it is not the end of my musical fascination, it would be a terrible way for it to end. Yet it is not something I can force, I think I’ll just have to wait it out and see if it does come back to me, hoping that the apathy will depart.


Perhaps once I’ve sold some of these records and CD’s that I’m sorting out, and had that kind of cathartic clear out, it will clear my mind out and it will all come back to me.


Listening to Now 99 too much isn’t necessarily going to help.