Latest stuff and things

First, a reminder that 1 July is BUGGED, so today (according to the Bugged website) is B-Day minus 1.

I will be eavesdropping tomorrow, probably in disguise, or at least in shades but we have until (I think) 15 August to submit a story … unlike the Bridport Prize 2010 which is closing to submissions today!

Other things:

Afternoon readings of Tania Hershman’s flash fiction this week on BBC Radio 4, I enjoyed the first set of six stories yesterday – if you missed today’s programme (like I did), there’s still time to catch the third episode tomorrow, or you can find all three episodes of Flash on IPlayer.

Me? I’ve been lost in paperwork. I used to love doing ‘office-y’ stuff when I was about … nine, not now! But things have been hole-punched and filed. A few ticks to put in boxes … *sigh*.

On Monday I submitted a piece of flash fiction to the Bridport competition. Note – one piece.  I know lovely people – and excellent writers – who’ve submitted several to this competition, so not going to cross fingers this time.

But hey … you just don’t know do you?!

And yes, the Gazelle‘s still for sale if you’re interested …


Gazelle Impala (no longer) for sale

The Gazelle is a classic Dutch bicycle and a grand bike. I bought it (new) in York at Cycle Heaven, took it on a few wonderful trips round the city and along the river Ouse before I put it in mothballs.

So why would I do that? I’d love to be able to say it was nothing to do with cycling but it was and yes, it involved a 999 call and a trip to A&E but in retrospect I wasn’t fit enough to cycle up a 1:3 hill on a hot summer day so can only blame myself, not the bike!

Anyway, for those still reading, it’s got a 21″ (53cm) frame, a Brooks leather saddle and an integral bike lock. It has 7 gears and Shimano brakes. It’s got a panier rack on the back, and almost-brand-new tyres, and I don’t really want to sell it, but I could do with the space – and the cash – for more important things like books and stuff.

How much am I selling it for? I’d be happy to consider offers over £350, but you’d have to come and pick it up yourself, so it would help if you lived in Lancashire, because that’s where the bike is.

£350 is a pretty good price for one that costs around £600-£700 new. You can’t just give a bike like this away. It would be wrong. If you want to know more, email me at dot7seven (at) gmail (dot) com. It’s probably the best second-hand bicycle you’ll come across. Really.


Gazelle 2010 (new) price list

Cycle Heaven

Matt Seaton’s Top Ten books about cycling in the Guardian

Louise Bourgeois

After watching a Culture Show (BBC2) special on the Royal Academy Summer Show last night and allowing myself to get all riled up about the art bollocks issuing from the judges’ lips while discussing artists shortlisted for the Wollaston Prize, I stayed up to watch Alan Yentob’s programme on Louise Bourgeois (Imagine, BBC4) and hoped it would be better.

And it was. But it was Louise Bourgeois, not the programme in particular, that I enjoyed. Did Bourgeois talk art bollocks? No, she did not. Did the artists who were invited to her regular salons talk art bollocks? Of course they did and the way she responded was brilliant.

‘What is your work about?’ Bourgeois asks one of them.

‘It is about the torment of being an artist’, says the artist.

‘A torment? A TORMENT?’ she replies, ‘Being an artist is NOT a torment. It is a PRIVILEGE’.

Of course it is. So why do so many artists – and writers – publicly agonise about the torment of (their own) creativity? I don’t know. All I know is that ‘dealing with stuff, making sense of that stuff’ – be it personal or political – is an integral part of the creative process and Bourgeois deals with her own personal demons in the best possible way – by channeling it/them through her art. And (in my opinion) that’s the way it should be. Maybe we should all just shut up and get on with it!


Louise Bourgeois Imagine BBC4

The Culture Show Special BBC2

Extract from Imagine (YouTube).
Louise Bourgeois’ art by Tracey Emin, Anthony Gormley, Stella Vine and Alan Yentob


“He had bacon and eggs as usual for his breakfast, but his bottom was still bleeding so we took him to the vet.”

I love Bugged Project already. What writer could resist the temptation to put their highly tuned eavesdropping skills to such good use. Want to know more?

From Bugged: The Basics

Writers of the UK: on July 1st, go forth and eavesdrop. Write something based on what you hear. Send it to us by August 15th. The good stuff appears here: the best of the best in an anthology, coming October 2010. Our ten core writers will also be in the book.

The ten core writers include:

Between now and 1 July I’ll be honing my eavesdropping into a higher art whether I’m in the garden, walking down the road, at the shops or waiting in the queue at the doctors. Bus journeys – yes, maybe I’ll spend a day on the bus …


The Guardian on Bugged

On twitter @BuggedProject

On Facebook Bugged
Oh, and thanks to the lovely Bugged who give my ‘overhearing’ an anonymous mention here!

Bristol Short Story Prize 2010 shortlist

A huge congratulations to all those who made the shortlist including Valerie O’Riordan, Jon Pinnock and Claire King. Crossing fingers for all of you on the 17 July when the winners are announced! A thrill to be on the longlist with you … and looking forward to reading the anthology!

Every day’s a school day #1

In this intermittent series you get to find out what I DON’T know about stuff and things (or what I have forgotten!).

It’ll either give you a chance to jeer at my lack of knowledge or applaud the breadth of my questioning mind as I discover (or re-discover) random things.

First on my list – Bees (there are a lot of them about at the moment). I know the basic how-they-pollinate everything, produce honey and are at risk of disappearing altogether (probably why honey’s so expensive). I know there’s Royal Jelly (must remember to ask @DianainHeaven about that, she was fond of the stuff).

I know there are bumble bees, honey bees, wild bees, mortar bees (and I only know that because a swarm of them once drilled out all the mortar on a friend’s 16th century house). But where do they go in winter?

Turns out they hibernate not just in cracks in buildings but in soil. I also found out that when they come into your house in spring acting strangely (one came in our kitchen and flew up and down along the dresser – I thought it was after our honey), they are actually looking for somewhere nice and dark to nest. Well there you go. I didn’t know that.

The other thing (not about bees) that I just found out was about Stewart Copeland (drummer in The Police). I was watching the live final of I’m in a Rock and Roll Band (Sat 5 June BBC2), and idly wondered why he had a fake American accent. Turns out it’s because he IS American. I guess everyone (but me) knew that.

Next in the series: probably hedgehogs or aphids. Feel free to add to what I already don’t know.

Iris pseudacorus – Yellow Flag Iris

The first flag iris to flower in our garden. So beautiful. It lives at the edge of the pond (which is where, I believe, it’s good for flag irises to grow!).