A new look.

Captain’s log, dated January 17th, 2023.

If you’re just passing by then you haven’t a farts hope in the wind of noticing the changes I’ve made to my blog. If that’s the case then please believe it’s quite different and, I think, better. Bet you’re pleased to know that aren’t you?

Why have I done this? Well, I suppose its a bit like my approach to revising for an important exam – one has to spend at least a day creating a plan, getting in the right frame of mind, and generally easing into an unfamiliar situation. Jeez…

… as I write this, the dog has just dropped an epic air buffet that is both offensive and impressive.

I am not preparing for an exam. Instead, I prepare for this competition. The opportunity for professional rejection is too good to pass up and so I will see what mangled tale I can weave. Today I have compiled a reading list, for research purposes of course, and I’ve painstakingly redesigned this blog space to, well, feel a bit more writer-ish. I would say it’s working so far… WTF…

… for the love of God. The dog is dropping bombs like a Lancaster over Dresden. I’d better walk him


Another crack of the whip…

That’s a bit of shit title in fairness. *Quick Google*

“Crack the whip”: An expression for using one’s authority to urge subordinates to work harder or behave better

So it doesn’t really fit does it? Unless I assume my brain is the subordinate, or my motivation, or self-discipline perhaps. Take your pick. The point I am trying to make is that I’ve been here before, trying to resurrect my writing mojo so many times that its become a bit of a joke.

What’s kicked it off this time? A few things, but chiefly, events in my life have forced some inward reflection on what really matters. I won’t bore you with the details of what my introspection revealed other than to say materialism seems to be a constant and vacuous part of my life. Such thoughts push one to want to change and grasp those things that mean something, create memories, affect oneself and those around us. One quick and easy way I have found that shines a brilliant light on areas of my life that are quite possibly a bit pointless, is to look closely at the outgoings from my bank. I have no mortgage, and yet £800 a month leaves my bank that is not connected to any necessary household bill, food (of which I mean food for the family) or fuel. £800 is attached to various subscriptions, gadgets, toys, or takeaways. That’s a lot of money. A quick scroll back through my banking app reveals that this is a near constant monthly expenditure with variations of plus or minus £100. I tested this by going through each transaction and asking myself if I really needed to spend that, and worryingly the answer was no.

This made me wonder if I could live on a significantly lower income, and if so, could that mean I could drop hours at work or even go part-time? It’s a reasonable assumption but the reality is, probably not. There is a saying in my family I’ve come to accept and believe. It something like “no mon, no fun.” Basically, no money = no fun.

I know I could live on significantly less. I know it. But would I enjoy it? Well, I’d have to find a completely different way of living. I’d have to give up a lot of things I spend money on now. A very quick search of my spending history shows that my top two expenditures are on takeaways/alcohol (family/friends/socialising) and then gadgets/toys – bits for my computer, my motorcycle, clothes. I spend a lot on other people too, at least a few hundred each month and I think that stems from not really caring a great deal about money. Sounds easy to say, and if I’m honest I probably only feel that way because I have money to spare and don’t miss it. I’m pretty sure I would feel different if I was on a lower income and struggling to put food on the table or fuel in the car.

Another constant and reoccurring feeling is that I never joined the army, or any of the forces. I think I believed that was my path from when I was barely old enough to understand what the army was, right up until I was in my twenties and received a fateful letter. That letter informed me I was not eligible on medical grounds. I can recite every word of that letter. To this day I wish I’d appealed, but instead I got on with life. I went for uniform, perhaps stupidly thinking it would be the same existence as one might hope for in the military, and joined the ambulance service. Anyone who has worked in the ambulance service will tell you that of the three services (fire, police, ambulance), the ambulance is perhaps the furthest from any semblance of military life. The sheer lack of discipline make those who decide to join more akin to pirates of the road. I enjoyed my time with them anyway and made some good friends, so its not all bad.

What’s the point of all this? Well, I love writing. I’d love to do it more often and very occasionally I have a real crack at it. At my peak I was cranking out two or three short stories a month and even had some small success in selling them. It is, to me, extremely enjoyable. I love to try and write the stories that I want to read. Unfortunately, I have a full time job and (happily) a family and so my time is limited. I’ve often wondered if I can go part-time and therefore spend more time reading and writing, but the reality is that I don’t think I could. Sure, I might enjoy it for a while, but I’d soon miss all those comforts I obviously take for granted now. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe it will just remain a hobby forever and I’ll never write my Legend, as David Gemmell did, coincidentally becoming one himself, I might add.

That will do for tonight anyway, or knowing me, this year, if my output on here is anything to go by.

Let me know your thoughts on this if you can spare a few minutes and jot a few sentences. I know I’m not the only one with aspirations to write and no time to do it.

Love to you all,


Bitten again.

The so-called writing bug found me again last night and bit deep so that this morning I woke with an unquenchable desire to have another crack at writing my own stuff.

A few years ago, when I was keen on it, I had some limited success. I went through the stage that many who aspire to write go through and penned story after story, in countless different genres and sent them all into the aether. I lived through the waiting as though it were torture, the waiting to hear if a submission had been accepted. Eventually, I learned that hearing nothing is normal and, to get a response, particularly a personal response, was the next best thing to an acceptance. After what felt like years, the responses started to appear in my inbox. Not too long after that, they became more frequent. At the height of my “success”, I was receiving as many as two personalised rejections a month. If you’ve never tried to get your stories out there, for someone else to like your stuff and want to publish it, you just won’t understand what joy even a personalised “no” can bring.

“Thank you for your submission, Mark. We enjoyed the story but we don’t feel that now is the right time for this particular story. Why not try again in a few months?”

“Thank you for entering the competition, Mark. Your story, Dogs with swords for tales was very well written. Your style is very accessible and we are sure that in time you will find success. Please consider us again for future submissions. We’d very much like you to consider our upcoming competition in September.”

Close but no cigar.

However, not long after that, I started to receive the odd acceptance. The editors were often with online magazines rather than actual print, but an acceptance, wherever it comes from is like heroin to a writer. Within a very short space of time, I had three of my stories accepted for publication. I think they all came in the same month if I recall.

So what happened? Life happened. Like everyone else in this world who has commitments, namely family, work, pets, social life etc., it all takes its toll. My firstborn son tipped the balance for me. He has brought immense joy, but the cost is paid for in time. To a writer, time is currency. After family, it is the single most precious thing in the world.

With that thought in mind, this morning I had read through the bits and pieces I was writing just before life intervened. I had hoped to be able to pick up where I left off but sadly I don’t think that will be possible. Writing is a craft and needs working at. There are things I’ve produced in the past that now, reading them, I can’t fathom how my mind was working or how I made the connections I did. I like a lot of what I wrote before. I like where it was going and feeling in those words. Man, finding that again is going to be hard.

There is a submission window opening in a few days for a horror anthology. I’m going to try and submit something into it. Who knows, if I bag myself another personal rejection then I’ll know I’m onto a winner.


Put the pizza down!

I should really write this on my other ‘fat-fighting’ blog, but I’m ashamed to do so. That particular blog is steadily picking up followers, many of whom I’m sure are also deeply embroiled in their own battle of the bulge, and so I would feel a tad guilty admitting to what I’m about to.

A few days ago I made a commitment to making a serious effort to combat the pork. I wanted to drop, I forget now, maybe 10lb in two weeks. A tall order for anyone I reckon, but I confidently said ‘yep, no problem. I’ll be thin as a rake in no time at all.’ Then it occurred to me that I’ve made this same promise, or variations of it so many times that it’s getting a bit dull now. I simply like food too much.

I’ve been off work for most of the week. An accumulation of untaken leave has forced my hand to stay at home and take the leave else I risk losing it.

One good thing about this is that I’ve been able to stave off boredom by getting back into reading and writing. A bad thing about this is that I’m just sitting at home with my head in a book and my hand on a pie, or a sandwich. Furthermore, come the evening, which is traditionally my weakest time, I like to have a tipple of wine too. The problem right now is that I haven’t been out today to get myself tonights bottle. So, for the past half hour, I’ve contemplated going out to the local coop which is only five minutes drive and buying myself a bottle. Then I remembered there is a pizza takeaway place on the same street. I could stop there and order my pizza, then while it cooks I could go get my wine. If I left now I’d probably be home by half eight and catch the second half the football (Chelsea Vs Man Utd).

I know I shouldn’t… but the soul is weak… the pizza is sooooo good.

Should I stay or should I go?

Daylight savings

Okay. It’s 04:15 and my son has decided its time to get up. I could scream.

Even if the clocks hadn’t just gone back, this would be early, even for him. My wife and I generally have a rule that we won’t get up before 6am. We will tell him he needs to roll over and go back to sleep. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to work today. His body clock hasn’t adjusted. I might convince him to roll over for half an hour, but that still means getting up before 5am.

I decided the only thing for it was to succumb to the inevitable and get up. At least I can look forward to a strong coffee.

07:00 – We’ve been up for what feels like a day. One of the major problems of living in a tiny house is that the noise carries very well to every room. My wife is due to work nights tonight, which means she will have a lay-in this morning. The boy and I are basically creeping around the house whispering to each other. It’s nigh on impossible to entertain a toddler in silence. I can try with an iPad, but other than that nothing will be open in town until at least 9am. Oh my god, time is dragging.

I can’t help but feel like I’ve been stitched up here. I’m on annual leave as well. I took the Saturday and Sunday off on the promise that a friend could get tickets for Norwich Vs Manchester United. Sadly, he couldn’t get the tickets and so I have the time off and nothing planned. Obviously, as I’m not doing anything then my wife has decided that she’ll work. Part of me wonders why I didn’t just cancel the leave and go to work myself. Sure, I would have been up early but I’m also sure the day would be going a damn sight quicker than it is right now. Better, I could have done my own shift on overtime. Sigh.

07:15 – I’ve come to the realisation that I have no idea why the clocks go back and forward each year…

*Opens Google. Types in ‘Why do the clocks go back each year?’*

07:30 – Fascinating. It would appear there is no clear understanding about why we change the clocks. There are opposing opinions but no concrete reason about why we do it. This bizarre practise began in the early 20th century when it was successfully argued that changing the clocks would avoid wasting time in the morning. So, the clocks roll back to what was then Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which was in place before British Summer Time. Some dude called William Willet, who loved horse riding, wished to make the most of summer mornings by making the clocks go forward an hour. Unfortunately, this cretin died in 1915 before the change came in. Therefore, he was not around to explain to his fellow man why he was such a blithering idiot intent on buggering up mornings for his mates. Incidentally, his great-great-great-grandson is Chris Martin (of Coldplay no less), and he wrote a song called Clocks in tribute to this. I’m not a fan of Coldplay anyway, but I am wondering if Gwyneth Paltrow came to realise the roots of madness within the Martin family upon experiencing this bizarre clock changing ritual. I can just imagine her raging at her estranged husband ‘this is your fucking fault’, over a morning bagel. Just so you know, Mr Willet wanted to advance the clocks by 80 minutes, in four separate moves of 20 minutes each. Thankfully, the House of Common Sense rejected the bill.

Despite the fact that the practice is clearly one for the demented and one of those odd things to have survived the past for no good reason, there are people today who still argue in favour of changing the clocks. There are arguments on both sides of course and I urge you to look these up and read them for yourself. I’m confident you’ll find that most arguments in favour are pretty weak and that the practise just doesn’t reflect our modern way of living.

08:00 – I was surprised to learn that in March 2019, the European Union agreed to end the practice of changing clocks with all states of the European Union with effect from 2021. Tell me, is there a better reason to vote Remain??

Right, I’ve ranted enough. More coffee is required.


Keep Calm & Carry On

I’m calmer today. The car saga is over for now – the dreaded engine management light has remained off and so I’m hopeful of some trouble-free motoring throughout the months ahead.

I’ve learned (or perhaps relearned) two important things these past few days:

  1. Do not send emails, post to your blog or update your social status when angry.

Now, nothing I have posted or sent has caused any upset and I’m not regretting anything in particular, but I can see how things could have got out of hand rather easily. I wrote a blog post called Apples & Lemons in a fit of rage and fired it off into internet space with barely a second thought. Nothing in that post was derogatory or inflammatory in any way. It could have been though. My rage carried me through fully half an hour of anger-fueled typing. I can’t even recall looking up from the keyboard much. Thinking back, I could easily have fired that same content off in an email to Mercedes, or maybe raw straight onto a few social media platforms. Though I’m confident that at the time I may have thought this righteous and it probably would have made me feel better, it would also have been a terrible idea. Instead, by restraining myself, I managed only to publish a blog post riddled with more grammatical errors and punctuation buggery to have made my five-year-olds work look like a best seller. 

2. Be nice!

If you upset the person you are complaining too, either directly or indirectly, then you can be certain they will not be particularly inclined to rectify the issue. They may, as in Mercedes case, have some corporate responsibility to help me the customer, but the individual with whom you are dealing may have the arse with you and therefore not assist you to level he or she is capable of. Most people have worked in some kind of customer-facing capacity in a former job. If this is the case for you then you also know that when it comes to solving problems for customers you have two standards – the company line which asks you to smile, fix the problem if possible and make the customer happier, or the personal touch. The personal touch is the company line plus the extra mile. 

When I arrived at Mercedes for the second time, I could have done so under a dark cloud. The customer representative may well have been aware of my rage inspired slandering of Mercedes. I may also have thrown in a few choice words to describe the individuals work ethic and how helpful I found him to be. Thankfully, I didn’t. Instead, I walked in with a smile and shook his hand. We spoke briefly about how unfair the world is sometimes and agreed that sometimes ‘shit happens’. He then led me to the customer waiting area, told me to help myself to coffee and biscuits, then told me straight that he was personally going to get this problem sorted immediately. My car wasn’t booked in. I had no appointment, but he knew what an ordeal I’d had already and you know what else? I’d been nice about it. Sure I’d perhaps shown signs of exasperation the day before, but I wasn’t giving him a hard time. I know he didn’t wake up that morning and think, ‘You know what? I’m going fuck up Mr Thompson’s day today.’ Nobody does that and so I couldn’t blame him. Instead, he gave me ‘the personal touch.’ No need for raised eyebrows. I can assure you this personal touch did not occur beneath the table or in some pokey toilet cubicle. No. He took my keys and had my car moved straight into the garage to have the repair done. I take my hat off to him for that. Within an hour I was back on the road and happy once more.

So, remember this. If someone pisses you off, ask yourself this: Did this person get up this morning with a clear intention of fucking up your day? Or is it maybe just one of those things that couldn’t have been predicted? Take some time to relax, have a think about the order of things and the complications of living on this planet, and then maybe consider how you can sort things out in the nicest possible way. 


Apples & Lemons

I am a little upset today. My Mercedes is playing silly buggers with a reoccurring fault. Actually, its a reoccurring EML (Engine Management Light) which thus far has proved to be three separate sensor failures. I’ve decided to blog about this to help me make sense of it and hope that some cathartic magic happens.

I bought the car in November last year and for the first six months, everything was rosy. Then I experienced my first EML. I called Mercedes in a panic but they calmly said that if the light is yellow and the vehicle has experienced no loss of power, then it should be fine. I was only mildly reassured when they finished the conversation with ‘but if you could get it to us at your earliest convenience.’ This is easier said than done and when I think back, this was probably the first major rift in my love affair with Mercedes. My local dealership is twenty miles away. It’s no simple thing for me to just book it in. I either have to hang around for what can be an undetermined amount of time, or I can accept a courtesy car to continue my day. You’re probably thinking courtesy car, right? Well, the problem there is that they often don’t have one available for several weeks. For example, upon first reporting my EML problem to my local dealership, the earliest they could supply me with a courtesy car was nearly three weeks later. When you are already anxious about the EML, then three weeks is a long time. What would happen if something catastrophic occurred in the engine? Would I be blamed for continuing to drive it? The other issue is that in driving off with the courtesy car I am accepting that I will be driving back with it to the dealership in the near future. This means more time wasted travelling between work or home and the dealership.

On this first occurrence of the dreaded EML, it just so happened to coincide with the car’s service. I wasn’t prepared to wait for a courtesy car and so I was presented with some other options:

  1. Mercedes would pay a taxi to take me anywhere I would like to go. I could go home (which would be a forty-mile round trip) if I wanted to.
  2. I could sit and wait for an undermined amount of time. They knew how long the service would be (2 hours if you’re wondering), but at this point, they did not know the cause of the EML. It was suspected to be a sensor problem though and the nice and friendly customer service man further suspected that it could be fixed/replaced while the service was being carried out.

I opted for option 1. A taxi duly arrived and took me into town where I gorged on a fry-up and did a little shopping. Once the car was finished being serviced (and hopefully repaired), the nice customer service man called me on my mobile and asked me where I would like to be collected by the taxi. I must admit, I thought this was terrific and I arrived back at the dealership fully believing that I had been well looked after.

What’s more, the EML was no longer illuminated. Oh, the EML was due to a failure of the Mass Air flow Sensor and was replaced. Win! To add a little sugar on top I am happy to report that it was also all covered under my warranty and service plan. I had nothing further to pay whatsoever.

I drove off into the sunset happy that Mercedes was the brand for me and grateful for having ditched BMW for them.

However, the dreaded EML returned within a matter of weeks. I can’t describe enough how much this pissed me off. Already I was envisaging the palaver I would have to endure in identifying a day in which I could get back down to Mercedes. Word to the wise, before you call, identify the dates you can do beforehand. There is nothing more irritating (presumably for both parties) than when you come to actually book a date and you spend several minutes scrolling through your phone’s calendar while the other side is on hold. I have the added stress that my wife likes to control our family calendar. If something appears within that she has not pre-authorised, then I can be confident that within minutes of adding the event to the dairy, my phone will ring. I’ll have to explain why I have allocated some of my time to something I have given no notice for. Sigh.

Anyway, the day before I was due back at Mercedes, wouldn’t you just know it, the bloody EML switched itself off. I called up and spoke with Mercedes to ask if I still needed to attend and was informed that no, providing there is no degradation in performance then I could continue with my day.

The day of the cancelled appointment came and went. The very next day, guess what? Yep, the fucking EML came back on.

Back on the phone to Mercedes. Yes, of course, they will see me again. No, a courtesy car is not available for the next few weeks.

I contacted another dealership, this time in Norwich. It is pretty much equidistant, just the opposite direction to most other aspects of my life. Sigh. They can, at least, supply a courtesy car in a few days time. Okay then, at least some positive news there. I book and drop the car off at the appointed time. They have the car for most of the day and discover that firstly my air filter is blocked with what looks like half a hedge and that my NOX sensor has failed as a result. The sensor is replaced under warranty, but I am made to pay for the new air filter. £45… poof. Gone. I won’t mention the fact that the car had only recently had a service and so you’d think the air filter should be fine?

Anyway, I drive home again with everything seemingly fixed.

The very next day the fucking EML is back again. An angry phone call to Mercedes follows and the car is once again booked into Mercedes Norwich.

Upon arriving at Mercedes I am struck dumb by an indifferent customer representative telling me that no courtesy car is available for me, despite my having booked one. I am shown to the waiting area with assurances that my car will be seen at once. Why don’t I help myself to some complimentary coffee and a biscuit? It just so happens that I had brought my laptop with me. Whether this was a premonition I honestly can’t say, but I sat in the waiting room of Mercedes Norwich, slurping coffee and finger smashing the keyboard drafting this blog post. I was mad, believe me. I still am, but that’s because I am armed with the knowledge of what happened next.

Indifferent man approached to say that they have identified the problem. This time its an oxygen sensor failure and would you believe it, they don’t have any in stock. They can get one in tomorrow apparently. So, guess what I’m doing tomorrow? Frothing at the mouth as I sit in Mercedes Norwich waiting room I suspect.

I can’t describe how hacked off I am right now. I’m about ready to hand them the keys and walk away, but that won’t help. I’m tied into a finance agreement so really they’ve got me by the balls. That said, here is a list of possible actions I am actively considering right now:

  1. Pay off the outstanding finance, sell the car privately and switch brands.
  2. Sell the car to a company who buy cars under finance. I’ll take an almighty hit in the pocket as they won’t give me a shadow of what it’s worth, but it’ll be gone and I can burn the Mercedes emblem in a bin in my garden.
  3. Pay off half the finance and hand the keys back. (I think this is possible but requires a little more investigation.) I won’t owe anything more, but I won’t have a car either or any money to buy another one with.
  4. Do nothing. Suck it up, wait and see. It’s entirely possible that the replacement oxygen sensor will do the job and I could have a few years happy motoring ahead of me.
  5. Kick-off and demand compensation. The car is after all under warranty and really, I shouldn’t be experiencing these problems. This is a definite contender and if I was possessed with the kind of fighting spirit I anticipate will be required (because I doubt Mercedes will accept this anything other than normal) I might go for it. Alas, can I afford to spend weeks battling with Mercedes over this? Do I want to go to court over it? Would I win if I did? A quick read through the Consumer Rights Act suggests the power will be in their hands. I would have to prove problems existed from day one, which they didn’t. They have to be seen to be attempting to fix the problems, which they are. I can’t, in all honesty, contemplate court just because I’m angry. An angry claimant is a poor claimant in my view.

Chances are I’ll do nothing, except that the way of the world is sometimes plain unfair and quietly move on once this agreement is over. At this point in time, I believe my love affair with Mercedes has come to an end. Divorce proceedings are on the horizon. It just remains to be seen how messy it’s going to be.

This is a test blog post thing.

Testing testing bla bla bla.

Apologies, I am literally testing to see if I can link this blog to my Goodreads profile.

If I’ve wasted your time… me’h.

No, I’m not making any grand gestures to get back into blogging or writing. I’ve done that maybe ten times and life always gets in the way. So, let’s just see what happens.

Whatever it is you have planned to to do today, let me wish you well and hope it goes well for you.



What makes us happy?

Tough question that one, because it’s too subjective, but its one I’ve been contemplating off and on for a few weeks now. Broadly speaking, I think happiness for most people falls into the categories of money, career, family and acceptance/respect. You may have identified others but these are the what I call the Big Four, and because I’m having a bit of writing binge at the moment, I’m going jot down my feelings about each category.

Money: Well, they say it makes the world go round and that is probably true. Wealth has always been the discriminator that judges our place in society. These days if you are not driving around in a premium car with the latest iPhone in your pocket and decked out in the latest fashion then your made to feel as though you aren’t keeping up with current trends. You feel the urge to buy things you cannot afford and run the risk of racking up serious debt. This is a madness born of cancer in today’s society. Many can access money in this day and age, but if its borrowed money then all those nice shiny things can only give a temporary feeling of happiness until the reality of the cost becomes apparent. Money, therefore, makes my list of the Big Four – its used quite literally to buy happiness, but if you’re buying things you think you need with money that isn’t yours, then the happiness is fake.

Career: For some reason, we are told we need to seek promotion, the next rung up the ladder. Does anyone ever stop to consider if they are actually fine where they are? Nine times out of ten, a promotion means more responsibility and that will have a knock-on effect for other areas within your life, be it with family or socially. Sure, you’ll probably be paid more, and if that is what you need then fair enough. I would say that if the new salary balances well with the impact on other areas of your life then go for it. However, if you have enough money already then I think you need to seriously ask yourself why it is you feel you need to move up that career ladder. Yeah, maybe it’s for the challenge and you love your profession and want to have a greater impact within your chosen field, but at what cost? In my view, the question of whether or not you should go for a new job should centre upon the impact it will have upon future happiness and not be a decision driven by money or what you think society thinks about you and your position in it. If you’re happy, then why change?

Family: Family is important to me and my happiness. In fact, a source of unhappiness for me would be that I don’t see my mother and father, brother or sister nearly as often as I would like. However, I have a wife and a son of my own and so naturally there is a conflict in exactly who I spend time with. I have no real idea if others feel as I do about their own families but I’ve ruminated for some time on this subject and reached the conclusion that maybe this is a northern thing. I find, generally speaking, that northern families are closer and more likely to live close to one another. This is, of course, based only upon my own observations and I may be way off the mark. I do consider myself northern though, if ever so slightly nomadic. A displaced northerner maybe?

Acceptance/respect: I think we have always sought to be accepted by our peers, friends and family and if we are all honest, I also think we don’t like to admit it. I’m a paramedic by trade and can categorically say that peer opinion is so important. We have an unwritten benchmark in the prehospital arena when taking the measure of another clinician. We do it by asking a very simple question, ‘Would I want this person treating a member of my family?” If the answer is yes, then that is all the professional recognition you need. You are accepted above gender, culture, political persuasion, age… whichever yardstick you choose, it matters not. If you wear green and have the respect of your peers then nothing else really matters. Of course, to lose that respect is devastating. I’ve seen more than a few of my colleagues lose confidence and become depressed following a ‘bad job’. Maybe someone died, or they were involved in something that sounded horrendous – multiple casualties in a bad traffic accident. The paramedic may go off sick for a while after and the mumblings around station might be that the job sounded awful, but often it’s because the paramedic is questioning themselves and by extension, questioning if they still have the respect of their peers.

Of course, there are many forms of acceptance. Social media adds an entirely new dimension to friendships these days. Having a son who is yet to become embroiled in this ever increasingly connected world causes me some consternation. Its a dynamic I never had to face, but I can see the evils within, the faceless bullying and sense of disconnection that could befall anyone who falls out with others in their social circle.

I was going to end this there but after reading through I can see I have made a glaring omission in my list. What about love? The way I think of love would be to say this: If money makes the world go round then love can stop it. It can even end your world such is the potentially devastating effects of feelings its loss. It is the glue that holds everything else together, the force that permeates every facet of your life and lifts a normal life into the peaks of happiness. It enhances every other category of happiness which is why I do not consider it to be one of the Big Four because it is simply too big, too influential, to be held an equal to something like money or career. You may have other opinions about love that differ from my own. Perhaps you feel that love should be on equal footing with those other categories or maybe even not at all, but if you do then I know something about you. You’ve never been in love.



Who am I kidding? Having decided to get back into writing, and blogging to some degree, a quick browse of my most *cough* recent post tells me I’ve been here before and clearly failed. Oh dear.

Well, I suppose you could say that it will be easy to beat that pitiful effort. All I need do is blog twice and I will have doubled the previous attempt.

What is different this time though? Hard to say. Last time I sat down to blog I may have been thinking exactly as I am now, that I enjoy writing so why not do it more often? Perhaps I had just put down another cracking read and fancied having a go at writing my own book? Its certainly happened before and I wouldn’t be the first to have thought that. I’ve even had some success. Not much, but some. One story published in a magazine, and two in an anthology of short stories put together by my chums over at the Bolthole. Between the three stories, I made around £28. Not a huge sum by any standard but the money is irrelevant. Seriously. If you have ever tried to get anything published then you will understand the depth of need you feel in wanting so badly for acceptance. When it comes, its validation that someone else, even if it is just one person, values your effort. You can build on that, take heart and make the next one even better. You have a chance to learn the craft because you know, having had some success, that you are on the right path and that with perseverance you will hone your craft over time. All writing courses will tell you to write every single day. Stephen King has said it many times. Write, write, write. Even if you don’t feel like it and would rather watch some television dross, write something first. A headache? Write something. You get the point.

So, what is the catalyst that has brought me back to the keyboard? Well, there are three reasons really and all have come within a week of each other. I have taken this to be a sign.

  1. A good friend of mine has recently had his first novel published. We started writing at roughly the same, both of us being heavily into the published stories which the Black Library (The publishing wing of the Games Workshop) were pumping out on a near-weekly basis. We attended a few conferences and conventions together and dreamed of our own work being published by the Black Library. They were good times. Where my path deviated was when my son was born. It’s very difficult to find the time to write with a pint-sized ball of energy to keep you distracted, but they’ve been fun years. He’s an amazing boy and I’m very proud of him, but I’m also a little pleased that he has started school too. It gives me time to remember what I was doing before he came into our lives. Still, I’m also very happy for my friend who clearly continued when our paths diverged. He is now published by HarperCollins and his book is called Goodbye for Now.
  2. The rights bought by the magazine which published my story Legacy have now expired and so I’m free to find another buyer. I had a quick browse to check where I could potentially sell it and fired it off to an editor putting together a general fiction anthology. Fingers crossed they like it. I also tied up another story called Beast. Beast is a horror written in a kind of Lovecraftian style which I think works, but we’ll have to see. Again, I found a potential buyer and fired it off with a little covering letter.
  3. Wilbur Smith. I’ve just finished his book On Leopard Rock. What a life that man has had. I love how he describes writing as the ultimate freedom and passport to do whatever the hell he likes. I’ve admired his work since I read River God, the first book of his I sampled, and have pretty much devoured anything he has ever produced. I much prefer his earlier work but also, I’m pleased he has finally come clean about co-authoring. Us readers ain’t stupid. We knew it wasn’t him writing those later books. Still, the man is to be admired and I would love to get back into writing so that I can create worlds of adventure that people can lose themselves in, just as he has.

Well, I think that is enough for today. Not a bad start, eh? The football is on in a minute though. I’ve just signed up to Now TV and bought a monthly subscription to their sports package. I can now watch premier league games which are streamed to whichever device I chose to use. Downstairs I have my Xbox, upstairs is my Mac and out an about I have my iPhone. Its cheaper than Sky and much more flexible for my needs. Chelsea welcome Man Utd today. I predict 3-1 to the Blues and a continuation of abuse for José Mourinho.