My Recipe

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), fiction.

I try to keep my FOWC responses short, but today I saw the prompt and thought I might actually write a proper post. But don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this short, too.

I guess we all have comfort zones, even in the context of blogging. Subjects we like to blog about, subjects we like to avoid. I wonder, does anybody else think consciously about this?

When I used to read books, I had a straightforward preference for biographies, or at the very least nonfiction. I maybe put that down to being quite a serious person, but didn’t really think about it in any great depth. Even now, if I listen to a book, it’ll fall into those categories. My knowledge of the world’s great fiction authors, like Shakespeare or Dickens, is zero. In fact I did try reading Dickens once … and got about three pages into the book before I decided we were incompatible.

Maybe my reading tastes, however, mimic my writing tastes? For I mostly like to write nonfiction. Just everyday life. Beyond that, the subject matter could be anything, especially nowadays, but it will be nonfiction rather than fiction. Furthermore, this is a very deliberate choice, on my part.

I have written one piece of fiction in my life. Well, outside of school. I never really got bitten by the bug. Maybe one day I will? But right now, it doesn’t float my boat. It actually took a fair amount of up-front thinking, before I felt able to write a word. With nonfiction, the thoughts are already flying around my head, it is just a case of getting them out in an order that makes sense to other people.

I follow a few people who regularly write poetry. I have a very basic knowledge of poetry. I have no idea what a haiku is. (And before you tell me, I’m not much interested right now. Maybe one day …) I have written a few limericks, enough to know that they can be quite a challenge to write, even though they tend to be just nonsense fun to read. As for other poetry, I am very ignorant.

I guess other types of poems must follow that same pattern as limericks? A challenge to write? So I can appreciate the author’s penmanship in not only saying what they want to say, but in massaging/cajoling the language so that it fits into their chosen format. But maybe the final poem is that much more difficult to comprehend as a result? How many of us have read poetry and not fully understood its meaning? Or, at least, had to look at something three or four times, before we “got it”? Come on, I’m sure I can’t be the only one!

At the moment, at least, my writing priority is to be clear, unambiguous. That is prose, nonfiction prose.

Double Whammy

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), publish.

Rather than write a post on this prompt, I wanted to reblog a post that I myself already published a short time ago, I guess just three months.

In it, I talk about how I am (kinda) a published author.

So, today we have two hits for the price of one!

Mister Bump

Yesterday I didn’t do much, so I had a bit of time/inclination to write. For many of the prepared posts I write (as opposed to responses), I like to just save them as Drafts, then put them live maybe the next day. This gives me overnight, at least, to think about any tweaks, and also means that the final proof reading will be performed with a fresh pair of eyes. So, the post got its final check this morning, and here goes.

From having read my posts, would any of you believe that I have been a published author since very early on in my working life? Okay, not really in that sense! Let me explain:

My very first job out of college was with the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority. It was basically civil service – you can imagine that in the early days, atomic energy was very closely linked…

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Play Your Cards Right

Higher or lower?

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), gamble.

Mister Man

For Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), tickle.

When my daughter was young, this was one of her favourite characters:


I was going to post this one anyway, but the first bit, for sure, fits into Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC). belligerent. I was going to update you on my current audiobook, called Renia’s Diary.

As it happens, Renia was about fifteen, a Jewish girl from Poland, in 1939. Of course, we know what happened, in fact we are told up-front that Renia was murdered by the Nazis in 1941. But because it is a diary, she writes so present tense – we know what is ultimately going to happen, but Renia, as she writes, has no idea.

She starts off, in January 1939, mad because they have had to uproot the family home. She has been packed off to live with grandparents, somewhere I can’t pronounce. Her mother is in Warsaw, for reasons I haven’t discovered yet.

In the first few entries, she also talks about school, for school terms in Poland ran absolutely normally in 1938-9. She even goes on her summer holiday at the end of the school year.

When Poland is actually invaded, in September, only Warsaw resists for any length of time (a week!). Again, thinking about the present and the future. We will win, she writes. Poland was invaded by both the Nazis and the Soviets, as a result of their pact at the start of the war. Renia even talks about Stalin’s occupying army, how one of the soldiers was sweet on her.

That is where I’m up to. So far it is pretty much what a teenage girl would write, I guess, but I am expecting Renia to get older very quickly.

Because it is a diary, everything is contemporary, which gives the book a unique perspective. It’s not written as a history book, where the end is known all the way through, where the author is leading us through to some end point. We do, of course, know what finally happened to Renia, but she didn’t. I’m expecting the account to end quite abruptly. And, I wonder if she’d have been so worried about being sent to her grandparents if she’d have known all the things that would happen subsequently?

And it makes me wonder about us. We often have immediate worries and concerns, but only hindsight allows us to know whether we were part of history.

This girl was living through something which ultimately changed the world, although she wasn’t aware of the sheer scale in her diary. And I look at this virus, and can’t help wondering whether we are too? We’ve already been in a situation where a roll of toilet paper is a better bargaining chip than a five dollar bill, where governments are handing out billions and trillions in order to keep their citizens solvent. Governments will presumably want to to claw all that money back one day? I wonder how much joy they will have? Maybe a few hundred years more austerity? How do they think populations will react to that? Maybe we’ll get to the point where a society is not just defined in financial terms, where money is not the be-all-and-end-all?

You guys have probably heard by now that both Prince Charles and BoJo [Boris Johnson] are being reported in the media as positive. I have to say that my immediate reaction was to wonder how they knew? Why they have been tested when even front-line nurses have not been tested yet, although in BoJo’s case presumably he is quite central to the co-ordination effort, so periodic testing is probably justified.

My second thought was a little more positive. If these public figures can pick the virus up, then it wouldn’t surprise me if many others of us have picked it up, too. And we don’t know, because the symptoms happen not to have been particularly bad (in us. They are obviously bad in some people.) And we’ll never know yes/no for sure, because we’ll never get to a hospital and therefore never be tested?

It is just a thought.