Category Archives: Humour

Distractions from Writing

The_Trike

I suppose I knew deep down that buying a Harley Davidson Trike was going to eat into my writing time – and I was right. The only reason I’m now sitting writing this in the sunshine is because I’ve been caning the trike too much and it’s caused acute tendonitis in my clutch hand. My doctor has ordered me not to ride for a day or two (well he said a week actually but that’s not going to happen while the sun is still shining!).

I bought the 4-year-old Sportster Iron 1200cc trike from a lady US Marine and she had only done a little over 1600 miles. In just two months I’ve almost doubled that mileage. It’s the new love of my life. Fortunately, Mrs D is far from jealous because she loves it too – you could say we’ve become a trikesome – and we’ve been out on it almost every day, weather permitting.

The reaction of our friends and acquaintances has been interesting and mixed. It seems everyone has some stereotypical picture of bikers in their heads. Some think I’m having a (late) mid-life crisis and seeking to recapture my youth (that could be true – and it’s working!). In truth, owning a Harley Davidson has been on my bucket list for many years.

Our older friends remember the clashes between mods and rockers that terrorised many a seaside town in the sixties, or the rise of Hell’s Angels gangs in the seventies – they believe we’ve succumbed to a cult and gone over to the dark side.

The grandchildren think it's a new climbing frame

Can we have one of these Daddy?

Our close family are bemused but they know well enough that we’re a bit mad and unpredictable – it’s a bonus that we can still shock our grown-up kids. The grandchildren think it’s a climbing frame! (See photo)

I’ve had my own stereotype views challenged too. We have unwittingly become part of a wide camaraderie between bikers that we didn’t know existed and this came as a truly pleasant surprise. Mrs D and I have been amazed at how friendly other bikers are (although some go to great lengths to look terrifying, so far they’ve really proved to be just big softies underneath). They watch out for one another on the road and keep an eye on each other’s property when parked up. In Wales, most riders give a nod, or a wave, when passing (I’m told this doesn’t happen over the border in England, which is a shame). We’ve already made some good friends and met some truly interesting characters (who may well appear in some guise in future novels!). The fact is whenever we park up someone will come over and talk to us.

As for riding the trike – well it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. We love being out in the fresh air when travelling and we see so much more of the countryside than we ever did in the car. The feeling of exhilaration when shooting the breeze on motorways is wonderful too and the acceleration when I twist open the throttle gives a real adrenalin rush. And, to be honest, riding a Harley attracts whoops of delight from children and a lot of admiring glances from parents too, all of which makes us feel like minor celebrities.

So what if it is a distraction from writing? I’ve always thought of writing as a winter pursuit anyway and I can still dream up stories while cruising along the highways and byways of this beautiful country. And at the moment I am busy planning the next book in my head (and, no, it’s not about bikers…).

All I need now is for this damned tendonitis to disappear before the sunshine does!

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Inspiration – Where do you find yours?

Signs
Writers often get asked where they get their inspiration from. The answer, in my case, is from the world around me. For example, I spotted these signs on the railings as I left the supermarket and it made me chuckle – there must be a story in it somewhere! Maybe it would go like this…

Someone eats too many portions of the ‘award winning’ fish and chips and gains weight. They try dieting and eventually turn to a hypnotherapist for help. Failing to lose as much weight as quickly as they’d like their partner starts to bitch and complain and they decide to go to marriage guidance and counselling but they suspect their partner might be ‘straying’ and so they decide to hire a private detective.

OK – you get the picture so I’ll leave you to take it from there – good luck!

If you’d like to share where you take your inspiration from then please feel free to comment below.

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Hide & Seek

‘Ready or not, here I come…

Hide and Seek is surely one of the oldest games in the universe. It’s so beautifully simple – one person closes their eyes and counts to ten and the other dashes off to hide somewhere. I loved playing it as a child and also loved playing it with my children.

The trouble is I’m too good at it! One time I was playing with my son when he was about four and I dashed off and hid in a wardrobe. Standing still and silent in the dark of the cupboard I could hear him rooting around the bedroom checking under the bed and I froze expecting to be discovered at any moment. It was a double wardrobe and he opened one of the doors and peered in but for some reason he left the door I was behind closed and failed to spot me. Success! Surely he’d have to give up now. I heard him move onto other rooms and remained where I was. After about half a hour my wife came into the bedroom and almost passed out with fright when she found me lurking in the wardrobe.

“Where is he?” I asked. To tell the truth, I’d been getting a bit bored waiting for him.

“He went out to play in the garden with the little girl next door,” she said, laughing at my being cast aside like a forgotten toy!

Undeterred, I still love the game and yesterday, while Grandma was busy cooking sausages in the kitchen, I played it again, this time with my four year old grandson. I found a really tight but well concealed spot wedged in the corner of our living room between the sofa and a little-used cupboard. Once again I felt the thrill of anticipation at hearing my grandson moving around the room searching for me and not finding me. Soon, he’d enlisted the help of Grandma and the two of them came into the room and still failed to discover my hiding place. They moved on and I could hear them searching around the house calling my name but I wasn’t about to fall for that old trick! After a while, a note of desperation crept into Grandma’s voice as she called out that the sausages were burning. It was only then that I realised I was well and truly wedged into my hiding place and couldn’t budge. Eventually, guided by my cries for help they found me and, when they’d stopped laughing at my predicament, they managed to help me clamber out.

What a great game!

Have you had any embarrassing moments playing children’s games that you want to share?

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Chocolate? Yes? Or No?

Some of the characters one meets in real life would become almost unbelievable in fiction. For example, last week in a West Country town that I won’t name (for reasons that will become apparent), Mrs D and I were hesitating outside an independent chocolatier fighting, and slowly losing, a battle with temptation. We were still undecided when a voice from behind said, ‘If you go inside, they’ll probably give you some free samples…’

A rather genteel lady with silver hair and a purple coat stood blinking at us in the afternoon sunshine. This was all the persuasion we needed so we took another step towards the emporium, our minds tipped towards satisfying our lust for chocolate.

But then she added, ‘Mind you, I don’t know what they put in it but it gave me terrible diarrhoea! Oh my goodness I was bad for days – they said plenty of others had eaten their chocolate without any problem but I’m sure it’s what did for me!’

And that was it – our battle was over – suddenly the temptation had become so much easier to resist!

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Sex on the Beach (and other one-sided conversations)

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As I mentioned in my last blog, Maeve Binchy once stayed on a bus to eavesdrop the remainder of a conversation. I love listening to conversations myself – especially those glorious one-sided mobile phone conversations where one has to imagine the other side for one’s self. And just to make it easier for us eavesdroppers, people tend to talk louder on a mobile phone. The other day, while on holiday, I was walking along the promenade at Broad Haven when I heard a young girl’s voice loudly proclaiming: “I love you loads and loads too…” Nothing extraordinary about this until she added in fine and full voice: “…and the sex was great as well!” Now I’m not someone who is easily shocked but I was rather surprised (and secretly delighted!) that she should want to share such intimacies with the whole of Broad Haven in such an unselfconscious way!

At work, especially in open-plan offices, people often dash into meeting rooms to take their personal calls in privacy. Others misguidedly rush for the stairwells. Do they not realise how far voices can carry in a stairwell? I was moving between floors the other day when a voice drifted up from below saying: “Do you think we did the right thing telling him last night? I felt awful about it afterwards.” I never did discover who the owner of that voice was but I spent the rest of the day wondering who the unfortunate bloke was and what he’d been told that made the speaker feel so bad about it?

And finally, on a crowded street in Cardiff, a young Asian girl obviously forgot her surroundings when she yelled emotionally into her phone: “I don’t care what he wants, Mehmet, it’s my life and I’ll do what I want with it, not what he wants!” I felt like giving her a spontaneous burst of applause for that line but then she would have known I was listening! What might she have been talking about? An arranged marriage with someone she didn’t fancy perhaps? Or is that too obvious and stereotypical of me? Whatever it was, it certainly fired my writer’s imagination and prompted me to go home and write a short story about an overheard snippet of conversation.

But be warned! It’s true that eavesdroppers don’t always hear good things. I was in a hospital day centre earlier this week, having had to starve myself for a day and a half, for a colonoscopy procedure. The two nurses, oblivious to my hunger, were calmly and coolly discussing the merits of the beef burgers they ate the night before… That should teach me not to tune in – but I know it won’t!

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Grunting to Improve Performance

Last week, I had to stop watching a ladies Wimbledon match because I couldn’t stand the noisy grunts made by one of the players. Why do some players feel the need to grunt every time they hit a ball? Ping-pong players don’t do it and neither do squash, nor badminton players as far as I recall. Snooker players certainly don’t grunt and can you imagine marathon runners grunting their way through 26 miles!

Do the coaches or sports psychologists put them up to it? Does grunting release all their inner tension into the ball? Does it maximise their performance? Do grunters win more games than non-grunters? Are there stats for grunting?

If it does prove to enhance performance can we expect it to spread to other sports? Perhaps the government should commission a study – maybe we could grunt our way out of this recession.

Will it be only a matter of time before management gurus introduce grunting into the workplace?

Office workers could start each day with a grunt meeting, bricklayers would surely build walls faster by grunting every time they lay a brick. Will it spread to supermarket checkouts – a grunt to speed every item scanned through the till. Should staff in call centres grunt each time they answer the call? (Wait a minute, that may already be happening!)

Oh well, I’m going to stop grumbling and start grunting – watch this space and please tell me if it improves my blogging. Ugh!

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