Monday 29 January 2018

Just my opinion

I've just been listening to Art Malik talking about his role as a judge for the Costa Book of the Year, saying how hard he has found it to decide which book is his favourite. We shall find out the results tomorrow.

I've spent the morning with a lovely author who sought my opinion on the draft of his short story collection. It was a real privilege to able to read his words. However, he said he felt like a contestant on Bake Off, waiting for me to judge his showstopper!

I'm going to the awards evening of the H E Bates Short Story Competition later this week. I have entered, though I'm not expecting to win. I'm going because it's always a good do and in previous years I've met some fascinating people and, of course, heard some wonderful stories. Do I always agree with the judge's decision? No:but then, we're each entitled to our own opinion.

Thursday 25 January 2018

Are you ready for the new industrial age?

I do quite a bit of editorial work for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Don't yawn: this organisation represents one of the most crucial parts of business and society. Without logistics, nothing and no one would ever get anywhere.

One of the hot topics at the moment is the Fourth Industrial Revolution*, which we are in the middle of, in case you haven't noticed. Broadly speaking, this is the emergence of the internet and digitisation, and the fusing of physical, digital and biological worlds. Still with me?

I love all this stuff. Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, quantum computing (no, me neither) and nanotechnology are changing everything and while I don't pretend to understand it all, I'm constantly amazed at what is possible. That's not to say, though, that I'm ready to embrace it all in my own home. I don't want a smart meter or a fridge that can tell me when I'm running low on milk. Nor do I want a smartphone, because I don't want to be always 'on'.

However, my trusty PAYG Samsung nearly went in the bin this morning, because it stopped cooperating with me. It wouldn't let me key in words properly when I wanted to send a text and kept adding unwanted accents and peculiar characters. Fortunately, Mr Thorley was on hand to take a rational look at the problem and was able to tell me that I'd somehow managed to switch the input language to French.

Oops. I don't think I'm quite ready for the Internet of Things.

* Because I'm sure you're dying to know: the First Industrial Revolution took place at the end of the 18th Century, with the emergence of mechanisation; the Second came at the end of the 19th Century, with technological advancements evolving from the emergence of gas and oil as new power sources; the Third began in 1969, founded on the rise of nuclear energy and of electronics, leading to the development of transistors and microprocessors.

Friday 19 January 2018

Monkey mind

When I wake up, for a moment my mind is empty, like the first page of a new notebook. I blink my eyes open and try to judge the time by the light making its way between my curtains. Then I squint at the clock for confirmation, and feel smug, disappointed or surprised, depending.

It's a matter of seconds before the thoughts arrive, not one by one like an orderly line of soldiers reporting for duty, but in a marauding horde, each shouting, 'Pick me! Pick me!' Today's disorderly rabble included, inter alia, cats lesson plans food shopping the Arts Centre wonder how is x doing birthday presents coffee morning blog post buy seeds. Note the lack of punctuation; there were no pauses, Is everyone like this?

When someone is described as single-minded, it's meant to be a compliment, because it implies focus, but it makes me think 'ruthless'. How can anyone have only one thought? Where do the others go? My first cup of tea every morning  (today taken back to bed - lazy mare) acts as a filter, allowing the thoughts to race and tumble until they settle a bit before one is able to step forward and, with a nervous cough, propose that it should be dealt with first. The strange thing is that once I've settled on a task I can work on it without getting sidetracked.

Eisenhower devised a decision matrix (see pic) based on his view that: 'What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.' It does work, up to a point, but it's not always easy to decide how to rank things.

Nor is there a box for 'I really want to do this first, because it will be fun.' 

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Reviewing reviews publisher told me recently that it looks suspicious if all the reviewers of a book have given it five stars, because it looks as though only friends and family have logged their opinion (and perhaps without even reading the book). Apparently, a mix of scores looks more authentic. What do you think? Is this true?

My prize-winning short story 'Scoring an Own Goal in Tennis' is free to download from the Amazon Kindle store for the next five days. I hope you like it - and if you do, please leave me a review. How many stars you give it is up to you.

Friday 5 January 2018

That Friday feeling

I've had a gentle start back to work. Not all my yoga classes are running yet for various reasons: and I turned up to teach yesterday to be greeted by a bemused host who wasn't expecting me. That gave me a couple of hours to fill, so I went to Sainsbury's (because that's how we roll in the Shire).

I had a voucher that meant if I spent £60 I'd save a small fortune on petrol, so I tried hard, even though this is a lot more than I'd usually spend in one go. I carefully added up my costs as I went around, putting  things in my trolley that I didn't actually need yet but that would come in eventually - washing powder, kitchen roll, that kind of thing. However, I must have miscalculated, because the bill came to a massive £75. Bugger!

Other endeavours have been more successful. With a lot of help from number two son, I now have a Facebook page for me as author here. It would be great if you could pop over and give it a 'like'. Thanks to Sally Jenkins for prompting me to get on with this - and please 'like' her page, too.

Off to the theatre tonight to see The Play That Went Wrong. Laughs galore are expected.

Have a lovely weekend, folks.

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Tuesday 2 January 2018

Catching up

You know what they say about the best-laid plans... I definitely hadn't planned on being ill all over Christmas. I had things to do and stuff to share!  I was gong to tell you all that:
  • My first reading of Nine Lives went well
  • The publisher's reader liked the outline of my yoga book and it looks as though this will be going ahead
  • My article on glaucoma is/was in the December issue of Om Yoga & Lifestyle
  • My runner-up entry in the Senior Travel Expert competition is now available to read here
I just never got round to it. However, I've had a couple of weeks of  complete rest and now I'm back at work and ready to face the New Year - just as soon as I've caught up with everything from last year, that is.