Monday, 21 April 2008


This is the first of the pieces that I have written on my commute to and from work - I have started giving myself a word / idea in the morning, and try to get anything in 10 minutes. If the idea seems to be going somewhere, then I carry on the story in the evening (and to the next day if necessary), if not, then I give myself a new word in the evening. What I'm putting here is still pretty raw, not polished.

Freewheeling, the bird soars through the sky. The sunlight flashes off of brightly coloured plumage; irridescent blue, pink and green. A trickle of bird song flows down to the observers, fluttering through the air. There is no chirrup or tweet from this bird; the song rises and falls in cadences to delight the ear.

It is a spectacular sight, only ever seen once every few years when the bird looks for a mate, and she is crouching under a bush at the edge of a clearing. She is small, dull, with brown and green feathers. She has no song, no bright colours, and is therefore of no interest to the observers, who have patiently researched and waited to find this particular clearing, in the middle of nowhere, at this time.

They knew they had to work quickly. Once the pheonix mates, the male bursts into flames, providing the heat for the incubation of the next generation. The ultimate sacrifice for the continuation of the species. It is also an extreme self defence mechanism. Should the bird be attacked, it releases a combination of hormones and digestive acids which spontaneously combust. If it is killed, it takes about five minutes for the bird to be completely aflame, meaning that any predator will also burn.

The observers watch the mating dance intently, focusing their instruments, making sure that they do nothing to alarm the bird. When the positioning is exactly right, they shoot.

The falling comet of colour, now stained a dull red, falls near their feet, and they work quickly before the chemical reaction is complete. Each whole phoenix feather is worth nearly $100.

Where has the year gone?

Once more, nearly three weeks since I last posted, and the usual excuses apply (though I think they are very poor ones when I consider the blogs that I read, usually medical people who work silly shifts, study, and still seem to manage to post every couple of days... But then, they have more interesting lives than I do, as well!)

I'm hoping that my posts will pick up after the beginning of May - the Fforde Ffiesta will be over, and I will have some spare time again. Will try not to spend all my time playing Scrabble on Facebook and actually post properly...

We might be on the move again - the shower and bath are both on the blink, and the landlady didn't pay the electrician's bill from the last time it broke (October -> February - 4 months without a shower...), so I am not hopeful that she will pay out for it to be fixed again. We have the same electrician coming in this week (I've promised to pay up front and claim back from the landlady by deducting from the ), but if it can't be fixed straight away, we are just going to hand in our notice...

On a more positive note, I'm going in for a Tae Kwon Do competition in the middle of May - getting to test my sparring skills properly against someone. I'm not expecting to get very far, but I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm also hoping that I'll be able to get more creative writing in after the beginning of May - I'm trying to write every day on the train to and from work, and I've got a couple of pieces that I'm willing to show to the world :-)

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


I hadn't realised that it had been *quite* that long since I last posted... I have been rushed off my feet, both at home and at work, and the closest I have come to blogging has been composing posts in my head on the walk to and from work (most of them have been rants against cyclists and people who fail to indicate, but as I have made my feelings on that clear in an earlier post, I won't repeat myself...
So - we are now in April. Easter has passed by, and BST has started... And what have I been up to? Aside from being completely manic at work (April 1st is the start of our new financial year (although due to creative accountancy and the need for our sales team to edge a bit closer to their targets, year end is physically the 7th...)), John and I have also been highly active in our leisure time.
As well as more organising for the Fforde Ffiesta (link one more time ;-) ), we have also been to London, spending Easter at Heathrow airport for the UK Sci-Fi convention, Orbital (also known as Eastercon). This was a completely amazing experience - highlights for me included meeting Neil Gaiman again, and managing to exchange more words with him (well, a few) than "Wow, you are brilliant," being Gopher-liaison for Mitch Benn, and thereby getting to sit in the front row for his most amazing set (crying with laughted for at least three quarters of the time), plus having Christopher Priest sit with us for breakfast (for me, the ultimate convention experience - to be able to sit and chat with someone whose work you admire, but to talk about nothing at all (the fact that it was snowing at Heathrow...)). Plus, getting to wander round, sit in some very silly, and some not so silly panels, and to do my best to completely exhaust myself by Gophering for a good chunk of the weekend (I got enough 'groats' (1 groat for 1 hour worked) to buy a £5 t-shirt, a jacket potato, at least one or two drinks, and still have some left over to buy a lovely cloak broach, so I did quite a bit!) - it is something that I really enjoy about going to major conventions, and really miss when I don't get the chance to do it. We discovered after Orbital that the New Zealand Sci-Fi convention is also held over Easter - plans are already afoot to see whether, once we are established over there, we can work out a live satellite link up. One of the best comments about the convention, which summed up why I love going to these so much, came from Neil Gaiman. "You are my tribe." The idea that I can go along to a venue, where over a thousand people are, end up separating from my husband and friend (voluntarily, not by accident), and still know that I am amongst friends, fully comfortable with everyone around me, is something that transcends the shared love of sci-fi/fantasy. It might be the common bond that brings us together, but it is not that which makes it work - again, as Neil Gaiman said - "If, overnight, everything to do with sci-fi; DVDs, films, videos, books, comics, the lot, completely vanished, never to reappear, there would still be conventions. We would have to hold them about knitting, but they would still happen."
Last weekend, we were back in London for the Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum. This was breathtaking, even though it was only a very small portion of the full army, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to see it before it heads back to China again next week. The detail on the warriors was outstanding; a kneeling archer had moulded nails in the bottom of his shoes. They had even mocked up a painted soldier to show what they would have looked like when they were new - really quite terrifying, in fact - a very lifelike army, row upon row, of men and horses, taller than those who created them, silent, guarding the body of the man who felt that he was Emperor of the Universe.
And then back to earth with a bump with a very busy week of work this week, and my final hockey match of the season on Saturday - we are heading for relegation in a big way, and it is going to be a good thing - I'm looking forward to matches where we aren't going to lose 9-0! But first, I have to brave the end of season piss up...