How To Write A Novel

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Novelists are in the wrong profession.

They make lies believable in order to illuminate Truth, when they should be writing self-help books about real-life Process.

That’s because writing novels has as much to do with words and imagination, as cooking a meal has to do with food.

The clue is in the verb, or doing word.

This is the difference between mooning over the magic formula of Donna Tartt’s running routine, and sitting your pseud derriere down at a computer without a Starship Enterprise dashboard of accessories to ease the unbearable agony of tapping on a keyboard.

On Family Fortunes, 78% of Our Survey would say ‘Talent’ when asked what successful novelists have in common- and this would be about 92% true.

What’s 100% accurate of 100% of them is that they have mastered ‘Application’.

Application sounds practical and level-headed and about getting your homework in on time.

Actually, it’s more akin to the fruits of 17 years’ regressive therapy.

So if you’re thinking about writing a novel, consider narrative voice and plot structure.

Finesse your style, envision well-rounded characters, and hone a compelling theme.

Do a course, buy books on your craft, and draw inspiration from writers you admire the most.

Then take all of this impressive papery stuff into your little-used study, and pop it away in a draw.

For the first work to be done is personal.

1. Think Negatively

You are almost certain to fail; embrace this.

You have a greater chance of bumping into David Cameron in Streatham outside of election time, than your fiction has of venturing out of Microsoft Word.

Don’t try to believe in yourself, or mouth affirmations in the mirror: ‘Your voice is unique'; ‘Your conjunctions are beautiful’ etc.

Make peace with the misery of your reality, so that you can enjoy the misery of your journey authentically.

At the heart of tragedy is hope.

2. Be Fearful

If the wannabe novelist’s fear set was matched to a sound, it would be the cowering, whimpering, whingey one of a two-year old narcissistic Emperor.

Fear of not completing.

Fear of completing, and it being rubbish.

Fear of completing, and finding it OK, but others thinking it’s rubbish.

Fear of completing, and finding it OK, and others thinking it’s OK, and then not knowing what to do next.

Fear of disappearing up your own arse while doing the above.

A shrink would rather wave Sean Penn clutching a bad film review into their treatment room, than listen to your paralyzing ‘concerns’.

Fear is an advance paycheck on something that might not happen; try to find a senile benefactor to apply this to your novel in a monetary sense.

3. Make Gargantuan Sacrifices

Just because you have dreams about pouring out the immortal closing sentence of your oeuvre in the shade of Eucalyptus trees, doesn’t mean the preceding 79,962 words will waft out effortlessly in monthly quarter-hour chunks.

Same as going on a diet, what are you prepared to give up?

What’s your battle plan?

It almost certainly doesn’t involve ‘you’ time; withdrawing from your friends’ bank of goodwill over beers, by walking them through your narrative arc; or Box Sets of any sort (and, no, ones based on literary works are not research).

Take every habit and adorable ritual that puffs out your day with perceived value, and pulverize it.

Novels don’t get written in spare time; that’s the preserve of Amazon customer service questionnaires.

And blogs.

4. Seek No Support From Friends and Family

There is a school of thought that espouses the virtues of setting an intention, and keeping motivated by sharing it with as many people as possible.

This comes from the same school that gave you the English prize, and encouraged you to read your moving story out to the class, thereby cementing in you the godforsaken notion that you are a gifted writer, and that after you’ve read to them everyone will clap, with love in their eyes.

No-one has asked you to write a novel.

Few people will want to read it.

Most of those you tell you are writing one will humour you, and tell their partner you’re a wanker when they get home.

Your nearest and dearest will pity-whoop and cheer you on, in the same way as if you were coming last in a marathon wearing a Simon Cowell suit.

Stay silent and secretive.

Better for people to regard you as a waste of space, than as a deluded flunker.

5. Stop Being Kind To Yourself

Unless you have a story that so blindingly needs to be told, you feel like the woman at the bus-stop (only with a gag and a laptop) chances are, you think you can wait another day to spill 500 more words of your protagonist’s fake journey.

Self-love is the novelist’s nemesis.

Over-ride every single natural instinct in your body, which is hard-wired to protect itself from all energetic output, including the gym, and thank you letters.

Don’t wait until you are flooded with warm, fuzzy creativity.

Don’t ‘check in’ to see whether this is the right time for you, or decide you’ve got a cold, and can’t think of any good adjectives.

You have no deadline, because nobody gives a flying horse if you write a tome, or not.

In fact, they’d consider paying you not to write it, so then they won’t have to read it, and your failure will throw shards of forgiving light on their own cretinous life.

First, visualize the highest-achieving, most venally repellant person you know laughing in your face, and fashioning the ‘L for loser’ sign on their foreheads in the excrement of John Updike.

Then, be your own worst nightmare; if you feel uncomfortable, and out of your depth, you’re doing something right.

6. Have Fun!

You’re not raking over dead bodies.

Nobody’s life depends on you.

You like language, and made-up stuff.

Relax.

Escape.

*

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What Spring Wants

So you’ve trudged through

the days of absent snow

Feeling close to the feeling

of closing down for good

*

When you chance upon

a snowdrop clump

Heads bowed in wind-blown

diffidence

*

And you greet it as a sycophant

Over-praising its wise beauty

Egged on by your relief

the seasons might re-cycle after all

*

Inhale, as bluebell forests

lay down their modest promise

in hope the gnomes’ wet mouths

will moisturize the earth

*

In every park the chintzy blooms

(outliving the doom of staring blank into a soul that sees no flowers)

flirt into hearts

Floaty petals coasting

*

Brash Summer brings with Carnival

the blight of white-toothed smiles

Bright show-time lights

for the Optimist

*

While Spring shrinks shy

of admiration

Daffodils a pound a bunch

For the tired, Resurrection

*

At her patron saint Diana

she faintly winks

Her full skirts starched by

Winter’s vital misery

*

Boast and Brag are not her story

Just the reflected glory

of your candyfloss gratitude;

recognition of your rescue

*

More than crocus-focused worship

Spring’s dry desire is

The abject homily

of your blossoming

 

-*-

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Lab Mice Garden Centre Shocker

Scientists have been using mice to better understand the impact on children of grand-scale exposure to garden centres.

In an ambitious study conducted over the equivalent of a two-week school holiday, a dozen juvenile rodents were released into a clutch of the most prominent ‘day trip’ plant emporiums in East and West Sussex.

The unsettling conclusions could have serious implications for grandchildren in all of the southern counties where old people creep.

‘We suspected that serial browsing around garden furniture sectionals and personalised mug stands might have long term effects on the soft brains of kids.

But we didn’t expect to see this kind of damage.’

When the mice first arrived they adjusted favourably to the airy open-plan feel, and incredible choice.

But it took only twenty four hours for them to age thirty years and seek out mice-sized powder blue macs (available next season, in a twofer offer with all-new miniature peace pipe relaxation cds).

One started responding to the name ‘Barbara‘, and repeatedly re-presenting itself at the dwarf bonzai trees, with pawfuls of Baby Bio.

‘It was going gently insane,’ a researcher confirmed.

Other tendencies exhibited by the mice included a declining ability to tell which orchids in glass jars were real- a problem exacerbated by the sheer number of material ones.

‘More worrying still was that they failed to differentiate them qualitatively, even when they knew which was which.

If you translate this into human behaviour, you’re going to get a lot of young adults who place equal value on dead and living things,’ one researcher explained needlessly.

‘Or at least a subset of interior designers who specialise in kitting out 2-star B & Bs,’ added another.

In an effect psychologists call ‘anti-screening’ (a phrase in opposition to the selective hearing phenomenon in pensioners) the mice became quickly accepting of having the piss taken out of them.

On week one they balked at £9 for the brie and bacon panini with salad garnish.

Just seven days later they didn’t find it that dear- particularly when followed by a stale slab of triple- layer coffee and walnut cake.

‘Of course, kids don’t generally pay for their dinosaur lunch boxes, where they can choose four other dolls-house-sized items to supplement the nutritional content of their jam sandwich square.

But the habitualisation principle is the same.’

In one of the study’s darker twists, no one had considered what the repercussions would be if the research subjects were to wander into Pet World, which is between the faux homemade preserves and inoffensive scooped-neck tops.

‘When twelve lab mice whose next gig might be eyeball perfume testing, meet two wannabe-pet guinea pigs, it ain’t going to be pretty,’ said lead researcher Timothy.

‘It was more depressing than Watership Down’, said his colleague, who is now helping out in the Aquatics section of Roundstones in Hastings to help heal his trauma.

At the end of the April fortnight three of the twelve mice refused to leave Home Decor, saying they were waiting for the Christmas decorations to arrive; five were obsessed with cactus coupons: two were toying with Emma Bridgewater polka dot plastic cupcake transporters; and one insisted the beanbag lap-tray with the country kitten scene on the front was not too big: it was just the ticket.

The rest had stopped reading newspapers.

‘Overall, it’s scary that a slice of this generation is being raised on resin geese ornaments with handbags. Systematically. Every half term.

Put simply, what the fuck kind of deviancy will they be into in their 80’s?’

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Against Finding Your Purpose in Life

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What’s the collective noun for ‘start-ups?’ Is it a glut?

I mean, those borne of a glint in the Founder’s eye that tells you they’ve found their purpose in life.

The ones with Alan Watts videos in their Youtube Favourites, who now know what really makes them tick.

Those catapulted out of bed every morning with the conviction they’ve found out why they were put on this earth: organic mole-hair baskets.

Ideally, work should feel worthwhile and rewarding- can’t argue with that.

But where does it say this has to be THE THING that boils you down into your essence?

The bastard working man’s answer to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Perfume?

Why does it have to be our driving force- our elevator pitch to God at the gates of Heaven?:

I AM the delivery of eco-friendly banking solutions / the knitter of artisanal rye-flavoured tea cosies/ the carer of LGBT animals. Trust me, the rest was musak.

Isn’t it occasionally possible to integrate these purposes into life without encumbering them with the need to bring home the bacon?

I’m being Devil’s Avocado, natch, to make a connection between something I keep noticing and something I want.

The first is the preponderance of busy little companies wopping a kooky name on their foreheads, and heading off to the internet with a red handkerchief tied on their stick.

‘About Us’ will tell you more about what gives them a dual personal/professional hard-on, than you feel comfortable knowing.

Not that it’s anything other than passion that makes a service good.

But there seem to be so many companies all getting very aroused about the same thing- with just a tiny tweak.

There’s a gap in the market and a market in the gap, but…

…here’s the second thing…

There’s probably a bigger market in bridging the gap between the market and the gap.

So, on the one hand you’ve got a maelstrom of information, services, gizmos, earnest reasons for being.

And on the other, the people who need, want, respond to them.

The eager start-ups are all wanting a slice of that giving pie.

I can offer what you offer. Only better. And with CEO after my name on LinkedIn, and my dietary preferences in the blurb.

Or curating it:

Look, see. I’ve aggregated your news/ house buying options/ washing machine costs, thereby cutting your time investment, and customizing your experience.

The point is this: What if I don’t know what news I’m interested in, or what kind of house I should live in, or what sort of washing machine would suit me best?

I’m not talking about trawling through Which? Guides and ‘Well, at first when I got the dustbuster home…’ reviews.

But the customizing, time-cutting bit that precedes the customizing time-cutting bit.

I’m talking Advanced Boolean pre-Google Searches.

Most service providers, and their middle-men, work on the assumption that we know what we want; we just need help finding it.

This is fine if you have a blocked drain, or know that you’re a family of 4 who want to stay in Cleethorpes, are who are in need of Wifi in order not to kill each other.

But some of the biggest decisions we make in life end up finger-in-the-air at best; based on stale ideas at worst.

Where to live; where to go on holiday; where to send our kids to school; what sort of alternative health route to pursue.

Or professional: what genre of marketing agency to commission; which wholesale fleece supplier to engage; what steel manufacturer to use.

What EXACTLY is it that we’re TRULY looking for?

The start-up glut is surely out there waiting by their passionate phones to give it to us.

However, in order to connect with the fruits of these passions, we need to know what ours are first.

I fancy more businesses operating on the dating game model, where likes and preferences are probed thoughtfully, and matches suggested.

Not jokey, ‘Which city should you really be living in? Berlin’, after 3 unrelated, multiple-choice questions.

But streamlined, meaningful questionnaires that cross-reference our subconscious desires with millions of variables, and tell us stuff we didn’t even know we should be investigating.

Old skool agent expertise, for the 21st Century.

For example: How do we choose holidays?

1. Pick Sun/ snow, Beach/Pool, Mountains/City

2. Bump into neighbour in the park

3. Cruise Owners Direct for somewhere pet unfriendly

Bang! You’re in France. Again. Bumping into your neighbour…

How about:

Q: What are your favourite moments of a holiday? Are aesthetics important to you? What’s your favourite view in a painting? What brand of chorizo do you like? Do you prefer perky or weird in a restaurant? Give an example. Do you like flying? Flying mice? Characterful churches? Germans? Have you got a gsoh? Are you allergic to English tourists? Flies? Intimate massages? Are you a tight arse? What sum is 1.5 times the amount of money you think you have to spend on accomms? Trinkets? Does tipping annoy you? And the wife? Does tipping annoy her? Does your wife annoy you? (That’s another website: click on this link.)

A: Pulau Seliron. Small town on the north coast of Brunei. Wasn’t in this week-end’s Sunday supplement. Your neighbour’s never heard of it. Plenty of tapas restaurants with trinket boutiques attached. Clientele of German comedians. Now bugger off and cruise Owners Direct.

What am I asking for?

– To discover more about my preferences than I have ever bothered to probe.

– To have the world of information brought to my time-poor, self-knowledge poor, fingertips.

– To marry more of all that stuff out there, with all the stuff I now realise I want.

Full-on risk-assessment, pyschological-profiling, aspiration-hunting, dream-burrowing, passion-sniffing, intelligent questions, to help put as big a bespoke life-is-short-smile as possible on my miserable, high-expectations, greedy little face.

Those are my needs.

Now, whose purpose in life is it to meet them?

 

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The ‘T’ word

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Tourism: it’s a dirty word- especially in the travel industry.

The touch it implies is altogether too light.

Who wants to be seen with a camera, map, and backpack gawping up at the neon of Piccadilly Circus when you can be living in an igloo, learning an Inuit language- ‘like, living a culture from the inside‘?

The traveling appetite of the comfortably-heeled- along with their hunger in entertainment- is in the process of undergoing a marked shift from the passive to the active.

It’s no longer enough to go to the cinema: we want to participate in the screening, and to do so in secret locations.

Your story about that theatre outing is all very charming, but I was bossed around by the actors at mine- and guess which one of us is holding court?

Oh wait, neither, because Joe Schmo on my right, here, was the person around whom the entire play revolved…

The buzzword is EXPERIENCE.

And leading the charge is the authentic sampling of other countries not glancing up at the Pyramids en route to a plate of egg, ham and chips, but rubbing sand into your body swathed in meticulously-crafted replicas of Ancient Egyptian garments.

It’s about keeping it real in unreal environments, and all well and good; whatever floats your questing, seeking boat.

But how does this relate to the age-old practice of experiencing the peoples of other cultures?

How far do we get to taste them?

We went on a safari in Tanzania over the Christmas period.

As we drove between locations, we often saw the Masai going about their business of herding cattle, or perched by the sides of the roads.

Dressed only in bright Shuka cloths out in the middle of vast fields, in possession of nothing but a stick, the way of life of these semi-nomadic people is about as far from that of the average Londoner as you can get.

We asked our Guide a river of questions: Where do they live? Do the children go to school? What do they eat? Why, who, what? again and again, as each answer piqued further curiosity.

Then, on Day 9, the unfolding of our itinerary: a visit to a Masai Village- a sort of animals-in-the-morning-people-in-the-afternoon-type-affair.

Hmmm.

So, on the one hand, I’d LOVE to do that.

I’d pretty much go into anyone’s home for a nosy; I’m Pinocchio after a lying orgy.

On the other hand, isn’t that a bit intrusive?

This isn’t really about warmth and hospitality, is it?

It’s about a performance in exchange for cash.

It’s about us having money and them not having money, and them having to sell a bit of themselves to our nosiness in order to get it.

Like hawking a ticket to the Sultan of Brunei so he can witness my adorable, dirty children watching crap TV on a Saturday night: ‘My, but I AM feeling grateful for those gold taps now’…

Our Guide, Christopher- a strong-hearted, tell-it-like-it-is man of Masai blood, but not the traditional lifestyle- was reassuring.

Some of the villages, he explained, apply for government permits that allow them to show visitors around. (The permits are a source of revenue, of course, but they also seek to ensure responsible tourism, so that visitors are welcomed respectfully).

The Masai are not financially wealthy, but neither do they need to be, as by living off the land and the cattle they keep, they are almost entirely self-sufficient.

However, they need money if they want secondary education for their children of any sort (schooling is fee-paying throughout Tanzania) and for certain extraneous supplies, like fuel.

Therefore, visits from outsiders are a source of income.

A voluntary donation of $50 per tour is requested up-front, and the craftwork of the women is then offered persuasively for purchase at the end.

It is a transaction, yes, but one considered to be a fair exchange.

This is no Slum Tourism; the people are proud of their way of life and their work.

They are not in poverty; they are happy to share their customs.

Hmmm again, but this from a trusted source, and we weren’t in the market to take along a paparazzi-lens camera.

So we pitched up, sharing the slot with another family staying in our camp, though we remained in our separate groups.

And what a jimbly-jumbly experience of emotions it gave rise to.

We were greeted by a young Masai Warrior on arrival.

He was open, friendly, and on automatic pilot while delivering a script of sorts about the tour: I think he’d done this before.

We made our donation, did masses of humble smiling, and then popped up right in the middle of a traditional singing, dancing and jumping routine, split by gender.

The deep guttural humming and clicking noises of the men; the extraordinary faces of the women (extraordinary to us, that is); the clothing and jewellery and the thousand nuances of a life lived differently, were intoxicating.

I felt honoured, and thrilled, and ridiculous all at the same time: plonk a necklace on the stupid white woman, and watch her beam.

The general atmosphere was celebratory, though I would say more amongst the young men than the women, who came across as ambivalent and unperturbed in contrast to their engaged male counterparts.

The kids were the good-humoured focus of all (young boys are especially prized, as girls = dowries) – an exchange of genuinely joyous connection taking place between them and our hosts.

After this, we were invited inside one of the seasonal homes by our Guide, following a brief overview of the Masai habitations, diet and age-set system.

It was the most basic dwelling (as in, unadorned, non- mod-conned) I’ve encountered: barely 5 foot high inside, with 3 ‘bricks’ burning in the centre, for heat and light; 3 pint-sized compartments for the parents, young children and goats; a ladle and pot hanging on the interior wall.

The simplicity of these homes was remarkable.

An episode of listen and reflect, as opposed to stare and judge, it left me thinking of my duvet and face cream with a mixture of love and self-loathing, calling to mind the ‘perfumed ponce’ line from Withnail and I.

We were then taken to the tiny school hut where the children learn Swahili and English- a little girl springing up to lead the rest of the class in a song for our benefit.

This learned behaviour of pleasing (for money) from one so young was a jarring point, somehow serving to throw an off-colour light on our giving of the colouring pencil gifts we had brought with us from the UK (for the purpose of general present-offering, as we didn’t know about this official visit in advance): we had not been holding the gifts ransom to a display of winning ingratiation.

The final leg of our three quarter hour trot around the village was a vast display of beaded and wooden handicrafts, which our Guide was careful to point out we were NOT obliged to purchase.

We bought 3 small mementos, for which their chief negotiator- a man stationed by the bins working the character of a wheeler-dealer salesman- asked $65 of us- perhaps in a game of ‘who’s exploiting whom?'; we settled on $50.

And then we were off; fond waving and no blood spilt, as my Dad would say- the most unsettling comment coming, surprisingly, from Christopher, who invited the kids to consider how lucky they are.

Though well-meant, and infused with good humour, it imparted to us an uneasy superiority: is an iTouch the path to true richness?

Did we discuss their declining way of life? The poaching of wild animals? FGM? The insidious creep of Western ‘permissiveness’?

No. We passed through their world exuding an odd mixture of appreciation and apology, mindful to capture photos and footage in the open spaces only despite repeated assertions we were welcome to do so without limitation in the intimate ones.

Might the sensitivity of visitors vary?

Yes, as may the guileless nature of the village Guide’s welcome.

I found it fascinating to come into contact with an unfamiliar slice of existence.

I disliked the contrived circumstances under which it came about, but wonder if favouring the bespoke or spontaneous experience is primarily an affectation.

The Masai had found a conduit for their crafts which would spread an appreciation of their culture beyond the confines of their immediate environment, in (part) exchange for a curious family of four crouching in one of their temporary homes.

To the extent that they noticed us, they might have sensed that we are not crass colonials.

For our part, the prejudice of the ‘primitive native’ was a far cry.

The confluence of cultures may serve ultimately to dilute those identities, but where barriers are dropped understanding ensues.

In a world where perceived divisions can get you shot in the streets and at your desk, one could argue that (appropriately-mediated) old-style ‘tourism’ – the type that brings together people who might otherwise consider each other alien- is not necessarily such a dirty word after all.

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Goodbye, Urban Shed

This will be my most boring-ever post (I hope).

I’m going to get away with it because it’ll be tagged under ‘commemorative’ and ‘writing therapy’, and because the hordes aren’t stopping by in their droves for my wisdom anyway.

Silly to get attached to things, but I’m feeling strangely sentimental about getting rid of the car.

A smooth piece of kit is lush, and a ride in someone else’s cracker’s a thrill.

But I’ve never been seduced around a showroom, or put myself in the market to shell out chunky monthly payments for an irresistible nift-rocket; if it displaces from A to B, and struggles to go above the speed limit (thereby curtailing Speed Awareness course compulsory attendances), then job done.

So why can’t I bring myself to scrap the Picasso?

Seven and a half years ago we pitched up at a car dealers in Sussex and ‘chose’ the car.

Which is to say, we stumbled in blindfolded, spun around, and pointed wildly, hoping there were no fridges on the forecourt.

They tried to launch into a cute back-story, but we stopped them with a version of  ‘You had me at hello’, which was the bit when they made the introduction: ‘Or how about this cheap car…’

Nevertheless, it seemed like a lot of money at the time, Mum reminding me only recently that I had cried writing out the cheque- surely an unrecorded level of lameness.

Once home, the Picasso went about under the radar doing its job quietly, which is perhaps what’s imbuing it with this sense of nobility.

Because, really, it defied medical science. It should have perished years ago. When I drove it in last for its M.O.T, the garage guy said, ‘What the hell are you still doing with this hunk of junk?’

There are fond memories of denting the side on a trip to the countryside, and of customizing it with black-smudge parallel lines trying to squeeze out of a Horsham multi-story car-park; the pinging-off of the wing-mirror cruising off-bonk through the bollards before Barnes bridge, the stump to be hence-after lovingly duct-taped by Mum or Dad every time I hurtled South to see them.

Or the punctured tank in Cornwall, necessitating pit-stops on blind hills- a motor-vehicle with a man’s legs sticking out between the back wheels.

… or the dropped exhaust pipe, the caked-on bird poo, tree sap residue, and weird African dust wind thing.

… the jaunty penalty charge photographs captured of the Picasso in a loading bay; turning right on a left-turn only; now zooming freely down the bus-only lane, wind in hair.

… the way it was referred to by its name and mark, like there are some people who seem to need their surnames for the sake of completeness: ‘Auntie Sophie was talking about it in the Citroen Picasso’; ‘Waved at you in the Citroen, but you were jumping a red light’.

And the interior… sweet baby lamb, no excuse: C.Ds, sticker books, gas bills, wetsuits, fishing net, cricket bat, coal pieces, Buzz Lightyear, Haribo wrappers, plastic dinosaurs, the sun-stained re-usable ‘machine not working’ note written in eye-liner on the back of a receipt- all manner of slovenly paraphernalia belonging to a family contributing more than their fair share to the downfall of a civilization, leaving Westfield’s valeting team with an annual look of PTSD on their exhausted, disbelieving faces.

Quietly cranking on regardless. Failing to read C.D’s. Giving false LED messages about servicing requirements. Interior door handle staying in hand rather than on door. The giving-up of the remote locking system.

But faithful, cute as a button, and thief-immune in its sublime undesirability.

So the garage guy’s sold us his ex-wife’s car, and a new low-rent love affair begins. It’s got a special space to put your coffee and water bottle- fairly upmarket.

Meanwhile, Bruno’s incubating shit-car lust: ‘Are second-hand cars better, because you already know they can work?’

Time to breathe deeply, and get onto rewardingrecylcing.co.uk.

R.I.P, Citroen.

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Note To All Users

The written word is premeditated.

You can’t just blurt out nonsensicals, unless you’ve got weird fingers.

In theory, it should say what it means.

Interpretations may differ.

What is left unsaid can also be relevant.

But occasionally, pretty much the entirety of a piece of communication conveys a meaning other than its apparent one.

(Is this a feature particular to the English language, and/ or simply the British polite/ sarcastic/ passive-agressive thing?)

I found a funny example of this in B’s school staff toilet:

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So it’s a small note asking everyone who uses the toilet to leave it in a decent shape.

It’s cute (‘little’ x 2); non-confrontational (!!!); proper (‘most appreciated’, ‘adjacent’); and light-hearted (‘it’s not an ornament!!’)

Only, of course it’s not.

It’s a very non-little message to one singularly demented person (they all know who that is!) who is repeatedly leaving the shithole in a shithole (‘I mean, what the HELL? Can’t they SEE it’s still floating?!), from a group of staff members who have liberally bitched about it in the staffroom and- sorry, but they’re going to have to say something.

It says:

‘DUDE, FFS!’

I resisted the temptation to graffiti it with some light sparks coming off the top loo, an offending beastie rearing its head from the bottom one, and a ‘me again! x’ sign-off, mainly because it has been solicitously laminated by someone who marks homework with a set of (strictly) colour-coded pens.

 

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