45POTUS? Everyone Just Calm Down

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Everyone needs to just calm down.

Take a breath.

Take a step back.

No, I mean it, just stop and take a breath.

Having returned to supply teaching (and after 5 years of dealing with mainly first world problems) I have had to, not only recall, but use daily, my classroom management training.

My last job had allowed me to become soft.

Class control took a tiny percentage of my resources.

That’s why I could spend more time on creativity, but I digress.

Recently, the 45th President was displaying the attributes and behaviour of a certain type of pupil, so in response I have some advice to the US media.

The US Media, who, btw, are under attack – just a hop skip and a jump away from censorship and

love them or hate them,

whether or not you believe that they’re all just getting what they deserve,

anyone believing in the freedom of speech has the duty to protect them all,

even Fox News.

I watched the press conference last week and I saw an entire room full of teachers fail to control one disruptive pupil.

Admittedly, this particular character may not immediately appear to be a teenager

(with a big ego and tiny hands),

but deep down underneath all the insecurities

(and possible mental health issues?),

let’s just pretend for a moment that he is.

When I was a student, I chose the special needs module and I learned from a teaching assistant in an EBD school – Emotionally and behaviourally disturbed, no, it’s not me using those words, yes,  they actually called it that, but it was 20 odd years ago, so it’s ok, unclench…

This teaching assistant was ‘The Pupil Whisperer’, he could calm down a Tasmanian devil with a single word.

He told me his basic rules.

  1. Remain calm at all times

  2. Do not get dragged into an argument, there’s no point.

After years of dealing with different and challenging iterations of this archetypal pupil, I have added the following guidelines for interaction

  • Require simply yes and no answers, where possible

  • Establish the facts. i.e.

    • The constitution states XX, yes or no?

    • The definition of unconstitutional is XX, yes or no? etc.

  • Present (possible/probable/likely) consequences of current behaviour

  • Offer (suggest) choice of (desirable) future course of action.

So, dear media, instead of getting caught up in the behaviour, manage it and help the adolescent modify it.

Take this information, ignore it, use it, laugh at it, try it out,

honestly…

I’m just putting it out there.

Amandasig

If you want to read my evaluation of my time teaching, you can find it here:

Stop it, Adele!

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I watched the Grammys and I saw Adele not accepting that she is worthy of the  Album  Of The Year Grammy.

I don’t want to take anything away from Beyoncé, honestly I don’t. I, like many others, took myself off to my computer as soon as I heard the buzz about Lemonade. I sat and watched the entire thing

Twice!

and wow, it was an amazing watch.

The videos were beautiful, the poetry was stunning and as a full body of work, it was a brilliant, well-told story. I can honestly say that apart from the questionable message, which I’ll get back to, it was outstanding. But, but, but…

I’m in my forties and what I’m looking for in an album is not something I can sit on my sofa and watch.

I want something I can dance around my kitchen to, while baking cakes and squealing at the top of my voice – which by the way because of the smoking, drinking and advanced years is not quite as high as it once was 🙂

And for this purpose, I’m afraid, Beyoncé’s Lemonade doesn’t quite cut it. The music is there, some of the songs are kitchen worthy, but there’s not enough to belt out, there’s not enough high notes to challenge the aforesaid dodgy vocal chords, not enough scope for dodgy dancing whilst flinging cake mix around. it’s too much style over substance, it’s designed to be watched and admired, not actually listened to while trying to cream together butter and sugar.

On the other hand, ‘Send My Love to Your New Lover’ is a perfect song to sling some eggs into a mixture to. ‘Hello’ is perfect for sifting and folding in flour and ‘When We Were Young’, if you ignore that she’s, what? 26 at most and therefore still very much young, is the most perfect song to stand there with a wooden spoon caterwauling as loud as you can, while remembering all those people you fancied at school

(Yes I thought about you Polski, what are you up to nowadays?)

Maybe I’m just not young enough to appreciate Beyoncé’s artistry, but it’s just not singy enough, sorry.

I did say I would get back to my reluctance to praise Lemonade because of its somewhat dodgy message. Now, I appreciate what she was trying to do, but in my humble opinion, perpetuating the myth that men are weak and can’t help cheating and if you really love them you’ll give them a second chance, because your love is an epic love and together you can work through it. Bullshit! That’s ridiculous and not something you should be spreading if you truly want to empower women.

I’d rather have Adele’s message of send my love to your new lover, treat her better!

So Adele, no matter how much you admire Beyoncé, you bloody deserved that award.

It’s not a Grammy, but my cakes and I thank you.

The Joy of Being Observed

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Today, I’m going to broach the subject of classroom observations.

Before I get into this please understand that these are my thoughts on the subject. I am under no illusion that I am right. I might be very, very wrong and I accept the possibility that I might be. Plus I am no longer teaching full-time, so I have the benefit of distance…

(Please read my disclaimer)

I’m really not particularly fussed about classroom observations.

There, I said it 🙂

As far as I’m concerned, anyone can sit in my classroom at any time if they want to do so. Obviously there are better times than others, and some classes that you wish no-one ever ever get a glimpse of, but on the whole, I’m not fussed.

I know that I am a good teacher, but I am human.

Most days are good, some are excellent and a few are bad. Occasionally I have such hideous days that I never want to set foot in a school again, but those days are so rare that I can dismiss them (after a bottle of Red). I think this is perfectly normal.

The majority of people, not just teachers, sit in this pocket. This, I think, is the profile of someone who really likes their chosen job/profession. In my own life, if this balance changes, I reassess my life choices, which explains the different career paths I have enjoyed.

A while back, I decided that instead of being so grumpy all the time about life, I was going to train myself to look for the positive in things. Sometimes, I forget to do so, sometimes I have to work really really hard, it’s exhausting, but on the whole, when I feel myself falling into that pit of hate or despair, I find that bloody silver lining and I cling to it.

I work on the principle that anyone who expects a teacher to deliver every single lesson perfectly, with absolutely no errors of any kind, is an unreasonable person who doesn’t understand what it means to be human. I try not to fear criticism, and I don’t always take it on the chin immediately, but ultimately, if the criticism is constructive, why not take it on board? If I make mistakes, I hold my hand up and admit it. If the critisicm is unfair or just wrong, I will point it out and say why I believe it to be so.

A few years ago, by some twist of fate, (or a very astute move, by someone who absolutely trusted and supported me) it was decided that I would be observed by someone in authority, who really disliked me.

And I mean, really disliked me.

(get me drunk and I might let slip some stories 🙂 ).

At first I was annoyed, but then I thought, sod it! No matter what happens, they’ll try to find a way to make me look bad, so I decided to treat it as a normal lesson and not do anything special. If they wanted to take me down, I would be in MY comfort zone while they tried to do it.

I am confident in my teaching ability. I am confident in my rapport with my classes to know that they wouldn’t deliberately act out of character. I am confident in my knowledge of my subject and absolutely loved being in my classroom.

Whatever my observer wanted to do, however they decided to act, made absolutely no difference to me, because everything I did in a classroom had been thought out, admittedly, occasionally it could be a rushed thought process, but mostly it was considered rationale, based on data, not conjecture.

I let my observer know that they could observe any lesson they wished. I said which lessons would be most interesting for them (some lessons that week were going to be past paper lessons). A lesson was agreed, then I simply forgot all about it and went on with my job. Then one day, they appeared in my classroom and apart from the malevolent  darkness they exuded :), it was a normal lesson. It turned out it was a very good lesson, but even if it hadn’t turned out so well, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

You see, I own what I do in the classroom.

Even the mistakes.

The greatest piece of advice I got from the amazing James Burch (info here and here ) was to be a reflective teacher. If something goes wrong, reflect on why and adapt.

I know that when two people disagree the truth of the matter is usually somewhere in the middle. I was interested to see what the observer would focus on and how they would frame their criticism. I also prepared myself for the fact that there would be criticism, some of which would be warranted, and some which would not be. But I had my rationale and data, so I was confident I can hold my own in any conversation.

Everyone views the world through their own agendas. If someone believes you are a bad teacher, they will ignore all the things that contradict this view and focus on the things that confirm it. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about that. You are unable to change their viewpoint, but if you can explain your rationale (and especially if you can back it up with data), you’ve done all you can. If you have neither rationale nor data, listen to them, they might have a point. Either way, you have an opportunity to grow and develop as a human being.

Anyway, then came the feedback session and the observer spent around 85% of the time focussing on something they saw in a marked exercise book and I mean obsessively focussed. This made me happy, that was the only thing they could pinpoint and it was so small and insignificant. I knew that after they’d actually seen me teach and signed the form, they could no longer make snide comments about the quality of my teaching.

Most of my personal growth on that day was demonstrated by my ability to stop myself from punching my observer in the face for being such a dick, and I’m actually  proud of myself for that 🙂

I never said I was perfect, just human 🙂

Have your own Adventure in Battle Rap!

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For those of you who followed my last blog, (click here if you’ve not seen it) I promised to update you with ticket details.

Get an early bird ticket and  for just a tenner, you can immerse yourself in a new fascinating, intriguing and funny world.

Plus you get to experience one of the most talked about battles in the scene – Shox vs Unanymous

What else are you going to do with a tenner?

Buy 3 coffees?

Get your early bird tickets here

My Adventure into Battle Rap

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So, some of you might know that I have been spending a lot of time in the company of my Nephew, Connor. My favourite way to describe him is that he is really great as long as you don’t ask him to do anything more practical than breathing. I do think this is a little unfair, while he has yet to master the ‘turning off the light when leaving a room’ thing, he has mastered the ‘empty the dishwasher instead of piling shit into the sink’ thing. So evidence of progress has been made.

Why have I been spending so much time with him? Well, the quick answer is that I have two things in my house, that he doesn’t have in the house where he’s staying;

the internet and tasty food  🙂

You see, my nephew is a Battle Rapper and he has turned his love of battle rap into a business venture. The organisation of which requires rather a lot of time on the internet. Social media – so young and hip and so very important. He used to battle for the biggest league in the country, Don’t Flop, but then got annoyed with the lack of respect and payment that followed. Although the league was making money from PPV and ticket sales, the Rappers themselves weren’t seeing much of it, plus sometimes they had to fight to get coach fare out of them. Connor thought this wasn’t the way forward, so decided to start his own league, The UK Battle League (UKBL ). He set about organising the launch event.  By the time, he started using my internet, he’d got a venue, organised a card (the battles which would take place on the night) and had a pretty clear marketing strategy to sell tickets. All of this coming from someone, who finds it impossible to move a used knife from the counter into the dishwasher!

So astounded was I that it was possible he could actually organise a piss up in a brewery, I decided to find out more about it.

So, over the past few months, you could say I have had a crash course in Battle Rap.

At first, I had an idea about what it all involved, I mean,

I’ve seen 8 Mile, that’s all you need to know right?

Absolutely wrong.

I started by asking all the questions that an old person would ask, why all the swearing? Why the gun talk? But then I started watching my nephew prepare for a battle. Let’s put aside all the organisational dramas which occurred, sabotage attempts, Battlers dropping out by text (!) and hiring staff. I was watching my useless, pointless nephew, grow up right in front of me. He even got his father, my brother, to help out by designing an innovative system where, for the first time, the audience members can rate each round out of ten and the winner would be the Battler with the highest average score over the entire Battle. This in itself was brand new for the circuit as battle are usually judged on audience reaction (clapping/cheering) which is sometimes difficult to tell, especially if it’s close, which leads to much discussion in the forums as to who actually won. Or by judging panel, which may not be completely unbiased depending on who is chosen to be on the panel. The UKBL system gives a definitive answer on who won.

When he was unable to get a rapper who was prepared to battle Tony D (well respected, pretty much UK No 1, before he handed over his crown), he decided to take him on himself. Which meant not only was he trying to organise an event in London from Manchester, he also had to prepare the best battle of his life. He didn’t think he would win, but for the sake of his own league, he had to give a really good showing.

Then he started explaining all the insider stuff. Did you know there were different types of Rappers?

Some work the puns like a stand up, some write punches like a boxer, some have intricate wordplay worthy of a Poet Laureate and some just make it up on the fly. The one thing that all of them have in common is a crazy eloquence – It’s absolutely fascinating.

At the beginning of his prep, Connor spent a lot of time watching TV shows and movies, that’s not preparation, I hear you shout, but in fact it is, he likes to make pop culture references and attack his opponent with them. In this match up, he references Game of Thrones, Westworld, Stranger things, Mr Robot, Sopranos etc. etc.

As the event drew closer, he became more serious, putting in the time, crafting a clever interplay of ideas and words. Coming up with knockout lines, designed to leave the audience laughing and applauding. If you saw him in that week before the launch, you would think he had mental health issues, he was wandering around my house mumbling to himself, getting annoyed, nervously muttering about how it’s not good enough and having a constant, haunted look of worry when, with two days to go, he still didn’t have a third round.

Every time I went upstairs, I’d hear him ranting in the office, but that was just practice.

In his ciggie breaks, he would come down and fill me in on the latest developments. All this time, I thought that Battle Rap was all about the young people, but it turns out that most of the rappers are in their thirties and forties, at least the good ones are  🙂

Rappers of Connors age are in the minority. When I found this out, and realising that little old me might not be so out of place after all, I started to wonder if I should go down to London for the event.

I found the whole thing fascinating and quite exciting, never did I think at the beginning of 2016, that by December, I would be at a Battle Rap event in Brixton.

But come December 9th – and thanks to one of my wonderful ex-pupils, Lenka, who gave me a bed for the night, there I was, helping out on the door.

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The first thing that struck me was how disparate the various people who rolled up were. There seemed to be no definitive demographic, there were people of all ages, from teenagers to people older than me. Men and women, all ethnicities. There were people in suits, punk outfits and the obligatory few in ‘Rap gear’ (hoodies, baseball caps etc.) nothing seemed to connect these people at all – Except a love of Battle Rap.

The second thing that struck me, when the battlers arrived, was that they all seemed genuinely pleased to see each other, they were so friendly and happy, nothing at all like the angry aggression that I was expecting.

Once the Battles started, the friendly smiles were replaced with rapier sharp cutting wit, hurtful one-liners and some pretty near the knuckle lines – or bars as they call them 🙂 and when they were finished, it was a man-hug and back to smiles.

For me though, the highlight of the night was Cojay vs Tony D. I’m not going to talk too much about it as I’ll put the video at the end, but I will say, the tension in the room was palpable. Everyone expected Connor to be annihilated in the first round, but Con came out swinging and stunned the crowd.

It was like a gladiator fight, two men at the top of their game taking the other down with clever lines and funny jokes. Don’t take my word for it, watch for yourself.

Note: Some information you may need to know to really understand it – Soul, Raptor, Shox and Gemini are all rappers, Soul is the current No 1 of Don’t Flop. Tony battles mainly for Don’t Flop. Tony’s surname is Hamlet. A ‘toe bar’, well Tony-Tone-Toe, a line referring to Tony, talking about toes. Not sure if that makes sense…

Anyway, here it is. Judge for yourself.

Who won? Cojay or Tony D, let me know your opinion in the comments, but on the night, the vote went to Cojay, just…

So if you’ve always wanted to see what this Battle Rap lark is all about, but have been too nervous to actually go, don’t be nervous, buy a ticket and go along. The next event is in February in Shoreditch. I’ll post details when tickets are available or you can like the UKBL on Facebook

Educating Pegland

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I read this week, that Finland are once again looking to improve their education system. They are looking into moving away from subject based education to project based education.

So I got to thinking about the system that we have over here and because I’m enjoying coming up with obvious analogies, I’d like to welcome you to Pegland!

Pegland is a small country on an island in the middle of a cold ocean. Most of the citizens of Pegland are Round Pegs, but in fact there are Pegs in all shapes and sizes.

And not all Round Pegs were the same. Not all Round Pegs fit into the round holes. Some were too big, some too small, some were just a little bit too rough around the edges to fit comfortably into the round holes. The majority of the Young Pegs go to Pegademies to be shaped to fit into the round holes by the Peg-Shapers. For many years, the Pegademies worked out different ways to reshape the Pegs, to chip away at the larger pegs, until they fit in the round holes.

Every now and then, Pegland would decide that maybe they should organise some different shaped holes, for the other shapes to fit into. So Pegland stopped being such a round holes country. In fact, it now had more Round Pegs than there were holes to fit in.

The Editors of Pegland News became worried that the Pegademies weren’t turning out the Right Kind Of Peg. Instead of trying to find out what sort of Pegs the Pegademies should turn out, Pegland decided to give it to Secretary Peg to sort out.

Secretary Peg grew up in a round holes world, at a time when the country had loads and loads of large round holes. All of his friends and Pegademy friends were round holes men and life was so much better then. So he decided that the country should produce Round Pegs, who fit into the round holes. Additionally, he decided that, for a better society, they needed Shiny Pegs, who find it super easy to slip into the round holes.

The government of Pegland decreed that all Pegademies would be judged ONLY on how many Shiny Pegs they could send out of their doors. These results would be posted on the huge noticeboards in the town centre.

So the Pegademies went about following all Secretary Peg’s ideas and he sent out the Dark Pegs to check on the Pegademies to make sure they were properly following all of the decrees.

Unfortunately, every time the Dark Pegs visited, the Peg-Shapers found that they had to spend more and more time on the Thank You Letters for the visits and they had less and less time to spend shaping the Young Pegs. They had absolutely no time to deal with the different shaped Pegs at all, so they just put them in a room together and every so often they would go in and hack huge chunks off them in order to try and get them to fit into the round holes. Sometimes they just sent them to Shaped Pegademies, who were better at dealing with different shapes.

Some of the Young Pegs, who were already shiny when they got to the Pegademies, were filtered into Punctuation-Pegademies. They only dealt with the Shiny Pegs and some of the Pegademies in the nicer areas became very good at selecting the remaining Shiny Pegs for themselves, so that they could get further to the top of the noticeboards.

Very soon, the Pegademies at the bottom of the noticeboard found that they had more and more visits from the Dark Pegs and had no time at all for anything other than making the Young Pegs round. They had very few Shiny Pegs and their other Young Pegs were not able to get shinier, because all the Peg-Shapers were busy writing Thank You Letters for the Dark Pegs. So some of them started to lose their shine, but the schools didn’t mind, because they still fit easily into the round holes, so who needs the really Shiny Pegs?

The Peg-Shapers hated thinking like this, but what else could they do? They had so many Thank You letters to write.

So the Young Pegs started to think.  “What’s the point? There aren’t enough round holes for us all anyway,” they thought. This made the Young Pegs very depressed.

Very soon all the money in Pegland went to buy shiny things for the Shinier Pegademies and the Punctuation-Pegademies. All the Shiniest Peg-Shapers flocked to the Shiny places and although the excellent ones who stayed in the standard Pegademies tried really hard, they found themselves in a never ending circle of Dark Peg visits and Thank You Letters. This made them very depressed.

At the same time out in the country, Pegland was crying out for different shaped pegs and different sized pegs for all the new different shaped and sized holes. But all they could find among the Young Pegs were the round ones in varying grades of shininess.

And the Pegademies kept churning them out.

Then one day, a Curious Peg stood up and said:

“Instead of making all the Young Pegs into Round Pegs, why don’t we just let the Young Pegs be the shape they are. All we have to do then is give them the tools to go out and find a hole that fits them?

And while we’re at it, can we get rid of the noticeboard and try to make ALL Pegademies as good as each other. Can we get rid of the Dark Peg visits and instead get visits from the older & wiser Peg-Shapers, who don’t want Thank You Letters. Instead, they work with the Pegademies to help them get better, not by scaring them, but by helping them, mentoring them and showing them different ways of shaping Pegs.

Can we try this?” Said the Curious Peg

“Yes, why not” said Pegland.

This Curious Peg moment happened 40 years ago in Finland. Now, Finland consistently has one of the best education systems in the world.

Are we ever going to listen to the Curious Pegs in this country?

Read more about the Finnish system here  and here 

New Boiler? Bloody Nightmare!

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If there’s one thing that Brexit and now Trump has shown me, it’s this:

The system is broken.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, something has broken and now we have pockets of crazy popping up all over the place.

When are we going to face up to it and start talking about it, like grown up people? When are we all going to take a long hard look at the society we have built and acknowledge that something has gone wrong, somewhere?

And instead of arguing about where and whose fault it was, how about we just start again, not from what we want in society, but what we need?

How about we get a new boiler?

Let’s say the UK is a house and the boiler keeps breaking down. We keep getting different plumbers come in and look at the boiler, they present us with the options and their quotations on how much it’s going to cost us and wait for us to call them to come and sort it out.

Both quotations say sort of the same thing, both want to tinker around a bit and see if they can sort the problem. For whatever reason, probably because we don’t want to hear it, neither of them are actually prepared to tell us the bad news – we need a new boiler.

We can tinker around with what we have, we can keep giving it emergency treatment, we can keep throwing good money after bad.

But why?

Why don’t we see for ourselves that we should just get a new one?

Every time the plumber arrives, s/he’s in a bigger and better car, occasionally we have enough and get a new plumber, but again, his/her cars also get bigger and better with each visit. We’re now having to get the bus to work every day, because we had to sell the car to pay the plumber and yet,

we’re still not putting two and two together.

We’re not saying to ourselves,

“Why don’t we just get a brand new, completely different boiler?”

Why are we not saying this?

Because everyone knows what a bloody nightmare getting a new boiler can be! Don’t we?

I saw a programme on TV where a guy is going around selling new boilers, just to get into your house, where he kills you and steals all your money.

I read a story in the paper, that happened just down the road, exactly like that. You read it didn’t you, Mary? Just down the road it was.

Would you look at that! A new study, out coincidentally this week when we’re all collectively wondering if we should get a new boiler, says that getting a new boiler is one of the worst things we could do, if we want to stay alive!

Well I never! There’s a poll out today that says 60% of everyone in the house think we should patch up the old boiler.

Shall we call the plumber?

Oh no, s/he’s on holiday in Panama

How about, for once, we stop arguing about how we’re going to patch up the old boiler and start thinking about what we want in a new boiler? Maybe we don’t even need a boiler, maybe there’s a new system or a better system of making the whole house comforatble? What if we find a heating system that’s best for the whole house, not just the upstairs. They’re always warm up there, because heat rises, they have no idea how cold it gets in the basement.

Why don’t we just explain to them,

show them,

MAKE them

understand just how cold and lonely it can get down in the basement. Then they’ll join in, because it’s the right thing to do. They’re not evil, they just don’t understand.

Let’s start with the basic needs of everyone in society?

Food, Warmth and Shelter

Let’s just start there.

Those that have too much can give a little more for once, those who have been paying for too long can get something back and those who have nothing, can, at least, gain some dignity as well as a roof over their heads a warm room and food in their bellies..

The first person who mentions profit, should be stripped of everything and left to sit in a park all day and night to think about how vile a person they must be, to want to profit out of the BASIC needs of a human being.

Let’s just start there, eh?

Then maybe let’s look at letting the NHS keep us well.

Novel Memories

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Today, Facebook sent me a memory. You know, those lovely little reminders of Facebook posts past. I’d almost forgotten about how windy Rossall used to be and the reminder that we had ‘wind days’ off school due to flying roof tiles made me chuckle and all the memories of ruined haircut reveals and constant wearing of hats came flooding back.

But what about those things that happened BF (Before Facebook)? The things that happened before we all had cameras on our mobiles, before we could capture the moment in video in a second, before we could broadcast live to the world?

What about those moments we completely forgot about?

These past few weeks I have been dipping into my ‘Writing’ folder on my computer. This folder contains all the ideas, articles, novels, sitcom scripts, screenplays, basically every single thing I have ever taken the time to write down (or type up).

(Or better said, nearly every single thing I have ever written, I will explain later…)

In this folder I have found an amazing array of script ideas, partially written scripts, treatments for shows and sometimes just a single thought.

In this folder, I also found a finished novel, the contract-breaking, very difficult Third Novel, that I had completely forgotten that I had written. (As you do  🙂 )

Totally forgotten – no memory of it at all…

Until I started reading it…

Then the memories came flooding back  🙂

This got me thinking about the two novels that were published and when I went looking, I discovered that I actually didn’t have any copies of them. I finally remembered lending MY ONLY COPIES of the two novels to a friend, so I relaxed, but I thought it odd, that I only had one copy of each.

Not only that, but I had been so cavalier with them that I had no clue that they weren’t even in my possession.

It seemed a bit dismissive and disrespectful of my own work. I had this thought, but dismissed it, so typically me…

I rang my ex-publisher to ask if they still had any copies lying around, they didn’t, so I looked on Amazon (other online book retailers exist, I guess…) and discovered that said ex-publisher have published Kindle versions of both novels, without me giving them the rights to do so.

How can I be certain of this? Because the concept of a Kindle e-book didn’t even exist when I signed my contract, so there is no way I could have given them the rights to something that didn’t exist. Plus they bought out the contract when they decided that the third novel wasn’t ‘romantic’ enough for them and I refused to make it more to their romance liking… That meant that all rights returned to me. Any lawyers/agents reading, please feel free to correct me if I’m way off base.

So I decided to publish them on Kindle on Amazon myself.

This necessitated finding the manuscripts.

Easy, I thought, I have a writing folder containing… well, you know…

However, You know when you think you’re hyper-organised and fabulous, but when you look into it, you realise you’re no better than Homer Simpson?

Well,

opening the ‘Art of Lost Luggage’ folder, I found every single draft of every chapter, but no ‘final manuscript’ file. It was my first novel, so I didn’t save each draft before revision, I only had a large file called ‘book’. D’oh!

I checked out the ‘Fixing Kate’ folder and found the same thing, (clearly I’m not as quick a learner as I thought!). D’oh D’oh!

I converted them to PDFs and uploaded them to my iPad.

So that is how I found myself sitting on my sofa, settling back to read…

my own novels!

It had been over 15 years since I had read either of them, so honestly I’d forgotten pretty much what happens in them. I had memory of the overall plots, but the detail, no clue.

So I am about to honestly review my own novels, if you can’t take the self-indulgence, please skip past the purple text.

I actually enjoyed them. The plots aren’t the most sophisticated, the characters are probably not as rounded as I would write them now, (perhaps, who knows?), but they are funny and if you just go with the craziness, they’re a good read.

‘Luggage’ made me laugh, remembering how I wrote down, verbatim, a phone call with my, then 3 year old (now 20 year-old) niece, Darbi and slotted it into my manuscript. I remembered the meeting that I had with a manager that I again, copied, verbatim, into the book. That meeting, by the way, is the one bit of the book that everybody thought I made up, not one person has ever believed me when I told them that it actually happened in those exact words!

‘Kate’ also made me laugh, remembering the crazy, but funny things that happened on the hospital ward, that I also, quite mercilessly plundered to write the novel. It brought back the memory of the plot twist that took both my mother and me (!) by surprise as I was writing it. I remember sitting at the table of the house in St Lucia shouting it out and mum running in from the kitchen with a huge avocado in her hand, shouting “What?!” and nearly dropping the avocado in shock when I told her.

Even after reading them, I still wasn’t sure if they are the final versions of each manuscript (because I don’t have a copy to compare them with, remember) but I figured, if films can be reissued in a ‘Director’s Cut’ version, maybe books can be re-issued in an ‘Author’s Draft’ version?

So Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you the Kindle versions of my two novels, previously published in 2001 & 2002. I have got rid of the ‘comedy’ cartoony covers that my publisher forced me to accept and I have designed my own, they may not be to everyone’s taste, but I like them.

They are both priced under a fiver!

If you have a Kindle (or Kindle App) please download a sample and if you like what you see, please do support a struggling freelancer and buy the books

(oh, and if you really like the books, don’t forget to share the links)

*****************************

The Art of Lost Luggage (http://tinyurl.com/AM-Luggage)

luggage-cover

Here’s the blurb for Luggage:

The adventures of “Pretty, but Solid” Samantha Jordan, a Management Consultant working for a Finnish Company who is rapidly approaching 30. A Determined, high-spirited and Independent professional woman, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is chubby and has just had her hair dyed Fiery Mahogany (basically scarlet with copper highlights!).

The tale starts with Samantha losing her luggage, a frequent occurrence, but this time she has had enough and demands that the airline investigate. Enter Anne Madison, the customer representative for the airline, who agrees that it is far too regular to be simply a coincidence. She begins to help with the disappearing luggage problem, and assigns her newly promoted Assistant, Dominic, to accompany Samantha and her Luggage through the investigative process.

It becomes clear to Sam that there is something strange going on and in between burglaries and kidnappings, she discovers that her Luggage is being used for something more sinister.


Fixing Kate (http://tinyurl.com/AM-FixingKate)

kate-cover

Here’s the blurb for Kate, from the press release at the time. Yes, I kept that file:

‘I don’t actually know what happened on that day – the day that changed my life’

She had us laughing out loud in her debut novel The Art of Lost Luggage as we followed the hapless Samantha in pursuit of her eternally lost luggage and a whole lot more. Now in her clever and equally funny second book Fixing Kate she uses her unique and often dark humour to weave another hilarious tale of misfortune and mishap.
As her heroine Kate experiences bedpans, IV drips, dishy doctors and hospital food she relies on her best friends and a wholesome sense of humour to get her through and save her social life.

‘Meet Kate Townsend, thirty-one year old Information Technology consultant with quite a nice life, thank you very much, and some great friends.

Now you couldn’t call Kate unlucky, but you could say she was heading for something big.

And when it came, it was life-threatening.

It all began when Kate flew downstairs to answer her mobile phone – and fly she did – right through the air and landed in the A&E department on a morphine drip.

Struck in her hospital bed for months, Kate is not about to let life, and love, pass her by.

Amid four different types of pasta and a consultant with an appetite, Kate plays host to her devoted gang of friends who are not about to let a broken leg spoil their girls’ night in.’

Fixing Kate – guaranteed to have you stitches.


Remember I mentioned the difficult third novel? Stay tuned  – or better still, follow my blog

Over there ——>

More details to follow…

Blog Changes

Dear All
I have decided to change how I publish my articles.
I have moved my political stuff off my main blog and from now on these blog announcements on Facebook/Twitter from WordPress will be more of the stuff I was posting before I went a bit political.
The political stuff will still be available on my blog here, but available mainly through http://www.prole-star.co.uk/ I’ll post links when they become available.
Amandasig

Say Nothing

say-nothing

When I was younger, in the old days, when honour was a thing people believed in, my mother told me:

“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”

I haven’t always lived by this rule, believe me, ask my family and friends. I am quite the expert at the cutting remark,

the bitchy aside,

the darkest shade.

But more and more recently, my mind keeps coming back to this phrase.

“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”

Can we all agree, because we’ve all done our due diligence, that Corbyn has been treated unfairly by the media as a whole? There is a hostile media landscape. If you didn’t know this, look here: corbyn-report-final

Can we all agree that Corbyn, for whatever reason, has the support of a majority of the party members?

Can we all agree that, for whatever reason, there are people who do not like Corbyn/the direction the party is going in under Corbyn?

Can we all agree that the Party needs to show unity?

The task now is to deliver a unified message, spoken by people who believe in the message. I’m not saying, and would never advocate anyone lying or saying something they did not believe in, just because someone tells them to. But I do advocate the adherence to the idea that, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t go on national television to say it!

I was watching Michael Portillo spout Corbyn policies on ‘This Week’, “What I think is we should go further (than investing £2bn in housing) we should build more council houses…”  while everyone, including Liz Kendall studiously avoided mentioning Corbyn’s name and instead they all stared at Portillo, in wonder, as if they’ve never heard even the concept before!

Now, Liz Kendall is a Labour MP and it seems she would rather let an ex-Tory MP take credit for Labour Policy, than what? Agree with the Leader of her Party???

It’s shameful, but at the same time, Liz Kendall has gone up in my estimation by the tiniest of smidgens, because she followed the ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing’ principle and quite elegantly focussed on issues.

Say I didn’t like the leader, but I believed that my party was a better bet for the country, in any form, than the current government. I would want to show unity without being dishonourable. I would look for a positive solution, things that we agreed on and promote those, steering clear of the things we disagreed on. If I was invited on a TV show, I would politely decline the invitation if it meant showing the party as a whole in a negative way. But declining a show would do nothing for my media profile and name recognition.

So I have a simple choice: Do I act for the benefit of the party or for the benefit of me?

Say I was an Editor/News Exec Producer and I wanted to create a message, but I have to show balance which means a Labour MP and a Conservative MP. I would need to find two MPs who are both repeating the same message. In the current climate, Labour MPs are queuing up to do this. Absolutely the best case scenario for a Labour hostile News Producer, because Labour supporters are instinctively suspicious of Conservative MPs, but if a Labour MP is saying it, then it must be true, mustn’t it?

I keep asking myself why some Labour MPs are willing to play the hostile media game.

Jess Phillips, for whatever personal reason, doesn’t like Jeremy Corbyn. We get it.

And Jess Phillips is entitled to her opinion.

What Jess Phillips should not be doing, what she absolutely should not be doing, if she actually cared about the Labour Party and wanted it to succeed, is go on TV and make it completely clear just how much she dislikes him.

It makes no sense to me. Who does it benefit?

It benefits the Conservative Party, because the media can keep talking about disunity in the Labour Party

It benefits the Conservative Party, because while the media are talking about disunity in the Labour Party, no-one is scrutinising them

It benefits the Conservative Party, because the longer the media can keep talking about disunity in the Labour Party, the more people are going to get sick of talking about disunity in the Labour Party and sick of the Labour Party.

It benefits Jess Phillips, because in a hostile media landscape, programme makers want a Labour MP on to talk trash/make funny faces about the Labour Leader, which leads to more TV appearances.

It benefits Jess Phillips, because all publicity is good publicity, because love you or hate you, people know your name.

I believe that, for the benefit of the party, anyone not wholly on board with the broad strokes of True Labour policies and or personnel, should stay out if the limelight and off the telly for the next few months, so that the Party can send out a unified positive message of the True Labour vision

 

The next time you see a Labour MP on a TV show playing the hostile media game, ask yourself, why are they there? Who do they really want to benefit?