Thursday, 30 April 2020

What time is it?

Time is a funny old thing. One of the reasons we have station clocks is because in 1840 the Great Western Railway introduced so-called railway time to overcome the problems caused by each town in the expanding railway network having its own local mean time. The clocks showed passengers what this unified time was.

I don't know about you, but time has lost all meaning in our house. It is apparently Thursday and I gather that tomorrow it will be May. I've just had a cheese and pickle sandwich, but I couldn't tell you if it was lunch or just a little something to tide me over until the next meal, whatever that will be.

References to dates in books can lead to unintended results. In the entry for 22 March in A Sparge Bag on the Washing Line, I wrote: ‘We hear that Brexit is to be delayed. I can’t bring myself to go into details here – and anyway by the time you’re reading this it will all have been resolved and we shall be looking back on these crazy times, laughing and saying, “What were we thinking!”’

On 10 March, I was interviewed by Andy Gibney of 3P Publishing for The Writer's Hut podcasts. I mention the date because if/when you listen, you will hear Andy joking that by the time the recording goes out we will all have forgotten about coronavirus. Yeah, about that...

If you'd like to listen to the podcast in which I talk about my writing and editing life and various other bits and pieces - Andy is a great interviewer - you can find it here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Wanted: short stories for broadcast

You know how I've read out a couple of my short stories for my publisher's podcast? Well, now 3P Publishing would like to offer this opportunity to other writers and is looking for tales that take somewhere between five and ten minutes to read aloud.

If you have a suitable story for which you own broadcasting rights, please drop a line to Caroline Snelling (

Saturday, 18 April 2020

'Father, whom our founder worshipped...'

I don't know who drew the picture
I should have been at a school reunion this weekend, but obviously it's not happening. I've been thinking about my old school, though, and its motto 'Nisi Dominus Frustra', which we all translated as 'My God, I'm so frustrated!' I can still remember all the words to the school hymn - I'll spare you - and have just located my teenage face on a grainy black-and-white year-group photo. Ah, how beautiful we all were; if only we'd realised it at the time.

I've dug out an old school report book that modesty forbids I reproduce here; I was clearly a bit of a swot and phrases like 'sound performance' and 'quietly competent' are repeated. I also have what is probably my first published piece of work. It was in the school magazine and I must have been 11 or 12 when I wrote it. I have typed it out here, exactly as it appeared.

About four and a half years ago my Grandma came to live with us. She can't see very well out of one eye. Because of this she watches television a lot, especially period plays, horror films, and 'Coronation Street'. 

She is fairly musical and when she could see played the violin and piano. She sings the alto part.

Grandma is a Methodist and goes to chapel every Sunday. On Mondays she goes to the 'Bright Hour'. 

She is a very tidy person and cannot bear to see any litter, especially sweet papers, lying around. She has the annoying habit of wandering round and putting things away, and so if anything is missing or has been moved from where you left it the first person to ask is Grandma.

Very often, after she has finished speaking, she will give a little 'hmm mm'. After a while this gets on people's nerves.

Of course she does have many good points. She is nearly always stocked up with sweets and willing to play draughts.

She has a television of her own and so if one person wants to watch one programme and somebody else another, one person goes in Grandma's room to solve the problem.

I'm not sure my writing style has changed that much!

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

It's been a while

Eleven days since my last post: good grief! But I've been busy sharpening pencils, hoovering the kitchen floor, walking around the garden making plans - you know how it is.

Actually, there have been things going on. By some miracle I've picked up a couple of new editing jobs, for which much thanks. I see from the latest Martin Lewis newsletter that in a quick survey for his MSE website 25% of respondents said they expect to be financially better off because of the current situation. Well, lucky them.

Me? Well, I'm looking forward to the donation from the government to the self-employed, thank you very much. For now, I'm ticking along OK (although if you fancy buying one of my books I won't say no!). On the plus side, I received the interest on my Santander online savings account this morning: 5p. On the negative side, the shower is making a funny noise.

In other news, I've done a bit of Zooming, including an online dancetheatre class. There's nothing like wafting around the living room on your own pretending to be a tree to make you realise how daft the world is at the moment. I've also done a proper grown-up board meeting online, just in case you thought I'd completely lost all sense of reason.

We've had Easter, of course, which this year was also the occasion of our wedding anniversary: 40 years!

Another of my short stories was broadcast by the 3P team, one of the tales from Nine Lives. You can listen here, if you'd like to.

Finally, I've started to do a 'word of the day' on my @JuliaThorleyAuthor Facebook page. So far, I've done aptote, barnaby, chank, dumbledore and epinikion. Today's word will begin with F. I shall endeavour to keep it clean.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Don't let the trees obscure the wood

Did my UK friends watch Have I Got News For You last night? (Overseas pals: this is a satirical news-based panel show on the BBC.) In case you're saving it to watch later I won't give anything away, other than to say that it was good to be reminded that there is other stuff going on in the world besides You Know What.

One thing that's cropped up on Facebook and Twitter over the last few days is a reminder that local politics is still happening. There is an area of woodland a mile or so from where I live that is on the very edge of the town and well used by runners, walkers and cyclists. The land is owned, I believe, by our local duke (picture me doffing my cap in an ironic way). A planning application has been made to chop down all the trees, clear the land and use the space for more warehouses.

We are in the middle of the so-called logistics golden triangle here, bounded by the M1, M6 and A14. However, given that it's less than a year since the council declared a Climate Emergency, this proposal seems a bit off, to say the least. Needless to say, petitions have been signed and representation made by the proper channels to oppose this awful plan - but we nearly didn't notice this was happening.

The point of this post is not to embroil you in an issue that, let's face it, probably doesn't mean a lot to you, but rather to remind you that while you're looking over here, things are still going on over there.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Bedtime stories

A few weeks ago, I went along to 3P Publishing to record a podcast about my writing life. It hasn't been broadcast yet - I'll let you know when it is, of course - but in the meantime, the 3P team have started another stream of podcasts, namely a bedtime story every night at 9pm. On Tuesday, one of my stories was broadcast, Scoring An Own Goal in Tennis, which I recorded at home using Audacity and emailed across.

I'm getting the hang of reading out my own stories, I think, but recording them is a little different. Setting aside the popping p and the hissing s, which problems can be resolved by positioning the mic correctly, there are also considerations of when to breathe and swallow, and how to turn the pages without making a noise.

I thought I'd done an OK job, but on listening back before I submitted the MP3 file, I realised that in spite of it being written correctly on the page as 'Tommy and Bob', I'd actually said 'Bobby and Tom'. Why?! Anyway, I was able to re-record a snippet and edit it in (or rather, Mr Thorley did the editing for me) and you can't see the join, as they say.

Please have a listen, and check out the other stories, too. More will follow.