Marching Time


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The folks over at the Bolthole forum have been kind enough to release the cover art for the upcoming anthology, Marching Time. Doesn’t it look awesome??! Expect gritty time travel based war stories from a number of starving pen monkeys including yours truly.

M.

Bleeding Fingers


Today I have mostly been writing and editing old stories. It’s been a bloody long day but come the end I will have submitted three stories to various markets making my total now doing the rounds, six!

I know at least one of them has already been accepted. I suppose I should put a little sampler up on here at some point but I’ll check with the editor first. A paragraph can’t hurt surely?

My novel is also grumbling along. That’s a beast of a project. I’ve never attempted one before though so maybe it will get easier with time? Who knows? I have the first half roughly planned out and also a good idea of what happens in the end but as I said, it’s a beast. Just finishing the damn thing will be a hell of an achievement.

Today has been a good day. I cannot deny that simple fact. I worked a night shift last night in police custody and was out all bloody night. I did a little over 180 miles in total scooting between the various custody suites but hey, that’s a story for another day. I’m just pleased I’ve got so much done on no sleep.

Come to think of it, I really should check and see what exactly I have submitted and to who. In my sleep addled state I could have made some blinding errors of judgment. Sod it, too late now anyway.

Right, this was just a quick update so, off with you. Get back to your own desk and write something yourself.

M J

Ups and Downs


This has been a truly bizarre month. Emotionally speaking I’ve been all over the place. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time pondering your place in the grand scheme of things or, where you would like that place to be.

For the last ten years I have been working with the ambulance service and have been qualified as a paramedic for around six or seven. The job has changed immensely to the point that I no longer recognize my role anymore. If you ask Joe on the street what a paramedic does he’ll probably tell you a paramedic saves lives. A paramedic goes to nasty car crashes to un-mangle people or appears out of the blue to resuscitate a dying loved one. I used to believe all that too and although these things do happen, it’s not very often and on the odd occasion I do get called to things like this there is rarely anything that can be done. Here we come to the heart of the matter. I find I’m asking myself ‘What good am I actually doing?’ more and more often. Sure, plenty of people are pleased to see me when I roll up to their house after they called 999 but, why wouldn’t they be? I get there super fast, listen with sympathy to their plight and then proceed to offer any help I can. Broadly speaking, I can categorize virtually any callout I go to and pigeon hole it into one of three automated responses. These are:

  1. I pick someone up off the floor that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get up themselves. Chances are there is a big strapping relative nearby who could have done this himself but won’t. People are too afraid of moving someone for fear of aggravating any perceived injury. In reality it takes me just five seconds to assess if injury is present. I do this using a very sophisticated method of assessment that goes something like this. ‘Hi, so have you got any pain?’ If they’re not injured, I lift them. If they are and it needs more than a plaster, it’s off to hospital.
  2. I arrive to find the patient does not need an ambulance, never did and is either bemused as to why I am there or, more likely, is over the moon that someone has rushed to their aid for such a trivial thing. I will spend the next hour trying to refer this patient to the correct service.
  3. The patient/relative deliberately called 999 because the problem needs immediate attention. This type of call equates to about one in four. More often than not, we cannot treat this patient’s condition at home and so transport them to hospital. Rarely, the patient is very unwell/dying and there’s not a not a lot we can do anyway. Why not? Well, there are two reasons for that too.
  • The patient has been involved in a traumatic accident. Invariably, their survival depends on the degree of injury and has nothing to do with the skill of the paramedic. We might buy time, but that’s about it. Fate is inexorable.
  • They are unwell/dying because of the culmination of a lifetime of poor decision making. The morbidly obese, the sedentary sloth, the lifelong smoker, alcoholic, drug abuser etc. Included in this group are those who never had the opportunity to make poor decisions – those born with chronic conditions, or their genetic predisposition renders them a ticking time bomb.

This is a generalization of course but for the most part I believe it hold true. My point is that there is rarely a day when I feel I am making a difference because quite simply, fate or the patient’s life up until that point, won’t let me.

So, that’s why I’m leaving. I’m going to remain on bank and maintain my registration but it’s time to call it a day. Life is too short to spend a chunk of it miserable. Anyone who has ever had depression can tell you that. Sometimes you have to do what makes you happy. Money is not everything so long as you have enough to keep the wolf from the door.

Think of it this way. There will come a time when you look back at your life and examine what you’ve achieved. What do you want to look back on? Will it be the life of a man/woman who spent a significant chunk of their life miserable? Or will be one where you smile at those decisions that took you somewhere else and allowed you to live a more enjoyable life?

And remember, if you did take the leap and try something else, what is the absolute worst that can happen? Ask yourself that, and make your decision. I hope you’ll find that even if the worst were to happen, it won’t compare to a life half lived.

The last bastion of youth.


I’ve just had some rather upsetting news. A friend of mine has just put his motorbike up for sale on eBay. He tells me he’s going to use the money to buy a people carrier or some other shed on wheels. I can’t think of anything else more tragic. But then this is life isn’t it? He has two very young children now and can’t see any opportunity in the future to be able to make the most of a bike. Its just going to sit there getting dusty for next three or four years which is such a shame and so it has to go. When he told me I had to sit down, genuinely upset both for him and myself. I’d hoped to get out and go for a blast together somewhere this summer but that will never happen now. He’s made the sensible decision to do what’s right for his family and sacrificed his pride and joy. I do admire him for that, but it’s so sad.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this issue. About a year ago I was on shift with a colleague who had been through the same thing. I found him late in the night browsing a website of classic cars. He told me all about the car he used to own, going into immense detail and becoming very briefly animated as his excitement grew. But that excitement died visibly as he relived the day it was sold and it’s new owner drove off in it. With the money he bought a people carrier. So sad.

I hope I never have to make a decision like this. I don’t want to look as forlorn as my friend did earlier. I think something has changed within him and it’s probably the realisation that one for the last bastions of his youth has finally fallen, soon to be replaced with a shed on wheels.

Tragic.

Work work busy busy chop chop


Unusual title for a post isn’t it? That’s something my Dad has been saying for as long as I can remember. Even now, whenever I’ve got a lot of work to do I think of those words and hear them play in my mind as though they are a recording. It’s never my voice either, but my Dad’s. This is a good feeling because many moons from now when he’s gone the way of the Dodo, I  won’t just have a memory, I’ll have his voice. Its just a shame my mind couldn’t have recorded something more poignant or philosophical. Still, there are worse things it could have remembered. Imagine for example if it had been ‘Mark, you’re an idiot.’ I don’t think those words would get me through a hard time when no one else can, rather they’d probably finish me off.

So, work work busy busy chop chop. These words ring in my mind and spur me to get up and get on with the job in hand, and I believe they always will.

The current big job I have on at the moment is supplying electric to my garage. I’ve never done anything like this in my entire life but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

My garage is about sixty feet from my house, across a road. Getting electric out there has been an absolute bastard of a job but this week has seen some real progress. As it happens, my neighbour already has an electric supply in his garage which is next to mine. How he got a supply out there and under the road between our houses and garages is a mystery that will probably die with him but hey, I’m not complaining. I had a chat with him last month and he agreed to let me use his supply in return for a small payment towards his electric bill now and again.

Over the following few weeks I’ve slowly been gathering supplies (lights, sockets,  cable etc) in preparation for the big install and that time has finally arrived. Yesterday I got my trusty spade out and dug a trench ten inches deep for about sixty feet between my garage and the neighbours supply. I placed my armoured cable into conduit and then packed it sand within my trench before backfilling the whole shebang. Took most of the afternoon but it’s done! I can now look forward to wiring up my sockets and lights over the coming days. I predict I’ll have working lights by the end if this week.

There are times I’ve not wanted to even begin, the sheer amount of work in front has been simply mind boggling and deeply off putting. But then those words play in my head once more and I’m off, spade, hammer, screwdriver or whatever in hand and hard at work til the jobs done.

When the whole things finished I’m going to have a plaque made up and nailed to one of the garage walls with those words on. Then I’ll invite the old man round to admire my finished work over a can of beer or two.

Looking forward to it.

M.

Goodbye Iphone


I thought it would never happen but it has. I have binned the Iphone and moved to Android. To be specific, I now have a Samsung Galaxy s3 and initial impressions suggest I am going to be very happy with it. Its a lot bigger than the iphone but I wanted it to be because I intend to use the new phone as a satnav on my bike as well as a phone. I’m actually writing this post on it which I have to say is going splendidly well. The immediate install of the app SwiftKey is probably helping here too but nethertheless, this is just pure writing ease. The ease of writing on this thing has had a rather unwanted side effect though in that I don’t think I actually need my Google Nexus 7 anymore. So that might be appearing on ebay very soon. Astonishing. I got the Nexus 7 so that I don’t have to lump a laptop around me all the time when I want to go and write in a cafe and also to read on but if I’m honest, reading was always more pleasurable on the kindle. Maybe it’s bye bye Nexus, hello kindle?

Its Winter in my House…


I live in a very cold house. We have heating but no insulation, anywhere. The windows are single glazed, half the house has tiled floors and we have a big open fire with an enormous chimney. This is all makes for a sub-zero environment. If I put the heating on for ten minutes it will stay warm for ten minutes before all that lovely heat disappears and it’s cold again.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, my wife does not like putting the heating on. It’s a waste of money apparently she’ll say and why can’t I wear a jumper? A jumper?? What another one?? Shall I wear that over or under the one I’m already wearing?

Today presented me with an excellent an example of our feud. She went out so that she could get on with some farm chores. The second the front door closed I was up in a shot and cranking the heating up to the max. Ahhhh, it was all lovely and toasty for all of half an hour when she returned. Why is the heating on?? It’s like a bloody sauna in here says she. Well, it will be for you I reply, you’ve just been outside working. I mean of course she’s going to hot right? She’s just worked up a sweat.

So, now she’s turned all the heating off and it’s cold again. I even had a dual zone put in to help with this sort of thing. For example, I work upstairs so I can have the heating on up here independently of downstairs where she’ll be sitting, probably browsing a knitwear catalogue or putting a third pair of socks on.

 

https://marksteventhompson.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cold.jpg

Sad, but this is how to avoid a draft according to my wife.

 

To clarify, I can only have the heating on if I’m already wearing my three jumpers and its still cold.

I need to come up with a plan so that she’ll relent and let me have the heating on with maybe just one jumper on. Open to ideas…

M 🙂