Tuesday, 28 September 2010


to take my first two seminars of the semester (second two tomorrow), in my smart new skirt and old (but thankfully Prada) heels. Students no longer dress like impoverished landscape gardeners, I don't know how they manage it, but it means tutors can't either. Once this week is over I may be able to get some of my head back and actually write something, and engage once more in the land of Blog.

Meanwhile, look what I found at the family paintball site:

I love graffiti.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Order (of sorts) Regained

My postman continues to delight me. After bringing me the new journal on Tuesday he excelled himself on Wednesday:

The new (first) collection of short stories from Darryl Joel Berger, aka Red Handed. I've only managed to read the first two stories so far but I can tell you they are great: beautifully constructed, utterly original, thought provoking and, perhaps most important of all, truly engaging. What I really want to do is take them on a long train ride so I can read them all as I rattle past truck depots, redundant factories, and gnarled trees.

On another note completely: have you noticed that in some of my posts, lately, clicking on the photographs doesn't make them bigger? This is because I've recently changed browsers from Firefox to Google Chrome. I like Chrome so much better for its smooth speed, but for some reason making a post in Chrome is much more complicated. I always compose in 'Compose' mode rather than html but when I hit publish in Chrome I have to go through a 'your html cannot be accepted' malarkey. I just delete the offending code and the post seems to happen as I intended, but none of the photos can be enlarged with a click, even though the hand appears over them. Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong? For this post I've returned to Firefox.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

My multiple personalities are disordered

I've become one of those people who feel so busy they can't get anything done for tearing at their hair and wailing: 'I'm so busy!' That sort has always irritated me: 'Stop wailing and get on then.' But now I know how they feel. It's like being in a wind tunnel filled with debris, battered by semi-identifiable flying objects. There is a way to stop these objects from continuing to thump me: I must identify them and put them in the correct boxes. As each object is placed in its box the wind will slow a little and the rest will be more easily seen, and contained. There aren't actually that many of them, it just feels like a lot. But I can't think, I can't see, I can only feel this constant bombardment of wind and objects. And I want to stamp on the next thing that hits me. I know, however, this will only make it even bigger and more terrifying.

I have put some things away, but only today do I feel the wind has died down enough to enable me to think. Today a big, hurty-thumpy, object has been put in its box.

With the unexpected rise of corporate-me, writer-me is feeling under threat. (I think it's she who turned up the wind (I know, this metaphor is beginning to hurt).) Especially as tutor-me is in the process of being resurrected for the new academic term. One of the things writer-me relies on is her journal, as long as she has a journal she knows she exists. Writer-me is the bit of me that holds the rest together.

I use my journal to jot down ideas, the beginnings of stories and poems, images, eavesdroppings, inspirational quotations, and all sorts of other stuff that I feel may help me actually write something again, one day. I stick in pictures from magazines and of my own taking, bits of packaging, old tickets, and postcards. Sometimes I even draw in it. I realise that a real writer could use any old pad of paper for the purpose, but I need a particular sort. For a while I used Papuro journals. They are incredibly beautiful with their glossy leather covers and smooth cream paper. And they have hundreds of pages so last a good year, but they are too expensive for me now. For Christmas one year Stevie bought me a recycled leather journal with thick card pages. Because of the pinkness of its cover it sat around unused for a year or two, but in May I ran out of space in my old one. Unable to afford a new Papuro I pulled, what I then called, the hideous pink thing from the stack of papers it was buried under. When I opened it I noticed that, not only did the colour cease to be a problem, it lay completely flat. This makes it much more comfortable to use: the need to hold down unruly pages eliminated I can sit in an armchair rather than at a table, arms and fingers don't ache, and ink doesn't smudge if I let go too soon. The thickness of the pages is a boon too, they don't buckle and crumple when I glue stuff in. In no time at all I was unable to imagine going back to a different sort. There is a downside, of course: with the pages being so thick there aren't that many of them, and a week or so ago I realised I was going to need a new one very soon. I knew he got it from Paperchase, so last week I went to Glasgow. Paperchase in Glasgow used to be in Borders. But Borders UK went bust. I knew that, but somehow failed to make the connection that with Borders gone, Paperchase probably would be too. I came home without a new journal.

I decided to try and buy it online: Paperchase must have a website. They do, but it's under reconstruction and wouldn't be in operation for another two weeks.

There is a big, luscious Paperchase in Edinburgh. But Edinburgh is less easy to get to and negotiate. They're installing a tram system at the moment, parking is difficult and expensive, busses and trains are infrequent, and I am so busy!

Yesterday I had only one page left, this made me feel nauseous, I was seriously tempted to jump in the car, but decided to search the web first. I spent hours trying different permutations of leather journal in the search engine: leather-bound journal/notebook/sketchbook/pad; leather covered... Recycled leather... I nearly relented and ordered a different sort, but one last try and I hit on the right phrase and found, joy of joys, iapetus gallery. They had what looked like the right thing. After examining it as closely as I could I ordered one at about 4pm.

Last night I filled the last page of Pink. This felt rather reckless but I had to get down Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Man-Moth.' This morning I braced myself for either a panic-trip to Edinburgh or a day or two of writing things on index cards, but before I'd finished a cup of tea Stevie came into my room and said: 'this seems to be for you.'

And it's perfect! The exact thing I was hoping for: thick card pages, sturdy recycled (dark brown) leather cover. It is made by a company called Art Box Designs who reform (rather like Spam, it strikes me) offcuts from the leather industry into a variety of very hardwearing, eco-friendly products. Both writer-me and I must stop fucking up the planet!-me are happy.