Thursday, July 05, 2012

2012 - 45

Musings from a Summer Patio

As I am off work with this lung infection, I’m finding myself in a weird position; I sort of feel like a fraud because I don’t feel that bad, but I do feel rough, but only intermittently. I figure if I was at work I’d be feeling the same and therefore it’s probably for the best that I’m at home. It has given me the opportunity to sit on the patio, get the Netbook out and appreciate that golden orb in the sky for a fleeting few moments.

I’m still getting to grips with the portable PC, having never really used a laptop very often; but I have managed to write a 4,500 word short story on it already, so this isn’t proving to be one of those special gifts (like camcorders) that you’ve always wanted but barely use when you own. I think what I want is to get a good sun tan and then hide under the parasol to work away on whatever magnum opus I decide upon in a couple of weeks. Of course, this plan is governed by the weather and the long range weather forecasts suggest (as I did) that September will be a dry and warm month (just to rub it in) and the Olympics might be a complete wash out! Naturally, as I said, the BBC’s weather people are spinning days like today, which on a normal summer would be a meh kind of day, but this year is a highlight!

The lack of sunshine hasn’t prevented the raspberries from going bonkers. I picked about 2lbs of them on Tuesday when I got in from work and there’s about another pound ready to pick today and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I reckon there’s 10lbs+ to be had and then there’ll be a second flourish in late September and if history repeats itself I’ll be picking raspberries on Christmas day again! The really ironic thing about these raspberries is that they’re not even ours. We had nothing to do with them at all. Fishwife and wife planted some new canes about 4 years ago down the line of the fence separating our gardens; they spread, as they do, and soon we had several fronds of new raspberry canes poking through our side. The following year we got a couple of dozen berries and then last year they took over this flower bed completely – competing with a rambling rose for the daylight and stomping on all the perennials in their way. We actually have more fruit on our wandering canes than Fishwife’s originals – but he did cut his back severely last autumn.

Thrilling stuff, I think you’ll agree!

The few remaining strawberry plants we have, are struggling and we’ve had just two fruits so far – they’ve been decimated by slugs and snails; this year’s bumper crop. Mark my words, one day people will have to eat slugs because they will have eaten everything else!

The slugs have given t’wife a new night time purpose until the evenings draw in and she can get her telescope out again (that isn’t a euphemism). She’s become The Slug Hunter, with her head torch and old pair of salad tongs. She roams the garden searching for those slimy little futtbuckers, puts them in an old Tupperware container then feeds them to ducks every morning. Free food and less plant damage.

This might sound bizarre, but it pails into insignificance to my own slug slaughter adventures. When we lived in Wellingborough, we didn’t have a torch, so I would, on spying lots of molluscs in the garden, get a lamp shade on a long extension lead and prowl the garden with a massive fuck off kitchen knife slicing these lozenge-shaped slime bags in half and leaving their oozing carcasses for the birds. It looked as weird as it sounds and while t’wife’s campaign is less bohemian and mad looking, it has essentially the same means to an end.

I’m quite glad to be on the Netbook and not sitting in front of my office PC with its Internet access and bigger processor. This stripped down little toy has just the things I need and I intend to take it on holiday with me, even if I don’t have net access; I intend to sit on a dock near a bay and write something inspirational. If I do write a novel, then I shall feel as though my summer has been used usefully – 6 weeks will whizz past, I’m pretty much expecting to leave on the 20th and it’ll be September before I know it. Someone said will I publish anything I do on Amazon like I did with my comics tome; well, I dunno, I have a bit of a problem with Amazon KDP at the moment…

Last week I received an email from them saying they were suspending the book page for My Monthly Curse because someone had reported that I was using material that had already been published on the web and therefore was ‘public domain’. I was asked to confirm all manner of things, answer questions and generally justify myself to a faceless corporate wanker.

I downloaded all the monthly sales statements since the book went on sale, because KDP doesn’t give you an easy option for checking sales and royalties, and found out that I hadn’t sold as many copies as I‘d been led to believe and because Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are ostensibly different companies, combined sales of the book from both countries cannot be amalgamated; so the reason I haven’t received over £300 worth of royalties was because of this (plus five bastards asked for their money back!). So being asked to justify and prove my ownership of the book wot I wrote rather pissed me off.

But instead of launching into one and shouting (in type) at some faceless corporate bod, I decided to answer all of their questions and supply them with all the information they asked for and more; to save them from asking me later. I also pointed out that in the KDP terms and conditions it said nothing about self-promotion and I had serialised an earlier version of the book, on my blog, with links to the Amazon page – at no charge to them – and that the first few parts had been shared with a comics website (I didn’t mention that Bleedin’ Cool stopped running it because of the threat of legal action (which I said would never happen, but hey, everyone is entitled to be cautious – if in doubt, don’t do it!).

The reply I received was okay, but they had concerns about a couple of issues that I felt were pretty stupid, so I told them so and to back that up I reminded them that the book has sold 77 copies in the UK and 31 in the USA and that has made Amazon roughly $400 of which I hadn’t seen a penny because of their aforementioned terms and conditions; so if they had a problem with the book, I’d take it down and expect them to pay me all the money they owed me straight away. Yes, it’s only a modest amount of money for a company that has avoided paying all their tax because of carefully positioned overseas warehouses; but it seemed to do the trick. They ‘unlocked’ the page and for three days they recommended the book to readers looking in the comics books section. I sold two more copies, but I’m still way short of getting any money from them.

Some wag suggested that I re-write it as a sex story and sell a million copies. Call it Fifty Shades of Skinn

The sun has gone in and it’s looking a bit grim. I had 90 minutes of sitting outside, that’s not to be sniffed at! It’s a little after midday; I expect the rest of the day will be a little boring.

Musings From a Summer Office

The day proved to be better than expected with barely a sign of rain for ages – although I’m pretty sure that will change over the next couple of days. I have to be honest, I hope to Christ I can get inspired enough to do some writing over the summer hols, because I got unbelievably bored by 2pm today. Yes, I have a greenhouse to move and a shed to re-roof, but if it rains a lot then that won’t get done, will it?

At least I haven’t got to suffer the way my middle brother has recently. He’s recently contracted an awful disease; he’s become a big fan of tribute bands...

I’ve told him he can get cheap help, but he’s refusing and instead is now paying upwards of £30 a throw to see a bunch of people pretending to be their rock heroes. It is a real shame. He’s been bleating on at me for months to go and see some Genesis tribute. It doesn’t matter what he says or offers, he doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell him I have more interest in sifting through my own intestines with an otter. I don’t mind him spending money on me, I’m just going to feel guilty at the end when I ‘meh’ all the way home and think of nice ways to tell him that he’s forced me to waste hours of my life that I will never see again.

Still, I do the wasted hours gig a lot, so...

Speaking of dodgy music; while listening to 6Music today and specifically the Lauren Laverene show, I was stunned by simply how fucking atrocious it is. 6Music occasionally has some good shows that play some interesting music, and then they have Laverne, who is tedious, plays some stunningly banal music and doesn’t seem to fit into any remit the station might have about diversity.

In fact, that’s 6Music’s biggest problem; they play far too much stuff that you hear elsewhere or have heard elsewhere far too much. It needs a few eclectic shows that let alternative music styles do the talking for them; allegedly there are 3 million people out there who listen to prog religiously; they’re not catered for by any radio station (are they?). How about the weird shit I listen to (like Germany’s Triple S, who I am listening to now); I’m sure there are a hard core of fans who would listen to a radio show that actually catered for the tastes of the other potential listeners. But, I’ve said for years that I should have my own radio show, sadly no fucker’s offered me it yet.

And that’s been my day, largely. It’s closing with ‘Shackleton Ice Shelf’ by Triple S; which sounds a bit Pink Floyd like mixed with some New Age synthesiser wibbling – marvellous! Put me on the radio now, god damn you!

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