Thursday, 28 April 2011

If you MUST

OK. It's official - I cannot escape the Royal Wedding.

All week my next door neighbours (yes THEM!) have been teaching the local kiddies songs for the coming street party: 'God Save the Queen', 'Rule Britannia' and 'Land of Hope and Glory'...

... well, I'm supposing it's for the Royal Wedding... they could be setting up a Facist Toddlers Group!

Yes, you say, but your local kids are burning tyres, graffiting walls and nicking fags from the corner shop. I should be grateful. And there's an outside chance all this jumping up and down will demolish their new patio - now rising a good metre above ground level.

I'm neither rampantly for or against the royal family and 'the wedding' and I don't work Fridays anyway. I suppose it must be doing the British tea-towel industry some good, but I wouldn't recognise Kate Whatsit if I fell over her in the street - which seems fairly unlikely unless she's planning a hen night in Slinkies.

But I'm not going to the street party and frankly the only reason I'll be getting out of bed is because there's no telly in my bedroom and I want to see if anything exciting (by which I mean 'unplanned') happens... like she has the good sense to change her mind about all this marriage malarky.

Yes, I'm grumpy this week. If you want to cheer yourselves up:

I shall be drinking and snacking and assuming my usual position at weddings*- sitting at the back in black, muttering: 'It'll never work.' It's what I should have done at my own.

* Although, strangely, I rarely get invited to any.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Just wandering...

This Saturday I'll be joining fellow Wirral poets on a trip to mob the Wenlock Poetry Festival.

It's ok - we're in the programme. We're being egged on (as ever) by the ebullient John Gorman (he of Scaffold and Tiswas fame), who would have poets in odd socks on every corner if he could.

I've 'done' Oxton Secret Gardens' (right) a couple of times - where poets leap out from the rhododendrons at unsuspecting garden-lovers. After I had one irate chap going on at me for '...coming in here with your sonnetts and your villanelles and messing up the geraniums...' (I'm paraphrasing) I'm probably not doing that one this year, because here's the thing: Not everyone (whisper it) likes poetry.

Much Wenlock is different. It's a poetry festival, see - they'll be expecting poems and that's what they'll get! Last year they had a groovy giant knitted poem, sculptures made out of books and a Poet Tree where you hung your smaller works.

But without that context, I confess I'm wary of spouting in the streets. (Apart from that time, giddy from the Glam Slam in my 2nd Most Glamourous Poet in Liverpool' sash, I did an impromptu recitation on the platform of Central Station, Liverpool.)

Faced with a clerihew or sestina, some people will quite literally run away (except the captive audience in the queue of Much Wenlock's famous butcher shop, who don't want to lose their place and will suffer anything). And if everyone involved doesn't do their best, most accessible poems, won't it just confirm people's worst opinions of poetry? Doesn't it then become the opposite of evangelism?

What do you think? Would you be delighted or provoked to mindless violence if you were accosted by a poet in the street?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Proud parent?

A friend of mine’s son has just been suspended from school for writing graffiti. She’s very proud. It wasn’t just willies either (although he’s a teenage boy so obviously there are willies involved).

In six foot capitals along the school wall he and an accomplice wrote: 'Nick Clegg is a F***ing Liar' and 'F*** Tesco’s.'

And nobody, but nobody is saying: 'Where does he get it from?'

I'm not saying he was encouraged in any way to do this - my friend is a very respectable (not quite) middle-aged academic. But still, the fruit does not fall far from the tree if you know what I mean.

They even made anarchy stencils. Stenciling is the ideal methodology for subversive graffiti artists so you can complete your work quickly. It says so in the Banksy book I blogged about here – which my friend happens to own too.

It would have been hard for my friend to put her full heart into berating him about all of this – she agrees with the sentiments (apart from the willies), secretly applauds the courage of his convictions and is pleased he’s trying harder at art – but luckily she didn't have to as his big sister went ballistic at him for potentially getting himself excluded from school, exam success, future college and ‘the rest of his life.’

It must be very satisfying being a parent.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Changing the World

Continuing on the theme of themed months/weeks/days it was Earth Day yesterday... in America. I should have guessed it was just for America because of which way round the globe is... and the way, when I went to the quiz page to find out what my environmental footprint was, little old Britain wasn't even on the map!

I used to work for a local environmental charity - I organised the Wirral Green Fayre for 3 years, set up a small eco centre that's still going 15 years later, dressed as a pile of rubbish (and on another occasion a carrot), made placards, spearheaded a Forum Local Agenda 21 (and what a sad, small entry that has on Wikipedia when we thought it would 'change the world.') I've done my time, though I'm not sure I changed anything at all. But I gave up because nobody cared and I was tired of crying the in the wilderness.

But there's no need to change the world, is there? It's busy changing itself. I wrote a poem about it for Poetry24. This is the hottest Easter weekend on record in the UK - following the coldest winter. And with Arctic melt-water threatening to divert the Gulf Stream (see here) leaving Britain with the weather its latitude deserves, all talk of using energy-efficient appliances, leaving the car at home occasionally and recycling your wildlife magazines is just bows and arrows against the lightening.

My environmental scientist chum says that the climate changes anyway. So what's the use in pointing fingers? Let's just the change the things we can.

Or not bother.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Bl****y Builders

Whisper it: next door's builders may have finally finished.

It started small, in April last year. Him next door mumbling vague plans about extending his house to the boundary. 'Ten days,' he lied.

I wrote a bit last year about the onslaught of roughshod builders and their monstrous erection, but basically for the last year 'home’ has lost its edges, and I retreated to this room, this desk, this duvet, as the wall rose like an army in the east, row by row into my sky, suffocating scaffolding, closing in but all the banging, the shouting, the debris falling on my side.

That's my neighbour in the picture (on scaffolding he put up on our side without even asking permission first... the pic is taken from my bedroom).

At one point we thought it might stretch all the way down the garden, across the street both ends, into the park, dissect the estuary... until he was kicking on the very door of heaven demanding entry.

Even the saints would complain about dust everywhere, him not laying plastic sheeting over the pearly gates (now covered in mortar). Even the Virgin Mary would kick off about their bloody language - and how it was always just ‘a few more days’’ – even years, decades later, the roster of excuses worn thin with handling, the garage sold out of cheap chrysanthemums and chocolate – his paltry offerings not up to the job of apology.

Even God would be furious: (*adopts Voice of God*): ‘He called it minor work but he can rot in hell if he thinks I’m putting up with more of this – I should have smited him before he started, but you have to have to have faith in people, don’t you?’

I know it's dull to go on and on and on about walls, but wall-loving perfectionists amongst you might enjoy these two fine examples of workmanship:

(a) the tricky 'let's build a new wall on the crumbling, wonky old bricks of the previous one' technique (front garden) and

(b) the challenging 'let's not bother to finish that top row off nicely on the neighbour's side because we don't have to look at it' technique

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

An Experiment

I've recently succumbed to the charms of one of these new Batberry devices.

I know.

So I'm blogging during my lunch break whilst parked on the promenade between New Brighton and Birkenhead, overlooking a (slightly misty) Liverpool skyline - here's the picture I just took and uploaded this very minute!

How groovy is that?

The correct answer is: 'Not very!' The picture wouldn't upload and then the battery ran out - so I've had to finish it off hours later.

Finger on the pulse of modern technology, me.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Or should I say 'Daves' - there really area lot of them, aren't there?

I've been unreliably informed in a comment on my previous post that it's 'Be Kind to Dave Century.'

But there are so many of them! Dave has to be top the list of the commonest name of the people I have known.

There were Daves at school - heart-throbs, ne'er do wells (who, I understand have actually done quite well after all!) and swots. There were Daves in the bank I grew up in - from management right down to the clerk blew who himself up.

There were Davids in Israel (though I never came across any Goliaths),Daves amongst the volunteers, Daves travelling, Daves who stayed at home.

There were always Daves on telly, Daves in books, Daves singing songs and Daves running countries. (Little known fact: Gaddafi's first name is really Dave)

There were environmental Daves, voluntary Daves, Council Daves, poetic Daves, borrower Daves, random, 'you know... Dave!' friend-of-a-friend Daves.

I just counted - I know at least fifteen of them. At least.

P.S. For girls, it was always Gill - there were gluts of them at school and even fairly recently I worked in an office - and a small office at that - with three Gills. It wouldn't have been so bad if any of them had ever given their surname, to give those of us answering the phone a fighting chance of knowing which one was being referred to! But no! That would have been too easy.

I got four Gills in the living room at a party once - which makes a pint!

What names have haunted your life?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Awareness Awareness Month

I'm sorry to disappoint long-standing followers, but I forgot about National Double Entendre Week back in March.

This was a completely fictitious theme week that myself and Moptop invented last year and planned to bring into being merely by pretending it was real!

I was reminded of this by this tweet from comedian Jimmy Carr:

Stress? I know about stress. Hypertension is my middle name. (Actually it's Marion... I made that up too.) I packed in my lucrative PR job because of it, but not before sending my blood pressure to near-critical levels and irreparably messing up my kidneys.

But when I looked on the web I couldn't decide if it was National Stress Month here or in America - I mean I'm not going to get all 'aware of the issues' if it's some foreign thing. Then I found this list on Wikipedia.

So - in April, we should be especially aware of alcohol, the earth and sexual assault whilst appreciating jazz, pets and volunteers, and preventing cruelty to both animals and children. No wonder it's stressful!

... and if you can't be bothered to scroll down the whole hellish confection there, here's some examples:

  • National Be On Porpoise Month... sorry that should read Be On Purpose (I did that 'on purpose)
  • Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
  • Creative Romance Month
  • Typewriter Appreciation Month
  • Black Hole Awareness Month (I dare you to click on that link - it will mess with your head!)
  • Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS) Awareness Month (and let's face it - they need the publicity because I've never even heard of that)
  • National Library Card Sign-up Month

October is National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month AND National Pasta Month (AND pork, pretzel, pickled peppers and popcorn months) - are they trying to kill us?.... And it's also, ironically Hunger Awareness Month: People will just keep saying: ''Yes, I'm aware that millions of people are starving to death, but pass me the Parmesan!' until the penne finally drops.

There's even a National Constipation Awareness Month - no shit! (And I'd made that up as a joke before I even found out it was real!)

I think National Double Entendre Month would fit right in, don't you. Although I am vaguely suspicious - it being Wikipedia and all - that some of them (Dirty Harry Month?) might be just as made up as mine... and actually don't they all exist only because somebody says they do?

What kind of awareness month would you champion?

p.s. I must STRESS that these are just the themed months... I haven't even started on the themed weeks or days - and nor shall I (probably) - not with my blood pressure!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Scalling Fox's Glacier Mint

I've had some rather sad news.

I don't know how to tell you this, but...

...the Fox Glacier in New Zealand has nothing to do with Mr Eric Fox's refreshing sweets. It is named after a former prime minster of New Zealand, Mr William Fox. How disappointing!

I had imagined the mint was inspired by an intrepid explorer who stood on the advancing ice and returned home determined to recreate it with peppermint and ... er... a polar bear.

I went heli-hiking on Fox Glacier two years ago this month - I could have gone on nearby Franz Josef Glacier but it didn't have any popular confectionery named after it so I thought: 'No!'

One of the many really groovy and cool things about these glaciers - and I mean groovy and cool in their literal senses here - is that they come down so quickly their terminals reach temperate rainforest level. I bet you thought that first photo was doctored somehow didn't you? Wrong!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Purdah, she wrote

I love it when disparate meanings of the same word converge in topicality... like just now, when Islamic dress and reporting restrictions collide.

'Purdah' is Persian word meaning 'curtain' and referring to the concealment of women from men - the segregation of the sexes and the concealment of women's bodies (and sometimes faces) with the burqa and niqab.

Under France's ban on the burqa - which came into force on Monday (see Martin Hodges' excellent short poem 'France, uncovered' at Poetry 24*) - police have already begun to issue on-the-spot fines to perpetrators.

But purdah is also not in the news... as the term used to describe the 6-week period prior to local elections (on 5 May) when local councils have special restrictions on what they can and cannot say in press releases and other communications material:

"Publicity should not deal with controversial issues or report views, proposals or recommendations in such a way that identifies them with individual members or groups of members." (from Walsall Council's Purdah advice)

Having worked in a council press office I can tell you it's a blessed relief to be free of the politicians for a while - especially if it's a 'hung' council like mine was in those days and you had to be so careful to keep impartial when Councillors (or 'Members' as they are rightly called) were trying to score points off each other.

Isn't purdah the perfect word for this? The hiding of supposed 'enticements' coupled with the restrictions that imposes - both welcome and unwelcome?

I'm still struggling over the wearing of the 'veil.' Is it human instinct is to feel uneasy when we can't see someone's face or just a cultural thing? Is it our problem rather than theirs? Or is that a view being spun by the anti-ban activists? For every woman who stands up and says: "No-one forces me to wear this. I like it, it is linked to my religion" how many are being forced and do not like it? I don't know.

I'm uneasy about banning an article of clothing - especially such an emotive one - which in some cases at least is a personal choice. I'm not sure what France thinks it is achieving by this - surely it will further enrage an already radicalised part of society without doing anything to alleviate all the other abuses against women in some parts of the Islamic world?

Arguments on both sides have points (and lots of interesting info here) but I remain unconvinced by either. Here I am sitting on the fence again... what are your views?

Monday, 11 April 2011

The world is made of glass

In the midst of the rejections, which I've entertained you with before it's nice to get the occasional 'Yes!'

Thanks to the magic of spreadsheets, I can reliably tell you that of 400 poetry submissions I've sent, 57 were published, and of 346 entries to poetry competitions, 17 were placed. It's a slog, and these figures are comparatively good, I'm told. *sigh*

I've just had a poem published in this year's Ragged Raven Anthology: Nothing Left to Burn - the fourth time I've been selected for one their excellent collections. I was especially chuffed that they even named last year's anthology after my poem - which was runner up in their competition: The world is made of glass.

The world is made of glass

each blade of grass
hand-blown and fragile,
as bright as needles.

You order coffee here and stare
into something solid and opaque –
one sugar cube suspended

perfectly. See the craftsman’s skill:
nothing solid exactly, but moving
with the patience of glaciers.

All things, even your lover’s face,
reflect an image of yourself, slightly distorted.
The touch of skin’s as sharp

as those mornings when buildings
look like clouds and birds fly into them,
shatter their skulls and drop like stones.

Rain falls in slivers, lies
like mirrors at your feet. You feel
your way – afraid of fractures,

everything splintering. Beneath
leaded sheets your brittle sweat
rolls and dances like beads

from a broken string, night hardens you
into a sculpture, your arteries a marbling
only visible in certain lights.

© Clare Kirwan

p.s. did you notice I wrote an entire poem about glass without once using the overly-poetic word 'shards'? My A problem shard post explains why.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Then and now

People keep asking me had the kibbutz changed much since I was there in the early nineties?

Well, I went to both the ones I have lived on and they looked pretty much the same. But there have been fundamental changes which I understand are typical.

There are 256 kibbutzim in Israel (only 16 are 'religious' - it's a very secular movement) with a combined population of over 100,000. The first kibbutz was established 100 years ago this year, and they were initially very basic, communities of pioneers living to pure socialist principles.

Everything was shared, everyone worked on the kibbutz - initially farming, but increasingly in manufacturing - for equal pay, 'members' ate in communal dining rooms and babies were looked after in children's houses to free mothers to work.

But by the 90's many kibbutzim had got into debt and young people were leaving because they wanted more freedom. This has led to big changes.

The majority of people no longer work on the kibbutz, but do 'proper' jobs in the real world and keep their wages, just paying rent, utilities etc to the kibbutz. This leads to disparity between people's wealth depending on their jobs. It also means there are LOADS more cars on the kibbutz (there used to be a dozen which could be booked out).

Some richer kibbutzim can afford to keep to the old ways and maintain a high quality of life - like free food in the dining room. But in others these have been gone a while - Alonim's is open just to provide lunch for the factory workers but run by an outside outfit.

Of course my first question to everyone was: 'How do you like the changes?' and most think it's good - the kibbutz doesn't control their lives anymore. They can choose a work/life balance and if they work hard they can extend their houses, have a better car, take time off when they want. In the old days you got a holiday abroad when it was your turn that year, you worked the hours you were told and everyone was looking to see no-one was getting more than their share. Now you make your own share.

The only person who felt, like I did, that it was sad, that something had been lost, was Rahamim. He still works as driver - taking the old people to hospital appointments and suchlike. He says it's better for the people who have good jobs, but older people or those who don't have the skills have lost out. And if you live alone you don't have the communal places where you can chat with other people, eat together - sometimes you don't see other members for months.

The other thing which I found very strange was that the kibbutz rents out space now to various small enterprises: a mother & baby shop, a carpenter, an Argentinian grill to name just a few. So there are customers driving in and out - and mums from 'outside' taking their tots to be looked after for the day in the baby house!

The kibbutzim I have been to are still beautiful places to live - when homes and environments are planned by resident committees for the future of the community (rather than developers for profit) they incorporate green space and pleasing aspects. And they don't have the blight that our communities often suffer of major thoroughfares cutting them in half.

It's a shame that economics and human nature have conspired to thwart the best example I know of a genuine and voluntary communist society. But I'm glad I caught the tail end of the 'old days' it's good to know they're surviving on some level, even if they've had to change.

These are personal experiences and reflections (and pictures - which are of Kibbutz Alonim, except the b&w one), but there's a very good article exploring the issues more widely here: The kibbutz: 100 years old and facing an uncertain future [The Guardian]

Related posts:
Kibbutz volunteer / Desert Storm Diary / Ovens / The Promise ... or put 'kibbutz' in the blog's search engine for more bits and pieces

Friday, 8 April 2011

First lines

I'm supposed to be starting my new novel.

OK, so I haven't finished the current work in progress. What are you, my mother?

So this new one has a plot, characters, location, framework... and what it needs now is a first line.

It just so happens that the deadline is this week for the annual Little Lytton contest - which looks for 'hilariously bad' first lines of imaginary novels.

Here's a fine example from the instigator:

Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating. Adam Cadre

Here's what he says about it: 'The non-action of "stood," the vagueness of "there," the involuntary process of ovulation treated as an activity, the inappropriateness of mentioning the volume of that non-activity, the uncomfortably gynecological detail of mentioning it at all — all combine to make a cringeworthy sentence.'

Here are some of last year's winning entries:

This is a story about a racist hero who dies at the end, probably painfully since he’ll get shot in the face.

This is a mystery about a murder I committed.

Zandor stood in the doorway, raking the onlooking crowd with the hot coals of his eyes.

Reading these has inspired me to look up the first lines of some of my own work. So here are some dodgy openings from some of my (unpublished works):

When you’re a down-at-heal astronaut, you’re about as low as you can get.

Even through the bandages, the cold must have been biting.

It was as good as being dead. No, not that good

I wonder why they're unpublished? The last two were alternate first lines for my only completed novel - a tale of trauma, changed identity, tortured relationships and redemption that I first started when I was 13, completed in 2003 and is currently 'under the bed'.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the first lines of my nearly complete work in progress - a tale of local authority planning officers, root vegetables and the undead are:

Always wear your best pants. Your mother was right. You may have an accident.

So, I'd better get on with it... but do share your favourite first lines in the comments... or share the most toe-curling one you have come up with yourself.

To help: American Book review came up with this list of Top 100 First Lines of Novels

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Did anyone happen to see 'Cloudspotting' on BBC Four on Tuesday night?... click the link to watch it if you are at all interested in clouds.

I've stumbled across The Cloud Appreciation Society before in cyberspace. It's an appealing, eccentric (I was going to say British but they have members across the known universe) hobby that is unexpectedly interesting and does nobody any harm.

Anyway, it inspired me to look up some cloud shots to post on the blog. The first one is a rather ominous looking storm front coming in over northern Queensland.

New Zealand is known to the Maori as Aotearoa - or 'the land of the long white cloud'. This picture is a fine example taken on South Island.

But this last picture is one of the weirdest skies I've seen - taken in the early morning at Dunedin, New Zealand. In the cloudspotting program there were stranger ones - and it's tempting to suspect the use of filters or photo-shopping software. But I took this myself... half believing with it's apocalyptic feel that it would be the last picture I ever took.

It wasn't.

But, as the chap on the telly - Gavin Pretor-Pinney - suggested, I'm going to look up more often.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Let me count the ways...

We counted all the books in the library the other day - it's an end-of-the-financial year thing.

We have 32,476 books. Well we might have.

But as there was no system of checks and balances, no QA, no spreadsheets listing categories, no double-checking of other people's additions... as the entire process was conducted on random bits of scrap paper with a bare minimum of discussion (we were all counting, see, and we'd have lost our places), and as we don't know (a) how many books are currently on loan because the system doesn't readily give us those sort of figures and (b) how many we are supposed to have all things being equal, we could have just as easily made up a rough figure and stayed in bed (separate beds... we're not 'that kind' of library).

But here's something to think about next time you're ploughing through a book you're not really enjoying: with more that 9,500 novels in our branch, IF (and you'll see, a rather big 'if') I read one every day it would take me 26 years to read them all. But also, I would never read them all - because we get more than 7 new ones every week so the incoming would exceed the outgoing.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Old flames

Where was I when I left you on that cliff? Oh yes, revisiting Israel. But first a short recap...

Twenty years ago (as a Mere Child) I set out to 'see the world' starting with a few months on a Kibbutz. I thought I'd be picking oranges but ended up in a glue factory, where I fell in love with Moshe, the scientist - one of the kibbutniks.

It was the whole 'eyes across a crowded room' thing but it wasn't easy being with him - he was only recently separated from his wife who still lived there with their 4 kids, and became my boss when I was moved to work in the baby house. I didn't speak the language (and being funny in it was out of the question), we were miles from anywhere, his family disapproved of me.

I had unexplained illnesses which (later) turned out to be glandular fever but I was sent for tests in a hospital where the only English books were on chemotherapy.

Also, Saddam Hussein was dropping bombs on us - you can read a diary excerpt here. We sat in our sealed room in gas masks because no-one knew what chemical weapons he might unleash.

So when my scientist asked me to stay with him forever, I had qualms. I wasn't long divorced and having made a really poor choice once I didn't trust my own judgement. 'It's not you, it's me' never goes down very well, but I meant it. I had to get away to make my decision objectively. I needed some time, I said, and anyway I'd need more of my things if I was staying.

I took the long way home, backpacking through Italy for a month (I'd wanted to travel, remember?) but after just a few weeks back in England I'd decided - I wanted to be with him and face all the challenges. When I told him, he wasn't too enthusiastic. I was shocked.

I flew back to Tel Aviv, and telephoned. 'Don't come,' he said.

I left him once I'd do it again, he said. He was probably right, but at the time it broke my heart. I stalked him a bit: sobbing down the telephone from a different kibbutz, even visiting (though he went away when he heard I was coming). Something he'd misinterpreted in a note I'd left... I don't even know what it said. When I finally saw him again it had become impossible to talk about it and by then I was resigned. The last thing he said when he dropped me off in the Glue Van was: 'Don't forget to shut the door'. But, of course, there were no doors on the Glue Van, so I never did shut that door.

I mentioned him in this post a few weeks ago because I had it in mind I might drop in on him. And I did.

I didn't call. I only know a couple of people there now through Facebook. I thought I'd ask the guard at the gate (but there wasn't one) or hang around the dining room for familiar faces (it was locked and no-one was around - there have been a lot of changes). It started to rain. No-one was around.

Then I saw a family on the path and it turned out to be one of the only 2 people I'd chatted to on FB - and when I asked about Moshe, it turned out they lived next door!

So his new partner was outside and I said hello, is Moshe in and even his footfall sounded familiar. And he was a bit surprised, but he was always quite phlegmatic and took it in his stride. And he gave me such a lovely hug, it was like coming home.

Then we had hibiscus tea, and his new girlfriend is really nice, and he's a granddad now, and it was all a bit awkward really once we got down to actual words. In some ways it always had been; maybe it would have been even if we'd shared a language.

He has a nice house now, with a lovely view across the hills (and the 2nd century Roman ampitheatre of Eleutheropolis unearthed there in my absense near the caves that I knew well - much better pics of both here). It's the sort of place I might chose to live now for a quiet life. But I don't think I could have been happy there as a Mere Child.

So we left and he did friend me on Facebook but didn't reply to the message I sent saying how good it had been to see him. But anyway, it's a kind of closure.

I mentioned I was writing now, and I might write a book about the kibbutz. He said I should do what I want. The trouble with me is I never quite know what I want.

What do you think? Autobiography? Fictionalised version as novel?

p.s. I did almost the same thing at the second kibbutz, by the way - and I sprang myself on that old flame during my recent visit too!

Friday, 1 April 2011

My 200th Post!

And now I've gone and missed my own 200th post!

This is the 201st... but I'm pretneding it's the 200th. As long as I don't mention it, no-one will notice... doh!

Anyhoo - despite having lost one or two along the way, I have 70 followers: new ones I'm just starting to find out more about and some who've been around a while and feel like old cums now, always responsive and amusing.

The always engaging Ellie Garrett recently did a question and answer session for her 200th - followers asked any burning questions they had about her and she posted answers over the next few posts. I was thinking about doing something similar, but I've decided to ask you some questions instead. This time.

I didn't know what I was doing when I started blogging, and advice from certain quarters says you should have a niche - you either blog your day to day experiences, OR the writing life, OR post your poems, OR traveller's tales, OR random funny stuff, OR philosophical musings, OR the bollards of London. In short - some people think you're supposed to specialise. I treated this as I treat any sound advice: by nodding sagely and then ignoring.

I suggested some posts ago that specialisation is for insects. But is it really? I'd love to know what YOU think about variety versus specialisation... so now for the navel-gazing...

  1. Are you more or less likely to follow someone with a very specific oeuvre?
  2. Do I post too often? Too long? (OK, I've missed a couple of weeks this month, but was that a relief or did you miss me?
  3. What kind of posts from me do you like the best?
  4. What kinds of posts turn you off, make your finger hover over the delete button?
  5. In short, what would make this a better blog?

Please be honest - it would really help me. I'm absolutely not fishing for compliments here - knowing what annoys or irritates you is actually much more useful.

p.s. I haven't forgotten about that cliffhanger... I'm working on it...